Saturday, December 31, 2011


On this final day of 2011, I will get back into the “business of blogging” with a review of some of the books I read this past year.

33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners by Jonathan Franklin. This is a riveting account of the men trapped in a Chilean mine collapse 2300 feet underground for about 9 weeks.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta Lacks was a poor woman from Clover, Virginia. Though she died of cervical cancer in 1951, her cells became the first immortal human cells. In the opening chapter we are told that Henrietta’s cells went into space to study the impact of zero gravity on human cells, and that one scientist estimates “that if you could pile all [Henrietta’s] cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons – an inconceivable number given that an individual cell weighs almost nothing.”

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Lauren Hillenbrand. Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini who survived 47 days at sea following the downing of his aircraft. He was “rescued” by Japanese soldiers and became a POW, suffering under some of the most brutal conditions of the war. Hillenbrand gives limited attention to Zamperini’s conversion to Christ during the famous post war Los Angeles Crusade of Billy Graham.

Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Topic by R. C. Sproul

How to Write a Sentence: and How to Read One by Stanley Fish (I guess I need to re-read this one).

History and Fallacies by Carl Trueman. This is a critique of how we understand history.

Ship of Ghosts by James Hornfischer. This book chronicles the history of the USS Houston, its sinking and the imprisonment of many of her crew during the early days of WWII.

A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester. Reads like a novel.

Stiff – The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. Absolutely intriguing, but not for the squeamish.

The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin. One of the worst blizzards to hit the prairies fell on January 12-13, 1888. It was called the Children’s Blizzard because many children were sent home from their one room schoolhouses at the onset of the storm. When the blizzard ran its course, more than 100 children lay dead in the snow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Judgment Day

Unless you have recently crawled out of a cave, you know that Mr. Harold Camping has predicted that Judgment Day will occur on May 21, 2011. Mr. Camping leaves no room for doubt. On “Open Forum,” his radio call-in program, he has stated that it is as certain as the virgin birth or the resurrection of Christ. Billboards around the country announce the date and claim “The Bible guarantees it.”

Smarter people than I have written critiques of Camping’s claims and the hermeneutics he uses to arrive at his conclusion. He is extremely harsh towards those who do not hold his views, calling them deceivers and false prophets. On the outside chance he is wrong in his predictions (hear the sarcasm in the voice), will he admit to being a false prophet? That is unlikely, since he has made similar predictions at least twice before. No doubt he will revise his figures and be just as dogmatic about the next date. No matter, you must admire his chutzpah. But when his “judgment day” predictions prove false, what will scoffers think of the Bible since it “guarantees” that it will happen on May 21? No doubt his caricature of truth will be the only one that some people will ever consider.

This is a good time for us to remember Millard Erickson’s counsel to avoid the extremes of “eschatomania” and “eschatophobia.” Erickson coined this phrase in his Introduction to Christian Doctrine. He describes the term like this:
One pastor is reported to have preached on the Book of Revelation every Sunday evening for nineteen years! Sometimes the teaching is augmented by large detailed charts of the last times. Current political and social events, especially those relating to the nation of Israel, are identified with prophecies in Scripture. As a result, some preachers have been caricatured as having the Bible in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other. Hal Lindsay’s Late Great Planet Earth is a noteworthy example of this type of “eschatomania (p. 374).

Eschatophobia is the reaction to the opposite extreme. It is unfortunate that some tend to avoid this truth that Scripture calls “the blessed hope.”

So, as long as people are making money on eschatology, why not me? I am making available “Harold Camping End of the World Tour” T shirts. Let me know if you want one, but get your order in before May 21.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Heaven is for Real - Whew, What a Relief

To the few who read this blog, it will come as no surprise when I confess that I am a curmudgeon. But it  is a relief to know that I am not alone. Fellow curmudgeon Tim Challies comments on the latest offering that reveals the glories of heaven - and this from the experience of a 4 year old child. I, for one, am perplexed that Scripture gives such insufficient information that books like these are necessary. But then again, what do I know. I've never written a book.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Provocative Words

This sounds like heresy to an evangelical culture drunk on pragmatism

Evangelicals have always insisted that Christ is a person who can and should be known personally; he is not simply an item on a creed to which assent should be given. But from this point they have drawn conclusions that become increasingly injurious. They have proceeded to seek assurance of faith not in terms of the objective truthfulness of the biblical teaching but in terms of the efficacy of its subjective experience. Testimonies have become indispensible items in the evangelistic fare. Testifying to having experienced Christ personally is particularly seductive in the modern context, because it opens up to view an inner experience that responds to the hunger of the “other-directed” individual but often sacrifices its objective truth value in doing so. The question it poses to the outsider is not whether Christ is objectively real but simply whether the experience is appealing, whether it seems to have worked, whether having it will bring one inside the group and give one connections to others.

In any genuine knowledge of God, there is an experience of his grace and power, informed by the written Scriptures, mediated by the Holy Spirit, and based upon the work of Christ upon the Cross. What is not so clear from the New Testament is that this experience should itself become the source of our knowledge of God or that it should be used to commend that knowledge to others. To be sure there was plenty of witnessing that went on in the early Church, but it is anything but clear that this should be understood as the use of personal autobiography to persuade others that they should commit themselves to Christ. (David Wells, No Place for Truth, 172-173. Italics original)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Resources for the KJV

Here is a list of resources, historical and polemical, relating to the King James Version:

God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible  by Adam Nicholson

In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture by Alister McGrath (who doesn't like Alister McGrath?)

The King James Only Controversy. Can You Trust the Modern Translations by James White

The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism by D. A. Carson (D.A. Carson; nuff said)

King James Onlyism by James D. Price (Dr. Price was the editor of the OT translation committee for the NKJV. This extensive work is rich with text-critical issues.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask

“Postmodernism has made apologetics irrelevant.” I have read statements to this effect from various sources. The idea is that since the culture has largely imbibed the postmodern denial of absolutes, Christianity therefore cannot be defended; it must be demonstrated. While this may sound plausible on the surface, there are problems with this kind of thinking.

First, it is not clear how postmodern thinking has trickled down to street level. Certainly, in academia there can be found those who read their political correctness agendas into classical literary works and who revise history to give voice to the oppressed. It is likewise the case that judges and legislators adopt a type of postmodernism when they see the Constitution as fluid, not fixed. But the extent to which this kind of thinking has been embraced by our neighbors and coworkers is debatable.

Second, regardless of the prevailing culture, Scripture counsels us to always be “prepared to make a defense (apologia) to anyone who asks for you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). The assumption seems to be that there will always be those who ask Christians “what” or “why.” Mark Mittelberg has produced a useable resource to help believers answer those questions. The book is The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask.

The title shows something of the dilemma. Unbelievers often ask difficult questions that many Christians are unable to answer. In 306 pages of text (excluding endnotes and resources), Mittelberg has prepared a manual that will help one find the Bible’s teaching on some of these difficult topics. In addition to showing how Scripture addresses an issue, Mittelberg will give insight on how to best articulate and frame the response.

Do not imagine that The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask is a catalogue of Bible verses listed by topic. The author distills the Biblical teaching and calls science, politics and logic to witness to the truth expounded in the Bible. At the end of the book is a list of resources for further study. The aim is to point the Christian to every resource necessary to make a reasoned defense of his or her faith.

Apologetics is not dead. Christians will be asked hard questions. This book will help to provide solid answers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publications as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

The Ten Commandments

There has been some buzz about the rerelease of the Cecil B. DeMille classic “The Ten Commandments.” It has been restored to DVD and will be released on BluRay. What a great movie! Who would not want to see tough guy Edward G. Robinson as Dathan, complete in Egyptian headdress? (Does anyone remember the 1973 sci-fi movie that reunited Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson?).

It wasn’t too long ago that Christians were protesting the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Courthouse. The commandments gained renewed popularity after being the target of the “secular and liberal elite.” It seems that we Christians (or conservatives or card-carrying members of the religious right and now TEA party activists) are always on the prowl for a cause to defend. Do not misunderstand. I do not suggest that people of faith roll over and play dead as the culture “slouches more and more toward Gomorrah” (to paraphrase Robert Bork’s great title), but we better be equipped to engage the battle intelligently.

Regarding the Ten Commandments, many modern Christians gave little thought to them until them became a cause celebre. Stop reading this and take this little test: grab a paper and pencil and see how many of the Ten Commandments you can list (insert Jeopardy theme music here). If you are not able to list all ten, you are probably like many, if not most, evangelical Christians. We have relegated the Ten Commandments to a bygone era that has little relevance to the modern age. Some have even claimed that since we are under grace, then the law – as represented by these rules – has no meaning to us.

This is a strange paradox: defending principles that many cannot articulate and some consider unimportant. However, the Scripture teaches that there is a “lawful use of the law” and our neglect of this has contributed to the cultural problem. Books and sermons produced by smarter people than I have expounded the proper use of the law. For the sake of brevity, I will point to one aspect. The moral law of God, the Ten Commandments, exposes the moral bankruptcy of our culture and shows sin as being the transgression of God’s law.

Of course, we “get” the first table of the law: no other Gods, no images, not taking the Lord’s name in vain, and the Sabbath day observance (with its attendant controversy). Most of us would claim that we are guiltless concerning these – although idols and images are not merely statues of stone. They may be concepts that stand opposed to God; they may be people who usurp our loyalty to God; they may even have wheels, account numbers, or 160 channels.

The second table of the law is where the transgression is closer to where we live. Honor father and mother – a direct indictment on modern family dynamics where Homer Simpson is the quintessential father. Do not steal – at least the Bible honors the private ownership of property (take heed, socialists). Do not commit adultery – how does this square with a culture that has invented the concept of “serial monogamy” and “starter marriages.” Do not murder – unless of course he or she had it coming, or was old and wasting resources, or lived in the womb of someone who planned to terminate the pregnancy. Do not covet – if we followed this, how would General Motors, Ford or Chrysler ever sell a new car (something to consider, capitalists)? And of course, if we took seriously the bearing false witness business, what would that do to contract law?

Let’s be honest. Many in our churches today care little about the Ten Commandments. It may be the stuff of a classic movie, but that’s about all. It has become cliché, but it is true that we see them more as the “Ten Suggestions.” If we really took this seriously, the results would be life altering – much too uncomfortable for us to bother about.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Keep Your Greek

It has been nearly 40 years since my 2 years of Greek in Bible College (this sentence alone makes me realize how much I’ve squandered). It was a strange paradox: 2 years of Greek were required for my major, but there were subtle undercurrents that lead us to believe that it was not really relevant to “red hot, evangelistic preaching.” And since the world was going to hell with unprecedented rapidity (it was the early 70’s, after all), there was no time to waste in seminary. Souls needed saving and God needed us on the front lines. Needless to say, Greek was something I had to do, but not something I relished. I purposely steered clear of the difficult instructors (who may have actually taught me something) and found the easier ones that would help me land a decent grade.

It wasn’t until sometime later that I came to myself and realized the importance of the Biblical languages and adequate preparation for a lifetime of study and exposition. If I had it to do over again, I would be proficient in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and German. But then I would probably be living alone surviving on a diet of Hot Pockets and Froot Loops.

If you need help or motivation to rediscover New Testament Greek, The Minister and His Greek New Testament by A.T. Robertson will motivate you to make Greek a daily part of your ministerial life. Keep Your Greek by Constantine Campbell will give you practical tools that will help you keep what Greek you have learned and recover part of what you have forgotten. This little book is a great help for those of us who remember just enough Greek to get into serious trouble. The road back is often steeper than it was the first time, but Campbell can help – after all, “it’s the climb” (I know, fewer things are more pitiful than an old guy quoting Miley Cyrus – in fact, anyone quoting Miley Cyrus is pitiful. Chalk it up to a pathetic attempt at being cool).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan as part of their Keep Your Greek blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The King James Bible

Arguably the most significant literary work in the English language celebrates its 4ooth anniversary in 2011. Of course, I refer to the publication of the King James Version of the Bible. It has influenced our language in ways that many do not realize. It may surprise some to realize that this Bible translation is responsible for phrases still used today: “skin of your teeth,” “apple of my eye;” “cast the first stone,” and a “two- edged sword,” among many others.

It is unfortunate that the anniversary of this great translation is not given the accord that it is due, at least among some of my evangelical brethren. I recall last year that significant celebration went into the recognition of Calvin’s 500th birthday. Many of us read through his Institutes together and enjoyed numerous articles and blog posts examining his contribution to systematic theology. I do not see the same level of celebration for the KJV.

I think that part of the reason for this is that this great translation has become a polarizing factor in some parts of the Christian world. On the one side stand the “King James Only” adherents who cast all manner of scorn and abuse on any translation of the Bible that is not KJV. For many of them, the KJV is the only trustworthy Bible in existence today. All subsequent attempts at translation derive from flawed documents wielded by unspiritual men who have an insidious agenda: dilute, distort, and destroy the pure Word of God.

On the other side stand the champions of modern language translations. They promote versions that are known by an almost endless list of initials: RSV, NRSV, ASV, NASV, NASB, NAS, NCV, LB, NLT, NKJV, ESV, TCV, NIV, TNIV, MESS, HCSB; and I think I am omitting some. Some of these new translation zealots take a condescending tone toward those who still prefer the KJV. To them, anyone still reading from the KJV is a hayseed that needs to be enlightened for his own good. It is almost a Gnostic attitude.

Thus, in the words of Buffalo Springfield on their debut album that I was not permitted to play in my dorm room in the fundamentalist college I attended, “The battle line’s being drawn. Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.” It’s like saying something good about Richard Nixon because he brought an end to the Vietnam conflict and opened China to US trade – but he was still Richard Nixon.

Let’s not let this infighting prevent us from paying homage to a great translation of the Bible. Yes, it is a great translation in many ways. I may have more to say later.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Samson Agonistes

I have been bringing the morning devotions at the Mission where I work/minister. I try to take a passage from each book in the Bible, in canonical order, and bring out some devotional thought as an encouragement or exhortation to our staff. My next session takes me to Judges where I land on chapter 16. This, of course, is the final chapter in the life of Samson, probably the most well known figure in this book. As we read of the last days of his life as a Judge of Israel, I find several warnings. And since Judges is mostly about warning, I will phrase these as cautions.

  • Don’t imagine that usefulness in the past builds up credit that will cover foolishness in the present. Serving Christ is our daily duty. Doing so well does not accrue merit points to offset demerits later. Our attitude in serving Jesus is best expressed in the parable found in Lk. 17:7-10: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (v.10).

  • Don’t assume that the reasons for one’s usefulness by God will always be apparent. It seems that there was nothing about Samson that would give a clue as to the reason for his astonishing strength (Judges 16: 5-6). In fact, God delights in using the foolish and diminished things of this world so that He might receive the maximum glory (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

  • Don’t expect to be fireproof when you play with fire. Samson may have enjoyed the “pleasures of sin for a season,” but it was only for a season. Sin is deceptive. Even believing people can be deceived by sin. It is true that our sins have been paid for by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ as “he (God) made him to be sin, who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). It is also true that for those in Christ, there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1). But though there is no condemnation, the life of Samson shows us that there will yet be consequences for sin. Those who play with fire are sure to get burned.

Although there is a morbid word of commendation upon his demise (Jud.16:30), he did not end well. May we take heed that we might end well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Many have taken pen in hand examine the dismal record that we evangelicals have regarding the life of the mind. Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Os Guiness’ Fit Bodies, Fat Minds, and Love God with All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland and Dallas Willard are notable among these treatments. John Piper throws his hat into the ring with Think, the Life of the Mind and the Love of God.

Piper challenges us to think clearly, deeply and accurately about God and His Word. His aim, however, is not to produce a generation of evangelical theologians who can pontificate on matters of deep theology. Instead, he encourages deep intellectual exercise to the ultimate end of knowing, loving, and delighting in God.  

When it comes to the life of the mind, we Christians love to castigate ourselves. Certainly, when like lemmings we follow every fad, gimmick and innovation that parades itself before us without even considering whether or not it is doctrinally sound; when the perceived leaders of our movement are those whose primary qualification is that they have a great media presence; and when we announce Armageddon every time a camel blinks in the Middle East, then there is certainly room for criticism. But I wonder if some are critical of “the evangelical mind” solely on the grounds that, by and large, evangelicals are not taken seriously in academia.

In one sense, should this not be expected? How can people who, for good and sufficient reasons, hold to the inerrancy of Scripture expect to find themselves taken seriously at Harvard or Yale? We can see the reasonableness of believing in a God Who has revealed Himself in His Word and His world; but if we understand His Word, we know that the unregenerate mind will not and cannot grasp what makes sense to us.

This is not an endorsement to return to the days of a stick-your-head-in-the-sand, retreat-from-the-culture fundamentalism. Nor does Piper insist that advanced degrees are required to adequately serve God. He is not arguing for academics as such. He does argue that the time has come for Christians – those who display the mind of Christ – learn to really use their God-given ability to think hard on God and His Word. Good advice, and well worth the read.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Abortion – A Rational Look at an Emotion Issue

Tomorrow marks the 38th anniversary of the Roe v Wade ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States. As most know, this was the landmark ruling that defined a woman’s right to abortion in the 1st trimester of pregnancy. This ruling opened the flood gate of abortion on demand and fueled one of the most volatile and enduring controversies in the history of our country.

It is safe to say that Christians have been somewhat less than unified in their position on this ruling and its implications. Some liberal Christian denominations have favored the ruling, while the Roman Catholic Church has been consistently and vocally opposed to it. For the evangelical, the one who adheres to the authority of the Bible, the issue is not open for discussion. If that statement seems to be too dogmatic, too presumptuous, or too absolutist, then the one who objects needs to read Abortion – A Rational Look at an Emotion Issue by Dr. R.C. Sproul. The 20th anniversary edition has been revised and reprinted by Reformation Trust.

In his forward, Dr. George Grant notes:
In the two decades since this landmark book was first published, four different presidents have occupied the White House, seven justices have come and gone on the Supreme Court, and eleven sessions of Congress have held sway in the Capitol … Through it all, the divisiveness of the abortion issue has remained constant. The many and varied political turns of events during the past twenty years have done nothing to ameliorate it—much less, to resolve it. If anything, the divide over abortion has become more pronounced, more acrimonious, and more entrenched. While political gridlock on nearly any and every other issue ultimately has been overcome, no rapprochement on the issue of abortion is anywhere in sight.

In his usual fashion, Dr. Sproul approaches this issue from the perspective of logic, history, theology and Biblical exposition. After reading the book, I am persuaded that one could be convinced to re-examine his or her views relative to the pro-abortion position based upon the logical arguments alone. In other words, this is not an issue that requires commitment to evangelical faith to know the truth. Of course, as one of the leaders in the evangelical movement, Sproul is careful to cite Biblical evidence for the pro-life position. Nonetheless, the arguments from logic and natural law are convincing in themselves.

What is absent from Dr. Sproul’s work is the vitriol that often flows from advocates of the pro-life position. Sproul does not demonize the opposition. Certainly, this is an issue that arouses passionate debate. In Sproul’s case, there is not more heat than light. Both are in sufficient quantity.

I understand that Reformation Press will send a copy of this book to every member of the new Congress. I pray that many will read it. I am sure that some will. I am sure that some will throw it away. If read objectively, the book has the potential to change a lot of the thinking on Capitol Hill

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Press as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, January 17, 2011


So, I have joined the ranks of those who can read electronically. For Christmas, I received a Kindle. Actually, it was a combined gift for both my wife and me, but I imagine I will get the most use from it. The books she reads – and she reads a lot – are readily available at the library.

The 1st book I read on my Kindle was Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand. I had meant to purchase the book after Christmas, but thought that this might be a good way to test drive the device. I must admit that I enjoyed reading this book on the Kindle. But, it is a great book that I would have enjoyed reading in any form. I couldn’t wait to snatch a few moments to read.

Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, a member of the US Olympic track team in 1936. It is a story of human endurance in the most desperate of conditions. As a bombardier in a B-24, his aircraft crashed in the Pacific. He endured nearly a month and a half at sea in shark infested waters. Finally spotting land, he came ashore and was immediately made a prisoner of war by the Japanese. The trials spent as a POW made the hardships of shipwreck pale in comparison. Without disclosing all of the details, Billy Graham’s famous crusade in Los Angeles in 1948 makes a significant contribution to the end of the story.

Zamperini’s treatment as a POW speaks volumes about human depravity and the power of hope. That the Japanese could so brutalize their prisoners and that the Nazi’s could deal so inhumanly with Jews, Slavs, and all they considered to be inferior, testifies to the Biblical doctrine of total depravity. As the book shows, not all of Zamperini’s captors were harsh and brutal. In fact, after the war he went to Japan to try to locate one who claimed to be a Christian and treated him with dignity. Yet, as I read this book, I took these thoughts away for further development:

• Unlike John Lennon who accused religion of being the chief propagator of warfare in history, it was non-Christians, both in Germany and Japan (not to mention Russia) who were the most sadistic and inhumane.

• What was going on in the world that at the same time in history, such brutality could emerge in both Europe and Asia?

• Germany and Japan were both civilized and technologically advanced societies. Yet their achievements did not save them from themselves. Our culture and society likewise cannot save us from ourselves. The remedy for depravity is not found in education, politics, or economics. It is found in the gospel of Christ.

Friday, January 14, 2011

With All Your Mind

Jesus’ counsel to “love God with all your mind” is recorded in 3 of the gospel accounts (Matt.22:37, Mk. 12:30, and Lk 12:27. Dr.Albert Mohler describes what this looks like in a Christian worldview:

A robust and rich model of Christian thinking—the quality of thinking that culminates in a God-centered worldview—requires that we see all truth as interconnected. Ultimately, the systematic wholeness of truth can be traced to the fact that God is himself the author of all truth. Christianity is not a set of doctrines in the sense that a mechanic operates with a set of tools. Instead, Christianity is a comprehensive worldview and way of life that grows out of Christian reflection on the Bible and the unfolding plan of God revealed in the unity of the Scriptures.

A God-centered worldview brings every issue, question, and cultural concern into submission to all that the Bible reveals and frames all understanding within the ultimate purpose of bringing greater glory to God. This task of bringing every thought captive to Christ requires more than episodic Christian thinking and is to be understood as the task of the Church, and not merely the concern of individual believers. The recovery of the Christian mind and the development of a comprehensive Christian worldview will require the deepest theological reflection, the most consecrated application of scholarship, the most sensitive commitment to compassion, and the courage to face all questions without fear.

Read the entire post here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Kennedy Detail

The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine is an insider’s look at the Secret Service agents responsible for the protection of President John F. Kennedy. This is a fascinating story of the lives of the men who protected JFK and how they interacted personally with the First Family. For these men, protecting the president was the most important responsibility one could have. When they failed to do that, all of them became traumatized.

It is interesting to see how the Secret Service performed their responsibilities with what we would today consider primitive resources. There were no computers or databases, no cell phones or smart phones, no wireless communication except for the cumbersome walkie-talkie that was carried by one agent. Information was kept in personal notebooks, written in the field by the agents who did the legwork.

I gained a new respect for the Secret Service from Blaine’s account. He likewise managed to portray this iconic president and his family in very compassionate and human terms. This is refreshing in a day when there has been so much ink devoted to the less than sterling moral character of the family of Joe Kennedy. For whatever JFK was, he was still a father, a husband, a brother, a son, and a president.