I recently had the opportunity to review two books—books that were vastly different in their topics, but both powerfully written.
I’m not much of a blood and gore guy. I avoid movies of that genre, and if I’m watching a movie that has a gory scene I usually feel the call of nature or decide to minutely inspect my popcorn. There are realities of life that I don’t want to look at—conditions that I think most people want to ignore. The list of these realities can be quite long and include such things as violence in our cities, drugs in our grade schools, abuse and violence in families and the plight of undocumented immigrants and the homeless. There are people, though, who won’t allow us to ignore these realities. They forcibly point out that ignoring them will never solve them. Alisa Jordheim is one of these people.
In her book, Made in the USA: The Sex Trafficking of American Children, (Higherlife Publishing and Marketing, Oviedo, Florida, 2014), Jordheim paints a clear, graphic panorama of the reality of human trafficking.
Often when reading books about social problems, a person must wade through an ocean of statistics and details. A dry, academic style of writing frequently follows the numbers. Such ingredients make it very difficult to read the book from cover to cover. Jordheim discusses human trafficking through stories.
Each of the various dynamics of prostitution and human trafficing: Kidnapping, familial involvement, survival sex and male prostitution, and recruitment techniques are told with a story. The stories are from real life situations, which are told in a compelling style. The stories transform human trafficking and prostitution from an indistinguishable group, to living, breathing people. The reader sees the context of their stories and hears their voices.
Jordheim doesn’t leave the reader hanging with only, “Now you know the rest of the story. She gives several examples of how a person can get involved in putting a stop to human trafficking stressing that it will take a village to impact the problem in a positive manner. Resources for further reading and study are also offered.
I have not read a book that is more helpful in enabling the reader to understand human trafficking, while at the same time motivating the reader to action. But be warned, the book is not for the faint hearted. It is, though, well worth the times of uneasiness.
A second book that I read was The Mainliner’s Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World, by Derek Penwell (Chalice Press, St. Louis, 2014).
For years denominations have been losing members. Really the Christian church in North America has been losing members: denominations and non-denominational congregations, liberal and conservative, evangelical and mainline. Many authorities viewing the statistics predict the end of denominations, if not the Christian church. Sitting in on a discussion in some Christian circles is similar to listening to Chicken Little exclaim that the sky is falling; rather pessimistic. Penwell doesn’t repeat these dire predictions. Instead he is upbeat and writes that this could be a very positive time for the proclamation of the gospel.
Penwell compares today to the years following the Revolutionary War. He points out that after the war very few people adhered to any brand of Christian belief. Having just won a war from England, most people were rather anti-establishment and anti-institution. They rebelled against the authority and teachings of the church. The stress on personal freedom and the idea of endless opportunities proved to be fertile ground, though, for a Christian revival—the Second Great Awakening.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the church was forced to adopt different styles of ministry in order to reach the population. Circuit riders and camp meetings were two of the adaptations that were successful. The church today also needs to adapt its ministry and message in order to effectively communicate the gospel to the younger generations. Penwell’s message is one of hope, but the church must be willing to embrace change.
I agreed with a majority of the author’s points. I found many of his thoughts affirming of what the congregation I serve is doing, and our results confirm Penwell’s premises. His book is also challenging. Several of Penwell’s suggestions will be met with shock and fear by a strong percentage of the church.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is involved in the leadership of a congregation—ordained or lay. At the very least, it is a thought provoker.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. 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.