Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of books or films, especially those that relate to language or literature in some way.

Scoop & Put Out More Flags – Review

Evelyn Waugh. Scoop and Put Out More Flags. New York: Dell, 1966. Print.

The past month has been a difficult one for personal reasons. I was looking for something humorous to read to lighten the load a bit. Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One was one of the funniest books I ever read. I came across this volume with two short novels of his that I had not read. While not as rip-roaring as The Loved One, they are fun to read, especially the first.

Scoop begins like many comedies with a mistaken identity. However, unlike, say, The Comedy of Errors, most of the humor comes from other sources, especially as a nearly true-to-life send-up of the journalism industry.

John Boot is an up-and-coming novelist. He gets good reviews. He knows all the right people. Even the prime minister is said to enjoy his stories. One of the right people he knows is a Lady with whom he may be having an affair. He is in some financial straits and needs a steady job for a while. Lady Stitch has connections with the London Beast, so soon the publisher is asking editors to get a hold of Boot for assignment to the independent African nation of Ishmaelia where a communist revolution is rumored to be taking place.

It so happens that one William Boot has a regular column in the Beast describing simple country life. He lives in a small inherited estate and is uncomfortable anywhere else. He would be happy if he never traveled twenty miles from his home. When the editors are told to get Boot, Beast editor Mr. Salter calls on William Boot. He comes to London for the first time in his life to a meeting. He refuses the assignment until he is told that he would not be able to keep his Lush Places column and would be making more money than what he was used to earning.

Without going into too much detail, Ishmaelia is a small family-run desert country somewhere near the Sudan. In Waugh’s day it might have been something like British Somaliland or Djibouti. Nothing much happens there, but it does appear that a few disgruntled citizens may be trying to create a coup. Maybe.

Boot takes it easy in the Ishmaelian capital city while reporters from other newspapers and wire services race into the desert to a mountain that does not exist. (It appears on some maps due to a misunderstanding, kind of like Crespo Island in the Pacific).

There are some interesting characters in the story including a Swedish missionary-consul, a Greek ping pong hall operator, members of the ruling Jackson family, the naïve Katchen who may be from Germany or not, and a variety of reporters who are all to a greater or lesser degree bamboozled by Ishamaeli politicians.

Even though Boot is himself naïve and knows little of international journalism, he is the only one who reports back to London what is really happening in the country—and it is not much.

Nowadays people speak of fake news. Waugh wrote this in the 1930s and is saying the same thing. No, a lot of what we read as news is really fabricated or at least exaggerated. Perhaps the only way to deal with it is the way Boot does. (I am not going to spoil it, but he seems to be the only one who gets it but at the same time never loses his innocence.) We are certainly free to say that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Put Out More Flags is perhaps a bit more dated. It is set in England in the late 1939 and 1940 (it was published in 1942), so it deals with events leading to World War II and the early fighting in the war.

Unlike Scoop, this is an ensemble piece which follows about half a dozen characters through these years. We meet a military reservist who is trying to get out of fighting and another who is trying to figure out where in the war office he wants to work. There is a group of writers and artists with communist sympathies.

Much of the humor in Put Out More Flags is irony. And, let us face it, what is funny to one person may be merely ironic to another. Nevertheless, this is a clever novel, though I suspect an Englishman might appreciate it more. It reminds this reviewer of a person who tells us he is telling a funny story, but no one is laughing, so he admits, “You had to have been there.”

Today Waugh is best known for Brideshead Revisited, a relatively serious novel, but most of what he wrote was humorous, and Scoop especially will give the reader a few chuckles and maybe even a guffaw or two.

Camino Island – Review

John Grisham. Camino Island. New York: Doubleday, 2017. Print.

It has been a while since we read anything by John Grisham. This latest work is not exactly the legal thriller he is known for. Perhaps we could call Camino Island an insurance procedural. And like some of his other novels about the law, the stakes are high.

Camino Island begins with a very clever heist of the handwritten manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s five novels from a heavily protected safe at Princeton University.

From there it does get to Camino Island, off the Jacksonville, Florida, coast where Bruce Cable owns a flourishing bookstore. It is in an upscale tourist area like the coastal islands of Georgia and South Carolina. Cable has learned the trade well and frequently gets authors passing through to do book signings. He also has a great personal collection of first editions and a rare book business on the side.

The unnamed insurer of the Fitzgerald manuscripts approaches a starving young author, Mercer Mann, to go to Camino Island where her aunt owns a summer home. They offer her a generous amount of money to find out what she can about Cable’s business and see if she can learn anything about the missing manuscripts. A somewhat reliable informant thought Cable might have them.

Camino Island not only introduces the reader to the bookstore business, it gives insight into the rare book and manuscript world along with high-stakes insurance investigations. As with stolen works of art, insurers and victims are usually more interested in recovering the stolen items than seeing all the perpetrators come to justice. Indeed, many such thefts are more like kidnappings where the stolen items are held for ransom.

Camino Island names numerous other modern books, most of literary significance. We are introduced to a curious cast of writers who live nearby. Included are some comments about Fitzgerald and his friends.

One such observation says that The Beautiful and Damned may be Fitzgerald’s weakest effort. We are not so sure about that. It is the closest to The Great Gatsby in content and portrays a family very similar to the Tom Buchanans. Gatsby tells us that the very rich go on being rich and letting others clean up their messes. The Beautiful and Damned shows us how they do it. I confess that I have not yet read the unfinished The Last Tycoon, but I would consider Tender is the Night his weakest. It does feature a mother who exploits her daughter for gain like Erysichthon, but it is somewhat disjointed and seems to be going in a few different directions.

Still, Camino Island is a bit different for a detective novel or legal procedural. If not exactly a thriller, the reader is fascinated and curious to see what happens. We both were a little disappointed in Miss Mercer’s weak character, but the book is set in our era. Maybe a little of the Daisy Buchanan has rubbed off on her. Welcome to the twenty-first century, where the rich still get away with the crimes they commit.

The Store – Review

James Patterson and Richard DiLallo. The Store. Boston: Little Brown, 2017. Print.

James Patterson is almost a publishing company himself. He has a stable of co-authors and writers in a variety of genres. I believe a new book with his name on it appears about every 6-8 weeks. He clearly supervises more than he himself actually writes.

Any reader will be tempted to compare The Store with The Circle. Certainly one could an IQ test analogy puzzle: The Circle: Google::The Store: Amazon.

The Store faintly echoes 1984. It is set in 2020 and The Store (thestore.com) sells virtually everything. While it has warehouses all over, its headquarters is in America’s heartland, New Burg, Nebraska. Only we discover that New Burg is indeed a new burg and a complete company town. Just as Amazon and other online outlets try to discover all they can about their buyers and users through algorithms, items purchased, and pages viewed, so The Store keeps tabs on its employees with video cameras everywhere—not only for security on the sidewalks, but even in the homes they rent and sell.

When writer Jacob Brandeis and his wife are both downsized from their jobs in New York City, Jacob takes and offer from The Store. He is a writer, after all, and The Store began by selling books. When he arrived in town, it seems that everyone—the police, the librarian, all the neighbors—already know his name and the names of his wife and kids.

Drones fly everywhere. While many of them are delivery drones, others are spy drones. At one point he is enjoying looking at two starts through the tree limbs out the window of a friend’s house. The next morning he still sees them and discovers that they are two video cameras aimed at the house.

One neighbor couple seems to be bothered by such things as much as the Brandeises, but most workers at The Store and in New Burg seem content. Suddenly, The Store transfers the other couple to San Francisco. Brandeis suspects it is for some kind of psychological reprogramming. Brandeis takes a vacation to San Francisco, but they are not there.

Later he runs into them, and they tell him that they were in San Jose. Now they seem as Big-Brother-ish and Stepford Wives-like as the rest of The Store’s crew. No freedom. No privacy.
Total conformity. Everyone appears happy, so no one cares. Even his wife and children eventually drink The Store’s Kool-Aid.

The Store is written more like a young adult (YA) novel. The chapters are quite short. The action seems almost breathless. There is a lot of suspense. (Divergent anyone?) There is one thing that will keep it off the YA shelves: the language. When Brandeis and others get angry, there are plenty of expletives.

With some faint parallels to 1984, the reader might even guess what Brandeis calls the exposé of The Store which he is writing. Still, no one is going to confuse The Store with Orwell’s classic. It is a lively page turner with a typical Patterson twist at the end. It is fun, even if comes off an assembly line.

P.S. One day after this reviewer finished this book, the Wall Street Journal carried an article titled “Amazon Takes Over the World.” Art imitates life?

The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible – Review

James Frederick Ivey. The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible. Amazon Digital, 2013. E-book.

Thornton Wilder’s Our Town has the famous line in which Rebecca Gibbs marvels at the address written on an envelope delivered to a friend of hers:

Jane Crofut; The Crofut Farm, Grover’s Corners; Sutton County; New Hampshire; United States of America; Continent of North America; Western Hemisphere; the Earth; the Solar System; the Universe; the Mind of God—that’s what it said on the envelope.(36)

Dr. Ivey in The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible tries to show there is indeed a connection suggested in this tender and humorous reflection. He shows that the universe is part of the mind of God, or, at the very least, a product of the mind of God. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, the universe is 99.99% mental.

To sum up Ivey’s thesis, because of quantum physics and even more so if string or loop theories are substantiated, most of what we perceive as matter and energy is empty space. However, we can describe it mathematically—often not as an actual position or size but as a probability. The fact that this all holds together in an orderly manner in spite of the Euclidean vagueness of it proves that the universe has a mathematically sophisticated designer. It is virtually the same argument that Newton used at the end of his Principia except that the math is more complicated and the discoveries of subatomic particles, atoms, gravitational fields, relativity, and quanta make the hypothesis even more realistic.

As Ivey would put it, to think “It just happened to happen” is downright blind. (1276)

The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible quotes many scientists and philosophers. It occasionally quotes the Bible—infrequently enough that some readers might expect more from the Bible because of what the title implies. The language is a bit wordy and repetitive, but author wants to make his point. Wide ranging and quotable, it certainly makes an interesting case.

It sounds indeed that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14); or as Emily Gibbs says in Our Town: “Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you!” (83)

Note

The page reference for the book being reviewed is a Kindle location. The other book quoted is Thornton Wilder, Our Town, Acting Edition (New York: Samuel French, 2007) Print.

The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread – Review

Richard Booker. The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread. Rev. Ed. Shippensburg PA: Destiny Image, 2017. E-book.

The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread is a classic. It has sold in the millions and has been a standard for teaching for nearly forty years. This “Expanded Edition” contains two new chapters which may be the most interesting.

The focus of The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread is the theme of blood covenant throughout the Bible culminating in the blood sacrifice of the Messiah Jesus. It begins with Adam, goes to Abraham, and focuses a lot on Moses. We examine the significance of the Passover and the Priesthood. The details of the Tabernacle in particular prophesy the suffering and death of the Messiah.

Booker refers to The Blood Covenant by H. Clay Trumbull a number of times. That is the source for the topic, not only theologically but anthropologically. A few years ago I read the Chinese classic novel The Three Kingdoms. The book begins with what the Chinese call the Peach Orchard Oath. Basically, three men confirm a blood covenant and, as we would say, they become blood brothers. As the story unfolds, we see how seriously the men took their promise to each other. Trumbull noted how the concept of blood covenant is nearly universal among mankind. Booker notes that Trumbull is more scholarly, so his book has made the teaching more accessible to the average person.

The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread perhaps best compares with Malcolm Smith’s The Power of the Blood Covenant. Smith’s work involves more personal application but does not survey the Scripture the way Booker does.

For serious students of both the Bible and the anthropology, the two chapters added to the Expanded Edition make this edition worthwhile. These are less obvious aspects of the blood covenant, but Booker explains them well using both the Scripture and personal examples. Those chapters are about the salt covenant and the threshold covenant. One should perhaps note that the threshold covenant is an important aspect of the Passover story. Jesus, too, called himself the door. (See John 10:9)

The Old Testament does allude to covenants of salt a couple of times, and Booker explains that clearly as well. Most people recognize that blood tastes salty, and salt can be a substitute for blood in certain situations, just as wine (the blood of the grapes, see Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14) is viewed that way.

The author spends quite a few pages at the beginning describing his own experiences and perhaps justifying his work. Quite a bit of that in my mind is unnecessary. As the lawyers say, res ipse loquitur, the thing speaks for itself, and it speaks volumes. No apology necessary.

Absolutely Truly – Review

Heather Vogel Frederick. Absolutely Truly. New York: Simon, 2014. Print.

Absolutely Truly is a Young Adult novel with a clever mystery that, frankly, is more realistic than many YA mysteries. The main character, Truly Lovejoy, has a few problems not unique to twelve and thirteen year-old girls. She is taller than anyone in her class. Her family has just moved to a new state. And her parents are having some personal and financial problems.

Now, Truly is used to moving. Her father is an army helicopter pilot, so the fact that she is entering her fifth school when she begins seventh grade is nothing unusual. Her problem is that the family finally had moved to Austin, Texas, where she had some cousins and friends and fit in nicely.

However, her father has lost his right arm in Afghanistan fighting, so his military career has ended. Meanwhile, Truly’s grandparents are retiring and looking to have her father and his sister (Aunt True) take over their small bookstore in the small, rural town of Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire, where Col. Lovejoy and Aunt True grew up.

Absolutely Truly portrays Pumpkin Falls as representative of Northern New England with its local maple syrup and covered bridge. It also has some traditions such as its Winter Festival and Cotillion. This means Truly is going to have to learn to dance with a partner who is probably a head shorter. She reminds us that her shoe size is ten and a half.

The family problems are things that other people have also struggled with. Her father has not been himself since he lost his arm. Her aunt and father both made a point of leaving Pumpkin Falls as soon as they graduated from high school, but now they have to return. How can they get the bookstore to become profitable once again? If they fail, what will they do then?

Then, to make things interesting, Truly finds an envelope in an autographed copy of Charlotte’s Web that sounds like it is the beginning of a treasure hunt puzzle. That valuable copy of Charlotte’s Web goes missing—Col. Lovejoy was hoping that auctioning that book could keep the store afloat. Meanwhile, Truly and some acquaintances try to decipher the clues to track the treasure. It appears the letters were written about twenty years ago, judging from the postage stamp affixed to one of them.

There are many things going on this story. Truly is the middle of five children and the oldest of three sisters. She has been on swim teams in the past, but she might not be able to be on the local swim team because of failing math grades.

Some of the townspeople are curious characters, too. The postmistress is a notorious busybody who seems to be enjoying the difficulties of the Lovejoy’s bookstore. A customer who always swaps but never buys any books resembles a bag lady and probably is a cat lady. She always has a new kitten or two in her pockets. Oh, and her father’s family was one of the early settlers of Pumpkin Falls. There is a Lovejoy Mountain and a Lovejoy College named after some of their ancestors.

Interesting scenarios and some honest and realistic conflicts make this YA story a real winner. While the author is known for some “chick lit,” Absolutely Truly should find an audience with boys as well as girls. There is no romance, just honest struggles about growing up.

Into a Dark Frontier – Review

John Mangan. Into a Dark Frontier. Longboat Key FL: Oceanview, 2017. Print.

Into a Dark Frontier defines the page turner. There is one problem and one conflict after another. It becomes almost surprising where the novel ends up. While most international thrillers are formulaic, this novel is unpredictable.

The first few chapters are fast but fuzzy. A bunch of things happen to our protagonist, Crawford Slade, but it is hard to fathom why, and so we are left somewhat puzzled. There were several articles on the TV show 24 which said that if anyone had experienced the injuries Jack Bauer sustained in less than twenty-four hours, they would probably be dead and certainly not still chasing terrorists.

That is the way we felt after the first few chapters. Some of Slade’s feats seemed nearly impossible. This makes Into a Dark Frontier closer to something written by Ken Follett than, say, Tom Clancy.

However, once the preliminaries are over, the plot begins to make a little more sense and we begin to understand what is happening. And Slade begins to sound more realistic.

The novel takes place in the near future when Africa and other parts of the world have been literally decimated by nuclear war and other violence. The United Nations is taking over and becoming the one-world government.

Ex-GI Slade has been hired by an Amish-type religious community called the Judeans to be in charge of security for them while they move from the United States—whose government is now demanding politically correct conformity in behavior—to somewhere in the depopulated African continent to begin anew. While their appearance and practices are reminiscent of the Amish, the Judeans are not pacifists. In fact, Slade is impressed with the arms and armor they purchase when they arrive in South Africa.

Without going into too much detail, Slade goes from South Africa to Mozambique to Malawi to Kenya having a variety of adventures. The main story really begins in Nairobi after Slade is recruited by an off-the-grid American army colonel to find out about the organization that is attacking settlers in Africa including the Judeans.

Much of Nairobi has been burned out because of the chaos in the preceding decade, but it does have a semblance of government and people come there for the relative safety and the opportunity to begin again. Slade asks the right questions and understands urban warfare and strategies. With the help of some Australian soldiers of fortune, he is able to not only find out what the American colonel wants but to do his part to bring some order to the region.

While Into a Dark Frontier is a suspenseful plot-driven piece, it peripherally brings up a number of significant issues: religious liberty, nationalism, open borders, progressivism, human trafficking, and the great fear—fear of death (see Hebrews 2:14,15).

This book is published by a small publisher that specializes in suspense and thrillers. It could be more carefully edited. I found four spelling errors; three were relatively trivial but the fourth was confusing enough that I had to read the sentence three times before I realized what was going on.

One could make a case that Mangan ought to be picked up by a big New York publisher. They would have caught the spelling mistakes, but I am not sure they would have done much with the book because of its political incorrectness. In Into a Dark Frontier, government and internationalism are the problem, not the solution. Such a concept is not popular among the Big Apple elite, but it resonates among many people in many places. This book will resonate with them.

The South Seas, Etc. – Review

Robert Louis Stevenson. The South Seas, Etc. New York: Books Inc., n.d. Print. The World’s Popular Classics.

This was an old edition we happened to pick up because we knew that Stevenson spent his last years in the South Pacific because of health problems.

This book consisted of The South Seas, Letters from Samoa, and “Father Damien,” all relatively short works. This told us a little of Stevenson’s life, but more of his impressions of the South Pacific. While he visited Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, and a few other places, The South Seas focuses on the Marquesas Islands where he lived for some time.

He makes some observations about the Polynesian languages, noting how from New Zealand to Hawaii and the Marshalls they are all related. He notes the consonant changes, that in Tahiti the word tabu (“taboo”) is tapu in the Marquesas and kepu in Hawaii. I recall being told that in the more remote areas of Hawaii (Niihau and maybe Lanai) they retained the t sound over the k sound so even today they speak of Tamehameha rather than Kamehameha. He says the differences are slight and they can all understand one another in spite of the great distances from island group to island group just as a Welshman can communicate clearly enough with a Breton.

Stevenson writes about the relations between the French rulers and native people. There are, of course, some misunderstandings but for the most part they accept each other’s laws and practices. This mutual tolerance and parallel cultures were reminiscent of the relations between the Indians and English settlers in New England prior to King Philip’s War. Some of the young men were eager to be schooled by the French but others merely tolerated it.

Stevenson, a Protestant, was impressed with the artwork that went into the construction of a couple of the Catholic church buildings on the islands. He also was fairly impressed with the dedication of the priests and nuns who ran the churches and schools. Some, he opined, were better teachers than others, but most seemed dedicated to their religion and their calling.

The South Seas
devotes quite a few pages to observations and discussions of cannibalism. Apparently it was still practiced in the Marquesas until the French outlawed it. Even then, Stevenson suspects some may have continued it. He notes that this was not practiced in some of the other Polynesian islands and suspects it was more common in places where the population density was greater.

He also notes the taboos and fears associated with death and ghosts among the people of the Marquesas. He also states that there were only two accurate Western recorders of life in the South Pacific, one being Herman Melville in Typée and Omoo. Stevenson’s experience in the Marquesas is very different from Melville’s, but he can observe some of the same things, though in the fifty year time span, the French had brought more of a Western and Catholic influence.

In comparing the cultures of the Marquesas with Hawaii, he notes that the Marquesas overall were more traditional and less Western. The reason he gives is that in Hawaii shortly before the first missionaries came, King Kamehameha had become skeptical of the Hawaiian gods and religious practices and had abolished most of the traditional practices. When the missionaries arrived a few years later, the Hawaiian were often ready to hear of the true God.

Letters from Samoa are about half a dozen letters describing some aspects of life on Samoa in 1892 and 1893. At the time Samoa was part of the German Empire—it became American Samoa after Germany’s defeat in World War I. What stood out to him was the treatment of workers from Melanesia.

It seems almost as if the German landowners there were imitating the American South before the Civil War. They would go to the Melanesian islands, especially New Caledonia, and hire black natives to work on their fruit plantations. While not enslaved, they were not treated especially well and many died from disease and, according to Stevenson, from homesickness. It was definitely feudal in nature.

The tract on Father Damien of Molokai was written as an open letter in response to a Presbyterian minister who was critical of Father Damien. It is worth reading because Stevenson visited Molokai and did get a chance to see the leprosarium there. (Father Damien himself had died a couple of years before Stevenson arrived.) At best, Stevenson notes that if Father Damien is ever elevated to sainthood (that happened in 2009), that letter written by the Honolulu minister would fit in well with the position of a devil’s advocate.

Stevenson is a good writer. None of these nonfiction pieces are really stories, but they are of some interest historically and linguistically as a discussion of the islands of Polynesia especially the Marquesas and Samoa. As they still do today, they sound like wonderful places to visit and maybe even to call home.

The Old Man and the Tea – Review

McMillan Moody. The Old Man and the Tea. OBT Bookz, 2013. E-book.

A few months ago we reviewed another book by Mr. Moody that featured a church intern named Elmo Jenkins. Elmo narrates The Old Man and the Tea as well. This novel takes place about five years later. Jenkins has been installed as an associate pastor of the First Church, a megachurch set in a state that resembles Georgia. Again, he has a number of funny stories and encounters to share.

This time Rev. Jorgenson, the magisterial senior pastor of the church, has planned a major building project. Much of the church structure is over a century old, and it looks like time to do some serious renovation. He has hired a consulting firm to help raise the big bucks needed for such a project.

Meanwhile, now-Rev. Jenkins has made friends with a wise and salty old Christian at a popular doughnut shop. Elijah Enoch always orders tea and reads his Bible there. Elmo finds Eli’s advice very helpful, but when Eli suggests that the church pray about the fundraising before starting the project, Elmo is not sure if anyone will pay attention to what he has to say.

There are a number of other things going on, as always. A respected deacon has started acting like a prophet, interrupting the services and especially speaking against the building program. Elmo is trying to wangle a trip in the sailboat owned by another staff member. (“For some odd reason, a sailboat is a ‘must-have’ for rich white people.” [649]) And a new secretary hired by the church seems to be disrupting most of the people who work there.

As was true with Ordained Irreverence, there is a lot of humor in The Old Man and the Tea. A flyer printed to promote prayer has a misprint because Elmo’s ones look like sevens, so instead of Acts 1:8, it says Acts 7:8. (If the verse flag here does not work, check it out yourself.) Oh, while Elmo gets a certain amount of teasing because of the Sesame Street figure of the same name, in this installment we meet a character whose name is Burton Earney. Also Fran Bruker’s name sounds a lot like Frau Blucher of Car Talk fame. And it is hard to talk about evangelical Christianity in the United States too long without mentioning Chick Tracts.

Elmo spends a little time in New York City because a publisher there is coming out with a book he wrote. What we remember about his trip there, though, is Sergio, his ex-con chauffeur. At one point Sergio relates how he was in an elevator alone with Frank Sinatra. He asks Sinatra, “Is there any truth to those mafia rumors I keep hearing ’bout you?” Sinatra’s responds the way he actually did respond when he met Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather.

Some readers might receive a little surprise at the end, though a careful reader would have picked up on a number of hints about who Mr. Enoch really is. Elmo, read your Bible.

This is the third of at least six Elmo Jenkins novels. While they are not for everyone, they have a tone similar to that of Garrison Keillor in many of his Lake Wobegon monologues. They do have fun at the expense of the church, but it is humor based on affection.

Say Goodbye to Regret – Review

Bob Santos. Say Goodbye to Regret. Indiana PA: SfMe Media, 2017. Print.

The title promises: Say Goodbye to Regret. Is that even possible?

The Great Gatsby tells us:

“Can’t repeat the past?” he [Gatsby] cried incredulously, “Why of course you can!”

Gatsby’s tragedy is that that is impossible. What is done is over, and we have only the present.

How do we handle our regrets? Bob Santos provides an answer, and, no, it does not involve mansions or stolen bonds. The key is wisdom. We need wisdom to be able to overcome our regrets. We need wisdom to make better decisions in the future.

Santos starts right at the beginning. You think you have regrets? What about Adam and Eve? They had it made! They were living a perfect life in a perfect environment and they gave it away for some fruit! They believed the devil’s lie, and they spent the rest of their long lives remembering how great it used to be.

Say Goodbye to Regret begins with a Gospel presentation. We cannot undo what we have done. We need someone to redeem us and our situation.

After we accept God’s Gospel, how do we live? The Bible tells us very simply “the righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) Adam and Eve fell because they did not believe what God said about the tree. So we are to live by trusting in God and His Word.

Santos notes that today we people are faced with so many ideas from so many sources that we are constantly making decisions. This leads to what he calls decision fatigue. I have heard others describe this as burnout. Santos then presents God’s provision: “The wisdom from above.” (James 3:17)

Three different verses all say “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, 9:10) Santos devotes two chapters discussing the necessity of the fear of God. Yes, God loves us so much that He sent His Son, but we need to respect Him and hold Him in awe. Then we begin to see our actions have consequences and God can give us the power to have the wisdom to make the best decisions. “When reverence and respect begin to flavor all we do, we will be well on our way to pursuing heavenly wisdom and saying goodbye to earthly regret.” (200)

Besides presenting Bible teaching, Santos shares from his own personal experiences—growing up the son of immigrants in a broken home, becoming a Christian believer at the age of nineteen, and serving as a husband and father and pastor. Some of his most effective testimonies come from the fifteen years he was a college campus minister.

The subtitle of this book in some ways sums up his theme: Discovering the Secret to a Blessed Life. That is what God wants for all of us, and that is what Santos demonstrates. There is an anointing on this book, and those who take it to heart will have a greater blessing than they did before picking it up.

Disclosure of Material: We received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review.