Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#12: One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future (Ben Carson)

Ever since reading Gifted Hands, I have been very impressed by Dr. Carson’s insight and common sense approach to all areas of life. What I found in One Nation is another example of an intelligent citizen speaking out about the things that are wrong with our country and the steps we can ALL take to correct them. I’m sure the book is not viewed favorably by many in the mainstream media, but I found Dr. Carson’s thoughts challenging, insightful, and firmly based in history as well as Scripture.

Several topics appear throughout the book. Most notably are Carson’s views on education, political bullies, and the health care abomination known as Obamacare. While expressing his opinions on the topics, Carson continually emphasizes the responsibility of the individual citizen to be well-informed about the important issues facing the nation. Part of his approach to understanding today’s world is through the examination of the past.  Carson states, “Many people find history boring and think that pop culture is much more relevant to citizens today. There certainly is nothing wrong with being up to date on the current social issues that affect our lives, but in order to have the proper perspective on current events, we need to know what happened in the past.” (Carson, 43) Success in life, according to Dr. Carson, stems from a solid education. By extension, a secure nation is maintained by an educated citizenry. It is only when we are informed that we are truly relevant. Notice this powerful passage from the chapter on “Being Informed”:

Today I frequently find myself reminding young people to expand their horizons of knowledge and not listen to those who tell them to limit their interests to things that are “culturally relevant.” I tell them that if you want to be relevant only in your household, then you only need to know the things that are important in your house, and if you want to be relevant in your neighborhood, you need to know what’s important in your neighborhood. The same thing applies to your city, state, and country. And if you want to be relevant to the entire world, program that computer known as your brain with all kinds of information from everywhere in order to prepare yourself. (Carson, 125)

Perhaps most interesting are Carson’s views on taxation and the health care system in our nation. Carson bases his approach to taxation on the Biblical principle of the tithe. (Throughout the book, Dr. Carson refers to Scripture as a foundation for many of his opinions and is especially fond of the book of Proverbs.) Just as the tithe is 10% of income with no regard for the individual’s wealth or poverty, Carson argues that an equal percentage paid in taxes ends the punishment of the wealthy while reinstating the dignity of the poor by allowing them to contribute from their means. Dr. Carson advocates the use of health savings accounts (HSA) that are created at the time of birth and receive an initial deposit from the government. Future deposits would be made by employers, charitable organizations, and the individual. As Dr. Carson explains, such a system — while not perfect — places much of the responsibility back in the hands of the patient while once again creating a free market in our nation’s health care. I have to admit that I find the concept very interesting.

Do I agree with everything Dr. Carson has presented? Certainly not. I do think that he has raised issues that are important to our national dialogue. It’s time that “we the people” once again begin discussing the issues and making sure our elected officials are aware of our wishes. After all, they are to be our representatives — not the puppet masters.  One Nation is an excellent book that will challenge you to think critically about America’s current situation and our hope for the future.

Leave a comment »

#11: Lord John and the Private Matter (Diana Gabaldon)

If you’ve visited a bookstore or library in the past few years, I’m certain you have seen the name Diana Gabaldon. The covers of her books have always made me shy away from reading her works. While I enjoy historical fiction, the images of ships that I always seemed to encounter convinced me that I would not like her writing. This week, I decided to put my preconceived notions aside and actually read one of her novels.

Gabaldon is probably best known for her Outlander novels. When I went to the Memphis Public Library, this more common series was no where to be found. What I discovered was a related series, the Lord John Grey novels. Based on my reading of the jacket panel, John Grey is a character in the Outlander series; his story has become the basis for this group of novels.

Set in London in 1757, Lord John and the Private Matter opens with John Grey making an unfortunate discovery about the man who is soon to marry Grey’s cousin. The groom-to-be appears to have syphillis. How does Grey know this? He answers this for us better than I ever can near the end of the book:  “Saw your prick, over the piss-pots at the Beefstead.” (Lord John and the Private Matter, 267)  As Grey begins to investigate the truth of his observations, he is led into the strange London underworld of whore houses. Things become very strange as Grey becomes convinced that his future in-law may be involved in the mysterious and savage death of the woman in the green dress.

Lord John and the Private Matter is filled with interesting, memorable characters that are wonderfully developed by the author. While the story involves a strong presence of sexuality, promiscuity, and perversion, Gabaldon carefully walks the line between intrigue and vulgarity. (Just so there is no question, I do not recommend this novel for young adults or those who are easily offended by sexual commentary. At the same time, this is not 50 Shades.)  What I found more uncomfortable than the content was the constantly shifting scenes. Written more like a mystery, the novel demands that the reader move seamlessly around the city of London with Lord John. Without a clear visual of the city, the geography can become challenging.

I no longer question Gabaldon’s skill as an author. I liked the book. I just don’t know that I will venture into the world of Lord John again. There are so many books to read that promise (and deliver) greater returns for me.

If you’ve had a different experience with Gabaldon’s works, I welcome your comments below as well as recommendations of another of her books to check out.

Leave a comment »