Monday, September 28, 2015

Our Man in Charleston by Christopher Dickey

Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey is the story of Robert Bunch, Britain's consul in Charleston from 1853 -1863. Bunch served in a place where slavery was a huge issue, during a time when Britain was leading the way in ending the world wide slave trade.

Robert Bunch helped shaped Britain's views of the American South and it's "peculiar institution" during a time when the stakes were high. Britain had abolished slavery in its country and was attempting to end the slave trade world wide. This was one of their leading causes during this time, and most of the conflict in this area was occurring right where Bunch worked and lived. The delicate political situation of recognizing the Confederate States of America or not eventually led to Bunch's removal from Charleston.

Our Man in Charleston tells an interesting story, just not quite the one I expected. I expected it to be more espionage related, based on the title. However, Bunch was a diplomat through and through. While maintaining his personal views while at the same time maintaining relationships with those around him did require a certain amount of subterfuge, it was more diplomatic in nature. This book is heavy on description and narration, which makes its pace somewhat slow. Someone more interested in diplomatic maneuverings would probably appreciate it more than I did. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in foreign involvement in American history in the fifty years or so leading up to the Civil War.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. 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

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach


Messy Grace: How A Pastor With Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction by Caleb Kaltenbach is Kaltenbach's story of supporting the truth of the Bible in a difficult, and for him very personal, area of life. As the title states, Kaltenbach is a pastor whose parents both identify as homosexual.

In Messy Grace, Kaltenbach tells his story of growing up with an out mother in a committed relationship and a closeted father. Growing up, he was taught that Christians hate people, and originally attended church hoping to better combat the hatred he saw hurled at his mother and her partner by Christians. To his surprise, he fell in love with Jesus and has spent his life since then pursuing and serving Him.

Kaltenbach does an excellent job of laying out both his opinions and experiences and what the scripture says about homosexuality. He encourages everyone to re-examine their own preconceived ideas in light of what scripture says. Kaltenbach offers a good mix of personal experience and general principals and practices. Each chapter includes discussion questions at the end for a deeper look. The main theme is that there is a tension between grace and truth that every believer must follow. Holding a traditional, biblical view of homosexuality does not give Christians permission to either ignore or treat badly those in the LGBT community. In fact, the Gospel argues the opposite approach must be taken. Kaltenbach offers practical suggestions about the two communities engaging and interacting with one another.

Not everyone will agree with Kaltenbach's views, which he readily admits. His main goal is to move the conversation a little farther along than it was before. Messy Grace is an easy and practical read that will benefit many all along the spectrum of this important issue. It's a good resource and recommendable to everyone.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. 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