Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: John L. Allen Jr.'s The Global War on Christians

Reading this title you probably thought this meant the war on the holidays or well to be honest something that is related to the American identity of Christianity. Allen though goes into way more depth about exploring the conditions of Christians worldwide. He explores everything from what makes a martyr to the countries where Christians are the majorities but yet still threatened and attacked. Allen is also good about not ignoring that other belief systems have their own share of hate toward them, and that the root of Christians being attacked worldwide isn't Islamic. The most startling of information may even be how the Iraq war made living conditions worse for Christians there.

Summary: Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, to Indonesia, and more countries have very oppressive actions to take against Christians living in the region, and Allen uses his journalistic investigation and his own religious insight to explore the ways that Christians are oppressed there, share accounts of martyrs, and distill many myths that Christians have formed about the "enemies" of Christianity including the belief that Islam is the hugest fuel against Christians.

Characters: The book uses the realities of real people who have been the victims of what Allen is trying to bring attention to. I believe the personal accounts and focus on actual stories instead of just talking about it in your own narrative of perspective helps get the reader into the situation, and it brings out the reality of what Christians have been living through worldwide. He also uses people who are killed and are Christian to make a point that it doesn't mean dying directly for your faith to be a martyr. I'm not sure I still agree with that point even after the explanation that Allen carries it through. He makes a good point, but I don't know that because a missionary was killed because they get got robbed, and they were only killed in that situation because they were there for their beliefs makes them a martyr. Does that mean Christians who live in that country and get killed when they are robbed are martyrs if they get robbed and die in the burglary? I don't want to take away from the travesty or impact of someone's death, but that definition of martyr makes it extremely broad.

Writing: There are tons of this stories in this book to bring to life just how devastating the reality of what Allen is exposing is. At times though I felt the book did ramble a lot, and the section of the book that discusses the top countries known for persecuting was a huge list that felt like it was rambling on and on. I feel like after a while, and I hate to say this, that stories lose their impact once you've told what sounds like much the same tale from earlier in the book. I hate to sound like I'm being cold. Because the stories are horrendous, awful, and reveal the oppressive state of many regions. It's just hard to not become too acquainted with the circumstances he mentions when they appear in every other sentences. I felt the stories should have been narrowed down, and a character grown with in that country to show us the impact of what that character went through instead of putting a bunch of people into one section.

Plot: The book builds well by beginning you with a very lengthy introduction, exploring the different countries where Allen will find most the subjects for the book, then going over particular people, and then discussing what we can do to help or give a voice to those being persecuted in other countries. The book gets a lot stronger as it goes, and by the end you see the importance of why Allen was writing this book.

The Global War on Christians isn't just a good book for Christians, but for others perhaps not aware of what is happening in other countries. Allen knows that the response might not be huge by those who aren't Christians, but he makes a strong, logical case that anyone reading can feel some sympathy toward. Allen does well to not put Christians above anyone else either that needs help and covers his situations well.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for a review.

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