“Simply defined, the ‘grace effect’ is an observable phenomenonthat life is demonstrably better where authentic Christianity flourishes.”
What does Christianity give us beyond televangelists, potlucks, and bad basketball leagues? Not much, according to the secular Left. The world, they say, would be a better place without it.
Historian and Christian apologist Larry Taunton has spent much of his career refuting just this sort of thinking, but when he encounters Sasha, a golden-haired Ukranian orphan girl whose life has been shaped by atheistic theorists, he discovers an unlikely champion for the transforming power of grace.
Through the narrative of Sasha’s redemption, we see the false promises of socialism; the soul-destroying influence of unbelief; and how a society cultivates its own demise when it rejects the ultimate source of grace. We see, in short, the kind of world the atheists would give us: a world without Christianitycold, pitiless, and graceless.
And yet, as Sasha shows us, it is a world that is not beyond the healing power of “the grace effect.” Occasionally infuriating, often amusing, but always inspiring, The Grace Effect will have you cheering for the courageous little girl who shamed the academic elitists of our day.
"In The Grace Effect-- Larry Taunton's deeply moving and personal story of how his family adopteda Ukranian girl -- we behold the staggering contrast between a culture suffusedwith Christian faith and one that has utterly rejected it. Atheists mustassiduously avoid exposure to stories like this one. If you've ever beenunsure of how much good Christianity does in the world, read this book."Eric Metaxas, New York Times Best-selling author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr,Prophet, Spy.
"This highly readable book is a collection of powerful insights into the long-term consequences of spiritual indifference and, above all, a remarkable example of how to conquer it." Dr. Olivera Petrovich, research psychologist, University of Oxford
"What would a world without Christianity look like? We don't have to guess because such a world does exist: it exists in the current and former Communist bloc. Through the inspiring story of a little girl born in Eastern Europe and now living in America, Larry Taunton draws a sharp contrast between the life-giving influence of Christianity and the worn out theories of atheism and radical secularism. The effect?The Grace Effect?is nothing less than powerful and moving." ?Dinesh D'Souza, former White House policy analyst, fellow of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, and current president of Kings College
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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About the Author
Larry Alex Taunton is Founder and Executive Director of Fixed Point Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the public defense of the Christian faith. Fixed Point has captured the attention of BBC, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News Network, The Christian Post, and many others. Taunton has personally engaged some of the most vociferous opponents of Christianity, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Peter Singer. He lives in Birmingham, AL.
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THE GRACE EFFECTHow the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief
By LARRY ALEX TAUNTON
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Larry Alex Taunton
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFirst Steps
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked. "Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on til you come to the end: then stop."
—From Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
WE SAT IN MEMPHIS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, WAITING TO board our flight. My wife, Lauri, passed the time talking to friends on her cell phone while it was still possible to do so. A few seats away, Christopher, our sixteen-year-old son, was oblivious to the cacophony of voices, rolling luggage, and loudspeakers that are common to such settings. An avid reader, he was deep into Huxley's Brave New World. Zachary, the youngest of our brood, fidgeted restlessly and then, as though divinely inspired, looked at me hopefully.
"Hey, Daddy-o? How about some barbecue before we leave the country?" At thirteen, he wasn't much for either cell phone chitchat or Huxley's secular prophecies. He and our other boys had affectionately called me "Daddy-o" ever since giving me the screen name "Daddy-07" in one of their James Bond video games years before.
"Sure," I said, checking my watch. A Southerner both in heart and palate, it required little to persuade me to eat barbecue at any time. Christopher's audio-sensory filters, which worked to prevent anything he deemed inconsequential from reaching his conscious being while reading, had certain preset exceptions. All of them dealt with food.
"Barbecue?" he said, perking up. "Did someone say 'barbecue'?" A few minutes and a trip to an airport kiosk later, we sat eating our pork sandwiches, wondering what we would find ahead of us in the coming days.
Our family—minus our oldest son, Michael, who was then in college—was traveling to Ukraine to finalize the adoption of a ten-year-old girl named Sasha. Waiting for our flight, Christopher and Zachary saw it all as a great adventure. They had met Sasha the previous summer while on a short-term mission trip to Odessa. In fact, the whole family had met her but me. The work in the orphanage had made an enormous impression on all of them, and now, almost a year later, I was going with them to adopt the little girl they knew and of whom I had only heard stories and seen pictures.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we will continue boarding with our passengers traveling in business elite ..."
Business elite. Definitely not us. Boarding for our zone, which lay about a football field from business elite, wouldn't take place for another fifteen minutes or so. Nevertheless, the boys and I wolfed down what remained of our sandwiches while Lauri scurried to gather the carry-on luggage. Efficiency is part of an American's DNA.
"How long do you think we will be gone?" Lauri asked as we joined a growing line of passengers. It was as if she were seeking my prediction on the outcome of a sporting event.
"Hmmm ..." I tried to take all of the variables into account. "I'll say four weeks."
"We will continue boarding with our passengers seated in Zone 1."
Lauri looked hopeful but uncertain about my prediction. I was confident that we would be able to expedite the process once in Ukraine. A friendly conversation with the right Ukrainian official might help them see that it was in everyone's best interest to move things along. Sasha, a special-needs child, would greatly benefit from better health care, and to leave her in an orphanage even a day longer than was necessary seemed cruel, especially since she had been waiting a lifetime.
Over the years, Lauri and I had often discussed adoption, but something always prevented us from doing it. Now it was going to happen, and we were excited that a yearlong process was approaching an end. Viewed from the perspective of my work, however, this presented some difficulties. Adoptive parents spend an average of thirty-six days in Ukraine, and we were told to expect nothing different. I felt that I could scarcely afford that much time away. Furthermore, we had no control over the timing of our trip. Once the appropriate documents for adoption were submitted to the Ukrainian government, parents waited to be issued travel dates, and those are immovable—or, more accurately, the government won't move them. A refusal to appear when summoned is to risk the adoption altogether. One can imagine how this wreaks havoc on schedules. Hence, it became a contentious point.
"Can't you just go over there and get her?" I would ask Lauri. "The Ukrainians want us to come when I am supposed to be in China."
"No, dear, you have to be there too," Lauri would remind me.
"Brad and Sue adopted from Eastern Europe, and he didn't have to go."
"Brad and Sue adopted from Bulgaria. The laws are different in Ukraine."
"Next time, let's adopt from Bulgaria," I said, defeated and not planning on a next time. We'd had this conversation before, and the result was always the same. Frustrated, I looked for some way to follow through with the adoption while not abandoning my work. Reluctantly, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to go. I canceled the China trip, postponed engagements where it was possible to do so, and delegated what remained of my calendar. And as Lauri pointed out, since I would be free from the daily distractions of meetings and phone calls, I might find that I was able to accomplish a great deal in Ukraine. Multitasking, however, does not come natural to me, and doing such disparate things as fulfilling my professional responsibilities while daily seeing to the personal ones associated with this adoption some eight time zones away did not give me much reason for optimism. The two were, in my mind, utterly unrelated.
Cruising some 35,000 feet over the Eastern Seaboard, we settled in for the transatlantic flight.
"So, how are you enjoying your book, Christopher?" I had reread Huxley only a few weeks before and urged my children to read him too.
"It's pretty good." He looked up, holding his page with a finger. Zachary sat between us, playing an electronic game and wearing headphones.
"Yeah, that's why they call it a 'classic,'" I said with a smile, trying to draw out his opinion. "Can you tell me more?"
Chris looked up at the luggage compartment for a moment, gathering his thoughts.
"Well, it's not what I expected," he began. "I mean, I know that Huxley was an atheist, but so far—I'm only halfway through the book—it doesn't seem like he thinks a world without belief in God would be a very good thing."
"That's a perceptive analysis."
It doesn't seem like he thinks a world without belief in God would be a very good thing. Involuntarily, the conversation with Christopher Hitchens in the restaurant a fortnight before replayed in my mind. How does one quantify common grace?
At this point, it is probably important that I explain what I mean by "common grace." That God grants both temporal and eternal blessings to the Christian is—among Christians, anyway—axiomatic. My faith in Jesus Christ not only gives me hope through the forgiveness of my sins and the promise of eternal life, but also, through the work of the Holy Spirit, offers me guidance in the daily discharge of my affairs. When Christians speak of grace, this is usually what they mean, and while true, this does not mark the outer boundary of God's gracious activity. Common grace should not be confused with "saving" or "special" grace, which is a very different doctrine. One theologian defined common grace as that grace which "curbs the destructive power of sin, maintains in a measure the moral order of the universe, thus making an orderly life possible, distributes in varying degrees gifts and talents among men, promotes the development of science and art, and showers untold blessings upon the children of men." This is a rather theologian-like way of saying that common grace is that grace which may be enjoyed by believers as well as unbelievers, though the former understand its source. And it is grace because it is divinely given and undeserved by the recipient. It was this doctrine that the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote that God "is the savior of all people, especially of those who believe" (1 Timothy 4:10).
So, practically speaking, how does God achieve this? First, he does it by sustaining the natural order. The author of Hebrews wrote, "He upholds the universe by the word of his power" (1:3). In his address to the Athenians, Paul brought this concept down to earthly proportions, saying, "[God] gives to all mankind life and breath and everything" (Acts 17:25). In other words, that the universe does not explode like the Death Star is due to God's providential mercy. And clearly that is of benefit to more than just Christians.
God also blesses mankind by restraining our evil nature. We are told that God has written his law upon the hearts of men (Romans 2:15). This law finds expression in the conscience. Conscience may compel us to help someone in need or to seek forgiveness from those we have wronged, or it may lead us to the Cross itself. Conscience is the soul's voice. When contravened, it cries out.
Of course, conscience can be killed, according to 1 Timothy 4:2. Just as speed bumps on a road serve to warn drivers, so conscience works, jostling us from a moral slumber. Violated often enough, however, its voice grows fainter. When that happens and human nature is left to indulge its evil appetites, we become "filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice" (Romans 1:29). Thankfully, God further restrains humanity through government institutions, which are, in effect, a collective conscience (see Romans 13:1–7). And when those fail, Auschwitzes and Darfurs are the result.
But there is another form that common grace assumes, and it finds greatest expression in those cultures where Christianity has significantly influenced the public mind. In 1 Corinthians 7, the apostle Paul tells us that in a marriage where one spouse is a Christian and the other is not, the unbelieving member of that union is "made holy" through interaction with his or her believing husband or wife (v. 14). The presence of a Christian in the relationship not only serves to restrain the conduct of the unbeliever; it prepares him or her for a relationship with Jesus Christ.
This principle has implications that go well beyond marriage. Applying it to society as a whole, we begin to understand how common grace works. Here, common grace does much more than negate the evil impulses of mankind; it is a positive force for good. As one experiences grace in his own life, he extends grace to others. Through the inward transformation of the individual, there is a corresponding outward transformation of society. This is what I call the "grace effect." Simply defined, it is an observable phenomenon—that life is demonstrably better where authentic Christianity flourishes. Perhaps all of this seems too theoretical. At this point, it did to me, too.
Chapter TwoReality Check
"Toto, ... we're not in Kansas anymore."
—Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
AS WE DESCENDED THROUGH THE CLOUDS AND OVER THE patchwork countryside, Kiev's Boryspil International Airport came into view. I had been in Ukraine several times before and had always thought that the airport, austere and something of a shambles, looked typical of the Soviet era. Alighting on the tarmac, the sleek KLM Boeing appeared oddly out of place. Lauri and the boys, exhausted from the Birmingham-Memphis-Amsterdam-Kiev journey, boarded the bus to the terminal slowly. It was mid-March, and the air was crisp under a brooding sky. Bouncing toward our destination, people checked messages and made calls, but they remained remarkably quiet. Colorfully attired (by Ukrainian standards) and talkative (by any standard), we may have been the loudest on that bus but for a couple of middle-aged men with their much-younger female companions. Thick-necked, sporting buzz cuts and skintight shirts stretched over heavily muscled and tattooed frames, they looked like Ivan Drago clones. Curiously, this type is ubiquitous to the former East Bloc. Their women, however, were another story altogether. Weighted down with bags from fashionable clothing stores, they had apparently been taken to western Europe by their muscular escorts to do a bit of shopping. Having returned triumphantly, they displayed their spoils ostentatiously.
Passing through the gauntlet of passport control, baggage claim, and customs, we entered the central terminus and began scanning the crowd for our Ukrainian adoption facilitator, Ivan. Although he was unknown to us, we were told that he would be wielding a sign bearing our name: Taunton. We saw nothing of the sort. No matter. With each of us rolling a Samsonite and everything about us proclaiming "American," we were easily identifiable to him.
"Larry! How are you?" A stout, dark-haired man emerged from a veritable midway of barking taxi drivers and extended his hand to me in a vigorous shake. "Follow me."
Ivan, like almost every other man in Ukraine, wore a dark leather jacket and took little notice of obstacles, be they human or automotive. "How was your trip? Tiring, yes?" he said, looking back over his shoulder occasionally but not waiting for a reply. He smiled broadly as he navigated the chaotic parking lot.
"How did you—?" I began.
"I have your picture," he said, shouting over the din. "It was e-mailed to me."
As we drove to the city center, he chatted affably about the weather, Russo-Ukrainian relations, and his experiences in America. "I love California," he declared, sounding oddly like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the process. For more than a decade, Ivan had been assisting foreigners in their adoption of Ukrainian children. Most of his clients were American, and their effect on him was noticeable. Ivan had developed a taste for more than the California sun. He had absorbed much American pop culture and was partial to American standards of living.
"So, what is first on the agenda?" I asked, noting a Led Zeppelin CD pressed between the seats.
Ivan checked his rearview mirror and then maneuvered the Czech-made Skoda into the right lane. "I will take you to your hotel and then pick you up tomorrow morning." A big Mercedes sedan accelerated past us. Eyeing it, he continued. "We will then go to the SDA [State Department of Adoption] and initiate the adoption."
"And then what?" Lauri, in the backseat, had anticipated my next question. Beside her, Chris and Zach shifted uncomfortably beneath the suitcases on their laps.
"And then, if everything goes well"—he shrugged—"you will travel to Odessa." The "if" was delivered in a way that only a Ukrainian (or a Russian) can manage and that we would become so accustomed to hearing. It is not a question of accent, but of mood. Where if suggests hopeful possibilities when an American employs it, the same English word conveys something like an anticipation of doom in Ukrainian usage.
Ivan gave me a sideways glance and then, after a moment's pause, began our orientation. The whole of his address may be summarized in a brief sentence: Lower your expectations. Before us lay a number of obstacles—trips to an assortment of government agencies in Kiev and Odessa; meetings with various government officials; a court appearance; passports and a visa—and if all went well, we might be able to leave the country in six weeks. It sounded like one of those exciting "adventure races" where people travel across the country, hitting various checkpoints, but one sponsored by the Department of Motor Vehicles and therefore neither adventurous nor much of a race, since time would mean nothing and the winners were all predetermined. I wondered how many times he had given this talk, demolishing whatever optimism new arrivals came with. Regardless, Ivan knew Ukrainian governmental inertia and American expectations of efficiency. The two were incompatible, and it was better to know it at the outset. It was a bit like getting off a bus, wearing a swimsuit and suntan lotion, and asking, "Where's the beach?" only to be told that you're in Iowa.
FACILITATORS ARE KEY TO ANY INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION, AND Ivan had come highly recommended. Natives of the country from which you are trying to adopt, the good ones—as Ivan would prove to be—understand much more than the language, local customs, and laws. In addition to providing translation of proceedings and documents, they liaise between prospective parents and government officials, with whom relationships are occasionally strained. By local standards, they are paid handsomely for their services, and because they work on behalf of their clients rather than the government, some resentment is inevitable.
Excerpted from THE GRACE EFFECT by LARRY ALEX TAUNTON Copyright © 2011 by Larry Alex Taunton. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The Debate Begins....................1
1. First Steps....................15
2. Reality Check....................23
3. Atheists Don't Do Benevolence....................33
4. Show Me the Money....................47
5. Haves and Have-nots....................55
6. The Devil Is a Bureaucrat....................65
7. A Brief (and Mostly True) History of Religion in Ukraine....................73
8. "Imagine There's No Heaven": Atheists in Charge of the Twentieth Century....................77
9. The Orphanage Archipelago....................89
10. What Have We Become?....................101
11. Life Is Cheap....................111
12. The Purchase of a Soul....................121
13. Mountains to Climb....................135
14. Free at Last....................145
15. The Importance of Identity....................153
16. Out of the Mouth of Babes....................163
17. "Regarding Sasha ..."....................173
18. May Day....................187
19. Sasha's New Beginning....................199
20. Is America Safe?....................207
Epilogue: The Debate Ends....................223
About the Author....................237
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Larry Taunton doesn't beat around the bush. In "The Grace Effect," he goes straight for the jugular. And if the truth were ever hard to swallow, it's now - in the wake of a century dominated by men who disregarded the very cornerstone of Western civilization: Christianity. The results were absolutely devastating. And we've nearly forgotten it all, as a number of influential academics is naively floating the bogus notion that Christianity is an irrational relic of the past and should be eradicated from public life. But Larry Taunton, as a historian, is not about to let that happen. For a firsthand account of what life really looks like in a world without Christianity, Taunton takes you on an irreverent romp through the rubble of secularist thinking as he tells of his family's adoption of a precious Ukrainian orphan girl: Sasha. And in that world, Sasha's life is deemed far from precious. Yet Sasha's hope is irrepressible and her story magnificent. Her resilience and triumph over the world of the godless is a testimony to the one and only thing that can trump an entire century of corruption - grace. This book will make you furious. This book will make you cheer. This book is a wake-up call. And it's most powerful because it isn't a theory - it's the story of a real life. A life that shouldn't be ignored. A life that grace didn't ignore.
"The Grace Effect" is one of those rare books that defies categorization. On the surface, the book tells the triumphant story of an orphan girl whose life is transformed - a powerful story, and a true story. But it is much more than that. As other reviews have noted, it lays out a compelling case for the need for authentic Christianity in society. The book reads very conversationally as Taunton richly infuses his narrative with history, humor, and helpful illustrations from his own past. It is a book that will entertain you, frustrate you (on Sasha's behalf), and make you think. I couldn't recommend it more.
I finished reading, The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief by Larry Taunton. This book not only educated me on the arguments of why a society benefits from Christian influence, but it also enlightened me to the plight of other countries who are not touched by the hand of God¿s people. Through sharing his experience of adopting a ten year old girl from the Ukraine, Taunton explains the vast differences between American culture/politics/attitudes and those formerly under the control of communist rule. His story brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion as he explains the moral destitute of lives without the benefit of Christ. He correlates this with a discussion he had with a New Atheists, Christopher Hitchens, regarding how societies benefit from the Grace Effect. He explains that even if a citizen is not a Christian, they benefit from having Christians in society. His rational for how true Christianity (not just the appearance/name) influences a society in a positive way, whereas a society void of grace can only bring despair and the eventual down fall of that society. His real life examples mixed with historical testaments makes one see the realities of how grace, or the lack thereof, affects us all in some degree. He articulately demonstrates how Christianity in an environment is essential to growth and how many pervert these truths to suite their own agenda¿s while blatantly ignoring countless examples of how graces changes lives and countries. The touching story of the extent his family went in order to adopt one child is extraordinary. Witnessing grace through the life of this child will move even the most stringent in heart. I highly recommend this reading to anyone, especially those who have adopted or are planning on adopting from abroad. I also recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has little knowledge of communism, socialism and atheism. This book will open your eyes to thoughts and ideas you may have rarely ever encountered. It will educate you on where our society has been and where it may be headed. While all of this may sound boring, the way Taunton articulates it will have you on the edge of your seat ready to read the next page. I know I could hardly put this book aside; I had to know what happened next! This book was provided complimentary by BookSneeze for the purpose of review.
Words cannot really express how this book speaks to the heart. It is a perfect story for those who are new to Christianity, those who want to grow more in knowledge about it or their faith and especially those who want to believe but need that extra push or evidence. It is a very true and classic story of Good vs. Evil, as it really gives the contrasts of a country where its society is filled with love and God compared to a country where the entire society seems to be made up of corruption, selfishness and hate. Definitely one book that is difficult to stop reading and one that is personally truly inspirational.
This is a wonderful book that tell us the story of Sasha, a Ukrainian orphan girl who is adopted by the author's family and has a deep everlasting effect on their lives as well as on the lives of those surrounding them. The author narrates in full details all the incredibly difficult saga of the adoption process in Ukraine, a society governed by corruption and still impregnated with socialism culture of atheism. And at the end, that is the proof that a world without Christianity is a cold world, where people do not care about their orphan children and where there is no grace at all. I was very happy and full of hope after reading this book, for finding people that still try to live according to the word of God. Congratulations to Mr. Larry Taunton and his family for giving us this wonderful example of life and resolution. And example is the best way for educating people. This is a very inspirational and powerful book. I recommend this book to be in the permanent library of all Christians and they should read constantly to remind them on the importance of Christianity in society. This book was written by Larry Alex Taunton and published by Thomas Nelson in November of 2011 and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers Program.
I received a copy of THE GRACE EFFECT: HOW THE POWER OF ONE LIFE CAN REVERSE THE CORRUPTION OF UNBELIEF by Larry Alex Taunton from Thomas Nelson, via BookSneeze. As soon as I looked over the back cover, I was excited to start reading. The author, Larry Taunton, meets Sasha, an Ukrainian orphan. Atheistic theorists had shaped her, but with his guidance, she embraces God through the power of grace. The book began a bit slow and dry. It felt more like a textbook, but the words were interesting, describing the goal of atheists , and leading into the debate about God, as driven by atheists versus Christians. From there, the story began, with Larry Taunton and his family in an airport. The actual story is well written enough to make you feel as if you are there with them. Larry Taunton writes with exhilarating voice and insight, bringing the people to life. Actual photographs are interspersed throughout the chapters, and each chapter begins with a quote from somewhere else, such as the Ukraine Travel Guide. Dialogue is woven amongst information, keeping the reading grounded in the truth behind the words. By the last page, I had tears in my eyes. It is definitely the type of book to pass on for others to read.
Exodus 22:22-24 (CEB) Don’t treat any widow or orphan badly. If you do treat them badly and they cry out to me, you can be sure that I’ll hear their cry. I’ll be furious, and I’ll kill you with the sword. Then your wives will be widows, and your children will be orphans. This verse is from the Hebrew law code. God warned his people not to treat the foreigner unfairly, each one had a responsibility to protect those that could not protect themselves. God reminded his people, “You were once slaves…. you once lived in darkness.” Which raises the question, who are the strangers in our own world? Who are the immigrants? Who are the refugees? How can we as a nation continue to be sensitive to those who struggle? Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation which is an organization that seeks new and innovative ways to defend and proclaim the Gospel and to prepare Christians to do the same. The Grace Effect is a powerful narrative that really tells two stories at the same time. The first is the heartwarming story of an American family that tries to adopt a 10 year old Ukrainian girl named Sasha. Throughout the book the author repeatedly brings you into both humerus and frustrating stories about the adoptive process as well as comparing side by side the differences between American and Soviet countries. The book is also about the New brand of Atheism and how it is growing in America. And so the premise of the book becomes brilliant as Taunton shows you what a country without Christ looks like in the Ukranian story, all the while showing the “possible road ahead” for America. Taunton’s voice is both direct and humerus, an easy read no matter what your style. The book is filled with pictures as well as many inspirational quotes from literature and television. Highly recommended.
I felt like this book was telling two different stories. The author begins by letting us know that he is friends with Christopher Hitchens and that they discuss and debate Christianity vs. athiesm together. Then, he goes on to tell the story of his family adopting a little girl from an orphanage in the Ukraine. He tries to sell the point that the Ukraine is an unfriendly corrupt country due to the influence of athiestic socialism - which may be true, and that the US is a friendly, loving, non-corrupt country due to the Christian influence. I think that might be a debatable point to many people. I really enjoyed his story about his daughter's adoption and all that they went through in order to adopt her. I found his version of Ukranian history interesting and humerous - especially the part where Prince Vladimir crossed his legs after hearing about the Jewish practice of circumcision, decided not to chose the Muslim religion since they did not allow vodka and picked Greek Orthodoxy since he could keep his nether regions intact and drink vodka and because he had heard tales of how beautiful the Haigia Sophia was. I also thought it was funny that they have a bumper sticker with a high heeled boot on it on cars with women drivers to warn other drivers in the Ukraine. The book is well written and interesting and I enjoyed his story about adopting his daughter, but I think that there are many people who would disagree with his concept of the "Grace Effect" of the Christian religion on society. I don't think he gives much support to that concept. If being a Christian nation makes us less corrupt and more polite and caring, then what about what happened in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit - how horribly people behaved, compared to how civilized and polite the Japanese were during and after the recent earthquake and nuclear meltdown? I don't think that the "Grace Effect" helped the Americans to behave well and the Japanese who behaved so much better are not Christians. I am not sure that the US government is any less corrupt than that of the Ukraine - they just admit it and have it out in the open and we hide it. I don't think that the "grace effect" has eradicated slavery and treating other people badly in the US - we just hide that better too. There are plenty of slaves in the US; most of them picking produce and most of them don't speak English and are not here legally. We don't see them or know about them so that makes it ok. And our whole society is built on products that are made by people who live in slavery or sub-standard conditions in other countries. But since we don't know about it, we don't feel responsible for it. That "grace effect" just seems to hide things, not make them go away.I got this book free to review from Booksneeze.
A truly excellent book! My wife & I adopted 2 boys from Siberia in 2002 & 2004. The Tyumen region is only slightly better than Ukraine. Larry Taunton's stories of the adoption process are spot on & his highlighting of the differences between a judeo-christian culture & a post-communist culture are truly that striking...you don't have to look that far to see & experience the differences. I laughed & cried many times as I read. The memories poured back. I will insist that my sons read this book as to better understand where they came as well as what compelled my wife & I to do what we did. Jesus gave His all for me...I can only do likewise for our children. God's grace IS sufficient.