Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders

Authors: Jim Gilchrist & Jerome R. Corsi
Publisher: World Ahead Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 0-9778984-1-5

The United States Census Bureau estimates that roughly 10-12 million illegal immigrants live in the USA today. Some researchers, believing it is necessary to account for the government’s inevitable under-sampling of the illegal immigrant population, believe that 20 million is a more realistic estimate. The vast majority of these immigrants are Hispanics who have entered the USA from Mexico.

Illegal immigration is an increasingly volatile issue in American politics. Many people want to decriminalize illegal immigration. Others want current immigration laws to be enforced more effectively, even if that necessitates the deportation of several million people. Gilchrist & Corsi belong to this latter group.

Jim Gilchrist conceived the Minuteman Project as a means to demonstrate that it is possible to guard the US-Mexican border effectively. In April 2006, approximately 1,000 Minuteman volunteers armed with lawn chairs and binoculars took up positions along the border between Arizona and Mexico. Their task was to observe and report their findings to the US Border Patrol. The Minutemen only interacted with immigrants to provide water and blankets as needed. During the period of the Minutemen’s surveillance, the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico into Arizona diminished substantially.

The Minutemen seem to have demonstrated that an increased physical presence along the border will go a long way toward stemming the northward flow of humanity. If that is so, why hasn’t the US government trained and hired more border guards? Gilchrist & Corsi believe the answers to that question are rooted in myriad political considerations.

According to Gilchrist & Corsi, most radical left wing, and less-radical Democratic, politicians hope to incorporate the newly arrived Hispanics into their voter base. The authors also believe that left wing American labor unions hope to regain political clout and new members (along with their dues) from among the new arrivals. Gilchrist & Corsi go on to assert that the Catholic Church hopes to increase its membership and income base by incorporating the illegal immigrants, many of whom are Catholic, into their ranks. As far as President Bush’s apparent disinterest in addressing the issue of illegal immigration, the authors claim that he is driven by a vision of a transnational economic (and, ultimately, political) union of the USA, Canada and Mexico.

By now you’ve probably figured out that the authors have an unambiguous right wing bias. This being the case, they take pains to carefully distinguish President Bush from the remainder of the Republican Party. Moreover, they repeatedly chastise Democrats, radical leftists, labor unions and – to a lesser degree but no less critically – the Catholic Church. And they present the radical Reconquista movement as if it is the prevailing Mexican viewpoint. (Even if it is, how does it differ from the USA’s 19th century Manifest Destiny doctrine, except in not being American?)

On the other hand, Gilchrist & Corsi studiously avoid acknowledging that many, if not most, of the businesspeople who employ illegal immigrants are conservatives and Republicans. They agree that those who employ illegal immigrants contribute to the problem, but, unlike their approach to left-wingers, when they talk about employers (which they don’t do often), they never name names or identify political leanings. Recurrent and obvious biases such as these severely undercut their arguments.

When Gilchrist & Corsi avoid political mud-slinging, extremist suppositions and slippery slope arguments, they present cogent cases for their positions. They discuss – intelligently, in depth and with appropriate data – the economic, social, criminal, judicial, security and political consequences of illegal immigration. These arguments deserve careful scrutiny, but it’s difficult to give them their due when one has to rake through mounds of overtly biased verbiage to get to them. If the authors would have restrained themselves and avoided taking cheap political pot shots, the book would be much more persuasive.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in American political and social documentary. Regardless of your stance vis-á-vis the authors’ political agenda, the material in this book provides stimulating food for thought. Perhaps you will be swayed by Gilchrist & Corsi’s arguments, or perhaps you won’t. One thing I guarantee is that you will be challenged to think about them.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Street Love

Author: Walter Dean Myers
Publisher: Amistad
ISBN: 13-978-0-06-028079-6

Street Love is an enchanting love story set in contemporary Harlem. Damien is a rising star, smart and athletic, who is on his way to an Ivy League college and a good life. Junice is a young beauty, struggling to keep her fractured family from disintegrating completely. Damien and Junice’s attraction is thrilling and their uncertainty is palpable. Can two lives on such divergent trajectories merge, or will they merely intersect? Can Damien and Junice meld their long-held dreams? Can they create a future founded on shared dreams? These are the questions that suffuse this story and drive it to its conclusion.

Walter Dean Myers, author of numerous books for teen readers, tells the story of Street Love in free verse. At times, the lines scan as if they’ve been lifted from the blues:
Yeah, it’s hard, baby
It’s hard right down to the bone
I said Oh, it’s hard baby
It’s hard right down to the very bone
It’s hard when you’re a woman
And you find yourself all alone. . .

At other times, lines read as if they’ve come from a recent rap hit:
My folks are laying lines on me like
They’ve written out the part and all
I got to do is get to a place called Start
And follow the road to fame and glory—
A PhD in mucho buckology
Two point five kids and a quick apology
To the starving folks in East Ain’tGotNothingVille
. . .(p. 9).

And always, the poetry feels authentic and fresh. You will find few, if any, clichés in this book.

Myers skillfully uses his poetry to accomplish many tasks. In addition to expressing the thoughts, desires, motives and interactions of his characters, Myers uses words to render vivid scenes:
Autumn in Harlem.
Fume-choked leaves, already
Yellowed, crack in the late September
Breeze. Weeds, city tough, city brittle,
Push defiantly along the concrete edges
Of Malcom X Boulevard.
. . (p.1).

He uses poetry to depict action:
Then they fight. Fists fly, legs spread
Damien’s fury forcing Sledge to back up
As he wards off the blows. . . .
The two roll on the ground as children watch, never
Putting down their sodas, their bags of chips
It is just the everyday violence of a
Ghetto afternoon. .
. (p. 105).

Myers’ writing is frugal and fluid, the work of an author who does not cloak his ideas in excess verbiage, obscure metaphors or archaic language. Moreover, the reader can’t help being swept up in the poetry’s cadences and mentally dancing along with its verbal rhythms. My only criticism of this book is that I would like to have heard more from some members of the supporting cast, such as the social worker who threatens to tear apart Junice’s family, or Damien’s mother, who opposes his relationship with Junice and, particularly, Damien’s father, who longs for a closer relationship with his son. Myers skips through these characters roles so quickly that one may wonder why he included them at all. It may be, however, that Myers’ intended audience, teen readers, would not be as interested in these characters as I am. Perhaps he senses that his readers will want to keep their attention on the primary characters without being distracted by subplots involving older folks. I suspect that Street Love will not appeal strongly to adults. Teens, however, will identify closely with the lead characters and see something of their own longings in this story. They will find this book worth reading.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rhythm is Our Business

Author: Eddy Determeyer
Publisher: The University of Michigan Press
ISBN: 0-472-11553-7

For more than a decade, from the mid-1930s until the late 1940s, Jimmie Lunceford’s Orchestra (aka: the Harlem Express) was acknowledged as one of the leading jazz bands of the swing era. The group was famous for its rhythmic precision and “bounce,” its rich sonority, its discipline and its impeccable showmanship. Musically, the Harlem Express did it all: toured the USA and Sweden, played radio gigs, clubs and dances, cut dozens of hit records. . . . Socially and politically, the Harlem Express dismantled racial barriers; Lunceford was one of the first black bandleaders to hire white musicians and composers, and his group played for black, white and desegregated audiences without discrimination. Jimmie Lunceford’s band was highly regarded by musicians, critics and audiences, all of whom were stunned when Lunceford died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 45. As a tribute to their leader, the band tried to stay together, but the effort was short-lived; the group just wasn’t the same without the leader who had molded and guided them for so long. When Lunceford died, the heart and soul of the Harlem Express died with him.

Rhythm is Our Business is Eddy Determeyer’s painstakingly researched chronicle of the rise, peak and collapse of Lunceford’s orchestra. Determeyer gathered his material from nearly five dozen interviews, and more than four dozen journals, newspapers and books. In addition to the endnotes and bibliography, Determeyer includes an extensive discography of the Harlem Express’s recordings.

Determeyer traces Lunceford’s early years in Oklahoma City and Denver and his college years at Fisk University. He recounts Lunceford’s brief career as a high school music teacher in Memphis and describes how Lunceford and his students transformed themselves from a local sensation to a top-notch band based in New York City. Determeyer reveals the financial and personal tensions that arose within the group and discusses the personnel changes that gradually altered the band’s character and style. He offers intimate details about cooperation and competition between the New York jazz bands, and about the struggles between the musicians’ union, radio stations and recording companies. Perhaps most intriguingly, Determeyer reconstructs the details of Lunceford’s last day and puts forward his theory regarding the leader’s untimely demise.

Readers interested in the histories of the Harlem Express and the mid-twentieth century jazz scene (particularly in New York City) will find this book highly satisfying. Those who want to learn about Jimmie Lunceford himself will find such information sparse. This lack of detail is not Determeyer’s fault. Lunceford was an intensely private man who was barely known by anyone, including those who lived and worked with him for nearly twenty years. Determeyer probably has uncovered just about anything that ever will be known about Jimmie Lunceford, the quiet, clean-cut, clean-living man who loved music, sports and aviation and had once loved W.E.B Dubois’s daughter. Aside from those few personal details, the story of the Harlem Express is also, for the most part, the story of Jimmie Lunceford. Rhythm Is Our Business is a well researched, finely written book. Readers interested in jazz history will certainly want to add this volume to their collections.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Boys of Chattanooga

Author: Clyde R. Hedges
Publisher: Gate Way Publishers
ISBN: 0-9635703-3-1

When asked to cite turning points in the American Civil War, historians typically refer to Gettysburg or, perhaps, Vicksburg. They rarely mention Chattanooga, the site of a lengthy siege and fierce battle that took place throughout the fall of 1863. Clyde R. Hedges sets out to correct this oversight in this historical novel.

Hedges’s book is a fine example of historical fiction done well. The characters and events are based on careful research and Hedges obviously sought to be faithful to available historical accounts. Moreover, he fills the book with full-bodied characters. The story is told from three points of view.

The first point of view is that of a Union infantryman, Clarence Rutledge. Clarence’s experiences are representative of those of the vast majority of combatants in the Civil War. Clarence shares his naïve excitement at enlisting to fight. He describes in detail his intense suffering, near-starvation and outright boredom throughout the siege. And he reveals his harsh awakening to reality as he watches his friends die on the battlefield. Note Clarence’s reaction to his best friend’s sudden, brutal death:

Oh, God, my friend was dead. He’d been shot by a Reb and dropped right in his tracks. . . . He lay in my arms and stared at the sky with the pain of his wound still etched on his face. Oh, Dear God, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be the other guy (p. 243).
Following his friend’s death, Clarence moves painfully from naïve exuberance through paralyzing fear to heroism. Hedges’s narration of this transformation is convincing and well done. Like so many others, Clarence entered the war as a boy who delighted in the idea of war and emerged as a man who detested its reality.

The second point of view presented by Hedges is that of General Ulysses S. Grant. This point of view allows the reader to consider the siege and battle from the perspective of the commanders and strategists, the “movers and shakers.” The reader is privy to Grant’s views of the officers under his command and his concern for the frontline soldiers who bear the greatest responsibilities and risks of battle. This particular battle was the turning point of Grant’s career. After his victory in Chattanooga, Grant was appointed to lead all of the Union armies, an appointment that was certainly one of the most significant events of the war.

The third point of view Hedges offers is that of President Lincoln. This point of view introduces the reader to the political dimension of the war. As the war continued with no end in view, Lincoln’s popularity (his “approval rating” in today’s environment) dwindled. In the fall of 1863, Lincoln was contemplating the possibility of losing the presidential election in the following year. He needed a victory in Chattanooga to open the way for the Union forces to invade the Confederate heartland. Once that happened, a Union victory would be inevitable.

These three accounts give the reader deep insight into a wide range of issues that were at play, for the Union, throughout the war, as well as in Chattanooga. Perhaps Hedges (or someone else) could undertake a parallel account from the Confederate point of view?

Aside from some editorial issues, this is a well-written book. The characters are engaging and believable and the momentum never stops. Even though the reader knows the story’s outcome before reading the first word, this “insider’s account” of how that happened never fails to fascinate. This book will satisfy readers who enjoy historical fiction in general and those with an interest in the American Civil War in particular.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Camille Claudel: A Novel

Author: Alma H. Bond
Publisher: PublishAmerica, LLLP
ISBN: 1-4241-1670-8

The story of Camille Claudel is the story of a woman born ahead of her time, a female genius for whom the world was not ready, a woman who attained heights of artistic ecstasy and endured acute personal and mental agony.

Camille Claudel was born on December 8, 1864 in a village in northern France, the eldest of three surviving children (her elder brother died when merely fifteen days old). As a child, she enjoyed warm relations with her father and brother, but her relations with her mother and sister were distant and cold. Claudel’s fascination with art began when, as a young child, she sculpted figures from stones and mud. Having moved with her family to Paris as a teenager, Claudel began studying with Auguste Rodin in 1884, at the age of nineteen. Her tumultuous relationship with Rodin shaped the remainder of Claudel’s life.

Claudel quickly became Rodin’s inspiration and served as the model for many of his sculptures. She also became one of his principal assistants whose work on many detailed portions of his sculptures was invaluable. Most significantly for Claudel, in spite of the fact that he was a married man more than twenty years her senior, she became Rodin’s lover. After nearly a decade of intimacy, and at least one pregnancy that ended in either miscarriage or abortion, Claudel finally realized that Rodin would never marry her and severed their intimate relationship. Soon thereafter, Claudel stopped working in Rodin’s atelier, though she continued to see Rodin in professional capacities for several more years.

From 1884 until the early 1900s, Claudel was an expressive sculptor whose style grew more distinct from Rodin’s after the breakup of their relationship and her departure from Rodin’s studio. Dozens of her works are still displayed and admired in museums around the world. Her achievements are particularly noteworthy when one considers the amount of time she spent assisting Rodin’s career in her roles as his model and assistant. Claudel was close friends with Claude Debussy, whom she greatly admired. Sadly for both of them, however, she did not love Debussy with the passion she felt for Rodin.

Although Claudel’s precarious mental state began manifesting itself around 1905, it is unclear when her decline began. Claudel locked herself away for long periods of time, created and destroyed numerous sculptures, acquired a houseful of cats to be her companions, let her property and house rot around her and took no care of her physical condition and appearance. She who had once been a beautiful woman became, prematurely, a hag, convinced that a jealous Rodin was trying to steal her works and impede her career.

There were many factors that probably contributed to Claudel’s mental decline. Her failed relationship with Rodin and the loss of her child (particularly if she was compelled against her will to have an abortion) were likely contributing factors. The dysfunctional relations within her family also may have contributed to Claudel’s decline. Her father was the only family member who supported her, her brother tolerated her, and her mother and sister outright rejected her. The rigors of being an independent female artist in a male-dominated world certainly had negative effects on Claudel. Her life was a never-ending struggle to acquire commissions, sell her works and attain the professional status she believed (rightly, as it turned out) she deserved. Rodin, Claudel’s mentor, enjoyed degrees of fame, success and prestige that Claudel never attained. While he prospered, she nearly starved. Unable to support herself, Claudel remained financially dependent upon her father until his death in 1913. Eight days after their father’s death, Claudel’s brother committed her to an asylum.

Claudel spent the last thirty years of her life in an asylum in the mountains of southern France. Her mother and sister never visited her and her brother visited intermittently, approximately a half-dozen times in thirty years. After several years of treatment, Claudel’s psychiatrist suggested that her family should take her home and reintegrate her into their home and society. They did not take up his suggestion. Since her family had no interest in resuming relations with Claudel, she remained institutionalized until her death on October 19, 1943, at the age of 79.

Alma H. Bond, a psychoanalyst, has written a compelling account of Claudel’s tragic life. She presents the story as a memoir written by Claudel in the final days of her life. Although the broad outlines of the story are true, Bond has taken liberties in setting scenes, providing dialog, and revealing Claudel’s purported thought processes and interpretations. Bond states clearly that hers is a fictional account, simply one plausible view of Claudel’s life; it should not be read as a definitive biographical or historical work. Nevertheless, Bond reveals the heartbreak of a gifted woman working in a society that rejects her personally and pays scant attention to her artwork. Bond lifts the veil on the heartbreak of an impressionable, sensitive young woman betrayed by an older lover. Bond discloses the family dysfunctions that remained hidden from view, or ignored, even when they resulted in gross injustices. Clearly, even though the work is fictional, it offers a compelling, accurate glimpse at the broad characteristics of an era.

Bond’s most extraordinary feat is the way she portrays Claudel’s subtly deteriorating mental state. Early signs of paranoia are evident from the outset in Claudel’s descriptions of her childhood home. During Claudel’s happiest period, the height of her romance with Rodin, the paranoid tendencies are more subtle, but not entirely absent. After her breakup with Rodin, the paranoid tendencies resurface slowly and build gradually until Claudel’s institutionalization in 1913. In an accurate depiction of mental illness, Bond balances Claudel’s periods of lunacy and lucidity. Sometimes the reader is uncertain whether Claudel’s viewpoint is delusional or uncannily insightful. Bond understands mental illness and she presents it masterfully.

Camille Claudel: A Novel is a beautifully written book that seizes the reader’s mind and heart. Readers who have never heard of Camille Claudel will, upon finishing this book, seek to learn more about this wonderfully gifted artist and her work. This book, notwithstanding the fact that it is fiction, should be required reading for all students of women’s studies and art history.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Pornography: Film and Culture

Editor: Peter Lehman
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
ISBN: 0-8135-3871-8

Pornography: Film and Culture, is a compilation of thirteen essays (fourteen if one includes the editor’s introductory essay) in which British and American scholars examine pornography as social phenomenon, social critique, historical commentary and as film and literary genres. The essays are divided into two sections. The first of these, Historical Context, provides six classic essays that were published in several journals from 1980 – 1999. The second section, Current Directions, provides seven essays written specifically for inclusion in this volume.

Historical Context
The first two essays, both of which first appeared in 1980, place pornography in the social, economic and ideological climate of Great Britain as it stood at that time. These essays, which offer a dialog between two opposed views, provide a solid foundation for all of the essays that follow throughout the rest of the book. These are followed by an insightful examination of the structural parallels between feature-length pornographic films and the classic Broadway/Hollywood musical, and a critical response regarding the shortcomings of this analysis. The fifth essay examines pornography from the perspective of class analysis and discusses how pornography has been allocated the role of “white trash” relative to other film genres. The section’s final essay discusses pornography as historical, social, political and cultural commentary and as a means by which individuals define their sexual identities in accordance with or opposition to its representations.

Current Directions
The first essay in this section examines a body of pornographic literary and video texts found in Penthouse Letters. This examination is followed by a study of the transition from pornography transmitted via film technology to a video-based form, a shift that significantly affected the economics, production and distribution of pornography. Formal, technological and economic transitions of the past two centuries have been accompanied by legal challenges, which are discussed in the next essay. This legal discussion precedes an analysis of the role of comedy in pornography in which the author argues that, given pornography’s intensely personal subject matter, comedy must be, and frequently is, handled with great care. The next essay discusses the prevalence of racism, particularly with regard to Asians, in pornography. This discussion is followed by an examination of Internet pornography, which, the author contends, reinforces “white privilege” to the detriment of other groups, which are either excluded entirely (Native Americans) or denigrated by the perpetuation of longstanding, harmful stereotypes (African Americans and Asians). The book’s final essay discusses the problems that have arisen because most research on pornography does not attend to the perspectives of the millions of people who consume it. The author contends that inclusion of consumers’ perspectives would dispel, or at least counterbalance, many of the myths and misunderstandings that dominate public discussions of pornography.

Given this book’s subtitle, it is not surprising that it focuses primarily on pornography as a film genre and pays scant attention to pornographic art and literature, both of which have far longer histories than pornographic films. Given the astonishing amount of pornography that has been available historically on film and is available currently via videotapes, DVDs and the Internet, this is certainly a legitimate and fruitful area for an inquiry into pornography’s aesthetics, forms and social functions.

This is an outstanding collection of essays. The five female and eight male authors who contributed to this volume hold a range of positions regarding the aesthetic, social and personal values of pornography. Notwithstanding their individual proclivities, they all agree that pornography is a cultural phenomenon that should be examined with professional care and integrity. As they demonstrate through these essays, for better or worse, pornography plays at least four significant social roles. First, it provides insight into social and cultural attitudes regarding sexual norms at particular moments in time. Second, it serves as a powerful vehicle for promoting or excluding particular sexual practices. Third, it provides insight into race and class issues that pervade all aspects of socialization. And fourth, it provides a norm by which many individuals define and measure their sexual identities.

Readers interested in film history will benefit from reading this book, as it provides a good grounding in the development of a frequently overlooked film genre. Additionally, readers interested in sexuality studies will find much useful material here, as will readers interested in critical race, class and gender studies. On the other hand, readers offended by sexually explicit material, or material that may not align with their convictions regarding pornography’s role in society, will likely want to steer clear of it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Furious Pursuit

Authors: Tim King & Frank Martin

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

ISBN: 1-4000-7149-6

According to King and Martin, many adherents of the Christian faith expend tremendous amounts of time and energy pursuing God. They struggle to spend more time in prayer, more time in Bible study, more time in worship services, more time doing charitable works in churches and communities, to be more faithful, to be more obedient. . . . Is it any wonder, ask King and Martin, that many Christians feel spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, mentally and physically exhausted? Moreover, in addition to being utterly drained, Christians often feel isolated from the God they pursue so passionately. Furious Pursuit is King and Martin’s eloquent response to Christians who are tired of chasing God.

In Furious Pursuit, King and Martin set out to demonstrate that, rather than running after God, Christians can rest comfortably in the knowledge that God is running after them, before them and beside them all the time. This is a wonderful idea that, if true, or at least warranted, should set many Christians at ease. In the course of introducing their thesis, King and Martin say this:

What if I could prove that God has never gone a minute without thinking of you, whispering in your ear, I’m right here? What if I could show you that God not only pursues you day by day, minute by minute, but he actually screams for your attention (p. 7)?

This is an ambitious undertaking. For one thing, what qualifies as “proof” in any matter is often contentious; in matters of faith, agreement regarding what constitutes “proof” of any claim is nearly impossible to attain. Nevertheless, since King and Martin have promised that they will prove their claim, the reader is justified in expecting some closely reasoned arguments to be offered in support of that claim. Please note that, throughout this critique, I use the term “argument” solely as a technical term; it should not be read as an emotional or confrontational term. A logical argument follows particular rules of induction, deduction or analogy and is deemed weak or strong according to the manner in which these rules are applied. That is the only sense in which I use the term here.

Many of King and Martin’s arguments are offered in the form of analogical reasoning. In fact, the entire book is based on a romantic analogy that posits God as the courting lover of humankind. Although analogy is a legitimate, time-honored form of argumentation, it is also one of the weakest. Analogical reasoning only works insofar as the analogy is plausible. King and Martin apparently assume that their analogical premises can be stipulated and will be readily accepted. For example, one author tells of his relationship with his teenaged son. The author is thrilled that, even though his son is virtually independent of his father, he chooses to spend time with his dad. The reader is supposed to accept the analogous argument that God is equally thrilled when we, his children, choose to spend time with him, our heavenly father. Is this analogy valid? Why or why not? What biblical and theological foundations support this analogy? These questions bear examination before one can accept the plausibility of this argument.

In addition to several analogies, Martin and King offer some intriguing biblical exegesis to support their claim. For example, their explanation of the covenant between Abram and God is insightful. This passage lays a strong foundation for their claim of God’s ongoing faithfulness regardless of human fickleness. Their discussions of the books of Hosea and Jonah, and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ are also strong arguments for their thesis. The book would have benefited greatly from more analyses like these and fewer heartwarming anecdotes.

It should be acknowledged that Martin and King are writing for lay people, not scholars. Nevertheless, authors who purport to offer proof of a claim should remember that folksy anecdotes do not prove anything, they simply keep readers engaged. The book is full of stories that, even though they entertain and uplift the spirit, do not further reasoned arguments.

Moreover, assertions are not arguments. Take, for example, the statement that “The Story of God has been perverted into a man-made story of fear, and that breaks God’s heart” (p.33). This statement is a stirring assertion, but I can’t help wondering, how do we know what breaks God’s heart? What are the biblical and theological bases for such a claim? The fact that claims like these are rhetorically pleasing does not render them sound bases for arguments.

King and Martin’s notion that God never stops pursuing deeper relations with human beings is refreshing. At points throughout the book the authors began laying a solid foundation for their claim but they eventually fell short of delivering the promised proof. Still, Christians who are tired of trying to be good-enough-to-get-to-heaven will likely find this book comforting and encouraging.