Since the advent of blogging, books in column format have become much more accepted. They’re short, they’re easy to read, and they’re unobtrusive. However, they’re also generally sporadic. The authors have a hard time staying on track or keeping to the main theme- just imagine C.S. Lewis crossed with Andy Rooney and you’ve got a pretty good idea what you’ll be expecting from a book like World View, but in this context it kinda’ makes sense. Marvin Olasky has been the editor-in-chief of World Magazine for 25 years, so he’s used writing in short-form, while still communicating his points.
Writing a review on a book like this is complex because there’s just so much content, covering so many subjects, that it’s hard to give the book an adequate review without addressing each column- and there’s over 60 included! Yet a thread that runs through Olasky’s writing is clear and it’s really important.
A Much Needed Reminder
In the second essay, on page 19, Olasky starts to lay out the groundwork for moderation within the Christian evangelical circle, something that he’ll continue to write about in many more columns throughout the book:
“The parable of the prodigal son should have a plural in its name: sons. We all know of the younger brother’s libertine living, but the elder brother has a more subtle problem: He is self-righteous and lacks joy.
Part of the evangelical political problem in contemporary America is that much of the press and public sees us as elder brothers. Sometimes we are that way in reaction to younger brothers. Sometimes younger brothers go their way in reaction to us.
In higher education, younger brother colleges are party schools that proffer sex and stimulants. Some Christian colleges try to avoid that by imposing tight rules in elder brother fashion. Those rules may lead to external conformity rather than deep belief. Both younger brother and elder brother colleges divert students from learning more about God.
As a Christian, I have always struggled with my own self-righteousness and pride, but especially during my late teen years when I happened to be most prolific about influencing other people and “making a difference” in the world. Olasky continues to emphasize a call to love and gentleness. He introduces what he calls, “third-brother-ism.”
Third brother politics is also different. The Founders fought for both liberty and virtue: Elder brothers tend to forget the former, younger brothers the latter. Third brothers know that we can never have enough laws to banish sin. They tell the truth but do not rant at abortionists and gay rights activists. They control their tongues and lungs not because killing babies and killing marriage is right, but because their goal is to change hearts.
Five Large Sections
The book is separated almost categorically into five different sections: Basics, Changes, Institutions, Causes, and Conclusions, but I wasn’t sure how the sections really played into each other. They seemed sporadic, but again it’s the fact that these columns were written years apart that really makes them hard to pull together into one cohesive message.
If you’re into reading short articles or almost daily readings, this is the book for you. There is a huge amount of truth packed into each column. If you’re looking for a book that follows and explores a single thread in a cohesive way- just skip this one.
About the author:
As Editor-in-Chief of World Magazine, Marvin Olasky has offered his views on current events and culture for more than 25 years. In this collection of columns, he shows readers how Christians can speak biblical truths while also living out the biblical values of grace and mercy in today’s world.