on October 5, 2007
A wonderful book. The title says it all - conflict? question mark, & Christian integrity. Some of my favorite authors are C.S. Lewis, & Philip Yancey, but this book has become my favorite of all & most recommended to friends & family. I think it has to do with my own background & the state of the world today. I was born & raised in a tiny mid-West town, but over the years I have worked & travelled throughout much of the world (31 countries!), & this in itself can be a challenge to one's faith. Most of my friends are not Christians, and now my immediate family includes members of the Muslim & Hindu faiths & yet my faith in Christ remains the center of my life. Especially wonderful is the very clear description of the modern world given in the preface. We no longer live in a world of immigrants, but rather a world of "transnational migration" whereby cultures mix & people flow in & out of cultures without even moving physically sometimes. This affects all of us. Perhaps the most concise & beautiful description of Christianity that I have ever read is found in the "Jesus Enigma" chapter. It is a tremendous resource to reaffirm a simple but profound faith - knowing what you believe is the foundation of integrity. Vinoth Ramachandra I think represents the very rare author who can write with inspiration & authority on crucial topics, & yet his style is downright enjoyable as the pages turn themselves, & I believe that his book is a gift of faith to the world. The chapters are a joy to read & to re-read, each time offering a new perspective perhaps. I cannot recommend his book highly enough. It offers a message of integrity, dialogue, & hope in a world that desperately needs to hear it. I am so glad to have found this book & I think that you will be too.
on January 14, 2012
This book was a textbook for a seminary class, Missio Dei. Ramachandra is a native of Sri Lanka who holds a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the U. of London. He is a leader in the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students where he helps Christian university graduates think and respond as Christians to some of the social, cultural, and political challenges they face throughout the world. He has also taught in several theological seminaries and conferences. His Danish wife is a trained counselor and Bible teacher. From this base of experience Dr. Ramachandra has written this highly-readable book which daringly confronts "hidden issues" and "conceptual fuzziness" that help fuel the new "religious wars." Many of these things are not in fact based on the religion with which they are cloaked but are based on matters such as politics, power, and economics. The book ends helpfully with a disentangling of some of the issues and an argument for a contextual approach towards civility and the common good, with implications for authentic Christian discipleship in the late modern world. The book is an easy read of 171 pages, has Endnotes and a nice Bibliography, and is printed in dark enough ink with print sized so that it is easy to see. It would make a good book as a basis of discussion with a small group or as provocative reading for the thoughtful indiviudual.
on January 3, 2013
Ramachandra’s book was very meaningful to me. I appreciate that he is tackling such a challenging subject as this from a unique perspective. From his perspective in Sri Lanka, we Americans have a lot to learn. He raises points that I’ve never considered before, such as the multifaceted realities within Islam and Hinduism, the origins of sharia law, and the myths that go into the idea of a secular state. While common perceptions are different than what he presents, he argues convincingly and using a variety of sources that lead me to believe that what he is saying is true. He is pretty dogmatically Christian in this book, which raises the possibility that he is interpreting some things through his Christian worldview and finding weaknesses in things that may not be entirely real. However, I tend to believe what he is saying. If this is the case, our global perspectives as Christians should change in some ways. However, this is where I felt the book had a weakness. It didn’t begin with a thesis and set out to prove it. When it finally arrived at a conclusion at the end of the book, it didn’t quite seem like the rest of the book had proven his conclusion. While the end of the book had some very interesting thoughts about the nature of secularism and Christian roles in the world, I failed to see exactly how these thoughts flowed from the lengthy chapters on Islam and Hinduism.
I was excited by Ramachandra’s ideas on secularism. Chapter five was very interesting to me as he challenged widespread beliefs about modernity and appealed to reason and history to defeat it. I really appreciate the position he advocates, and I want to try to incorporate it into my own political philosophy. The book never really got around to making many tangible immediate applications for its readers, except for some general points in the epilogue. Therefore, I’m not sure how useful this book will be in my ministry, except to give me some new ideas to think about and new perspective when meeting Muslims and Hindus.