Sunday, September 30, 2012

You Cannot Find Peace Until You Find All The Pieces by Marie Maiden

Tour Date: October 3rd

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book: (May 4, 2012)

***Special thanks to Marie Maiden for sending me a review copy.***


Ms. Marie Maiden is the youngest of five children.  She was born in Washington, DC on May 24, 1964, her parents separated when she was very young.  She was raised by her mother and grandmother.  During the teenaged years of her life certain decisions were made for her life that created problems for her that she never imagined or intended.  The book “You Cannot Find Peace Until You Find All The Pieces” is the story of what Marie did to save her life from complete ruin.

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This book titled “You Cannot Find Peace Until You Find All The Pieces” chronicles a search for my father, a man I desired to meet face-to-face.  The searched lasted eighteen years.  It led me to discover my ancestry, which provided the documentation that I needed to finally locate my father.  I was able to find the plantation where my dead ancestors lived as slaves and brothers and sisters whom I didn’t know existed before I found my living father.

This work also chronicles the role of God in my life and how my belief in Jesus Christ has transformed me and given me the strength to overcome a less than desirable childhood. Prior to this personal transformation, I held on to many regrets from my childhood.  The most consequential of these was a teenage pregnancy and my life as a teen mother.

Product Details:
List Price: $22.50
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: (May 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1105661261
ISBN-13: 978-1105661266


From Whence They Came

I was lost and I was searching for my soul. Although I didn’t know it then, in order to truly find it I had to go back in time, about two hundred years to be exact.

About eighteen years ago, I started searching for my biological father. He had abandoned my family many years earlier. In the process of searching for my father, I ended up uncovering the lives of my ancestors. They arrived in colonial Virginia from the West Indies. I know the history of my people today because of a need to find my biological father. I did not begin with a desire to trace my family lineage. I had no particular concern how far I could trace my family name. I did not intend to go as far back in ancestral time as the West Indies. I just needed to find my father. That’s how it all started for me.

My goal was to find him. I did not set out to learn about my ancestors. It just happened to work out that way. It seems normal to me that one would want to know who, what, and where their father is. However, for me, it became an obsession. As I searched for my father, I imagined him to be living in a rundown studio apartment somewhere. I thought that he would be a hard-core alcoholic on his last legs. I didn’t picture him as a family man, even though I knew he produced many children with several different women. I did not have a storybook image of him at all. In my imagination, there was a picture of my dad as being a booty-chasing wild man.

I just wanted to find him, to look at him, and maybe to get to know him in order to fill the void that I had in my heart. As I continued my search, it turned out to be easier to find people who had lived over two hundred years ago, who were now dead, than it was to find him.

It’s funny how some things turn out. I was able to find the plantation where my— dead—ancestors lived as slaves before I found my—living—father. I guess God wanted me to know exactly where I came from. I guess I needed to thoroughly uncover the roots of my family tree in order to make sense of my life. I needed to gain a full understanding of my ancestry in order to gain an appreciation for the trials that they overcame.

As for my family, and most African Americans in the United States, my ancestors came to this country by way of the slave trade. On my father’s side, my family came to Virginia from the West Indies. According to Susan Westburg, in her article “From Whence They Came,” the earliest and the richest British overseas possessions were the West Indies. Britain became the most efficient and prosperous slave-trading country ever seen in the history of the world.

In 1607, Virginia was neither a haven for religious freedom, nor a penal colony. It was an extension of the British Empire. It was a colony set up to make money for the mother country, England, and Virginia gained its wealth from the full-scale exploitation of slaves.

In the seventeenth century, Europeans began to establish settlements in the Americas. The English settlers divided their land into smaller units and ran them under private ownership. This division of land functioned as a plantation system.

At first, all slaves came directly to colonial Virginia from the West Indies. Later, slaves came to Virginia by way of three possible routes: direct from Africa, direct from the West Indies, or from another established settlement, often times a plantation. Before 1680, historical records indicate that black slaves came to Virginia directly from Barbados. At that time, it was very rare to have a slave ship come to the United States directly from Africa.

Between 1699 and 1703, historical records show that thirty-two slave ships entered Virginia from Barbados, Jamaica, and Nevis. The slave trade route between the West Indies and Virginia was separate and distinct from the African slave-trading route. Overall, the practice of slavery in the Caribbean and the Americas touched the lives of approximately 12.1 million enslaved people and their descendants.

The masters of the slaves saw it as an economic necessity. There was a great need for physical labor in the planting, harvesting, and managing of the plantations. The slave trade developed into a sophisticated, albeit inhuman, chain of supply and demand.

Ship builders built the slave ships for the voyage. Manufacturers provided goods for trade. Agents insured the items and bankers financed the whole enterprise through loans and mortgages. Sugar refineries and clothing manufacturers functioned at full capacity to keep the supply up. The expansion of the plantation system increased the demand. This highly profitable system brought vast economic wealth to Europe, America, and many other countries.

Copyright © 2012, Marie Maiden
 All Rights Reserved
 No reproduction of this book in whole or in part may be made without the expressed written authorization of the author.
 Manufactured and Printed in the United States of America
 ISBN 978-1-105-66126-6
 Distributed by

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Guardians of Purity by Julie Hiramine

Tour Date: October 1, 2012

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Charisma House (August 7, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***


 Julie Hiramine is the founder and executive director of the ministry Generations of Virtue that equips parents to empower their children for purity in our world today. As an internationally noted speaker, author, and Christian leader, Julie has encouraged and impacted parents and teens both in the United States and internationally through her speaking and written materials. Julie graduated from Pepperdine University with dual bachelor’s degrees in nonprofit business management and sociology. Julie and her husband, Kay, have five daughters: Brianna, Stacia, Alissa, Hana, and Mikayla.

Visit the author's website.


The calling of this generation is in jeopardy. As parents, we comprehend the danger and enormity of the sin of our world in a way that our children cannot yet grasp. How do we begin communicating to our children how truly incredible their destinies are and how their choices, both large and small, impact their callings in a dramatic way? More importantly, how do we teach our children to walk in purity of heart, mind, and body, one of God’s profound prerequisites?

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (August 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616388552
ISBN-13: 978-1616388553


The Ever Changing Landscape of Technology

If anything has changed since we were kids, it’s the world of technology. (Remember when cell phones were the size of your tennis shoe?) The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter what generation you represent; technology changes so fast it makes an impact on all of us—especially our kids. Yet our children seem to navigate all these changes so easily. It’s as if they are natives in a digital world, while we parents are immigrants. The landscape is familiar to them, and for us oftentimes it is foreign territory with new language, customs, and social mores.

Desktop computers were the wave of the future in the 1980s.

We thought we had “arrived ” with the floppy disk in 1984.

Cell phones made our lives easier by the1990s.

The Internet changed our world in the late 1990s.

The first commercial text message was sent in 1992.

The iPod revolution came on the scene in 2001.

In 2006 the word google was added to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary.

By 2008 the number of text messages sent daily exceeded the current population of the planet.

In 2009, 95 percent of downloaded songs were downloaded illegally.

That same year the average American teen sent and received 2,272 text messages every month. By 2010 the average went up to 3,339.

In 2010, 6.1 trillion text messages were sent and received. As of 2011, there were only 7 billion people alive.

It is now estimated that a week ’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the eighteenth century.

And by 2013 the long-awaited “supercomputer” is expected to surpass the computational capabilities of the human brain.

Now check out how quickly it took the following things to reach a market audience of fifty million:

Radio: thirty-eight years TV: thirteen years Internet: four years

iPod: three years

Facebook: two years2

So what does it all mean? In one generation we have gone from the Stone Age to the Space Age technologically, and it is continuing to grow exponentially.

The book of Daniel talks about knowledge increasing (Dan. 12:4). The sheer volume of information that our kids deal with is massive. With information, advice, and guidance multiplying on the earth so rapidly, how do we know who is influencing our kids?

Many parents I have met use this feeling of being in a different world as an excuse to not engage on this level with their children. I hear people say all the time, “I don’t understand any of that stuff, so I don’t even go there!” I have to admit, I am no tech whiz either, but if we don’t “go there,” we will be forfeiting one of our greatest opportunities not only to parent our children but also to disciple them in this area of their lives. This is an arena where I see the enemy lurking, just waiting to snatch our kids over to the dark side before they have even left the “safety” of our living rooms.

When we were kids, we had to go to the mall or out to a restaurant to see our friends; now our own children just hop on their computers or mini- computers (i.e., cell phones) to do the same thing. Sure, there were ways for us to get into mischief, but usually that did not happen under the same roof, let alone the same room that our parents were sitting in! Now kids don’t even have to walk out the door to get themselves into trouble.

One in five teens have sent/posted a nude/ semi-nude picture or video of themselves.

One in three teen boys have had nude/ semi-nude images sent to them that were originally meant for someone else.

The average age of first Internet exposure to porn is age eleven.

One in three visitors to pornographic websites are women.

We parents have to realize that being online is like being in a house with no parents home. We would never let our kids throw a party at our house with no holds barred, but when we let them online with no boundaries, it is the same thing. We have to understand that we need to be training our kids from the time they are young to protect their purity of heart, mind, and body when it comes to technology. We need to teach them that who they really are is who they are when no one is watching.

You know the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”? Well that’s how our kids view the Internet. They think that they can go on a “virtual moral vacation” anytime they want, without any consequences. They think no one will ever find out what they do online. And it’s easy for us, as parents, to think that the online activity of our kids isn’t that big a deal—after all, most of their friends are doing the same things. This apathy toward the online behavior of our kids could be for many reasons, but I believe a huge one is because the con- sequences of high-risk online behavior are often delayed. Think about it. You know what’s going on if you come home after visiting family over the weekend and there is clear evidence throughout the whole house that your son threw a wild party. You have reason to suspect something when your daughter, normally bubbly and cheerful, suddenly becomes withdrawn and depressed, and then you find out from a friend ’s mom that she’s been seen alone with the school ’s playboy. Yet often high- risk online behavior is more difficult to detect and therefore more serious. The longer negative patterns go on, the stronger and deeper they get. You owe it to your children to monitor their online activity. It could literally have lifelong consequences if they are allowed free rein on the Internet.

The enemy has a plan for this generation, and it is to steal and destroy. I am convinced that the enemy will use technology to steal away a generation along with their destiny. When kids (and especially teens) spend hours playing video games, chatting online on social networking sites, texting on their cell phones, or watching every movie that has been released this past decade, their time has been wasted. That same time could have been spent on training for their future. We parents must realize that we use technology differently than our children do. We usually use technology as a means to an end, not an end in itself. While we are task-oriented online, our kids go online for the sole purpose of just hanging out there.

At Generations of Virtue we have a six-week World Changers Intensive internship program for seventeen- to twenty-one-year-olds. This is an unforgettable time for these young people to dive deep into purity, holiness, servanthood, and ministry. One thing we ask is that they “unplug” for the six weeks that they are with us. They are not allowed to have their cell phones or computers except to call home once a week. The young people return home after their six-week “media fast” new and different people. They realize that unplugging isn’t such a bad idea after all and that it can really aid in getting their hearts and minds focused on their purpose, their calling, and their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But even more striking to me is how many young people I speak to that will not apply for the internship because they cannot bring all their gadgets with them.

There are many other opportunities that I see young people missing because their tech world would not be intact. I see them forgoing opportunities to do missions work around the world, because in some areas they won’t be able to check their social networks or text their best friends. I see young people who won’t leave their video games long enough to help out with ministry opportunities right in their own cities. This is why I say the enemy is stealing the destiny of a generation. While they sit at their computers playing online role-playing games, the enemy is not only stealing their hearts and minds but also the hearts and minds of those they could be reaching as well.

Parents must realize what their children are forgoing when they pour themselves wholeheartedly into their very own “media empire.” God has designed this time for young people to learn, grow, and be discipled in their calling. But often- times, by the time young adults reach their mid- twenties, media and culture have done most of the shaping, instead of godly influences. I like to tell young people the old saying that “time is money.” In your bank account of life what are you investing in? Are you investing in your future, your calling, your destiny, or are you investing in things that will not profit your future whatsoever?

Another area in which parents need to mentor their children in is the area of healthy relation- ships. Kids are extremely comfortable in a virtual world. They have virtual friends from around the globe. While parents use social networks as an opportunity to network with old friends they have personally known from high school, college, and present, their kids strive to add a multitude of “friends” whether or not they have ever met them. This might lead to a son or daughter accepting their friend ’s neighbor’s cousin’s brother as a friend—someone whom they have never met in real life!

The dilemma with this is that while teens are on a quest to accept more and more friends for the sake of popularity, their relational world shifts the balance from real to virtual. They exchange real, authentic, face-to-face relationships for virtual illusion, false impressions, and even delusion.

The point I am making here is twofold. First, the more virtual relationships our kids have with people they have not met face-to-face, the more jeopardy they are in. It is a rule at our home that they have to have spent time with someone face- to-face before they add them to their friends list on any networking site they are on. This way we at least know the friends really are who they say they are.

When we meet people for the first time, we often try to discern what type of person they are. Even with people we have known for years but don’t know well, we are usually observing what they say and how they act to see if this is someone we’d like to have in our lives. We do this by using at least two of the five senses that we have— seeing and hearing. But with virtual relationships, we don’t have either of these options available to us. Sure we may “see,” but we are seeing only an image, the image the other person wants to project to the world. Many times that image is different from the real person. It’s nothing more than a mask. We want our kids to have relationships with people in which they can learn to discern who that person really is without the mask.

Secondly and most importantly is that real relationships happen in real life. The healthiest relationships are built face-to-face, day in and day out, not virtually. Real life is real relationships. Now I know there are some reading this who have even met their spouses virtually before being introduced in person. I know that virtual relation- ships are a part of our world. It’s just that our kids need to establish and anchor themselves in relationships that are not only virtual. Because of the push for popularity, both for the shy and the out- going, virtual relationships have such an appeal to teens that some teens would rather live primarily in that world than in the reality of everyday life. The shy ones like it because they can be different from the way they are in school every day, and the extroverts like it because they live for the thrill of relationship—the more the merrier.

As parents we need to be focused on the fact that no matter where technology takes us, we still want to be anchored in the face-to-face relation- ships, where learning how to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly in other people takes place in a consistent, loving, everyday, face-to-face environment. We need to teach our kids that when they get frustrated with their future spouses, they can’t just hit the “delete” button to end the relationship. Real relationships take hard work, day in and day out. The truth is that our spouses have to live with not just the good impressions we make, but rather with the real us.

The Worship Factor

This is another factor we want to be aware of with our kids and their virtual worlds. Many young people have mixed motives for being online all the time. Now it’s not that they are aware on the surface that this is a motivation, but it is our job as parents to disciple them in a way that purifies their motives for being online. The bottom line is that they like the attention they get from others. Whether it is that online game they are winning or the social networking site and their thousands of friends, they like the fact that this is a “world ” where people like them. Teens live in a world of growing maturity and constant challenges. Teens have a fair amount of conflict with parents and other authorities as they are challenged to mature and forge a place for their individual identity. It’s a stretching experience that can be downright uncomfortable. Then along comes an opportunity not only to have people like the things they do but also to be the center of attention as well. I call this the “worship factor,” or the “me factor.” Does this sound familiar to you?—“It’s all about me and my friends and what I do.”

I have a young lady on my staff with Generations of Virtue who prayed for over three years about having a Facebook account. Every time she would ask the Lord about getting on and having her own account, she would feel a check in her spirit. God began to show her that her motives were not right. She said that God convicted her that it was difficult enough for her to put Him first and that this would be a place where she would be pointing people to her, rather than the Lord. She said she had enough trouble trying to keep God as the focus and not her, as it was, and this would only make it harder. Finally there came a point where God dealt with the motivation of her heart so she would be able to use this area of technology to advance His kingdom purposes and not her own little empire of self.

This is the online worship factor. Is it all about me or about truly being a representative of God ’s mighty army and making advances for His kingdom? So much of technology centers around my life, my pictures, my friends, my little world. What happened to our calling and destiny to be world-changers for the almighty King? We get sucked into this vortex of self and the “me” factor that is all about me getting worship from my friends. Last I read in the Bible, Lucifer fell from heaven because he wanted the worship that belonged to God.

Advancing God’s Kingdom

In his book Re-Create: Building a Culture in Your Home Stronger Than the Culture Deceiving Your Kids, Ron Luce says that “98 percent of our population are followers of culture and 2 percent are the shapers of culture.”7 In a world where our kids are incredibly tech-savvy, why don’t we encourage them to become the 2 percent? That 2 percent has tremendous power and authority over our culture. If that 2 percent were young people sold out to God ’s purposes of advancing His kingdom, that would truly rock our world. Look what twelve disciples did without the Internet! If we work with this next generation, the ones living in our own homes, and give them a vision for the impact they can have on this world through technology, there’s no envisioning how God will use it. If they write the music, direct the movies, create the websites, engineer the games, and manage their Internet world with pure hands and a clean heart to advance God ’s kingdom, this world will never be the same. This is the vision that we have to communicate to them: if their motives are pure and they see technology as a way to advance God ’s kingdom, and not their mini-empires, this will create change. Not that technology and media are bad—just the opposite! However, this powerful tool has been hijacked by the enemy of our souls, and we must take back the ground that the enemy has stolen and use it for the glory of God.

Everyday Practical Hints

Now whether your kids are three or thirteen, there are some practical measures you can take to make their technology world much safer. You have to start when your kids are young so you can be up to speed by the time they reach their teen years when technology issues really come to the forefront.

The number one suggestion I give to all parents, no matter what age their kids are, is to put some kind of filtering or monitoring software on all computers that kids have access to. This will save you from a path of destruction that the enemy is betting your kids will stumble into. One of the most common experiences that hundreds of parents have shared with me is how their son or daughter chanced upon some kind of pornographic website by accident, then became addicted. This dark world is proactively seeking to imprison your child for life. Filtering software provides an outer perimeter that at least helps guard them from this onslaught.

Now I am no computer whiz. My kids are the ones to save me most of the time from my technology mishaps and woes—anything from my e-mail not working to my printer being jammed. As I stated earlier, they are the natives in this territory. Still, I make it a point to find a way to put filtering software on our computer and learn how to monitor it properly. Mind you, it is not enough to have it, if you do not know how to monitor it and use it properly. You need to come to grips with how to use the software once it is in place, and if this is way beyond your realm of expertise, don’t use that as an excuse to hand your kids over to the enemy on a silver platter. Find a techno- logically capable college student from your church, and have them install the filtering program and teach you how to use it.

There are no excuses when it comes to this world of pornography. Take a look at what we are up against:

Pornographic websites: 4.2 million (12 percent of total websites)

Pornographic pages: 420 million

Daily pornographic search engine requests: 68 million (25 percent of total search engine requests)

Daily pornographic e-mails: 2.5 billion (8 percent of total e-mails)

Average daily pornographic e-mails/user:

4.5 per Internet users

Monthly pornographic downloads (peer- to-peer): 1.5 billion (35 percent of all downloads)

Websites offering illegal child pornography: 100,000

Sexual solicitations of youth made in chat rooms: 89 percent

Youths who received sexual solicitation: one in seven

Worldwide visitors to pornographic web- sites: 72 million monthly8

No matter what age your children are, it is a good idea to keep computers in public, high-traffic areas of your home. Remember laptops have legs and like to walk away. Keeping computer screens where they can be seen by other eyes will cut down on temptation. Especially at night, keep all these devices inaccessible by blocking the Internet signal or placing them in your bedroom. (I know one dad who actually unplugs the router and takes it into his bedroom every night.) One of the most common stories parents share with me is about kids getting online, via computers or cell phones or other devices, in the middle of the night while the world is sleeping.

Time limits are also important. Whether it is for playing games or being on Facebook, studies show that parents who set time limits see results:

Only about three in ten young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28%) or playing video games (30%), and 36% say the same about using the computer. But when parents do set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day (2:52) than those with no rules.9

Don’t forget that cell phones are essentially small computers, and every generation of phone gets more and more powerful. Oftentimes we focus on the actual laptop or desktop, but many times this is not what gets our kids in trouble. They are just as comfortable using their cell phones to have access to all the garbage on the Internet as well. A recent study on media use among teens revealed “young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their cell phones (a total of :49 [minutes] daily) than they spend talking on them (:33 [minutes])”10 Being familiar with your carrier’s parental control options and always picking the phone that is the simplest and most basic for your child’s needs is imperative. Although we parents might not use every feature on our phones, our kids will figure out what those features are and learn how to use them. Don’t assume that because you don’t, they won’t. Remember they are the natives when it comes to this technology!

Now it is no easy task to find our kids (especially kids under the age of fifteen) phones that do not have every cutting-edge feature, bell, and whistle. I went the other day to find my fourteen- year-old daughter a phone that would simply make calls, send text messages, and take decent pictures, and there were only a handful of crummy models to choose from at our carrier’s store. Most of them looked like something we would plan on getting Grandma, with large print screens. It made me want to just cave in and get her the newest model of the iPhone; I mean, she is a very responsible young lady! But the words of so many teens and parents echoed in my head about scenarios that came up with their “good, responsible” kids being drawn into temptation that they were not ready to handle.

And the problem is that once that happens, you can’t go back. So our search goes on for a simple phone, one that is still cool! Nothing is more crushing than finding out that your child is immersed in pornography. This is a common occurrence that parents don’t expect your kids to be able to stand and win if you are not engaged yourself in a conquest for victory.

Pornography is an attack of the enemy especially focused on derailing our sons, but daughters fall prey to it as well. It is evil, and there is a proactive offensive being launched against our children.

“Roughly two-thirds (67 percent) of young men and one-half (49 percent) of young women agree that viewing pornography is acceptable.”

Boys between the ages of twelve and seventeen who regularly view pornography on the Internet had sex at an earlier stage in their lives and were more likely to initiate oral sex, apparently imitating what they had watched.

“More than half of sexually experienced guys would rather give up sex for a month than give up going online for a month.”

“Overall revenue from the porn industry in the United States is greater than the

National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball combined.”

Seventy percent of sexual advances over the Internet happened while youngsters were on a home computer.

Ninety percent of eight- to sixteen-year- olds have viewed porn online (most while doing homework).

Our kids need to be equipped to win this battle. We cannot stand by and assume that they will not be affected by this enemy. They need to be dressed for battle and be well acquainted with the enemy and his tactics. Now a word to parents: don’t expect your kids to be able to stand and win if you are not engaged yourself in a con- quest for victor y. If pornography is an issue in your life, this is the time to leave it at the cross and get squared around. If for nothing else, do it for the children you love so dearly. The enemy of your soul will convince you this is impossible, but God is the only hope in the war being waged against your soul. Surrender this area to the Lord minute by minute so the generational line of your family can be redirected into the godly line of sons that are meant to stand in this war.

In his book Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires, Fred Stoeker (coauthor of the Every Man’s Battle series) asks, “Are you leaving the women in your life better off for having known you?”17 Is that true of you, Dad? Is that true of your sons?

Although pornography is primarily a male issue, women are becoming more and more involved. Fred Stoeker is a good friend of mine. As a guest speaker at a parent-teen conference called ReConnect that my ministry hosts, Fred shared a story that shocked me. He had been invited to speak at a popular Bible college, and a week before his arrival the school had sent an anonymous poll to the students regarding their pornography usage. His question wasn’t, “When was the last time you viewed pornography?” It was, “How often do you view pornography?” The poll results were unsettling to say the least; 100 per- cent of men and 87 percent of women said they view pornography at least once a week.

We need to prepare our children age-appropriately for this dilemma. We need to equip them for this battle. Most boys are shown their first pornography at age eleven, but this is becoming more common even as young as age eight. How do we brace ourselves for this, let alone our children? Start by explaining to your young children that if they ever see a picture anywhere (on the computer, in a book, magazine, even a movie) of a woman (or a man) who is not properly dressed, especially one without clothes on, to come and tell you immediately. Part of the key I have found in waging this battle is to bring things out into the light. Things kept hidden in darkness provide the enemy with a door of entrance. In teaching our kids to be upfront and tell the truth, we are allowing the light of God to shine into that area and bring redemption. Leaving things in secret gives the enemy the edge and the upper hand.

Also explain to your child how to handle this issue online. For this generation, pornography is relentless at trying to trap our kids when they are innocently browsing the Internet. Explain to them that if they ever see anything online that depicts a person without clothes on or doing something that makes them uncomfortable or is inappropriate, they should immediately close the page and run to get you. Further, I always recommend that they turn off the computer, because I don’t want the unsuspecting brother or sister to walk by and be scarred as the first child is running to find a parent! You can always go back later and research how that image came up on the screen. Now I always advise parents to take a deep breath, put on an un-alarming demeanor, and go see what’s up. Reacting by screaming at the top of your lungs and popping your eyeballs out will hardly encourage your child that you are approachable when these kinds of issues come up.

Parents, we need to be engaged in this even when our children don’t come and tell us that they have found suspicious content online. One time when we were doing a teen program with about four hundred teens in Arizona, a fourteen-year-old boy came up and quietly shared his testimony with me. He said that he had stumbled onto pornography online, and out of curiosity he had looked at it a bit one day, although he knew better. He went to bed without sharing with his parents what kind of content he had viewed on the Internet. After falling sound asleep, he was awakened by both his parents and confronted with his activity. After much discussion late into the night, and a time of prayer and repentance, he went back to sleep with a clear conscience. He confessed that having his parents do that changed the course of his life. He was proud to share that he had not looked at pornography again. His parents, by loving him enough to be aware of his online activities and confronting him with the truth, had saved him from a world of conflict and hidden sin. But to catch this hidden conduct right away, it took parents who not only had filtering software but also monitored it as well.

As much as we need to train our children to be on guard when they are young, we need also to set their sights on purity of mind, heart, and body as they get older. They need to be able to stand against their flesh, which is set on pushing the boundaries. Our teens are immersed in a world where sleaze and promiscuity are common, and to say no to this onslaught will surely put them in the minority. It is essential to help them see that this is really a step into God ’s higher calling.

I have listed several resources at the end of this chapter that we at Generations of Virtue have found useful. Work through them with your teens so that they can overcome the battle set before them. This battle with media expo- sure is an everyday battle. The enemy has declared war against our children, and we need not only to acknowledge the battle but also engage in the everyday scrimmages to ensure victory.

Resource for dads:

Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey

Resources for dads and sons:

Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires by Fred Stoeker and Jasen Stoeker

Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, with Mike Yorkey

Tactics: Securing the Victory in Every Young Man’s Battle by Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey

Resources for moms and daughters:

Every Young Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn

What Are You Waiting For? by Dannah Gresh

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Promise of Israel by Daniel Gordis

Tour Date: September 28

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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Wiley; 1 edition (August 28, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***


Widely cited on matters pertaining to Israel, Dr. Daniel Gordis has been called "one of Israel's most thoughtful observers." It is a task he does not take lightly. Throughout his career, Dr. Gordis has tirelessly observed, written and lectured on Israeli society and the challenges the Jewish state faces. His writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, Moment, Tikkun, Azure, Commentary Magazine, Foreign Affairs and Conservative Judaism.

Today, Dr. Gordis is senior vice president and Koret Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. A prolific writer, The Promise of Israel is his ninth book. In 2009, his book Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End received the National Jewish Book Award. His biography on former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin is scheduled for release in 2014. Gordis continues to be a much sought after speaker, traveling around the world to speak on the Jewish state and the challenges to Israeli society. In addition, he regularly blogs Dispatches from an Anxious State. He and his wife, Elisheva, make their home in Jerusalem. They are the parents of a married daughter and two grown sons now serving in the Israel Defense Forces.

Visit the author's website.


What Israel's critics in the West really object to about the Jewish State, Daniel Gordis asserts, is the fact that Israel is a country consciously devoted to the future of the Jewish people.  In a world where differences between cultures, religions and national traditions are either denied or papered over, Israel's critics insist that no country devoted to a single religion or culture can stay democratic and prosperous. They're wrong.  Rather than relentlessly assailing Israel, Gordis argues, the international community should see Israel's model as key to the future of culture and freedom.  Israel provides its citizens with infinitely greater liberty and prosperity than anyone expected, faring better than any other young nation. Given Israel's success, it would make sense for many other countries, from Rwanda to Afghanistan and even Iran, to look at how they've done it. Most importantly, perhaps, rather than seeking to destroy Israel.

The Promise of Israel turns the most compelling arguments against Israel on their heads, undoing liberals with a more liberal argument and the religious with a more devout one. The Promise of Israel puts forth an idea that is as convincing as it is shocking-that Iran's clerics and the Taliban could achieve what they want for their people by being more like Israel.

Product Details:
List Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 28, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1118003756
ISBN-13: 978-1118003756
Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3




For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonders that would be;
Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer and the battle flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

                                                                         —Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Locksley Hall,” 18371

What struck me most about California when I started to visit it was its newness. Nothing seemed old. The cars all appeared new; the people dressed young and acted younger. To a young East Coast kid just starting a career, California seemed all about the future, almost devoid of a past.

But all of us have pasts. All of us come from someplace, and even in the shiny new West, it often takes very little for people to start talking about their lives, their deepest regrets, and their senses of how they have, or have not, honored the legacies from which they were born. It’s amazing, actually, what people tell a clergyperson, no matter how young he or she may be. When I first headed out to Los Angeles after finishing rabbinical school, I had no real conception of what awaited me. Some of what I hazily imagined actually came to be. Much did not. But one of the things that I remember most clearly is the stories that people, especially elderly people, told me, even though they barely knew me.

There was one story that I heard several times, in one form or another, always from people around the age of my grandparents. These people told me how their siblings who had arrived in America before them would meet them at the New York harbor. The new arrivals came off the boat with almost nothing to their names, but they had, in addition to their meager belongings, Jewish objects like candlesticks for the Sabbath or tefillin that they had transported with great care. The sibling (usually a brother) who had arrived in the United States a few years earlier would take the bundle with these Jewish religious objects, nonchalantly drop it into the water lapping at the edge of the pier, and say, “You’re in America now. Those were for the old country.” The men and women who told me these stories were much, much older than I was, and the events they were describing had unfolded more than half a century earlier. When I was younger and first heard them, what horrified me was the mere notion of throwing those ritual objects into the ocean as if they were yesterday’s garbage. As I grew older, I was struck by the fact that these elderly people still remembered that moment and that it troubled them enough for them to recount the story to a young person like me, so many years later.

Later still, I began to understand the deep pain and mourning implicit in those stories. There was a sense of having betrayed the world from which they had come. There was a sense of the cruelty of their brothers’ cavalier discarding of the bundles; it might have been well intentioned, but it was callous and mean, and half a century later, it still evoked such pain that they sought to talk about it.

Before we judge these siblings at the pier, we should acknowledge that both sides were right. Both the elderly Jews who told me their stories and the brothers who had tossed their possessions into the oily, filthy water reflected a profound truth. The brothers were right that there is a price of entry to the United States and that it is a steep one. In large measure, many immigrants have done as well as they have in the United States precisely because they were willing to drop bundles of memory, ethnicity, and religious observance into the harbor. And the people who told me these stories were right that the pain and the anger that they felt about that price were real, abiding, and deeply scarring. They had given up something of themselves when they came to the United States, and the scars never fully healed. Being forced to pretend that they had paid no price at all only made matters worse.

Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hutu, Pashtun, or Christian—it makes no difference. All of us can imagine and even feel the visceral horror of being told to take our past and figuratively toss it into the harbor. Those immigrants were told that they were welcome, as long as they dispensed with the heritage with which they had come to their new “home.” But the story of demanding such sacrifice for acceptance is hardly over. It continues for some immigrants to the United States today, and it occurs in the international arena as well.

Sad to say, it is that same attitude that the United States (like much of the West) now exhibits toward Israel. You are welcome to join us, the West essentially says, as long as you drop your ethnic heritage in the ocean forever. We welcome you to the family of nations, but with a price: we want you to be precisely like us. Be different, and our patience will soon run out.

Later portions of this book will explain why preserving ethnic heritage is such an important human endeavor. For now, though, we ought to acknowledge how troubled we should be by saying to anyone—anywhere and at any time—that he or she must abandon a precious heritage and not transmit it. Those elderly immigrants who told me their stories had no choice when they arrived at the shores of New York. Often penniless and usually frightened, they had nowhere else to go. When their siblings took the parcels and dropped them in the water, there was little the new immigrants could do but stifle their cries and hold back their tears.

Israel, however, is not in that position. Israelis are independent, and the Jewish state rightly resists the demand that it become just like all those other states that are not based on a particular ethnic identity. Even though we rarely think of matters in these terms, the sad fact is that it is Israel’s very unwillingness to be a state like all other states in this regard, its resistance to erasing its uniqueness, that now has Israel locked in conflict with much of the West.

This book makes an audacious and seemingly odd claim. It suggests that what now divides Israel and the international community is an idea: the ethnic nation-state—a country created around a shared cultural heritage. This is what has the West so put out with Israel. Israel has lost its once-charmed status in the international arena, I argue, because of a conflict over this very idea. It is true that the Israelis and the Palestinians are still tragically locked in an intractable and painful conflict; the issues of borders, refugees, and Palestinian statehood still await resolution. But those matters, as urgent as they are, are not the primary reason for Israel’s unprecedented fall from international grace.

Israel is marginalized and reviled because of a battle over the idea of the nation-state. (The dictionary defines nation-state as “a form of political organization under which a relatively homogeneous people inhabits a sovereign state . . . a state containing one as opposed to several nationalities,” so I use nation-state and ethnic nation-state inter- changeably in this book.) Israel, the quintessential modern example of the ethnic nation-state, came on the scene just as most of the Western world had decided that it was time to be rid of the nation-state. Today, Europe’s elites wish to move in one direction, whereas Israel suggests that humanity should be doing precisely the opposite. The now young countries that emerged from what was once the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia are mostly nation-states; their creation—and the demise of the larger conglomerates that once included them—attests to the widespread and deep-seated human desire to live in a manner that cultivates the cultures that we have inherited from our ancestors. But many of Europe’s intellectual elites prefer to pretend that we have no lessons to learn about human difference and cultural heterogeneity from the demise of the USSR and Yugoslavia.

Israel suggests that they are wrong. The conflict in the Middle East is about borders and statehood, but the conflict about the Middle East is over universalism versus particularism, over competing conceptions of how human beings ought to organize themselves.

The purpose of this book is to explain the ancient origins of this conflict, how this tug-of-war about an idea has developed, how Israel got caught in it, and, most important, how a world bereft of the idea that Israel represents would be an impoverished world. Instead of being so commonly maligned, Israel ought to be seen as a beacon among nations, a remarkably successful nation that has persevered despite wars fought on its borders and that has brought prosperity to its people despite a shared history of misfortune. Israel has secured significant rights for all of its citizens, including even those who reject the very idea of Israel’s existence. All of this has been accomplished because of Israel’s commitment to the future success of the Jewish people, not in spite of it.

What is at stake in the current battle over Israel’s legitimacy is not merely the idea on which Israel is based, but, quite possibly, human freedom as we know it. The idea that human freedom might be at risk in today’s battles over Israel might seem far-fetched or hyperbolic. This book will argue that it is not, and that human beings everywhere thus have a great stake in what the world ultimately does with the Jewish state.

Imagine a world in which instead of maligning Israel, the international community encouraged emerging ethnic nations to emulate Israel. Egyptians, for example, may have demonstrated for regime change and for democracy, but they did not gather to demonstrate against Islam or their Arab identity. They have no plans to become the “America” of Africa, secular and heterogeneous. They wish (or so the most Western of them claim) both to celebrate their Muslim heritage and thousands of years of Egyptian history and to join the family of modern democratic nations. As they do so, to whom can they look for a model of a stable, prosperous, and open state based on a shared religion and heritage? There is no denying that Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, and many other Muslim countries would benefit from being more like Israel instead of hoping for its destruction.

Yet it is not only Middle Eastern and Muslim nations that should be looking harder at the Israeli experiment. The whole world would benefit from thinking in terms of the questions Israel raises. The United States, Sweden, Brazil—it makes no difference. All citizens of every nation would benefit from asking themselves, explicitly, what values they hope their nation will inculcate in its citizens, what culture they are committed to preserving and nourishing. Such conversations would change the way Israel is seen in the world, but they would also change how everyone else sees his or her own country—and how people come to think about the reasons that countries actually exist.

The idea of a state for a particular ethnicity strikes many people as problematic, immoral, and contrary to the progress that humanity has made in recent decades. The idea of a state meant to promote the flourishing of one particular people, with one particular religion at its core—a state created with the specific goal of Jewish revival and flourishing—strikes many people as worse than an antiquated idea. It sounds racist, bigoted, or oppressive of minorities.

When the United Nations voted to create a Jewish state in 1947, the fires of the Second World War had barely been extinguished. Dispossessed Jews were still wandering across Europe by the thousands. The enormity of the genocidal horror that the world had allowed the Nazis to perpetrate was still sinking in. One of the many effects of that horrific period of history was that despite opposition from many quarters, creating a state for the Jews seemed like the right and expedient thing to do.

But times have changed. Memories of the Shoah are fading.* Jews are no longer dispossessed refugees; in most of the world, they are settled and prospering, and today it is the Palestinians who are stateless. Postwar Europe has decided that it was unfettered nationalism that led to the horrors of the two world wars; therefore, much of Europe’s intellectual elite now believes that the nation-state is a nineteenth- century paradigm that should be relegated to the dust heap of history,*Holocaust means “burnt offering” or “sacrifice to God.” I thus avoid it when discussing the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Europe’s Jews were not sacrificed; they were tortured, murdered, and annihilated. There is a profound difference. This book uses the word Shoah, which means “utter destruction” (see Zephaniah 1:15 and Proverbs 3:25), to honor that distinction just like those bundles that were dropped into the harbor to sink out of sight.

In several important respects, Jews drew the opposite conclusion from the horrific century they had just endured and barely survived. Battered by Europe and by history, the Jews emerged from the Shoah with a sense that more than anything, they needed a state of their own. Just as some of the world thought that it might move beyond nations, the Jews (who had dreamed of a restored Zion for two millennia) now intuited that nothing could be more urgent than finally re-creating their state. Zionism and postwar Europe were thus destined for conflict.

Zionism was not a matter of mere refuge; it was a matter of breathing new life into the Jewish people (the subject of my book Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End), of reimagining Judaism for a world after destruction, and, ironically, of insisting on the importance of the very difference that the Nazis had focused on as they perpetrated the horrors of the Shoah. What was at stake was much more than differing views about the nation- state; it was a battle over fundamental worldviews. For it was not only the nation-state on which Europe and postwar Jews differed. At issue was also the whole question of human differentness. To much of the world, the racially motivated genocide of twentieth-century Europe suggested that human difference ought to be transcended.

At our core, it therefore became popular to assert, human beings are largely the same. Our faces may have different shapes and our skin colors may differ, but those are simply superficial variations. We may speak different languages, but our aspirations are very similar. We may cherish different memories, but the future we create can be a shared one. Because human beings are essentially similar, this argument goes, the countries that separate peoples and cast a spotlight on their differences should now be dissolved, too. John Lennon put this idea to music in his song “Imagine”: “Imagine there’s no countries / It isn’t hard to do / Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too.”

We might well have expected the Jews to embrace this vision. After all, since it was their difference that had condemned them to the horrific fate of the Shoah, we might have thought that the Jews would enthusiastically join the quest for a world without difference. In a world without difference, the Jews might finally be safe. But here too the Jews disagreed.

The Jews disagreed because whether or not they could articulate it, they intuited that they and their tradition have been focused on differentness from the very outset. The image of Abraham as the world’s first monotheist says it all: Jews have long been countercultural. And they have celebrated difference in many ways. The Talmud itself notes that it is differentness that is the very essence of humanity: “If a man strikes many coins from one mold, they all resemble each other,” it asserts. “But the Supreme King of Kings . . . created every man in the stamp of the first, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow.”

Difference matters, Judaism has long said, not just for individuals, but for peoples, too. Later in this book, we will see how this commitment to differentness became so central to Jewish life and thought. But this commitment to difference, to celebrating the uniqueness of the Jewish people, was never meant to foster rejection of those who are not Jewish. Indeed, at its best, Jewish celebration of difference is also about the celebration of the other. The horrific excesses of human his- tory have certainly led many to see in difference a frightening and terrible idea; too often the distinction between “us and them” was drawn to make it seem okay for “us” to kill “them” and for “them” to kill “us.” Israel, however, with all of its imperfections, has for decades been drawing lines and then reaching across them. Israelis do not pretend that being a global citizen is either sufficient or terribly meaningful, yet they willingly send medical teams to Japan or Haiti in a crisis. The Jewish state is a country that could very soon be annihilated without a moment’s notice by Islamic extremists in Iran and that has been at war with Arab countries since even before its independence, but its national government has more democratically elected Muslim officials than all the other non-Muslim states combined—more,  even, than the United States.

The Jewish tradition is replete with references to the differences between the Jews and other nations. From the very outset, Jews saw part of their purpose as being different, as having something to say that the rest of the world ought to hear. In a world without difference, the very point of Jewishness would be lost. Whether or not they could articulate it, Jews understood that being just like everyone else, even if that might somehow make them physically safer, was not at all what thousands of years of Jewish tradition and survival had been about.

Even after the horrors of what they had just experienced because of their difference, most Jews emerged from the Shoah determined to preserve their collective inheritance. Some enthusiastically embraced international movements like socialism or communism. But many more sought to celebrate their difference, to breathe new life into the unique way of living that had been theirs for thousands of years, to gather up the fragments of their texts from a century in which both their books and their bodies had been burned indiscriminately, and to fashion anew their libraries, memories, holidays, and long-dormant language. To do that, they realized, they would need a state. They had prayed for one for two thousand years, but now, after the Shoah, that age-old prayer took on newfound urgency.

Increasingly, however, the rest of the world has decided that it does not agree. The United Nations and much of the international com- munity are notoriously complicit in the push to rob Israel of its status as standard-bearer for the nation-state idea. As long as a country that is openly rooted in a religious or cultural tradition prospers, as long as its democracy serves its citizens well, as long as it defies the predictions of secular scholars and pundits who believe that religion and ethnicity are the handmaidens of imperialism and fascism, it must be reviled.

Otherwise, it could prove the intellectual elites of western Europe and North America, who believe that an experiment like Israel can- not work, wrong. What was once a well-meaning, liberal academic orientation to religion, ethnicity, and statehood has morphed into an international diplomatic witch hunt that smacks once again of intolerance for the Jew and the Jewish state, that is filled with the sense that in any conflict in which Israel finds itself, the Jewish state must be wrong. Sides are being chosen daily, and Israel’s fate is being decided, often by people who do not realize what is really being disputed. My simplest goal in writing this book, beyond advocating one side or the other, is just to make clear to people what the two sides are and what is really at stake in this battle of ideas.

Israel’s real problem, this book demonstrates, is that the state of Israel was founded to move the Jews to precisely the condition that the rest of the Western world was trying to avoid. For that reason, too, the Jewish state was almost bound to be in conflict with the West. That is why many in the ostensibly forward-thinking international community have now decided, consciously or not, that it is time to bring the Jewish state to an end. They propose to do so without armies and without violence. They will bring Israel to its knees with words, with philosophical and principled arguments, and with appeals to the loftiest moral standards. After all, they note, both apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union were felled in large measure by a widely shared international view that they were illegitimate, founded on ideas that were simply indefensible.

Given this new tactic, those who believe in the ongoing importance of a Jewish state need to ask themselves the right questions and provide principled answers. Can an argument really be made for a state that seems so out of sync with the direction of modern progress? In the twenty-first century, is there really a place for a country that defines itself as Jewish (or committed to any other ethnicity, for that matter); that does not see all its citizens as equally central to its mission; and that unabashedly declares that one religion, one people, one ethnicity, and one heritage will be more essential to its national life than any others? How could Israel’s supporters possibly defend such a country?

Such a state seems anathema to everything that many of us have been taught to believe.

Many of Israel’s supporters have no idea what to say in response to such attacks on Zionism and its legitimacy, and Israel has paid a terrible price for the silence of today’s Zionists on these issues. Its international status has plummeted with scarcely a countervailing word being said about why the Jewish state matters. The campaign to defend Israel has been sporadic, reactive, defensive, almost entirely devoid of theoretical argument, and focused almost exclusively on the conflict with the Palestinians. Zionists’ failure to make a case for their particular sort of state creates the impression that they know they cannot really justify Israel’s existence; it feeds a suspicion that they have decided that it would be best to stay under the radar, because when push comes to shove, what Israel is cannot be thoughtfully defended.

But in today’s world, Zionists can no longer afford the luxury of staying below the radar. The questions are too powerful, the focus on Israel too intense. No longer can the case for Israel be made simply by hoping that no one raises the question of whether the idea of a Jewish state is defensible. Those who believe in the importance and the legitimacy of the state of Israel need to be able to explain why a country founded for a particular people, ethnicity, tradition, and religion has a place—indeed, a noble one—in the twenty-first century.

Therefore, Israel’s response to these challenges has to be equally thoughtful and no less compelling. Israel’s defense must also be based on moral claims. In a nutshell, what needs to be said is this: What is at issue between Israel and the international community is whether ethnic and national diversity ought to be encouraged and promoted. Israel has something to say about the importance of human difference that is at odds with the prevailing attitudes in the world today. It is a country that insists that people thrive and flourish most when they live in societies in which their language, their culture, their history, and their sense of purpose are situated at the very center of public life.

Let’s address one common objection right at the outset. Contrary to what many naysayers will claim, a country does not have to be entirely homogeneous to accomplish this. As even PBS (which is often very critical of Israel) once noted, “As a Jewish state, [Israel] is both homogenous and multiethnic.”3 As strange as it may sound, countries can have a predominant ethnic character and be deeply tolerant of minorities at the same time. Every nation-state has minorities, and part of the challenge to the majority is not only to accommodate the minority but also, even more, to help those citizens flourish.

Indeed, flourishing is the key issue. Israel is a country based on a belief that human beings live richer and more meaningful lives when those lives are deeply rooted in a culture that they have inherited and that they can bequeath. Human life flourishes most when a society’s public square is committed to conversations rooted in that people’s literature, language, history, narrative, and even religion. There is the possibility of a more fully integrated life in the nation-state in which all these spheres of human life overlap to much greater extents than other countries make possible. Ultimately, human diversity will be protected most by an amalgam of countries, each of which exists for the flourishing of a particular people, culture, way of life, and history and, at the same time, engages in an open and ongoing dialogue with other cultures and civilizations.

The world celebrated the Arab Spring in 2011, but that story is not yet fully written. Will it bring democracy? Rights for women? Tolerance for gays and lesbians? It would be foolish and naive to expect that we’ll see any such progress soon. Still, there’s no reason that Egypt couldn’t develop an engagement with modernity while staying committed to the dignity of its past. There’s no reason that Libya, finally freed of Muammar Gaddafi, couldn’t in theory develop both intellectual openness and a freedom of the press, since both could actually strengthen the nation’s understanding of Islam. Syrians too could someday live richer and more meaningful lives if those lives were deeply rooted in a unique Syrian culture coupled with freedom of choice at the voting booth. Even Iran could discover that Iranians flourish most when the public square is committed to open conversations rooted in Persian literature, language, history, and narratives, in constant and vigorous dialogue with the West and other civilizations that have very different takes on core human values.

But does the West really want to see those countries develop in that way? If Egypt remained deeply and profoundly Egyptian, and Iranian culture and history defined the Iranian public square, would the West approve, or would the West say that as long as those countries insist on maintaining those ancient attachments, they are not fully liberated? Would the West not still tell them they are doing it wrong? Perhaps. But the West would be wrong; difference and uniqueness do not mire people in the past but rather give them guidance and meaning as they build a better future.

This is now the challenge for Zionists. Precisely because Israel stands for a conviction not held by most of the enlightened world today, the time has come to defend Israel by boldly addressing the conversation that is at the heart of this book. It is time for Zionists not only to discuss borders, settlements, security, and Palestinian state- hood but also to proclaim that what is at stake is not just the Jewish state, not just the future of the Jews, but a profound vision for how humanity can most compellingly chart its future. No other country in the developed world calls into question today’s assumption that eradicating differentness is the best path toward human flourishing. That is precisely what makes Israel so countercultural, so divisive, and often so maligned. And that is what makes Israel so vitally important.

Today’s infatuation with the notion that human difference ought to be papered over is not the first time that the world has embraced a dangerous and dead-end philosophical fad. In the past century alone, humanity has lived through infatuations with unfettered social- ism, then with communism, and even with the belief in the nobility of imperialism. But Israel is a reminder to the world that there are moments when someone—be it a prophet in biblical times or a nation-state in today’s international community—has to speak truth to power and insist on what is right and true, regardless of how unpopular the idea is. Israel represents the argument that the nation- state is not a fad, but rather an ancient and still compelling vision for humanity.

Like the ancient Hebrew prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea, who were highly unpopular in their own time but whose visions for humanity are still cited thousands of years later, the state of Israel is meant to be a clarion call to all of humanity. If Israel can survive (and that is by no means certain), history may one day come to thank the Jewish state for its role in reminding humanity what it stood to lose when it began to pretend that our differences were unimportant.