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Doug S.1 Stars Out Of 5Author's use of pagan symbol of "the phoenix" taints entire message of bookJuly 17, 2018Doug S.Quality: 3Value: 1Meets Expectations: 1In his new book, "Mere Hope: Life in an Age of Cynicism," Jason G. Duesing makes a noble attempt to explain how hope will not only anchor our souls but give joy to hopeless situations.
Published by B&H Publishing, Duesing's 192-page book initially intrigued me because I thought it would be a great read. However, this short, albeit, seemingly hope-filled book did not deliver what it promised and ended up disappointing me on so many levels.
First, Duesing relies heavily on the opinions and commentaries of others, lacking his own original, empirical research required to make the book authentic. He overly quotes from not only famous Calvinists (including John Calvin himself) but also, quite surprisingly, secular humanists.
For example, right up front in Chapter One, Duesing cites Clement of Rome, who may or may not have been a co-laborer with Paul. According to Duesing, Clement of Rome cited a phoenix, which was supposedly "an emblem of our resurrection." He also quoted the second-century writing of the Physiologus, who claimed "the phoenix (like Christ) has the self-sacrificial power to slay himself and come back to life again" and resurrects from the dead" on the third day."
Equally troubling was when Duesing quoted Cyril of Jerusalem, who was a Catholic theologian, as Duesing continues with this very strange, obsessive theme of "the phoenix."
Second, and the most disturbing of all, was Duesing's comparison between C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia," and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, where Duesing claimed Rowling was employing the phoenix to "convey themes of resurrection, hope, self-sacrifice, and healing."
However, what Duesing failed to note is Harry Potter blatantly promotes witchcraft, sorcery, black magic, gory violence and reincarnation, which glamorizes them to the point where it has captured the unsuspecting imaginations of millions of innocent children around the world.
All that being said, Duesing summarizes his apparent fascination with "the phoenix" by claiming "the Christian use of the phoenix serves as a fitting emblem for what I call mere hope," which obviously becomes the entire theme of his book. As for C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia," there are striking similarities between it and Harry Potter, which are too numerous to mention.
Bottom line: Christian authors need to let the Bible speak for itself, and if they quote someone else, let their citations be from genuine, proven Christian authors who base their comments and opinions on the Scriptures and not extremely questionable sources from the secular world.
While his book does get a little better toward the end, Duesing's entire message gets tainted namely with references to the pagan, mythological symbol of "the phoenix," which doesn't add to his message of mere hope, but actually takes away from real hope that's based on the Bible.
I gave it a 1 out of 5 stars.
Full disclosure: In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, I received this book free through B&H Publishing. My opinions are my own and I wasn't required to write a positive review.
Pastorjud4 Stars Out Of 5Mere HopeNovember 6, 2018PastorjudQuality: 4Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4In the modern age cynicism is running wild. It is becoming more and more difficult to trust others, even those we think we know. It is also difficult to know if someone is giving an honest opinion or a selfish attempt to promote themselves. Of course we have always known that only God can be truly trusted and counted upon to be dependable, but we'd like to think that people, at least some people, can be counted on as well.
With this growing cynicism in society today, Duesing tells us that there is hope. Hope in the Gospel. Hope in the One that is dependable and trustworthy. This hope never fails. He divides the book into four major sections, each dealing how one can have real hope. The first section is "Look Down". This section deals with the foundation of hope. There must be a good and sure foundation for hope, that foundation is Jesus. The next section is called, "Look In." This section deals with hope not being just in Jesus, but that it is Jesus Himself. He, who is Hope, lives within each believer. As a Christian I have Hope living in me. The third section, "Look Out," which deals with looking for where hope is in the world. If you look closely enough you will find people doing good deeds and helping others, especially in the aftermath of a devastating storm. In the last section called "Look Up," Duesing focuses on the purpose of hope. This focuses in on what Jesus has promised to us all. That one day He will return to earth and there will be no more pain and suffering. That is the hope we long for, that is the hope that we will have, until then we merely hope.
I would definitely recommend this book. There are plenty of quotes from scholars who have written through the years on the subject of hope. There are also practical applications of how to live out life with hope.
JournalOfABibliophileAge: 25-34Gender: Female4 Stars Out Of 5Inspiring, straight forward, quick and easy to read.August 25, 2018JournalOfABibliophileAge: 25-34Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a much needed reminder for the Christian to turn away from the chaos going on around the world and look to Jesus and the Gospel. This book can best be summarized by these quotes:
"'Right living in this world of opposition begins by remembering the gospel.' Time spent recollecting the good news is not a vain exercise for the Christian. In fact, it is exactly what the Evangelical Stoic needs." (pg 128)
"Until Jesus returns, Christians should look down at their foundational gospel hope, look in at their fountain of living hope, look out at the need for a flourishing global hope, and look up and focus on future hope." (pg 150)
Duesing packs so many good quotes in this book and uses writings from J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis (there's also a Harry Potter mention). I love the aesthetics of this book and the feather on the cover. Clement of Rome described Jesus' resurrection by borrowing an ancient legend the phoenix. The phoenix is known a symbol of hope, rebirth and new life. Clement said it was "an emblem of our resurrection."
Leigh3 Stars Out Of 5there is hopeJuly 19, 2018LeighQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0Jason Duesing is an established author and professor. His newest book, Mere Hope, is written to all Christians in need of hope in the midst of this cynical, crazy, and difficult world. He purposes, "My aim in this book is to remind and establish the certainty that hope still lives. For those in darkness, despairing, discouragement, trials, sufferings, injustice, and any other besetting maladies, hope can be found." He provides excellent theology and exposition and is faithful to bring out specific areas of Scripture in dealing with the need and search for hope. He has cleverly structured the book to "look down, in, out, and up" for hope, and this is an effective writing device, clear and accessible. Jason Duesing provides lots of quotes and references, from the ancient church to Dahl and Tolkien and Lewis to present day authors such as John Piper; perhaps he is too bogged down or distracting in the multitude of references. Another possible negative of the book is its flat writing, a bit dry, not a lot of "umph!" None-the-less, Dr. Duesing achieves his purpose in the end. Hope is real, can be found, and is in Christ alone. He concludes, "Tolkien's fellowship, searching for help in the dark corridor, found a faint source of light, and by it, were able to move forward in their quest. As bearers of the light of God's Word, gathered in local church fellowships joined and indwelled by God Himself, believers traverse the darkness of an age of cynicism sharing the good news of gospel hope, until evil is destroyed and the King returns. Yes, the greatest eucatastrophe is yet to come, on the wings of the phoenix-like Savior, risen from the dead, and coming soon. Until that day, we live with a mere hope."
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