Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Book, Cost of Discipleship, Among Newspaper Clippings on the Holocaust

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”

(Henry David Thoreau, Walden)

The Browser asks people in the news to recommend five books on given topics.  Three prominent Republicans have been interviewed for the site, including[1] Mitch Daniels on Libertarianism and Karl Rove on Compassionate Conservatism.

Because Mike Huckabee recently wrote a book called Simple Government, he was asked to recommend books on the topic of Simple Governance.  Three the former pastor and governor selected were by Christian philosophers: C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Schaeffer’s book Whatever Happened to the Human Race?[2] (and film of the same name) helped substantiate Governor Huckabee’s principled and unwavering opposition to abortion.  I am convinced that Governor Huckabee would rather lose an election than to budge one inch on the murder of unborn children.  You cannot compromise on life and expect that the other two foundational rights of our republic will be upheld, for once a government or its citizens can deny you the former right, the other two (liberty and the pursuit of happiness, i.e., property rights) become meaningless.

Huckabee said the book solidified his view that “the uniqueness of the United States and its Declaration of Independence was that all of us were created equal, the concept that one’s last name or personal wealth or occupation or ancestry did not make one person more valuable than another person.…That the child with Down’s syndrome had worth and value and we should not discount the worth of that child and say, well, this kid plays baseball really well, he’s worth more than the kid who can’t swing the bat.

The C. S Lewis book Huckabee chose (The Problem of Pain) helps us understand the balanced view Huckabee on the health care debate, and Social Security.  Lewis said that Pain is not in itself evil, but a part of life.  There is no perfection in this life, no life without pain.  It is what we learn from our pain that is most important, including patience and compassion for the pain of others. Huckabee adds “The point being that you have to remember there is a human being behind every decision you make.”

Bonhoeffer (in The Cost of Discipleship) wrote about the call of sacrifice of self[3], comfort, and life, for the truth of God’s Word, and love of Christ.   He famously wrote “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  Pastor Huckabee recalls the day he announced to his previously segregated Baptist church that a young black man was seeking to have fellowship with them and that if the young man was not made to feel welcome in the church, that Huckabee would himself would find another place to pastor.

These three books by Christian philosophers indicate Huckabee’s preference for theology which encourages more than private devotion, rather a daily life lived for Christ in the world.

The other two books recommended by Governor Huckabee were the best-selling self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and a more recent book entitled How Democracies Perish by Jean-François Revel.

Carnegie’s book helped Huckabee to understand the importance of reaching out to help the governed rather than the governing while not showing preference to Wall Street over Main Street.  The Revel book probably typifies Huckabee’s view of welfare[4], personal responsibility and the role of the federal government:

Revel’s “whole point was that democracies perish when people recognise (sic) their ability to get something at others’ expense, and when they continue to accelerate in that direction, there comes a point at which that society collapses.”

[1] Rove promoted historical books on Democracy and economics including the Federalist Papers, and Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.  Daniels’s books were on the topic of libertarianism. Among them were Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, and books by Milton Friedman and Charles Murray.

[2] Co-authored by C. Everett Koop.

[3] Sacrifice of self is different than self-sacrifice.  The latter means denying yourself some benefit in order to help others, the former means totally giving up claim to owning one’s own life.  It belongs to God.

[4] Governor Huckabee was able to reduce the rolls of welfare recipients by almost 50% while Governor of Arkansas.



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