Literature

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His ( by Max Lucado, the popular author of numerous Christian books, presents the dominant thesis that God loves you the way you are but He does not intend to leave you the way you are.  Lucado contends that God wants you to develop a heart like Jesus and He wants to make you just like Jesus.  The author asserts that the central focus of a true Christian’s life is patterning his or her thoughts, words, and actions after Jesus.

I found Lucado’s book to provide a substantive understanding of how God will assist you in becoming what He wants you to be.  At the end of the book, there is a “Study Guide” for each chapter that enables the reader to engage in critical thought about each chapter.  By including this “Study Guide,” the writer evinces his serious desire for the reader to grasp the importance of each chapter’s primary messages.  I agree with Lucado’s overriding thesis that God loves you just the way you are but He does not intend for you to remain the way you are.

Too often religious leaders don’t let people know they have greatness already within them.  When Jesus comes into their lives, He activates the greatness that lies within them.  Lucado’s book is vital reminder to readers that God can use them for His glory as He transforms them into the people He needs them to be.  I found his argument that God longs for total control of humans’ lives to be at the core of what it means to be a Christian and a significant message for postmodern Christians to contemplate and embrace.

I highly recommend you purchase this book today!  The book can be purchased here: http://www.thomasnelson.com/just-like-jesus-5.html and you can read other reviews of this book here: http://www.booksneeze.com/reviews/bybook/9780849947438.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson to compose this review.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Don’t Sanitize Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Okay, by removing “nigger” from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and replacing it with “slave,” the novel has been robbed of its authenticity. Readers should have an opportunity to experience a text exactly how the writer penned it. Additionally, “injun” should not be removed from the work either. When you remove and/or modify words of an author’s work, you are rewriting the work. We don’t want to read the revised version of an editor—we want to read the author’s original version of the text. Professor Alan Gribben, English professor at Auburn University, has elected to remove the words “nigger” and “injun” from the NewSouth edition of this great American classic, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We don’t need Professor Gribben trying to make this novel more pleasant for us to read. I really think that Professor Gribben eliminated these words to make this classic easier for White K-12 teachers to teach it. It’s not really about hearing and reading the terms “nigger” and “injun”—it’s really about the guilt that many, if not most, White people have when these terms are mentioned, especially nigger.

Since Professor Gribben is an English professor, I’m really stunned that he would tamper with the authenticity of this novel in the first place. One thing that I have learned as an English major and university English instructor is those who critically study literature have a reverence for the original text. Therefore, it is understandable that people remain curious as to why this man is robbing the work of its authenticity. Of course, I understand that editors have to make choices but this is such a substantial revision of the text, considering we are talking about the removal of over 200 words. The fact that Twain mentioned “nigger” over 200 times in the novel signals that this word is crucial to understanding the novel in its totality. You cannot say that you are trying to prevent young students from hearing and reading the word nigger—they already hear and read the word inside and outside of the schools they are situated.

Eliminating nigger and injun gives all K-12 instructors a pass on the serious responsibility they have to engage students in serious discourses and understandings about race and the history of race in America. When nigger and injun are encountered in this classic American novel, teachers have an opportunity to educate students about the history of the words, the context in which they were used, and suggest their significance to what the novel is striving to communicate.

Literature is history. Nigger and injun are terms with unique and important histories that teachers have a responsibility to inform their students about. One of the dominant reasons why schools are not empowering students in the way that they should be is they are committed to giving them a miseducation. When you replace the word “nigger” with the word “slave,” that’s a substantive change you have made. Yeah, there are affinities that the terms share but those terms have their important differences and histories that we must know. We have to love our students enough to give them the truth. We cannot give our students the truth when we hide things from them that we think might be unsettling to them.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has the power to unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse us—when we embrace and engage with the text exactly how Twain penned it. Yes, “nigger” and “injun” may unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse some students, but we all need to be unsettled, unnerved, and unhoused so that we can gain true paideia (true education). When we gain true paideia, we begin to surrender misunderstandings and exchange them for true knowledge. Our students need true paideia to help them to realize that they need to embrace the substantial over the superficial.

Don’t sanitize a work of art. When you sanitize a work of art, you crush the work of art. Twain’s novel is a touchstone—don’t touch its originality.

This effort to be post-racial is stupid. America cannot be post-racial right now. Sorry to inform you but the legacies of Jim and Jane Crow, slavery, and postmodern discrimination in sundry forms (both subtle and overt) prevent us from living in a post-racial Utopia—at least right now. The social construction of race has been tremendously damaging. Educators need to inform their students about the harsh economic and social realities of the social construction of race.

If we are to achieve a truly multi-racial democracy, we are going to have to wrestle with serious race matters. We are going to have to have the courage to stare race in the face and expose its good dimensions and its ugly truths.

Dear Professor Gribben, you are not going to stop folk from seeing people as “niggers” and “injuns” by simply removing these words from a work of art. You are not going to make this a more pleasant nation by removing these terms. You have done us more harm than help by removing these terms from this classic American novel. Thanks for letting us know that you are one of the prominent members of the thought police. Again, don’t sanitize Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because America did not sanitize race and racial discrimination for Blacks, Native Americans, and other racial and ethnic minorities in America.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

A Letter to Toni Morrison

English: Toni Morrison speaking at "A Tri...

English: Toni Morrison speaking at “A Tribute to Chinua Achebe – 50 Years Anniversary of ‘Things Fall Apart'”. The Town Hall, New York City, February 26th 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Toni Morrison:

 

 

 

This communique serves to express my sincere gratitdue for the profound impact that your oeuvre has had on my life. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate training, I have used your works as the focus of my research and writing. My undergraduate and graduate experiences could not have been what they are without the challenges and satisification your works have offered me. I have had the opportunity to produce several publications on your works. Each time that I pick up one of your novels I discover a new detail that I had not discovered in past readings.

 

 

 

I want to thank you for writing The Bluest Eye, the first novel to really take the plight of the young Black girl in fiction seriously. I have written about this novel so many times that I know that my professors are exhausted with my essays about it. Pecola Breedlove’s desire to have the bluest eyes reflects the deep longing that many people have for things that seem unreachable for them. My professors and other reviewers of my reading of the rape scene in the novel have found it to be unsettling. What I have attempted to convey in my reading of the rape scene is it is a moment when Pecola begins to feel for the first time—it was the first time that someone had touched her. Although I know that rape is such horrible and violent act, I think there is a much deeper significance behind the rape than just the horrible act itself. I have argued that the rape evinced for Pecola that she was human—something she never had really realized prior to being raped. Would you mind providing some insights about the rape scene?

 

 

 

Moreover, I would like to know what were your motivations behind penning your latest novel, A Mercy. After reading this novel, it would be really beneficial to gain insights from you about why you elected to set the novel during the epoch you did.

 

 

 

Again, I would like to thank you for your great contributions to American literature and to enhancing the rich tradition of African-American literature in American literature. I eagerly await your response. Have a great day!

 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Antonio Maurice Daniels

 

 

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison