April 2009
March 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
Recent Entries
Movie Metaphysics: The Dark Knight
What's Going On Here??
Why I'm Getting Rid of Google Chrome
Twitter and Me
To the 52, From 1 Of the 48
A Note To Authors (and PR people, too)
Beat Coastal, The Sequel
Obama's Backdrop

January 13, 2008

Book Review: The Way of the Christian Samurai by Paul Nowak

This is the first in my 'Book a Week' resolution/challenge/whatever. Each week, I read a book and blog about it.

It was interesting looking around the internet and reading some of the responses to this book -- especially the negative ones. It's easy, I suppose, to go negative on a book that takes a new approach to something. It's easier than, say, actually admitting that you might be doing something wrong, or looking at something in the wrong way.

On Tuesday, I mentioned a negative review of this book. Well, it wasn't really a review, since I seriously doubt that the folks at Berean Call actually took time to read the book. And they'd probably take great pride in the fact that they haven't read it.

And that's a shame, because when you actually sit down and read the book, you understand where Nowak is coming from. You start to see what Christians can learn from looking around us, at people who don't serve God, and yet are doing tremendous things.

Samurai were servant-warriors. That's one thing that Nowak goes to great pains to show us -- they were servants. As Christians, we are also called to be servants; unfortunately, I think we've lost that idea, especially here in America. We're rugged individualists, after all, and we don't like the idea of subordinating our desires and plans to anyone else, not even God. We don't like a God that will cramp our style, and I think that's why the whole idea of non-religious 'spirituality' has grown so popular in the US. We make a God we're comfortable with, and we don't really have to change how we do things.

The historian in me was fascinated with Nowak's summary of samurai ideas and teachings, including quotes from many samurai throughout history. The important thing about the book, though, are the principles of the samurai that Christians would do well to learn, and cultivate in their own lives.

1. Service. Samurai lived in service to a feudal lord. Christians live in service to the Lord of Lords. We read of the commitment that samurai had to their lords, and we should be ashamed. We can't be bothered to go to church regularly, to spend an hour of our precious time in the presence of the God we claim to serve. We give up jobs at church because we're "burned out." We are wimps, and the samurai show us that.

2. Self Sacrifice and the Pursuit of Perfection. Samurai gave their lives for their lords. We don't want to give up our starting times, or our sports cars, or our luxury. We can't even be bothered to give a tenth of what we earn financially. For the samurai, a tenth would have been a mere pittance. Their lives were lived for their lords, and it was a high honor to die in that service. They were willing to lay it all on the line, as the early Christians were. We're comfortable, and we've lost that sense of sacrifice. Again, the samurai shame us.

The pursuit of perfection was, for the samurai, a lifetime of study and practice. Constant learning, constant striving to better oneself -- those were the hallmarks of the samurai life. And we Christians can't be bothered to read the Bible for fifteen minutes a day. We can't be bothered to study, to learn. We don't love God "with all your ... mind." And yet again, we are shamed.

3. Resolve. Single-mindedness. Determination. Focus. The samurai were certainly focused. Driven to the fulfillment of their objective. Their priorities came from their masters; our priorities are written for us in the Bible. We know what our job is. We know what we're supposed to be doing. And we fail, because we don't want people to make fun of us. We don't want them to think we're a bunch of religious nutjobs. We want people to like us. We've got no resolve.

If we had a fraction of the determination that the samurai had, we'd have won millions to Christ. Europe wouldn't be a bastion of secularism. America wouldn't be a society bent on rejecting God and celebrating sin and debauchery. Our world would be different, but we lack the drive. And yes, the samurai shame us once again.

It's no wonder that so many people want this book ignored. If the truth was heard, they'd have to recognize that they're not Christian samurai -- they fall far short of the mark established by God. We all fall short of what God expects of us. The sad thing is that we'd rather condemn a book out of hand than read it and recognize that it might just be right out us. We don't want to admit that about ourselves.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's not an academic theological text, it's not a devotional written by the latest thing in Christian books. But it's a little book with an important message for those who will hear.

Posted by Warren Kelly at January 13, 2008 08:16 PM | TrackBack
Email me!
Email Protection by Name Intelligence