41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush. Crown. 284 pages. 2014
George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States was the only President in modern times not to write a memoir. His son, George W. Bush the 43rd President, has written this book that he says is not objective, but instead a love story from a son to his father. The book opens with an account of Bush the elder celebrating his 90th birthday with a parachute jump.
George H. W. Bush’s father was an accomplished golfer, United States Senator and investment banker. He started the family tradition of attending Yale. Bush’s mother, who died shortly after he lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton, was a woman of strong faith.
Bush joined the Navy shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, enlisting on his eighteenth birthday in 1942. He served for three years. During that time, he was shot down by the Japanese in the Pacific and rescued as the Japanese were trying to capture him. At age 78 he would return to the site and meet one of the Japanese soldiers that was there that day.
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Bush would marry Barbara in 1945, and enjoyed seventy-three years of marriage. They would have six children – George, Robin, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. George W. Bush was born in 1946. Daughter Robin was born in 1949. She would die of leukemia in 1953. Barbara would die in April, 2018.
After the war, Bush attended Yale. Bush was an accomplished baseball player, serving as the captain of the Yale team that advanced to the College World Series in 1947 and 1948.
After college, Bush went into the oil business as a clerk in Odessa, Texas. In 1949 he transferred to California, where their small family lived in four cities, before transferring to Midland, Texas, where they lived for nine years. The author considers Midland to be his hometown. Midland was a very competitive place during the oil boom. Bush would teach Sunday School at their church in Midland.
Bush then went into the oil business for himself, first with Bush-Overbey and then with the Zapata Petroleum Corporation. The latter company would split with Bush taking the off-shore part of the business, moving to Houston. The onshore part of the business would later become Pennzoil.
Bush lost the 1964 senatorial race to Robert Yarborough, who had the support of President Johnson. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1966, and most of the family moved to Washington D.C. He ran for the Senate in 1970, losing to Lloyd Bentsen. He then received a call from President Nixon who offered him the position of the US Ambassador to the United Nations, and the family moved to New York. Later he would become the head of the Republican National Committee, replacing Bob Dole, who he would run into years later in a presidential campaign. After President Ford replaced Nixon, Bush chose to be Liaison to China. The family enjoyed their time in China, but Ford called him back to take over as CIA Director, an assignment he handled until replaced by President Carter.
Bush then decided to serve on the boards of several businesses, before deciding to run for president in 1980. He would lose the nomination to Ronald Reagan, but Reagan would pick him as his Vice President, which he served for two Reagan terms.
Bush ran for President and won in 1988. He chose Dan Quayle as his running mate. The author doesn’t come out and say he disagreed with the decision, but I felt that sentiment come across “between the lines”. We hear of highlights from his presidency – dealing with Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein and The Persian Gulf War (which boosted his approval rating to 89%), the collapse of the Soviet Union and a peaceful end to the Cold War, the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Points of Light.
His approval ratings dropped significantly with economic woes and his agreement to a tax increase after his infamous pledge “Read my lips, no new taxes”. He would face challenges from Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot in the election and eventually lost to Bill Clinton, who campaigned on change and the economy.
The author who rarely criticizes his father in this book writes that his father’s campaign was reacting rather than leading, and his speech at the Republican Convention was defensive and flat. In the end, Clinton would get 43% of the vote to Bush’s 38% and Perot’s 19%. Bush felt that Perot cost him the election. In addition, the news of the improved economy appeared too late for Bush. Ironically, Bush and Clinton would go on to have a very close relationship that continued until the end of Bush’s life.
After being rejected by the American voters, Bush at first had a difficult time transitioning out of public life. He was strengthened by his family, and his sons George and Jeb being elected governors of Texas and Florida respectively.
Bush would be diagnosed with Parkinsonism, and confined to a wheelchair. He became very ill in late 2012, and almost died. Fortunately, he made a complete recovery and was present at the opening of the author’s Presidential Library in the Spring of 2013. He would die in December, 2018, with his son George W. Bush giving a wonderful eulogy that was both funny and emotional.
The author weaves in thoughts about himself and his political career throughout the book, something other biographers could not offer. A connection both father and son had was the wars in Iraq. The author mentions ISIS and that the future of IRAQ was uncertain as he was writing. The author also states that if his father had won re-election in 1992, he would not have run for governor of Texas in 1994 and later for president.
The author compares his father’s record to that of Winston Churchill and feels that his father accomplished more in one term than many Presidents achieve in two.
I very much enjoyed this tribute from son to father.
Love Does for Kids by Bob Goff and Lindsey Goff Viducich
This wonderful book was written by Bob Goff and his daughter Lindsey Goff Viducich. Geared to children 6-10 years old, the book contains the warmth, humor and life lessons that you’ll find in Bob Goff’s books Love Does and Everybody Always. In fact, if you’ve read those books, you’ll be familiar with a few of these stories, along with many delightful stories of Bob as a child. Each of the 46 brief chapters contains colorful illustrations from Michael Lauritano.
The authors write:
“This book is for kids, big and small. This book is about the new kingdom Jesus invites us all to be part of – a kingdom we can enter only if we are just like kids. In the kingdom of heaven, we are all becoming a little more like children and a little more like love – and learning a little more about what love does”.
This book will make a wonderful gift for the children in your life. I can see some parents reading the book to younger children, while older children will enjoy it on their own. Either way, reading this book will be a joy for kids of all ages.
Below are 25 of my favorite quotes from the book:
- God’s love for us doesn’t change on our worst days. Come to think of it, we can’t earn more of God’s love on our best days. We are simply loved by God, no matter what, and because of Jesus, God doesn’t define us by our mistakes.
- We need to give love away like we’re made of it, and sometimes that comes out in the smallest, simplest acts of kindness.
- Lots of things in Jesus’ kingdom seem to be the opposite of what you’d expect. Jesus said that the people who weren’t well-known would be leaders. He said that the people who were overlooked would actually be most noticed by Him. And in Jesus’ kingdom, our small acts of love can help other people in really big ways.
- The words we say to one another have tremendous power, so let’s make them words of life.
- I think He knew that the more we stand in awe of Him, the less we’ll stand in judgement of each other.
- Sometimes it’s easy to forget that when God thinks about you, He gets a big smile on His face. He didn’t just create us; He really, really likes us too.
- A lot of times, when we think about loving others and building Jesus’ kingdom here on Earth, it’s easy to believe that we need to have everything figured out before we get started. But we don’t.
- When you’re thinking about how to show people love, go big. Imagine the most extraordinary thing you could do to love others, go to your heavenly Dad for help and advice, and pursue the creative dreams He has given you with everything you’ve got. In the end, God doesn’t delight in our successes; He delights in our attempts.
- The gift we give to Him is enjoying the gifts He gives us and sharing them with others. We show Him how much we love Him by how much we love others.
- Being friends with someone without expecting anything in return has the power to change the world.
- What Jesus really wants most from us isn’t our best manners. He wants us to be good friends with Him and good friends with one another, showing love in ways that break all the normal rules.
- No matter what happens, we don’t have to be scared anymore. Jesus knows all about the things that scare us, but even when we feel a little scared, we can remember that He’s our friend and He’s not scared at all.
- Opening up our home to friends all over the world has taught us that real friendship means that we love everybody all the time, just as they are, and that everyone is welcome.
- Instead of worrying about whether or not we have enough to offer to others, we can trust that offering the best we have, even if it isn’t perfect, is enough.
- Love and forgiveness carry the most weight when they are done, rather than simply said. God didn’t simply tell us we were forgiven; He sent Jesus to be with us and show us that we are forgiven.
- Jesus said that real leaders love their enemies, serve the poor, and treat others the way they want to be treated. The type of leadership Jesus taught about is hard, but it can change everything.
- Every time you forgive someone who has hurt you or go out of your way to serve someone who needs help or stand up for someone who is being picked on or share what you have with someone who has less than you, you are helping to heal the world.
- Following Jesus isn’t easy; it costs us something. But that doesn’t mean it will cost everyone the same thing. Figure out who God wants you to be and then do what it takes to become that person.
- The things we create are only as good as the foundations they are built on. When you make your life about the things that matter most – loving God and loving others – you’ll have a solid foundation for building everything else in your life.
- When we actually do the things Jesus said – giving food to people who are hungry, being generous with our time and money, or being nice to people who are mean to us – our hearts with follow our actions, and our faith will become real.
- We are not our successes or our failures. God delights in our attempts, and He loves walking beside you when you try new things, even if it takes a few tries to get them right.
- God delights in surprising us. I’ve found that in my hardest moments, when I feel the most in need of encouragement, I don’t hear God’s voice talking to me out loud – instead, God sends me a friend to remind me about His tremendous love for me.
- When someone does something to hurt us, we need to give them a chance to make things right. By responding with kindness instead of hurting others back, we often become even better friends with them and get to show them the kindness of Jesus.
- If we quit the things that aren’t God’s best for us, maybe we’ll have more time for things that matter.
- Sometimes all we can do is walk through sadness with each other, not around it. God gave us each other so we wouldn’t need to pass through the most difficult times alone.
- Free Audiobook. The free audiobook download from Christianaudio for January is Charles Spurgeon’s classic devotional Morning and Evening. I use this book as part of my daily devotional reading.
- 10 Things You Should Know About the Ten Commandments. Kevin DeYoung shares this excerpt from his new book The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them.
- 25 Christian Books I Love to Recommend. John Piper writes “I love encouraging people to read weighty, worthy, readable Christian books. I have said many times, Read! Read! Read! But beware of wasting your time on theological foam and suds. Read rich doctrinal books about the one who called you to his glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3.”
- Tony Reinke’s Books of the Year. His top book is The Beauty of the Lord: Theology as Aesthetics by Jonathan King.
- Russell Moore’s Books of the Year. His top book is A Concise Guide to Reading the New Testament: A Canonical Introduction by David R. Neinhuis.
- Jared Wilson’s Books of the Year. His top book is Communion with the Triune God by John Owen.
- Book Briefs. Kevin DeYoung gives a quick rundown on books he has read the past few months.
- Christopher Yuan’s New Book “Holy Sexuality and the Gospel,” and How It Can Help Our Discussions of LGBT issue. Randy Alcorn writes “I read a lot of books, and Christopher Yuan’s Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story is on the shortlist of most important books I’ve read in the last decade.”
- Jackie Hill Perry’s Gay Girl, Good God Is a Book You Shouldn’t Miss. Randy Alcorn writes “I started reading Gay Girl, Good God on my Kindle earlier this month, and then also ordered the audiobook. The ebook is great, so honest and compelling, but Jackie’s voice and inflections and personality are so captivating that continued with the audio. It’s stunningly good.”
- Francis Chan Calls for Reformation. But We Need Contextualization. Eric Parker reviews Francis Chan’s latest book Letters to the Church. He writes “Overall, there may be many church leaders in America today who need to hear Chan’s impassioned plea to biblical fidelity, and I suspect that’s why he felt the need to write the book. But I fear what Letters offers as a potential solution is more reaction than reformation.”
- Interview with Ben Sasse. Listen to this White Horse Inn interview with Senator Ben Sasse about his new book Them: Why We Hate Each Other And How to Heal.
- Scott Sauls Talks with Eric Metaxas. Listen to Scott Sauls talk to Eric Metaxas about his new book Irr
- esistible Faith. Go to Hour 2 at the 28:25 point.
BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman. This week we look at Chapter 6 – Churches: Not Lobbying Organizations, But Embassies of Heaven
- Inside the local church is where a Christian politics becomes complicated, authentic, credible, not ideologically enslaved, real. It’s in these real-life situations where you’re forced to think about what righteousness truly is, what justice truly requires, what obligations you possess toward your fellow God-imagers, and what you yourself are made of.
- Christians learn politics, in particular, as we work for unity amid all the reasons we give one another not to be united.
- One reason people don’t recognize the political nature of the church is because of the time delay between the church’s promise of judgment and its fulfillment.
- Churches both are and are not a political threat to the civic order. Since no government is free of idols, churches preaching the gospel will always pose some threat.
- Christianity, by nature, is political. It requires righteous deeds and just lives, but righteousness and justice are measured, in large part, by our loving lives together.
- Every church is political. Every church is an embassy of heaven. But no church is competent to wield the sword. Therefore, churches should ordinarily not seek to influence government policy directly.
- The church’s most powerful political word is the gospel. And the church’s most powerful political testimony is being the church. There is more political power in the gospel and in being the church than there is in electing a president, installing a Supreme Court justice, or even changing a constitution.
- Churches can sin and prove faithless by not speaking up in matters of government policy when they should.
- Once in a great while churches should speak directly to government policy or to particular candidates.
- American Christians need to work harder at promoting Christian freedom when it comes to candidates, causes, and policy.
- Just as a church should not seek to wield the sword and influence government policy directly, so a church should ordinarily not be partisan. That is, it should not identify itself with one political party or another.
- Unless you are ready to deny or remove church membership to someone for his or her party membership, a pastor or church generally should not endorse or denounce one party or another or candidates from said party. When a church does, it effectively ties the name of Jesus to that party and subverts the mission of the church to being a branch of that party. Non-Christians will begin to view that church as a lobbying wing of a party and Christians as political operatives for that party.
- A pastor’s occupation is conscience-binding. And he should only bind the conscience of his hearers with the Word of God.
- The prophetic power of the gospel and the church will grow as we disciple one another toward being a just and righteous people. So, teach biblical principles. But don’t wade into public policy tactics and then bind the conscience.
- Individual churches will come and go. Yet Christ’s church—the church—will remain. It will prevail against partisan politics, the rage of the nations, and hell itself.