Book Review: Reborn on the Fourth of July

The fourth of July was incredibly hot in my neck of the woods.  So, I spent the day inside reading Reborn on the Fourth of July by Logan Mehl-Laituri.  Logan’s story is compelling, as it offers an insiders look at issues that most of us deal with in the abstract.  He’s a soldier.  A Christian.  An American.  A Patriot.  And…now…a pacifist.    How did he go from soldier to pacifist? That’s what this book details – Logan’s journey.  Along the way he provides insight into the complexity of being a Christian in a nation like ours, which so often co-mingles allegiance to God with allegiance to country.  He also weaves together insights from the Scriptures, church history, just war theory and modern day military training and tactics.  It’s truly an insightful book.

What I most like about this book is how Logan doesn’t give in to the temptation to speak with black and white certainty when there are fields of gray.  He doesn’t demonize one side or the other.  He shares an important word about soldiers who carry the burden of guilt and shame for some of the things they have done.  He talks about how unhelpful it is to be considered a hero or a goat, by pro and anti-war Christians.  He gets to the heart of the struggle.

If there is a down side to the book (and maybe I am expecting too much out of one book) it’s the lack of pragmatic advice for how to support soldiers when they return.  He highlights the soldiers plight quite well.  Including the staggering statistic that more soldiers have been lost to suicide than combat operations.  So how do we help?   This book will help the Christian soldier discern God’s place in war.  Perhaps his next work should help the church – especially those of us who claim nonviolence after the way of Jesus – be a part of the healing process.

I often tell people that I’m anti-war because I’m pro-soldier.  I found this book to be unashamedly  pro-soldier while also being pro-reconciliation after the way of Jesus.  I highly recommend it.

[I liked this book so well, that I will be leading a reading group through the book.  We will start on Wednesday, July 25 – 6:00 pm at Metamora Mennonite Church.   We’ll meet for 6 weeks.  All are welcome.  Just pick up the book and read the Foreword, Notes to the Reader and Introduction prior to the first meeting.  Feel free to contact me with questions.]

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