Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: A Free People's Suicide

A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American FutureA Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future by Os Guinness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Os Guinness is a superb artist with words. His knowledge of world history, both modern and ancient, is impressive as well. This book contains a lot of unique insights concerning America and its developing history as an empire, all of which illuminate many basic problems which keep it's traces of "true freedom" from being sustained in its present form. He sheds light on problems which have been around since the founding of the nation, some which have evolved since then, and some which are entirely new to the 21st century. All in all, I have read other books which touch upon this subject, and in a limited sense are like this one, but none which have focused entirely upon "freedom" in principle and sustaining that which is true concerning the traditional multi-faceted American views about it. Guinness does not bring in any childish name-calling or rhetorical invectives. As always, his thoughts are well-balanced and considerate of opposing viewpoints.

The weakness of this book, in my mind, is that he presents no absolute, objective standard for virtue, morality, and ethics other than repeating general references to the virtuous Christian religion and Christians within that religion. This is the book's weakest link. For all of his colorful artistic expressions of truth, virtue, and character, this book merely explains how America got to where it is today as an empire of "freedom" and why America needs to sustain "true freedom" (and not just its notion of "true freedom") according to Christian principles. Guinness does not attempt to explain how those principles (specifically) can or should be applied. Every outlined solution is at best general in its description. And so, at best, this book is extremely readable and great for convincing people of America's dire circumstances as an empire promoting true freedom, and is also a fantastic reference for pungent quotes and ideas concerning America's past and future. At worst, it is explicitly standard-less, which irritates my literary tastebuds somewhat. That's why I only gave it three stars.

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