Brief Book Review: Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

 

When I posted that I was reading Death of a Red Heroine , I stated that I would have the review up “in a week or so,” I really meant “in a year or so.” That’s just further evidence why I’m the world’s lamest blogger.

Death of a Red Heroine is the debut novel by Qiu Xiaolong, a native a of Shanghai, but currently living in St. Louis. The story is set in Shanghai in 1990, where Detective Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is confronted with a murder case that will be difficult to solve particularly because of its political ramifications. In fact, the novel is as much a novel of politics in China as much as it is a detective or mystery novel. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal named it as one of the top 5 political novels of all time.

In the novel, Detective Cao, himself a product of Party patronage, must navigate among various factions, including aging senior party members who are attempting preserve the gains of the revolution in the face of economic reform and culture influence from the West, cautious survivors of the Cultural Revolution of the sixties, and an emerging entrepreneurial class. The mystery aspect of the novel is not what this story is about: we pretty much know who committed the murder well before the end. The question is, will Cao be able to get the case prosecuted when there are powerful forces who are threatened by what the crime will reveal about both the victim and the perpetrator?

Death of a Red Heroine is full of the flavor of life in a rapidly transforming China, both figuratively and literally, since a running theme through the novel is is Chinese cuisine. We first meet Cao as he prepares a dinner party for his close friends and at the end we see Cao watching a street peddler frying dumplings, with plenty of meals and snacks in between.

As of this writing, Qiu has written ten novels in the Inspector Cao series, and I definitely plan to read at least the second installment.

 

 

When Politics Becomes Your Idol – The New York Times

As Crouch puts it: “All idols begin by offering great things for a very small price. All idols then fail, more and more consistently, to deliver on their original promises, while ratcheting up their demands. … In the end they fail completely, even as they make categorical demands. In the memorable phrase of the psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover, idols ask for more and more, while giving less and less, until eventually they demand everything and give nothing.”

Source: When Politics Becomes Your Idol – The New York Times

Human Depravity

Let us observe this. There are few things so little believed and realized as the corruption of human nature. Men imagine that if they saw a perfect person, they would love and admire him. They flatter themselves that it is the inconsistency of professing Christians which they dislike, and not their religion. They forget that when a really perfect man was on earth, in the person of the Son of God, He was hated and put to death. That single fact goes far to prove the truth of [Jonathan] Edwards’ remark – “unconverted men would kill God, if they could get at Him.”
J.C. Ryle  

The wonderful thing about praying

The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something, and enter God’s realm where everything is possible. He specializes in the impossible. Nothing is too great for His almighty power. Nothing is too small for His love.
Corrie Ten Boom

Why does God allow his elect to sin?

HT: Dane Ortlund at Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology:

Thomas Goodwin:

God hath ordered his elect, take the whole body and bulk of them, to fall into all sorts of sins, one or other of them; so as there is no sort, kind or degree of sin, no way of sinning, manner of sinning, or aggravation of sin, but in some or other it shall be pardoned, and he doth it to magnify his grace in Christ, in whom he gathers them. —The Works of Thomas Goodwin, 1:156, commenting on Ephesians 1:10

The Eternal Purpose of God

Paul Valentine, senior pastor at Providence Community Church, preached a very good sermon this morning on the sovereignty of God in salvation, which I commend to you. In his sermon Paul shared an outstanding quotation from the late Darrell Champlin, Paul’s professor of Missions at Northland International Univeristy, and missionary in the Belgian Congo and Suriname:

The eternal purpose of God is to call out from every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, a multitude redeemed by the blood of His Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, over whom He will crown His Son, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, King of kings and Lord of lords forever.

This is the passion of the heart of God that cannot be quenched, the obsession of His mind that cannot be denied, the vision of His eye that cannot grow dim, and the destination to which He has committed His omnipotent, immutable, eternal being: a destination He will not abandon.

Eatin’ like a Texan

I’m having a very enjoyable meal at Cousin’s BBQ while in between flights at Dallas – Ft. Worth Airport. Pictured below: a chopped brisket sandwich, a cold bottle of Shiner Bock, and a fine detective novel, Death of a Red Heroine, which I’ll have finished by the time I’m back home.

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Book Notes: Paul and the Law by Brian S. Rosner (1)

41aC+TjGbEL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_I’m reading Paul and the Law by Brian S. Rosner and along the way I plan to chart my progress with chapter summaries. When I’ve finished I hope to write and post a full book review. Rosner summarizes his book’s thesis in his own summary of chapter 1:

In his letters Paul undertakes a polemical rereading of the Law of Moses, which involves not only a repudiation and rejection of the law as ‘law-covenant’ (chapters 2 and 3) and its replacement by other things (chapter 4), but also a reappropriation of the law ‘as prophecy’ (with reference to the gospel; chapter 5) and ‘as wisdom’ (for Christian living; chapter 6). This construal finds support not only in what Paul says about the law, but also in what he does not say and in what he does with the law. And if highlights the value of the law for preaching the Gospel and for Christian ethics. [pgs. 43-44]

Wholehearted Christianity is happy

Ray Ortlund, Jr. on a lesson learned from his father:

He used to say, “Halfway Christianity is the most miserable existence of all.  Halfhearted Christians know enough about their sin to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with the Savior to become happy. Wholehearted Christianity is happy, and there is no other happiness.”

How did my dad get there and influence me to go there?  He really, really knew that God loved him and had completely forgiven all his sins at the cross of Jesus.  He did not wring his hands, wondering what God thought of him.  He believed the good news, his spirit soared and he could never do too much for Jesus.

I’m not surprised

Christianity Today reports on the Larycia Hawkins affair at Wheaton College. CT links to this post on Hawkins’s Facebook page, which includes this statement (emphasis mine):

Whether or not you find this position, one held for centuries by countless Christians (church fathers, saints, and regular Christian folk like me), to be valid, I trust that we can peacefully disagree on theological points and affirm others like the Triune God (albeit there are differences here as well–Athanasian Creed, anyone?), the virgin birth (or Immaculate Conception depending on your persuasion), and the Resurrection. Let there be unity in our diversity of views about all of the above.

Apparently Hawkins doesn’t understand the difference between the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception. I am not surprised that she would not understand why the god of Islam is not the God of Christianity.