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Question: The Best Books on Liberty, Natural Law, Etc.?


A student’s mother recently sent me an inquiry:

What would you recommend as a worthwhile book to introduce the big ideas that a high school or college student would need to understand when studying government? I have in mind concepts such as liberty, authority, natural law, etc. Do you know of any books that address these themes particularly from a Lutheran perspective?

Here are three books to recommend, in reply to her question. I’d probably read them in the sequence presented.

  • Frédéric Bastiat, The Law is a classic, written by a French political philosopher, arguing for the rule of law (a government under laws, not a government of men who think they are above the law). He specifically opposed socialism. This is short and quite readable.
  • Edmund Morgan, Birth of the Republic explains the ideas of natural rights and the rationale for the American Revolution. It is brief and accessible in its language. My students at Bethany Lutheran College who have become elementary or high school history teachers have used this book as a refresher for the course that I teach on the American Revolution.
  • Larry Arnn, The Founders’ Key, identifies core concepts of liberty, natural rights, etc., that America’s founding fathers had in mind, and argues that America is losing these concepts and needs to recover them soon. This also is quite readable.

As for a Lutheran perspective, here are two more:

  • Allen Quist, America’s Schools, includes a chapter on the twelve pillars of liberty found in the Declaration of Independence—including natural law, natural rights, limited government, etc. His book also is fairly brief and quite accessible. He is Lutheran, but he does not specifically indicate his Lutheran faith in this book. By the way, he also was our speaker for Evidence for Easter at Bethany—please share that link (free video archive) with your friends!
  • John Eidsmoe, Historical and Theological Foundations of Law, is a 1,500 page comprehensive treatment, in 3 volumes, that will teach you virtually everything you ever need to know on this subject. He is Lutheran. He compares Lutheran with Roman Catholic and Calvinist perspectives on natural law, natural rights, the doctrine of interposition, etc. (My take on Interposition, if you aren’t familiar: here and with futher discussion here). I use Eidsmoe’s book at Bethany for a senior-level history course that our Legal Studies majors also take. It is a challenge to work through, just so you know, but it is well worth the effort. At the end of the semester we have a conference call with the author, so my students can ask him questions about his book.

By the way, John Eidsmoe and Allen Quist are both scheduled to speak (as am I) for the June 21, 2018 apologetics conference at Bethany Lutheran College. You can be sure that each of us will mention “natural law” at least once!

P.S. On natural law in general (not limited to political science applications), see Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal. I contributed a chapter entitled “The Natural Law of the Family.”

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Teddy’s Birth: An Unremarkable Miracle


Two weeks ago, God added a sixth child to our family. What a precious gift little Teddy is! We are so grateful! But, his birth was unremarkable. Beautiful, yes! Precious, indeed! Amazing, certainly! What birth isn’t? But the miracle of Teddy’s birth was just how plain, simple, and unremarkable it was. I will get to those specific details soon, but to fully appreciate Teddy’s birth story one must fully understand his pregnancy story.

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Pregnancy  

Six weeks prior to Teddy’s conception, we miscarried Baby Shalom. Finding out we were pregnant again so soon was a shock to me. We were excited, but also still grieving our other baby. There were so many fears during that first trimester. Would this baby survive? I saw a natural doctor locally and found out that my hormones were off. (Was this the cause of the miscarriage or caused by the miscarriage? We’ll never know.) I took some natural supplements to lower my estrogen levels and some cream to increase my progesterone levels. This seemed to help me carry the pregnancy. I was able to wean off of the progesterone by the beginning of the second trimester.

During those first weeks of pregnancy, food did me in! Most women experience nausea to some degree. However, my bloating and stomach pain had less to do with pregnancy in general and more to do with what pregnancy was doing to my food intolerances. While there were plenty of foods which caused me trouble prior to pregnancy (gluten, dairy, avocado, eggs, nuts), it seemed that almost every source of protein caused me unbearable stomach pain that first trimester (fish, chicken, pork, beef, collagen and gelatin, but not turkey)! In addition to the upheaval in my menu-planning, we had three (amazing!!!) trips planned during the summer. And traveling always makes eating tricky.

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Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood Book Giveaway


Into Your Hands, LLC is  giving away a free book, celebrating our newest book Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood: Volume 1: Old Testament!

Book

To Enter:

To enter the Book Giveaway Contest before 11:59 PM CDT on Saturday, February 10, 2018:

  1. Share our website’s Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood: Volume One webpage on your personal Facebook wall with a personal note to your friends.
  2. Visit Into Your Hands LLC's website Contact Form.
  3. Send a note to the publisher with your mailing address, saying, "I shared MVM!"
  4. If your entry is randomly selected as the winner, a free copy of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood will be shipped to the address provided. We will announce the winner on our Facebook page.
  5. We’d appreciate if the winner could do an Amazon book review!

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Sample Devotion from Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood


The following devotion can be found in Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood, Volume 1: Old Testament, available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, etc.

Fire and Ice

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18

Kids. They can be so headstrong, can’t they?! They erupt in anger so easily. They pout and whine when they don’t get their way. In fact, they are a lot like their mothers. Often, we soothe our consciences, saying that we are correct, our way is better, or we’ve got their best in mind. But truly, we moms have moments when our hearts are just as icy as our children’s.

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“Fear Not, For I Am with You”: The Vocation of Vulnerability


I’m scared. I admit it. I wish there was a different word to use to describe this emotion, but what mother isn’t at least a little bit anxious in the days leading up to the labor and delivery of her child?

While there are certainly physical issues to be concerned about, mostly, I’m scared of the pain.

I’ve done this before. Five times. (Seven times, if you count babies too bitty to live. Somehow, those labors and deliveries seem just as painful, but less physically and more emotionally.) I know there’s a beautiful, wonderful, kissable, squishy, precious baby on the other side of the pain. But, I won’t get that baby until I go through the pain. And it’s the going through it part that scares me.

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Mothering Many Book Excerpt: Family Portraits


Excerpted from Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More

Many moms in smaller families are religious about getting their children’s photographs taken professionally. Is this something you do? Are there alternatives?

  • We had 2 family pictures taken in the past 8 years. We had the children’s photos taken in old-fashioned clothes, offered as a fund-raiser for a local group.—Sheri
  • We get them done once a year at Christmas at a place where they can accommodate large groups and there’s no sitting fee. We are considering having a photographer take us somewhere else, though, as we’ve been getting sighs and comments from our children when going to the studio the last two years.—Lissa
  • I let school pictures take over. Ordering smaller packages really helps. It was important to me and I was faithful about having their photos taken.—Shannon
  • We buy the basic Walmart portrait package whenever we have a 6-month-old. If it weren’t for family members who expect this kind of thing, we probably wouldn’t even bother with that.—Betsy
  • I don’t think my fourth child has had professional photos taken. It’s not a huge priority for me, or it would probably have happened. My husband does photography as a hobby, so we have a lot of interesting pictures of the kids, although not posed.—Ann
  • I’m not regular with it, but we have professional pictures taken at Christmas. I would rather have great photos of all of us together. However, I have thousands of digital pictures of each of the kids. We are fortunate, because our friend is a photographer and does it for free when we have the family shots taken.—Kate
  • Not since our third child! Instead, we take a lot of digital pictures and transfer them to CD-ROM and try to keep scrapbooks current and on display throughout our home. Good shots are enlarged and framed for that purpose. Those shots hold special memories that can be shared and they are usually more reflective of our children and family than posed or professional shots.—Janet
  • We did this more when we had smaller, younger kids. Now we don’t bother much. We take tons of pictures with our digital camera! We also recruit friends who seem to have a natural gift for photography to take family pictures for us.—Christy
  • Jesus brings life. Do whatever brings life to you and your family. We don’t do professional photos. Some of our children are great with the digital, and I’d rather look at candids.—Karol
  • I’ve had each of the kids’ pictures taken in the hospital and at one year of age. In school, they get taken every year, which does add up financially. I know of one family who had school pictures taken every other year to save on expenses.—Betty
  • My husband enjoys photography and used to do some as a hobby when he was single. Of course, once we started having children, they became his favorite subject for photography! I think outdoor pictures are so lovely and far better than indoor professional ones. I also agree that the time and expense of doing so many pictures professionally would be too much.—Sarah

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