The Broken Way

Ann Voskamp's style is hard for some people to take. Her books are prose poetry, and those who are interested in a strictly academic systematic theology will be disappointed. I find that her writing style is the most common criticism by people who don't like her books. I, however, love the way she writes. It's like an amalgam of T.S. Eliot and Bonhoeffer.

Another criticism I've heard of Voskamp is that her theology is heretical mysticism that perverts the gospel. I read one "discernment" blogger saying that she could hear the whispering of the serpent through Ann Voskamp's writing. I honestly don't get this one at all. I didn't find any trace of bad doctrine in this book at all. Maybe she emphasizes things in a different way than I would, maybe she uses non-standard theological vocabulary, but what she is presenting here is a pretty solid theology of suffering such as Martin Luther would have undoubtedly approved. She's also probably more well…

How to Conquer Jerusalem (Frederick II Style)

Frederick II looking
rather pleased with
himself.
In A.D. 1099, the First Crusade succeeded in taking the City of Jerusalem after much bloodshed and struggle. One hundred and thirty years later, Frederick II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, conquered Jerusalem once again. At this time, Jerusalem was under the control of al-Kamil, sultan of Egypt and nephew of the late Saladin. He was worried that al-Mu'azzam, his cousin and the ruler of Damascus, was angling for his position. Terry Jones in Crusades narrates the ensuing "conquest" of Jerusalem.

"In the meantime an emissary had come from al-Kamil asking for Frederick's help against his brother al-Mu’azzam, who he believed was trying to seize the Sultanate from him. Al-Kamil offered Frederick the Holy City in exchange for his support. Frederick could see the opportunity for a diplomatic coup and set out for his Kingdom in the East…
 When Frederick arrived at Acre he found the situation had changed.
 Al-Mu’azzam had died, and al-Kamil no longer needed his help. Frederick had to plead with al-Kamil: ‘I am your friend. It was you who urged me to make this trip. The Pope and all the kings of the West now know of my mission. If I return empty-handed I will lose much prestige. For pity’s sake give me Jerusalem, that I may hold my head high!’ Al-Kamil had as little interest in the Holy War as Frederick, but he was in an embarrassing position: ‘I too must take account of opinion. If I deliver Jerusalem to you it could lead not only to a condemnation of my actions by the Caliph, but also to a religious insurrection that would threaten my throne.’ It was intimated to Frederick that the only way out of the situation was a show of force. If al-Kamil were forced to give up Jerusalem in order to avoid bloodshed, he might save face. And so, in November 1228, Frederick marched at the head of his army of three thousand men and al-Kamil then went through a charade of negotiation.
 So, on 18 February 1229, Jerusalem was restored to the Franks, without a drop of blood being spilt. The deal was for ten years and included Bethlehem and some places between the Holy City and the coast…The Holy Sepulchre was in Christian hands once more."

-from Crusades by Terry Jones, pages 222-223

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