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With an Arctic cold front blasting through Texas right about now, what better time than now to do a book review about riding a bicycle through really cold places such as Siberia and Tibet. This book will motivate it's readers to grab their winter gear and harden up on their bicycles as they read the account of riding through sub-zero temperatures and rugged landscapes. This has to be one of my all time favorite reads, as it combines my love for cycling and travel into one ultimate adventure. In the following review I will do my best to summarize this book as objectively and accurately as I can.
Although the author credits and to some extent emphasizes the hospitality of Churches for giving him a place to stay, he was also taken in by many people who did not share his beliefs as many believed in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or whatever the predominant religion of the region was. It may have been the regional customs of hospitality and a sense of doing the right thing or simply human decency that motivated many of the author's hosts to take him in for the night rather than a shared religious belief. The author also recurrently mentions the church-backed aid organization that he is raising funds for to help needy children throughout the world. Although there is no doubt the author has a strong and sincere desire to help others, that is not the be all end all expression of the Christian faith. Jesus also gave us the commandment to preach the good news and to make disciples of people of all nations (Matthew 24:14, 28:19). Those who go from door to door the way Jesus did and observing this commandment can be considered among those who practice true Christianity. Rather than focusing on the door to door ministry, many mainstream religions that call themselves Christian think they can achieve this by converting members through aid in developing countries, hence coining the phrase "Rice Christians". However, those who study the Bible know that the desire to serve God comes from the heart and not for personal gain. Those would be the talking points that I would engage the author with if I were to meet him in person. The author's efforts to practice Christianity are laudable and are better than most, however I have to respectfully disagree on more than one of the subjects he brought up in his book. I will have to say he took an objective approach in expressing his views and I was neither offended nor uncomfortable in reading his book. The mention of his faith and beliefs were inconsequential to the rest of the story. However, as a man of faith myself, I have to clear the air about this subject since I am recommending this book by reviewing it and would like to share the discrepancies that I found with readers of my blog. In conclusion, the religious views expressed in the book should be looked at as reference material only.*
This was a good read and a remedy for my cabin fever. If the cold weather is bringing you down and you need some motivation to ride, definitely pick up a copy at a book store near you.
*Ten years ago, when I was in school, it was very common to have student theologians (Southern Baptists, never any other type of religion) visit our campus and have discussions about religion with anyone who would listen to them. The nearby church would host events in the school auditorium, often times with religious rock music inviting people to their church parties and I had to excuse myself from going to such events on many occasions. Back then school districts blurred the line between separation of church and state, something that is no longer heard of these days. It was 2004, it was the Bush Era, and it was a bible-thumping under the guise of piety kind of time to be living in. Rob Lilwall is from that generation of theologians, that's why it doesn't bother me as much.