What's so Great About Christianity

What's the Matter
with California

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About What's the Matter with California?

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© Jack Cashill
WND.com - November 1, 2007

In his elegant new book, What’s So Great About Christianity, Dinesh D’Souza makes a compelling case for belief in God from a Christian perspective. The book argues not against other faiths but against the absence of faith. It is so clear and comprehensive it should be required reading for all students in Christian schools.

In researching my own book, What’s The Matter With California, I had no intent in waging any such argument. In the California spirit, I shied from judgments like “good” or “evil” or even “just plain stupid.”

Instead, I looked at outcomes from a material perspective, namely how does a given phenomenon affect the economy and the ecology of the state and the well being of its citizens.

In doing so, however, I stumbled upon one very powerful rationale for Christianity and, in the stumbling, I stumbled upon one more powerful rationale still.

The stumbling began when I visited Michael and Deborah Grumbine and their family of nine children, now aged 11 to 31, in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier. I wanted to see how a large family could live on a median income in an area where such an income can buy only 2 percent of the homes on the market.

In Kansas City, by contrast, a family of median income can buy 87 percent of the homes on the market.

What I saw was that a family, bound together by a deeply held belief in God, could live on almost anything, anywhere, even in Los Angeles.

Michael himself grew up in Whittier in a deeply Christian family of twelve children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood. I asked him if he would survey his siblings to see how their 47 children had fared, and he graciously obliged.

As I report in the book, 43 of the 47 have lived their lives with a father in home. Only two of the 47 receive any kind of public assistance. Of the 35 old enough to have graduated from high school, 35 have graduated. None has been to prison. And the many Grumbine cousins have all had to work their way through school and college doing the jobs Americans allegedly won’t do.

I concluded that material poverty does not seem to cause crime. Michael Grumbine grew up in the same metro at the same time as Stanley “Tookie” Williams, whose story I also tell. Tookie was the one with his own bedroom and eventually his own cell on San Quentin’s death row. Michael was the one with his own father.

Obviously, however, there is more to a God-centered life well lived than a civil, self-supporting society. This I saw clearly in reading Michael’s response to the chapter I wrote on the Grumbine family. It speaks for itself:

Dear Jack,

You gave a great deal of joy, comfort and pride to a little bed-ridden lady, covered with sores, and racked with pain from several serious diseases.   My dear mother, who will not likely be with us much longer, and who has all too few joys left in life, was smiling from ear-to-ear as I read to her the Whittier chapter from your book.  She could not stop say "My, oh my" during and after the reading. 

And I must also tell you about the difficult moment you presented her with, when I reached the parts where you say:  "If all the materially impoverished children in California had grown up with the support of faith and family that the Grumbine cousins did, California could virtually eliminate serious crime. . . . When all is said and done, the state's future depends on the Grumbines." 

At that point, I looked over at my mom as she lay stretched out in her bed, her life and purpose now nearly complete.  I watched as her frail and well-worn lips trembled with emotion. 

Here was a woman who had lived all of her life in her home as the very antithesis of the militant feminist ideal.  She had never left her children for strangers, and was truly valiant in her self-sacrifice and dedication to her husband and family.  But according to feminist logic, she had wasted away her life on the humdrum and the unfulfilling. 

It was truly, truly wonderful, then, to see this humble and dedicated heroine get some public appreciation and honor for the great work she has actually done, before she passes on.  

I watched her eyes sparkle with nearly uncontrolled pride and delight, to see her singular life's work acknowledged to the entire country -- she truly had made a difference.  It left me with tears in my eyes.

But I could not help but chuckle inwardly at the dilemma you had given her.  For mother is also one of the most completely humble people you could ever know.  And as is typical of such self-effacing saints, they are uncomfortable in moments of high praise. 

But soon the "crisis" passed, and once more she graciously rose to the occasion and resumed her graceful demeanor.  She did what she always did -- provide me with a lesson in virtue.  For despite her debilitated condition, she has never stopped teaching her family about grace, and the ways of Christian virtue.

For those who wonder why God allows "old people" to painfully linger in this world, I wish they could meet my mother.  For that matter, I wish you had the room in your book to list all of the heroic mothers who have dedicated their lives to their family, and through their selfless efforts and example, allowed culture, civilization, and yes, goodness itself to exist, in a fallen world.

But as Dad used to say, "Life isn't fair." 

Perhaps not this life, but I dare say that when the final reckoning comes, and all of humanity stands before their Creator with His Son at His right hand reading from the Book of Life, we will finally be able to witness and rejoice aloud in the glory of those unsung heroes.  Indeed, I can't wait to sing!


Michael Grumbine

Dinesh D’Souza could not have said it any better.

Cashill’s newest book, What’s the Matter with California, is available in bookstores - or you can order your autographed copy online .

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