Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chuck Holton's Bullet Proof

I just finished reading a very fine book by Chuck Holton titled Bulletproof. It was automatically recommended to me by Amazon as likely being something that I'd like based on my having bought Gavin deBecker's books, The Gift of Fear and Fear Less, and I checked it out. The cover has a picture of a special-ops type guy in black armor in the 9-ring of a shooting target, and the tagline for the book is, "The making of an invincible mind." Cool, I thought. A book about commandos and fear and etc...
When I got it and started reading it, I was quite surprised. You see, I didn't know that it was a book about Christianity and a Christian perspective on safety, risk, and fear. Told from the point of view and experiences of an Airborne Ranger, the central premise of the book is that until God is done with you here on Earth, you're bulletproof. Basically, if you are living within God's plan for you then you are invincible , but once you stray out of that plan, there is nothing on Earth that can make you safe. Holton doesn't advocate running in front of busses or trying to stop bullets, etc... but gives a very good reminder of what a right relationship to God looks like and what effect that has on your understanding of risk, safety, and fear.
The book is well-written with powerful vignettes of various special-ops guys, troops and battles in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Black Hawk Down event in Somalia, the slaying of missionaries in Iraq and Amazonia, the DC Sniper shootings, and the Wedgwood church shooting in Fort Worth.
Perhaps the best chapter in the book, at least from my perspective, is Chapter Ten, which gives numerous suggestions for training yourself to be a more disciplined, less fearful person - exercises that build traits such as concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial.
I would definitely recommend getting a copy of the book and reading it if you are a Christian wanting a more disciplined, less fearful life, if you are a military buff and enjoy reading first-hand accounts of men and women in mortal risk and peril, or even if you are non-Christian or anti-Christian - maybe you can get a better perspective on what those pesky Christians are all about.
Holton has written a second book titled A More Elite Soldier, that is definitely on my must-read list.
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  1. Interesting; I can't tell you the number of times I've told people that very thing: that until it's "your time," you're bulletproof.

  2. Interesting. I've used the term "invincible" from time to time, but never "bulletproof."

    I may need to locate this. It reminds me of the testimony of Major Brooks.

  3. Hah, like a child that catches a stray bullet from an otherwise unrelated shooting, and they thank God the child survived, "must have been a miracle", but never question the child getting shot in the first place. Or winning the Superbowl, but it's the teams' fault if you lose. Thank you, confirmation bias. It's "all God's plan" unless it's something bad. Because the author being "bulletproof" had nothing to do with hours upon hours of training...

  4. Elfman, You ought to read the book before you dismiss it as confirmation bias just based on my short (and probably poorly-done) review. It really is a quite remarkable book.

    So far as I can tell, Holton is not talking about "It's all God's plan unless something bad happens." He's talking about God's sovereignty - about the fact that even the stuff that we see as bad can be (and often is) worked to the greater good and/or to the greater glory of God.

    Holton is not dismissing the value of training - rather, emphasizing the importance of training for the right purposes, and then using that training and that assurance of righteousness as motivation to go do good in the world despite what we tend to see as extreme risk.

    And I don't figure God cares much about who wins the Superbowl - but He could ever work that to good ;-)

  5. Fair enough. It's just one of those... patterns, I guess you could call it, that seem to crop up, and always seem so willfully ignorant. But that's based on me reading a short review, of course, so that's a bit distanced from the book, true enough. And I didn't mean that's quite what Horton is saying, so much as something of the same basic mindset that ends up as a form of circular reasoning. Eh. Learning to accept that bad things happen and being able to take risks anyways, is a necessity of life, Christian or not, and of course the "problem of evil" is an argument we really don't want to start up. :P No offense was meant to you.

  6. Ha ;-) Elfman, I also get the heebiejeebies when I see someone fire three shots into the side of a barn and then draw a bulls' eye around the group and call it a miracle.

    You know, a discussion of hte Problem of Evil would actually probably be really appropriate to a martial arts blog like mine, where folks like to think about violence, etc... BUT it's a topic that I feel woefully un-prepared to host at Mokuren Dojo, so perhaps we should leave-off with that one.

    No offence taken. Thanks for dropping by and reading and commenting. Keep it up...

  7. Thanks for the great review - and Patrick is right, it's easy to dismiss the book before reading it, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised if you take the time to pick it up.

    A lot of the book comes from the idea that we fear things that aren't really dangerous, and we don't fear things that we really ought to fear. Often, the perception of danger or risk is very subjective, and therefore doesn't necessarily line up with reality.

    Granted, the book takes a Christian view of reality, but I think the premise stands.

    I appreciate the comments - great blog!

    Chuck Holton

  8. HEY! It's great having you drop in and see the review and leave a comment! I really enjoyed the book and have recommended it to several people at work, church, folks I've overheard at resturants talking about religion. I loaned my copy to my aikido teacher and he said he really enjoyed it.

    Keep up the good work!


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