Robert Stearns’ book, No, We Can’t: Radical Islam, Militant Secularism, and the Myth of Coexistence, delves into the three most prominent belief systems (he calls them “houses”) in the world today. Stearns shows the reader how each belief system has helped shape our culture as a whole. He gives background information for Islam, secularism, and Christianity in an attempt to show why we can’t all just get along. At least, that’s what he did in chapters 5–8. I’m still trying to figure out what the other chapters were about.
Don’t get me wrong—Stearns made a lot of good points. I like his writing style. I agreed with most of what he said. But I felt like the book lacked cohesion and purpose. He drew a lot of dots, but didn’t quite connect them. For example, the title of his introduction asks the question “No, We Can’t What?,” but it doesn’t answer it. Instead, Stearns spends two and a half pages teasing the reader by explaining we can’t do this thing and need to do that thing without ever telling us what those things are. Maybe that was intended to be literary genius, but I found it confusing. It took me awhile to figure out what the book was supposed to be about. And even now, I can’t give you a one-sentence summary of the book.
I don’t think Stearns can either. There were several times when he tried to explain his reason for writing—and each reason was a little different:
“I am writing this book to provide believers with a strategic, up-to-date road map that will help them navigate their life purpose . . . . to fully utilize the lives God has given us to glorify Him and inspire as many others as possible to embrace His Lordship” (pg. 25).
“What I started out to do was to write a book about the current state of global affairs—to shed light on the epic events we see unfolding around us daily” (pg. 33).
“We are taking a deep, thoughtful gaze into what it means to live in a culture” (pg. 54).
“. . . we have spent the duration of this book studying the three primary cultural houses operating in the world today. We have weighed their philosophies against their practices, their roots against their fruits, to see which worldview would best sustain a free world in the years to come. And the discovery that the absolutist house of Judeo-Christianity is the only viable choice comes as no surprise to most of us, I’m sure” (pg. 186–187).
“My hope is that the information you have gained from reading this book will help you navigate through the ideological minefields of current cultural kingdoms. My hope is that you will live by revelation and not by reason—that you will walk by faith and not by sight” (pg. 195).
“I have dedicated the majority of this book to examining the multifaceted issues that are defining our world today. I have done my best to illustrate the three primary players on the world’s stage with the intent of providing us with a framework for understanding the days we are living in” (pg. 208).
If you can get past the lack of purpose and cohesion, Stearns does have a lot of interesting things to say about culture and how popular belief systems have a significant impact on world events. But be prepared for some tangents.
*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or author.