I was given the opportunity to read One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview by Jason B. Ladd, when the author contacted me and asked me if I’d be willing to review his book. I snapped at the chance as I have never had an author ask me for a review.
One of the Few is Jason’s personal account of his life in the marines and his coming to faith. The book is divided into three parts, Part One being Jason’s story of being a ‘military brat’ and going into the service and finally deciding to be a fighter pilot. We learn about some of his family life and his relationship with his wife who was a Christian, while Jason was not. Then one little question from Jason’s wife starts Jason on the path to discovery of Christ. As he traverses the training of being a pilot, he also searches out what being a Christian is about. Part two takes a look at the concepts of certain versions of Christianity(I say this because it’s not a ‘this is the only way it is’ in my opinion depending on which area of Christianity you are in) and having a worldview and bouncing those beliefs off of what is going on in life. Part three is supposed to be about using Jason’s background in peace, war and defense to prepare you for the spiritual warfare you will encounter in life and how to deal with if you are struggling.
The first part of the book captured my interest in the training Jason did in the military, along with little bits and pieces of how being a person of faith applies to life, but towards the end of Part one, I started to not understand what Jason was getting at in regards to military training and applying it to faith. I also struggled with all of the military acronyms. In my opinion, if you are going to have that many acronyms, have an index of them at the end of the book or beginning or somewhere because, after only one explanation of what the acronym is, I forget it. Then when they are used over and over, I have no idea even what I’m reading. That happened a lot.
By the time I got to Part two, I struggled with what the core of the book was. I honestly am not even quite sure what part two was about except for segments on various Christian ideas. I wasn’t sure how it applied to anything except for feeling like it was a ‘do this, don’t do that’ rambling sort of narrative mixing in Jason’s continued research into being a Christian. While it’s supposed to be about putting your Christian faith up against what you see in the world, and is it right or wrong, I never got that impression.
By the time I got to Part three, I was entirely lost. You could take each segment withing each chapter on its own, possibly, but combined, I never quite figured out what was going on. Basically, the book is combined of a bunch of essays that don’t necessarily connect enough to understand what the total package is. Jason explains what the three parts of the book are about in the introduction, but I felt like he was unable to accomplish it in a concise manner where you understood how each point related to each other. Roughly five pages into part three , I felt like Jason was not accomplishing the third goal he had laid out in his introduction. From this point, I struggled with finishing the book. I had already needed to skip ahead in Part two, hoping that the book would make more sense if I read Part three. Another problem for me was Jason takes an incredibly academic look at Christianity. For me, who grew up in the church, reading all of the more in-depth theological discussions left me feeling tired and bored and scrambling to figure out how it related to Jason coming to be a Christian. Jason also states his opinion about his specific beliefs as fact, a problem I’ve found with Christian authors. For a person who has not been a Christian for very long to state things that way, tends to turn me off a bit. Religions are made of opinions and my opinions are different than Jason’s so they cannot be stated as fact. I actually felt like Jason had a great idea for this book, but then he jotted it out so quickly, it appeared to have lost its outline which he states in his introduction.
In the end, I’m not quite sure who would find this book helpful other than those questioning their faith and wanting to look at a more academical approach to faith, though at the same time, I felt like it was only barely scratching the surface and wasn’t quite helpful enough for even that.
Another little tick that I found frustrating was all of the notes at the end of each chapter. In most traditionally published books, the notes are at the end of the book, which I find, leaves a clean look to the book. Rarely do I read any of the footnotes or notes in a book, so having them contained at the end of the book leaves a more clean look to reading and gives less of a distraction.
Unfortunately, I find myself having to give this book only 2 out of 5 stars.