The Struggle

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
62 Pages
Reviewed on 03/10/2016
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite

The Struggle by Lincoln Gordon is a philosophical look at the preconceived notions and misconceptions many people, if not most people, have about race, religion, their own and others’ place in the world. It examines how these inherited false beliefs that concentrate on the external are absorbed by each generation from the one before it. The author divides people of any creed, race or part of the world into three types: those who are apathetic, those who conform, and those who inquire. Gordon is an inquirer and, as he grew up, joined the US army and traveled and met many different types of people from very varied backgrounds and religious persuasions, he was able to strengthen his sense of self and connection to the real part of all others.

Lincoln Gordon has written a thought-provoking and, perhaps for some, challenging book that encourages the reader to examine and question any prejudices they might hold. Gordon appears to have an innate ability to understand that it is what we are on the inside that matters most, and that our color of skin or our religion does not determine our abilities, rights or gifts. He proposes parents learn from their children who have naturally open minds before the adults in their lives and the environment begin pushing them into stereotypical and often ignorant views.

The Struggle makes a lot of sense to me, and I feel readers will share in the author’s sadness and frustration at the way we all, worldwide, so often focus on our differences, thus creating more separateness. There are many memorable and quotable phrases in the book: “It doesn’t matter how we are raised, it just matters the choices we make”; "The way we think makes up our worldview,” for example. I like the challenge to question our own inherited beliefs and the encouragement to make our children aware of differences, such as race, as a matter of fact and not as a determining factor for anything. A revealing and hopeful book that sees the potential within us all to create a better, more co-operative human race that realizes we are all the same, and that our identities are interwoven.

Jack Magnus

The Struggle is a non-fiction religious/philosophical work written by Lincoln Gordon. The author was raised to identify himself as a Christian and as a black person, but as he was growing up, he realized that he wanted to see more than what his culture, church and family expected of him. Gordon shares much of his childhood and young adult experiences, especially his fears that he might not be black enough or Christian enough as he was growing up. He describes how his musical tastes as a young child were directed by his parents who saw that only gospel music was played in the house, and questions the fact that churches he frequented when he was young seemed strictly segregated by race. Later on he explored and enjoyed blues and hip hop, but his forays into classical music were called into question. Likewise, any interest he had in playing sports and the selection of the sport was expected to be predicated on his race rather than his own inclination. Gordon's outlook was radically changed when he took a world religion course as an upperclassman in high school. While the class was composed of students from many religious backgrounds and varying degrees of religious intensity, he and his fellow students found that their differences paled before all the things they had in common. His college education and later service in the military further expanded his world and led him to formulate the philosophical views which he shares with the reader.

Lincoln Gordon's non-fiction religious/philosophical text, The Struggle, is neither preachy nor is it didactic. It is, rather, an extended, frank and honest conversation between author and reader, and it works so very well. I felt his bewilderment and angst as he remembered reducing his first grade class to tears with the pronouncement that an old, fat white man wasn't going down their chimneys on Christmas Eve, and I got how frustrating and strange kneeling for hours in church and praying for the ghost to inspire him and feeling like a failure for not speaking in languages was for him as a child. Listening to him describe his feelings and reactions as he takes those world religion classes and visits new cultures is mind-expanding -- and his message is such an essential one in today's world. I found his arguments both persuasive and masterfully presented, and I most highly recommend The Struggle.

Gisela Dixon

The Struggle by Lincoln Gordon is an autobiographical account and first person perspective of a young man of color. The Struggle starts with Lincoln’s childhood and some of his earliest memories in school as a black child. He describes the upbringing, the environment, the people, and the society that shaped him, starting from his earliest years to present day. His journey continues through college, joining the military, and his overseas experiences in places around the world, and his experiences with people from all walks of life and religions. An example in the book is where he receives the Bhagavad Gita and learns that all religions basically come down to the same thing. Throughout the book, Lincoln discourses of matters of psychology, philosophy, human nature, racism, world religions, Christianity, and spirituality. His thoughts, experiences, and a broad perspective make this an enthralling read.

The Struggle by Lincoln Gordon is written in a sequential manner and Lincoln’s voice comes through as genuine, wise, and sincere. The writing style is very engaging with lots of useful nuggets as well as thoughts of famous leaders and wise men of old. I found that the author has an excellent grasp of the essence of life and humanity, and his discourse and perspective on religion, human nature, and philosophy makes for a very interesting and thought-provoking read. The writing style is so direct, simple, and easy to understand that I am sure readers of all ages, even young readers, would thoroughly enjoy it. This is a book that I might want to read a second time and would highly recommend it to everyone.