Archives For family

 

Lessons about Death and Dying
from an Irish Wake

A Feature Review of

My Father’s Wake:
How the Irish Teach Us How to Live, Love and Die

Kevin Toolis

Hardback: Da Capo Press, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Cynthia Beach

 

Syntax and word, rhythm and rite roll and surge in this tribute to a wordsmith’s dying father, Sonny—and to the neglected Irish practice of “waking the dead.”

Journalist and filmmaker Kevin Toolis confronts our cultural death denial and the “Western Death Machine.” He says, “Death is a whisper in the Anglo-Saxon world. Instinctively we feel we should dim the lights, lower our voices and draw the screens. We want to give the dead, the dying, the grieving, room.”

In other words, we don’t want to address the fact of death. How important is a book about death? Well, Toolis suggests, rather vital.  “If you breathe,” he says, “you die.”

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An Increasingly Inclusive Family Structure

A Feature Review of

Adopted: The Sacrament of Belonging in a Fractured World
Kelley Nikondeha

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2017.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Lynn Domina

 

Part memoir, part theology, part scripture studies, Kelley Nikondeha’s Adopted: The Sacrament of Belonging in a Fractured World is a provocative and perceptive commentary on how we choose to live together. She illustrates her argument with stories from the Bible—particularly the birth of Moses, the allegiance between Ruth and Naomi, and the birth of Jesus—and from her own life. Following Paul, she suggests that we are all God’s adopted children, and that this status is crucial to our identity, not because we are second only to natural-born children, but because adoptive families are equally as loving as other families. “Because that is the essence,” she says, “of our relationship to God—our adoption—exploring what that means is vital to better understanding our membership in God’s family and its implications for our connection to one another” (2-3).

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Forming Character
 
A Review of 

The Tech-Wise Family:
Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place
Andy Crouch

Hardback: Baker Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ] [  Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Marci Rae Johnson

 

As parents, we all struggle with setting appropriate limits on technology use for our children, and there’s no scarcity of related advice; it seems that hardly a day goes by without an article on the topic showing up in my Facebook or Twitter feed. With this little book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch, the good advice appears in one handy volume. I like the size of this book: not only does it feel good in the hand, the small pages lead me to believe that the subject is not as overwhelming as it often seems.

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What We Talk About When
We Talk About Family Values

 
Review of

More Than Words: 10 Values for the Modern Family
Erin Wathen

Paperback: WJK Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Emily Zimbrick-Rogers

 

I began reading Erin Wathen’s family spirituality book, More Than Words, on a plane flight across the country, overhearing a conservative Christian college student try to evangelize her seatmate. She talked a lot about “proof” for God, Truth and right and wrong, why post-modernism was bad, going on mission trips, and her large family. I then finished the book while parked next to a car with a pro-life bumper sticker.

More Than Words, a short but illuminating book, prompted me to think about what “family values” are and what they should be, in dialogue with Scripture, experience, and community. Wathen, author of the popular blog Irreverin on the Patheos Progressive network, and senior pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church in Kansas City, enters the current discussion on “family values” from a particularly progressive, or Christian left, angle. Wathen proposes that progressive churches and individuals do have family values, which she names as compassion, abundance, Sabbath, nonviolence, joy, justice, community, forgiveness, equality, and authenticity. Wathen elevates values based in inclusive love and hope that enable deepened connections with family, faith communities, and our neighbors. She contrasts these values with what she names as conservative “family values”—exclusion/racism, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, and violence (2).

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Tackling the Sacred Cow
of Youth Sports

 
A Review of
 

Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to the Sanity in the World of Youth Sports
Margot Starbuck and David King

Paperback: Herald Press, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle  ]
 
Reviewed by Adam Metz 
 
 
One of the most impressive and respected structures in my hometown of Columbus, OH is Ohio Stadium, nicknamed “The Horseshoe,” and it is where the Ohio State Buckeyes football team plays.  Originally built in 1922 (and now on the National Register of Historic Places) it has been expanded and renovated several times over the years to the point where the seating has nearly doubled its original capacity to over 102,000 seats.  As the largest venue in the entire state of Ohio, Ohio Stadium  illustrates just how powerful sports are in American culture.

What would our communities be without the social cohesion and identity partly forged by our allegiance to professional and collegiate sports teams?  Regional pride and identity are best on display through the distinctive college mascots and corresponding colors emblazoned throughout communities: Gators in Florida, Volunteers in Tennessee, Hoosiers in Indiana, Longhorns in Texas, Ducks in Oregon, and – of course – Buckeyes in Ohio.  These sports allegiances are further nuanced as attention focuses more locally.  At one level, high school athletic programs foster their local community pride, while Saturday morning recreation leagues within those same communities further divide allegiances.

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Closer to Home.

A Feature Review of

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life
Rod Dreher

Hardback: Grand Central, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Ellen Painter Dollar.

In November 1995, my then-boyfriend’s, now-husband’s brother died suddenly. A few weeks later, I preached a sermon at my little coffee-house church about how Jimmy’s death made me impatient with all of the outward-focused ministries for which my church (part of the venerable Washington, DC-based Church of the Saviour) was known. People affiliated with my church were doing wonderful things for DC’s poorest citizens—day care centers and GED prep and long-term supportive housing for those with HIV/AIDS. Good stuff.

 

But, I admitted, loving Daniel as he mourned his brother drew my focus a bit closer to home. I realized that we Christians are called not simply to do big things for Jesus “out there” in the world, but also to offer sacrificial love—Christ-like love—in our homes and families and friendships, where the needs can be just as big and desperate as those on our city streets or in undeveloped overseas locales.

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Altared by Claire and EliRe-adjusting our Focus on the Family

A Review of

Altared: The True Story of a She, a He, and How They Both Got Too Worked Up About We

Claire and Eli

Paperback: Waterbrook, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Emma Stencil

Sometimes an entirely unique book will appear on the shelves and speak movingly and perceptively on an often-overlooked issue. Altared: The True Story of a She, a He, and How They Both Got Too Worked Up About We is this sort of book. Altared is not a book about marriage or a book about being single. It is a book about loving the people around you whether they are your friends, your coworkers, your siblings, or your spouse. As such, the book doesn’t offer much practical guidance about relationships. Those looking for a bulleted list of advice on dating and marriage or on preparation for marriage in the future should look elsewhere. This is not to say that the authors, Claire and Eli, are opposed to marriage or hostile towards married or engaged couples. Nor does the book unduly elevate singleness.

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The Table Comes First - Adam GopnikEver-Broadening Metaphors of Common Life

The Table Comes First:

Family, France and The Meaning of Food.

Adam Gopnik.

Hardback: Knopf, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sara Sterley

The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, Adam Gopnik’s newest book, is a fascinating and careful study of the role of the table, and, therefore, food, in modern life. Weaving in personal stories and favorite recipes, Gopnik takes the reader on an adventure beginning with the very first food “scene” in Paris and tracing its effects throughout the Western world.

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“Take a Walk in Their Shoes

A Review of
The Maid’s Daughter:
Living Inside and Outside the American Dream

by Mary Romero

Review by Leslie Starasta.


The Maid’s Daughter:
Living Inside and Outside the American Dream

by Mary Romero.
Hardback: NYU Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

The opening scene of the movie version of The Help asks what it feels like to raise white children when your own children are being raised by someone else.  The Maid’s Daughter: Living Inside and Outside the American Dream examines this question and many others from the viewpoint of the child of domestic workers depicting how one woman of Latina descent traverses the cultural divide between Mexican culture and a privileged white upper class while truly belonging to neither.  Mary Romero, sociology professor at Arizona State University, transforms twenty years of recorded interviews with a woman referred to as “Olivia Sanchez” into a highly readable book which juxtaposes Olivia’s story, as told to Romero, with sociological commentary, research and selected interviews with other children of domestic workers.   This thought provoking study raises many questions to wrestle with on both individual and societal levels

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404778: Ronnie Wilson"s Gift

A Review of

Ronnie Wilson’s Gift

By Francis Chan
Hardback: David C. Cook, 2011.
Buy now:  [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Raising kids that are not defined by the consumerism of the broader culture is a huge challenge in the Western world today.  Certainly as adults we can see that part of the good news of following Jesus is that we have been set free from the consumerist patterns of the world in which we live.  Our kids will eventually see our non-conformity (or our struggles to follow Jesus in this way) and will undoubtedly have questions.  How do we explain the good news of following Jesus to our young children and how this good news guides us into a life where the resources we have are not for our own satisfaction but for that of the Kingdom?

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