Archives For family


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.
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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.
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[ 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.
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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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The Mother
L.M. Montgomery

Here I lean over you, small son, sleeping
Warm in my arms,
And I con to my heart all your dew-fresh charms,
As you lie close, close in my hungry hold . . .
Your hair like a miser’s dream of gold,
And the white rose of your face far fairer,
Finer, and rarer
Than all the flowers in the young year’s keeping;
Over lips half parted your low breath creeping
Is sweeter than violets in April grasses;
Though your eyes are fast shut I can see their blue,
Splendid and soft as starshine in heaven,
With all the joyance and wisdom given
From the many souls who have stanchly striven
Through the dead years to be strong and true.

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“Moving Beyond a Culture of Fear and Scarcity

A Review of

Year Of Plenty.
By Craig Good win.

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

[ Read an Excerpt from this book… ]

[ A Study Guide is now available… ]

YEAR OF PLENTY - Craig GoodwinYear of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules
and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure In Search of Christian Living
Craig Goodwin.
Paperback: Sparkhouse, 2011.
Buy now: []

There’s been no shortage of books and trends in the church’s nascent interest in food and environmental issues over the last year or so, with its own churchy language – “creation care,” “green ministries,” and “eco-palms” – just in time for the Palm Sunday service, of course. To some degree, many of these offer one consumer choice for another, albeit a fair trade or organic one, but never make it out of the model of consumption. Fortunately for this reader, Craig Goodwin’s Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in Pursuit of Christian Living starts with just such a turn away from the delights of consumerism and towards the Kingdom of God as it is embodied in the daily, local and communal. As Eugene Peterson makes clear in his foreword, “the embracing context for this story as it is told here is the Word that became flesh, moved into our neighborhood – think of it, our very backyards! – and revealed God to us.”

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Looking forward to reading this book!

Watch for our review in next week’s issue…

Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules
and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure In Search of Christian Living
Craig Goodwin.
Paperback: Sparkhouse, 2011.
Buy now: []


Topsy Turvy World
William Brighty Rands

[ One of the poems set to music on
Natalie Merchant’s recent Album: Leave Your Sleep
Read our review…  ]

If the butterfly courted the bee,
And the owl the porcupine;
If the churches were built in the sea,
And three times one was nine;
If the pony rode his master,
If the buttercups ate the cows,
If the cat had the dire disaster
To be worried, sir, by the mouse;
If mamma, sir, sold the baby
To a gypsy for half-a-crown;
If a gentleman, sir, was a lady-
The world would be Upside Down!
If any or all of these wonders
Should ever come about,
I should not consider them blunders,
For I should be Inside Out!