What We Talk About When
We Talk About Family Values
More Than Words: 10 Values for the Modern Family
Paperback: WJK Books, 2017
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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).