Monday, May 6, 2024

March and April Book Reviews

 These book reviews are going to be short-ish and sweet. One, because there are quite a few of them to cover, and two, most of these are sensitive issues, and while I don't want to shy away from what I believe to be truth based on God's word, I have no desire for internet debates over these topics.

I've mentioned before, and I will mention again, not every book I read is a book I agree with 100%. In fact, there are some authors I completely DISagree with, but that doesn't mean that I can't learn from them and gain some helpful knowledge from their perspectives.

So, without further ado...

The Secular Creed by Rebecca McLaughlin is a book "engaging five contemporary claims". I appreciated her concise feedback and I believe she accurately covered the truth and the lies in each one. I would for sure give this to my kids to read to help us engage in conversation together as it will certainly bring thought-provoking questions that can lead us back to scripture (which is always the goal!). 

Try Softer by Aundi Kolber. Aundi is a licensed therapist. She couples her own life story and events with therapeutic practices and examples to help us stop white-knuckling through life. She gives us practical tools and language to help us offer ourselves and others grace in our life journey. While this book was very helpful, I'm going to give a gentle warning. This book was HARD for me to get through. I believe these kinds of books can work as a tool for your therapist to use as they work WITH you, but simply as a helpful read for someone, ESPECIALLY with trauma in their past, this book can be triggering. I wanted to read it and get as much out of it as I could, but I also felt the need to try to finish it as quickly as I could so I could give me emotions and brain a break. Maybe it's just me, so take it or leave it, but I would suggest at least reading this WITH someone to help you process what begins stirring inside.

Does the Bible Support Same-Sex Marriage? by Preston Sprinkle. Now some of you saw the author and have already labeled me a heretic simply because I'm posting about his book. But because of this, I probably read this book more critically than any other. Now, while I am very aware of the controversy around his name, I think Preston has used this book to make a solid case for Biblical marriage being exclusively between a man and a woman. The author dives into the top 21 conversations he finds himself having with others who believe otherwise. He sets up each conversation with the summary of a specific argument FOR same-sex marriage and AGAINST different-sex marriage. He follows each summary with what he appreciates or can see within that argument, and then finally he very humbly but honestly breaks down blindspots in the argument. I appreciate his tone and humility. This is another book I would love for my kids to read in order to bring conversation back to Josh and I with questions and personal investigation.

Habits of the Household by Justin Whitmel Earley. Ok, this was the lighter read of the bunch. (I needed one of those!) I'm all about being reminded of the importance of fighting for intentional "everyday family rhythms". The book is formatted to walk you through an average day beginning with the time when you wake up and ending with bedtime. Earley introduces us to his own family liturgies he has created and invites us to make up our own. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

"Our best parenting comes when we think less about being parents of children and more about being children of God."

"Communing, not consuming, is the household's center of gravity."

"Don Everts and the Barna Group found in their study of Christian households that the families who were 'spiritually vibrant' shared one amazing thing in common - they had loud tables." (We've certainly got the loud table part down, ha!)

"In the American story, limits are bad. They get in the way of our freedom, which means we need to get rid of all limits to be happy. But in the story of God, limits are the way to the good life, even the way to happiness."

Talking Back to Purity Culture by Rachel Joy Welcher. Ok, this one hit some nerves. I found this book equally eye-opening, irritating, angering and helpful. What I appreciated about the book was the glimpses into some of the hurt that was caused by this movement. I honestly cannot believe some of the things that were/are actually taught and said. Some things you can tell were out of well meaning and ignorance (not that it makes these things right, just offering perspective), but some things are literally ANTI-biblical and wrong. 

What I found to be most frustrating though, was the blanket statements that the author uses as support to her claim that it was all toxic and bad. And so the pendulum continues to swing wide. Josh and I have spoken about this topic a lot together. We were personally catching the birth of this movement in our late teens, with the wake of momentum hitting our younger siblings. We have friends that were very hurt by this movement, mostly by the ultra-strict, very legalistic parents and/or leaders. On the other hand, we also see so much good that came/comes from it as a response to the raging sexual atmosphere of our age. Did the movement miss the mark in some areas? Absolutely. Could there have a been a better way to teach some things? Without a doubt. Was there anything good that we could grab ahold of and even perhaps pass on to our own kids? For sure! Again, it was good for me to read this perspective. It was NOT all roses and it is right to call out the bad and to be reminded to always, ALWAYS be in constant conversation with our kids as we bring resources to them to "help". 

On a side note, another frustration to me was that I found several contradictions within, leading me to internally ask the author, "So which is it?" And many of the examples given in the book were based on what those individuals FELT like, versus what was actually taught to them.  All that said, I did find some good takeaways as well. 

The Courage to Stand by Russell Moore. I'd never read any of Moore's books but I appreciate his wisdom and insight into politics and cultural movements that I have followed over the years. This book walks through Elijah's life as an example for how the Lord provides for us when we feel at the end of ourselves and how God's strength is what gives us courage to stand. This book had me at the introduction.

No comments: