Book Review

Book Review: Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent

We intended to finish this on Christmas Day, but then sickness came over our home and we only finished it up on December 31st. But the story was so compelling that I was determined to finish it even out of season with the kids. Jotham’s Journey is a dangerous and lovely story of a young boy whose disobedience to his father led him on an adventure he wished he never began. Filled with villains and plots of vengeance, Jotham journeys in search of his father in the days before the birth of Messiah Jesus.

The narrative unfolds beautifully through the landscape of the arid and deserted terrain of Israel in the first century. The story introduces the readers to a diverse group of sects in the first century and how they interpreted the coming Messiah in the prophetic writings.

The story takes us through each day in Advent culminating on the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. Each portion of the story takes about 10 minues of reading with an additional Bible passage and short reflection. It is succint and captivating. It is splendidly written and written about the Splendor.

Rabbis, caves, fights, swords, shepherds, innkeepers, wise men all join to make Jotham’s Journey an adventure worth telling during the Advent Season.

The writing can at times be difficult to follow for little children. It is helpful to pause at times during the reading to offer a few definitions.

Jotham’s Journey is the first in a series of Advent stories. I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Fleeing Fundamentalism by Carlene Cross

Book Review: Fleeing Fundamentalism by Carlene Cross

This book should never have been written. Its ending is depressing. Its story is horrifying, though sprinkled with episodes of hope and love. Ultimately, this is a story about the loss of faith. Indeed one of the saddest accounts I have read in a long time.

Carlene Cross tells her story in this 273 page book. Carlene was a dreamer. She hoped for a life where romance and the four spiritual laws would co-exist forever. In her pursuit, she meets a strikingly persuasive and zealous man named David. David wore his religion everywhere. It was tattooed all over his life. His evangelistic zeal and charm drew Darlene ijnto his world. They were eventually married. Their marriage, though carrying on the appearance of normalcy, became a nightmare of biblical proportions. While Carlene followed in the steps of submission of the fundamentalist variety, David followed in the steps of his lusts and passion for women, pornography, and strip clubs. While the young, striking orator delivered crowd-pleasing messages on Sunday morning, he found psychological and physical relief in strip clubs during the week.

Carlene’s life was a life that desired to keep her private life private, but all that began to unravel after David’s revelation of his lengthy addiction and deceit.

At that moment, Carlene begins to plan her escape from her tormentor. But her escape is slow and painful, and then only to be rushed by unforeseen events. Her three children become victims of a jealous and maniacal father who upon leaving his successful ministry plunges into theological despair. On the other hand, Carlene is also embracing liberal theology; the pop kind with foolish arguments lacking much serious historical support. In fact, the story ends with religious uncertainty. That is, I should say that Carlene is certain of one thing: that submission to a holy book is not an option.

With this brief summary in mind, here are a few observations:

First, religious zeal is only healthy when it is moderated by religious charity. Take charity away, zeal destroys.

Second, fundamentalism is deadly in every sense. It destroys a proper view of God and self and often leads many to abandon the faith once the door outside the fundamentalist world is open. Some embrace a bright faith, while most embrace darkness in all its misery.

Third, Carlene’s abandoning the faith is a result of being a part of a community where only the external matters. Questions of the heart are never addressed, but external appearance means everything. God says man looks on the outside.

Fourth, self-centered ministry is self-destructive. Any ministry based on man’s personality and style is doomed to failure. No man is called to such a self-centered mission. David lacked accountability in the most common of ways.

Finally, while this book offers a frightening account of spousal abuse and betrayal, we may be tempted to believe these are rare accounts in the Christian world. But the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, spousal abuse sometime is easire to hide in the Christian home, since people are never looking for it.

May women be courageous to find voices in their community and seek immediate help when they are suffering the pain of abuse. No woman–Christian or non-Christian–should suffer under the hands of tyrants, not for one night; not ever.

Praise for “TheTrinitarian Father”

Praise for “TheTrinitarian Father”

The Trinitarian Father is not another work by an expert father to the rest of us — no, it’s better than that. Rather than offering his own wisdom, Uri Brito guides fathers through the whole biblical sweep of our Heavenly Father’s redemptive wisdom in his Son in order to unfold to us what true fatherhood is. In this work, we learn that the future of the church and of the culture is fathers — fathers who instruct their children from the the wisdom, example, and self-sacrifice of their Trinitarian Father.

John Fraiser, Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in La Grange, Kentucky