Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Reading FREE Book Winner

The winner of the FREE book for participating in the Summer Reading List giveaway is...


Jenn, to claim your prize, please send me an email.

Thanks for all who participated. My stack of books "to read" is now much higher!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Positive Parenting

Reviewed by Walt Mueller

For the most part, I don’t like Christian parenting books. I came to that conclusion several years ago after reading a stack of the most popular titles in our local Christian bookstore. The books either left me: 1) feeling beat up because of the writer’s high expectations, or 2) wondering how enacting the five, seven or 10 guaranteed steps could actually guarantee success. I’m looking for a book that’s realistic, humble, biblically based, full of grace and that takes into account that all of our kids are different.

Consequently, my list of recommended Christian parenting books is rather short. Recently, I added a new book to that list. Scott Larson’s When Teens Stray: Parenting for the Long Haul (Vine Books, 2002), grows out of the experiences of Larson and his wife as they have taken scores of kids from juvenile jails into their homes. While Larson’s experience qualifies him to write to parents whose kids have gotten into trouble, this is a book that will benefit all parents of teens. Larson begins by painting a broad stroke by laying out common myths parents hold about their kids, along with common myths parents hold about parenting. What follows is a treasure of realistic, hope-filled and practical biblically based advice that helps parents to maintain proper perspective and sanity.

While I will continue to recommend this book to all parents, others who work with kids will benefit as well. With a growing number of grandparents raising their grandchildren, When Teens Stray offers them encouragement and godly wisdom during what is a most difficult job. And, youth workers and teachers will find great insights into the dynamics that drive troubled youth.

This review also appeared in Engage: The Journal of Youth Culture from CPYU

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Walt's Summer Reading List

Derek asked me to pass on a list of the three books I intend to read this coming summer. I've got a nice pile of summer reading that's growing to the point of insanity, and I'm still trying to put wraps on a book that was on last year's list! Still, Derek got me thinking and I've narrowed my list to the following three.

First, I always try to read something that will expand my theological horizons, and that's related to issues of faith and culture. G.K. Beale's Becoming What We Worship is my pick for this summer. This biblical theology of idolatry traces the replacement of the Creator with created things through the Scriptures. My desire for this book is that it might be used to expose more of my own heart, along with the collective heart of our culture. I'm sure this won't be an easy journey as Beale has a reputation for depth and rigor. . . . a reputation I remember well from my days at Gordon-Conwell seminary and his days there as a prof. The hammock won't be the place to read this one!

Second, I try to read something on culture that will prepare me for things I'll be speaking on in the fall. I've decided to pursue the whole trend towards narcissism from a Biblical perspective in preparation for some seminars that I'm putting together to address the topic at this fall's National Youth Workers Conventions. Jean Twenge seems to be floating away from and above the pack as a researcher who's looking more closely at how narcissism is woven in and through the fabric of our culture. So, my list includes her newest, The Narcissism Epidemic.

Third, there's the obligatory baseball book. Yep, I try to read at least one - if not more - every summer. I've loved the game since I was a kid and coached for almost ten years. Now that I'm no longer sitting in dugouts, watching my beloved Phillies and reading about different aspects of the game will have to do. I recently read a review of Bruce Weber's new book, As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travel in the Land of Umpires. Should be fun. . . and this one's for the hammock.

Finally, there's my wildcard. My friend Dick Doster wrote one of the baseball books that I read last year - Safe At Home. Dick's the editor of ByFaith Magazine and has branched out into writing novels. Safe at Home grabbed me at it told the story of baseball, the minor leagues, the civil rights movement, and breaking the color barrier. This summer, he's released a new novel that's not about baseball, but it is about the civil rights movement. I've felt a strong responsiblity to be reading about this period of our history so that I can understand things from my childhood that I was by and large oblivious to. So, I'm ordering his new novel, Crossing the Lines. It's another one that will turn up the volume on my hammock enjoyment.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Reading Lists: Free Book Giveaway

It’s a good time to give away a free book, don’t you think? And, it’s a good time to make a list of books we hope to read this summer. Summer can be a great time to catch up on our reading or pick up a book that, perhaps, we wouldn’t normally read, but have some extra time to do so. Here are four books on my list so far:

The Chosen by Chaim Potok. This is one of those books that I have heard much about, but, sadly, have never read. Many colleges assigned it as a text for first year students. I’m going to figure out why!

Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement by Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh. Both of these writers have been influential on my own thinking and I’m surprised that I haven’t read this one yet. Their call if for Christians to be more intentionally rooted and committed to local communities. If you know me, you know this is close to my heart.

Original Sin: A Cultural History by Alan Jacobs. Jacobs provides a historical overview and analysis of the doctrine of “original sin.” I read the first chapter a few months ago and can’t wait to get back to it.

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford. Now here’s a good story: a college professor and think-tank employee opens up a motorcycle repair shop and realizes that being a repairman forces him to think more! Crawford wonders: where have all the shop classes gone? My good friend Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books is raving about this book. It looks like a winner.

Now it’s your turn:

What book(s) do you hope to read this summer?

(There needs to be at least 10 comments to qualify. Winner will be chosen randomly from list of participants. Only one comment per person.)