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Notable books

Notable Books | Four books about starts and start-overs reviewed by Susan Olasky

Issue: "Pro-baby," Jan. 30, 2010

Genesis: A Commentary for Children

Ganz writes, "The church takes the most beautiful and meaningful story ever told-the salvation of God's people-and somehow turns the most exciting events and amazing facts in all human history into unimaginably boring lessons." She seeks to remedy that by vividly recounting the stories from Genesis, drawing out important themes, showing how they are echoed elsewhere in the Bible, and demonstrating their fulfillment in Christ. Ganz explains her purpose: "Our children must see the Love of God from the beginning; they must see God's plan of salvation unfolding from the beginning, if they are going to place their trust in him." An excellent volume for elementary school kids to read themselves or for read-aloud.

Teaching in a Distant Classroom

Many graduating college students and other Christians contemplate spending a year or several teaching abroad. This book, written by two professors with lots of foreign teaching experience, is full of wise counsel and practical teaching advice. Early chapters work through questions of calling, worldview, and what it means to be involved in cross-cultural ministry. Other chapters get into the details of teaching: handouts, lesson plans, running a classroom, and even a Christian view of teaching English as a Foreign Language. The book also deals with the reality of living in a different culture. The authors illustrate the book with lots of examples drawn from their own experience and the experience of others.

Happy Spouse...Happy House

Sometimes parents joke that they felt qualified to write a parenting book until they experienced a big problem and saw their limitations: Time to wait about 20 years before writing. Along those lines I have mixed reactions to this marriage how-to book for men by Orlando Magic exec Pat Williams (with asides by his second wife, Ruth, that give her perspective). Organized around the acronym BEST (Bless, Edify, Share, Touch), the book could help those looking for a coach with good, humor-seasoned advice-but since Williams wrote a marriage book, Rekindled, with his first wife, it seems odd that after only 12 years of re-marriage he's back to giving advice.

Hospitality in a Nut Roll

Confession: I opened this book because of the vibrant cover illustration and the title-but kept going because of its lively and fresh take on hospitality. DePra writes in her introduction, I "began to see that hospitality was not only what I did for others, but how, through Jesus, I could be a vehicle of His love and acceptance." In short, practical chapters she talks about showing hospitality to a group of unexpected recipients-a spouse, your children, your in-laws, your pastor. Her breezy writing style goes well with her down-home advice and lists of basic stuff to have in your pantry or fridge so you can always feed an unexpected guest or stray teenagers.


Norma Rosen's At the Center (Syracuse University Press, 1982) is a serious novel set in an abortion clinic that spares no expense in its attempt to provide both "safe" abortions and comfort. Despite such intentions, darkness hovers over the clinic and the lives of its staff. The founder has a recurring premonition of a patient dying from a botched abortion. Another doctor gets through "the seven-minute routines of safe, sane, legal abortion" by thinking about "the romance of the old days," when a doctor risked his career doing an illegal abortion on a 15-year-old girl.

Rosen, sympathetic to her characters, sees through their mixed motivations and is unblinking in her depiction of what goes on in an abortion clinic. Her characters may think they are doing noble work, but the story tells a more tormented tale. Don't look for any sympathetic pro-life characters: They are nothing more than slogan-spouting voices on the story's periphery. But if you want to experience fictionally the grimness of abortion even for its advocates, this is worth slogging through.


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