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Notable Books

Notable Books | Four books on health and family challenges reviewed by Susan Olasky

Issue: "Upside down," April 9, 2011

Same Lake, Different Boat

What happens when you give birth to a child with a disability such as Down syndrome? Hubach's first reaction was grief-and that's typical-but then she wondered what God has to say about the disabled, and how other believers react. Drawing upon Scripture, her own experience, and the expertise she has gathered as an advocate for the disabled, Hubach helps friends, families, and churches to think biblically about disability, to treat each other respectfully by seeing the image of God within each person, and to develop practical ways of helping. Winsomely, with many humorous examples from her own family, Hubach encourages congregations to "become more like welcoming hospitals for sinners and less like exclusive country clubs."

The Grief Survival Handbook

If Marcus Welby, the 1960s TV doctor, were to write a handbook about grief, I imagine it would be like this one: warm, readable, reassuring. Writing from a Christian perspective in a way that could draw in non-Christians, Dr. Cobb presents relevant research without wandering into abstract theory. He knows that grief hurts, that for most people it is foreign territory, and that each person grieves differently. He holds out the hope that the experience is similar enough from person to person that we can learn from those who have been through it, and that good can come from it. Dr. Cobb includes helpful chapters on spiritual and physical issues, how children experience grief, and how to help those who suffer a miscarriage, heartbreak, or the loss of a spouse or child.

Secure Daughters Confident Sons

When we were raising four sons we had a pastor, with five sons, who spoke of the difference between "boy" and "sin." Stanton argues from the Bible that gender differences are important-"it is our gendered humanity that images God"-and then shows from research how that creation truth plays out. After laying out lists of male and female qualities, which he acknowledges won't be possessed in equal measure by every boy or girl, Stanton sketches out ways to nurture these qualities in sons and daughters. Stanton brings practical wisdom and balance to the debate about gender and points out how children benefit from the different parenting styles of mothers and fathers.

Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys

Hymowitz doesn't prove that women's success has caused men's social retardation, but she does show that educated women and men have reacted differently to the change from an industrial economy to a knowledge-based one. As physical strength has become less important, male advantages have shrunk, and the once-clear path to adulthood for men-job, marriage, fatherhood-has become a road less traveled. Meanwhile, more women have taken advantage of opportunities and gained financial independence, with men becoming less necessary as material providers. Now, more women in their 20s are furthering their careers and more men are flopping into a decade of juvenile pleasure-but both live active sexual lives unconnected to marriage. Hymowitz doesn't discuss whether this depressing picture of a generation devoted to self-satisfaction holds true for Christians.

Spotlight

With the population aging, an increase in Alzheimer's disease seems likely. One of the best books on the topic, My Journey Into Alzheimer's (Tyndale, 1989), came out more than 20 years ago. When author Robert Davis received his diagnosis in 1987, doctors knew little about the disease: Davis, pastor of a large PCA church in Miami, was in his early 50s when the disease forced him to retire. With his wife's help he set out to write this book, documenting the progress of the disease while he still could. The book is a classic and well worth reading for anyone wanting to know what the disease is like from the perspective of a man experiencing its life-sapping power. The most poignant sections deal with the spiritual effects of the disease: Davis could not bring to mind Scripture he'd stored up, and he found that the "sweetness of prayer and the gentle comfort of the Holy Spirit are gone."

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