Here's what I've read this month:
Bringing Up Bebe - Pamela Druckerman
Very interesting book. It's written by an American woman who marries a British man living in Paris. As she writes their story of meeting, getting married, having one baby, then having twins and raising all three children in France, she describes several main differences between typical French parenting and typical American parenting. What keeps this book interesting is the fact that it's as much Druckerman's story as it is a treatise on cultural differences. I found myself identifying very much with what Druckerman describes as mainstream French parenting - babies expected to sleep through the night, children expected to eat like adults, children being strictly trained in manners and appropriate social behavior, parents not allowing the child to be the center of the home. I do wonder what the French actually think of her book; is she over-glorifying the results of French parenting? Is she overgeneralizing? Is French parenting really better or just different? I've asked a French friend what she thinks; if she's able to read the book and give me her perspective, I'll let you know.
Grace For the Good Girl - Emily Freeman
Another great book. I was drawn to it because I've always classified myself as a "good girl" who is very performance-oriented; the subtitle of this book is "Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life". I definitely need to let go of trying to perform to achieve God's approval, hiding behind a mask of perfection, fearing failure, and attempting to live up to a perceived expectation of constant strength from others. Freeman outlines many aspects of life in which we try too hard or live inauthenticly and then outlines what our biblical perspective on the Christian life should be. I will be referring to this book very often, and I even think I'll store it away as a possible counseling resource.
Why Christians Can't Trust Psychology - Ed Bulkley
I know...I know...sounds like a wacko alarmist title, doesn't it? I read this at the recommendation of my family life pastor when I asked for resources that explained the nouthetic approach to counseling. I can't say that I totally buy the arguments outlined within this book; some of it was slightly witch-hunty and alarmist and many examples of how terrible psychology is focused on the more bizarre aspects of the profession (nude therapy, anyone?). I found his arguments for Christians utilizing nouthetic counseling to be much more convincing than his arguments against Christians seeking psychological counseling. In general, I do tend to agree with the author's basic premises that the foundations psychology and psychiatry frequently do not line up with Scripture and that, while many of the "studies" are interesting and may provide practical technical tools, ultimately it is reaching the heart and having Christ transform lives that will be the key aspect of life change. I should note that my family life pastor also recommended a book defending Christian psychology - Gary Collins' Can Christians Trust Psychology? and I do plan on reading that at some point; however, my brain can only handle so much of the same topic at once before it starts to explode.
Crazy Love - Francis Chan
My brother Stephen has already begun a series of posts reviewing this book on his blog, so I won't go into too much detail on mine. The only thing I will really say is that my thoughts on this book were mixed. I know it's a hugely popular book, a New York Times bookseller, and that Francis Chan is also a big name right now. Lots of people love him and lots of people love this book. I can appreciate some aspects of this book - the call to be in awe of God, the call to not be complacent in our Christian life, the charge to examine our lives, the call to not withhold our lives from what the Holy Spirit might want to do with us even if it seems radical to others. I think that is a needed message for imany Christians. My problem is mainly with the foundational theology expressed within the book. For example, the most controversial quote within the book is most likely this one: "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are 'lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven (p.84)." I disagree with that. I also have a problem with his examples of radical living for Christ. Not that I think it's wrong to be completely radical, but I think because his examples are so radical, that many people will miss the completely ordinary things that Christ is calling them to because they won't see them as radical enough for a committed believer.
So, that's it for this month.
Has anyone read those books? Thoughts?
What other awesome books did you read this month that you can recommend to me?