Book Reviews

All books below -- and many more on a wide variety of subjects -- are available for check-out from the Lehr Library! Stop in today to pick up your next great read!

STAGES of FAITH:  The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning        by James W. Fowler, Ph.D.

Faith can be difficult to talk about.  For one thing, it is sometimes about experiences or feelings for which we have no words.  Also, when we talk about faith, do we mean a set of beliefs we adhere to?  A denomination or religion, such as Lutheran, Roman Catholic, or Judaism?  Perhaps we are speaking of texts of scripture or law, along with narratives, myths, prophecies, revelations, hymns, & prayers of the faithful through the ages.  Maybe it’s a feeling about God.  For some it may have nothing to do with God.

Probably no two of us would describe faith in exactly the same way.  Does that mean that faith is not ‘real,’ or not really relevant? 

Have you had the experience of marveling about how unique and complex each of our faiths are?  This book is one of the ground-breaking works on how we each form a faith.  What is that process like?  Interviewing more than 600 persons of various ages and, about equally split between men and women, Fowler and others formulated an idea about how faith forms, and may proceed through six stages, each incorporating what was learned in the previous stage.  People do not proceed at the same pace, nor do all people go through all the stages.

During their interviews, people were asked questions such as the following:

1. Thinking about yourself at present: What gives your life meaning?  What makes life worth living for you?

2. What experiences have affirmed your sense of meaning in life?  What experiences have shaken or disturbed your sense of meaning?

3. Do you feel that some approaches to life are more “true” or right than others?  Are the some beliefs or values that all or most people ought to hold and act on?

4. If you pray, what do you feel is going on when you pray?

In light of what they learned, educators began to think about what kinds of experiences can help people to develop for themselves a faith that will:

1. Enable us to face tragedy and finitude in the devastating and bewildering particular ways they come to us without giving in to despair or morbidity.

2. Name and face that deep-going tendency in us to make ourselves and the extensions of ourselves the center of the world.

3. Provide liberation and redemption.

4. Link us to communities of shared memory and shared hope where we can envision and give new life to our dreams for humankind.

5. Make and keep life human, while being held accountable for faith’s broader contribution to good faith on earth.

“Stages of Faith” provides each of us an opportunity to think about our faiths, their interactions in our lives, and how we can understand and be more helpful to others in their faith journeys.

Reviewer:  Ann Nelson

LANTERNS – A MEMOIR OF MENTORS                                  by Marian Wright Edelman

Miz Tee, Miz Lucy, Miz Kate – great Black women who gave guidance to the author in her youth.  They were lanterns to her along the way and she celebrates them and others in this book.

Who were your lanterns in your youth?  Who were those people shining the way for you without whom you would be a lesser person today?

This book is about a village that raised many children, and how they did it.  It is about the spirit, the will, and the passion, ingenuity and care that were poured into those children who grew up to lead the civil rights movement, found the Children’s Defense Fund, became presidents of colleges and members of congress in spite of concerted efforts on the part of the white majority to contain them.

Andrew Young wrote of Ms. Edelman, “In September, 1967, (she) visited Martin (Luther King) in Atlanta…We thought it was as if a whirlwind had come through. Marian made her point and presented a plan that was sound and succinct.  These qualities would later lead her to great success…”  True to Ms. Edelman’s gifts, in this memoir she is consistently illuminating and an inspiring source of wisdom.

Who are the children for whom you are now lighting the way?  Where is your light guiding?  This book is a lantern for those who are serious about mentoring children and young adults.

This book can be found in the green  “Knowledge & Faith – Social Responsibility” section of Augustana’s library.

Reviewer:  Ann Nelson


By Caryl Waller Krueger

If you have grandchildren living close by, or far away, this book has over 200 practical and do-able ideas about ways to spend time and nourish your relationship with your grandchildren.

Helpfully, Caryl Krueger, the author of several books about parenting and relating to children, explains how important communication with grandchildren is and outlines some general guidelines to keep in mind when communicating with your grandchildren.  She also talks about sharing talents with them and helping them discover their talents, exploring the world together, and visiting back and forth.  Suggestions about ways to make wonderful memories together, what to do instead of constant gift-giving, and problem-solving are offered.  The role of babysitting, discipline, ideas about teaching responsibility and aspects about loving a grandchild you may not have considered can all be found within the pages of this book.

Last, but not least, is a “Grab Bag” chapter with games and activities, as well as a check list of guidelines for helpful review.  The suggestions are made for ages from toddler to teen, and for one child or a group of children.

If you take a look at this book – I’ll be surprised if you don’t want one as an idea book at your house!

This book can be found in the brown “Church & Faith – Child & Family Programming Resources” section of Augustana’s library.

Reviewer:  Ann Nelson