Not Quite Healed: a book review

No one is more vulnerable than a child, which makes sexual molestation a heinous crime. Adult victims of childhood sexual abuse will have to overcome profound shame, confused emotions, and a fractured identity. They will have erected walls of protection which cut themselves off from meaningful relationships. Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe, have written this book for male survivors  of childhood sexual abuse. Not Quite Healed explores forty truths which abuse survivors have to face. As abuse survivors themselves, Murphey and Roe offer personal insights on what has helped them on to their journey to wholeness.  What you will not find in this book are quick fixes and easy answers. There is no formula for healing and Murphy and Roe see their own healing from abuse as a continual process. In these pages, they open up their wounds in hopes that it will help others begin their healing process.

This is  not an easy read. Murphey and Roe are honest about their journey, the abuse they suffered and their subsequent struggles. Murphey also blogs at menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com and many of the stories in the book are from fellow survivors who have shared their story there. The raw emotional honesty of this book makes it a powerful read which offers real hope to strugglers. But this is not a feel-good-summer-read. Read this if you need this.

I was never the victim of sexual abuse so I read this book as an outsider wishing to gain some insight into this issue. As I read, I thought of people I grew up with who bore some of the telltale signs of abuse.  As someone who does not have direct experience, I thought the advice and insights that Murphey and Roe offer is helpful for co-strugglers.  They discuss the importance of facing your past, being honest with yourself about struggles (i.e. not saying, I’acted out’ but naming the sin), dealing with pornography and same-sex attraction resulting from confusion about sexual identity, the reality of flashbacks and recurring dreams and the lies abused people believe about themselves.  They also stress the importance of forgiveness.

While they admit that there is no quick fix, Murphey and Roe believe their is real hope for healing and wholeness and that the long, difficult road towards healing makes them stronger and more loving towards others. The abuse stole a part of their humanity. What they have learned is that honestly facing the reality of their past wounds enables them to live more fully in the present.

By opening up their own stories for others, Murphey and Roe bring healing to other survivors. I found their advice sensible, biblical and  sensitive. As an ‘outsider’ reading this book I gained some insights on how to be a safe person for survivors to share their story with (and break the cycle of shame). I give this book five stars and recommend it for men with sexual abuse in their past.

Thank you to Kregel Publications for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Singing Grammarian: a resource review

The Singing Grammarian by H. Daniel Zacharias

Kregel Publications is always coming out with resources to help students learn Biblical languages.  I have reviewed The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek and have used their workbooks for Greek and Hebrew and highly recommend Peter Silzer’s & Thomas John Finley’s How Biblical Languages Work which was my introduction to Biblical  grammar and syntax. If you’ve tried to learn Biblical languages (or really any second language) you know that you just don’t learn another language, you also have to learn how language functions. There are lots of rules to memorize, word endings, and paradigms  And despite products and programs galore which promise that you can learn a language in a few short hours, proficiency of any language requires a great deal of memorization. That is what makes the Singing Grammarian by Daniel Zacharias.

The Singing Grammarian includes 18 different videos of songs which review various concepts of Biblical Greek. These include:

Greek Alphabet Song – MP4
1st Declension Song – MP4
2nd Declension Song – MP4
3rd Declension Song – MP4
The Article Song – MP4
Present Active Indicative Song – MP4
Present Middle and Passive Song – MP4
Future Active and Middle Song – MP4
Secondary Endings-Imperfect Tense Song – MP4
Aorist Active and Middle Song – MP4
Liquid Verbs Song – MP4
Passives Song – MP4
(Plu)Perfect Song – MP4
Subjunctive Song – MP4
Imperative Song – MP4
Infinitives Song – MP4
Participles Song – MP4
MI Verbs Song – MP4

Zacharias has produced a helpful resource for reviewing and learning the letters, grammatical rules, and word forms. The songs and videos go through the Greek paradigms and for audio and visual learners are a great aid for memorization.  Some of the songs are a little campy and there are lots of little creative flourishes that Zacharias adds. This is part of their charm and liked them alot. Language learning is hard work so when someone approaches it with good humor it makes it interesting.

My one complaint is that I think that these would be great also in an MP3 format so I could load them on my ipod and listen while going for a run.  You learn languages by living in them and something like this which you could ‘grab and go’ would be  great too.

But I still highly recommend this for students who are struggling to learn their paradigms.  When I studied Hebrew my professor provided us with a mp3 of  “power pills” which we drilled into are memory until we knew it by heart. I still recite them sometimes when I am trying to parse the forms of Hebrew. So I think Zacharias’s musical approach will be very helpful for Greek. I give this four stars: ★★★★☆

Thank you to Kregel Academic for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for this review. The Singing Grammarian is available for download through Kregel Publications and at ChristianBook.com

Radical Hospitality Meets Tough Love: a book review

The Weight of Mercy: a Novice Pastor on the City Streets by Deb Richardson-Moore

One of the formative experiences of my life was the year I interned at a Christian community development organization working with homeless people. We partnered with a downtown church to offer a worship service, meal, showers and clothing exchange.  The organization I worked with was sensitive to making sure that we were helping people and not just enabling people. I was responsible for coordinating and training volunteers and regularly preached and led worship for our homeless congregation. I befriended a number of street people. Sometimes I was able to offer real help to people. Other times I got snookered. I am currently not involved with ministry to the homeless population; however I am grateful to the men and women of the streets who helped shape me and my approach to ministry.

In the The Weight of Mercy Deb Richardson-Moore shares her journey as pastor of the Triune Mercy Center, a congregation in Greenville, SC which works with homeless people and families and individuals in transition. When she became their pastor she inherited a mission which fed, clothed and cared for the homeless and destitute. She also inherited a staff riddled with problems. Under her leadership Triune was transformed from a ‘mission’ which put a band-aid  street people’s problems to an organization which empowered people to leave the street and addiction.  Triune Center works to help addicts walk the road to recovery, help people find housing and help them find employment. Richardson-Moore shares her story of steps and missteps, hope and heartbreak as she works to bring about real transformation in the lives of Greenville homeless.

With too many homeless ministries mercy triumphs over justice in a way that does more harm than help. Well meaning people provide food for the hungry but do not do the hard work of challenging the systems and situations that make people homeless. It is refreshing to read a book by an author who is attentive to how she can bring real change into people’s lives. Richardson-Moore  is gracious and welcoming of those she serves but is not afraid to issue challenges and call people to take responsibility for their lives. Radical hospitality meets tough love.

This isn’t to say she has done everything right. These pages do not just tell stories of ministry successes. Richardson-Moore tells stories of tension with her staff, mistakes in leadership, places she’d been too judgmental or inattentive to those she pastored. She is vulnerable and seeks to love her church well. Richardson-Moore has a good sense about how to care for people but some lessons were learned the hard way.

I really appreciated this book in part because in a small way I have traversed the same ground and pieces of my story resonate with hers. She also has a vision for ministry with people on the margins which I find deeply compelling and hope that when I am in a pastoral position I can bring the same sensibilities to the table.  But I think that any one who is concerned about carrying for the marginalized will be encouraged and challenged by her story. I commend this book to you. It is moving account and well worth reading. It doesn’t hurt that Richardson-Moore spent years as a journalist, so writes well. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Thank you to Kregel Publications for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review.