Christian Mourning

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Book Review: “Learning to Jump Again” by Anthony Weber

Anthony Weber’s work, Learning to Jump Again, is part memoir of a lost father, part philosophical treatise on the problem of suffering. The focus throughout is Weber’s father and the issues with mourning, suffering, and heroism his life and death brought up.

The book starts with “the Journal”–a series of entries from Weber’s journal during the time surrounding the death of his father. As one who is very close to his father, these entries truly struck home. There were many moments where this reader just lost it in tears. Weber does not hold back, at all. His father was suffering from jaundice due to cancer. He writes, “A friend stopped by that weekend to borrow some tools, and I stammered through an explanation of why my visiting father was yellow… He [the friend] knew that after the fall comes winter, and after the chill comes the cold, and he was mercifully silent” (2).

Weber does not restrict the period of mourning or the discussion thereof to the months immediately surrounding his father’s death; rather, the Journal contains entries as far as eight years (and later) after his father’s death. Christians reading the book are forced to the realization that it is not easy to struggle through these issues. When a beloved father dies, it is not something that passes with the seasons. Even eight years later, he wrote of his withholding himself from his wife and children, and the realization that came with it that he must trust in God, “even if I don’t always understand him” (76-78).

Yet the journal section is not merely a reflection. Weber shares lessons and thoughts he has on mourning, God, and the reality of pain in the world throughout his memoirs. He notes that too many people know about God without knowing God (72-73); refers to the experiences of wrestling God (45); and contrasts the ways and beliefs of “the flesh” with that of reality (33). Throughout this section, there is much for readers to take away.

The second part of the book focuses on the issues behind suffering and the Christian worldview. Weber’s discussion is an admirably easy-to-read introduction to many of the philosophical issues surrounding the problem of evil and other issues. In particular, his discussions of emotions, dreams, and prayer in particular offered a number of insights that readers will be interested in reading more about. Weber included a lot of resources for interested readers to explore, so the book serves as a valuable resource in that regard as well. His discussion of the problem of pain does an excellent job introducing difficult notions like distinguishing between types of the problem of evil (122ff). His discussion of the various possible routes theists can take to discuss the problem of evil is also brief but informative.

Throughout the book there are numerous quotes from various authors. Many of these are novelists such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Dean Koontz, Shakespeare, and C.S. Lewis. Others are from people like Helen Keller, Phillip Yancey, and Scripture. These quotes are often profound and fit the context perfectly. As a reader, this reviewer admits to frequently skimming past quotes when I see them in texts, particularly when they are out of context, but with Learning to Jump Again, the quotes all draw out new emotions, thoughts, and ideas very well. They add to, rather than distract from, the text.

Learning to Jump Again was a bit of a surprise for me. The section of the book that was a memoir served poignantly to draw readers into the heart of a mourning man. But it did not leave readers with that; rather, Weber constantly struggled with issues that Christians at all stages must deal with. Further, the philosophical section which encompassed the latter part of the book is an excellent survey of a number of issues. Many will benefit from the insights Weber provides. The book tugs at the heart strings and gets the mind working. Readers who have already extensively explored the issues of the latter part of the book will benefit from viewing the issues in the context of a memoir. Those who have not will benefit greatly from the discussion throughout the book. I recommend it very highly.

SDG.

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Contest: “How My Savior Leads Me” by Terri Stellrecht

Recently, I reviewed How My Savior Leads Me by Terri Stellrecht. I now have the opportunity to host a free book giveaway in which one winner will be selected to receive a copy of the book. I highly encourage readers to check out the book and Terri’s site, How My Savior Leads Me.

Rules:

Those who wish to participate need only to post a question for the author of the book. The author and I will select a few questions for her to answer, and we will select the winning entry randomly from the total pool of questions selected. (All valid entries will have a chance to win, including those with questions not selected.)You Must Provide a Valid E-Mail Address To Be Selected As A Winner. Please note that only entries that ship to addresses within the Continental United States are eligible. Only one entry per person is allowed, but entrants can choose to enter more than one question should they desire.

“How am I supposed to know what to ask, if I haven’t read the book?”

Well, read the review to get some insight into the book, or check out the handy “look inside” feature on Amazon! Or, if you’re feeling particularly lazy: it’s a book which beautifully reflects on the passing of Trent, Terri’s son. She focuses upon God’s sovereignty and his plan throughout it all and rejoices in the fact that Trent is saved in heaven. So, questions can be asked on anything from divine sovereignty to Christianity generally to personal questions about coping with the loss of a child. But for more, I’d suggest reading the review.

The questions chosen to be answered will be featured following the contest in a follow up post, “Q and A with Terri Stellrecht.”

Any entry deemed offensive will be deleted. The contest will be open through midnight, central time, on February 19th, 2012. The winner will be selected by February 26, 2012.

Disclaimer:

This contest is being held at the sole discretion of J.W. Wartick and Terri Stellrecht. They reserve the right to cancel or amend the details of the contest in any way at any time. Specifically, they will not be held accountable if the book is lost in the mail; if an entry is missed; etc. In other words, this contest is in no way legally binding for any who participate. By submitting an entry, you agree to the stipulations and rules provided in this post.

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