Thursday, November 6, 2014
Review: Their Name Is Today
This is the second book I have reviewed by Johann Christoph Arnold. The first, Rich In Years, was about old people; this one is focused on the young. The subtitle of this book reads: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World.
I only review books I consider worth your reading, or my re-reading when I have the time --- or re-reading at least the underlined parts which, in a book I recommend, usually are quite a few. And so as I write this review and flip through the pages of this book, I am surprised to see that there is but one sentence underlined in the entire book:
As parents and teachers, we need to rediscover and guide our children back to the concept of “less is more.”
Mr. Arnold is a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities. You can easily research this in more detail if you like, and perhaps you should. He and his wife have counseled thousands of individuals and families over the past forty years. His books have sold over a million copies. I use the term “wise” very rarely to describe individuals, but I would describe Mr. Arnold as a man rich in wisdom.
His writing comes across to you as gently as a grandfather speaking softly to a young child in his lap. You may remember parts of the story he is telling, but you don’t ever feel inclined to interrupt him and say: “But I’ve heard this before.” As you hear him tell it, with love, the old words are as comforting as a hug --- it never gets old to receive it. He tells you things which are common sense – no use underlining the words; you know them --- but he says them in such a way that, like a child listening, you know they are very important, and so you want to pay close attention. And you don’t want to forget what he says.
There’s not much more I can really say about this book; you have to read it to experience it. I will say, however, that you should consider giving it to every parent to read, especially those with younger children. This book tells parents honestly how to love their children in today’s detached world. It tells parents when to discipline, when to draw lines, and when to hug. It speaks to independence, and holding close. It makes no bones about telling parents: You need to protect your children; you need to protect their childhood from the world which throws adult concepts and responsibilities at them before they can even understand what they mean. And this book gives parents enough data, facts and figures, to give them backbone when they might be inclined to say: “But I can’t do that.”
Mr. Arnold gently chides parents that they are not loving their children when they set up electronic devices as babysitters. Instead he shows the joys and rewards of being hands-on parents, and keeping their children safe, now and into their adulthood. He does not set up as the boogeyman someone who might drive up in a car and kidnap your child, but he shows you the reality of much closer and more dangerous kidnappers.
This book will give many young parents much to think about, and for some will explain what being a parent really means.