Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: Beloved Unbeliever

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Beloved Unbeliever
Author: Jo Berry
Date: 1981
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 0-310-42621-9
Length: 169 pages
Quote: “One of the most grievous and difficult situations a Christian woman ever faces is that of being...married to a man who is not a believer...knowing her husband is neither spiritually awakened nor secure for eternity.”
Jo Berry does not stress, in this book, the difference between “not a believer” and “not a member of my particular denomination, or a member of my particular school of thought within the denomination, or in perfect agreement with me on all things.” Beloved Unbeliever is a well-focussed book. It is strictly about Christian women married to men who are skeptical about Christianity. It has little to offer to several other people who might consider themselves “unequally yoked”:
* Christian men married to women who are skeptical about Christianity.
* Christians married to Jews, Muslims, or others who believe in the same God but have different beliefs about God.
* Active Christians married to lapsed Christians.
* Protestants married to Catholics.
* “Low Church” Christians married to “High Church” Christians.
* “Denominational Christians” married to “Bible Christians.”
* Bible-reading Christians who have agreed in their interpretation of the Bible for years, but have come to an area of disagreement.
* “Liberal” members of a denomination married to “conservative” members of the same denomination.
* And then, like certain lurking local readers out there, people who hold similar beliefs about God but have reached a point where they wonder whether God is leading them in different directions—like the well-preserved spouse who feels called to become more active in retirement, while the disabled spouse seems obviously called to a less active life. (I know a couple whose divorce was obviously caused by that kind of “incompatibility.” The disabled spouse has been dead for years now, but the still active partner still feels called to tell everyone that they’d become spiritually incompatible. As if she thinks anybody can believe that she was the more spiritual spouse.)
In fact, because Beloved Unbeliever is so well focussed, I find it hard to review. I know several married women who go to church alone, if they go, but on consideration I think all of their husbands are “believers.” Most of these husbands are even Christians, but they believe that observing a day of rest and worship does not mean spending the day mingling with people they don’t know well or don’t like.
 So I can’t really say how valuable Beloved Unbeliever may be for its intended audience. If you are a Christian married to an Active Unbeliever, please use the comment space to fill in this important gap. I have this book for resale, I’ve read it, I think I can recommend it, but what can I really say about it?
I can say that Beloved Unbeliever contains some sound teaching about life and marriage in general, and some anecdotes from the Sunday School groups in which Berry tested this material before writing a book. Almost every page contains an appropriate Bible text. The discussion of what the Authorized Version calls “submission” seems to be straddling a fence in an effort not to offend anybody, but it is tasteful and ethically sound, not one of those alleged older-style books (of which I’ve never actually read one) that advised Christian wives to “submit to” violent abuse or demands that they participate in unethical behavior. 
To buy it here will cost $5 + $5 shipping. (You pay only one shipping charge for as many items as can be shipped in one package, so please browse...for those who are not familiar with the blog culture, you can click on the words "book" or "Fair Trade Book" in the line that begins with "Labels" to see more posts about books you can buy through the Fair Trade Books system. Also, when you buy a book here, you can nominate additional books you'd like to buy this way.) Out of this $10, Jo Berry or a charity of her choice gets $1.