Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Review: What My Parents Did Right

A Fair Trade Book

Title: What My Parents Did Right

Editor: Gloria Gaither

Date: 1991

Publisher: Star Song / Jubilee

ISBN: 1-56233-025-X

Length: 263 pages

Illustrations: black-and-white photo sections

Quote: “With television talk-show hosts declaring that ‘every home is dysfunctional in some way’…I believed that…no family is immune to problems and hard times. Yet…I’ve been encouraged…[M]y mother and father taught me about God and about serving Him. That’s just one of the many things my parents did right.”

Gloria Gaither, whose testimony (quoted above) opens this book, was in a position to request family success stories from a lot of Christian celebrities. The contents page of this book reads like a roll call of Christian writers, speakers, and singers. In more or less alphabetical order, readers get family memories from Gloria Gaither, then Kay Arthur, Robert Benson, William K. Brehm, Jill Briscoe, Tony Campolo, Bart Campolo, S. Truett Cathy, Charles Colson, Lawrence Crabb, John R. Dellenback, Richard M. De Vos, Dez Dickerson, James and Danae Dobson, Joni Eareckson Tada, Carl Erskine, Colleen Townsend and James Evans, Bill Gaither, Steve Green, Darrell Harris,Larnelle Harris, Stephen Hicks, Dana Huff, June Hunt, Carman Licciardello, Florence Littauer, Mark Lowry, Richard Lugar, John MacArthur, Karen Burton Mains, Ralph Martin, Tony Melendez, Calvin Miller, Janette Oke, Sandi Patti, Frank Peretti, Ron Sider, Gary Smalley, Norm Sonju, Kenneth Taylor, Sheila Walsh, Walter Wangerin, Robert Webber, and Kenneth Wessner. 

These happy memories are followed by encouragement to people whose own family memories are less happy, in a section headed “You Can Break the Cycle,” from Lee Ezell, Julie Makimaa, Jerry Falwell and Jeannie Falwell Savas, Phyllis and Jeffrey Jenness, and Jack, David, and Don Wyrtzen.

In 1991 all of these people were active and well known, and had hundreds of fans who were likely to buy a book containing their family memories. Twenty-five years later…it’s sort of encouraging to note how many of them are still alive!

“[Y]ou could look forward to getting a book from Dad every holiday or birthday,” Robert Benson recalls.

“Every day as I left the house,” Tony Campolo says, “the last thing [my mother] would say to me was ‘Remember! You can go over the top for Jesus!’”

“My parents…endured years of the sounds of less-than-accomplished  playing emanating from my room,” says Dez Dickerson.

“I was a fourth-grade teacher’s nightmare,” “Jamie” Evans admits, but “My parents worked hard to get some explanation” beyond “Be grateful you had three smart ones. The fourth lacks what they had.” Jamie was badly dyslexic before it was trendy. “Two hours of homework for the average child would take me five hours…my parents were called to allow me to…stumble against hurdles.”

“[M]y parents…spent time with us, stayed optimistic, kept our minds moving, gave us lessons they couldn’t afford, kept us in church, gave us a sense of history, and offered us hope,” says Florence Littauer. “I hope I have done the same thing.”

“Dad struggled with whether it was wrong to send milk to the dairy on Sunday,” Ron Sider remembers. “As it turned out…we did not suffer much financial loss. But Dad had been prepared to lose a lot of money rather than disobey the Lord.”

“My hardworking [D]ad also taught me to work,” says Kenneth Taylor. “[H]e gave us a summer assignment of two hours a day cutting trees and brush…It was hard work—but fun too.”

“While Dad never attended church in his life,” Jerry Falwell says, “Mom never missed.”

Don Wyrtzen may deserve a prize for the best children-learn-about-theft story: “Jimmy and I were bragging to my [D]ad how we had ridden all over New York City without paying…Dad…had me write a letter to the New York City Port of Authority, apologize to them,a nd tape some change to a card to pay.”

If you still enjoy any of these people’s books or music, and you don’t already have What My Parents Did Right, you probably want it.

You can get this book cheaper directly from Amazon but, if you buy it here as a Fair Trade Book, for $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment, we'll send $1 to Gloria Gaither or a charity of her choice; you'll be helping this web site support writers and payment for writers, generally, and you'll be our e-friend for life. This book was not designed to be shipped in bulk; I can't guarantee that I could jam two hardcover copies into one package, but if you wanted to order it together with the Gaithers' thinner books like I Am a Promise or their standard-sized ones like When the Pieces Don't Fit, you'd pay a total of $15 or $16 for two books, $25 or $26 for four, which could add up to less than you might pay directly to Amazon. (You can also, of course, mix up books by different authors in one package.)