Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Praying With The Grain by Pablo Martinez

I've never been one to spend a vast amount of time in prayer. I put my time in, but don't often dally when it comes to speaking with the big guy. Is this sad? Yes. Yes, it is. But I've never really felt the loss. In many ways I've thought of it as similar to the "morning quiet time" that I've always been encouraged to have. I don't particularly enjoy it and I wonder if it is really all that honoring to God if I'm falling asleep while doing it.

For the quiet time, I started practicing a constant communication thing throughout the day in lieu of time spent in the morning, but I've never really gotten a handle on whether I'm comfortable with this kind of thing replacing time set aside specifically to pray.

The Twitter² Summary:
In Praying With the Grain, Dr. Pablo Martinez looks at the psychology of how our basic personality type affects our prayers. Martinez helps us to understand and develop our own spiritual path when it comes to prayer.

The Low-down:
Have you ever thought about how your personality might affect how you pray? No? Me either. Luckily, Dr. Pablo Martinez has thought enough about it for the both of us. Praying With the Grain, a repackaged edition of his well-regarded Prayer Life, walks the reader through the many ways that our personalities can hinder and help our prayers.

Let me say that though Martinez occasionally drops psych jargon here and there, he does an excellent job of explaining each term as it occurs. That said, I'm going to drop some of the same without explaining it nearly as well. Here goes.

Martinez examines our personalities through the classic Jungian model of thinking/feeling and sensing/intuiting. This allows for specific address of multiple personality types. Martinez also provides examples form history of individuals who are known or widely assumed to match these types.

What I find both interesting and helpful about Martinez's book is his advice that we accept our personality type and how it affects the way we pray instead of striving in vain after someone else's idea of how to pray. Martinez argues that because prayer should be important and vital to our relationship with God, it is important to understand ourselves in order to help make it so.

Unfortunately though, Martinez doesn't give us much help in this department. Unlike other texts of this type, Praying With the Grain doesn't give us a handy quiz to determine our type. Instead Martinez leaves it up to us to self-identify our type and apply his advice accordingly. If you can self-identify, then Praying With the Grain will help guide you through ways of praying that will likely be better for you than what you've tried before.

Of particular note is Martinez's Q & A section on the most frequently asked questions about prayer. I'd actually start there and then come back to the beginning.

Martinez's heart is obvious throughout the book, that he wants prayer to be an exciting, welcoming, central part of every believer's relationship with God.

The Rating:
3 of 5 Stars (A book to check out from the library, but not to own.)

The Link:
The Publisher’s Book Page

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review: Plugged-In Parenting by Bob Waliszewski

As a child, I never understood why my parents cared so much about what music I listened to or the shows I was allowed to watch. Now that I’m a parent myself, I get it.

For me, Bob Waliszewski’s Plugged-In Parenting has particular resonance as my wife and I are in the process of creating a playlist of all the music on our computer that is “safe” for our kids’ ears. The boys are less than 3 years old, but we’ve already started to see the impact of media on them. As we’ve been putting it together, we talk about whether just music with cursing or graphic sexuality is out or if we should exclude any music that has lyrical content that we don’t agree with. What’s horrifying about it to me is how much of our music doesn’t make our cut.

The Twitter² Summary:

Bob Waliszewski’s Plugged-In Parenting asks parents if they are plugged-in to what your kids are reading, watching, listening to, viewing online, or playing these days? Or are they plugged-in all the time while you are tuned out? Waliszewski hopes it is the former.

The Low-down:
Bob Waliszewski is the director of Plugged In Online, a site that covers current media with reviews and other tools for parents. His book, Plugged In Parenting, attempts to help parents chart a course of media discernment. What I most appreciate about Waliszewski’s book is that it doesn’t present media as inherently evil. Sadly, this is rare in current discussions of media by many Christians.

Waliszewski divides Plugged In Parenting into three sections: 1-Deciding Where you Stand as a Parent, 2-Making Rules without Making Enemies, and 3-Keeping the Peace and Passing it On. The overarching principles that Waliszewski focuses on are easily applicable for parents to use in guiding their day-to-day decisions. This will allow Plugged In Parenting to hold up longer than other media guides that focus on specific examples. It also creates space for parents with a wide range of sensitivities to embrace the principles in the book.

Plugged In Parenting is a worthwhile read for parents of kids at any age. It can help you develop media discernment for yourself and encourage that development in your children.

The Rating:
4 of 5 Stars (An interesting book that kept me turning the pages.)

The Links:

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Focus on the Family. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”