A no-nonsense Christian guide to fixing a broken marriage.

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MARRIAGE TRUST BUILDERS

A debut Christian manual explains how to repair a marriage using biblical teachings.

In marriage, trust is often weakened—or even broken—but that doesn’t mean that the union is ruined. As a counselor, Dean has worked with hundreds of couples who have trust issues at the center of their marital problems. “The large majority of these couples have experienced healing and a renewed marriage because of God’s Word, His love, and His grace,” writes the author in her introduction to this book, which translates her experiences as a counselor into advice for trust-poor couples. “The couples were willing to apply biblical instructions for restoration.” The guide focuses on three areas: recognizing and coping emotionally with broken trust, rebuilding it after it’s been shattered, and troubleshooting to keep the bonds healthy going forward. Each chapter features a combination of information, advice, anecdotes from Dean’s professional experience, analysis of the relevant biblical concepts (with plenty of quotations from Scripture), and questions for spouses to ask themselves in order to correctly frame the dimensions of their difficulties. As the perspective of this work is specifically Christian, the author places particular emphasis on ideas like confession, repentance, forgiveness, and temptation, reminding readers that their relationships to their spouses are wrapped up tightly with their connections to God: “Temptations pull someone toward engaging in sinful behavior and avoiding good and right behavior. Doing wrong and not doing right are both sin.” Dean’s prose is direct and accessible, though not as warm as one might expect from a self-help guide. The book’s religiosity is profound, and secular readers would do well to find a different resource. But the author does not let theology get in the way of practicality, and her advice offers serious and comprehensive solutions that go beyond simple confession and forgiveness. Sections like “Red Flags Regarding Lack of Repentance” and “Wrong Responses by the Offending Spouse” encourage the aggrieved to hold the guilty party’s feet to the fire. For those couples experiencing marital difficulties caused by infidelity or some other breach of trust and looking for solutions that are rooted in a Christian worldview, Dean provides a serious and pragmatic road map.

A no-nonsense Christian guide to fixing a broken marriage.

Pub Date: May 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973628-80-4

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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