cover image The Mystery of the Child

The Mystery of the Child

Martin E. Marty, . . Eerdmans, $24 (257pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-1766-2

Breathtakingly ambitious in scope, written with the author's customary sober and reflective erudition, this wide-ranging exploration of the wonders of the child is both inspirational and slightly elegiac in tone. Although it covers topics such as the tension between nature and nurture in child development, this is no ordinary child guidebook. Professor emeritus at the University of Chicago and a prolific writer on religion, culture, history and theology, Marty's deeply personal and sometimes dauntingly scholarly book urges his readers to abandon seeing a child as a problem to be controlled. Instead, he calls adults not only to nurture wonder in children, but to seek their own "childlikeness," or what, near the end of the book, he terms "childness." While the book is written with a general audience in mind, Marty's understanding of mystery and of childhood is unabashedly rooted in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. A random sampling of sources includes writers as diverse as the late Catholic theologian Karl Rahner and evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker. Aimed at all who care for children, this volume is, at least in part, the fruit of Marty's work in Emory University's three-year study of "The Child in Law, Religion and Society." (Apr.)