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Navigating the Friendship Maze: The Search for Authentic Friendship

Michele Howe. Hendrickson, $14.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-68307-138-9

Howe (Empty Nest, What’s Next?), who reviews books for PW, passionately if narrowly addresses friendship between women within a “sin-ridden, broken world.” For Howe, female friendship is an agency of evangelism in a three-sided relationship composed of two women and the Bible. In three sections, she covers 30 aspects of friendship, explaining why biblical friendships are essential, defining the kind of friend every woman needs, and outlining how to become a best friend forever. She writes about frenemies, mentors, peers, healers, hurters, funny friends, and challenging friends, among other types. Though Howe focuses on Christ-followers and “godly women,” she allows for the inclusion of those standing just outside her tent who are yearning to be saved. She acknowledges “how powerful biblical friendships are and how they impact our lives for good,” and proposes that readers work hard to maintain faith-based communities. Each brief, digestible chapter ends with a summary of key points, a prayer (more prosaic than poetic), and three notes on friendship for further study. Women seeking to learn more about how to approach different friendships will enjoy the simple fundamentals of Howe’s “God-honoring” instructions. (May)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Dancing in No Man’s Land: Moving with Peace and Truth in a Hostile World

Brian Jennings. NavPress, $15.99 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-63146-773-8

Jennings (Lead Your Family) confronts the increasing polarization of political, social, and religious groups across the globe in this helpful guide. Starting with the metaphor of a World War I battlefield, Jennings likens current cultural divisions to the heavily armed bunkers that opposing sides dug during trench warfare. The first section, titled “Bunkerology,” covers the ways uncompromising belief can create “collateral spiritual damage,” as others are unlikely to talk with someone who has staunch, unmovable opinions. After this, Jennings spends the majority of the book encouraging readers to abandon their fortifications and encounter other people on common ground. He counsels readers to cultivate “common ground thinking” by striking a balance between two seemingly opposing virtues such as gentleness and strength, shrewdness and innocence, and courage and humility. Jennings writes clearly and sparingly uses real-life stories to illustrate his points (such as East German officers looking the other way as a young communist escaped Berlin, presented as an example of humility), and provides study group questions at the end of each chapter. Although much of the writing reads like self-help, this useful breakdown of biblical basics such as forgiveness, love, and grace will be welcomed by study groups. (May)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Shunned: How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself

Linda A. Curtis. She Writes, $16.95 trade paper (256) ISBN 978-1-63152-328-1

In this emotional memoir, Curtis writes of being raised by a devout Jehovah’s Witness mother, marrying within the faith, and eventually deciding to leave. From a young age, Curtis would crisscross her neighborhood on a weekly basis to proselytize and convert. Her mother was a devoted believer in “the Truth” (a term Curtis references often, to claustrophobic effect) and raised her three children within the faith, but Curtis’s father was not a Jehovah’s Witness—an incongruity that caused confusion throughout her life. Her inner conflict came to a head one Sunday when Curtis knocked on the door of an executive at the bank where she worked (a man she deeply respected for taking time off from work to be with his dying father) and suddenly realized how partisan and divisive her sermon sounded in the face of his grief. Curtis uses that encounter to trace back through her life, turning over moments from her past where she questioned her upbringing and relating stories of disconnect when she felt the fear of being “disfellowshipped” by her congregation if she didn’t fall in line. In the end, Curtis questions her marriage, her commitment to the Truth, and her entire way of living. This is a moving portrait of one woman’s life as a Jehovah’s Witness and her painful but liberating realization that she must give up her faith. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

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