Austin Seminary Book Club discussion

Fathers in Faith: Reflections on Parenthood and a Christian Life
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May 2014 > May Book of the Month: Fathers in Faith: Reflections on the Parenthood and a Christian Life by Allan Cole

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message 1: by AustinSeminary (last edited May 01, 2014 08:40AM) (new)

AustinSeminary | 66 comments Mod
We are pleased to announce our May book of the month; Fathers in Faith: Reflections on the Parenthood and a Christian Life by Allan Cole. Austin Seminary Allan Cole, Dean and Professor in the Nancy Taylor Williamson Distinguished Chair of Pastoral Care at Austin Seminary, will be leading the discussion.

Here's the book synopsis:

"Drawing on their experiences as fathers, eleven men share what they have learned about parenting, living a Christian life, and the relationship between the two. As fathers to children ranging in age from the very young to adults, contributors reflect on some of their joys and successes as fathers but also on their questions, concerns, mistakes, sorrows, and hopes--for themselves and for their children. They invite all parents to reflect on and learn from their own parenting experiences. This kind of reflection fosters wisdom, perspective, and, in solidarity with other parents, gratitude, confidence, and hope in the parenting life."

Allan Hugh Cole Jr. is Academic Dean and Professor in the Nancy Taylor Williamson Distinguished Chair of Pastoral Care at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas. He is the author or editor of several books, including Good Mourning (2008); The Life of Prayer (2009); A Spiritual Life (editor, 2011); and The Faith and Friendships of Teenage Boys (coauthor, 2012). He is father to two daughters.


message 2: by Allan (new)

Allan Hello. This is Allan Cole, and I am pleased to lead discussion relating to the May selection of the Austin Seminary Book Club.

I had the privilege of editing Fathers in Faith, which allowed me to assemble and work with a group of thoughtful, sensitive, and courageous fathers. Their essays point to both the joys and challenges of parenthood in these days, and I have learned a great deal about myself as a parent by virtue of their insights. I hope this will be true for you, too.

As you begin reading the book, I encourage you to reflect on these two questions.

1. How do parenthood and parenting relate to a life of faith?

2. What are you most struck by when reading these personal reflections? In other words, what surprises you, puzzles you, challenges you, encourages you, etc.?

I look forward to our discussions.


message 3: by AustinSeminary (last edited May 06, 2014 02:47PM) (new)

AustinSeminary | 66 comments Mod
1. I appreciate the idea of drawing on the disciplines of fatherhood by looking at the relationship between God and us, his children. I have yet to have children myself and grew up in a family where my mother raised me, but the latter occurrence made me incredibly aware of the importance a father has in a family, and brought me closer to my relationship with God, the quintessential father. So this book really hits home.

2. It's refreshing to see reflections of men who are grounded in both faith and family. Often , it seems, when fathers are depicted in media it's an unattractive portrayal so this is a helpful reminder that there are plenty of men in the world who are willing to let their guard down and show that there is more to being masculine and a father than machismo and discipline. As many of us know, vulnerability is not always a characteristic encouraged in boys or men.

The chance to see both sides of the coin on any subject is, in my opinion, always a good thing.

-Adam Sweeney-


message 4: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Sandberg | 4 comments I've not actively commented in the book club, and honestly have not started this book yet. Part of my hesitation is that I am a single woman with no children and not really sure how this book would be relevant to me.

What can persuade me (or someone like me) to read this book?


message 5: by Frank (new)

Frank Mansell | 49 comments As a grandfather of teenage girls I shared some of Sharon's feelings -- until I began to read the book. I am several chapters into it now and find the experiences of the authors interesting and informative. I will be preaching on Father's Day in June and think that the essays may provide some fresh thoughts (though I have not yet looked at the lections for that day). I think this might be a book to share with my son, also a pastor, who is the father of the two teens I mentioned.


message 6: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Sandberg | 4 comments Thank you, Frank and Adam- I think I need to pick this one up.


message 7: by Allan (new)

Allan Thank you, Adam, Frank, and Sharon. I appreciate Frank's response to your query, Sharon. My own experience with the book has been that it transcends fatherhood. It certainly offers fathers' perspectives on parenthood, but for me it touches experiences, concerns, and passions that relate to caring for children and youth, which parents (fathers and moths) and many others do and want to do well. In other words, I found that each essay offered wisdom to anyone who cares about both the joy and pain, successes and foibles, and the clarity and mystery that come when we seek to nurture young people well.

As you get farther in the book, what essays (or parts of essays) strike a chord with you?


message 8: by Frank (new)

Frank Mansell | 49 comments I find David Jensen's suggestion that fatherhood is a mystery to be helpful. Several quotes sum it up for me: "I don’t know why it all happened in the way that it did; I don’t know what tomorrow holds as I continue to be a father. But when I’m open to the mystery of my children’s continual arrival, I am opened to new, even unimagined possibilities in the life that unfolds before me as a father."
"A father disciplines not to mold children in his own image but to nurture them into the people they are called to become, persons who are responsive to others. Discipline too teaches us that we are not alone. As we discipline children, they also have much to teach us."
" . . . faith does not turn us away from the ordinary relationships of human life, but invites us to encounter God in the center of them, as Holy Mystery brings new life and new things out of the ordinary in Jesus Christ. For fathers, this means that our journey with children is sacred work: familiar and mysterious, ordinary and extraordinary, at the same time. In the everyday labors of parenting, in their foibles and faults, wonder and surprise, beauty and happiness, travail and joy, we encounter God in our midst. Mystery, for fathers and children, is revealed in relation. And that makes a world of difference."
(Kindle Locations 555-557,600-601,634-639)
Fathers in Faith: Reflections on Parenthood and a Christian Life . Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.


message 9: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Sandberg | 4 comments I also read David Jensen's essay last night, and I rather like the idea of God as the Father. I never thought about it much as a kid- that's what we learned in church- but, as an adult, it always gave me comfort to think of God as a father. I appreciate what David said (Frank has already quoted it) about the Mystery- we always have something to discover.


message 10: by Allan (new)

Allan What has been surprising to you when reading these essays? How are you thinking differently about fatherhood, parenthood, or nurturing children in light of these essays?


message 11: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Sandberg | 4 comments I've never thought about reading about parenting, etc. because of not being a parent, but, I have had friends that have reminded me that though I do not have children of my own, that I have impacted the lives of many children- certainly my nieces, nephew and godsons, but, also the children I worked with when I was in the behavioral health field. I do see how much of this (nurturing, patience) has been attributes I needed while working with those children.

I also am trying to frame it as I continue to get to know my nieces and nephew- they are the main reason I was motivated to move to Texas- to be closer to them and to develop a relationship with them. As I continue to read, it is my hope that it will continue to inspire new thoughts as I continue to (hopefully) nurture and care for them. It truly has been a blessing to have them part of my life.


message 12: by Allan (new)

Allan Sharon, I, too, have tried to remind friends and family members who do not have children of the significant ways they nurture others' children. Teachers, coaches, church workers, scout leaders, music teachers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. all touch the lives of children (and parents) profoundly. Thanks for sharing your story.


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