Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pujols: More Than the Game by Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth

Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth in Pujols: More Than the Game chronicles the life and spiritual walk of St. Louis Cardinals slugger and Major League Baseball MVP Albert Pujols. They chart his life from the poverty of the Dominican Republic, immigration to the United States and settling in the Kansas City area as a teenager and his quick impact on the game of baseball. Lamb and Ellsworth don’t just document Pujols life between the lines but also chronicle the efforts of Pujols and his wife Deidre to walk a consistent Christian life.

I have a bias. I’m a Cubs fan…so Pujols haunts my dreams. So I came into this reading not wanting to like Pujols. The writers are clearly fans of Pujols and they create a picture of a very moral man who makes choices out of his faith in God and a compassionate heart. In the end, the authors make it difficult for even a Cubs fan, hopefully Pujols’ 2012 team, to dislike this Cardinals’ hero. And the strength of the book is the stories of Pujols’ compassionate acts, these are the scenes where the reader get to better understand Pujols the man, father and husband. Honestly it’s the baseball scenes of the book that are lacking. The authors provide lots of names, numbers, facts and season summaries at a quick pace making it difficult to dig into the action of games and seasons. Also, the book lacks the young people with money acting silly sort of stories that one typically finds in baseball books. I don’t need stories of Pujols drinking and acting immorally but an excellent Christian witness would be stories of a young man really enjoying himself as he earns millions playing a game and being in top physical condition. Honestly this book lacks the funny and silly stories one typically finds in a baseball biography, that is not exploring the evils of steroids. Also, the authors do mention some negative incidents in Pujols career especially in incidents with the press, but they defend Pujols’ character strongly. In fact perhaps too strongly, giving readers a 20 point list of why Pujols has never used steroids, that could easily be boiled down to faith, integrity and bodily stewardship. Sadly, this book is at times just too bland to be considered a great baseball book.

Review Copy Provided by Thomas Nelson

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ in Love and Respect shares what he believes to be the Biblical formula to a successfully marriage. He found this foundational principle in Ephesians 5:33, which calls for men to love their wives and men to respect their husbands. He shows this command is for men to provide their wives unconditional love while women are to provide their husbands unconditional respect. Eggerichs details how this principle helps men to draw closer to their wives and women draw closer to their husband. By following Eggerichs’ argument he hopes that couples can avoid the harmful effects of the “crazy cycle.” He then details practical steps for men and women to enter the “energizing cycle” with their spouses so they can eventually enter the “rewarding cycle” where both spouses are able to properly relate to their spouse and to God.

I have wanted to read this book for years. So I had very high expectations for this read. Just hearing the description years ago made me say, “that makes sense.” I would say that overall the Ephesians 5:33 principle is clearly explained by Eggerichs and he stays on point, never straying from his message. Additionally, the practical chapters on the “energizing cycle” seemed highly practical and I have attempted to think these chapters in my own interaction with my wife. However, I have also found not all practices work in all marriages, so though one may play with his practical advice, one also needs to be prepared to abandon techniques that do not work in your unique marriage. My only real criticism is that I feel like he spends too much time justifying the Love and Respect model and referencing Love and Respect conferences. But then, I was someone who believed Eggerichs was onto something and have a Biblical worldview that is familiar with Ephesians 5:33 and willing to accept the verse as Biblical truth that should be lived out in one’s life. In the end, I still believe that Eggerichs has exposed for his readers part of male and female design and how we can energize and reward our spouses by an awareness of a woman’s need for love and a man’s need for love. With this reading behind me, I plan on reading the text again. But this time I’ll read it with my wife.

Review Copy Provided by Thomas Nelson