I work with many young men and women who have absentee fathers. Some don’t know who their fathers are. Some have fathers in jail. Some have fathers who prioritize their “new” family. And some have fathers who just don’t come around. The following book review by Josh Kissee (www.manbuilders.com) shares two spectrum of fathers – those who are absent, and those who desire to be present.
Book Review of Father Hunger – Josh Kissee
Sitting in your chair browsing the internet, eyes firmly affixed to the screen, you hear the sound of rushing water. The sound has a low, yet ominous rumble that raises caution in your heart. You turn to look in the direction where you hear it growing louder, louder, then suddenly, a splash! Cold water pours into your face as you suddenly feel the weight of an ocean atop your shoulders. A wake-up call.
In the book, Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families (Thomas Nelson, 2012), author and theologian Douglas Wilson leads men on a journey providing a compelling wake-up call with frightening statistics and implications for the phenomenon of absentee fathers on a grand macroeconomic scale.
- Curious what the “be a better dad ” talk is all about?
- Wanting to know how to improve your relationship with your children?
- looking for a motivational or lite read on the topic of fatherhood?
If you are, then don’t read Father Hunger.
If you are specifically looking to be challenged, convicted of your mistakes as a father with biblical facts, and shown the long-term economic and political consequences of missing the mark as a father, then Father Hunger is a read for you.
Father Hunger is a survey of sorts. Douglas Wilson uses an artist’s brush to paint wide-strokes highlighting the underlying causes of the current father crisis in America. The book lacks specific, practical and firm examples of how to break free of negative fatherhood cycles. However, there are statistics and scriptural verses that force fathers to reflect where they stand on specific topics from a father’s perspective. These topics include vocation, gender roles (masculinity versus femininity), politics, family discipline, and the economic value of the family. One of the core arguments of the book is that fathers are asleep at the wheel of family leadership while our culture is changing toward a model that doesn’t allow fathers to lead as he was designed by God, thus placing him in the backseat of a runaway car. The book advocates that a man must pick up his responsibility for the family and, in doing so, becomes a pillar within society.
Fathers are important and create a molecular backbone to society. When men are responsible, sober, hard-working, self-restrained members of local communities, this creates pockets of personal responsibility the state does not control. When a man is serious about responsibility, he finds himself living as a pillar in the family, the church, and the community.
Father Hunger argues that the family, especially the role of father, is under attack in America. Television depicts men as “bumbling idiots” or “sex crazed” to the exclusion of every other thing in their life. Men are portrayed as TV watchers with back-talking kids with video game controllers in hand, getting sex only if they are lucky. Father Hunger displays these images as common media deceptions, revealing them as attacks on fatherhood in order to get a quick laugh and make a buck. The current media campaign against the family, primarily the father, is one of the strongest themes in the book.
There are golden nuggets in the book that are challenging. Wilson writes about fathers who are prideful and demean their children. For example, a young son acts up in public and embarrasses his father. The father knows there is a problem but he makes excuses for his son’s behavior. He doesn’t actually address the problem, but tries to smooth over awkward situations for himself. He doesn’t help his son. The problem is rooted in his own pride.
Examples like this are common experiences most fathers have felt. It’s easy to walk away and ignore problems with children, making excuses for them rather than dealing directly with the cause. There’s a poignant statement, “Men don’t carry things because they happen to have broad shoulders. They have broad shoulders because God created them to carry things”. This is one of the most profound and positive ideas addressing family problems.
Men need motivation, encouragement, integrity, and consistency. They need positive influence from their wife, support from other men, and a grounded heart that lovingly desires to lead their children as part of their journey through fatherhood. For men looking for these principles, Raising a Modern Day Knight, by Robert Lewis would be a better book to pick up. This book will provide powerful examples, encouragement, and general guidelines for building a relationship with your son.
But if you are sold on the need for being a biblical father and are looking for a sober splash of water, then read Father Hunger and drink in it’s bold, strong message.
While fathers should be financial providers, he also should provide examples of Christ-likeness, resisting attempts of Corporate America to press him into its mold (Romans 12:1-1). He should see Christ in his clients and customers, laboring in such a way that would not embarrass him if summoned to do work for a King. In reality, he is working for the a King (Colossians 3:22)
If you know the importance of your role as a Father, then save time reading Father Hunger. Take your son or daughter for a special one-on-one time with Dad instead. But if you are looking for the challenge of present-day fatherhood in America, this might be a read for you.