My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Review: Discipleship for Every Stage of Life: Understanding Christian Formation in Light of Human Development

Discipleship for Every Stage of Life: Understanding Christian Formation in Light of Human Development Discipleship for Every Stage of Life: Understanding Christian Formation in Light of Human Development by Chris A. Kiesling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fantastic survey of how we develop as a human being … and how that development intersects with our faith formation. Each chapter takes up a particular development stage, first introducing the current secular/psychological characteristics before illustrating how such understanding could be used to influence faith formation at that stage followed by a few very generic recommendations on how to implement that knowledge. Over all I though it was well done; although I found some chapters better done than others … and there is certainly the potential of conflict for those who come to this work with either a “progressive/secular” or “conservative/religious” perspective (especially within the chapter on adolescence and identity that seems to promote nature or nurture). In addition, I found a lot of the practical advice to be too generic to be easily adapted and used, so there is some effort and experimentation needed to find what might work for the reader. All of that said, over all this book worked for me despite any minor disputes with the material so long as you approach it with an open mind and willingness to entertain questions.

The chapters and sections in this work are …


1. Womb and Infancy: Origins of Faith and Belief
2. Early Childhood: Parenting as Image Bearing
3. Middle Childhood: New Settings, Skills, and Social Pressure
4. Adolescence: Sharing the Power of Creation
5. Young Adulthood: The Script to Narrate One’s Life
6. Middle Adulthood: Finding Practices Sufficient to Sustain
7. Late Adulthood: Retirement, Relinquishment, and the Spirituality of Losing Life


Some of the other points that really got my attention are:

The implications of attachment for faith formation are extensive, as research has linked the quality of one’s attachment bond to (1) the formation of conscience; (2) the capacity one develops to cope with frustration and stress; (3) the response one makes to fear and perceived threats; and (4) how easily one finds self-reliance.

Recognition occurs when an experience is repeated and regarded as having been encountered before (such recognition may be assumed in the pacifier examples above). By contrast, scientists see a more advanced process of retrieval in the concept of recall—namely, the capacity to bring to mind a mental representation that is not repeated but is already stored in one’s memory.

Stories, Garland contends, tell us who we are in relation to one another and tell us what we value and give meaning to in our lives. Families remember what they want to remember. Theologically, by telling a story, a family makes the event happen again.

Mirror neurons have been discovered that fire equally whether an individual observes another person performing an act or they perform the act themselves. Such motor mirroring is activated first in a child’s observance of the parent, and later via others in the faith community, engaging in liturgical acts and the telling of sacred stories.

Children of authoritarian parents are more prone to problems with self-esteem and may be more susceptible to peer pressure because they rely on external standards rather than having a developed internal source of self-control.

Children and youth of permissive parents report feeling sadness, are likely to struggle in school, and exhibit behavioral problems because they don’t appreciate rules or authority.

Boys, for example, often perform near the top in certain math tasks, such as complex problem-solving and using spatially based strategies, especially when the cultural context supports their involvement in the subject.

Furthermore, females outperform boys in other mathematical areas, such as computation.

Girls appear to demonstrate slightly more positive expressive emotions but also on the whole experience more internalizing emotions, such as anxiety and sadness; boys demonstrate more externalizing emotions, such as anger.

Boys tend to use power-assertive or domineering speech in which commands, threats, and restrictions are common, with occasional interruptions or the ignoring of another’s remarks (e.g., “Give me that ball!” “Don’t move that!”). Girls’ discourse strategies are more commonly conflict mitigating, collaborative, and affiliative in nature.

Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore notes the emerging capacity a child has for (1) acquisition of reason, (2) verbal confession, and (3) formation of moral conscience, all of which likely factor into the historic practice, in both Catholic and mainline churches, of confirmation being positioned during these years in the life course.

We build scaffolds around structures that are too unstable to stand on their own, adding necessary reinforcements until they can support themselves. It is not hard to draw an inference to the human domain and imagine the problems that can occur when a child is over-or under-scaffolded.

At about age nine to eleven, Piaget observed a change occurring in most children from unilateral respect to mutual respect.  Instead of rules being handed down arbitrarily from powerful authority figures, the relinquishment of adult constraint allowed a child to begin to see that rules serve to protect and enhance the social bonds in which we live. Rules can be changed if people together determine that there are better ways to play a game or to serve societal interests.

In Western culture, sexual debut (first intercourse) is regarded as early at age fifteen, normal between age fifteen and nineteen, and late after age nineteen.

Rapprochement—learning how to make amends, repair relationships, and promote a harmonious state of affairs—is an important competency to acquire during the adolescent years but one that is likely only caught if it is demonstrated by significant others during one’s adolescent journey.

In studying the influence of peers, scholars sometimes make a distinction between cliques—small, cohesive social groups of three to twelve people who share common interests and know each other well—and crowds, which are larger groups that include those not regarded as friends but who nonetheless give definition to one’s identity via social location.

Developmentally young adults acquire the ability to author their own lives, reconstructing their past and imagining a future. Often this occurs by identifying with characters in social media or seeing something favorable in someone they have met, and trying to emulate characteristics and outcomes associated with their lives.

Love stories seek to explain how we develop a personal sense of what or who we love based on the needs we have (e.g., to care for others or to be cared for, to be strong for another or to let them lead, to be socially engaged or to live quietly) and the stories we encounter in entertainment venues or by observing others.

On the one hand, a person has lived long enough to experience stability. Most crises in life have been encountered in some form and lived through, building confidence and resilience. Yet on the other hand, midlifers often shoulder responsibilities and occupy senior leadership positions of significant consequence in work and family.

Though some might shun the contemplation of their own death, Johnson found evidence that in other eras of the church, the art of dying well (ars moriendi) actually held a prominent place in the life of believers.

Ego integrity indicates the capacity to look across the chapters of one’s life, with all its successes and disappointments, and to conclude that on the whole one has lived life well and it was worthwhile.

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#DiscipleshipforEveryStageofLife #NetGalley.

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.