Monday, June 6, 2011

LHP Review: Hairy Situations and Icky Fun

Schkade, Jonathan. Art by Tuesday Mourning. Icky Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories: 60 Poems for Kids. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 128 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (LHP)

Oberdeck, John. Eutychus Youth: Applied Theology for Youth Ministry/Reaching Youth on the Ledge. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 270 Pages. Paper. $19.99. (LHP)

Boys are gross.

Girls are complicated.

These two assertions summarize my life experience and time as a pastor doing marriage counseling. The are also true for youth ministry and in my role as Headmaster of a classical Lutheran school.

Two great books for serving young people are the focus of this review.

I recently recommended Icky Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories: 60 Poems for Kids  to my Sunday morning Adult Bible Class. I was also reminded that the Bible is not a PG book. Remember last Sunday's reading from the last half of Acts chapter 1? 

Poet Jonathan Schkade is a boy at heart. The dedication sets the tone for this book: "For Daniel, Josh, and Nathan And for every kid who's ever said , 'Ew, gross!' and then smiled..."

I was particularly impressed that the author's poems helped the usual "girliness" of Tuesday Mourning's art turn to the gross "darkside" of boydom. 

Learn about the Author and Illustrator
Download for FREE
  • games
  • posters
  • coloring pages
  • bookmarks
  • tips for teachers (Source: publisher's website)

I was thrilled to see this book in our local Christian bookstore. Let's call it a good start.

Icky is incarnational. God loves us in Christ and has pulled us out of some sticky situations. Sin is not at all funny. The transition to Hairy with Elijah shows the author's grasp of the real meaning of the Hebrew of 1 Kings 18. Impressive. Totally inappropriate for a sermon. Yet unmentionably gross and interesting at the same time. This book will make some folks' skin crawl. Just remember: piety...good; pietism...not so much. :)

We were beginning a new Bible Study this last Sunday morning. We were reading Luther's advice on being a theologian: oratio, meditatio, tentatio; roughly translated: prayer, meditation/"inwardly digesting," trials. Luther concludes that portion of Luther's Works, Volume 34 with a great deal of sarcasm and "long donkey ears." Lutheran humor is largely unappreciated by Lutherans. Usually, we tend to smile as loud as we can. Perhaps a rediscovery of Luther's own humor alongside Schkade's book will help us laugh at ourselves and our old evil foe.

Watch Concordia's impressive YouTube video for the book:

Buy it for the boys in your life. Even if they're starting to get gray hair. This is a perfect Father's Day gift!

Eutychus Youth is a strange title for a book.


It grabs your attention and generates interest without using too many of the "ing" words ubiquitous in book titles in Christian publishing.

Author John Oberdeck doesn't sell out to fads, trends, easy answers, or empty promises. Youth ministry is hard work. Our youth are on the edge/ledge. Like young Eutychus of Acts 20:7ff, young people are immature, bored, and at risk.
Who is this product for?
The author encourages pastors, Directors of Christian Education, youth ministry volunteers, college or seminary students or anyone who has an interest in youth ministry, adolescent development, and practical theology to read this book. 
What does this book provide?
This book examines what Lutheran theology adds to the whole field of youth ministry that isn't found elsewhere.  It begins with an introduction to Eutychus, who is a paradigm of adolescent development.  The book chapters are divided into three sections:
  • An overview of youth, youth ministry, and spirituality
  • Lutheran theology's unique contribution to youth ministry
  • Putting Lutheran theology's strengths to work in youth ministry
Who is the author?
Rev. Dr. John W. Oberdeck is Professor of Theology and Assistant Director for Lay Ministry at Concordia University, in Mequon, Wisconsin.  He holds a M.A. in Education and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.  Oberdeck has also served as a parish pastor and on the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Oberdeck knows the academic literature about youth today and recent generations. You can read the sociological footnotes if you wish, but his greatest contribution is framing ministry to youth in a solidly Lutheran theology and practice. 

Youth feel abandoned and are exploited by our culture (37). Lutheran spirituality is grounded in Scripture and the means of grace, and avoids moralism, speculation, and mysticism (64ff). Lutheran youth ministry needs Law and Gospel (76ff). Our focus is on baptismal identity, not mere works. Again, Higher Things excels in this regard as an LCMS RSO. Lutheranism is (sadly) theologically unique in is Christ-centered, Gospel-focused worldview. I commend the author for pointing out the strengths of the Walther League. The book is strong on vocation (183, et al). The eight question checklist beginning on 197 will be a great help to pastoral and lay youth volunteers and leaders. 

Chapter 13 is a great summary of the book. If you have a chance to see this book in person before you purchase it, reading this one chapter will convince you of the need to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest Eutychus Youth. And share it with others in your family and congregation.

We believe in miracles as Christians. Icky Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories is a fun reminder of that spiritual truth. 

I love to see our young people on Sunday mornings. It is sad when some follow the path of least resistance and imitate the example of a non-believing parent. When they come on their own? Priceless. And miraculous, God at work.

Eutychus was raised from the dead. That is miraculous. And so is the gift of faith in young and old. I pray you and your congregation's young people will be blessed by these resources from Concordia. 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.