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Marvin Olasky’s Lament for the Father

In case someone were to inquire me, “Should We read Marvin Olasky’s Lament for a Father?, ” the answer will be simple: Yes. But if someone were to inquire me, “What is usually Lament for a Father ?, ” I’m unsure I could as quickly answer the question. It is far from quite a biography instead of quite an life. It is not quite a memoir and not quite a topical book on household or parenting. Perhaps, then, it’s best described as a kind of homage, a statement of respect and perhaps even gratitude, from a child to his father.

Here’s how Olasky begins the particular book:

I have watched many times Field of Dreams , the particular 1989 movie featuring Kevin Costner. Problematic though the film can be, it always chokes me up. Although called “a baseball flick, ” the actual motif is father-son relationships. At the end, Costner’s character asks his dad, “You wanna have a catch? ”

My lifetime catches with my father: zero.

This aptly introduces the difficult relationship between Olasky father plus son. One day they will actually do go outside to play catch, however the fun lasts first throw before the father walks back into the home to never play once again. It’s a small matter, of course , but in several ways still a substantial one, for the hurt the young Olasky feels that day extends to many other parts of life. And now, several decades later, their book is an try to make sense of it, to determine why his dad behaved that way.

Marvin Olasky’s story is certainly a uniquely fascinating one. He is delivered into a relatively bad Jewish home and to parents who fight, resent, and sometimes torment one another. Though his father is definitely an intellectual, a Harvard grad, he does not have ambition, he lacks drive, and is not able to provide steadily or even abundantly. He speaks seldom and shows his family little about his existence and background. It is left to Marvin to do the research and fill out the story, which is exactly what he does in the pages of this lament.

Plus a lament it is—a lament for exactly what he missed within having a distant plus disconnected father, but also a lament with regard to what his father and his father’s fathers endured first in their countries of roots, then in their newly found home of America. And perhaps it’s the lament that simply no father can be all of the his children would like him to be, that will no child can ever have exactly the father he wants. Beyond the lament is the theme of attempting to understand so he can, in turn, forgive. As he comes to better understand his dad, bitterness is changed by compassion, resentment by forgiveness. This is, I expect, the reason why Wayne Grudem can write, in his brief endorsement, “Anyone who has experienced a difficult parent-child relationship will prefer the wisdom in this book. ” For while this is a book about a particular father plus son, it speaks to universal styles.

In a case of interesting timing, I read the final pages of Marvin Olasky’s Lament for any Father on the anniversary of the death associated with my own. And it produced me realize exactly how little I truly knew him, and how little I truly know him now. It produced me realize exactly how eager I must be to be known by my girls—known for the sake of relationship, the benefit of respect, the sake of like.