Monthly Archives: April 2016

Book Review: Natural Family Planning Blessed Our Marriage, by Fletcher Doyle


This book is a compilation of stories from 19 NFP-using couples, interspersed amongst information about the detrimental effects of conventional (especially hormonal) methods of birth control, both on women’s bodies and on society as a whole.

Although I am marking this book off as “A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with” for the #VTReadingChallenge, I did like this book and agree with much of its reasoning. The book highlights several positive aspects of Natural Family Planning, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • It is good for marriages, because it requires trust, respect, and communication.
  • It facilitates knowledge and appreciation of the intricacies of a woman’s body (and allows her to identify and correct health problems if necessary).
  • It preserves and enhances fertility, unlike hormonal birth control, which can permanently alter a woman’s reproductive system, even long after she stops using it (not to mention the increased risk of cancer, stroke, blood clots, and other health problems caused by hormonal birth control methods).

In my opinion, the weakest part of the book is actually the vague and sparse Catholic theology behind Natural Family Planning that is presented. I’m not Catholic, so I don’t feel compelled to follow the teachings of the Catholic church, but still, I feel like the explanation in this book is lacking, and I wouldn’t have minded a little more depth.


Book Review: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield


As someone who “grew up” in church and accepted Christ as my Savior at a young age, it is especially interesting and powerful for me to hear the stories of how and why people from non-religious backgrounds decide to completely overhaul their lives in order to follow Christ. In her late 30’s, Rosaria Butterfield (then Champagne) made just such a costly choice. She renounced her life as (in her words) “a radical lesbian feminist professor” to become a Christian, and in so doing, she lost nearly everything that had ever mattered to her.

I was moved by Rosaria’s humility and courage, both in her initial decision for Christ and in the way she shares her story. Her love for and commitment to the Bible is evident. I appreciated her perspective on hospitality (hospitality is a major theme in this book), as that is an area I want to grow in.

Rosaria has also written a follow-up book entitled Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ, which I am planning to read soon.

I am marking The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert off as “a book by a Presbyterian” for the #VTReadingChallenge.

Book Review: Are Women Human?, by Dorothy Sayers


This book is made up of two essays by Sayers, as well as a lengthy introduction by Mary McDermott Shideler (who apparently was an author and magazine contributor, according to my intense 30 seconds of research via Google). The basic point of these essays is, women should not be subjected to expectations and evaluations of how they should act “as women,” but should rather be seen as individual human beings with unique human characteristics: preferences, personality, opinions, strengths and weaknesses, etc.

Sayers makes her case for treating women as people without resorting to “slamming” or putting down men. In her words, “Indeed, it is my experience that both men and women are fundamentally human, and that there is very little mystery about either sex, except the exasperating mysteriousness of human beings in general.”

Prior to reading this book, what I knew of Sayers was that she was an Oxford scholar and a friend of C.S. Lewis, so I figured she was very intelligent and maybe a bit highbrow. I was pleased to find that (although yes, she is brilliant) her writing is more accessible and subtly humorous than I expected it to be. I am planning to search out more of her works.

I am marking Are Women Human? off as “a book with 100 pages or less” for the #VTReadingChallenge.

Book Review: Once Upon a Town, by Bob Greene


Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen is a charming, true story of a little town in Nebraska that, during World War II, took it upon itself to meet every trainload of soldiers that stopped at the railroad depot (dubbed the “canteen” for the duration of the war). The stops were brief, usually only ten minutes or so, but in that time, the soldiers enjoyed coffee, homecooked food, and freshly baked cookies and cakes; danced and flirted with female teenage volunteers; and received small gifts as tokens of appreciation for their service to their country.

Much of Once Upon a Town is compiled from Bob Greene’s interviews with not only Nebraska residents who had volunteered at the canteen in their youth, but also with former soldiers all over the United States, who fondly recalled passing through North Platte. Many of the military veterans were overcome with emotion as they described the love, warmth, and encouragement they felt in North Platte. For some, the brief stop was life-changing (quite a few marriages ultimately resulted from those ten-minute stops!).

You will have to read the book to fully appreciate the magnitude of the canteen project and the generosity of the people of North Platte and surrounding communities. It is very touching to realize that all this happened in the days of food rationing. Many families gave up their own shares of sugar and other rationed goods to provide food for soldiers whom they had never met and would probably never see again.

Once Upon a Town is a feel-good book that is bittersweet only in that it makes me nostalgic for the pre-digital age.

I am marking Once Upon a Town off as “a book about a country or city” for the #VTReadingChallenge. I guess it’s technically about a town, but it’s close enough for me.