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Total Christian guy.

In June 1997, the Record introduced our readers to Phil Callaway with his humorous advice for those contemplating marriage, "The Nearlywed Game." Callaway is the editor of Servant magazine as well as the author of several books. He is also married with two young children.

It is primarily from these last two experiences (being married and raising children) that he offers insights for the reader who may be in the midst of both as well. "What you will find in these pages," he writes in the introduction to Honey, I Dunked the Kids, "is not the final word on relationships or the advice of a father who has it all together and remembers where he put it, but some entertaining and true stories that took place during the four most interesting years of my life."

Whatever you think of these books, interesting they certainly are -- and riotously funny as well. Among those he thanks is his sister, Ruth: "For only putting Vicks Vaporub on my eyelids once. For sensing early that I needed lots of prayer. And doing something about it."

Along with the wonderful stories, the books are filled with great quotes: "Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead" (Henry Ward Beecher). To these, Callaway adds his own memorable phrases, "Kids spell love t-i-m-e."

In The Total Christian Guy, he paints a picture of what it means to be a man, someone not afraid to show his emotions, admit wrong or ask for help when needed.

He tells how, when he was a kid, his normally reserved, Presbyterian mother interrupted his baseball game to, in 20 minutes, tell him: "a. Where I came from. b. How I got there. c. That it was all part of God's marvellous plan, carrying with it rules that, when followed, would lead to a lifetime of freedom and fulfilment. d. To, for goodness' sake, stop picking my nose." Far superior sex education, he says, than what his father received from an aunt: "Sex is a filthy, rotten and disgusting thing. Save it for the one you marry."

You will admire Callaway's open and honest presentation and his willingness to poke fun at himself. But you will also come away with a greater appreciation for the grace and love of the gospel and how it can apply to raising kids and living with an imperfect woman. But like the gospel itself, Callaway is never pushy. I think everyone would enjoy these books, but men, especially, need to read them. Because of the humour, the medicine prescribed is bearable. Each chapter in The Total Christian Guy contains a list of questions which could be used in a study group.

These are the kinds of books you will find yourself reading aloud to, sometimes, reluctant family members and friends. One small caution from my wife: appreciation for these books will be enhanced if you have a twisted sense of humour like her husband.

Some members of the mainline church will wonder if anything good can come out of Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta. In an age when it is unwise to stereotype a person, Phil Callaway provides a resounding yes.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Presbyterian Record
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1997
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