Book Write-Up: Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers

Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard.  Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom From Hurt and Hate.  Nashville: W. Publishing Group (an imprint of Thomas Nelson), 2014.

I decided to read this book because I am interested in the topic of forgiveness in general.  As the title suggests, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers focuses on the forgiveness of one’s parents for such acts as abuse or neglect.  The book tells people’s stories and refers to biblical examples and movies, and Dr. Jill Hubbard also contributes her own experiences and insights.  But the pivot and framework of the book is Leslie Leyland Fields’ story about her own journey to forgive her father.  Fields is a beautiful, a profound, and a compelling writer.

The book suggests that those wounded by their parents recognize that their parents themselves may have had their own wounds.  It encourages them to learn more about their parents and to treat their parents with kindness, even if their parents do not repent of their sins or reciprocate any love.  The book recognizes the importance of boundaries, personal healing, and personal safety, however, and also of repentance on the part of the guilty for true reconciliation to occur.  It is definitely not defining forgiveness as being a doormat.  The book also says that forgiveness is about much more than helping the wounded person to feel better, for forgiveness transforms the wounded and other people.

There is some theological tension in the book, though.  On the one hand, God is presented as one who is loving and as one whose forgiveness is far superior than our own.  On the other hand, the book quotes and acknowledges biblical passages that suggest that God treats people as they treat others—-that God will not forgive us if we fail to forgive others, that God judges us according to our judgment of others, etc.  In my opinion, the first view depicts God as more unconditional in love than the second view.  This theological tension was not adequately resolved in the book, in my opinion, but it does refer to the example of Peter, who had a mission after Christ had forgiven him.  That could be the closest that the book gets to some resolution: that Peter was forgiven, and now must carry forth healing and forgiveness into the world, as should we.

Excellent book!

Note: I received a complimentary review copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers ( book review bloggers program.  The program does not require for my review to be positive, and my review reflects my honest reaction to the book.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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4 Responses to Book Write-Up: Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for the review. I have several books on my shelf about forgiveness which I want to eventually read. “The book suggests that those wounded by their parents recognize that their parents themselves may have had their own wounds.” – Good point as well the rest of that paragraph.


  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Thank you, Laura. That was an excellent point that the book made. I especially appreciated the part of the book where Leslie learned more about her own father. And there was another part of the book that I liked that I did not mention in my review: the first of Leslie’s siblings to become reconciled to her father was the black sheep of the family, who had the most reason to hate him.


  3. I think that you did an excellent job with your review, you write so eloquently about your personal impressions and experiences related to the subject matter, it contributes a lot to the overall review. I really like this 🙂


  4. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Thanks Laurie!


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