Themes of sexuality and hope frame our book reviews this month.
In keeping with the topic of this journal issue, our first review considers sexuality in the context of aging. David Tiede offers a thoughtful and delightful consideration of Christian Faith and Sexuality in Later Life by Jim Childs. Sexuality among elders is a subject often treated with jokes or silence. Jim Childs confronts myths of agism fueled by a culture steeped in a “pretense of independent existence.” He points out that in the image of God, human beings are called to relationship, and “our sexual lives are a venue for that calling” throughout the wholeness of our lives. Reminding us that a “down-to-earth God creates and loves physical creatures” Childs emphasizes that “to be human is to be sexual in the unity of body and spirit.” This does not disappear as our years increase. Childs offers theological, biblical, and practical wisdom for this life-long journey, calling us to “steward our sexuality in freedom from shame and in freedom for the well-being of the neighbor.”
In our second book review, Stewart Herman asks how we might find and sustain hope given the “nest of ‘wicked’ interconnected and stubborn problems we face.” He finds helpful answers in The Generative Power of Hope: Anticipating Possibilities in Times of Crises by Frederick Bird. A professor of political science and religious ethics, Bird draws on his lifetime of work in business ethics and international development, offering ample research and case studies showing in
practical terms how to keep pressing for reform in the face of relentless obstacles. For Bird, “Hope is a virtue oriented to acting in the present.” This virtue can be cultivated through acknowledging the wretched realities, gratitude for “gifts among the givens,” imagining and seeking alternatives, and learning to live with fear of failure in a sustained commitment. In short, hope is nourished as we actively engage. Herman calls this a “grounded hope” that is helpfully “anchored in the present, rather than tethered to the future”