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Julia K. Stronks
Faculty Focus
Families Living in the Fabric of Faithfulness: Parents and children describe what works
by Julia K. Stronks & Gloria Goris Stronks

How does a worldview become a way of life? This question is at the heart of scholar Steven Garber's book Fabric of Faithfulness, and it shaped the recent Lives of Commitment grant that Whitworth received from the Murdock Charitable Trust. Garber found that people who were identified by others as living with integrity between their beliefs and actions often had had a number of similar life experiences:

  • They developed a worldview that was sufficient for the questions or crises of the next 20 years.
  • They had parents or other mentors who helped them practice behaviors that matched their worldview.
  • They had first-hand knowledge of the struggles of those with less in our society because they engaged in service of some sort.
  • They found friends who shared their worldview and the practices that went with it.

As Whitworth implemented the Lives of Commitment grant with our students, it became clear that we had much to learn from each other. And Whitworth alumni, parents of students, and others connected with the Whitworth and broader Christian community had important things to say about what it meant to them to live in the fabric of God's faithfulness. With Garber's permission, my mother, former Calvin College education professor Gloria Stronks, and I built on the theme of his book. We surveyed thousands of people to determine how they had worked to shape their families, living and raising their children along the lines of their Christian worldview.

Christian parenting helps children learn to connect knowing with doing and belief with behavior. The trouble is that the values of the world around us influence all of us. At times our own behavior demonstrates a disconnect between what we say we believe and how we live. This book examines the way that different Christians try to parent and raise families in keeping with their beliefs.

The people who shared their ideas and concerns did so with an honesty that was beautiful and also sometimes painful. Most of us believe that if we have children, raising those children is among the most important things we will ever do. But most of us also recognize that we have made so many mistakes along the way. This book captures moments in time as we live in a world that has been redeemed but not yet fully reconciled to God. It captures our hopes, our beliefs, our struggles. And, it lets us learn not only from scholars but also from each other.

This is an ebook and is available for free at www.whitworth.edu/livinginthefabric. It is not common for scholars to make their work available in this sort of venue. Normally, a peer-reviewed book put out by a publishing house is the way to go. However, both my mother and I have worked with Christians around the world in countries where people simply cannot afford American books. We wanted this book to be available to anyone who wanted to read it. In the last few months we have been gratified to hear from parents, teachers and young adults in Africa, India, Australia and Canada. Anyone may download the book or copy it for others who may want to read it. We would be delighted to hear from you: jstronks@whitworth.edu.

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