Thinking Out Loud

August 2, 2009

Father/Son Relationships

Dan Hill - bookThis weekend, I’m doing something a little different.   My world normally consists entirely of reading and evaluating books that will be sold in the Christian book market.   This weekend, I’m reading I Am My Father’s Son by Dan Hill, a singer-songwriter who was inescapable here in Canada in the late ’70s and early ’80s; and whose songs (Sometimes When We Touch; You Make Me Want To Be; etc.) have been recorded by artists around the world.

Is this book biography or autobiography?    Hill masterfully manages to do both at once.   He tells the story of the constant tension between himself and his father against the backdrop of the story of his own success in the music industry.   But he tells much of his father’s story as well.   Honestly, I’ve never read a book quite like this; a book which manages to successfully carry out several different objectives.

Dr. Daniel Hill III is a name known to Canadians for his groundbreaking work in the area of human rights.   As a black scholar with an earned PhD in Sociology, he forged new territory in Canada in the 1960s; both easy and hard to do in a place where racism was more subtle than in the U.S.

But it’s the younger Dan Hill — that would make him # IV — whose story I have tracked throughout reading the book, for one very personal reason:  We went to high school together and Dan was a good friend with my next door neighbor.    (Though, I have to note, that even this story has a Christian element to it, as Daniel Hill’s father — Dan’s grandfather — was a pastor who went on become Dean of the School of Religion at Howard University in Washington, D.C.)

The book takes us into the living room and kitchen of the Hills home in Don Mills, and invites us, like the proverbial guest at Thanksgiving, to be part of the debate atmosphere that characterizes the senior Hill’s interactions with his oldest son.  To many readers, these scenes are all too familiar.

As most men will attest, the main subject of this book, the relationship between fathers and sons, is a theme that forms the underpinnings of many a man’s life.   We men are all shaped by our fathers in more ways than any of us would want to admit.   Many of us men end up becoming like our fathers in ways we never imagined.

When it comes to defining that, Dan Hill nails it.

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The book is available in Canada from HarperCollins and in the U.S. by special order with the publisher.


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November 16, 2008

While Cluttering Up Other Peoples’ Blogs, I’ve Noticed A Common Theme

Filed under: blogging, books, Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:33 pm

First, I posted this last week to Zoeincarnate:

When I’m not blogging, I own a couple of Christian bookstores, where there might as well be a big white line down the middle of the store separating the fiction buyers from the non-fiction buyers. It’s nice when there’s a book somewhere in the middle, like Shack and Jacobsen’s So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore.

So my take on this is: Bring on more socratic dialogue. (What do publishers really know about my customers anyway? They certainly aren’t up to doing much in the way of listening to what retail is trying to tell them.)

BTW, it’s interesting to note that the last time we had a really big landmark Christian fiction title — This Present Darkness, 22 years ago — there were actually very few imitators. If anyone wants to imitate anything about Shack, they should consider the whole didactic conversations that, as you note, are also common to McLaren’s trilogy.

Actually, I need to divide the store into friction and non-friction! (Read last sentence again if you missed it!)

Ha Ha!  That last line is so funny.   Then last week, I found myself repeating myself myself at 22 Words:

As a bookstore owner, I’m always astounded by the reluctance of fiction readers to consider biographies, which are, by definition, great stories.

(Whaddya know? That was exactly 22 words!)

(Guess I’m just passionate about The Shack, and the whole retail perspective on Christian fiction in general, as seen by a person who otherwise doesn’t read very much of it.)

October 26, 2008

A Life Redeemed

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:38 pm

I try to write something original at least three or four times a week here, and usually have a couple of posts per day, which means that a lot of what I place here is either links or pastes from other stuff online.   In that time I’ve borrowed from various entries in many blogs, but this is the first time I’m linking you to someone’s biographical page.   However, I think this is a great story… it shows that your personal history has nothing to do with what you and God can accomplish together.    I hope it inspires someone out there.   (Let me know.)

For the past four months Gerrard Fess — who despite many years in ministry in the U.S. is still proudly Canadian — has been working at the Church of Christ in Hagerstown, MD.   I mention that because this page isn’t entirely up to date.   But it’s the earlier part of the story you need to look at…

Link here for My Story Thus Far.

Gerrard is also a huge hockey fan, so you might want to browse through earlier posts on his blog and check out his views on NHL expansion.   I did a quick overview of his blog, Deep Thoughts by GMan, and feel like I know this guy — it’s amazing how we’ve both covered some of the same stories.   I expect he’ll be linked on our blogroll before too long!

If you’re reading this and your past is full of brokenness, or just doesn’t read like the typical “raised-in-Church” testimony, remember that God can take a life and redeem it for His glory

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