Emily Colson, daughter of Chuck Colson and mother to Max, has added to the growing number of parents who are sharing their stories of raising a child with significant disabilities. She brings a welcome Christian orientation to her book.
Max lives with autism and Emily Colson does not hold back in her writing about it. We are introduced to the deep challenges his disabilities create in both their lives, the kind of challenges other parents will immediately recognize. Her writing is clean and clear and frequently beautiful.
There is a great deal that churches can learn from her story. Her friend, ‘Peppermint Patty,’ exemplifies some of the best of Christian community – immediately welcoming Emily and Max into her life, encouraging Emily to connect with other women for prayer and Bible study, and going with Emily to important meetings with doctors and other specialists. We have been blessed to have such people in our lives; her descriptions of various people frequently reminded me of people from Bethlehem.
Unfortunately, the video for this book, created by Zondervan, does not even begin to demonstrate the challenges associated with his disability and I believe does a disservice to the book.
And while there is much to commend, I find I can only cautiously recommend it:
- She frequently talks about the Bible, but infrequently actually quotes it. There were many natural opportunities to do so. Her story is certainly inspirational, but it is the Word that is both foundational and transformational.
- There were some head-scratching moments when I wasn’t sure what conclusion I was supposed to take away. For example, there’s a heartwarming story about a visit to a Catholic church, and the impact that Max had on several people during his visit. Though it is a delightful experience, there is no acknowledgment on the author’s part that Catholics and Evangelicals differ on some important aspects about God and his word. I don’t by any means suggest she isn’t serious about her faith; she most certainly is. But a non-Christian might conclude there really isn’t all that much difference between the two.
Finally, as a man, I wasn’t put off by how feminine this book is, but it did make me long for a more masculine voice on this subject.
Fortunately, that voice is coming very soon! Watch the blog for more details.