Book Reviews: Toying with God

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Toying with God: The World of Religious Games and Dolls by Nikki Bado-Fralick and Rebecca Sachs Norris (Baylor University Press)

Recently, spiritual toys have proliferated in the Christian market, as well as those of other world religions. I expected Toying with God to rate specific items, but the reviews are only illustrations. Instead, religion professors Nikko Bado-Fralick and Rebecca Sachs Norris provide a scholarly tome complete with extensive footnotes, bibliography and index.

Even so, the authors manage to create an entertaining look into the history, background and culture of religious play. They outline the purposes of games and toys, analyze their positive and negative attributes and detail their commercialization.

Bado-Fralick and Norris incorporate games from hopscotch to Mormonopoly and dolls from faceless Amish ones to the Barbie-like Fulla (Muslim), as well as macho Bible action figures.

Both women admit their offices teem with sacred toys and their classes have fun with them. The two view them as “wonderful props” to “facilitate conversation.” However, they also advise caution, stating these games and dolls are “by no means harmless” and urge consideration of “their limitations and the many contexts and dimensions that motivate these toys.”

Read Toying with God. You’ll be enlightened, whether you’re a pastor, children’s minister or parent.

Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president

Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Waco

Playing in Shadows: Texas and Negro League Baseball by Rob Fink (Texas Tech University Press)

Long before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodger in 1947, courageously breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, African-Americans took pride in the athletic exploits of Texans like Willie Foster, Louis Santop, “Smokey” Joe Williams and their comrades in the Negro leagues.

Rob Fink, assistant professor of education at Hardin-Simmons University, has recorded the generally neglected story of Texans’ contributions to the semiprofessional and professional Negro leagues. Since major newspapers neglected the Negro leagues, Fink had to rely on the sporadic and sketchy coverage black newspapers provided, along with autobiographies and oral history interviews, to pull together this important story. Fink includes histories of the Texas Colored League, the Texas-Oklahoma-Louisiana League and the Negro American League.

Highlights include a thorough character study of “Rube” Foster, the future National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, who grew up as a preacher’s kid in Calvert and started his baseball career as a power pitcher for the black semiprofessional Waco Yellow Jackets. Foster went on to become player-manager for the Leland Giants in Chicago, owner of the Chicago American Giants and founding president of the Negro National Leagues.

Baseball fans and students of African-American history alike will find valuable insights in Fink’s work.

Ken Camp, Managing Editor

Baptist Standard


The Whispers of Angels: Stories to Touch Your Heart by Annette Smith (Harvest House)

Texan Annette Smith has well titled The Whispers of Angels: Stories to Touch Your Heart. All 39 stories touched mine.

In the volume, Smith chooses incidents and individuals from her nursing career that offered her insight and inspiration. Then she shares them in a spiritually sensitive manner that lets us feel we were present in important moments.

Although Smith writes from her perspective as a nurse and carefully alters information to protect patient privacy, a non-professional isn’t lost in specialized vocabulary or medical details. And each anecdote closes with an appropriate summary thought and Scripture passage. One story was the author’s first published work—a column in the Houston Chronicle.

This East Texas coach’s wife continues her career as a hospice nurse, as well as a writer. She has penned several other compilations, has composed two volumes of advice for parents, and has written several novels, including A Bigger Life, named one of Library Journal’s top five Christian novels for 2007. I plan to read some of Smith’s other works, and I can’t wait to start More Whispers of Angels.

Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president

Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas



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