The Mystery of the Child

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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Apr 23, 2007 - Religion - 257 pages
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Much of today's writing on children treats the child of any age as a problem or a set of problems to be solved, effectively reducing the child to a complex of biological and chemical factors, explainable in scientific terms, or regarding children as objects of adult control. In contrast, Martin Marty here presents the child as a mystery who invokes wonder and elicits creative responses that affect the care provided him or her.

Drawing on literature as new as contemporary poetry and as old as the Bible, The Mystery of the Child encourages the thoughtful enjoyment of children instead of the imposition of adult will and control. Indeed, Marty treats the impulse to control as a problem and highlights qualities associated with children -- responsiveness, receptivity, openness to wonder -- that can become sources of renewal for adults.

The Mystery of the Child represents a new tack for Martin Marty -- universally respected as a historian, theologian, and interpreter of religion and culture -- but displays the same incisive, erudite quality marking the fifty-plus books and thousands of articles that he has previously written. Marty's broad, thoughtful perspective will inspire readers to think afresh about what it means to be a child -- and to be a caregiver.

This book is sure to claim a wide readership -- parents, grandparents, schoolteachers, theologians, historians -- engaging anyone wanting to explore more fully the profound realm of the child.

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Only a few scholars of religion can have been read by nonacademics as much as Marty, author ofRighteous Empire and the classic three-volumeModern American Religion . As Marty moves well into old age ... Read full review

Selected pages


1 The Subject of Care
2 Care as a Problem
3 Care as Control
4 The Child as Mystery
5 The Mystery of Change
6 Wonder in the Provision of Care
7 The Childs Self in Circumstances
8 Care for the Child in Context
9 Receptivity Beyond Good and Evil
Postscript and Prescript
Index of Subjects and Names
Index of Scripture References

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Page 17 - A genuine problem is subject to an appropriate technique by the exercise of which it is defined; whereas a mystery, by definition, transcends every conceivable technique. It is, no doubt, always possible (logically and psychologically) to degrade a mystery so as to turn it into a problem. But this is a fundamentally vicious proceeding, whose springs might perhaps be discovered in a kind of corruption of the intelligence.
Page viii - ... that they are entitled to their strong opinions. The books in this series, The Family, Religion, and Culture, discuss these issues in ways that will place the American debate about the family on more solid ground. The series is the result of the Religion, Culture, and Family Project, which was funded by a generous grant from the Division of Religion of the Lilly Endowment, Inc., and took place in the Institute for Advanced Study in The University of Chicago Divinity School.

About the author (2007)

Martin E. Marty is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he taught for thirty-five years. Among his many books are Righteous Empire ? for which he won the National Book Award ? and the three-volum

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