Bromleigh McCleneghan, Lee Hull Moses
Bromleigh McCleneghan and Lee Hull Moses have written a book about being not-perfect parents in a not-perfect world. The result, Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People, is a joyous celebration of child-rearing in which any parent—no matter how perfect—can share.
"I want to have a happy and healthy marriage, and I want to have happy, faithful kids," proclaims co-author McCleneghan in the introduction to the book. "But I reject the pervasive cultural lie that a happy marriage and the faithful kids are somehow the byproducts of some rigorous and largely unattainable personal or moral perfection."
Thus, Hopes and Fears is neither a "how-to" book nor a mere meditation. Rather, the authors seek to find the beautiful and the spiritual in the sometimes mundane activities that parents have performed since the beginning of history, while at the same time allowing beautiful and spiritual insights of the past to inform and shape the activities of modern parenting. Thus, the words of a hymn can trigger an idea about how to deal with bedtime, and an exercise in baby-naming can lead to a better understanding of a passage in Isaiah. The intertwining of the spiritual and familial in this book constantly surprises and delights: a quote from Paul Tillich can stand next to one from Tina Fey or What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
We are often reminded that the authors, two longtime friends, are ordinary working mothers. Fortunately, they are also experienced and well-read congregational leaders, and they bring that perspective to their reflections. McCleneghan, a United Methodist Elder, works as the Associate for Congregational Life at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago and is a frequent contributor to Christian Century. Lee Hull Moses is the pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Hopes and Fears is also about sharing, in the widest and deepest sense of that word. As many parents know, learning to share is one of the most difficult things for many children to acquire. McCleneghan and Moses have decided to teach by example with this book, noting: "we’re hopeful that as we share our lives—the trials and tribulations and incredible joys—other parents will feel inspired to reflect on their own experiences, and perhaps even to consider new ways in which their own faith is relevant to their identities as parents."
Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People is highly suitable for group study as well as individual reflection.
Foreword by Bonnie Miller-McLemore.
Discussion Guide Now Available!
Discussion questions written for each chapter are designed to start conversation among your group as you read Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People. They can be used or adapted in whatever way best suits the needs of your group, whether you meet weekly, monthy, or just one time.
Written by the authors, Bromleigh McCleneghan and Lee Hull Moses, with Sarah Kinney Gaventa.
The discussion guide is in PDF format. Click here to read or download the guide.
Praise for the Book
"Moses and McCleneghan have crafted a theology of family that is smart, faithful, and wonderfully expansive. There’s a place for the how-to guides that cover the logistics of parenting. But there’s also a place for Hopes and Fears, which reflects on the soul of parenting: the top of the bedside stack."
—Katherine Willis Pershey, author of Any Day a Beautiful Change
"Hopes and Fears injects some much-needed spiritual wisdom into the sometimes wild, always messy world of baby boot camp—and beyond. Amid the diapers, day care, and discipline, McCleneghan and Moses assure us that God is present in surprising ways. The result is a book that both comforts and challenges. Hopes and Fears is warmly accessible even as it takes us to remarkable new places."
—MaryAnn McKibben Dana, author of Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time
"This is a book you can pick up when you are sleep-deprived and emerge laughing with recognition and buoyed by grace. The authors are honest and generous in sharing their parental struggles, joys, hopes and fears. They welcome us into their sticky-floor kitchens and surprise us with moving reflections on faith."
—Heidi Neumark, author of Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx
"When looking at the broad landscape of Christianity, we recognize that we stand in an amazing time. Women, who juggle the worries of pregnancy, the thrill of babies, and the exhaustion of breastfeeding, also proclaim the Word of God, pour the waters of baptism, and break the bread of life. In Hopes and Fears, Bromleigh McCleneghan and Lee Hull Moses acknowledge this revolutionary moment through showing us how ordinary it is. By cultivating the rich ground of motherhood and ministry they present us with an abundance of messy, beautiful, and human theology."
—Carol Howard Merritt, author of Tribal Church and Reframing Hope
After serving two United Methodist churches outside Chicago, and being ordained an Elder along the way, Bromleigh McCleneghan (left) recently began as the Associate for Congregational Life at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago. She is a graduate of Boston University and the U of C. She and her husband Josh have two daughters, Fiona and Calliope. Lee Hull Moses is the pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is a graduate of Albion College and the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, where she was a Disciples Divinity House scholar. She and her husband Rob have two children, Harper and Jonathan.
Alban No. 431
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