Fatherhood Is No Accident -- By: Phillip R. Bethancourt

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 15:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Fatherhood Is No Accident
Author: Phillip R. Bethancourt

Fatherhood Is No Accident

Michael Lewis. Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood.
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2008, 190 pp. $23.99.

Phillip R. Bethancourt

Director of Academic Advising and Research Doctoral Studies
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

In an age of abortion-on-demand and home DNA paternity tests, accidental fatherhood is not a new idea. But what about an accidental guide to fatherhood? That is precisely what best-selling author Michael Lewis seeks to offer in his book Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood. Lewis has written on the economics of banking (Liar’s Poker) and baseball (Moneyball), but this time he focuses on the economics of the home.

In Home Game, Lewis adapts articles written online for Slate magazine and weaves a tale of the experience of the American dad. He chronicles the eventful and, at times, overwhelming task of raising three children with his third wife, former actress Tabitha Soren. Though Lewis is a secular author, and the work contains some vulgarity in both its word choice and its subject matter, Home Game offers a window into the common American male’s view of fatherhood that can help evangelicals evaluate the status of fatherhood in the church.

Several themes that shape Lewis’s portrayal of American fathers can frame an appraisal of evangelical fatherhood. First, Home Game presents a noticeable, though inconsistent, pro-family message. The pro-family nature of the work should come as no surprise considering that Lewis penned the adoption-friendly book Blind Side, which later became a hit movie. Lewis recognizes that raising a child “especially when you don’t want to, is transformative” (78). Yet, Lewis is pro-family in the same way many evangelicals are pro-life—enamored with the abstract theory but inconvenienced by the daily reality. As churches continue to develop men as godly fathers, it is essential for them to instill the importance of consistency in this high calling.

Second, Home Game wrestles with the great expectations cast on the current generation of American dads. Lewis regards the present as the “Dark Age of Fatherhood” in which no established standard of behavior exists (10-11). Fathers endure a “persistent and disturbing gap” between what they are supposed to feel and what they actually feel about fatherhood (14). The result for many fathers, including Lewis, is that they respond to increased expectation by feeling bitter rather than blessed. Though expectations may shift in the culture, the Bible presents Christian fathers with an unwavering call not only to see fatherhood as a blessing but al...

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