HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Message in a Body
Author: Joseph Anfuso
Publisher: Pediment Publishing, 2010
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Anfuso, Joseph. Message in a Body (published in 2010 by Pediment Publishing, a division of The Pediment Group Inc.). Where can one turn to find true value in life? Joseph (Joe) Anfuso was born into a prominent political family in New York. His father, Victor L. Anfuso, was a five-term U. S. congressman in the 1950s and was elected to the New York State Supreme Court in 1962 before he died suddenly in 1966. Joe had three older siblings and a twin brother Francis (Frank). The entire Anfuso family were faithful Catholics, but Joe began to perceive that religion seemed to his father as something more political than spiritual. The boys went to Catholic schools where Joe was further disillusioned by what he saw as hypocrisy. Therefore, he tried to seek meaning in life through college beer fests, the London hippie scene with its drug use, communal living among radical non-conformists in California, and the Eastern religious beliefs of India where he lived for a time. What would Joe finally find at the end of his search?
Today, Joseph Anfuso is the founder and president of Forward Edge International, a Christ-centered relief and development organization based in Vancouver, WA, which is dedicated to mobilizing ordinary people to share Christ’s love with those affected by poverty, disaster, and sickness, both in the United States and around the world. His own account of his journey of personal discovery is an interesting and powerful story. I will have to say that the book is not for young children, with its references to open sexuality, drug use, a couple of “gay lovers,” and a brief affair that Joe had in India, along with the “d” and “h” words each being used once as interjections. Of course, much of this is necessary to understanding Joe’s experiences, and nothing is related in a lurid or sensational way but simply as a matter of record.
Also, there are some religious concepts and practices, such as praying to accept Jesus, a man who purportedly had a powerful gift of prophecy, God speaking directly through dreams, and the use of worship bands, with which believers from differing theological backgrounds might disagree, but these things are relatively minor and not emphasized. However, for older teens and adults, there can be great value in following Joe as he moves from the early doubt fueled by resentment of his father and brother and by cynical college professors, to the faith which brought about changes in his life and eventually to thousands of others as well, plus seeing the important lessons that he learned along the way. In addition, I noted that Joe and his wife Karen home educated their three children through eighth grade. All in all, Message in a Body was a beneficial and satisfying read about how the love of God influenced a life for good.