An unexpected moment of thoughtfulness was all it took to get author
Dale Salwak started on his new book, "Faith and the Family."
It happened in his hometown of Amherst, Mass. He was staring at the
outside of the home his father had built, and memories rushed back.
The first time he saw a magician -- at age 5 -- and the first magic
show he ever did. His parents hired him for his own birthday party and
paid him $2 for a 30-minute show.
The many times he tackled a new sport and new instrument. His parents
supported every goal.
The time he ordered a bear trap from an ad he found in the newspaper.
At 9, he didn't know any better. Salwak's mother was upset because it was
dangerous. Salwak's father, instead of returning it, showed his son how
it worked and then took him to the university where he was a professor
and had Salwak meet an instructor of hunting and exploration.
"The book started really as a thank-you letter to my parents," Salwak
said. "Uppermost in my mind in those early years were voices of
encouragement, not discouragement, with respect to developing our own
The "thank-you letter" ended up between two book covers and includes
not only his tale of what resembles a healthy, dreamlike childhood, but
also more sorrowful tales of others.
"The book is a celebration of all that a family can and ought to be,"
said Salwak, who will hold a book discussion and signing at Fashion
Island's Barnes & Nobles Booksellers next week. "And the title has a
double meaning -- faith and family, meaning the faith I have in family,
and faith in the family, meaning the need for a spiritual center."
If there was one proposed solution in the book, it would be a
"I think families have lost touch of having, within the family, a
sense of spirituality," the La Verne resident said. "That the home is a
place of sanctity, honor, that children are to be raised to honor their
He opens the first chapter with a quote from a colleague:
"If our families crumble, then we are dead. Well, our families are
crumbling, and we are dying."
As a professor of English at Citrus College in Glendora, Salwak has
met many students from what he considers unloving homes.
One girl summed up her family life by saying, "We lived in the same
house but we were miles apart." Her parents didn't speak to each other,
the children felt disconnected, anger hung in the air every day.
When the girl turned 15, her father committed suicide.
"It took her many years to come to terms with that," Salwak said. "But
now she's married, has two children of her own and has vowed not to
repeat the pattern that she saw in her own family."
Such stories helped inspire Salwak to write his book.
What advice does he give for people trying to bring together their
family with faith? Forgive and pray. His counsel in the book is based on
Judeo-Christian teachings, but he is open to other family traditions.
"I pass judgment on no one," said the father and husband. "Writing the
book, I was ministering to myself as much as to anyone."
According to Martie Dunham, his mother-in-law, Salwak practices what
"He's got very high morals, and he never pushes his philosophy onto
anybody or his religion," she said. "He just works as an example to
everybody, and people know him by the way he lives."
WHAT: "Faith in the Family" discussion and book signing
WHEN: 1 p.m. June 16
WHERE: Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 953 Newport Center Drive, Newport
CALL: (949) 759-0982