Between Two Fathers, by Charles Barg, M.D. Published in 2002, Purple Pomegranate Productions. 180 pgs.
Father. The mere word evokes a wide range of passionate responses, from absolute idealism to bitter resentment. It takes a sharp mind and a truthful soul to offer an honest portrayal of one’s own father. In his book, Between Two Fathers, author Charles Barg achieves this with amazing balance. Dr. Barg portrays his father, with all his strengths and weaknesses, as a hero as well as a foil to his Heavenly Father.
Louis Barg was a Marine, a peacemaker, a pilot and a shrewd businessman. Steeped in Jewish culture, he was a mover and shaker” in the Jewish community of his day—idolized by his son, Charles. To Barg, “Dad” was synonymous with leadership and respect. Both his family and the townspeople looked to his father for advice, help, money and favors. His word was taken seriously. Barg writes, “His involvement in the lives of others was as predictable as the sunrise” (p. 33).
Eventually, Charles Barg made the decision that, since he was not his father, he was not going to follow in his father’s footsteps. This began with his choice of a bride, continued with his professional choices, and culminated with his discovery of Yeshua. As Charles matured, he realized that his father was capable of almost anything except affirming his son. Charles deals honestly with the depth of his disappointment: “…it was the anger of feeling that my every thought and feeling was discounted by the person whom I most wanted to think highly of me” (p. 82).
In this journey through anecdotes, adventures and reflections, the author daringly explores his response to his father’s shortcomings in ways that may prove helpful to others whose fathers were or are “larger than life.” Barg recognizes that his father is a human being, someone capable of great success and failure. His father was a real man, full of inescapable paradox. The author’s words burrowed deep into the heart of this reader. The story of Charles Barg’s remarkable healing gives glorious honor to the hand of our Creator.
In Between Two Fathers Charles Barg demonstrates authenticity, adept storytelling and 3-D depth of character. This is a story to captivate the reader, a lesson of forgiveness to heal the wounded, and a path to Yeshua for those still living in a world between two fathers.
Jim Stamberg is the church relations coordinator in the Chicago branch of Jews for Jesus.