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Spring 2001 · Vol. 30 No. 1 · pp. 111–12 

Book Review

Educating Tiger: My Spiritual and Intellectual Journey

Jacob A. Loewen. Hillsboro, KS: Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, 2000. 346 pages.

Reviewed by Perry Klassen

The author has chosen an apt title for this book. It is certainly much more than an autobiography. For those interested only in the bare chronological facts of Loewen’s life, they will find these summarized in the introduction, while chapters 32, 33, and 34 detail the events of his pilgrimage toward peace, Anabaptism, and mission. The other chapters are topical and cover his insights on conversion, the Spirit of God, sharing the faith, truth, prayer, missionary service, culture, and religion. Each of these topics is preceded by a brief summary and includes several chapters. Because each section is complete in itself, it is possible to read his observations on a particular topic without reading the entire book.

The appendix contains a complete bibliography of all of his {112} published writings in chronological order. An exhaustive subject index is located at the back of the book as well.

Those who have heard Loewen speak or read his works know that he is an inveterate storyteller. They will not be disappointed. Some of these we have heard before, but they are good stories and are used very effectively to illustrate otherwise abstract concepts. However, there is enough abstract elaboration to challenge the intellectual reader. The stories, though, captivate the reader like a good novel.

It is very apparent that Loewen is an anthropologist and linguist. Some may wonder whether he is also a theologian and psychologist. His writings in regard to forgiveness seem psychologically profound to the reviewer.

The reader will find some stories repeated in the book. This is for the purpose of illustrating different points the author wishes to make at a specific place in regard to a particular topic. For the same reason one will find cross references in the body of the text.

Occasionally Loewen’s stories seem self-serving, but there are as many stories which are self-effacing; one is impressed with the author’s honesty, sincerity, and self-exposure evident in this writing. It is an intensely personal and revealing book. There is no hint of intellectual sarcasm or cynicism. The author mentions numerous times his current struggle to “convert” his tongue. Having known him personally, I can verify through the tone of the book that the conversion is, indeed, occurring.

The book is dedicated to his grandchildren and thus has a very personal tenor. In June 1993, Loewen suffered a stroke which became a crisis point in his life. It has caused him to reflect on how his life experiences have developed him into the person he is today. We are fortunate that this has been published so that we can learn from him. He readily admits that he does not have the final answers. With some topics he shares his thoughts and experiences and allows the reader to come to his or her own conclusions.

In some ways this is simply a wonderful story of a poor Russian Mennonite boy growing up and experiencing the world—and what a panorama of the world he experienced! More impressively, it is the story of one man’s deep commitment to follow the Spirit of God in his life and an openness to continue learning wherever truth is found, even in the later stage of his life. I am grateful that Jake, in being “forced to stop and let his soul catch up with him,” drew on his reservoirs to let us know where he is now.

Perry Klassen, MD
Edmond, Oklahoma

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