In his new book Dad, God, and Me: Remembering a Mennonite Pastor and His Wayward Son, Ralph Friesen tells the story of his father, Rev. Peter D. Friesen of Steinbach, Man.
He’ll launch the book at Touchstones in Nelson on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.
The book also tells Freisen’s own story of the search for his father and a crisis of faith. Growing up in a fundamentalist Mennonite community as the son of a minister, he resisted the pressure to be “saved” and struggled to find a spiritual alternative.
His father suffered a debilitating stroke when Friesen was a young teenager, but it is only now, in his 70s, that he has delved into the meaning of that event.
Dad, God, and Me is his quest to discover and convey the man his father was — with all of his strengths, faults, aspirations, and regrets. Drawing on journal entries, old photographs, and personal memories, this memoir welcomes readers into a particular time, place, and family.
It’s an engaging read for anyone who appreciates that life can be challenging, painful, and beautiful all at the same time.
With degrees in English literature and in marriage and family therapy, Friesen is mindful of the transformative power of language and faith. Dad, God, and Me deals partly with trauma — something he’s familiar with from personal experience and his career as a therapist.
Now retired, he’s also an amateur historian, with a focus on Mennonite history. In 2009, he authored Between Earth & Sky: Steinbach, the First 50 Years, and in 2010, he received the Margaret McWilliams Award for excellence in the study and interpretation of the local history of Manitoba.
In 2004 Friesen co-authored an inter-generational family history, Abraham S. Friesen, Steinbach Pioneer.