Monday, June 14, 2021

Passion and Purity


 Learning to Bring Your Love Life  Under Christ's Control

by Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)
191 pages / originally published 1984

We have reviewed Elisabeth Elliot's books before in this blog. Hers was indeed a life consciously dedicated to God in Christ - including her "love life." That's what makes this book so helpful, as Elliot examines what it means to live as the bride of Christ, even while seeking a man or woman to live your life with in marriage in the Lord.

Elliot's book is a fairly easy read, because, like a good novel, her true-life story is an example of how to "Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control," rather than a textbook. She takes us through her budding romance with Jim Elliot, showing us what made him admirable to her in his Christian commitment and maturity (something that makes this book also suitable for guys to read). As well, she shows the difficulties inherent in waiting for God to make his will for their relationship, as Jim goes through his training to become a missionary with the commitment that he will not proceed further in his relationship with Elisabeth until he knows where and when he is serving as a missionary and how she will fit into that work.

In contrast to our culture's attitude to romantic love - the belief that it is just one more way to bring us ultimate fulfilment - Elliot insists that we must yield ourselves to Christ beforea and above anyone or anything else. She calls our culture's obsession with either romantic love or single self-fulfilment "The Serpent's Reasoning" - the promise of the snake to Adam and Eve in Eden.

Instead of seeking our fulfilment in either ourselves or others, we need to seek God, and Elliot reminds us of what she needed to remind herself in her relationship with God:

  • God is with us in our struggles with sexual temptation;
  • sometimes we may simply have to wait for God to make His will clear, and that waiting makes the final result sweeter;
  • God's will for us may be life as a single person;
  • suffering frustration by waiting to get married at the right time is good for us, because God exalts us by humbling us first; and
  • nothing shall separate us from God's love in Christ (not even frustration in romance).
I have only two cautions:
  • The foreword is written by Joshua Harris, who has also written on this subject, but has since renounced Christ.
  • Elliot states that while submision is God's command for wives, that does not give husbands the right to "demand obedience," for they are to use their authority in a Christlike way. She stresses the sacrificial nature of Christ's love for His bride - true enough - but then extends that description to say that He does not impose His will. It is not her main point, but this version of the idea that God is a gentleman misses the fact that as a Father, He is willing to "impose His will" on His dangerously straying children.

If you want to understand better the struggle between passion and purity, you can purchase Elliot's book here, or here in Canada.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock

by Eric A. Kimmel
32 pages / 1988

Things begin with Anansi (uh·naan·see) the spider making quite the discovery: a strange moss-covered rock that somehow knocks you out if you say "Isn't this a strange moss-covered rock!"

It takes Anansi a couple of goes – along with a couple of hours of unconscious time, lying on his back – to figure this out, but once he does, he knows just how he's going to use this magical rock. He starts bringing his friends to come see it, and encourages them to comment on it. Once they do, and are lying on their back taking an unintended one-hour nap, Anansi goes to their house and takes their food. He begins with Lion, then Elephant, Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, and goes on and on.

The careful reader will notice that there is another animal watching all these goings-on. Somewhere behind the bushes, on most every page, is the little Bush Deer. He decides to make things right by pulling a trick on the trickster. When Anansi invites him to go look at the rock, Bush Deer goes but he doesn't comment on the rock. He even pretends he can't see it. In frustration, Anansi ends up spouting the troublesome phrase himself...and down he goes! That allows the Bush Deer a whole hour to clear out Anansi's house and return his ill-gotten gains.

Cautions

There are no cautions for this book, but parents should be aware that Anansi the trickster is a folktale from Africa, who, in some versions, isn't simply a spider but is a god in the form of a spider. So the only caution would be not to presume, if you are buying another author's Anansi stories, that they will simply be morality tales with animals standing in for people, as is happening here.

Conclusion

This is a fun animals-as-people folktale that rewards the observant child (even the pre-reader) who spots the bush deer long before he makes his first "official" appearance. On the first go, a child might need some encouragement from mom or dad to look closely, but once they spot the deer once, they'll love finding him the next times. That's what makes this a book kids will look through repeatedly.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Solomon Says

Directives for Young Men
by Mark Horne
148 pages / 2020

If you are not governed by God's word, which calls you, by the work of the Holy Spirit, to govern yourself, you will not be more free. Instead, you will be governed by your own urges, and will also lose the ability to govern God's creation, as we were originally called to do. Mark Horne shows how Proverbs reveals to young men just how to work out that creation mandate from Genesis.

Here are some of the headings of the chapters and sections Horne writes to show the superiority of wisdom demonstrated in Proverbs over many of the methods our society thinks will get us ahead:

  • Handguns Can't Shoot Down Poverty;
  • Immorality Impoverishes You;
  • Solomon On Cyberporn;
  • Control Chaos, Don't Inflame It
    (about the power of the tongue);
  • Leaving Toxic Talk Culture
    (a great warning about our social media feeds);
  • Listening Well;
  • Wisdom Is Better Than Folly Even When It's Risky;
  • Let Go and Let God? (the need to train in godliness);
  • Total Ownership (the need for making a genuine plan for change);
  • Building a Better Man.
Horne's book shows just how practical and up-to-date the wisdom of Proverbs is. In the last two chapters, Horne shows how Proverbs dovetails with the wisdom of the New Testament. There is little explicit mention of Christ, but for young men seeking to live out their commitment to Christ, there is great guidance on "building a better man."

If you are, or know, a young man who could benefit from knowing what Solomon Says, you can get Mark Horne's book here, or here in Canada.

 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Gutsy Girls Book Two: Sisters, Corrie & Betsie ten Boom

by Amy L. Sullivan 
2016 / 36 pages

This is the true story of two Dutch sisters who knew that God could be trusted with their lives and that assurance gave them and their whole family the courage to hide Jews from the Nazis during World War II.

Our introduction to the sisters starts with the older Betsie ushering the daydreaming little Corrie out the door so she can go to school. Then we leap ahead to their adult life, with Betsie taking care of the household and Corrie helping her father in the family's watch shop. Then the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. As you might expect from a picture book, it is a G-rated account. That's accomplished via cartoonish pictures, and by covering what the Nazis had planned for the Jews in only limited detail like this:

"German soldiers planned evil things against people who were Jewish. In order to easily identify them and set those who were Jewish apart from other Dutch people, German soldiers forced Jewish people to wear the Star of David on their coats and ration cards around their necks. Before long German soldiers took many Jewish people away from their homes."

But even so, the reader learns that the Nazis hated the Jews, and the ten Booms knew God wanted them to act. We are shown how they smuggled in bricks to create a false wall in their home that Jews and others could hide behind, should the Germans come looking. In one interesting note, the author shares that the width of that space – at just 23 inches (by 8 feet long) – was not even as wide as this book opened up!

The ten Booms helped 800 people before they were caught. While readers are, again, spared from the worst details, we do follow the ten Boom sisters to a concentration camp, where Betsie dies. That isn't where the story ends, of course: in the final pages we see Corrie freed and, through God's grace, able to forgive the very Germans who so mistreated her and her sister.

Caution

There are no cautions for this book. But it is the second of a series of 5, and the subject of Book 4 is Jennifer Wiseman, an astronomer who has had a big role in promoting theistic evolution. So the ten Boom book is well worth getting, but not so the series.

Conclusion

This is a very good first exposure to the ten Boom sisters for students in Kindergarten and First Grade. My hope, though, is that it wouldn't be the last exposure they get – for teens and adults there really is no more encouraging biography than Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Manga Classics: Anne of Green Gables

by L.M. Montgomery 
adapted by Crystal S. Chan 
308 pages / 2020

Anne is an orphan girl living in the Prince Edward Island of the 1870s, sent by mistake to the home of an aged brother and sister who need help with the farm work. The mistake is, they asked for a boy. Instead, they got the imaginative, effusive, emotional, red-head Anne. And once they meet, they can't let her go.

While Lucy Maud Montgomery was a Canadian author, and Anne of Green Gables (first published in 1908) a very Canadian story, it's always been incredibly popular in Japan too. So it makes sense that her story would be given a manga treatment. Thankfully, the adaptation is faithfully done, and at 300 pages, given the space it needs to tell the story well - only a very few scenes are given an abridged treatment.

If you're unfamiliar with manga, the style does take some getting used to, in the first place because the Japanese read right to left. That means what would be the back of the book to us, is the front of the book to them. Even though this is in English, it's still formated in that "reverse" style. Another feature that will strike readers as unusual is the way manga will sometimes depart from a semi-realistic style of drawing to something much more cartoonish, and then go back to realistic all in the space of a few frames, or even in the same frame. So, for example, while Anne's strict and controlled adoptive "mother" Marilla is depicted with realistic eyes, the emotional Anne has eyes in all sorts of styles. Most often they are doe-sized, but when she is angry or perturbed, they become big black dots, and sometimes she is drawn with no eyes at all.

If that strikes you as very strange, just consider how a Western reader will know that a lightbulb over a character's head means they have an idea. That's a bit of cartoon "emoticon shorthand" to let readers know something without spending a lot of words on it. Manga has its own, different cartoon emoticons, and they do need to be learned. But just like the lightbulb, they aren't hard to figure out.

Cautions

Cautions here are only the same ones that we'd have for the original source material. At one point Anne is being taught how to pray, and her first prayer, while not exactly disrespectful, certainly isn't what it should be. But the point is, she doesn't know how to talk to God, and still has to be taught, so I don't think this should be much of a concern. Then there's also Anne's stubbornness. When a classmate, Gilbert Blythe, calls her "Carrots," Anne breaks her chalk slate over his head. You'd think that would make them even (or put Anne in need of apologizing to him) but Anne resolves to never speak to Gilbert again. And she keeps to that pledge for years! The book shows this to be ridiculous, and I only mention it here because this comic format makes Anne accessible to a younger audience that may need a little parental guidance to recognize just how bad Anne's stubbornness really is.

Finally, in an afterword to the story, the adapter Crystal Chan notes that she is a feminist who "loves the elements of feminism in Anne of Green Gables." "Feminist" is sometimes synonymous with supporting "a woman's right to choose" so that might have parents concerned about whether this ideology is hidden within. But there is no need for worry: whatever sort of feminist the adapter might be, she has stuck closely to the original 100-year-old material (unlike the recent Netflix adaptation).

Conclusion

This is a fantastic, faithful, adaptation of a great book. Teens should skip straight to the original, but for younger readers, or the reluctant sort, this will be a great way to introduce them to this dynamic lass.

If you do intend to get a copy, be sure you get the "Manga Classic" version, as there is another comic, that one by C.W. Cooke and Tidalwave Productions, that only tells part of the story, ending abruptly and with no conclusion coming. I've included its cover image to the right here, to make it easier to identify what not to get. Don't accidentally get that one while you're searching for this manga adaptation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Replacing Darwin Made Simple

by Nathaniel T. Jeanson
85 pages / 2019

How's this for an intriguing thesis for a creationist book: Darwin got it right. 

What exactly is the "it" Darwin got right? Author Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson argues that in On the Origin of Species Darwin's scientific argument/approach did successfully poke holes in creationism...but the 1859 version, which held that all the species were created exactly as they are, remaining unchanged.

This "fixity of the species" isn't found in the Bible. God tells us He created "kinds" (Gen. 1:11, 21, 24, etc.) but why would we assume that has to mean species? We never see horses becoming deer, but we do see them becoming a whole host of different sorts of horses. So, might the "kinds" God created encompass larger groupings? We know, for example, that horses can breed with zebras. Might they belong together in the same "kind"? As Jeanson explains, this is how Noah could fit the animals on the ark: he didn't have to take horses, zebras, and donkeys, but instead took a representative pair of horse kind, from which these threes species eventually descended. And the same for dogs, and cats, and more. 

The author not only gives Darwin credit for highlighting the problems with a "fixity of species," he wants today's scientists to question like Darwin. Jeanson argues that if they used this same scientific critical approach it would back today's creationism and tear down today's evolution. Then scientists would find creationism has explanations for some of the same observations evolution is said to explain. And they would also find that evolution has problems that creationism does not when it comes to sexual procreation, rapid speciation, mitochondrial "clocks," and more. 

Made Simple is actually a simplified version of Jeanson's 2017 Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species, which clocks in at 335 pages. The larger version is written for the skeptic, something you can give to a curious friend, and it is larger because skeptics have lots of questions – it is a thorough overview of the creation vs. evolution debate. And that's also why it is the much more technical of the two. Both do require effort, but Made Simpler is probably accessible to anyone who had some high school science and is interested enough to put in the effort – the author describes it as the "Cliff Notes" version. Parts of the larger original are probably at a university level, but don't let that dissuade you if the topic is of interest – you don't need to (and I didn't) understand every last little bit to find it fascinating.

So pick up a copy of Replacing Darwin Made Simple to get a good overview of a compelling argument: Darwin rebutted 1859 creationism, but would also do damage to modern-day evolution. And if you want to dig deeper (or have a skeptical friend) then pick up Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species. 

You can also listen to Dr. Jeanson give a presentation on the same subject matter in the 1-hour lecture below.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Gentle and Lowly


The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers

by Dane Ortlund
2020 / 224 pages

Note the subtitle. If Dane Ortlund has a mission for this book, it must be, at least partly, to show us that Christ loves His people, not only in spite of their sin, but even especially in their sin - not because He tolerates sin, but because sinners are sufferers. And how do we know that He loves sufferers?

Because He tells us. He tells us that His heart is "gentle and lowly" - that He yearns to extend His love to us. Dane Ortlund reveals how the Puritans loved to "wring out" the understanding of Christ's love for us, and in surveying their work, he also soaks us in the knowledge of how much God loves His people to come to Him for help and forgiveness. Ortlund excerpts the work of John Bunyan (the author of The Pilgrim's Progress reviewed here in this blog) and others in looking at verses from both Old and New Testaments that show how God yearns for His suffering (and even sinning) people:

  • John Bunyan looks carefully at every significant word in the verse "Whoever comes to me I will never cast out" (John 6:37).
  • Jonathan Edwards, the famous preacher of the fiery sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," still called grace God's natural work, and judgment His "strange work," on the basis, largely, of Hosea 11:8-9.
  • Ortlund also reveals how our "Lawish Hearts" often obscure the depth of God's "Lavish Heart" when we doubt (consciously or in our desperate attempts to earn His favor) whether He can or will forgive us. John Newton (the author of the hymn "Amazing Grace") indicts us for our "legal spirit" when he, like Bunyan, ponders God's grace revealed in John 6:37.
These are only three highlights of the book's 23 chapters looking at the "gentle and lowly" heart of Jesus Christ, and the corresponding love for suffering sinners from God the Father and God Holy Spirit.

If you want to understand the gentle and lowly heart of our Saviour better (including being guided in your devotions by the Scripture index), you can find Ortlund's book here, and here in Canada.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Echo Island

by Jared C. Wilson
251 pages / 2020

After celebrating their high school graduation with one last group camping trip, four friends return home to find the streets empty. The same is true of the sidewalks, the stores, and all of their homes – everyone is gone, and there's no sign of where they went, or what made them go. Bradley, Jason, Archer, and Tim have the whole town to themselves and they can go wherever they want and take whatever they want. But what they want is to solve the mystery in front of them. Of course, this isn't something they can just Google...even if their phones did work. So how are they going to find answers? And maybe the more important question is, are they really alone? 

I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I started Echo Island. The publisher has this in "Survival stories" and  "Action & Adventure" categories, and that sure doesn't capture it.  "Mystery" or "Christian allegory" are getting closer, but this one is hard to nail down. Is "Twilight Zone" a fiction genre? Maybe it isn't that the book defies description, but more that any proper description would have to include spoilers.

So I'm going to leave the description there and move on to who would like Echo Island. Author Jared Wilson said he was writing for teens who liked C.S. Lewis's Narnia series or his Space Trilogy. That's helpful, but I'll add that a 12-year-old who's only just figured out Aslan is a Christ-figure is going to find this frustratingly mysterious, whereas a 16-year old who has been chowing down on The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and The Hideous Strength will find it intriguingly so. 

So get it for your older avid-reading teen, and then be sure to borrow it yourself.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Foresight

How the chemistry of life reveals planning and purpose
by Marcos Eberlin
2019 / 147 pages 

Back in 1996 "Irreducible complexity" was Michael Behe's contribution to the origins debate: he argued that some biological structures couldn't possibly have evolved because there is no way they could have come about by evolution's stepwise-process – the complexity of micro-machines like a bacteria's flagellum motor was irreducible.

Now Marcos Eberlin is making a similar point, but bringing a new piece of rhetorical ammunition to the fight with Foresight in which he argues the deeper we delve into the biological world the more we discover "artful solutions to major engineering challenges." These solutions, he explains, look to "require something that matter alone lacks.... – foresight."

With this term "foresight," Eberlin is arguing some biological abilities couldn't have come about as a response, but had to be the result of anticipation. So, for example, cells, right from the beginning, had to anticipate the problems that would come with using oxygen:

The oxygen (O2) molecule is essential to life, but only a life form that can efficiently wrap and transport the devil O2 exactly to a place where it can be used as an energy source would benefit from its angel side. Otherwise, O2 becomes life’s greatest enemy. 

Rupture the membrane of a living cell, exposing it to the air, and you will see the great damage O2 and a myriad of other chemical invaders can do to a perforated cell. Death would be swift and sure. From an engineering standpoint, then, it was essential that a way is found to protect the cell, life’s most basic unit. The solution was clever: The cell was surrounded by a strong chemical shield, from the very beginning. 

It is often said that a solution always brings with it two additional problems, and a cellular membrane shield is no exception. A simple shield could indeed protect the cell interior from deadly invaders, but such a barrier would also prevent cell nutrients from reaching the inside of the cell, and it would trap cellular waste within. Small neutral molecules could pass through the membrane, but not larger and normally electrically charged biomolecules. A simple shield would be a recipe for swift, sure death. For early cells to survive and reproduce, something more sophisticated was needed. Selective channels through these early cell membranes had to be in place right from the start. Cells today come with just such doorways...

.....a gradual step-by-step evolutionary process over many generations seems to have no chance of building such wonders since there apparently can’t be many generations of a cell, or even one generation until these channels are up and running. No channels, no cellular life. So then, the key question is: How could the first cells acquire proper membranes and co-evolve the protein channels needed to overcome the permeability problem? Even some committed evolutionists have confessed the great difficulty here. As Sheref Mansy and his colleagues put it in the journal Nature, “The strong barrier function of membranes has made it difficult to understand the origin of cellular life.”

So Eberlin concludes: "There would be no hope for a cell to become viable if it had to tinker around with mutations over thousands of generations in search of a functional membrane. It's anticipate or die."

This is but his first example – Eberlin is arguing that wherever we look at life, "the evidence of foresight is abundant." That's true in the fine tuning of the universe, where gravity had to be just so, Earth had to be just the right distance from the Sun, and had to have enough water, and water needed to have certain specific properties. Oh, and the planet needed to have just the right amount of lightning too. 

That foresight is also evident in the structure of our DNA - which has to be stable – and RNA - which has to be malleable. 

He goes on and on, diving into these examples, and showing how brilliantly problems have been anticipated and solved. But by who? Well, Eberlin doesn't really get into that until the final chapter, and it is in the book's very last line that he gives credit where it is due:  "Great are the works of the Lord."

I loved this whole book, but will confess to only understanding about two thirds of it clearly. But even when it got more technical, the gist I did catch was still utterly fascinating. I'd recommend it for anyone with an interest and at least some high school science.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Echoes of Ararat: a collection of over 300 Flood legends from North and South America

by Nick Liguori 
2021 / 300 pages 

Why are there Flood myths all over the world? Christians can explain it by pointing back to Noah: these myths are so widespread because they find their origin in a real event, common to all mankind – every last tribe and nation can trace their origin back to the small family that lived through this cataclysmic worldwide deluge. 

But how can skeptics explain it? If it was just one or two stories, maybe they could attribute it to coincidence. But confronted with these 300-some accounts – and that's just from North and South America – the case for coincidence just isn't plausible. 

What Nick Liguori has done here is collect the oldest known written accounts of these indigenous tales, dating back a hundred to two hundred years or even more. While they were originally a part of native oral tradition, these accounts were written down after they were told to European explorers, missionaries, and settlers. So, for example, this is from the Caddo tribe, told to a group of explorers who were mapping the Arkansas/Texas Red River in 1806: 

They say that long since, a civil war broke out among them, which so displeased Enicco, the Supreme Being, that he caused a great flood, which destroyed all but one family; consisting of four persons, the father, mother, and children. This family was saved by flying to a knoll at the upper end of the prairie, which was the only spot uncovered by the water. In this knoll was a cave where the male and female of all the kinds of animals were preserved. After the flood has continued one moon, they set a bird, called the O-Wah, at liberty, which returned in a short time with a straw. The family then set out on a raft in search of the place from whence this straw was brought, and pursuing a west course for two leagues they came to land.

Some of the elements from the Genesis account include: God is displeased with the world, a great flood, one family saved, a bird sent out and coming back with something, two of each kind of animals saved, and a boat of sorts. 

Other stories have only a glimmering of the original remaining. Moravian missionaries arrived on Greenland in 1733 and the following is an account David Cranzz (1723-1777) included in his History of Greenland: 

Almost all heathen nations know something of Noah's Flood, and the first missionaries found also some pretty plain traditions among the Greenlanders; namely that the world once overset, and all mankind, except one, were drowned; but some were turned into fiery spirits. The only man that escaped alive, afterward smote the ground with his stick, and out sprung a woman, and these two re-peopled the world. As a proof that the deluge once overflowed the whole earth, they say that many shells, and relics of fishes have been found far within the land where man could never have lived, yea that bones of whales have been found upon a high mountain. 

In story after story, we see echoes, not just of the Flood account, but also of the events of the Tower of Babel. This is a fascinating book! 

So, again, how do the skeptics explain it? The best secular explanation is that these myths and legends are of a recent origin, only coming to be after natives first heard the story of the Flood from missionaries spreading the Bible. But that supposes that native oral tradition could change that fast, and that easily. And why would they adapt their traditions to incorporate part of the Bible account while ignoring the rest of it? Doubters will doubt, but they really have to work at it to dismiss all the stories collected here. 

While the bulk of the book is stories, one of the appendices contrasts and compares these American myths with both the biblical Flood account and the one depicted in the Epic of Gilgamesh. This epic is probably the second most famous flood account of all, and skeptics will say that the Bible's version was inspired by it. But as Liguori shows, that idea is preposterous (you can also learn why that's so here). 

If you enjoy Echoes of Ararat, you'll also appreciate Charles Martin's Flood Legends: Global Clues of a Common Event which is a much shorter (just 150 pages) overview of Flood legends, this time from around the whole world. Echoes of Ararat is far more weighty, but consequently is a book you're more likely to just dip into. Meanwhile, Flood Legends is something you'll read all the way through. Both would be fantastic resources for your church or school libraries, and also good gifts for Christian school history teachers.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

On Asking God Why

 And Other Reflections on Trusting God in a Twisted World


by Elizabeth Elliot

176 pages / 2006 (originally published in 1989)

Elizabeth Elliot knew why we want to ask God why, from experience, but what makes this collection of essays so valuable is that she also knew why we should ask God why. Elliot is also the author of Through Gates of Splendour (reviewed in this blog last month), a book which reveals how, already in early adulthood, she began to ask God why He brought her into situations that deeply tested her faith in Him.

Christian authors are often described as inspiring, but a better word for Elliot's work would be bracing, like the splash of cold water on your face that wakes you up in the morning. She never promises false hope or easy solutions. Instead, knowing from her own hard life how much our suffering can shake us, or even shake our faith in God, she points us to Christ and the way of suffering He trod to save us. Confronting numerous issues, such as divorce, abortion, women's place in the home, and courtship, Elliot calls us to be willing to suffer ourselves as part of our path to spiritual maturity.

Jordan Peterson tells us that if we want to solve the problems of the world, we should start by making our bed. Similarly, Elliot tells us that we need to grow up, but unlike Peterson, she knows that growing up means trusting more in our Father in heaven than ourselves.

Some minor cautions (along with my assessment of why they are not as serious as they might seem):

  • Some of the references in the book are dated (and therefore, historically interesting).
  • One of the essays attacking abortion refers to a fetus "becoming a person," but it is clear later in the essay that she sees the unborn child as worthy of protection.
  • She refers to animals having "souls" (but vertebrate animals do share nephesh (the Hebrew word for life in the Bible that does not apply to "the creeping things) with human beings, and creation will also be redeeemed, along with humans).
  • There is one quotation from Karl Barth, who is called a "great theologian" (but the quotation itself is probably the truest thing he ever said).
Other than that, Elliot admirably brings the type of Christian common sense that C.S. Lewis was known for into contact with her own daily life - even taking us back, years later, with the benefit of insight and Christian maturity, to the scenes of some of the most difficult parts of her life.

If you want to see how to ask God why for all the right reasons, you can get Elliot's book here, and here in Canada.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Bug Zapper: The Ant Arrives!



by Tom Eaton
2018 / 108 pages

Bug Zapper is a superhero that fights a bevy of bug-themed villains like Mean Mosquito, Butterfly Bob, and the Black Ant. His powers are the ability to jump really far – I think he’s jumping and not flying – and, like his namesake, a nasty jolt of electricity that stops bug villains in their tracks.

This is more of a gentle spoof of the superhero genre than a genuine batman or spiderman-type comic. Yes, villains do get zapped, but no one gets really hurt. Artist and author Tom Eaton makes good use of bright colors and simple lines – the drawings strike me as a little Peanut-esque – to create a comic book that’ll draw kids in. It’s hard to walk by this without picking it up for a peek. 

There are two books so far – Bug Zapper and Bug Zapper: The Ant Arrives! – and both my Grade Three daughter and I thought the second was the better of the two with just a bit more action and humor. But the first has the Bug Zapper’s origin story, which every Bug Zapper fan will want to know. 

And the first also has an interesting plotline about bias in reporting. Robert, an elementary student who would love to be the Bug Zapper’s sidekick, also writes about him for the school newspaper. Amber, the daughter of one of Bug Zapper’s archnemeses, also goes to the school and accuses Robert of being biased for writing such a nice piece about a hero while saying nothing nice about villains. Then the teacher gives Robert an assignment to write his next article about a supervillain! But does being unbiased means saying nice things about both sides? That’s what Amber thinks. But Robert knows that good journalism is more about being fair, trying to share the truth as accurately as he can. That’s some pretty weighty material for a comic that’s otherwise just lighthearted fun! And Tom Eaton pulls it off well. 

I would think this best for Grades One to Three, but the video version will let you gauge how it matches up with your children. You can find another video and color sheets at bugzappercomics.com.