Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Marie Durand - By Simonetta Carr

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr is an interesting, though short, account of the Christian lady.  I didn't know anything about Marie before reading this biography, the name sounded familiar but didn't point to any substantive information in my mind. Now, I understand that she was a French lady living during the 1700s who was imprisoned on account of her brother's being a pastor.  She could have gotten out of prison by denying the faith but did not do so and stayed in in prison for 38 years.   

Marie Durand Book Cover
There are interesting illustrations throughout, and also photographs of items and places from Durand's era.  At the end of the book there is a pronunciation key to help one read and pronounce the French words, a 'Did You Know?' section giving more information about the people and lifestyle of that era, and a letter from Marie to her niece Anne.  Also, I liked the Epilogue, where Carr gives an overview of what happened after Marie died. The 'Age of Reason' or Enlightenment was critiqued quite well, and I think in a way that even young children will understand.  Here is a small excerpt:  "During that Age of Reason, or Enlightenment, as that time became known, they started to reject or ignore most teachings human beings can't fully explain, such as that God works miracles, that Jesus is God, or that God is one in three persons."  I especially liked the statement she gives of Paul Rabaut in this section where he states that, "I will not reject a mystery for the only reason that it cannot be understood."  That is a statement that still fits today.  

The only thing that I believe would make this book better would be for it to have a list of other books of Marie Durand and the times in which she lived, so that any children (or adults) who get a thirst for more information on, or a deeper look at, the subject would have some suggested resources already on hand.  But, despite its shortness, this biographical overview is quite inspiring, it shows children (and adults) a Christian whose faith they may strive to imitate.   

Many thanks to the people at Cross Focused Reviews for sending me a review copy of this book(My review did not have to be favorable.
 

One of the places this book may be purchased is at Amazon.com

Monday, July 13, 2015

NIrV Study Bible for Kids

The NIRV Study Bible for Kids is and interesting concept, but not as well executed as I think that it could have been.  First, there were unnecessary pictures.  I don’t understand why almost everyone has to depict Adam and Eve before the fall, without clothing? Yeah it was okay before the fall, but we live after the fall so to depict them in that way now is shameful. It wasn't as bad a it could be (there were the usual bushes) but was worse than some I've come across…they showed enough to make me more uncomfortable with them than I normally would be.  Wouldn't it be wrong to depict the nakedness of the father and mother of all human beings?  Displaying what is now their shame as art?  Should Christians actually promote this?   Also, they had depictions of Christ, and I still think that that type of thing may break (or at least be on the edge of breaking) the commandment to "not make any graven image" to worship.

The NIrV translation itself seems rather good, but it may be a little too clear in some areas for kids….if that's possible in translating a Bible?  For instance, in Ezekiel, the part where God compares Israel and Judah as prostitutes is a bit graphic, but it may not be more graphic than other translations, just more modern in expression (they appear to be sticking to the text quite well and not unnecessarily expanding on it in those areas).  Just wanted to note that for parents' sake.  But I do think that translation is good overall (though I think that the translator(s) of Romans 7 may have thought that the man with conflicting desires is an unsaved person rather than a saved one).  Here are some examples of verses I liked the wording of:   

 "Don't live the way this world lives.  Let your way of thinking be completely changed.  The you will be able to test what God wants for you.  And you will agree that what he wants is right.  His plan is good and pleasing and perfect." - Rom. 12:2 

"Then Jesus spoke to his disciples, he said, "Whoever wants to be my disciples must say no to themselves." - Matt. 16:24 

"All who take part in the games train hard.  They do it to get a crown that will not last.  But we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  So I do not run like someone who doesn't run toward the finish line.  I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air.." - 1 Cor. 9:26

As I alluded to above, the translation isn't perfect (no translation is), one mistranslation I feel I need to bring up is in Romans 9:  "It is written, "I chose Jacob instead of Esau" - vs. 13  That's a far cry from, "Jacob I did love, and Esau I did hate."(YLT).  But they seem to be okay in other parts of the passage: vs 18, "So God does what he wants to do.  He shows mercy to one person and makes another stubborn…" Other places are not translated very accurately as well, but again, no translation is absolutely perfect across the board.   

Again, on the positive side, there are questions in little boxes throughout the Bible that kids can ponder, and a little dictionary at the back than can be pretty helpful, as well as maps.  Anyway, the translation was okay, but maybe a bit too specific in passages speaking sexual related things for kids..maybe… again, that's debatable. Again, can a Bible translation translate a word too clearly? As long as the word is actually translating, and is not expanding on a word or making it refer to more than it does in the actual Greek and Hebrew, is it too clear?  Again, parents should decide this for themselves, as to what there kids should or should not read/know at their ages.  My biggest problem was the pictures, so because of that I can't rate this edition as high as I would have without them.  Otherwise it was pretty good. 
 

I received a free copy of this book from the Booklook Blogger Program(My review did not have to be favorable)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It - By John Ferling

"From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be…" Acts 17:26 (Scripture quoted from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.)  It is fascinating to see the events that God had ordained to bring America onto the world scene as an independent nation in 1776. 

WhirlwindIndependence was not on everyone's mind when the American Revolution began.  Many Americans simply wanted to have adequate representation and influence in the British government of their land.  Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It - by John Ferling highlights some of the thinking that was going on at the time, and some of the events and writings that sparked a change of thought in many people.  Ferling states in the preface that, "This book argues that the colonists were generally happy with the imperial relationship in the early 1760s, and for a considerable time thereafter.  If Great Britain…had repealed most of its objectionable new colonial policies, as the First Continental Congress demanded in 1774, returning the Anglo-American relationship to where it had stood in 1763, Congress would not have declared independence."  

The term, 'Whirlwind', John and Abigail Adam's description of the revolution, is an adequate title for this account of the American arrival at, and fight for, independence.   Events were happening, and thinking was changing, fast.  There were divided views on various things and mistakes along the way.  I was disappointed to realize more fully that before the revolution, as it was building up, some Americans were unnecessarily aggressive towards British leadership and instead of using peaceful means of protest they acted like a spoiled child who doesn't get their way and who puts up a temper tantrum, though they did it in a more adult way: they burned people in effigy, destroyed property…etc.   As if that was a good way to demonstrate the rightness of their cause!  And then there were divisions in congress, some wanted reconciliation with the King, and others began to see that Independence was necessary. Also, many of the American military leaders made mistakes in the fight with Britain, men weren't paid, wrong moves were made, aggressive military action wasn't taken fast enough..etc.  It is amazing that the American military force didn't dissolve altogether, but God had determined that an independent America was to come into being and so it happened.

Ferling shows, throughout the book, the irony that many of the Americans who called for freedom, and demanded it as a right, denied it to other men, and had slaves.  Some began to change their minds of course, and some already were against it and had never been for it, living out their perspective by not owning slaves, and whose American and British ancestors had never owned slaves either.  But as the author points out, "In a revolution supposedly against tyranny and for liberty, natural rights and equality, the surprise was not that some whites were prompted to reconsider slavery, but that more were not moved to do so."  To give an example of how mixed up it was, George Washington owned slaves, Thomas Jefferson was against slavery and yet, ironically, he owned slaves, John Adams was against slavery and he was consistent in his beliefs in that he did not own slaves.   

Overall, I found this account very interesting, though not extremely intricate nor does it delve very deeply into this part of history, I thought it was a good overview of the events and perspectives of the time.  I do need to note that, the book does have some bad language as apparently some people back in the 1700s cursed people and things and used other crude terms as well.  I also want to note that I did not agree with all of the perspectives Ferling expressed, but overall, I thought that this was an interesting account of the birth of the U.S.A.

Many thanks to the folks at Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me a free copy of this book to review (My review did not have to be favorable)!
 
This book may also be purchased at Amazon.com and other bookstores