Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door

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Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door, by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler. Originally published in 1992.

This book was marketed as a high school students’ apologetics book to help Christian teenagers more articulately express why they believe what they believe.

Unfortunately, a Christian teenager with any substance or firm foundation of faith in his life could check their brains at the door of this book and still understand the information presented just fine.

Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door contains 42 very short chapters divided into six sections:

  1. Myths About God
  2. Myths About Jesus
  3. Myths about the Bible
  4. Myths About the Resurrection
  5. Myths About Religion and Christianity
  6. Myths About Life and Happiness

Each chapter within the sections is devoted to debunking commonly heard myths and misconceptions about the Christian faith, The Bible, and Christians themselves.

By far, the best and most informative section, containing information many Christians have never been exposed to or considered, is the section Myths About the Bible, where McDowell and Hostetler do a decent job of supporting the authenticity and historical veracity of the Bible:

When you study Plato in school, does the teacher express skepticism about the reliability of The Republic?

When your ancient history teacher has you read aloud from the poetry of Catullus or Julius Caesar’s account of The Gallic Wars, does she warn you that what you are reading my be unreliable?

Do your instructors dismiss the writings of the Greek historian Thucydides or the philosopher Aristotle or the tragedian Sophocles and Euripides as being unworthy of serious consideration because off textual problems and variant readings? p. 51-51

Probably not.

After taking the time to document the rigorous and meticulous process required when both the Old and New Testaments were being copied and verified, they point out the two factors commonly accepted as the most important in determining the reliability of an historical document:

Two factors are most important in determining the reliability of an historical document: the number of manuscript copies in existence and the time between when it was first written and the oldest existing copy.

When you compare the New Testament with other ancient works, it’s reliability is immediately obvious. Not other ancient document even comes close.p. 52

He includes a chart there with the comparison of the Bible to other ancient works and as I said earlier, this is by far the most informative portion of the book.

This isn’t to say that this book isn’t useful to a new convert, because it most definitely cold be. I just approached it looking for more depth and intellectual rigor than I found within its pages. Perhaps I have overestimated the capacity of today’s typical Christian teenager.

Grade C-/D+

 

 

 

Quotable Literary Quotes #3

This one is courtesy of the ever profound and straightforward Zora Neale Hurston. I have included it before in a review of one of her books but the thought has been pushed to the forefront of my thinking of late. It’s worth sharing:

“I did not know then, as I know now, that people are prone to build a statue of the kind of person it pleases them to be. And few people want to be forced to ask themselves, ‘What if there is no me like my statue?’”

This era of Pinterest, Snap chat, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs makes it all too tempting and all too easy to build statues which draw viewers to admire as well as those who spend inordinate amounts of energy looking for the crack in the statue. It creates a perpetual and vicious cycle.

Enter this bit of wisdom from Voddie Baucham, which blessed me greatly:

“Whatever is the worst thing you think about me, I know something worse about me. Whatever the worse thing is that you could say about me is almost surely not the worst thing about me. I could no doubt do you one better.”

Pause and think about that and what it really means. Freedom perhaps?

In the spirit of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, I would call this one alternately the “Must-Have-Others-Think-Well-of-Me” cure.

Have a great weekend!

Counter-Intuitive

The whole idea behind reading The life changing magic of tidying up, then purging our book collection by roughly 80 books, was to cut down on the number of things in the house, including books. In fact, that was the thought behind my trip to our local Goodwill store today: to donate items.

Against my better judgement, after dropping off our delivery, I parked the car and along with our two youngest children ventured inside, and straight back to our local store’s rather large book section. Alas, I returned home with more stuff:

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Because the apples don’t fall far from the tree, the kids found something that caught their eyes as well:

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Grand total for the 6 books?  $3.77.

Old habits truly do die hard…

El’s Rabbit Trails: Lost in the World

One of my kids showed this to me yesterday. Feel free to press mute while you look at it. You might like it better that way. I did, and I think it’s worth sharing:

 

True confession: I’m a little too old to be as bad as portrayed here (I still appreciate the pleasure of actually getting together with people and talking!) but I often use my phone as a quick way to pop online and off without the time draining hassle of of sitting in front of a computer.

This was a good reminder to be a little more cognizant of that becoming too much of a habit.

The Wind in the Willows

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The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. Originally published in 1908. 197 pages.

One of the biggest delights of homeschooling has been the opportunity to read classic books with my children that I never read -nor had read to me- when I was a child. One book that we recently used as a bedtime read aloud is this Kenneth Grahame classic. This is one of those timeless books that captures the imaginations of children across generational divides.

Our children thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of Mole, Rat, and Toad in this fantastical tale that often made you forget that you were reading about the antics of animals. That is, until those few moments when they have interaction within the human world.

The richness of the language made the book both refreshing and educational. I was occasionally stopped and asked for the definition of this word or the meaning of that turn of phrase. Overall, the adventures and lives of the characters was continuously riveting for both my girls and me.  There really isn’t much I can add here that hasn’t been offered again and again about this wonderful book, so I’ll wrap this up with a few quotes for the sake of those of you who haven’t read it. It is my hope that as you take in the rich and captivating writing, you might be inclined to pick it up, even if your kids are all grown up. Recall the words of C.S. Lewis.

This brought laughter:

“Secrets had an immense attraction to him, because he never could keep one, and he enjoyed the sort of unhallowed thrill he experienced when he went and told another animal, after having faithfully promised not to.”

This sparked conversations of winter:

“No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter.”

And this reminds of the importance of hospitality:

“There he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger’s origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.”

Grade: A

Seriously, read it. The adventures of the characters within, Toad perhaps most of all, are offered with humor, wit, and lessons of life woven between every interaction.

 

 

Thoughts Worth Considering…

Every adult in our house appreciated this video. Totally worth the 5 minutes if for no other reason than you get to laugh:

Hat tip: CC.

Y’all, have a joy filled weekend. Seriously, at the risk of sounding excruciatingly cliche: Live, Laugh, Love.

There was no risk was there? That was just plain ol’ cliche…

I’m No Angel

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I’m No Angel: From Victoria’s Secret Model to Role Model, by Kylie Bisutti. Originally published in 2014. 304 pages.

Recent events, both public and not so public, set my mind to becoming curious about what books have been written on the subject of modesty. I don’t mean the kind of dogmatic, rigid approach that presupposes any bit of attractive femininity is sinful. I was looking to see what was written about the convergence of true modesty and feminine beauty in the context of a walk with Christ in the real world.

So I went to my local library’s website for the express purpose of checking out Wendy Shalit’s book, which I have read much about but never read. Somewhere along the way as I clicked, clicked and clicked some more, I ran across Kylie Bisutti’s book recounting her journey from child model to winner of the Victoria’s Secret Angel competition as a young bride of 19, to deciding less than a year later to walk away from it all as she began to realize how her career as a lingerie model dishonored both God and her husband.

I first encountered Mrs. Bisutti’s story in 2012, and even blogged about her at the time, so I was slightly familiar with it. I expected the book to be slog to get through,  but as I was embarking on a project of sorts, I was willing to tough it out even if it turned out to be horrible. Thankfully, it was not horrible and I read through it in three nights online via hoopla since our library system did not have access to a hard copy.

The book was surprisingly interesting. High brow it is not, and I was a little bugged by Kylie Bissuti’s dependence on the teaching’s of Joyce Meyer as she struggled emotionally through an industry that she both loved and felt increasingly out of sorts with.  Nevertheless, she told a compelling story.

The best parts of the book were without question, the behind the scenes glimpses of what life is really like in the modeling industry. After the release of her book, Victoria’s Secret fired back numerous accusations concerning the facts of her story, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from them.

I felt a bit of compassion for 17-year-old Kylie when at 5’9″, 1115 pounds, her agent called her a cow in front of an office full of people and demanded that she come back from her holiday break 8 pounds lighter. I found this particularly shocking, as she realized that her 36-inch hips was relegating her to the designation of curvy, and not it a complimentary way:

Not big hips, mind you- just hips. In the modeling industry, anything over 30 inches is considered curvy, and curvy does not play well on the runway- especially in high fashion, where being rail thin is considered the ideal. Horrifying as it may sound, some models even go so far as to have their hip bones surgically shaved down to reach that precious 30-inch mark. Others have their bottom ribs removed so that they look ultra thin. It just felt like part of the industry to me when I was starting out, but now it breaks my heart to think of girls and young women using surgery to deform the beautiful way that God created them.

With a recounting of her childhood, teenage years, and the very brief courtship she shared with her husband Mike, Kylie Bissuti makes a run at presenting a well rounded recounting of her life. Interwoven within all of it were the numerous moments of nagging doubt that she felt the urge to walk away and didn’t- starting with her HS boyfriend all the way up to the very uncomfortable party after winning the Victoria’s Secret modeling competition.

In the end this turned out not to be a book about modesty as much as it was about one young woman’s struggle to do the right thing. I didn’t come away from it feeling as if it had been a total waste of four and a half hours of my life, so that’s something.

Grade: C