Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Encouraging Boys to Manhood

We really enjoy using Veritas Press’ Omnibus curriculum in our homeschooling of our older boys. Good books are suggested (though we don’t read every book listed) and the accompanying study guides with questions are very helpful. My boys are currently reading G. A. Henty’s Winning His Spurs - A Tale of the Crusades, and I especially appreciated the opening paragraph of the study guide which is pasted in below:

Jonathan Edwards entered Yale College at age thirteen and graduated at age seventeen.  He served as a minister at age nineteen, and after returning to Yale at age twenty he passed the examination for a Master of Arts degree.  In an age characterized by a lowering of expectations and standards, we marvel at such maturity and responsibility.  There was a time, however, when a boy was expected to behave like a man at age thirteen.  There was a time when a thirteen-year-old boy was expected to be skilled at something other than playing video games.  Unfortunately, we live in an age characterized by low expectations for our youth.  We rarely envision our teenage boys taking on such responsibilities or taking up five small stones and slaying a giant.
            Winning His Spurs takes us back to a time when a young boy was challenged to behave like a man.  We are encouraged to rethink the expectations we have of our youth.  As we observe the life of Cuthbert, the main character, we get a glimpse of the bravery and courage that a young boy can have.  As we enter into the events surrounding the crusade to recapture the Holy Land, we see the action through the eyes of a valiant boy, and we are forced to reexamine our own lives.  If we view literature and history as an opportunity to explore our own hearts, Winning His Spurs is a call for men to stand up and face life’s challenges with renewed vigor and courage.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Kingdom's Hope

Kingdom's Hope (Kingdom, Book 2)by Chuck Black
(Multnomah, 2006), ages 7+
Audio by Oasis Audio

On a recent trip we listened to this book straight through. My oldest son (age 14) had read the first book in this series and was not terribly impressed. However, we all really enjoyed this one and are eager to get the audio for the rest of the series.

The story is a retelling of a majority of the Bible’s story line set in a world of knights and castles. The setting provides opportunity for battles, good adventure, references to chivalry, honor and nobility. Then, I was impressed with how faithfully the key elements of the Bible story were presented with proper nuance.

Black compresses the time of the judges to the Exile and Restoration into one man’s lifetime. Some might object that this would necessarily distort the story. However, we must be clear about what to expect of a fantasy re-presentation of such a story. For a straight retelling we look to Bible story books. Books like Chuck Black’s are intended to give us another angle on these biblical truths. By compressing the story into ne lifetime readers can appreciate the overall unity of the story- something often missed in churches today. The repeated rebellion of God’s people, the utter futility of our attempts at reform and our great need of Divine rescue are all the more apparent. And the way in which he wove together the stories of the judges, Saul, Daniel and others, I thought, was very well done.
The audio dramatization was nicely done as well. There were places where it was a bit over done, and the sound for running horses made my boys laugh, but that was all part of the fun of listening. We warmly commend this book as a fun way to listen together as a family while also hearing the great story line of the Bible in a fresh way.

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