According to my 2011 reading plan, my book for April was:
A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning
by Nancy Pearcey
In this book, Pearcey traces the evolution of modern secularism throughout history. A former agnostic, Pearcey recounts her own struggle to find truth and a worldview that made sense. She studied under Francis Schaeffer at L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland, and has since developed an impressive list of credentials and written and contributed to several books and major Christian publications. If you've ever read Schaeffer's How Should We Then Live?, then you will probably enjoy this book - they're very similar, although this book is more updated and thus more relevant to our current culture.
Part I of the book describes the threat of global secularism. Pearcey describes the pervasive growth of this ideology, how it has crept into our society and even into the Church, and why it's important for us to recognize it and respond accordingly.
Part I also focuses on the underlying concept of modern secularism: "the polarization of facts from values." Pearcey demonstrates how subscribing to this concept not only assaults the very idea of Truth, but also leads to political tyranny and the decay of ethics, morality, and the value of human life.
Part II of the book traces the development of modern secularism via two different paths in history: the Enlightenment and the Romantic movement. The Enlightenment centered on the fact realm of the dualistic worldview, the Romantic movement centered on the values realm. Both paths ultimately lead to secularism. Pearcey demonstrates how the artists, writers, musicians, poets, and philosophers of each period depicted visual and cultural representations of the worldviews they were embracing as individuals and as a society at large. She also demonstrates how these philosophies have trickled down into modern pop culture, and how the ideas behind the false worldviews are portrayed in our modern movies, music, and other art forms. The book ends with tools that parents can use to teach their children how to recognize and reject false worldviews being taught in the culture around them and how to become a positive influence within that culture in order to lead people to the truth of the Biblical worldview and the power of the Gospel.
I HIGHLY recommend this book, both for you and for your older children. It's not exactly light reading - Pearcey is an intellectual with advanced degrees in philosophy and theology, so you may need to brush up on all your "-isms" in order to get the most out of this book. However, I do believe that her argument is extremely important for Christians to understand and follow in order to recognize and reject false worldviews and their ultimate conclusions in our modern world. We could all stand to work our brains out a bit more. If you have children and want to raise them to have a biblical worldview and be able to explain and defend their faith against false ideologies, this book should definitely be on their reading list. It's excellent.
One final thought: if you have ever looked at a piece of art; read a book, play, or poem; listened to a musical composition; or watched a film that left you thinking, "Huh??? What on EARTH???", then this book is for you. No artist or writer creates in a vacuum - all creative people either consciously or unconsciously express their view of the world and of Truth (or the lack thereof) in the pieces they create. Pearcey gives great insight on how you can learn to decipher the worldview behind the work. If you have any interest in apologetics, history, the arts, or culture in general, you will undoubtedly find this book completely fascinating - I certainly did.
Final Verdict: READ IT, READ IT AGAIN, AND THEN MAKE YOUR KIDS READ IT!
And then, book #2 - the wild card:
by Grace Dobush
I didn't originally plan to read this when I created my book list for the year, but it was a gift in an artist-goody-bag from my husband's aunt, another artist who sells her work on the side, so I added it into my list.
At 159 small pages with lots of pictures and insets, it was a quick read. It's basically a guideline book for crafters/artists who are setting out to create businesses out of their hobbies.
It covers topics such as:
- Why make handmade?
- Expectations about running a business and what you want to get out of it
- How to set up your business legally
- Where and how to sell your stuff
- Presentation and customer service
- How to get involved in craft shows
- How to be your own PR person and get noticed
- Balancing your business and your personal life
It also includes some helpful resources such as forms and templates, lists of craft communities and blogs, craft-friendly publications, small business resources, suppliers, and major North American craft shows, as well as advice from seasoned crafters and artists who share tips (and mistakes) they've learned in their own experiences. Overall, it's a helpful book and would benefit anyone just starting out in their own art/craft business.
The only con I would mention would be that this book is clearly geared towards an "indie-punk-rock" sort of crowd, so it's written with a little bit of an attitude, lots of references to pop-culture and environmentalism, a few snarky references to "church basement craft sales," and occasionally some completely unnecessary (and unprofessional) bad language (though not on the Ken Follett scale).
Overall, it's your basic how-to-start-an-art/craft-business manual, and you might find it helpful if you're just starting out.
And speaking of Ken Follett, last month I left you hanging on whether or not I was going to finish The Pillars of the Earth or not. After reading a few more pages after writing my semi-review, I put it down without finishing. I was hoping the garbage was confined to the first few chapters, but as I continued, I saw that it was going to be woven throughout the entire novel. Although the story was interesting, it just wasn't worth wading through all the junk. So, final verdict: skip it. I did.
So, what are you reading lately? If you'd like to join in with your own reviews, you can still link up on the 10th and 11th of each month with the group or individual reading plans over at Life As Mom. Happy reading!