Sunday, November 4, 2012

Review of Apologia "Journeys of Faithfulness"

There is seemingly no end to the wonderful, educational, and inspiring products published by Apologia.  Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson is one more offering that fulfills each of these descriptions.  It is wonderful - very simply, it is, with a few exceptions, good reading. It is educational - for some reason, when I read about women of the Bible, I always seem to learn something new.  It is definitely inspiring - it is impossible to read something published under the Apologia banner and not be inspired.  I'm convinced of it.

Journeys of Faithfulness uses the lives and journeys of Mary and Martha, Ruth, Esther, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus to show how God brings His grace into the lives of ordinary girls and calls them to be greater than they ever thought they could be.  You can view the full Table of Contents at Apologia's website.   Each faithful woman is studied in three chapters.  Each chapter also contains a devotional, a Bible study, and a journaling section.  The book is written in a very conversational way.  It in no way reads like a work of Theology or religion.  In order to appreciate the book's tone, take a look at the sample chapter.

Although this book is recommended for ages 12+, apart from thematic material (Joachim goes into the idea of a non-Immaculate conception with Mary a little too familiarly for my taste, especially considering that my daughter (11) is, as yet, innocent in these matters), I don't understand the age designation at all.  The book is written very simplistically.  Granted, my daughter is a very advanced reader, but I read portions of the book to all of my kids, the youngest of whom are 7, and none had trouble understanding the material.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On one level, it was some nice reading.  I always enjoy reading about Martha and Mary - the eternal conflict! On the other, I felt really uncomfortable with how...informally? basely? our Blessed Mother was portrayed at times.  I completely understand that her portrayal was done this way in order to demonstrate even more the glory of her Magnificat, but, given that Mary was conceived without original sin, she shows way more doubt and, really, lack of faith in this section than we as Catholics believe she experienced.

Here is where Protestant and Catholic beliefs really diverge on Mary (I guess - I don't know a whole lot about what Protestants believe about Mary since they don't really talk about her much), and it is the reason that my daughter did not like this book at all.  I have a better understanding of our differences, so I appreciated this book for what it was - a Protestant devotional for mothers and daughters.  Because Protestants look only to Scripture for their beliefs on Mary, the author was free to "fill in the blanks" as she chose as to much of Mary's response to the Incarnation.  In contrast, Catholics look to a rich tradition regarding all aspects of Mary.  Thus, these "fill in the blank" attributes of Mary are starkly at odds with how we view our Blessed Mother, whom we honor profoundly as the Mother of God.  If this chapter were not in the book, I really wouldn't mind recommending it to Catholics.

Although my daughter and I didn't really get much out of Journeys of Faithfulness, I need to be clear that we are not its target audience.  Apologia is a Protestant publisher creating materials for Protestant families.  This product fits the bill perfectly.  I still think that the age could probably be lowered a bit, but for mothers looking for some quiet time with their daughters, this product has much to recommend it.


Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.  I received no other compensation.

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