Other Summer Reading Challenge posts: Introduction,
Week Three: off
SUMMER READING CHALLENGE (SRC), Week 2
Welcome to Week 2 of our Summer Reading Challenge! I don’t know about you, but my time travel machine (and my mind!) is starting to show some wear and tear from all this hopping from century to century. I’m starting to wish I had built a time travel umbrella or spoon instead, so there wouldn’t be any nuts and bolts to loose in the space-time corridor! But seriously, we’ve got a bang-up adventure for this week–Rush Revere and the First Patriots. And just in time to get ready to celebrate the 4th! So, hold on tight…here we go again!
WORLDVIEW ACADEMY INTERVIEW
This week in our interview with Jeff Baldwin of Worldview Academy, we go a little deeper into the theology of time travel. What does it mean that God not only made time, but that he sustains it? Beyond that, what does it mean that God can enter time and interrupt the “natural” flow for His glory?
SRC Baldwin Interview, Part Two
Jeff Baldwin is the co-founder of Worldview Academy and serves as the research director for that ministry. He has written several books included The Deadliest Monster: An Introduction to Worldviews. His website TheGreatBooks.com provides free reading lists and discussion guides about the classics for Christian educators. You can listen to the first part of his SRC interview HERE.
LIST #1, BOOK 2: RUSH REVERE AND THE FIRST PATRIOTS
Although I don’t consider myself a devoted fan of Rush Limbaugh, I do have great respect for the man. When I was first married, working in a liberal-dominated publishing house and residing inside the beltway of a Democrat-dominated city, I listened loyally each week to his radio show. He taught me a lot about conservative thought, and although I never felt he could speak for me in terms of my core Christian beliefs, he helped me rethink a lot of my preconceived ideas about good government.
For adults, my guess is that whatever you think about Rush himself, you’ll probably think the same thing about his new books for kids. The main character, Rush Revere, is clearly a mouthpiece for the real Rush. As a history teacher, Rush Revere often indulges in soliloquies about the greatness of the American people and the roots of American exceptionalism–the same speeches I’ve heard Rush the radio host give numerous times on air.
So, rather than indulge in my own soliloquy here about Rush–the character or the radio host–I thought I’d make a few bullet points that hit the high points as I see them. And then I’ll toss the question back to you: what do you think of Rush Revere and his books?
Points to Consider
- Unique Storytelling: by skipping all the Creative Writing classes in college and at the local Y, and presumably by having not read more than a few kids’ books since college, Limbaugh bypassed learning many conventional forms in kids’ books. He doesn’t seem to know he’s breaking all the rules by having 1) a talking animal, 2) long soliloquies which include actual historical content, sometimes over two or three pages with only a few stilted “tell me more!” comments, 3) an adult hero instead of a child, and 4) stereotypical supporting characters, like a Native American girl with telepathic/spiritual powers. And while I don’t agree with all these aesthetic choices, the enthusiasm among children for his stories (see his Children’s Choice Book Award) has in some ways shown the book world’s conventional wisdom to be just that–conventions of the day that have as much to do with adult taste and fashion as kids’ real proclivities. My own feeling is that Rush has in fact written something more like a folktale, and he’s proved that these tools are still effective.
- Christian-influenced Religion: Limbaugh himself isn’t know to be a Bible-thumper, though I believe he does claim to be a Christian. The religion in this book, though, feels a lot like a snapshot of American religion in the 1950s–the time Limbaugh grew up. It is clear that Christianity is in the air–discussion about freedom occasionally involve God–and religion doesn’t seem to be out of place in the landscape of ideas. Clearly, Rush Revere sees God as important in the history of our country. And actually, Limbaugh even creates one scene in which Rush Revere takes a moment to speak directly to God. I honestly can’t imagine any other secular, boy-friendly time-travel books (say by John Scieszka) including that scene. Though the book includes religious ideas and even occasional piety, ultimately, it isn’t a religious book. Compared to the latest Imagination Station books on the subject (see The Redcoats are Coming!), Rush’s book does not mention Jesus at all, and doesn’t do more than just give a nod of his cap to the role religion played in America’s beginning. Revere’s religion feels a lot like Christianity of the 1950s, just part of the air we breathe, when God was someone we ought to revere…for a few hours each week…before we get on with the real drama of life. I don’t think that’s a reason to keep kids away from the book, but you’ll want to supplement with real, solid teaching on God’s role in history. (And if you have suggestions for this let me know! We’re thinking of trying The Mystery of History next year for our history class.)
- Talking, Time-Traveling Horse: I did not expect my kids to get excited about this book. It was handed to them in a stack of Nancy Drew Notebooks and Animal Ark chapter books from the library. Since they’d never heard of Limbaugh on the radio before, they had no reason to pay special attention in that regard. But it wasn’t long before my 8 year old came traipsing in the kitchen, saying I just HAD to listen to the ridiculous antics of Liberty, the horse. One time, while watching Sea Biscuit, he accidentally stuck a licorice stick in his nose. Another time he wanted to roast marshmallows on a protest bonfire. Like Shrek, he does resort to potty humor at times. (See the baked bean incident in Boston.) But generally, this content is very mild, and his overall personality is good-natured and silly, not anti-authoritian or mocking. Whatever Limbaugh got wrong, his invention of this horse makes the story, and might just be enough to entice young boys and girls to give some credence to the rather meaty history lessons in the books.
- What did you like about this book or books? Anything you didn’t like?
- Would you like to have Rush Revere as a teacher? Why or why not?
- Do you think you would learn more about history if you could travel back in time to see it yourself? If so, where would you go?
- What were some of the important things that happened in this book? What was the Boston Tea Party about? Who were some of the important people of history that they met?
- In this book, did what the founders believed about God changed their idea of freedom? In what ways? Do you think the author got this part of the story right?
- Read the introduction again. What does Limbaugh mean by “exceptional Americans”? Do you think he’s right or wrong about that?
WHAT’S NEXT? ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!
***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. THE WINNER WAS JEN G.***
Let me know what you thought about this book, and I’ll choose one insightful comment to receive a copy of Rush’s other book, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans. Happy reading!