You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2007.

inclusive bibleBecause I am a bookseller, I spend many hours searching catalogs, reviews, and sample books. I receive thousands of notices about new titles each month, and not a few samples which must be evaluated. I refer to it as the monthly “needle-in-a-haystack” search. Even limiting ourselves to children’s books in the categories of history and historical fiction, the volume is still close to overwhelming.

Still, although much of the work is just “work,” it is punctuated with the joy of finding (with some regularity) a new book that’s worth reading and recommending.

And then there are the moments when something crosses my desk that stops me dead in my tracks. Such was the case today when I turned the page of a new book release catalog and stumbled upon the description and material for The Inclusive Bible, billed as the “First Egalitarian Translation.” It is being published by Sheed and Ward, an imprint of the Littlefield Publishing Group. The translation itself was done by an obscure group called Priests for Equality affiliated with Catholics Speak Out, which is one of the projects of the Quixote Center in Hyattsville, MD. Got all that? Short version: its a bunch of very left-of-center dissident catholic activists.

The background to The Inclusive Bible is just as telling. According to their own web site, it began in 1988 when Priests for Equality received permission to use “inclusive language texts” developed by Dignity, San Francisco. And yes, Dignity, San Francisco is exactly what you imagine it to be.

The resulting “translation” is enough to make one want to rent one’s garments and pronounce the charge, “blasphemy.” Sackcloth and ashes would also be appropriate.

Here are two sample texts:

John 8:3:

New American Standard: “And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery …”

Inclusive New Testament: “A couple had been caught in the act of adultery, though the scribes and Pharisees brought only the woman …”

Colossians 3:18-19:

New American Standard: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.”

Inclusive New Testament: “You who are in committed relationships, be submissive to each other. This is your duty in Christ Jesus. Partners joined by God, love each other. Avoid any bitterness between you.”

The Colossians text in particular betrays the underlying goal of the “translation” – a version which is not just politically correct and pro-feminist, but also gay-friendly. I’d really like to see what they do with Romans 1:24-28, but I don’t want to spend $25.

Sadly, the New Testament version of these “translations” has been around for over ten years now, and I have found university courses, seminary courses, and mainline denominations citing and using them.

Debased culture, debased language, debased and adulterated scriptures.

We live in perilous times. The clearly discernible agenda is to make biblical Christianity unfashionable, and then illegal. Twenty years ago, that would have sounded far-fetched. But each fresh hell has moved us closer to the firestorm/collapse.

God help us!

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

I chose the title thinking it was a quote from Shakespeare. I am informed that its actually a witticism from Dorothy Parker.


Reagan dale patton Reeve    

These books are excellent examples of the principle that biography makes the best way to teach history — for the simple reason that children like them and will read them on their own. The series was orginally published by Bobbs-Merrill in the 1940s, ’50s & ’60s – the same time period that Random House was releasing its Landmark series. The COFA books were written for a slightly younger audience than the Landmarks.

Many parents will remember them as hardback titles with either plain red covers, or half-toned drawings. They are currently re-packaged as paperbacks with blue covers and a red & white banner over the name of the “Famous American.” Below is a sample of the covers that have been used for the Robert E. Lee biography:

Lee_v1 Lee_v2 Lee_v3

The text has stayed the same all these years.

In the late 1950s, the interior pages of the Bobbs Merrill editions described their success this way, “it is the children themselves who have made the series so enormously popular. They read the books, love them, reread them.”


  • Because they are so interesting that they make children good readers. The pleasure children find in these books – and the enlargements of their interests – open the whole world of books to them – and this is perhaps the greatest gift in your power to grant them.
  • Because they make the child of today the friend and playmate of the great Americans of the past. He sees why they became famous, sees in them as children the traits which later earned them renown. He is inspired to imitate them, to develop the characteristics you want him to have. Thanks to these good stories – true to time, place, and character – he meets great Americans as old friends whom he knew as children when later he studies the details of our history.
  • Because they reflect true Americanism, a love of freedom, equality and fraternity, a strong distaste for racial or religious, economic or social prejudice. They radiate honesty, courage, ambition, kindness. They cover the whole panorama of American life in all periods and regions, showing the way our people lived, their hardships and their triumphs.
  • Because their appeal is not limited by age. They have a low vocabulary level, the widest age-level range of interest, the greatest variety of interest. Mary grabs them at eight, still loves them at fourteen. John may not catch the fever until he is twelve. Whatever a child’s interests are, whenever they may develop, whether he is a quick reader or a slow reader, he will find a book here to delight him – and lead him on to other books.
  • Because these books compete successfully with distracting interests less helpful to your child. Children don’t have to be coaxed to read them. They always ask for more. in North Carolina specializes in out-of-print, classic children’s books. They have an extensive selection of out-of-print COFAs available for sale on their website. Let them know that Greenleaf Press sent you their way.

Simon and Schuster owns the copyrights to the series now. They have kept many of the original in print, and seem to be re-issuing selected titles that had earlier gone out of print. They’ve also been extending the series. The four book covers across the top of this post show NEW titles in the series. Each has been written in the pattern of the original. The focus is on the CHILDHOOD of someone who later became famous – and how their childhood experiences shaped them.

ReeveThe story of Christopher Reeve is exhilirating, as well as tragic – but Reeve’s courage and good humor keep it from becoming depressing. Reeve knew quite young that he wanted to be an actor. He worked hard in community theater productions and while pursuing a degree in theater from Cornell, he auditioned for the very prestigious Advanced Acting Program at Julliard. Competing against 200 other applicants, only two of whom were selected for admission. Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams were the two selected – and became lifelong friends.

patton Its hard to believe that the orginal series did not include George Patton in its list of Famous Americans, but until now there was no title in the series on him. Patton is unique in many respects, not least his being informally educated by his family (who read the classics out loud to him) and his struggle with what was later diagnosed as dyslexia. Among the intriguing details from Patton’s childhood is the story of his having met the retired Confederate veteran, John Mosby (of Mosby’s Raiders) who had moved to California after the civil war and became a friend of the Patton family.

I think I would really like the editors at Simon & Schuster who are keeping this series available – and adding biographies of Reagan, Patton, & Dale Earnhardt!

There are currently 69 COFA titles in print. We have them in their own section in our on-line store. You can order any of them directly from Greenleaf.

-Rob Shearer
  Publisher, Greenleaf Press
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

arrestSocial workers, deputy sheriffs, and assistant DA’s have been known to throw their weight around and attempt to intimidate citizens with both overt and implied threats. While I don’t believe its a good idea to get confrontational with authority figures, there are times when you have to, at the very least, quietly oppose official oppression.

The US Constitution and a long line of English common-law cases have established the principal that government agents may not enter your home and search it without either a warrant or your permission. Social workers are not a higher-class of being with powers that trump the constitution. There is an exception to the requirement for a warrant: if there is probably cause to believe that children are in imminent danger.

But a cavalier threat to arrest parents and take children into custody based on an anonymous tip unless the parents consent to a search of their home is cruel, oppressive, and a violation of the constitution.

That appears to be precisely what happened to a homeschooling family in Arizona in March of 2005. Social workers at the door, demanding that they be allowed to search the house. Backed by sheriff’s deputies, eventually backed up via phone by an assistant district attorney. Let us in to search your house, or we’ll arrest you, take your children away from you, and then search your house anyway.

The Fourth Amendment
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The homeschooling family filed a federal lawsuit against the social workers, the sherifs deputies, and the assistant DA. The government lawyers filed a motion to dismiss based on “qualified immunity.” The government lawyers just lost.

The federal judge declined to dismiss the lawsuit and it appears it will now proceed to trial. The ruling is not a final victory in this matter, but its an important step.

Here’s hoping that the case will be pursued to clearly establish that the Fourth Amendment is still in force, and that social workers, sheriff’s deputies, and assistant district attorneys will face consequences when they use their offices to violate citizen’s rights.

Sic semper tyrannis.

Click here to read HSLDA’s account of the ruling. For those interested in reading the judge’s full opinion, I have uploaded it to this website

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

BeatlesThe Beatles, Beatlemania,
and the Music That Changed the World

by Bob Spitz (published October, 2007)

To understand our current culture, you must go back at least to the 1960’s (much more really, but without going back at least to the 60’s you have no hope of understanding). In order to understand the 1960’s, you must understand the Beatles.

Of course, there were lots of things going on. The demographics were revolutionary and explosive. The baby-boomers were marching en mass through puberty. The politics of the early 1960’s were both both contagious and ominous. The torch passed to a new generation and then dropped, hideously in the mud, as an assassin cut down the glamorous young president.

Into this weird witch’s brew of disillusioned idealism, VietNam, Civil Rights marches, and Johnson vs. Goldwater, exploded British rock ‘ roll – pioneered by the Beatles. Before the Beatles there was Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holley. After the Beatles… Its a bit like talking before and after The Flood.

Their first US tour began with their TV debut and introduction by Ed Sullivan on February 9 of 1964. They came back for a second set of concerts in the US in August of 1964 which were pure pandemonium.

Here is the very first song, from their very first appearance
on the Ed Sullivan Show – February 9, 1964
I Want to Hold Your Hand
My GOSH! They look so young! And they were.
John was 23, Paul 21, George 20 (two weeks shy of his 21st birthday), and Ringo 23.

Here is the very first song from the very first US concert:
Two days later, February 11, 1964 at the Washington Coliseum
I Saw Her Standing There

The band had been together for about six years. It had been formed in twelve months between June of 1957 and June of 1958. John Lennon (born 1940, then aged 16) invited Paul McCartney to join his band, the Quarrymen. Paul was 15 (born in 1942). In March of 1958, Paul introduced his guitar wizard friend, George Harrison to John. John was 17 by then and Paul was 16. Because George was only 15 (born in 1943), John thought he was too young to join the band, but after a stunning display of talent on the guitar by George, John reluctantly agreed to let him join. John, Paul, & George were all guitarists. Paul was eventually to take up the bass, but remained comfortable and accomplished on both guitar and keyboards. The band went through a number of drummers before finally settling in with another Liverpool lad named Richard Starkey, aka Ringo (born 1942). They were kids, they were friends, and they were enormously talented.

They were deeply affected by American music which they managed to hear through two channels. The sailors and seaman of Liverpool brought back records from America – which they played over and over again at every neighborhood social gathering. And the kids spent hours in bedrooms and attics listening to the records, memorizing lyrics and trying to work out guitar chords. The second channel was a pirate radio station, breaking through the monopoly of the BBC. A shortwave English-language station known as Radio Luxembourg. 

“Every Saturday and Sunday night in the late 1950’s, three of the boys who would later become the Beatles (George, the youngest was asleep by airtime) sat in their darkened bedrooms, tuning in to the station’s staticy signal as Radio Luxembourg’s deejays introduced the rock n roll records that were climbing the American charts. They were mesmerized by the music’s big aggressive beat and the tidal spill of lyrics. The effect it had on them was awesome. Sometimes the boys would furiously jot down lyrics to the songs; other times overcome by a thrilling piece of music, they would push their tablets away, lean back, close their eyes and let themselves be carried off by the voice and the melodies that would have a lasting influence on their lives.”

The Beatles released their first single (“Love Me Do”) in 1962. They did their last studio work together, seven years later in 1969 and then went their separate ways. But in those seven years, it is not an understatement to say that they changed the world. And not just the world of music.


• They are the best-selling musical group of all time
• They had more number one singles than any other musical group (20 in the US)
• During the week of April 4, 1964 The Beatles held the top FIVE positions on the Billboard singles chart. No one had ever done anything like this before, and it is doubtful that anyone or any group will ever do it again. The songs were “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and “Please Please Me”.
• The Beatles’ “Yesterday” is the most covered song in history, with over three thousand recorded versions. It is also the most played song in the history of international radio.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are the most successful song-writing team of all time. They were both smart kids, witty, fond of word-play, and with similar tastes and a consuming commitment to music.

“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah – The Beatles, Beatlemania, and the Music That Changed the World” by Bob Spitz is a brilliant introduction to the phenomenon. He has a gift for describing the relationships between the four Beatles – and those around them, especially Brian Epstein (the classical music afficionado and record-store manager who took them under his wing) and George Martin, the record-company owner and studio producer who helped them create their sound.

Spitz’ biography is unvarnished. He deals matter-of-factly with the Beatles sampling of drugs in the late sixties and their 6-month dalliance with trancendental meditation and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1967. He neither glorifies nor glamorizes – but objectively reports. I experienced a feeling of sadness that there was no one who could have constructively filled the spiritual void felt by these four young men.

The saddest sections of all in the book are the descriptions of John Lennon’s infatuation with the pop artist Yoko Ono and her insertion of herself into The Beatles’ studio time in 1969 – which led quickly to the break-up of the group.

This is a book that adults who want to understand the 1960s will find informative and thought-provoking. You young folk (grin) who came of age after 1970 may find that it helps you understand a great deal of the modern music scene. The text is pitched for a young adult audience. I expect high school students from fourteen and up would find it an enjoyable read. I’d recommend, if your students are interested in the 60s, that you read it together.

I can’t resist. Here’s another performance for the Ed Sullivan show, later in 1964.

George Martin, head of Parlophone Records (a division of EMI) and the producer for almost all of the Beatles’ recordings, leads off, recalling what he said to the lads when they finished recording this song
Please Please Me

He was right. It went #1 in both the UK and the US (30 weeks at #1 in the US!)

Listen to the harmonies on this!
This Boy

And finally, Paul McCartney’s wistful ballad

You can buy Spitz’s book over at the Greenleaf Press website.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center
  Publisher, Greenleaf Press


No comments from your moderator seem to be required…

-Rob Shearer

No, “Its symbolic of his struggle against reality!”

 (The clip is from Monty Python‘s Life of Brian.)

In light of the actions of the California legislature banning “mom and dad” from all textbooks and instruction and making all public school restrooms co-ed, I couldn’t resist. See this story from WorldNetDaily for the details. O Tempora! O Mores!

Hat tip to Ace of Spades.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

Newbery MedalEvery year in January, the American Library Association awards a Medal for the best children’s book published in the previous year. The award was established in 1921 and its called the Newbery Medal. In addition to the Medal Winner, top runner-up books, at the discretion of the judges, may be awarded the title “Newbery Honor Book.” (Note the spelling. Its easy to get confused and slip an extra “R” in. Newbery has only one “R.”)

The Newbery awards are the Academy Awards for children’s books. For an author, winning a Newbery is like winning an Oscar for an actor. And the Newbery Medal Winner is the equivalent of the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year.

Cyndy and I had the great good fortune to attend the same elementary school, where a gifted children’s librarian named Mrs. Ole worked. She made sure all the children at the school knew about the Newbery Award. Every year, the elementary school celebrated “Character Day” where all the students came to school dressed as their favorite character from their favorite children’s book. I went one year as the “country mouse,” and another year as the “Cat in the Hat.” Goodness knows what my mother went through to assemble those costumes. But the experience gave me a lifelong love for books… and a lifelong appreciation and enjoyment of children’s books.

The Newbery Medal Winners are the outstanding works of children’s literature over the last 85 years. I tried several times to figure out how to add a section in our printed catalog just devoted to Newbery Medal Winners. This weekend it occurred to me that our new web-based store let’s me do it – with a little work. Part of the work comes in tracking down which editions are in print and in stock. Part of it comes from entering the information and verifying it so we can take and fill orders.

But enough of them are now entered into the Greenleaf website to invite you all to browse through them and begin ordering. I’ve arranged the books in the order in which they were published and recognized. The list begins in 1922.

You can click here to browse and order whatever strikes your fancy. These make great reads for kids in elementary and junior high. And great gifts as well. We should be able to fill all orders within a week.

It gives me great pleasure to present to you, the Newbery Medal Winners!

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center
  Publisher, Greenleaf Press

To the left is the cover of a new book I reviewed this week at If you have any connection to any of the “Families with Children from China,” you’re going to want to read this book. It will make you cry.

Ada has three names. Wang Bin is what her caregivers called her at her Chinese orphanage. Ada is the name given her by her American parents. And there is a third name, whispered to her by her Chinese mother:

“My first name was whispered to me by my first mother, when I was born. It’s someplace in my heart. I don’t know how to say it. I wish I could.
I didn’t see my first mother long.
I never saw her again.
I am from someone I don’t even know.

She is my China mother, and far away I have a father, too. They made my hands and my eyes and my dark hair, all the parts of me I can touch and see.
But they took me to an orphange.
I don’t know just why.
My heart tells me they were sad.
China is crowded and not rich.
It has rules about how many children a family can have.”

There is much more. The story is simply told with illustrations done in watercolor and colored pencil in a style the illustrator calls “ethereal realism.”

It is a gentle book, but with a powerful and moving message.

Cyndy and I have two adopted daughters from China. We adopted Corrie in 1997 and Sarah in 1999. Because I think adoption stories can be a great source of encouragement to other families, I’ve previously posted their stories on the Greenleaf Press website. you can read Corrie’s Story here, and Sarah’s Story here.

China continues to be one of the largest international adoption programs, with about 7,000 adoptions to US families each year. In the late 1990’s, the rate was about 4,000 adoptions per year. There are interesting statistics available from the US organization Familes with Children from China (FCC). Since 1985, there have been approximately 70,000 adoptions by US families of children from China.

There are three relationships which the Bible uses to describe our relationship with God. One is marriage – in Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus as the bridegroom and the church (us) as the bride. He teaches explicitly that marriage is a picture of our relationship to God. The second image is parent-child, or more specifically, father-son (to be very politically incorrect about it). The parable of the prodigal son is the best-known illustration of the analogy, but far from the only one. The third biblical image of our relationship with God is adoption. Paul writes of the “spirit of adoption” by which we are able to call God “abba.”

I understand all of this much better as the father of two adopted daughters. Occassionally folks have asked us whether it was hard to adopt. The answer is, being a parent is often hard. Being an adoptive parent is hard in different ways, but not any harder or easier than being a birth parent. Sometimes folks ask us if we had noticed any difference in our feelings for our adopted daughters. The answer to that is no. Loving our sons and daughters is as natural as breathing for us. We try to understand and love each of them as individuals, but we’re bonded as strongly with our adopted daughters as with each of our other children.

God has adopted us into his family – and given us a new name! Part of our response to God’s love is to seek to worship and serve him. And God says true worship, true service, is to care for widows and orphans.

Christians through the centuries have taken the example and the biblical call to care for widows and orphans seriously. It runs counter to the zeitgeist (the “spirit of the age”), but it is our call – and there are rich rewards. For any families who are thinking about adoption, I offer encouragement. If you sense God tugging at your heart, don’t ignore the tug. Get more information and pray about what God would have you do. There are a wealth of resources on the internet. We gave our adoption agency the ultimate endorsement by adopting through them a second time two years after first adoption. I recommend them highly – Children’s Hope International and their subsidiary, China’s Children.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center
  Publisher, Greenleaf Press

With pencil sketches and watercolor washes, Dan Brown does an excellent job of capturing the life and times of Dolley Madison – beginning when her husband was Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson and continuing through his own Presidency.

The particular incident related here is historically accurate and significant. When the British marched on Washington DC in 1814, Dolley had to flee and the British burned both the capitol and the President’s residence. The charred sandstone walls of the house survived, and when the interior was rebuilt, Dolley had the exterior white-washed to cover up the smoke and soot stains on the stones. Hence, the “White” house.

We should all be grateful to Dolley as well for saving George Washington. In the President’s residence (remember, it wasn’t the White House yet), was a life-size portrait of George Washington which had been painted by Gilbert Stuart (see picture at left). Although the soldiers guarding the President’s residence had fled, Dolley refused to leave until the portrait was taken down and removed from the residence to a place of safety. Thanks to Dolley, the painting survived.

This little picture book tells the story on about a 3rd-4th grade reading level in 32 pages, hardback, $16.00.
-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center
  Publisher, Greenleaf Press

Blood on the RiverPublisher’s Description: “Twelve-year-old Samuel Collier is a lowly commoner on the streets of London. So when he becomes the page of Captain John Smith and boards the Susan Constant, bound for the New World, he can’t believe his good fortune. He’s heard that gold washes ashore with every tide. But beginning with the stormy journey and his first contact with the native people, he realizes that the New World is nothing like he imagined. The lush Virginia shore where they establish the colony of James Town is both beautiful and forbidding, and it’s hard to know who’s a friend or foe. As he learns the language of the Algonquian Indians and observes Captain Smith’s wise diplomacy, Samuel begins to see that he can be whomever he wants to be in this new land.”

The author has done her homework and the attention to historical detail in meticulous. The book is as much about John Smith as it is about Jamestown. This would make a great companion to The World of Captain John Smith. It tells a more personal story of his leadership and challenges in the Virginia colony.

There is one disappointing facet to this book: its protagonist has little or no religious life of his own. Although there is s sympathetic religious figure, the Reverend Hunt, and although speaks several times of praying, there’s no discussion of his (or anybody else’s) religious convictions, if any.

Still, for anyone who wants a vivid, first person description of life in the Virginia colony in 1607, this is an excellent read.

 -Rob Shearer
   Director, Schaeffer Study Center