Other Summer Reading Challenge posts: Introduction,
Week Three: off
Welcome to Week 5!
Okay, guys, we’ve made it to our final books for this summer. Congrats on making it this far! We are excited to share the insights of these authors, and we hope you’ll appreciate all the hard work we’ve put into reading and thinking through them from a Christian worldview.
This week, we have invited Valen Caldwell to stand in for Gina Dalfonzo. Valen is an intern at Breakpoint, and she has kindly put together our introduction and questions below. Remember, we have two options for this week: The Giver, which is a quick, easy fiction read and Genesis in Space and Time, which is nonfiction and more philosophical. Choose your book accordingly!
The Giver by Lois Lowry. Laurel-leaf. Reprint ed, 2002. 192 pgs.
Have you ever thought about what it’d be like to live in a perfect world? In a sense, it’s something we all want. A perfect world would mean everyone is provided for, and there would be no crime, conflict, or injustice. But what would be the cost of such an ideal world? In Lois Lowry’s book The Giver, 11-year-old Jonas is living in such a utopian community. Yet everything in Jonas’s life is decided for him, down to what he eats, how he feels, how he dresses, and what life assignment or job he will be given. In Jonas’s community, perfection comes at the cost of individual freedom, diversity, quality of life, and sanctity of life. In The Giver, it is painfully clear that utopia is actually quite dystopian.
Every December, Jonas’s community holds a two-day ceremony for children up to the age of twelve. In the ceremony, children receive a different recognition or reward, depending upon their age, to celebrate their next step in life. The ceremony of twelve is the last and most important ceremony for children, as the twelves’ receive their life assignment and are officially thanked for their childhood. There are many options for life assignments, but the assignment Jonas receives is special and frightening. It will change his life—and the community—forever.
Jonas’s assignment leads him to a man called the Giver. Together the Giver and Jonas will ask the hard questions. Should a society sacrifice all differences in order to preserve sameness? Should a society give up love and beauty just so as not to experience pain and sadness? For Jonas and the Giver, these questions and their answers will guide the entirety of the future.
The first time that I read The Giver I was about 10 years old; now as an almost 20-year-old rereading the book, I have to say I enjoyed it just as much the second time! The Giver is a fascinating spin on the traditional dystopian story line. This is not simply a kid-friendly remake of 1984 or A Brave New World; The Giver is unique in that it crafts the dystopian story through the eyes of a child. But don’t let the simplicity fool you—this story examines deep and foundational questions in such a way that you will personally be engaged and enlightened, yet your child can grasp the same concepts as well. It is a book that can help people at many and various levels entertain deep consideration for some of life’s greatest concerns. Can we eliminate all evil in the world? Who decides what is best for a community? What will become of Jonas and the Giver on their journey together? You’ll enjoy the read to find out, and it’s likely that your own considerations on some of the weighty issues of life will grow thereby.
1. What do you think would make a perfect world? Should Christians strive for that? How?
2. How does Jonas know what is true? How do we know what is true? If we didn’t have the Bible to give us God’s morality, how would we know what was right and wrong?
3. How do you think Jonas’s perspective on his community changes by the end of the novel? What causes the change in his perspective?
4. In Jonas’s community, sameness is very important to perfection. How do you think we should view the differences of those around us?
Genesis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer. Intervarsity Press, 1972. 167 pgs.
Genesis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer is a book about origins, as might be guessed from its title. In the book, Schaeffer takes us all the way back to “In the beginning” as he examines Genesis 1-11. Genesis in Space and Time is not just about travelling to the past to get a grip on the creation story, however. Through his exegesis of Genesis 1-11, Francis Schaeffer shows the reader that in order to understand the cosmic setting of our present and our future, we must be rooted in a biblical origins.
Schaeffer points out that the Bible does not give us exhaustive knowledge about origins or any topic, but it does give us true knowledge and equips us with what we need to know. Chiefly, the Bible is a book about fallen mankind and the redemption of fallen mankind through Jesus Christ. In Genesis in Space and Time we see that there is a flow of history, and ultimately the purpose of our lives as men and women is to love God and enjoy him as creatures before the One who created us. Someday, we will worship God forever and ever, without a thought of time. The fall was a real space-time event, and redemption was a real space-time event 2,000 years ago at Calvary. In order to understand where you are going, you have to know where you have come from.
I have previously read Francis Schaeffer’s book True Spirituality, and I find that Genesis in Space and Time is of a slightly different tenor than True Spirituality. Genesis in Space and Time keeps a focus upon origins rather than “spirituality.” However, Genesis in Space and Time feels just as devotional and doxological as True Spirituality. Schaeffer, as always, leaves the reader with a deeper hunger for redemption at the end of his book. In Genesis in Space and Time he ties the whole metanarrative of Scripture together for readers, while rooting it in Genesis 1-11.
This book is not just about a creationist vs. evolutionist view of time or origins, though Schaeffer makes some excellent observations. He addresses some of the more pertinent questions about origins such as how to deal with the apparent differences between Genesis 1 and 2, as well as how to understand the length of days question in creation. Ultimately, however, Genesis in Space and Time is about man understanding his purpose in the flow of redemptive history. While this isn’t a “light” summer read per se, my experience is that you will leave the book with a deeper love for God and a larger perspective on the cosmic scope of redemption.
1. Why do you think a biblical understanding of origins is necessary to a biblical understanding of the present and future?
2. Schaeffer mentions that the Bible, while giving true knowledge, doesn’t give exhaustive knowledge about the topic of origins. Do you agree with his observation?
3. In Genesis in Space and Time, Schaeffer discusses the importance of a historical Adam and Eve to the redemptive work of Jesus. What do you think about that concept?
4. How does your understanding of Genesis reflect your understanding of man as created in the image of God?