Christian LeBlanc gave me a review copy of his new book, The Bible Tells Me So: A Year of Catechizing Directly from Scripture, and I’ve already mentioned that it’s a good book and you probably want to buy it. Today’s my day to tell you why normal, non-catechist people will like it, and then later I’ll post a catechist-type review over at AmazingCatechists.com.
What it is: Christian put together a survey of the Bible course for his 6th grade religious ed class. He uses the socratic method, and goes through the whole Bible in a year, explaining to the kids what’s in there, and how the Bible fits into our Catholic faith. (Quite nicely, thank you.) In addition to Bible history, he works in bits about the Theology of the Body, the sanctity of marriage, and loads of apologetics. One of the key themes is how we find the Mass and the sacraments in the Bible.
The Format: Each chapter is one class. He starts at the beginning of the school year in Genesis, and walks you through each class as-presented. (“Hey y’all, welcome to 6th grade . . .you are going to be miserable this year.”) The weird thing: This works. I’ve been reading Christian’s blog for a long time, but mostly only sort-of reading it, because although the topics are good for me, the truth is that when I’m goofing on the internet, my brain wants to goof off. And the class-dialog format requires paying attention, thinking, that kind of stuff.
In a book though, the narrative style comes into its own. The book is large format (8.5″ x 11″), so there’s enough page there to hold some serious thought without overwhelming. And books are meant for sit-a-spell reading. You can settle in, dig into a chapter, and enjoy.
The other reason these lectures work better in a book than on a blog is that you get the whole year in a continuous flow. I never felt like I was reading a blog-warmed over. Just the opposite. Even though I had read some (not all) of the ideas on the blog, when they are put together in a single work, and fully fleshed-out, the whole is far more than sum of the snippets.
Reading Level: Very comfortable. The conversational style, and the fact that this is a class for sixth graders, makes this a great book for someone just digging into the Bible for the first time. You don’t need to be a Catholic know-it-all before you start. This would work as a textbook for a middle-school or older student who wanted to study the Bible at home, but the material is substantial enough that any adult would enjoy it. Great option for a family Bible study.
What good for the non-Catechist? Well, here’s what: As it happens, this year our boy is starting the Bible History class that Kolbe does in 7th and 8th Grade. And it’s been a while since the SuperHusband has done a full read through the Bible (and me? <cough cough> we’re not talking about that), and Jon’s never studied the Bible as a Catholic before.
[Though admittedly Jon has a feel for the Catholic view, since his reversion was due in part to all the unmistakeably Catholic things God stuck in His book.]
So the timing for us was perfect. As we work through the Bible as a family, Jon & I can consult The Bible Tells Me So for ideas about discussion topics with the kids, things to point out, Mass-appreciation, all that.
Verdict: Pretty much an unqualified ‘buy’ recommend. I mean, I guess if you didn’t really want to understand the Bible, or find out how Catholics read it, or something like that, you might want to avoid it. Also if you hate humor. Don’t read this book if you have broken ribs or nasty cough, and your doctor told you No Laughing.
FYI: Christian haunts this combox, so you can ask him any questions you have.