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Graduation treadmill

Books | Some good rules and prayers for upcoming grads

Issue: "Food fight," May 3, 2008

Looking for a useful book to give upcoming May graduates? Charles Sykes' 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School (St. Martin's Press, 2008) is short and appropriately sour. Rule No. 1 sets the tone: "Life is not fair. Get used to it." Several pages of practical application follow each rule.

Many emphasize the need to work hard in a competitive environment: "The real world won't care as much as your school does about your self-esteem. . . . No matter what your daddy says, you are not a princess. . . . Life is more like dodgeball than your gym teacher thinks. . . . Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity."

Other rules take seriously teenage angst but also advise patience: "You are not the first and you are not the only one who has gone through what you are going through. . . . Grown-ups forget how scary it is to be your age. Just remember: this too will pass." Sykes asserts the importance of both objective reality ("Pi does not care what you think") and personal relationships ("Don't forget to say thank you").

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Two rules in particular, if followed, would forestall lots of sadness: "Your sexual organs were not meant to engage in higher-order thinking or decision making," and "You are not immortal."

James Sire's Praying the Psalms of Jesus (InterVarsity, 2007) is another good book for grads. Sire takes readers through nine psalms and guides us through four contexts for each-that of the author, that of the ancient Hebrews generally as the psalms became part of Israel's liturgy, that of Jesus, and that of the early church. Each chapter includes useful instructions for small group leaders.

A good graduation gift for the smaller pool of college survivors heading to seminary or graduate school is J. Mark Bertrand's (Re)Thinking Worldview: Learning to Think, Live, and Speak in This World (Crossway, 2007). Bertrand's four worldview pillars, his explanation of how to move from consumer to critic to contributor, his discussion of personal unity and diversity within the Trinity, and much besides, make this book worth having and giving.

Discussing Darwin

Four worthwhile books published in 2006 on the evolution-creation debate have been sitting by my treadmill. Let's start with a volume of essays edited by William Dembski and titled Darwin's Nemesis (InterVarsity). The nemesis is none other than Phillip Johnson, a past Daniel of the Year in WORLD and the founder of the Intelligent Design movement. Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, and others provide accounts that historians a century from now will find valuable.

Carson Holloway's The Right Darwin: Evolution, Religion, and the Future of Democracy (Spence, 2006) nails secular conservatives like James Q. Wilson who have seized on sociobiology to show that human nature is not liberally malleable. Holloway shows that Darwinism is morally disastrous and cannot sustain support for human rights.

Hugh Ross' Creation as Science (NavPress, 2006) should have shelf life over the coming decades because it shows ways to compare Intelligent Design and Darwinian models as new information emerges. For example, as astronomers discover more planets outside our solar system and learn more about their parent stars, they may find increasing evidence that solar system characteristics permitting the evidence of advanced life are relatively common: That would be a plus for those with faith in Darwin.

Or, they may find those characteristics to be exceedingly rare: That would be a plus for Intelligent Design advocates. And if they found characteristics that suggest an extreme youthfulness of all stars and planets, young-earthers could rejoice. Ross supplies 52 such tests.

David Snoke's A Biblical Case for an Old Earth (Baker, 2006) lucidly examines both the biblical account and the evidence now available and suggests that it's both righteous and reasonable to consider the earth to be billions rather than thousands of years old.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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