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Book review: I Won’t Take the Mark

I Won’t Take the Mark:
A Bible Book and Contract for Children

By Katherine Albrecht, Ed.D.
Illustrations by Julia Pearson
Patterns and borders by AlfredoM Graphic Arts Studio
Designed by Monica Thomas
2014, 40 pages, $22.50

Available from
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I have been remiss. I received review copies of this book around Christmastime and intended to write it up at the first of the year. I was planning to pair reviews with Vin Suprynowicz’s The Testament of James — something for believers, something for curious skeptics, good books from very different points of view.

Then the comment section on Testament got so weird (with people more interested in pushing personal grievances than talking about Vin’s book) that I freaked out & backed off from anything religion-related.

So I hope The Albrechts will be okay with “better late than never.”

I Won’t Take the Mark is for bible-believing Christian parents and their children. Definitely not for non-believers and also not for middle-of-the-roadish Christians who think the bible is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.

Clearly, I’m not in the book’s target audience.

That said, however, the book is lovely. I mean both that it’s physically lovely (this is a deliciously designed and laid-out book, professional and polished in every way) and that, for Christian parents, this book is a strong aid to teaching a very necessary lesson: resist any authority that forces you into that terrible state where you can neither buy nor sell (nor do much of anything else) without that authority’s assigned number.

It lays the groundwork for the vital idea that sometimes you just have to take a stand on principle, even when doing so is terrifying and dangerous. It creates vital skepticism toward earthly central authority and offers tools to turn mere skepticism into something more useful: resistance.

Do I agree with the book’s implication that God will burn you in hell if you make a single wrong choice? Nope. (That is precisely the sort of childhood teaching that began the process of ruining religion for me forever.)

On the other hand, I seriously respect (and often envy) my Christian friends who believe that God stands with them when they stand on principle, and that God will protect them and reward them when they face fear and danger for His sake. Man, that is some big incentive to be strong and brave. And that’s where Katherine and friends (two “nurturers,” Tiffany Daschke and Katina Michael, Ph.D., receive credit for having helped with the book) place their emphasis, on God’s love, support, and rewards for those who remain faithful.

The book doesn’t state that the infamous mark is already here. It does warn against some contemporary practices like biometric ID, hand-stamping (as at concerts), and face-painting that may (or may not) in themselves be harmless but that could condition young people eventually to accept the unacceptable.

In that, too, it’s valuable for its audience. How often is the “heat in the pot” turned up so slowly that the poor frog doesn’t notice? This book helps raise awareness of that.

A contract comes with the book, asking children to pledge never to take the mark. While I’m not sure a young child can meaningfully make such a pledge, again even old skeptical me sees virtue here in teaching children that their word, their character, matters.

Bottom line: This book is probably not for most people reading this. But if you’re in its target audience, you should have a copy of this book, read it to your young ones, and keep it around for your older children to read on their own. (NFI on my part, BTW, except for the Amazon link above.)

An offer: The Albrechts sent me two copies of I Won’t Take the Mark. I’m keeping one. I told them I’d give the other (unopened and still in its shrink-wrap) to somebody who could make good use of it. So I’ll mail that copy to the first person to post a comment asking for it. Just let me know you want the book, post using a working email address, and I’ll contact you privately for your shipping info.


Katherine and Dana Albrecht are amazing people and as you may know Katherine is not only an author and radio personality, but is (along with Dana) part of the team behind the privacy-respecting Ixquick and StartPage search engines and the new StartMail service.

Katherine also survived a very nasty, aggressive form of breast cancer in 2011. Unfortunately, in January of this year, that cancer grabbed her again — this time in her brain. Somehow she manages to laugh about the “adventure” involved in an extraordinary podcast that even I (notoriously unable to sit through any online video or audio longer than five minutes) listened to in admiration.

In Katherine’s shoes, I do believe I’d be curled up in a corner somewhere in utter despair. But the Albrechts remain of good cheer while they apply their considerable intellects, faith, and research skills to the problem.

Katherine and Dana, may you live long and prosper.


  1. Kevin
    Kevin March 12, 2015 1:27 pm

    I’ll bite. I would pass it around to parents at my church.

  2. RW
    RW March 12, 2015 1:56 pm

    I would like the book, for a while, it would be passed on to one of several friends/neighbors that would fit who its intened to reach. Katherine has my utmost respect for her work, and my outlook does not likely fit the profile of the intended audience but I would like to read it and pass it on to others. Best wishes to her and family for the “adventure”, not many could handle it so well.

  3. Claire
    Claire March 12, 2015 2:16 pm

    Well, Kevin got in first, though his comment stayed in moderation. So he gets the offered unopened book. That was quick. πŸ™‚

    RW, since your comment was the first to show and since you had such great things to say about Katherine, I’ll send you my copy (opened, but used so lightly it looks new). Both copies are now accounted for. I’ll email you both to get your shipping addresses. Thank you!

  4. Matt, another
    Matt, another March 13, 2015 8:21 am

    I will be purchasing a copy of the book. I am not a big fan of childrens books geared toward religious indoctrination, but since this seems to have decent practical use I can live with it. I really don’t like that contract piece, but don’t have to use it either.

    I have found that very few Christians have enough faith (strenght of belief) to really stand on principle. As long as it is not inconvenient, or dirty, or politically incorrect, they’ll take a stand. But, risk their livelyhood, social standing, money? Not so much.

    The hardest thing to do, for anyone is to make a principled stand when you know that win or lose, it will cost you everything you have.

  5. FishOrMan
    FishOrMan March 13, 2015 8:47 am

    I find it inspiring this book has principles we probably all here believe in, (and the Christian perspective only enhances its value for some). I love the fact we have arrived at nearly the same place here on earth, Claire. I prefer to focus on our similarities, than judgement and condemnation, (or 9mm vs. 45). You are loved, (and not only in a “Jesus loves you” kind of way). πŸ˜‰ But exactly because of all those doubts and blasphemy and SIN!!! πŸ˜‰ Have a day filled with love — now if only the sun would be so kind again today…

  6. Old Printer
    Old Printer March 13, 2015 7:29 pm

    Claire, maybe the reason you got so many negative comments about Vin’s book is that it exposed an area of his thinking that had been hidden from view. For many years I’ve admired his editorials in the LV Review Journal. He always seemed to be fighting the good fight against government oppression.

    As a side note, my very liberal, no socialist, older brother had worked at the LVRJ years ago and ended up an editor at the rival Las Vegas Sun. He hated everything Vin S. wrote, which delighted me. That my sister-in-law was head of the local teachers union while Vin lambasted everything about Clark County schools just added to my admiration of him.

    However, when you posted that latest stuff of his, I was flabbergasted. What the hell has the man been doing for years, smoking peyote? It reminded me of something out of Paddy Chayefsky’s, The Hospital.
    Don’t get me wrong – he has every right to indulge or promote whatever he wants. But what a waste of a brilliant writer and free thinker. I have no right to feel betrayed, but somehow I do. Now I am forced to question everything he’s ever written.

  7. Claire
    Claire March 13, 2015 8:23 pm

    I don’t actually recall getting any negative comments about Vin’s book, Old Printer. There were certainly negative visceral reactions to Vin’s subject matter, but it would have been hard for anybody to comment on the book, since nobody had yet read it.

    What I mainly recall was people arriving out of nowhere to proselytize for their religion and air religious grievances unrelated, or barely related, to Vin’s book. Then the whole comment thread … just went haywire.

    Of course you have a right to feel betrayed if you want to. Yet I’d also note that your reaction hints at one of the things I found so bizarre in the book-related comments. People were reacting to a work of fiction and an author interview as if they were personally harmed by Vin’s topic or Vin’s experiences/views on entheogens, even though rationally nobody was injured in any way.

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