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
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.