An epistolary religious text for young readers, Mr. Smitty Notes: Genesis 1-11 argues that the biblical precepts that helped to shape America’s past are still relevant today.
Mr. Smitty Notes: Genesis 1-11 is made up of religious letters directed to young readers; it draws spiritual principles from Genesis to argue that science does not rule out creationism.
To indicate the past significance of religion in the US, the book begins with discussions of American history from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, including of the founding of Harvard, which had ministerial roots; of George Washington’s addresses to clergy, affirming his belief that religion and morality are important aspects of civil society; and of George Whitefield and Charles Finney’s ministerial work, which paved way for future American ministers.
The book also suggests that later US politicians, including Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, moved away from the precepts that it says are embodied in the Declaration of Independence, which sought to limit and separate the government’s power, and which upheld the equality of all people. This background work proves useful when the book argues that the Bible’s authority over culture has declined, leading to outcomes such as that of The Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. That particular case is at the center of the book’s main argument—that evolution does not rule out creationism.
The text approaches biblical verses, examining them from their roots, including exploring the meanings of Hebrew terms. For example, it considers the portion of Genesis often said to represent the creation of the sun, on the fourth day (one of the main discussions in the Scopes Monkey Trial case), saying that the Bible meant that the sun, and the firmament, were already in existence before the fourth day, and so could still have been used to define days. It also comments on the values learned from the stories of those in Genesis, and the events they faced, arguing that many such values have been lost. Still, the book evades referencing external commentaries internally while doing its work; it seems to rely on its own perspective alone.
Written in a fatherly tone, Mr. Smitty’s letters are candid in delivering their messages to young readers. Each letter handles its section of Genesis in turn, and is also subdivided by verses that address similar topics. Internally, the sentences are short and accessible, and rhetorical questions are used to emphasize points and provoke thought. Some such questions suggest meanings to the verses in question beyond what is openly stated in them; spiritual lessons are suggested at the end of each letter.
Emphasizing the spiritual principles of Genesis that it says are timeless in their value, the epistolary religious text Mr. Smitty Notes: Genesis 1-11 is directed at young audiences and argues that the biblical precepts that helped to shape America’s past are still relevant today.
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