Sunday, October 20, 2013

Emily wins a door prize

Over the weekend, I attended a women's event at my church, Restoration House Family Worship Center, and won a giveaway that I was fairly excited to get: The New Testament wrapped up in a sanctified Cosmo style magazine called  "Becoming."  I've never been one to read fashion magazines, and I grew up being loyal to just one version of the bible. But even Paul said he tried to be all things to all men so that he might save some. I see the NCV Becoming: The Complete New Testament (Biblezines) as doing that for the 20-30 something woman who might be open to the gospel but isn't interested in scholarly commentary and has a short attention span.

The version of this Bible I received is first edition, published in 2004. This means the content and style of the magazine is somewhat dated. Considering that most of the items in my closet are about a decade behind the times, this didn't bother me too much! Thomas Nelson has since published a few newer editions and a Wisdom Books Biblezine too.

What I liked
I'm kind of a sucker for those personality type quizzes, and this magazine is replete with them. What kind of gemstone are you? (A pearl) Do you have a tender heart? (Apparently not so much) How well do you relate to men? (According to the quiz, very well, which is good since I live with four of them) As with most magazine quizzes, they were kind of cheesy and not terribly illuminating, but entertaining nonetheless.

Becoming also divides the New Testament up into monthly portions, with a calendar and a monthly "Book Review" that is more of a promotional blurb for a Christian book than a true review. The calendar is sprinkled through with suggested enrichment activities such as doing something nice for your hairstylist or scheduling a mammogram or praying for a "person of influence" like Jamie Lee Curtis on her birthday. I like the idea of it... but if I were in charge, I might have filled that calendar up with different suggestions: Go for a walk in the woods and marvel at God's creation. Pray for a missionary family you know. Schedule your yearly OB-GYN appointment? After all, the target audience might be a little young for mammograms.

The New Century Version is geared toward easy reading in modern language. It divides longer sentences into multiple shorter ones in an effort to keep things simple, perhaps for lower reading levels. Each book begins with a page introducing the context of the book and a basic summary of key themes. I thought this was done well and gave the New Testament a sense of continuity that would really benefit many people who might struggle to read the entire Bible from cover to cover.

The fluff
As a magazine, Becoming makes ample use of side bars, info boxes and mini features--many of which tie into the theme of the corresponding scriptures. The beauty tips, in my mind, were the least useful. I really don't want to be thinking about how to make my lips look plumper or my eye lashes fuller when I'm getting into the Word, even if said tips conclude with an exhortation to be careful about what those luscious lips say or alluring eyes see. Those who do care about such things would find the beauty advice overly simplistic, or perhaps distracting from the spiritual principles this magazine aims to deliver.

There are also a bunch of "All About Men" features. I found some of them off-putting. Info boxes about the evils of porn are juxtaposed with my favorite verses in Philippians chapter three, ensuring that I wouldn't be lingering on that page. It's not that those issues aren't relevant for a lot of women, it's just that it didn't really aid me in meditating on scriptures.

My take-away
I really like what the folks at Thomas Nelson were trying to do with this and other Biblezines. I could easily see these in doctor's office waiting rooms or as a good gift to give an un-churched friend who's about to go on a road trip. It's a great tool for the gospel and to allow new believers to explore a wide variety of topics while also learning to cultivate a love for the Bible. For a Christian who is on to a more meat than milk diet, Becoming might not be the best reading material to wile away the hours. I'll probably do the rest of the quizzes and then give my copy away to someone who might be blessed by the innovative format.

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