One of the texts our kids go through is Richard Hannula’s Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History. Being a student of Church History (my BA in History centered on Church History, and focused on martyrdom), I was excited about the prospects of going through Trial and Triumph with our kids. I got even more excited when I saw the very first chapter/story was about Polycarp. Can you beat that?
Trial and Triumph sought to tell us about the history of the Church over the centuries by picking some major names and personalities in various eras, and told their stories. Hannula put together summaries of the lives and events surrounding people like Polycarp, Athanasius, Charlemagne, Francis of Assisi, John Huss, Martin Luther, Jonathon Edwards, David Livingstone, and many others.
I read a little ahead in order to preview the stories and talk with my wife about whether or not we should go through that story with our kids. We don’t want to simply have the book, read the stories aloud with the kids, and move on to the next project. And we as parents want to be integrally involved in what our kids are learning. And we will not let garbage come through. I have seen some very good stories (e.g. Polycarp) and some very bad stories (e.g. Constantine, Athanasius). We’ll be reading the stories we consider “good” and be able to discuss the story as it is. We will not be reading with the kids the stories we consider “bad.” Not because we don’t want them exposed to that part of Church History yet. (Ha! I’ve had quite a few discussions with our kids about the dark side of Church History.) The stories are “bad” because they are wrong. The history displayed is not accurate, and would do more harm than good. If we were to read the story, we’d spend so much time talking about the corrections.
Instead, I figure we can back fill. We can present our own summary history. That should fill in the gaps for our kids as they continue to go through the book; some later stories make reference to prior ones. For instance, the story of Constantine is very, very poor. But instead of skipping the person and era of Constantine altogether (which would be a shame as he is a major figure in Church and world history), we’ll supplement the story with what we would consider a more accurate portrayal of the history, of the man; to be fair to the history of the era. We Christians should proclaim and teach truth. We need to be honest about our history, the good and the bad. Hannula painted a rosey, romantic picture of Constantine. While I will get to the details in a future post, that was far from true. I would much rather discuss the real Constantine, and the real fourth century.
On this blog I will be reviewing each story (maybe each of them). I figure there are other families going through this book and maybe getting another perspective could be helpful. The reviews will be short, nothing entirely in depth (time will not allow it). But for the problem areas, I will do my best to supply a comparable alternative. If I cannot simply write out the alternative here, I’ll at least link to sites/articles/books that will help out.
Sound like a plan? They do not go through a story a day. So this series will not be one right after another. Might be two weeks in between.