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Creation Illustrated Review by Deborah BurtThe Ish Family
PO Box 7955
Auburn CA 95604
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands! Our family recently "heard" this assertion of nature while on a camping trip in the beautiful Sierra-Nevada mountains; I found myself drawn into a state of worshipping God by the great beauty and vastness of His creation. I have discovered that the pages of Creation Illustrated also entice me into worshipping the Lord through the articles and the gorgeous photos of God's works.
Creation Illustrated is a Bible-based nature journal that has been published by a homeschooling family since 1993. Tom, Jennifer, and Melissa Ish explain that their purpose in publishing this magazine is to share the wonders of God's creation. They hope to reveal "fresh insights of His infinite wisdom, gentle touch, undeniable justice, redeeming love, and flawless design." Each issue is divided into three sections: Creation Illustrated in Nature, Creation Illustrated in Scripture, and Creation Illustrated in Living.
The Nature segment is dedicated to character-building animal stories, outdoor adventures, and in-depth articles on various aspects of nature. Our family recently bought one of those little butterfly kits and did research on butterflies as well. The article "Be Ye Transformed" (Fall 2003, 10-year anniversary issue) gave us information and up-close photos of the transformation process that were more detailed than any textbook or website we had come across in our research! Not only providing academic detail, the article also shared many analogies between a butterfly's transformation and our own from sinners to new creatures in Christ. For example, speaking of the caterpillar's eating habits, the article stated, "Its nearly incessant consumption behavior resembles that of the unconverted human heart. It is only a consumer; it takes, gets, and grabs while giving virtually nothing in return. Ever since sin entered the world, human nature has been self-centered and selfish."
The Scripture section of the magazine is devoted to one particular day of God's Creation each issue. For example, the Winter 2008 issue centered on Creation Day 3 (the creation of land and plants) while the Spring 2008 issue covered Creation Day 4 (the creation of the sun, moon and stars). The publishers repeat the days of creation in cycles (using new writers and fresh photographs each time through), hoping these installments will inspire the reader to study His world in depth. The Scripture section also has a page dedicated to "Creation Highlights." These highlights are little news clips that demonstrate current examples of the faulty-thinking behind theories of evolution or new discoveries that reveal truth in Bible-based convictions.
The section entitled "Creation Illustrated in Living" is meant to encourage creativity in our day-to-day living, including in the home, kitchen, garden, and photography. This section includes devotional articles, a children's story, a youth photo contest, and a resource guide. You'll also find a "Genesis Cuisine" recipe section to help mom provide nutritious meals for the family. The recipes are creative and wholesome, and the photos of the completed meals are beautiful. In the three issues I had at my disposal, all recipes were vegetarian (which makes sense given the Seventh Day Adventist convictions of the publishing family).
The last pages of the magazine are sure to delight many homeschoolers. Each issue has an Instructional Guide, designed to help students integrate and embrace the things they learn from the magazine. The Instructional Guide provides quiz-type or discussion questions for several of the articles. It also includes ideas for activities that tie in with the reading. For example, in the Spring 2008 issue, which included an article called "Are You My Mother?" (about several animals and their mother/child relationships), a suggested activity is to go to the zoo and count and observe the baby creatures. The very last section of the magazine is the advertising section! Like The Old Schoolhouse magazine, Creation Illustrated has many interesting advertisers whose products are worth perusing.
Although the magazine itself is not owned or operated by any denomination, the Ish family and many of the writers of articles belong to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I did not find the magazine to be proselytizing for Seventh Day Adventism, but the flavor of this group does come through often in the articles and advertisements.
Creation Illustrated has been called "A Christian answer to National Geographic." I think this is most true in the high quality of the photographs sprinkled throughout this nature journal. The full-color photos are simply gorgeous and awe-inspiring. Creation Illustrated is the perfect coffee table magazine for work or home where friends will thumb through the pages and be transported into an immediate appreciation for nature. Most importantly, Creation Illustrated constantly points to the Creator behind all creation so that appreciation doesn't end with nature alone.
Creation Illustrated could be utilized in many ways in homeschool families. Families could use the magazine as a devotional or for science lessons. Families could formalize lessons by going through the study questions in the back of the magazine and could even design a well-rounded curriculum around the magazine by following suggested ideas for activities and venturing into further study. There are back issues of Creation Illustrated available for purchase if a family is looking for information on a particular topic. We found our favorite way to use the magazine was to simply leave it lying around the house. The photos are so pretty and the information so interesting that the magazine practically begged to be picked up and looked through. Whenever my kids feel that they are making discoveries by their own initiative, they seem to "own" the information in ways they wouldn't if they read it by my suggestion only. Of course, mom and dad's excitement over what they've learned from Creation Illustrated is often contagious as well.
Overall I was very impressed with Creation Illustrated. Twenty dollars is a small price to pay for this high-quality, glossy magazine. You'll learn a thing or two about nature, and your heart will be pressed into giving God more glory! The publishers offer a free sample copy to anyone interested in the magazine; simply ask for one at the Creation Illustrated website.