Sunday, February 10, 2008

Book Review: The Daring Book for Girls

The Daring Book for Girls is intended as a companion to "The Dangerous Book for Boys" with it's title and similar cover design, but it has a very important difference. Since I have no sons, I relied on the opinon of some of my Catholic friends who loved that book for their sons. I was thrilled for my adventurous 10 year old to have a similar book. Isabella loves outdoor activities, sports, and tradtional music, and this book contains all this and more.
I got a preview copy to review for a possible TV appearance on the "Good Morning America" with my girls to endorse the book before it came out in October. Within five minutes of reading this attractively packaged book, I noticed the occult elements and had to decline the invitation. I couldn't speak positively about a book which may lead young women into sinful practices (fortune telling, necromancy) which are forbidden by the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
2116 "All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan, demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to 'unveil' the future. (Deuteronomy 18:10) Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens or lots, the phenomenon of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone."

This book with all it's interesting chapters like flower pressing, making your own rip line, campfire songs, etc. mixes in harmful elements like Palm Reading p 8, evoking "Bloody Mary" p102, and Yoga on p 191. That these elements are included within a largely wholesome book is even more insidious as it implies they are harmless. I asked author Miriam Peskowitz to consider removing these elements, and haven't heard from her. She would have my most hearty endorsement if she did.


Tom M. said...

Certainly the CCC is very clear on astrology, but we need to remember that it was not always so. From Church Fathers up until the Renaissance, divination was condemned. During the Renaissance, however, all courts, including the Papacy, retained astrologers and never made a move without using them. It was partially linked to the fascination with astronomy, and partially a mere fad, but as Catholics we need to be aware of this history. There have been "Christian astrologers" who, while certainly misguided, did not believe they were practicing divination. They believed that they were simply reading signs already provided by God. Again, I'm not saying any of this is okay, I'm just saying we need to be aware of our past. Certainly no Christian should be messing with astrology.

And while elements of Yoga are incompatible with the faith, the postures in the Daring Book amount to little more than stretching exercises stripped of spiritual context.

Aside from that, with proper guidance, I'd say the Dangerous/Daring books are quite good. I read these with my daughter and son, and point out the things we don't do because they are spiritually harmful. I say the same things when we read stories of pagan gods and goddesses (we do a lot of classical mythology). I don't agree with the idea that simply being exposed to things like this makes them into a kind of "gateway drug" to the occult. I actually think the opposite. Being exposed to them, and educated about their dangers, strips them of their dubious mystique and makes children better prepared when they encounter them later in life.

Leticia said...

Tom, your children are fortunate to have a father so well versed in his faith and Church history, and involved in their lives. Unfortunately, most parents don't know what's in the books their children read, and don't discuss their reading with them. Thus the warning.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

During the Gospel reading of Jesus being tempted by the Devil in the wilderness, I was struck at the clever ways in which Satan used God's own words in twisted ways. He also did this with Eve ("Hath God said..."). He tries to lead us to believe God's rules are not so black and white and a that little prevarication can be innocent and harmless. This is why Lucifer is also referred to as coming as the Angel of Light. The occult is dangerous in every form and we must steer our children away from any appearance of evil. I am so glad that you have pointed out these elements in your book review!

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

It is amazing to find that I commented here and yet, 9 months later, accidentally bought the book! I was directed toward this post by an email I received when I got home from the store. I went directly to page 102 and was so horrified at what I had almost given my daughter as a Christmas present. This material is so dangerous and I could see how it could even lead to a troubled girl physically hurting herself. I immediately tore out the page and burned it. The book is in the trash where it belongs. Our children are too precious to take a risk on having them dabble in witchcraft. I think the author had a motive for sticking such material throughout the book. I saw The Daring Book for Boys on the shelf at Walmart as a boardgame.