Overview of the History
Sonlight's 200 History of the Christian Church seeks to give young people an understanding of their extended family of believers and their heritage as citizens of God's kingdom. It teaches both traditional "Church History," as well as the expansion of the Gospel from the early days in the Roman Empire until now. It seeks to answer questions such as: What has God done through history? How is he moving today? How are we part of the global Body of Christ, and how is the Body bigger than our local churches and denominations?
Church History can offer a more accurate perspective on Christianity – both the good and the bad. We don't have to pretend Christians have only helped the world. Nor do we have to think that the violent Crusades are a valid representation of most of Church History. We can celebrate the hope, compassion, freedom, and progress Christianity has brought society, while understanding the uncomfortable realities of our history.
The foundational text of this program, The Story of Christianity, is coauthored by a Catholic and a Protestant – providing as balanced a point of view as possible. (I personally come from a Protestant perspective, but recognize that the Protestant movement is only part of the whole, and arrived on the scene after 1,500 years of Church History. I understand that Christians in the Western and Eastern Hemispheres have important places in the Christian story.)
To expand on that book, the schedule interweaves The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History, offering additional insight into key moments in Christian history.
Ruth Tucker tells the history of Christian missions in From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. Engaging biographical sketches introduce you to people God has used through the ages.
As The Story of Christianity says, "For Christians and non-Christians alike, the story of Christianity is a major part of the world's history. The Christian faith has affected every sphere of life, from morality to politics, from art to literature, from science to philosophy."
My hope and expectation is that students who complete Sonlight 200 will know God better, love Jesus more dearly, understand the world around them more fully, and follow God's call on their lives more completely.
Estimated daily time for History of the Christian Church: Student: 45min.
Our high school programs are separated by subject to allow customers maximum flexibility. Feel free to buy either the History or the Literature, or both, or to mix-and-match with the History and Literature of other Sonlight programs.
Overview of the Literature
The underlying framework of 200 Literature is not obvious at first glance, but it has both a chronological progression and a general emphasis on great works by British authors, plus some of my favorites, too.
It is a stand-alone product and, though it moves in the same progression as 200 History, they are not scheduled to match.
As always, I seek to provide a mix of challenging and easier works, by males and females, in a range of genres.
The range of genres, in this case, is especially rich: historical fiction, legend, short story, lyric poetry, detective stories, ghost story, Gothic horror, science fiction, fantasy, memoir, Gothic romance, adventure, novel, allegory, survival tale, tragedy, epistolary, myth, and comedy.
Looking first at the chronological progression, C.S. Lewis's powerful book Till We Have Faces is a retelling of a Greek myth, with a setting something like ancient Greece.
Then, moving forward in time, students read Pontius Pilate, which introduces current archaeological scholarship to the few details about Pilate given in the Gospels.
Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novel The Shining Company, set in A.D. 500, is based on a battle attempted and lost, a book shimmery in its beauty. (How many beautiful books about the Dark Ages can you think of? A rarity, for sure.)
Next comes, my absolute favorite of all Robin Hood tales, that hero from the time of Richard the Lionheart, who lived in the 12th Century.
One hundred years later, comes The Ramsay Scallop, set in 1299, in which a young man, back from the Crusades, goes on Pilgrimage with his betrothed.
Continuing on, find a tale set in Eyam in 1665, a village in England that, when the Plague arrived, determined to close themselves off from the rest of the world to prevent further outbreak.
And, finally Robinson Crusoe, which Daniel Defoe published in 1719, is credited as beginning the genre of realistic fiction.
In addition to progressing chronologically, this program has an emphasis on classic British Literature, with a few of my favorites thrown in.
Because Shakespeare is important, students get to read my favorite comedy (Twelfth Night) and his most famous tragedy (Romeo and Juliet). Students get to read two books by the incomparable Dickens: Oliver Twist ("Please, sir, I want some more") and his Christmas Carol, a necessary part of cultural literacy. Also, one of the world's most famous allegories, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
There are books that might be considered "boy" books: Treasure Island, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
There are books that might be considered "girl" books: The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre.
But that's just silly. These are all just great books. Boys should enjoy them all. Girls should enjoy them all.
I mentioned that 200 Lit includes a few of my favorites. While these wouldn't qualify for the canon (the books widely recognized as being the most important to a particular time), they are worth reading. From the engrossing fantasy The Gammage Cup, to the powerful memoir Going Solo, these shorter, easier works offer some reprieve, while still offering thought-provoking insight and beautiful writing.
It's a great year.
This program is an interesting one to me. When I think of my all-time favorite Sonlight books, few of these come to mind immediately. But when I actually consider these books, it's like they're all sleeper hits. Great reads, all. It's hard to pick favorites because the books are uniformly really solid. When I return to 200, I feel like I'm meeting old friends. When people ask which ones they could cut to make it more manageable, I'm not much help. It's simply a fabulous collection.
Fully integrated with the Literature, this year's Language Arts builds on past years and continues to develop literary analysis, creative writing, research, and essay skills, with weekly writing assignments in a range of lengths and topics.
Estimated daily time for Classic Literature: Student: 45min.
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