Thursday, 30 April 2015

Calvin’s Institutes for Little Princesses

It’s a clichĂ©, I know, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I had in mind to write something moderately humorous along the lines of Calvin’s Institutes for Little Princesses, or Calvin’s Institutes for Girls – something designed gently to mock the proliferation of gender-specific Bibles available these days. But when I googled the latter title to make sure nobody else had had the same idea, I came across Caroline Weerstra’s Calvin for Teens: Institutes of the Christian Religion in Modern English, Book One: The Knowledge of God the Creator (Common Life Press, 2012). Weerstra’s book is based on Henry Beveridge’s translation of the Institutes, includes information panels and study questions, and looks to be a not unworthy publication in its own right. And so I no longer feel that a post ‘advertising’ Calvin’s Institutes for Little Princesses is as edgily satirical as I first supposed; a shame, for sure.

It turns out that Caroline Weerstra has written a number of books designed to instruct children and teenagers in the ways of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I can’t say how effective these books are, but judging by the free samples available here, they look good and seem helpful. It’s a pity that the section on the Trinity isn’t available as part of the sample, as I’d love to see how Weerstra elucidates a doctrine that continues to stump my now-seven-year-old, despite his attempts to wrestle with it. Perhaps instead of scoffing at gender-specific Bibles, I should save my energy and write a pamphlet entitled The Athanasian Creed for Juniors . . .


  1. Please, please write a "Calvin's Institutes for Little Princesses". If you do, I'll write the song about Calvin to the tune of the Can-can that you commissioned about a year ago. ;)

    Despite my best efforts, I'm still massively prejudiced against Calvin and his Institutes, so I probably won't be buying Weerstra's doubtless wonderful work for my offspring. Have to admit I wasn't all that keen on her elucidation of the Westminster Catechism either, but maybe I'm not her target audience.

    Seriously though, I think the Athanasian Creed for Juniors might not be a bad idea... I'd probably read it for myself, rather than for my children.

    1. I feel the moment's gone for Calvin's Institutes for Little Princesses, but I might still think of something else along those lines. How about Teilhard de Chardin for Football-mad Boys?

      Just out of curiosity, what was it about Weerstra's books on the WC (so to speak) that didn't appeal to you? Is it the subject matter (the WC (so to speak) itself) or the way she'd presented things?

    2. Definitely want to see some Teilhard de Chardin for kids...

      With Weerstra, I'm only basing it on the excerpts available online, but it was both the subject matter and the presentation. The Westminster Catechism is probably very good and worthy but it's never struck me as something I'd want to teach my kids. And if I did, I probably wouldn't use Weerstra's book - which again is probably good, but I found the style offputting. Maybe just me.