Creation Illustrated is a high quality quarterly publication which seeks to refresh and renew the faith of its readers through inspiring stories, spiritually challenging articles, creation science updates, contests, puzzles, and recipes. Called the "Christian alternative to National Geographic," this Bible-based Creation Science nature journal is filled to the brim with vibrant photography and uplifting articles. It strives to bring balance between the physical and spiritual man, emphasizing an appreciation for nature. It seeks to help its readers find wisdom and peace through Biblical truths, and to share an appreciation of the blessings revealed in the wonders of God's creation.
Started by homeschooling parents, Tom and Jennifer Ish, this publication has been the mission field of this family for almost twenty years. They state "Our purpose is to share the wonders of God's creation. By revealing fresh insights of His infinite wisdom, gentle touch, undeniable justice, redeeming love, and flawless design, pure truth shall bring renewed peace. Each part of this publication is offered as a reprieve from the daily rigors of life so that all can look to the future with unbridled gratitude and hope."
We received two issues of Creation Illustrated magazine to review as a family. My children were impressed by the colorful and inspiring images on every page. Ladybug, Tex, and I like to take pictures with my digital camera, and just seeing the gorgeous photography made me wish my camera was working so that we could try a few of the shots out using our own beautiful surroundings.
While most of the content was not really geared towards the under 10 years old crowd, Ladybug leafed through the magazine a time or two and appreciated a story comparing a stray cat who didn't trust anyone even though it had been adopted by a loving family to those who have been adopted by God, yet still don't trust Him to care for them. This was from the Children's Story feature. There was also a nature-related word search in the back of the magazine that helped pass the time once while in a waiting room. It was easy enough for the younger kids to enjoy.
Other regular features include: Creation Up Close, Re-Creation and Restoration Through Outdoor Adventure, Creatures Near and Dear to Us, Children's Story, Gardens Around the World, Genesis Cuisine, Creation Highlights, Creation Stewardship, My Walk With God, and Wholesome Fun for All to Enjoy.
For families who might want to use a publication like this to supplement family devotions, or other homeschool studies, Creation Illustrated always has an Instructional Guide in the back of the magazine with discussion questions for each article. They also host a regular photography contest for your budding photographers. For those who are future journalists, we noted that one article was written by a ninth grade homeschooled child, so it is possible to submit articles for consideration, too. You can read the guidelines for submissions here.
One story I particularly appreciated, Witness in the Wilderness (found in the Summer 2011 issue), was about a female volunteer forest ranger who was in an isolated area on a mountain when she encountered five men of middle eastern descent. In spite of her discomfort at being alone with men she did not know (which was exacerbated by their very forward and odd questions), they had a surprisingly deep conversation that transcended their cultural differences and which was a true witness to them. They admired her courage and appreciated the faith in Christ that showed through her kind Christian witness. One of them told her as she left, "I will never be the same again. I didn't know a person like you existed in the whole world. I will never forget what you have told us." What an inspiring and powerful way to show that you can be called into being a witness for Christ anywhere, anytime, even on top of a deserted mountain in the middle of a rainstorm.
While I found several of the stories in the two issues to be inspiring, my preference for magazines turns more toward the scientific. There were two regular sections in the magazine which covered recent findings that support creation science and environmental issues, and I loved these, but alas, each one was only one page long. I wish their "Tips for Simple Living" article about natural insect repellents had included not only a list of potential ingredients for making oils to keep bugs off of your family, but also had step-by-step photographs of the process and specific recipes for combinations of the essential oils that smell best together.
The healthy recipes looked interesting and delicious, but since there are only three per issue, that's not really enough to convince me I need to subscribe. I think the photography contest would be something my older children would like eventually, and they did enjoy checking out the winners in each issue, as well as admiring the photography throughout the magazine, but currently, they are not at the point where a contest like the one offered in the magazine is something they would feel they could do (there are pretty good cash prizes, though!).
All of those issues, however, have only to do with our particular preferences. There are many families who would truly benefit from having this lovely magazine grace their living room table for all to peruse at their leisure.
I do have one final comment about the magazine. I was uncertain whether to present it, but then decided that I must. As I glanced at the ads in the back of the magazine, I realized that there were several from Seventh-Day Adventist organizations. You can usually tell a lot about a publication from its ads. Further inspection revealed that the "prize" for being one of the first fifty respondents to send in the information reply card was an Adventist publication. The only reason I made these connections is that I am revamping our church library and discovered a book which I initially liked, but then I started detection something that was not quite "right." When I investigated it, I realized it, too, was an Adventist publication, so I had to look up their doctrine. Here is what I found.
I want you to know that I am not saying that this magazine promotes anything aberrant in any of their articles. In fact, one of the apologists I read said that conservative Christians are likely to find more in common with Adventists (who tend to be conservative) than with most members of modern-day churches. However, there is the fact that you must always know who is writing and supporting what you and your children are reading (and from what perspective they are writing). I personally enjoy publications from companies who are largely Calvinist, and I do not agree with all of their doctrine either, so I take what I believe to be scriptural and benefit from it, and do not take in the rest. You must decide what your family should do. I just felt that it was important to share what I noticed with you.
Creation Illustrated is available for $19.95 for a year's worth of issues (4) or $37.95 for two years (8). You can request a free trial issue, then if you decide you like it, you get to keep that issue and receive four more issues at the regular price. That's a good deal!
Check out what other reviewers had to say about Creation Illustrated at the Homeschool Review Crew Blog.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.