Book Review

Loosing the Lion: An Unscholarly Book Review

A week or so ago I received my copy of Dr. Leroy Huizenga’s Loosing the Lion.  I immediately* flipped to Chapter One and read the opening line, “Our age is numb.” Yes, and I’d probably add “and dumb.” Huizenga then went on to say that we need to shock our age into reality through the means of beauty. To which I thought, yes again, like the great Flannery O’Connor with her shocking short stories.

I had to put the book down, though, because I had six children clamoring for my attention at the time. My sons, however, noticed the cover and if critiques from 6 and 9 year-olds matter, they liked it—no sissified rainbows there, just fierce-looking lions.

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Praise from 6 and 9-year-olds.  Check out that awesome book cover.

It was only later upon picking it up again that I noticed Huizenga closes Chapter one with a Flannery O’Connor quotation. Man I’m good.

But I’m not very smart, being a recovering member of our numb age, so it was with great trepidation that I continued reading this scholarly work. After all, I’m a stay-at-mother, what do I know?

Incidentally, this is why I read the book. I don’t know much about Mark. Yes, I’ve read all four Gospels in their entirety, but really, I could stand a little more Biblical Education. And I like a challenge.

Part 1: Preaching the Gospel of Mark

This book is divided into two parts, and I was pleasantly pleased with Huizenga’s opening chapters discussing beauty. We all know our culture is desperately in need of a restoration of all things beautiful, especially in the liturgy, which he mentions.

His point I most appreciated, however, was that we ought to just read Mark as a whole—not chopped up into bits. It’s a short Gospel after all about one rollicking ride of a battle between good and evil. So just pick the Bible up and read it.

As an aside, Huizenga also makes a great case for classical education, whether or not he realizes it, with his emphasis on great story telling and rhetorical preaching and beauty and all the rest.
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Dr. Leroy Huizenga.  Professor, Speaker, and Author.  He and his wife also homeschool their 3 children.

Part 2: The Gospel of Mark in the Lectionary

In any case, after the opening chapters, Huizenga then digs into the Lectionary for the Year of Mark, which happens to be this year in our liturgical readings.   And it was a challenge for me to read this section of the book, for he mentions all kinds of foreign terms. You know, like chiastic structures, ABA sandwiches, and synecdoches.   (What any of these are I don’t know. It’s beyond my stay-at-home pay grade.)

But still his style of writing is engaging, and I did appreciate his analysis.  He wrote of many things that I had never thought of before.  For example, I have never read the stories of Jairus’s daughter and the hemorrhaging woman together, as a “sandwich,” not to be picked apart in Mark 5:21-43.

In this story, Jesus is on his way to Jairus’s house to heal his fatally ill daughter, only to be interrupted by a hemorrhaging woman reaching out to touch him, only to be interrupted again by one of Jairus’s servants announcing his little girl’s death.  (I understand this pattern is called an “ABA sandwich.”  Look at how much I learned!)

In both cases, ritual impurity is involved–one being a dead corpse, the other experiencing embarrassing bleeding.  One is a 12-year-old upon her “death,” and the other has had 12 years of bleeding misery.  Therefore, the good Jew that He is, one might think Jesus would stay away from such uncleanliness.  But of course he doesn’t.  Rather, he heals both women and calls them “daughter,” which is not insignificant.

But what’s my point?  Part 2 of Huizenga’s book is loaded with great information about Mark that only serves to help one enter more deeply into Scriptures.

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This is St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.  I took this picture a bazillion years ago, when studying art.  I can’t think of Mark without thinking of this iconic Basilica and campanile.  You should look it up for fun.

Conclusion

The most important thing about Huizenga’s book, however, is that it inspired me to read Mark again–in its entirety–and to ponder Jesus Christ, true God and true man, a little more deeply.

Any book, painting, sculpture, or whatever that points one towards the Truth is worthwhile.  So my advice is to pick up both books–Loosing the Lion and Mark–and read on!

 Want More?

Dr. Huizenga will be featured on Jennifer Fulwiler’s Sirius XM radio station on Wednesday, January 24th, at 1:20pm.  You should all tune in.  Click HERE for Fulwiler’s website.  Some of you may remember that I mentioned Fulwiler in a previous post?  She’s hysterical.  Click HERE for that post and look under Point 1.

For more information on Dr. Huizenga, click HERE for his website.

And for those of you interested in my series “A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool,” I’ll be posting Part 3 very soon.

*Immediately.  Mark is particularly noted for his use of this word.  It was his favorite; he used it 41 times.

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