September 8, 2005

Rare Jewel Review

I received a year long subscription to Rare Jewel Magazine through Blog for Books. They have sent me three issues of the magazine to review thus far.

Overall I do not enjoy nor do I recommend this magazine. When I first heard of the magazine I was very excited to be reviewing it. I thought it would be a good read, informative and helpful to Christians in our modern day culture. As a solid Christian, a scholar, and a person with deep interest in citizen involvement in politics I felt it would be good reading for me. I was interested to see their take on cultural issues and their recommendation for getting Christians more involved.

After reading two issues of the magazine and having a very hard time even getting into the third issue I am pretty sure the agenda of this magazine and I do not mesh. The magazine has a clear agenda and it is not just to provide information to people seeking it. RJM intends to motivate people to read and take action. I am all in support of that as well. Being informed and active citizens is essential to our government and Christians do need to step up and take on more of this role. However, the approach of RJM is essentially a radical rejection of our current modern day culture and a movement to get back to the original roots of the nation. This is something I can not support and it is therefore difficult to read the articles in the magazine without seeing the agenda behind them.

Before I continue I need to outline a bit about my background. I have a Masters degree in Rhetoric and Communication, a solid background in Argumentation and Debate, and have researched, written on and taught on subjects such as apologetics, postmodernism, and feminism from a biblical perspective. Issues of Christians living in our modern day culture and being in the world but not of the world are very important to me and an integral part of how I live my day to day life. I start with the Word of God as my foundation (in a very literal way) and look to how it applies to these issues and how we as Christians are to respond. In many ways my goals and approach are much like those of the writers and editors at RJM. With one critical difference in my mind - the approach recommended and the tone used.

Before you go further I urge you to read the Declaration of Dependence that was written by and actively promoted by the staff of RJM. This is a document that began as an article in the March/April issue of the Rare Jewel Magazine and then has become much more. From the RJM website:

"The DoD is a document drafted by Rare Jewel Magazine to enlist citizens in a born-again American Revolution -- a national campaign that is distinctively united and committed to America's restoration.

The DoD provides citizen patriots with a document of common agreement for meditation, encouragement, and action -- a tool that will unite voices into a single, clear message and unified front. With unity and clarity of purpose and direction citizens are encouraged to multiply their strength and achieve success in the battle to redeem the culture and reform the government.

'All citizens are invited to read and sign the Declaration of Dependence,' said Rare Jewel Media founder and president Tim Ewing. 'Share it... urge neighbors and leaders to sign it... use it as a standard to measure candidates for public office, community leaders and elected officials, authorities in churches and schools... and make it your meditation, thereby engaging in this new Revolutionary War for the soul of our nation and its citizens.'

This is not just a passing article of the magazine; this is on the front page of their website, being actively promoted in the follow-up issues of their magazines and in their press releases. This is the agenda and goal of RJM - to "Restore America" through “a tool that will unite voices into a single, clear message and unified front." - the Declaration of Dependence.

It is not even that I disagree with all the statements in the Declaration, there are some I completely agree with. Yet this is not the Word of God, this is not the basis for a unified front I want to see Christians take. The only unified front we truly have and need to have as Christians is the cross. Bottom line, it all comes back to Christ and it all comes back to his sacrifice for us and our relationship with Him. To put so much emphasis on creating Declarations and promoting a unified front against a cultural assault is not what we as Christians are called to do. This document meant to unify can and I believe will divide more than unify. There are many things in there that are simply not limiting themselves to the Word of God and the call we as Christians have. It is a time bound document, one meant to deal one by one with cultural issues such as abortion, sanctity of marriage, evolution and cloning. Is this a way to encourage Christians to get involved politically, yes. Is it the only way, no. Is it the best way, no.

To truly make change in our culture we need to continue to embrace and speak of the cross. We need to be bold Christians, yes. We need to follow Christ's example in our words, deeds, and our voting habits. We need to be involved politically and support candidates that share our values. We need to confront political issues that fly in the face of our beliefs and what we know to be the truth yes. But we need to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. We need to embrace and love those with different opinions and beliefs. We need to work within the system and not alienate those who can and want to help us.

This review may seem to have become more of a review of the Declaration of Dependence than of the magazine in itself. I would concede that point but emphasize the fact that all the articles of the magazine can be read through this filter. To me it seems that RJM is not hiding their agenda as many other magazines and forms of media do. They want to inform and motivate change and they have a tool by which they mean to do so.

Being a communications scholar I have tried several times to just read each article in the magazines for the value of themselves. Yet I also can not remove the context of the whole magazine from each piece. There have been several articles I have enjoyed to be sure. There has been some information put forward that I did not know. Yet personally I feel unable to take anything said in this magazine at face and would follow-up with research to discover if there are biases present in the information put forward. RJM has not won my trust as a reliable source of information. A fresh source of information and perspective not being reported, yes they are that.

Some people may love this magazine. It is written in short article and interview style, it is colorful and easy to read. Each issue is designed to take on a single issue and dig deeper into it from a variety of perspectives. The three issues I reviewed so far dealt with the sanctity of life, creation versus evolution, and Christophobia in our culture.

RJM does offer a risk-free cancel at anytime subscription and you can order individual back issues to examine. I am not saying I recommend that but if you are interested in the magazine I would encourage you to try that first before purchasing a subscription. You can also learn more about the magazine at Rare Jewel Magazine.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:00 PM

    I think this is a great review because you state respectfully why you struggle with some of the contents, but also point out that you did enjoy some of the articles too.

    I look forward to your other reviews, and I'm sure Tim would definitely enjoy your perspective. :)

    Stacy L. Harp