The author (Paul Brand) is a doctor who has dealt with a lot of leprosy among the poorest people, so a lot of his anecdotes and examples are about people with missing fingers, tumors, etc. I thought this was a "facts of life" book, but it's more of a comparison of the complexity of the human machine and the Christian body of believers. The author, rather than explaing the facts of life, or steering away from it, seems to assume that his readers are adults who are already aware of that information.
I think that if you're not ready to discuss these kinds of subjects with your child, then your child shouldn't read this book yet.
These are the things I flagged:
pg 24 - (in a section about nerves) "What about sexual pleasure? Even that is not as specific and localized as you may think. Erogenous zones have no specialized pleasure nerves; the cells concentrated there also sense touch and pain. Besides the touch stimulation of skin against skin, sex includes a sense of need and visual delight, memories, and perhaps the auditory stimulus of background music. We also bring to sex that complex, compulsive love that loves oneself and another at the same moment. At a still deeper, cellular level lies an urge to propagate life, to ensure survival, which is programmed into every cell. All these factors work together to produce sexual pleasure."
pg 30 Comments on people of God - "just like everybody else only more so--more religious than anybody when they were religious and when they were secular, being secular as if they'd invented it. And the comedy of the covenant--God saying 'I will be your God and you shall be my people' to a people who before the words had stopped ringing in their ears were dancing around the golden calf like aborigines and carrying on with every agricultural deity and fertility god that came down the pike.
The exception seems to be the rule. The first humans God created went out and did the only thing God asked them not to do. The man he chose to head a new nation known as 'God's people' tried to pawn off his wife on an unsuspecting Pharoah. And the wife herself, when told that at the ripe old age of ninety-nine that God was ready to deliver the son He'd promised her, broke into rasping laughter in the face of God. Rahab, a harlot, became revered for her great faith. And Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, went out of his way to break every proverb he so astutely composed.
Even after Jesus came the pattern continued. The two disciples who did the most to spread the word after His departure, John and Peter, were the two He had rebuked most often for petty squabbling and muddleheadedness..."
pg 32 - (speaking about cultural identity) "Japanese fry ice cream. Indonesian men dance in public with other men to demonstrate that they are not homosexual."
pg 44 Sacrifice chick... "The biologist takes from an incubator an egg containing a fully developed chicken. Just fourteen days ago this egg was a single cell. Now it is a mass of hundreds of millions of cells, a whirlpool of migrating protoplasm hurriedly dividing and arranging itself to prepare for life outside. The biologist cracks the shell and sacrifices the chick.
Though the embryo is now dead, some of its cells live on..."
pg 47-48 prostitute "When we act in the world, we quite literally subject God to that activity. Paul applied the body analogy to impress upon promiscuous Corinthians the full extent of their new identity. 'You are members of Christ's Body,' he warned. 'Shall I take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!' Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?'"
pg 76 - (speaking about bones being rigid, like the doctrines that hold Christianity together) "Bones are dusty, crumbling . . . Other parts of the body are memorialized: the heart on Valentine's Day, the sexual parts and the muscles in magazines and fashion, the hands in sculptures."
pg 87 - (speaking freedom) "The law requiring sexual faithfulness in marriage to many people appears oddly and needlessly restrictive. Why not allow interchangeability, with men and women enjoying each other freely? We have the biological equipment for such practices. But sex transcends biology; it intertwines with romantic love, need for stable families, and many other factors. If we break one law, gaining the freedom of sexual experimentation, we lose the long-term benefits of intimacy that marriage is intended to provide..."
pg 88 - (Chesterton quote) "Keeping to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman. To complain that I could only be married once was like complaining that I had only been born once. It was incommensurate with the terrible excitement of which one was talking. It showed, not an exaggerated sensibility to sex, but a curious insensibility to it. A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once. Polygamy is a lack of the realization of sex; it is like a man plucking five pears in mere absence of mind."
pg 100 - (speaking of cultural vs moral rules) "If a woman spoke out in a public meeting, the group would naturally assume she was a prostitute or pagan priestess; the same inference was drawn about women who wore their hair in certain styles."
pg 101 Be fruitful and multiply "Today we are facing our own particular stress lines. When the human race was young on a planet of unbelievable expanse and few people, the law 'Be fruitful and multiply' was obviously appropriate. But we have obeyed one command so well that all life is now endangered. We need to place new emphasis on our responsibilty for the soil and wildlife and perhaps slow down our multiplying."
pg 101 - "Now that we can separate the enjoyment of sex from the risk of increasing the number of children, we need new ways to emphasize the Christian view that sex is a means to an end and not an end in itself. If it is not always a step toward the making of a child, how can it be reaffirmed as a symbol of the continuing love that binds a marriage together, and not as an haphazard expression of lust?"
pg 125 - (speaking of the sense of touch) "I can hardly think of a human activity - sports, music, art, cooking, mechanics, sex - that does not vitally rely on touch."
pg 139 - "The intimate moment of the sex act is our most massive cutaneous experience. We touch so fervidly that two organisms become, for an instant, one. And in the West, a visual-oriented culture, some express a need for sex (often mistakenly equated with love) by exposing larger areas of skin, as if the daring wearer is begging to be touched.
Touching includes risk. It can evoke the cold, armorlike resistance of a hurt spouse refusing to be comforted or the lonely shrug of a child who insists, 'Leave me alone!' But it can also conduct the electric tingling of love-making, the symbiosis of touching and being touched simultaneously."
pg 203 - (speaking about traumas that people have to face) "A woman feels a small lump in her breast, and her sexual identity begins to crumble. A child is stillborn, and the mother cries in anguish..."
And that's all I found.
~ Leslie Noelani
The following is Wendi's post from when Leslie S. and Wendi flagged some potentally problematic issues parents may want to know about in the book. I added in their red-flag pages in italics, above, with mine (in other words, those are the ones I missed!) and pasted Wendi's post below. ~ LNL
As I recall, it was the section on touch (possibly the section on pg 139?) thought to be most likely to bring a blush to a young maid's damask cheek, and in my family, if I recall correctly, I simply instructed my young maids to skip that portion. Unfortunately, I just looked at the book on Amazon, and there is not section titled 'touch.' I would guess we were talking about something in the section on skin.
Fortunately, Amazon does have the book (and a stunningly beautiful new cover) and you can read several pages from the section on cells to see for yourselves how lovely the book is.
It is a beautiful book, very well written, informative, and full of that wonderful thing CM loved so well--ideas.
It covers lots of information on the human body, physiology, and its incredible design, along with a very lovely ribbon of analogy comparing this to the church (not the first time that's been done, but this is more in depth than the analogy in the Pauline epistle).
In looking over our discussion notes, one of us planned to have her daughter read half of it in one year, and read the other half in a later year.
Others might use it as a springboard for that Important Discussion-- and I do think an important part of a discussion on these issues ought to include the truth about how utterly intoxicating being touched by the right person in the right cicumstances can be, so one can lose ones sense of judgment altogether.
Others may not find it a problem at all.
So there are various ways to handle the book, but it's such a lovely read that I hope our members will use at least some of it. Perhaps a chapter or two as read alouds would work for the most careful of us.