Wonder (again), and Other Things

by John D. Mays

For me, 2023 has been a year of wonder, textbooks both new and soon to be new, and anticipation of semi-retirement. I thought it would be appropriate here to post some thoughts on these things as we head toward the celebration of our Savior’s birth and the end of the year.

In the wonder department, it seems that almost everything I read keeps pushing me in the same direction, that is, toward a greater appreciation of God’s presence in every particle of creation—every breath of wind, every ugly bug, every piece of firewood, every itsy-bitsy spider crawling on the edge of my reading table. A big chunk of this reading was the biochemistry text I inhabited this year, which was finished literally one hour ago. Cellular respiration, meiosis, and DNA transcription are simply stupendous beyond anything Hollywood or AI bots can produce or ever will. I don’t need new movies or the internet to be amazed—just thinking about the 20,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 different proteins the human body routinely produces is enough. Just a small sample of books I can recommend from my 2023 reading includes Let Them Eat Dirt, by B. Finlay and M. Arrieta, Children of Light, by Michael Denton, Songs from the Blue River, a collection of poetry by Paul Kingsnorth, and The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.

This is something we American Christians don’t talk about near enough. I have long since stopped killing bugs I find in my house, for they too are part of creation (and useful as food for our birds and green anole lizards). Instead, I try to catch them and toss them out the door. Mosquitoes and fruit flies, when they get in, are so troublesome that it is hard to give them the same grace, but at least I try to kill them with an apology on my lips and a prayer in my heart.

My grandkids got into the spirit of this way of thinking a while back, and now they are a constant source of joy and rejoicing as they too observe the world around them and revel in the fascination of living in it. What better lesson can we pass on to our children than this? To know that Messiah Jesus is not only Savior but Creator of the wonder that surrounds us is life-changing and life-giving.

Moving on to the texts, it was indeed a thrill last spring to publish Life Science, by Tracy Creek. This book has been in the works for something like five years, and it was the first text for Novare Science to publish that was designed by someone other than yours truly. Indeed, one of the great things about becoming part of Classical Academic Press in 2020 was having real design talent for Novare Science’s new books. Our designer, Bill Wiist, is a talented artist and I love working with him. (You can find some of his other work on Amazon under the name William S. Wiist!)

Another great thing about releasing Life Science is that now I am working on only two textbook projects instead of three! And as of today, having finished Advanced Biology only this morning, it will soon be only one! I still have to finish up the lab book and the digital resources for Advanced Biology, but those are almost finished as well. So, in 2024, Advanced Biology will be taking its place in our growing catalog. The last remaining text is, of course, Environmental Science, which is now about 60% complete. Our plan is to have that one ready in 2025, at which time our catalog and program will be completed. Also in 2025, we are planning on a second edition of our popular text General Biology. This should not be too surprising, since we just finished going through the process of creating Advanced Biology. The writing, reviewing, and editing process is so intense that it was bound to illuminate a host of ways in which General Biology could be improved, and it did.

Finally, at the beginning of this ramble I mentioned something about anticipating semi-retirement. Yes, my friends, tempus fugit, as they say, and in addition, we just keep on getting older. It has now been almost 15 years since I started Novare Science, and frankly, I am starting to feel the need for slowing down. So starting in January, I will be taking advantage of the fact that we only have one major text project left. I will decrease the amount of time I spend working on text projects and increase the amount of time I spend with my four grandchildren and learning Latin. I will still be around for a couple years to answer questions and so on, but I may be a bit harder to catch. I am infinitely grateful to all our friends, fans, and customers for making this step possible. Fifteen years ago, I did not expect that I would enjoy any kind of retirement.

God is good. I wish you all an Advent and Christmas season filled with the love and peace of Christ. While enjoying the Holy Days with your family, take time to step outside and reflect on what God has made. Whether you see snow or sand, mountains or marsh, it is a beautiful expression of God’s love and he wants you to see it that way.