This week’s interview is with Simonetta Carr, a mother of eight, wife of one, and an author of 3 published children’s biographies with more promised for the future. When she has time, she blogs at Autosxedia and can be found on Facebook.
Christian Book Notes: Could you please share with us your testimony of how you came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
Simonetta Carr: I was raised Roman Catholic. As I child, I took religion very seriously. I am quite an extremist by nature, so I didn’t just want to be a good Catholic, I wanted to become a saint! I remember reading a book about the lives of saints but most of the women became saints by either being killed or raped, so I changed my mind.
I met an American evangelist when I was 18. She gave me a Gospel of John and explained the gospel in very basic terms. That was the first time I heard about Jesus as my Lord and Savior. This woman was on a short-term mission and didn’t direct me to any church, so for several years I was very confused about many issues, including the importance of church attendance in the life of a Christian. Without a clear direction, I was easily swayed by clamorous reinventions of the theological wheel. This is one reason why I believe in teaching the history of theological orthodoxy to children.
In his grace, God led me to a Reformed church in 1999, where I realized the importance of belonging to a confessional church that preaches the gospel every week and administers the sacraments.
Christian Book Notes: You are currently writing a series of books entitled Christian Biographies for Young Readers. What led you to write this series and how do you choose who to write about?
Simonetta Carr: I started to write this series because, as a mother of eight, I realized that there were very few books on church history for young children, especially not a series of books emphasizing God’s preservation of His church and doctrines throughout the centuries. Young children learn their past as part of a family or of a country, but I couldn’t find any publications to help them to learn about their past as part of church family. There are some good books for older children, but young children need a simpler language and lots of illustrations.
With that goal in mind, I didn’t want to simply introduce a few heroes or heroines of our faith, without connecting the dots between them. I started with Calvin because it was the 500th anniversary of his birth, but I hope that, at the end of the series, children will be able to have a clear idea of the progression of church history from about the 2nd century onward. That’s why in every book I give an overview of the time period and of the historical and theological challenges these men and women had to face.
Christian Book Notes: You have already published a book on John Calvin and one on St. Augustine of Hippo. What can we expect next?
Simonetta Carr: I wrote a tentative list of titles, which my publisher (Reformation Heritage Books) approved. I will probably not write the books in chronological order. At least, I didn’t start this way. I am however trying to include at least one representative from each main time period in church history.
The next one is on John Owen. It is finished and is waiting for the publisher to finalize it and print it. After that, it will be Athanasius. I chose Athanasius because our children recite the Nicene Creed in church and it would be good for them to understand how and why it was written and defended. Athanasius is a very controversial character and this book is requiring much wider research than any of my previous ones.
Christian Book Notes: I am personally stoked about the book on John Owen. Why a book on Owen? He is arguably the most intellectual of the Puritans, what appeal do you think he will have for children?
Simonetta Carr: I hope they will love him! I couldn’t think of a better representative of the Puritan age. He was rightly called “prince of Puritans” and “the greatest English theologian.” His teachings, particularly those on the atonement, are essential for a correct understanding of salvation. Besides this, his writings are absolutely unique. Owen’s knowledge of the Bible and of the Christian tradition is impressive and clearly evident in all his works. Besides, his understanding of the human heart is remarkably deep and is communicated with an uncommon authenticity and immediateness. I have read Overcoming Sin and Temptation with my children (ages 10-16) and found it very direct and pertinent. I had to rephrase a few lines here and there, but overall it was well understood and kept their attention. They loved all the illustrations of our spiritual warfare! After all, this was originally a series of lectures directed to Owen’s young students at Oxford!
If nothing else, I am sure my young readers will understand the struggles of that difficult time in church history and the challenges men like Owen had to face.
Christian Book Notes: Have you written anything else?
Simonetta Carr: I have written a few articles for newspapers and magazines, and have translated many Christian books from English into Italian, including some volumes of Matthew Henry’s Commentary and some of Spurgeon’s sermons, and modern authors like Michael Horton, Andreas J. Köstenberger, and William Chapell. Two years ago I started to write a historical novel for the “Chosen Daughters” series, which is scheduled to be published next year by P&R. It has taken me longer than I thought and has definitely been a challenge, especially if you think that English is my second language.
Christian Book Notes: Thank you for your time and may God continue to bless your writing ministry.