Do you know how important it is to study history? For one thing, we can learn how to avoid the mistakes made by previous generations—but studying history also gives us an opportunity to ask crucial questions such as “why does God allow bad things to happen?” Join me today as I talk with my friend, author and speaker, Linda Lacour Hobar (TheMysteryofHistory.com) about why history matters and how we can learn from it!
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Matthew 18:21-27
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- The Dark Side of History
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DARK SIDE of History” (a $9.99 offer) Code: moreofthedarkside
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series (a great place to practice the “Dark Side Life Questions” with
middle or high school students.) Regularly $99/year of lectures. With
code, $79! Code: lindaslectures4heidisfriends
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Linda Lacour Hobar, author of The Mystery of History, is a passionate follower of Christ, a genuine people-person, and a fan of comfortable high-heels. Through homeschooling and missionary service, she discovered a deep love for world history and a clear call to write. In its 19th year of worldwide circulation, The Mystery of History has been well received by all ages for its warmth and readability. A native-born Texan, Linda holds a Bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, where she first fell in love with world history. She resides in Tennessee where she continues to obsess over matters big and small.
[Heidi] Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Welcome to my little corner of the internet. Today is Friday, October 18th. This is episode number 833. This is meet my friend Friday. You guys know that I love to have men and women on the show who are passionate followers of Jesus Christ and who are making a difference in the culture and today is no different. My friend Linda Hobar, the author of the Mystery of History is here today and we’re going to be talking about some of the more difficult aspects of understanding history and the dark side of history in particular. But you know what, you guys, I know you’re going to be encouraged, so stick around. We’re going to have a great conversation.
All right everybody, thanks for tuning in today. Lots of stuff going on in my life. I will be in Lincoln, Nebraska tomorrow for a women’s event. Come on out and see me. Thanks to everybody who came to Faith that Speaks, my women’s conference last weekend in Vancouver, Washington. I am excited to see what God does with you as you follow him and learn to speak the truth of the word of God. Not only into the lives of your children, but into the lives of everyone who God gives you influence with. So thanks for everybody for coming along with me on that journey. Also, we want to say thank you for leaving reviews for the podcast over at iTunes. This podcast is routinely heard by over a hundred thousand listeners every time we put it out now and we’re so thankful for all of you who are listening and sharing the podcast with your friends.
If you’ve got show ideas or you’ve got a question that you’d like me to address at Mailbox Monday, we have created a page just for you. You can go to Heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday. We stopped taking them in email form, frankly because I’m losing them. So if you would go to that page, Heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday. There’s a form for you to fill out. Please keep your questions short and sweet and to the point. And we would love to answer them here at the show. All right, without further ado, I am excited to introduce my friend Linda to you. Linda and I have been friends for quite a while. We met out on the homeschool circuit. Linda is very well known in homeschooling. She is the author of the Mystery of History. She is originally from Texas and she now lives over there in Memphis, Tennessee. And I love this woman. She is a homeschool mom and just a firecracker for the Lord. Linda Hobar welcome to the podcast.
[Linda] Thank you. Thank you Heidi. So good to be here.
[Heidi] It’s good to hear your voice and it’s kind of interesting for me to be talking to you this way because usually when I see you it’s your husband and my husband out on the road schlepping books and talking to people. So this is a little bit of a different context for us.
[Linda] Totally. Yes. We’re usually slinging product as my son would say.
[Heidi] That’s right. That’s right. And you have been writing a history curriculum for quite a while, just for people who weren’t familiar with you. Because we have quite a few people listening to the show now who are either brand new to homeschooling or they are not homeschooling. So how long and how many books, how many, how long have you been writing and what are the books that you’ve put out? Because I think Mystery of History is what, in it’s 19th year or something like that.
[Linda] Yes. Yes. Well in a quick nutshell, I felt called to start writing in the year 2000, there’s a story there, it was sort of a midlife crisis. But honestly the Lord gave me the title, the Mystery of History, and I knew what it was immediately. It really was a sense of a calling for me to really tell the story, the mystery being the story of Jesus Christ in the context of world history, which is something I happen to love. So I started writing almost 20 years ago now and I have four volumes out. So we cover ancient times, medieval, the Renaissance, and modern. So the series is complete. The last year that I actually wrote about was the year 2014.
[Heidi] Oh my goodness. Well, I know we’ve used it in our house and we carry it here at the Homeschool Resource Center in Vancouver and it’s very, very well loved and very well written. I love listening to you speak because you really do have a passion about history and teaching kids history and you’re not afraid to jump into the harder things in history. And I think sometimes as parents we either sort of skate around them or we sort of push it to the side. And because there’s so much going on.
You and I were just talking about this before the show aired. We’re living in some pretty incredible times right now. Very, very hard things that we’re dealing with a lot of spiritual oppression, a lot of spiritual darkness in the world. And we’re going to be talking a little bit about world history and the dark side of that. But I gotta ask you a question. When you think about what’s going on with history, particularly, does the dark side of history get you down?
[Linda] Oh, that’s a great question. Yes and no. I have been studying it for 20 years. And the peculiar thing about me liking history is that I am a highly sensitive person. I’m an empath. I’m kind of a softie. So you would think someone like me might be deterred from loving the subject. But honestly the opposite is true. I think people with high feelings, which I’m very feelings driven. I’m a Mary, not a Martha. I think people like me, we gravitate toward history because this may sound weird, but I’d almost rather feel something than nothing. So staring into world history and into the abyss, you’re always going to feel something. And that motivates me to look at this thinly veiled subject and truly examine it. So yeah, that’s kind of my answer.
[Heidi] Yeah, yeah. And when really if we look at history and study it for what it is, we’re also learning from it. But it seems like the more we understand about history, it helps us to sort of frame what’s happening around us now. Do you think that’s true?
[Linda] Oh yes, absolutely. I mean, history repeats itself because of the nature of mankind. Nothing new under the sun. Nothing new.
[Heidi] Yeah, socialism anyone.
[Linda] Oh goodness. Don’t even get me started. We don’t have time.
[Heidi] I had Dr. Pest on the show with me a couple of months ago and he just, I mentioned socialism, that guy just went off like a, like a rocket. He was just like, listen, part of the reason why we were even talking about socialism is because we don’t know history, right. Do you think, would you say that? Would you agree?
[Linda] Oh, I would totally echo that. And you just have to look at Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin and get the facts. I mean start there.
[Heidi] Yeah, yeah. And you, so we’re going to talk a little bit about the dark side of history to which hello Lenin, Stalin. They they sort of all fall into that dark side of history, which we really need to learn from. But I know that you, I’ve listened to you speak, I mean dozens and dozens of times over the years. I love how you interact with teenagers especially because I think you have a gift for, it really is a gift. I think people either can either talk to teens or they can’t. And you really can. And I heard you share a story one time and I’m going to ask you to share it again today because it kind of gets us off on this road of dealing with the dark side of history. So what is the story? Do you have time? Can you share it with us?
[Linda] Yes, absolutely.
[Heidi] All right, let’s hear it because I love me a good story.
[Linda] Okay. Okay, well the story I’d like to take your listeners who today is that of Mount Vesuvius. So it’s the story of the destruction of Pompeii and that means we get to just step into the first century. So imagine Heidi, it’s August 24th, 79 A.D. and you’ve got farmers farming and kids playing and dogs barking. And who knows? Moms are probably tripping on toys in the hall. But on that day the churning and burning was under Mount Vesuvius. Now when it erupted, it was different than ordinary volcanoes in that it didn’t just ooze hot lava. Actually the pressure was so intense underneath Vesuvius that when it blew, it held and suspended all the debris up in the air for like 11 hours.
[Linda] So of course some residents fled, they tried to get out by horseback, by boat, but the seas were choked up by ash and some perished just trying to get out. But the worst that happened, just picture this, is it after 11 hours, those columns of ash and all the violence up in the atmosphere, it collapsed. And so when it swept through the city of Pompeii, it was more like a hurricane. It was like an atomic bomb. And the city of Pompeii was ground zero. And it sat mysteriously for about 1500 years, just destroyed and untouched. It was not until the 1700’s that we really got the whole story. But what we found were these perfectly preserved remnants of a day in the life of the Roman empire because all that ash, it petrified things that were caught on the run. So the bodies of the dead, they did decay in time. But these shells remain. So if you went there today, which many people do, you can still see these skeletal remains that are sort of in a cocoon of ash. It’s quite something.
[Heidi] Is it sort of like being covered by a plaster kind of, like a …
[Linda] Yes, that would be a good way to describe it.
[Heidi] Like encased?
[Linda] Yes. Yes. And there’s lots of pictures on the internet if you want to see it, but the reason I bring this story up is that while it’s morbid, what a great opportunity to peel back this subject and talk about life’s most important questions. For example, so I have three life questions for you, okay. The first would be like, I think if I was reading this to a student, I would probably say something like, “Honey, this is a sad story. It really reminds me of,” and then we would fill in the blank with whatever most recent natural disaster had occurred in our area. And I would say, “Wow, it makes me think, are we ever guaranteed another day of life?”
Well, of course you let your student respond. Let them think out loud because listen, kids can connect the dots pretty well, especially by age 11. That’s when they are so ready for this subject. It’s my favorite age to teach world history by the way. But listen, all kids kind of will realize every part of the globe has natural disasters. Now, they may not have a volcano in their backyard, but we know there’s…
[Heidi] I do. I have a volcano in my backyard.
[Linda] Well I don’t, but there’s floods, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes. And so after I think a student shares the obvious, which is that none of us are safe from natural disaster. I think you agree with them. But then take them took God’s word. And here’s a favorite passage about just the brevity of life. Like James 4:14, that’s the one that says, “Come now you who say today or tomorrow we’ll go to such and such a city. Spend a year there, buy and sell, blah, blah, blah. Where as you do not know what will happen tomorrow for what is your life. It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
So there’s that passage. Now, what I like about that passage, the front end really talks about the temporal. It’s like people are out shopping right when yet we don’t know that tomorrow we will open our eyes. So when you get to that depth with your child, well then I think that naturally brings up their readiness for life after death. So of course you want to prompt them to keep digging. And the question, then the next question is, well, what happens when we die? Now of course there’s lots of really good books and resources in the Bible to answer that. But I will share one of my favorite straightforward verses on this.
How about John 3:36 that’s the one that says, “He who believes in the son has everlasting life and he who does not believe the son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Oh my goodness Heidi. Imagine how assuring that verse is to a child who believes, but really how terrifying to the child that doesn’t, which then is the golden opportunity to take them to the next step and the next level. And discuss their salvation as in how are we saved. Well once again, there’s lots of resources to help you answer that life question to your student, but I will share with you one of my favorite verses, Romans 10:9. You know this one that says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Can I hear an amen?
[Heidi] Amen. You can hear it from me.
[Linda] Yeah. I have to tell you this real quick, Heidi. It’s interesting the timing of our broadcast today because just this week I received an email from a mom who wrote to say that her son was in world history looking through the Mystery of History and there is a place in my books where I will point kids to the plan of salvation, which is spelled out in the back of the book and she just wanted us to know that he had reached that point and he was ready to pray and receive Christ. I mean that’s just really the, oh, now listen, not to knock down spelling or science, they’re important. They’re going to change the world through other subjects. But history is a unique subject that the best way to deal with the dark side of it, it’s to ask questions. It begs questions.
[Heidi] And really we’re not focused much. It seems like we’re doing a lot of revisionist history out in the culture today. We’re kind of, we’re putting things aside. When parents say to you, because I know that you’ve got to get this question a lot because I get it here at the podcast. Why should I bother teaching my child history when I’ve got math and science and reading and language to do? What’s your answer?
[Linda] Oh my goodness. Well after I’d pick myself off the floor.
[Linda] I believe I would challenge that person to really think of the fact that cause and effect is everything in world history. We’ve got to see the past to be prepared for the future.
[Heidi] That’s right.
[Linda] Whenever you study the people in history will then that there’s a timelessness in that because the character mankind is the same since the garden. And furthermore, there’s just the relevance. We could look to our headlines today and trace back so many things to the 1500’s, the 1600’s, I could go on and on. But yes, there’s relevance. And then of course there’s God’s hand tied in it. I think there’s his sovereign plan woven in. I think we see his hand because of the story of redemption, reconciliation. So yeah, it’s kind of important this subject to me.
[Heidi] When do we start talking about history? How do we do that? What’s a good jumping off place?
[Linda] Oh, good question Heidi. And the truth is a lot of us with kindergarten, first, second, we’re starting with basics. And honestly those are the lap years. You’ve got colors, numbers, all that good stuff. And sometimes it’s around second grade that maybe it’s like bum, bum, bum. All of a sudden world history enters in and it’s pretty morbid and disturbing. And what’s interesting is that a lot of little guys actually fall in love with world history, anywhere between kindergarten and second grade. But the reason they do that is because in their naiveté, they like blood, guts, and the stench of death. At least they think they do because they’re kids. They kind of have that heroic, glamorized notion of war and battle and chivalry, and it just starts young. It’s good guys, bad guys. So certainly take advantage of that.
And I would say begin to introduce stories, but honestly, when you’re going to start going deeper and digging is when they’re third, fourth, fifth, and we’re on another level now. The 11 year old is so primed because I think that they are young enough to be idealistic but old enough to truly recognize evil in this world. And the world has no answers for evil. Only God’s word has answers. That’s where you’re going to take them. I do have to ask you a quick question, Heidi. Do you remember how old you were when you learned about the Holocaust?
[Heidi] Oh my goodness. I want to say I was maybe fourth grade, fifth grade, somewhere in there.
[Linda] I think also I was about fifth grade and I remember it because of those graphic black and white photos and I really wasn’t sure what scared me more. The emaciated corpses or just the incarcerated. But I do know this, I asked inside whether or not I was ever going to have to face anything like that. And that legitimate question is what you, that’s your platform with your students. The legitimate questions they’ll ask because of something horrific that they will see. Like is that going to happen to me? Is that going to happen to my country or you just keep going because it’s not hard to find evil in our headlines.
[Heidi] Mm-hmm. Oh, that’s right. And this is a really good place for parents to talk to their kids about last month we remember 9/11 as we do every year and that was a terrifying day. A lot of our kids now can remember that. It’s at least in there, it’s a distant memory for them. But they remember it. And it gives you an opportunity to talk about those really hard things. Linda, when you’re getting ready to start, let’s say a family’s getting ready, they haven’t studied world history before or they haven’t ever really dug into it. Where do we start? Where’s a good place to start?
[Linda] You really want to start in ancient times because you want to lay this biblical framework and weave secular and sacred history together. So you want to find on the same timeline these Bible characters that your students might be learning about in Sunday school, but you’re going to put them on the same timeline as King Tut and Cleopatra and Alexander the Great who they don’t get to meet in Sunday school. That is the ideal place to start. Now, if for some reason people have already covered ancient times, anyone can jump into the next time period or the next and be fine with my books. They are stand-alones but truly because of cause and effect, it’s nice to go in order. I could talk for an hour about the value of chronological history. But again…
[Heidi] Well, break it down for me. Because I actually think that’s interesting. I don’t think people understand that. And I was fortunate enough because of what I do for a living to have met some wonderful homeschoolers who have gone before me and they all say the same thing, that the chronological part of it is really important. But I don’t think most people understand that. So can you just flesh that out for just a minute?
[Linda] Sure. I’ll give you one fun example. Actually fun’s not the right word. One serious example would be when you’re studying the fall of the Western Roman empire. All right, so you’re in, I don’t know about the late 400’s. Then the truth of the matter is after that society collapse, because by the way about outside invasion and they had a border issue and all sorts of things, inflation, you could say the moral code. So as the Western empire…
[Heidi] Very similar to what we’ve got going on today.
[Linda] Very, yes. So as the Western Roman empire collapsed, the results of it are that really ushered in the dark ages. Literally. Because you don’t have the same police, you don’t have the same hospitals, you don’t have the same government, everything is just kind of unraveled. And so your whole society steps into the dark ages, which most of us have heard of. That’s a real direct cause and effect. And for a time as people are just struggling to survive, then they’re going to let go of the arts, they’re going to let go of the fluffy stuff and the luxuries of life, they’re just going to get back to basic farming. And so that is a real good cause and effect to look at, but you need to study it in order to appreciate that.
[Heidi] Right, right. And so then they go from there. And your favorite aspect of teaching history? Because like I said, I wish people could hear you and watch you teach because you have kind of a fire in you when you teach it and you’re obviously interested in what you’re teaching, which that’s what makes a good teacher, right? That they love with their teaching. When a parent is teaching this to their child rather than just, let’s sit down and read history, how can they make this sort of history come alive for their kids? I know that in our home over the years, we’ve all become sort of buffs of history. We just love to talk about it and it’s amazing. Like you were just saying, you can really relate it to today, right?
[Linda] Oh yes, absolutely.
[Heidi] So what are some ways that parents can help their children engage so that it’s not just this thing that we’re doing by rote or sitting down, let’s read a book for 15 minutes or whatever. But that they can help engage their students in the process of learning history.
[Linda] Sure. I have two answers for that. The first is always focus on the people rather than the dates and events when and if you can.
[Heidi] So good.
[Linda] My favorite example of that has to be Cleopatra. If you looked up Cleopatra in the index of most history books, you know what they’ll have? One lame paragraph saying she’s the last of the Ptolemys. Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s going to put me to sleep. For one, you can’t even pronounce Ptolemy, it starts with a P. So the student’s confused from the get go.
But if you want to tell me that she met Julius Caesar wrapped up in a carpet and wanted to take over the known world and then got involved with this man who then is assassinated on the ides of March. And so she married Mark Antony who dresses up like an Egyptian. And the two will eventually take their lives. And because they do, to learn that Octavian their enemy becomes Caesar Augustus. And would proclaim that a census be taken, which will lead Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to fulfill prophecy. That will keep my eyes open. Okay?
[Linda] It’s like you just have to look at the people, follow the drama, follow the story, and God’s hand is in it. It’s there. So that’s one answer is follow the people. But number two, it certainly is true that a lot of kids, because they’re kids, they are still going to learn through their hands and their senses. And so I provide hundreds of hands on activities for our little learners. So when they studied the ice age, they get to have a contest where they lay ice on their belly and see who can keep it there the longest or they’re going to build Mount Vesuvius or they’re going to just do something with dinosaurs and try to build Stonehenge or there’s just numerous hands on events. Because with the little guys, again, they’re not connecting all the dots, but by using their senses, they’re becoming familiar with the stories. Then when they’re in the middle years, they begin to connect. And then when they’re older, they’re going to approach it from an apologetics view and get to the deeper source. Again, of the answers to life, which are found in God’s word.
[Heidi] I love it. I love how you always turn readers back to God’s word. That’s what we try to do here at the podcast.
[Linda] We have to.
[Heidi] And you’ve been doing, I know, right, because it doesn’t matter outside of that, right. If we can’t turn them back to the Lord and can’t turn them back to God’s story, just really history is his story, right? It’s the unfolding of God’s plan for humanity. And you’ve got more stories, more life, more questions. How can listeners get those?
[Linda] Yes. Well let’s see for one I do have on my website just even one single document that is 20 life questions that have biblical answers that you could attach to numerous stories from history so they can find that on themysteryofhistory.com. We’ll put that in your show notes, the exact link. Okay.
[Heidi] Sounds good.
[Linda] And again, I do have four volumes of world history that I hope your families will be interested in looking into. And again, one of my shortcuts to getting to sometimes a pertinent period of time is let’s say all of a sudden you need to be in the Renaissance because that’s where your co-op is. But you missed the middle ages. Well, families can really shortcut through history by listening to audio books. And I have an audio book for every time period so you can listen on a long trip to ancient times, medieval or what have you. So I always like to promote those.
[Heidi] I love it. And you’ve got a coupon for a free MP4 virtual workshop, right, called dealing with the dark side of history, which is a $10 value and people can get that today with using the code moreofthedarkside. So we’re going to link back to this stuff in the show notes today. There’s also a coupon for $20 off of volume four, correct? The video lectures on demand series, is that right?
[Linda] Yes. And actually volumes three or four. I have these new lecture series and it’s where I’m giving a bit more than what’s in the textbook. So it’s really for your middle to older students. Those looking to earn a high school credit and their standalone lectures. And I tell you what, I’ve put a lot into them. I’m excited that they’re being discovered.
[Heidi] I’m excited too. And I think it’s going to be great for listeners. It’s wonderful. I mean, hey everybody, you could turn off the TV and off the junk that you’re watching on TV and listen to these because they’re fantastic. So those are normally $99 and if you guys use the code, lindaslectures4heidisfriends, you’ll save $20. You’ll get that for just $79. So we’re going to put all that stuff, all that information in the show notes today. This is going to be a whole lot of fun. I cannot wait for people to find out more about you. And you have got, I think your, the Mystery of History, right? They can find you at the Mystery of History. Is it.com?
[Linda] Yes. Yes. And please subscribe to my newsletter. I send out two things a month, a newsletter that’s just kind of like product updates and coupons and I also have a blog and then otherwise I’m in all the social media outlets except Twitter. I don’t tweet.
[Heidi] I don’t tweet either. It’s all right. Not everybody has to be in the Twitter verse. It’s all right.
[Linda] Just can’t do it all. But I am on Instagram. I am on Facebook quite a bit more than I should be, so you can find me there.
[Heidi] Awesome. Linda Hobar, you are a joy. It’s been a joy to have you. I hope you’ll come back again and we’ll talk more about history.
[Linda] Thank you, Heidi. Anytime, I can talk history. Appreciate it. Have a great day.
[Heidi] You’re very welcome. For more information about Linda Hobar and her ministry about history. You can check it out themysterofhistory.com. Thanks for listening, everybody. Have a fantastic day and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
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Heidi St. John
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