The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare. Analysis and synopsis here.

I only read this play -reportedly Shakespeare’s shortest- because our middle school aged daughter was recently a part of its production as a part of the classical education program our children are enrolled in. I am not a huge fan of Shakespeare. However, I am a huge fan of comedy and this play is really quite funny.

The language, as anyone who read Shakespeare in high school can attest, is cumbersome and often frustrating. I know for certain that there were parts of the dialogue that our daughter didn’t quite grasp and for that I am thankful. Our drama instructors, a wonderful couple who love the Lord dearly, are former New York theater people who stayed true to the spirit of Shakespeare’s original play and Shakespeare had a ribald sense of humor.

My  kid is down there in one of these outstanding costumes that a very talented mother put together from blankets, duvet covers, and other miscellaneous scraps of fabric.

comedy of errors

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Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: an Advent Devotional

Unwrapping the names of Jesus, by Asheritah Ciuciu. 

This is the book we are using each night at dinner to help us remember not to let the Messiah fade in to background of our Christmas celebration.
I have read ahead in it and it is really quite good. It exalt Jesus, sticks to the point, and each day’s reading is full of relevant Scripture.

It is only left in Kindle version online but you can get a free three day sample of it here.

Disquiet Time

disquiet time

Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels. Edited by Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani. Originally published in 2014.

I saw this on the shelf in the library, so I picked it up and flipped through the table of contents to see if I recognized any of the authors who offered essays for this compilation of thoughts on various aspects of The Bible.

When I saw the name Steve Brown, I checked it out without giving much thought to the other authors included. I listen to Steve’s snippets on the radio, and in addition to his awesome voice (second only to Voddie Baucham and followed by Alistair Begg), I appreciate Steve’s solid but compassionate exploration of the gospel.

Being acutely aware of your imperfections makes you giddy at the prospect of new mercies every morning and a Heavenly Father slow to anger and abounding in compassion, Who knows we are but dust. Steve reminds me, since I tend to skip along the outskirts of the town of Condemnationville pretty often, not to go there.

So like I said, I checked out the book. Sigh. I’m not going to hold it against Steve Brown that his essay was parked in the middle of some of the most outlandish interpretations of Scripture I’ve ever read. However, I was sure tempted to.

After nearly every essay, I found myself whipping out my tablet to google the -often female- author of ideas that stretched the bounds of the traditional interpretations of Scripture. A few of the men were kind of sketchy, but more often than not they seemed to stick to the spirit of Scripture. What I found were pastors of liberal denominations, emergent church pastors, and all sorts of interesting biographical information that would have informed me of what was to be found if I was familiar with many of the writers. But I wasn’t.

To be fair, there were plenty of opportunites here to eat the meat and spit out the bones. As a longtime believer who is familiar with and well taught of the Scripture, it was easy enough for me to do that. The new believer, the seeker, or the person just looking for an understanding of the Bible would come away from this book fairly convinced that there is very little need for sanctification and that Scriptural interpretation is intensely personal.

I think I just described post-modern American Christianity in its entirety in one sentence.

If I am making this book sound as if I didn’t enjoy it at all, I’m not being clear enough. There were parts I enjoyed immensely, little nuggets stuck right in the middle of essays I thought were otherwise drivel. But as I said before, I can handle that, and not everyone can.

One of the most egregious essays was Debbie Blue’s exploration of her thoughts on the story of  the conflict between Hagar, found in Genesis 16. She was so postmodern (not to mention feminist) in perspective, I asked one of our daughters what she thought about Blue’s opinion. She too thought Blue was off base in the way she interpreted the story, and that was before you consider that she repeatedly painted the picture of Ishmael as a toddler (rather than a young teen) when he and Hagar were sent away from Sarah and Isaac with the promise from God that he would make Ishamel a great nation.

Because I have wearied of a church which prizes propriety over piety, and seems uttely devoid of being able to bridge the gaps between the reality of human struggling, God’s mercy, and the command for us to increase in sanctification with the understanding that we will never fully arrive this side of Paradise, I picked up this book expecting far more than I got. It wasn’t worthless, but neither was it a wealth of encouragement to grow in grace.

You can get some idea of the impetus and thrust of the editors and contributors to Disquiet Time by reading a few posts at this site dedicated to the premise of the book. A book, by the way, which you can skip.

Grade: C-

 

Keto Clarity

keto clarityKeto Clarity, by Jimmy Moore. Published in 2014. 256 pages.

A good friend of mine loaned me this book a couple of months ago and asked that I read it and tell her what I thought of it. Since I’d been toying off and on with the idea of “going keto” for quite some time, I was glad  to do it.

Incidentally, my friend is a very thin woman with no need to diet. Her interest in the subject was not motivated by weight loss but rather the numerous other health benefits which have been reported by people who have adopted a ketogenic approach to health and fitness.

For those unfamiliar with the term “ketogenic diet“, the idea is based on the premise that most carbs are bad for you, that our traditional way of thinking is wrong (namely, that we need extra glucose for our metabolism sake), and that a high -quality- fat, low carbohydrate diet is the best way for most carbohydrate addicted Americans to reset their metabolism and break the addiction to sugars and grains which is the real culprit behind our obesity/diabetes/heart disease ridden population.

I just started on this particular journey two weeks ago, so I haven’t reached a definitive conclusion on the matter itself. My purpose at this juncture is simply to review the book. The one thing I can say unequivocally is that over the past two weeks hunger between meals has been virtually non existent, as well as cravings. The jury is still out on pain relief, although I worked out my injured shoulder pretty hard this morning and the expected pain has no materialized. So far, so good. Now, to the book:

I liked it as an informational tool. I took some time to cross reference the information, read a few studies, and do the best I could as an amateur nutrition research sleuth to find out if there was anything here that was blatantly false or dangerous. I couldn’t find anything. Given that I long ago dismissed the notion of the “four food groups” as essential to good nutrition, I was careful to make allowances for my anti-grain bias.

The biggest misconception people have about keto, according to Moore, is that it is a high protein, meat gorging diet. In reality, too much protein is discouraged:

“There are three reasons why people fail to reach a ketogenic state: too many carbohydrates, too much protein, or not enough fat.”

The fats are of course, high quality fats: avocados, coconut or olive oil, butter (preferably grass fed), nuts, etc. Meats are a small part the equation, and it’s one of the things that distinguishes keto from paleo, although they are closely related. The biggest difference is that keto discourages heavy consumption of starchy fruits and vegetables such as bananas and potatoes.

The bottom line according to the authors -and I was convinced of this before I ever encountered this book-  is that sugars and many grains are inflammatory to the body and to be strictly limited. This plan however, isn’t for every one and while I think the book is very useful for informative purposes, my endorsement of it is not a recommendation that the readers embark on a ketogenic lifestyle.

It is without question in my mind, better than the standard SAD; including wheat based products.

Grade: B-

Content advisory: This post is not meant to be received as medical advice or endorsement of any kind. Read the book for yourself, and talk to our doctor if you have any other questions.

 

For the Children’s Sake

childrens sake book

This is a repost from my defunct blog.

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.

This was Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and it’s the central theme of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book, For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School.

I enjoyed this book because it presents an educational philosophy built on the premise of educating the whole child. A philosophy which appreciates that there is more to education than the three R’s. Of course, most homeschoolers know this instinctively, which is why they have chosen to homeschool.

For someone like me, who was steeped in 13 years of an educational model built largely on the ever-looming standardized test, a mental shift was required when considering the true meaning of education. This is particularly true since we decided to opt out the system for our younger children because of our dissatisfaction with the level of academic instruction. This, despite the fact that our older children were all honors/AP students in public school.

It wasn’t until I began doing my research that I began to get a greater understanding of the importance of creating an atmosphere conducive to learning rather than depending on an artificial learning environment. For The Children’s Sake does an excellent job of taking the ideas of Charlotte Mason and condensing them into a book that touches on all of the important aspects of educating the whole person.

Helping children to become lifelong lovers of learning, giving them the tools to teach themselves the things that interest them as they become old enough to do so, and not neglecting the importance of playtime and exposure to the classroom of nature were all themes that resonated with me. Most of all, the book frames its discussion of education from a Christian perspective:

“Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.”

I enjoyed this book a great deal and appreciated that it offers a picture of education that is radically different than the traditional model our society has come to accept as the only “right way” to educate. A “right way” which incidentally, is being exposed more and more as a dismal failure by people of all educational persuasions.

I give For The Children’s Sake a grade of A-. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book that succinctly captures the spirit of a Charlotte Mason education.

A Bear Called Paddington

A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond. Originally published in 1958. 176 pages.

This is a guest post written by our 9-year-old daughter.

paddington

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond is a funny, peculiar and entertaining book. It is one of my favorites.

Some of my favorite chapters are “A bear in hot water”, “A shopping expedition” and my all-time favorite, “Adventure at the seaside.”

In the “Adventure at the seaside”, Paddington gets lost at sea with only a bucket and a shovel. With his shovel he paddled, while he sat in the bucket. Luckily a fisher man saw him, caught him with his hook, and returned him to shore.

I would highly recommend this book.