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.

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.

Adam and His Kin

adam and his kin

Adam and His Kin, by Ruth Beechick. Originally published in 1990. 176 pages.

When our sixth-grade student was assigned this book for her literature class, I’d never heard of it. It is basically the characters and stories of Genesis framed as historical fiction. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it when I picked it up. Apparently, it is well known in homeschool circles, and opinions on it are mixed. A positive take can be found here, a negative one here, for those interested in both sides of the issue.

As I began to read it, my initial reaction was a mixture of apprehension and horror. It seemed sacreligious to me to fictionalize Scripture. What, I thought, would possess anyone to do such a thing? However, I kept reading and allowed our daughter to keep reading primarily because I fancy myself open to new ideas and I genuinely trust the heart, intentions, and faith of the administrators and staff of the program where we have  our kids enrolled and taking classes.

After I got over my initial reluctance to the very idea of Ruth Beechick’s project, I began to see it differently. It gave us opportunities to go back and study Genesis closer, note contradictions and parallels, and remember that what we were reading the author’s attempt to help the reader see these people as more than just Bible story characters.

On the whole it was a decent read, when kept in proper perspective. The literature teacher who assigned it was careful to make the distinction between the Bible and this book, and even gave the children opportunities for class discussion on the pros and cons of reading such a book.

If there was one thing I appreciated about the book more than any other, it was that the author tried to capture the universality of human nature, that it is as it has always been over time. The sin nature that motivated Adam, Eve, Cain, Ham, or the builders of Tower of Babel was as evident then as it is today. Greed, jealousy, lusts for power and self-aggrandizement are as old as humanity itself, despite our tendency to believe that people are uniquely horrible in our time compared to times past.

That said, it certainly needs to be read with caution, and an eye toward the Scriptures.

Grade: B-

Content advisory: I wouldn’t recommend this book to any child under middle school age and certainly not to anyone without an in depth knowledge of the Book of Genesis.

 

Zora Hurston confirms Solomon’s declaration.

There are a couple of book reviews being drafted, but in the meantime, I was recently reminded of this story from Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men.

In 1935, ZNH laid bare what was obvious about relations between the sexes and where they were headed even back then.  It has only been amplified over the past 50 years. Totally worth grasping the dialect.

You see in de very first days, God made a man and a woman and put “em in a house together to live. ‘Way back in them days de woman was just as strong as de man and both of ’em did de same things. They useter get to fussin ’bout who gointer do this and that and sometime they’d fight, but they was even balanced and neither one could whip de other one.

One day de man said to hisself, “B’Iieve Ah’m gointer go see God and ast Him for a li’l mo’ strength so Ah kin whip dis ‘oman and make her mind. Ah’m tired of de wa things is.” So he went on up to God.

“Good mawnin’, Ole Father.”

“Howdy man. Whut you doin’ ’round my throne so so dis mawnin’?”

 “Ah’m troubled in mind, and nobody can’t ease mah spirit ‘ceptin’ you.”

 God said: “Put yo’ plea in de right form and Ah’ll hear and answer.”

“Ole Maker, wid de mawnin’ stars glitterin’ in yo’ shin crown, wid de dust from yo’ footsteps makin’ worlds upo worlds, wid de blazin’ bird we call de sun flyin’ out of you right hand in de mawnin’ and consumin’ all day de flesh and blood of stump-black darkness, and comes flyin’ home every evenin  to rest on yo’ left hand, and never once in yo’ eternal years, mistood de left hand for de right, Ah ast you please to give me mo’ strength than dat woman you give me, so Ah kin make her mind. Ah know you don’t want to be always comin’ down way past de moon and stars to be straightenin’ her out and its got to be done. So giv me a li’l mo’ strength, Ole Maker and Ah’ll do it.”

“All right, Man, you got mo’ strength than woman.”

So de man run all de way down de stairs from Heben he got home. He was so anxious to try his strength on de woman dat he couldn’t take his time. Soon’s he got in de house he hollered “Woman! Here’s yo’ boss. God done tole me to handle you in which ever way yo’ boss please.”‘

De woman flew to fightin’ ‘im right off. She fought ‘im frightenin’ but he beat her. She got her wind and tried ‘irn agin but he whipped her agin. She got herself together and made de third try on him vigorous but he beat her every time. He was so proud he could whip ‘er at last, dat he just crowed over her and made her do a lot of things she didn’t like. He told her, “Long as you obey me, Ah’Il be good to yuh, but every time yuh rear up Ah’m gointer put plenty wood on yo’ back and plenty water in yo’  eyes.

 De woman was so mad she went straight up to Heben and stood befo’ de Lawd. She didn’t waste no words. She said, “Lawd, Ah come befo’ you mighty mad t’day. Ah want back my strength and power Ah useter have.”

“Woman, you got de same power you had since de beginnin’.”

 “Why is it then, dat de man kin beat me now and he useter couldn’t do it?”

 “He got mo’ strength than he useter have, He come and ast me for it and Ah give it to ‘im. Ah gives to them that ast, and you ain’t never ast me for no mo’ power.”

 “Please suh, God, Ah’m astin’ you for it now. jus’ gimme de same as you give him.”

God shook his head. “It’s too late now, woman. Whut Ah give, Ah never take back. Ah give him mo’ strength than you and no matter how much Ah give you, he’ll have mo.

De woman was so mad she wheeled around and went on off. She went straight to de devil and told him what had happened.

He said, ” Don’t be disincouraged, woman. You listen to me and you’ll come out mo’ than conqueror. Take dem frowns out yo’ face and turn round and go fight on back to Heben and ast God to give you dat bunch of keys hangin’ by de mantel-piece. Then you bring ’em and Ah’ll show you what to do wid ’em.”

So de woman climbed back up to Heben agin. She was mighty tired but she was more out-done than she was tired so she climbed all night long and got back up to Heben. When she got to heaven butter wouldn’t melt in her mouf.

“0 Lawd and Master of de rainbow, Ah know yo’ power. You never make two mountains without you put a valley in between. Ah know you kin hit a straight lick wid a crooked stick.”

 “Ast for whut you want, woman.”

 “God, gimme dat bunch of keys hangin’ by yo’ mantel befo’ de throne.”

“Take em.”

So de woman took de keys and hurried on back to de devil wid ’em. There was three keys on de bunch. Devil say, “See dese three keys? They got mo’ power in ’em than all de strength de man kin ever git if you handle ’em right. Now dis first big key is to de do’ of de kitchen, and you know a man always favors his stomach. Dis second one is de key to de bedroom and he don’t like to be shut out from dat neither and dis last key is de key to de cradle and he don’t want to be cut off from his generations at all. So now you take dese keys and go lock up everything and wait till he come to you. Then don’t you unlock nothin’ until he use his strength for yo’ benefit and yo’ desires.”

De woman thanked ‘im and tole ‘im, “If it wasn’t for you, Lawd knows whut us po’ women folks would do.”

She started off but de devil halted her. “Jus’ one mo’ thing: don’t go home braggin’ ’bout yo’ keys. jus’ lock up everything and say nothin’ until you git asked. And then don’t talk too much.”

De woman went on home and did like de devil tole her. When de man come home from work she was settin’ on de porch singin’ some song ’bout “Peck on de wood make de bed go good.”

When de man found de three doors fastened what useter stand wide open he swelled up like pine lumber after a rain. First thing he tried to break in cause he figgered his strength would overcome all obstacles. When he saw he couldn’t do it, he ast de woman, “Who locked dis do’?”

 She tole ‘im, “Me.”

 “Where did you git de key from?”

“God give it to me.

He run up to God and said, “God, woman got me. locked ‘way from my vittles, my bed and my generations, and she say you give her the keys.”

 God said, “I did, Man, Ah give her de keys, but de devil showed her how to use ’em!”

“Well, Ole Maker, please gimme some keys jus’ lak ’em so she can’t git de full control.”

“No, Man, what Ah give Ah give. Woman got de key.”

“How kin Ah know ’bout my generations.

 “Ast de woman.”

So de man come on back and submitted hisself to de woman and she opened de doors. He wasn’t satisfied but he had to give in. ‘Way after while he said to de woman, “Le’s us divide up. Ah’Il give you half of my strength if you lemme hold de keys in my hands.”

De woman thought dat over so de devil popped and tol her, “Tell ‘im, naw. Let ‘im keep his strength and you keep y’ keys.”

 So de woman wouldn’t trade wid ‘im and de man had to mortgage his strength to her to live. And dat’s why de man makes and de woman takes. You men is still braggin’ ’bout yo’ strength and de women is sittin’ on de keys and lettin’ you blow off till she git ready to put de bridle on you.

Yes, I realize it’s not Biblical but, this is folklore. It still proves that there really is nothing new under the sun. Which is why it is so vital to read books. They are not a substitute for THE Book, but still. The older, the better.