What I Read – January/February 2018

Here’s what I read in January and February (I started writing this thinking we were at the beginning of March. Sort of shocked to realize that March is almost over.):

1776 (David McCullough) – More about George Washington than I expected. And better than the biography of G.W. I’d finished at the end of last year.

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (Esolen) – I love everything I’ve read by Esolen.

On Writing Well (Zinsser) – I loved the beginning, when he was all nerdy about word choices and grammar. It got less interesting when he began talking about specific genres. Then he insulted Ben Hur and I quit.

Little Town on the Prairie (Wilder) – I like these later books better than the earlier ones.

These Happy Golden Years (Wilder)

The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life (Spurgeon) – A series of sermons on prayer.

The Moonstone (Collins) – On John Senior’s list of Good Books. Considered the first detective novel. I started listening to the audio, then switched to a Kindle version for speed.

Terms of Service and the Price of Constant Connection (Silverman) – Made me think, and provoked some interesting conversation with my husband. But the author’s suggestions at the end were goofy.

Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Hanson) – More about reforming university classics departments than I expected. I skipped around and read parts, not all.

The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster) – We’ve had this on our shelves for awhile and I thought I’d give it a try. Some funny word play.

The Intellectual Life (Sertillanges) – LOVED. LOVED. Will re-read, probably this year.

The War Against Grammar (Mulroy) – Preaching to the choir, here.

Hamlet (Shakespeare) – Read for a webinar. I miss Shakespeare, after all the time we spent together last year.

Life Under Compulsion (Esolen) – It’s Esolen. It’s good.

Howard’s End (Forster) – Read with the Close Reads podcast. I didn’t like it. It didn’t hold together, weird stuff happened at the end, the characters didn’t come alive.

Read to Ben:

Sarah, Plain and Tall (MacLachlan)

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (Dalgliesh)

Benjamin Franklin (D’Aulaire)

Mary Poppins (Travers)

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Enduring Discord

Last Wednesday I went to a classical education event held on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis. I enjoyed a day away from my regular responsibilities, a day thinking about the classical tradition, a day amongst adults. Some parts of the presentation were better than others (the two-hour long teaching on mimetic teaching was not my favorite), but one thought has stuck with me and was brought into particular focus during the symphony concert I attended last night.

Wednesday, in a talk about the 7 Liberal Arts, Andrew Kern observed that these arts bring harmony when they’re mastered.  Arithmetic teaches us to endure discord. We have to live in that tension of not knowing for a time. Eventually we understand, and then there’s harmony. He mentioned that we see this principle at work in other places in our lives as well. We have to endure discord to get to harmony. Pop music, he said, makes us lazy because the tension is resolved so quickly. We don’t have to live with it, struggle with it, try to understand it. The harmony is immediate. Instant resolution.  Continue reading

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Calling All Grammarians

How would you diagram this sentence?

His prayer of submission to the Father is a powerful example for us.

(Our grammar textbook is from a Mennonite publisher. The sample sentences are full of Christian and farming references.)

Here’s the given answer:

Abby and I are confused by the placement of the words “for us” on the diagram. Shouldn’t that go under “example”? What kind of example? An example “for us.” I see it as an adjective. I don’t understand how “for us” could be an adverb modifying “is.”

The lesson is about verbals used as adjectives. One small section discusses prepositional phrases used as adjectives or adverbs: “a prepositional phrase used as an adjective always comes immediately after the substantive it modifies.” Wouldn’t that fit here?

I don’t remember doing anything this detailed in my public school grammar studies. I’d really like to understand it better.

Thoughts?

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Bible Reading Plan for 2018

As often as I blogged at the end of last year, I never got around to writing about my Bible reading plan. Every year I choose a plan to help me read through the entire Bible. Last year I used the M’Cheyne plan, which has you read in four different places every day. I thought that was a little jarring – changing genres or stories so quickly in a morning’s reading. I also read For the Love of God, daily readings which are based on the M’Cheyne plan.

This year I decided to read straight through the Bible, only one book at a time. Instead of reading four passages quickly, I plan to read 2-3 chapters a day and take time to read the many notes that my study Bible includes. I’m also re-reading How to Read the Bible Book by Book, which has commentary on smaller sections. At times, I may steal an idea from the Bible Eater’s Plan (a plan that made my short list) and read one book in one sitting.

I’d also like to focus more on prayer this year. I am currently reading The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life, a collection of sermons on prayer by Charles Spurgeon. I read a section of that each morning. And I finally bought a copy of The Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers, and read/pray through one of those each morning.

I’d like to do more memorizing, but I haven’t been successful there yet. I’ve tried to memorize Philippians a few times, but only made it (wobbly-like) through one chapter. No current memory goals, but don’t worry, I feel guilty about it. 😉

What are your Bible reading goals and plans for 2018? If you haven’t chosen one yet, it’s not too late! Here are some options to consider.

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Whole House Tetris

For the past two days we’ve been playing a game I like to call Whole House Tetris.

Wayne came back from his mom’s with a 16 foot truck fairly full of new-to-us furniture.

He had a bedroom set for Emma, so her bunkbeds were moved into Ben’s room.

The old piano had to be sold to make room for the new piano. For a few hours, we had two pianos in our little front room. Sadly, no one wanted to play duets.

The new  bookcases match our dining room set, so it made sense to put them in the dining room. Choosing which books to move to the dining room took careful thought. Abby said I should put smart books in there. So…the Shakespeare collection, obviously. Books were moved from the school room and my room and the children’s fiction bookcase.

The new couches…well, that’s where it got interesting. When we moved into this house, we bought a couch, a loveseat, a recliner, two end tables and a coffee table. We have two living areas, but they’re both fairly small, so we split that new furniture set between the two rooms. Later we added a recliner we found at a thrift store. Those rooms – and this is an important point – were not empty, nor lacking furniture. In any way.

But Wayne’s mom had two new leather couches, the kind that recline. With cup holders in the middle. (She bought them for her beach house but didn’t ever take them there. So they were in her shed. Her shed!) Wayne decided to bring them home. (Of course he did.) Just getting them in the house was something else. We moved a couch near the doorway and I knew there was no possible way it would fit. But somehow Wayne got it in. I think he used magic. I have never been more astonished. The other, larger couch had to go around back and up the stairs to the deck and in through the double doors. That was fun.

And so we’ve spent two days trying every possible arrangement of furniture. Every couch on every wall. To each repetition of the question, “What if we moved it there?” our answer has been, “Only one way to find out.” At one point Wayne picked up the fully decorated Christmas tree and half-dragged, half-carried it, ornaments tumbling, into a different room. He looked like the Grinch making off with the tree on Christmas Eve.

Our rooms look a little more crowded, but we have plenty of seating. Y’all come visit. 🙂

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One Month

Today marks one month of daily blogging. It was a good challenge, I’m glad I tried it, but I’m not going to continue with that schedule. Even in 2003 I didn’t blog daily.

Wayne and Ben seem to be having fun in North Carolina, where they’re visiting Wayne’s mom. Wayne sent me pictures and videos this morning of Ben shooting a BB gun and driving the mule (the vehicle, not the mammal) around the property. (Not simultaneously.) I feel like they time-traveled. Shooting and driving! Does my son also have a beard? A job? A college ID?

Here at the Girls Only House, we did minimal school in the morning, then I mucked out Ben’s room in anticipation of the furniture the boys will be bringing back from NC. Wayne’s mom is downsizing; the point of this trip is to take some of the furniture she doesn’t want anymore. So far I expect a piano, some bookcases and a bedroom set. No telling what else. Probably a BB gun.

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Sunday Song: Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

I love my church. Tonight we had an evening of Christmas carols. I played the introduction to get everyone in the correct key, and then we sang a capella. Yep, all of ’em. (I think I counted 13. How like my dad that was, to count them. Oh boy.) Since I usually play all the songs, I enjoyed the chance to sing. The sanctuary is old, and very live, so the sound was wonderful. This is one of the songs we sang:

1 Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates!
Behold, the King of glory waits;
the King of kings is drawing near,
the Savior of the world is here.

2 A helper just he comes to thee,
his chariot is humility,
his kingly crown is holiness,
his scepter, pity in distress.

3 O blest the land, the city blest,
where Christ the Ruler is confessed!
O happy hearts and happy homes
to whom this King in triumph comes!

4 Fling wide the portals of your heart;
make it a temple, set apart
from earthly use for heav’n’s employ,
adorned with prayer and love and joy.

5 Redeemer, come! I open wide
my heart to thee; here, Lord, abide!
Let me thy inner presence feel;
thy grace and love in me reveal.

6 So come, my Sovereign, enter in!
Let new and nobler life begin!
Thy Holy Spirit, guide us on,
until the glorious crown be won.

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