Archive for May, 2012

Mona Charon takes a look at her son’s history textbook, and finds a few problems.

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when he’s away. This was written by a mom whose husband was deployed overseas in the military, but it’s not just for military wives.

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… are doing so purposefully. Like this wife and mother.

I’ve done both the career and the housewife thing. There are pros and cons to both, but on the whole, I’d like nothing better than to be a housewife all the rest of my days. Not to stagnate – but to keep from stagnating, to have more time to write books, and to get rid of obstacles to ‘being there’ when neighbors need an extra hand. I think the world would be better if we had more ladies busily ‘staying home.’ (We will all now cover our ears, to prevent permanent hearing damage from howling feminists, who do not know what they’re missing, or are jealous of homemakers, or something, and are prone to losing their tempers, loudly, when confronted with ladies who don’t agree with them.)

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The pre-release buzz for this indie film has brought to my attention a war that I don’t remember hearing about before – and it happened only 90 years ago, in a neighboring country, with staggering loss of life. I’m a bit embarrassed that it took a movie to put the Cristeros on my radar screen, but I guess I’m not surprised, given the approach to ‘history’ that reigned in the public schools and college that I attended, which simultaneously disdained religious belief, while polishing the brass for bloody communist and socialist experiments.

I’d like to know more. I’d also like to see some oral history projects launched in the United States, while people who are only one generation removed from the conflict are still alive to tell the stories their parents and grandparents told them. We have lots of immigrants from Mexico. Surely many of them have family stories to share.

As for the movie, here’s a bit of commentary from people who saw early cuts. And here’s the official website. The film opens in theaters June 1.

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… what features would you want built into it? The mother of a large family has a few ideas here – some of which I wouldn’t have thought of, but which make sense.

For me, I’m not sure I’d put in ceiling light fixtures. I’m used to living with somewhat disabled people, and sometimes I’ve been in that category myself. Going way up a ladder and working above your head while on the ladder has been a problem, to be avoided if possible.

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If you think love grows best where there aren’t any difficulties, maybe you should read this.

Well, maybe you should read it anyway, because what passes for ‘love’ in this day and age, all too often isn’t love at all, but something far, far smaller and weaker. And that’s really too bad, all around.

hat tip: Creative Minority Report

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… is not preaching the Gospel, as Eric Metaxas illustrates in What Would Bonhoeffer Do?

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Standing on your head

An excerpt from The Smolder:

<[92] Mr. Kostow decided Dan needed a break from the noisy swirl of his loving, but immature and incurably curious, mob of young people. Therefore, with the exception of a dutiful, but mostly enjoyable, foray out for dinner with the family, the engineers spent most of the post-lunch part of the day in the workshop, just the two of them. Sometimes Mr. Kostow left Dan working on a project, while he slipped out to romp with children, or to see if his wife wanted a hand with anything. Mostly, though, they had that rare sort of time that a certain type of man craves, but rarely gets; where he gets to concentrate on figuring out how things work, and gets to ponder with a likeminded man how something might be made to work better.

Mr. Kostow, Dan was glad to find, was one of those men who didn’t expect conversation to fill up every minute of the day. When they did talk, usually it was on practical matters. Dan, for instance, finally confessed to being more or less at sea on the principles of electricity. Mr. Kostow, to whom volts, watts, and amps were practically second nature, was all too happy to think up ways of making the subject clearer to his ready pupil.

Dan showed Mr. Kostow the government microphone that Sam had heedlessly put into his pocket. It was a delightfully different and confusing bit of technology. When it went back into the scrambling box in which Dan was transporting it to a proper lab, they had a great deal of fun puzzling out just how and why the scrambling box worked. Mr. Kostow had never seen one of the sort Dan carried.

They made a point of going back to the family room just before the children’s bedtime. They found the kids sprawled and scattered around the room. One was walking with a book balanced on her head, just to prove she could do it. One was reading. One was drawing. Another was asleep. Two were standing on their heads, their faces a funny color.

“Don’t mind them,” Mrs. Kostow said with a smile, nodding toward the upside down children. “They’re trying to see who can last longest.”

“A noble attitude, when applied worthily,” Mr. Kostow intoned. It wasn’t quite clear whether he thought competing at headstands was a worthy application. But he didn’t seem displeased, by any stretch.

The upside down children giggled, which brought them down into heaps on the floor. From his happy heap, one of the boys asked Dan if he knew how to stand on his head.

“I don’t know. I haven’t done it recently. Hmmm. Let me just try,” Dan said. He laid flat on the floor, face down.

“That isn’t how you do it,” his challenger said. “You do it like this.” The boy showed Dan the standard Kostow way of placing hands and the top of your head on the floor and wriggling and wobbling and kicking your way to a proper upside down stance, sometimes with help from a friendly bystander, especially if you were little.

“Oh?” said Dan. “Not like this?” Dan drew himself into a jackknife and up, in good form throughout. There he was, properly upside down, standing on the top of his head and braced by hands just like the boy, but the similarity of the end result didn’t fool anybody into thinking he’d done the same thing.

The children immediately split into two camps: those who wanted to be taught right now how to do that spectacular maneuver, and those who wanted their parents to try it first. The second faction quickly won over the first faction; soon all the children were begging their parents to give it a go.

The parents pleaded modesty, but to no avail. This was fine, because the begging off wasn’t meant seriously, and the children knew it.

“I don’t know,” Mr. Kostow whimpered, making a clownish show of uncertainty before making a comical and ruinous attempt at standing on his head, one that nearly broke a chair he hit on his way down.

“Are you all right?” his wife asked.

“Everything but my dignity,” he replied.

Mrs. Kostow shooed everyone out of her way, and proceeded to lay flat, and from there pulled herself to where she was standing on her head. She bent her knees on the way up, and had to stick in some kicks, and she wobbled more than Dan had, and it took her three tries, but she got there. She fell down laughing.

“Are you all right?” Mr. Kostow asked.

“Never better,” she said.

“I take that as a challenge, my dear,” he said.

“Good,” she said.

Mr. Kostow helped his wife to her feet. He shooed everyone back even farther than she had. He laid flat on his stomach, pulled himself into a jackknife, and went right on up in fairly good form. He brought himself down with dignity. “That,” he said with emphasis, “was fun.” He rubbed his side and grimaced. “Except, I think I pulled something.”

His children swarmed him, laughing, and crying out, “Oh, Dad, we didn’t know you could do that!”

“What?!” he said, feigning shock. “Your mother and I haven’t told you about the days when we were gymnasts?”

“No!” they cried.

“What were we thinking?” he asked his wife.

“Perhaps we were trying to save the furniture,” Mrs. Kostow said, with a laugh.

“Or their necks,” Dan said, uncomfortable with what he might have unleashed. “Now kids, this is something a person ought to work up to, and you can get hurt doing it if you aren’t careful. You have to use your heads on this.”

The children took this as wit instead of warning, and collapsed into giggles and guffaws.

Dan looked helplessly at Mr. and Mrs. Kostow. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m not very experienced working with children.”

“It wouldn’t do you much good if you were,” Mr. Kostow replied. “There isn’t a one of them like another one, in my experience.” He winked, and scooped up one of his youngest. The boy spread his arms like wings. “To bed!” father and child cried together. Mr. Kostow disappeared, flying the boy to the bathroom for pre-bed prep.

“I was not like that when I was little,” a girl a scant three years older than the flying boy proclaimed, self-righteously.

“Too bad. It looks like fun,” Dan said, before his thoughts flew far away, to Twainstun and his wife and son, and a baby due to be born soon, and what it meant to be a father. He silently wished it wouldn’t be rude to leave before breakfast the next day.

Mrs. Kostow smiled at him. The smile was both motherly and sisterly.

“Mr. Kostow and I were planning an early breakfast tomorrow, before the children get up. You may take your pick: 6:30 with us, or 8 o’clock with the whole crew, or you may sleep in, if you’d rather,” she said.

“I do need to get home as soon as possible. If 6:30 is no trouble?”

The children started clamoring to be allowed to get up and join them at 6:30.

Cross posted at Kathryn Judson.

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Eric Metaxas notes what is motivating some of the dissidents in China, including the most famous one at the moment.

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After church today, I sat on the front steps and surveyed the progress of the new pasture and new lawn.

The pasture, seeded several weeks ago, is tall and lush, and the grass is looking more like mature grass and less like seedlings – but swathes of it are more weeds than grass. A good mowing, once the ground is dried out enough to mow, should help to fix that, since grass handles mowing better than weeds. The main weed is what we call kochia, a type of tumbleweed. For the most part, it’s growing way too thick for any individual plant to do well. That’s where grass also has an advantage. Grass blades are by nature skinny, and work well beside other grass blades. The kochia, however, are stunting each other’s growth. That should make it tougher for them to rebound after a mowing.

As for the lawn, which sits between the pasture and the house, it was seeded quite recently, and we’re just seeing seedlings. They’re at what you might call the green haze stage – it’s hard to see them, but at a good angle in good light, there’s a sense of greenness sitting on the land – except where they’re not that far along. It’s a goodish-sized lawn, and out back is an even larger lawn, also freshly seeded. It took days to do the initial watering, and the seedlings are advertising that fact, coming up where the sprinklers were first set, but not yet up where the watering was postponed. For that matter, the sprinklers have been horribly uneven in their coverage, and the seedlings are reflecting that, too, with more green where the ground has received more water.

I can’t shake the idea that this is something like the church – the universal church – composed of believers at different stages of maturity, side by side with tumbleweeds that, temporarily, take over parts of the pasture or lawn. Or perhaps it’s more a picture of society, with the church – like the grass – growing only where the proper seeds got planted and watered, but growing best where the weeds are fewer, and/or the watering has been better.

That many churches today are in need of reseeding, or the equivalent of a good mow, I think is fairly obvious. There is a sense of spiritual weeds having the upper hand in places, and all too many church leaders don’t seem to care – or, worse, seem to be scattering weed seeds themselves, while simultaneously spraying herbicide on patches of grass.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t do to stretch the comparison too far. People, unlike weeds, can – thanks to the Holy Spirit – switch from being tumbleweeds to being grass, in a manner of speaking. (You do know, don’t you, that Christian conversion actually changes a person into a new creation?) Also, even the ones that will go to their doom stubbornly insisting that they want to be tumbleweeds, we’re told to leave to heaven to sort out.

Admittedly, I’m mixing my botanical terms here, because the Bible talks of how to deal with tares among the wheat.

The following is from the Amplified Bible. In this translation, what the King James and New King James translation calls tares, is called darnel. The parable starts at verse 24.

Matthew 13

1THAT SAME day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting beside the sea.

2But such great crowds gathered about Him that He got into a boat and remained sitting there, while all the throng stood on the shore.

3And He told them many things in parables (stories by way of illustration and comparison), saying, A sower went out to sow.

4And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and ate them up.

5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil; and at once they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.

6But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they dried up and withered away.

7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them out.

8Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain–some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty.

9He who has ears [to hear], let him be listening and let him [a]consider and [b]perceive and comprehend by hearing.

10Then the disciples came to Him and said, Why do You speak to them in parables?

11And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

12For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will [c]be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

13This is the reason that I speak to them in parables: because [d]having the power of seeing, they do not see; and [e]having the power of hearing, they do not hear, nor do they grasp and understand.

14In them indeed is [f]the process of fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: You shall indeed hear and hear but never grasp and understand; and you shall indeed look and look but never see and perceive.

15For this nation’s heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them.

16But blessed (happy, fortunate, and [g]to be envied) are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear.

17Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men [men who were upright and in right standing with God] yearned to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

18Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower:

19[h]While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside.

20As for what was sown on thin (rocky) soil, this is he who hears the Word and at once welcomes and accepts it with joy;

21Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, [i]lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and [j]begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away.

22As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit.

23As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and grasps and comprehends it; he indeed bears fruit and yields in one case a hundred times as much as was sown, in another sixty times as much, and in another thirty.

24Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.

25But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way.

26So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also.

27And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it?

28He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out?

29But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it.

30Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind it in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my granary.

To read in broader context, or in a different translation, go here.

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