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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

… is the Gospel as recorded by Mark. All of it.

Don’t say it can’t be done. As the video series at the link shows, Max McLean can do the whole book in one extended swoop. To the delight of an audience.

There’s also a link in the post that goes to a written interview with Mr. McLean.

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Why We Raise Belgian Horses is available as a Kindle Countdown deal for the next few days. That means that it has started at 99 cents this morning, and will work its way up step by step until it is regular price again. As of post time, if you want to catch it at 99 cents, you have 1 day, 11 hours, 35 minutes, 23 seconds left. After that it goes to $1.99, and on up from there.

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7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Are you a woman about to get married? Are you considering going to a hyphenated last name? Read this first. Actually, you might want to read it even if you don’t fit the description I just gave, because it’s funny, and has good advice.

2. The plot to save America. Actually, it’s a look at currently popular ideas kicking around to revive the Constitution, and to kickstart the proper power of the states again, but we need to start somewhere.

3. How about a fun, totally clean, biology lesson? Check out the gears on the back legs of this little creature. Yes, gears. The planthopper is set up so both hind legs move together.

4. Put your thinking cap on. Deep Roots at Home has compiled a list of a hundred-plus “whole-hearted” books for children. What would you add to the list?

Shortly before coming across that list this week, I started reading Robinson Crusoe on my Kindle. That puts me at fifth grade on the list… Hey, what can I say? I’m a boomer. We were pretty much deprived of classics in school, right up through college, and I’m still catching up to my ancestors, who were better read, over all.

5. Speaking of that, I finished Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens this week. As usual, Dickens has some wonderful observations and great characters, and it was well worth the read. But he lost me on a few corners on this one. I had to go back and reread parts of it along the way, and after I’d finished I went online to check a couple of things, to make sure I understood him correctly. If it had just been something that would have been current in his day, but unfamiliar in mine, I probably wouldn’t mention it – but it wasn’t that. I had to conclude that, at least in literature and history, I wasn’t up to the standards of the general public of Dickens’ day. It’s not like he was writing for elites, after all.

It also struck me while reading this book that if I didn’t know the Bible, I would have missed a lot. And I mean a lot. That’s true of most Western literature up until recently, I’ve found.

6. Speaking of literature, words, and standards, Anthony Esolen’s Word of the Day column is usually entertaining as well as learned. Sometimes it’s useful, too, although I might as well admit that sometimes it sails right over my head. Still, it’s a good resource, and it’s free. And did I mention that it’s often fun?

7. Speaking of Anthony Esolen, have you seen his five-minute Prager University video addressing Were the Middle Ages Dark? Good stuff.

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday posts, please visit Conversion Diary.

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1. I had this plan to set up a 7 Quick Takes Friday draft post every week, probably starting on Saturday, into which I would pile links and short observations. That way, I could just pick the seven best ones come Friday, and wouldn’t that be sweet? I still think it’s a good plan. But nothing even remotely like that has happened this week. Sigh.

What I’ve done instead is redo every ebook cover on every book over which I have the control of the cover and content. I also pulled a couple of the really short children’s books, to rewrite. And I edited a new novel, that should be out soon. And mowed the lawn, and watered the lawn, and chased kids around. It’s been a busy week.

2. For a while, we had a cow that routinely jumped over the neighbor’s fence and ate in our front pasture. Our front pasture is new, and not fenced yet, which made it handy for the cow. When he felt like it, he just hopped back in with the other cows, so I stopped worrying about him.

I haven’t seen him in days. I’m a bit afraid of asking the neighbors how they solved that problem. He was a bit young yet to take to the slaughterhouse, but sometimes it’s better to cut your losses if you have a cow that will not stay home. I think I won’t ask.

3. I usually take a five year old grandniece with me to a couple of weekly ‘Bible studies’ at assisted living centers. I put ‘Bible studies’ in quotes, because it’s not quite the right designation. It’s more like a short rendezvous of Christians in the facility, with a couple or three of us outsiders leading singing, reading a short Bible passage, leading corporate prayer, and leading singing again, for a total of a half hour at each place. (No, I can’t sing. Yes, they forgive me for that.) This week, the five year old was having a very busy day, with her first day of pre-kindergarten, plus birthday celebrations, so I took her three-year-old sister. She did really, really well at being my helper in handing out songbooks, and collecting songbooks, and she sang along nicely as well as she could, and she tried really, really hard to sit still the rest of the time. That’s not to say she sat still. She was, however, praised by numerous people for being such a cheerful, detail-oriented helper. That was fun.

Please, if you have kids under your wing, consider getting involved in visits to assisted living centers or nursing homes. I hate age ghettos, and those set up for old people are some of the most heartbreaking, because most of the people there dreadfully miss being around children. Some don’t, of course, but most do. You should see them light up when they’ve got a child to chat with. It’s also been fun watching the kids learn to deal with old people with various disabilities. Kids are naturals at adapting to stuff like that, in my experience, and I doubt it hurts them any to see people loving people who may not be able to do much.

4. Here’s some perspective from an immigrant who grew up where there was a national curriculum: A Tale of a Common Core. (hat tip: The Common Room)

5. Speaking of national education programs that don’t like to have people deviate from the state indoctrination project, this is scary. I can’t say it makes me want to visit Germany any time soon, either.

6. On a more cheerful note, I discovered a wonderful little book that would be good for read-aloud, or bedtime stories. I got the Kindle edition while it was on sale: In Grandma’s Attic. As of post time, it’s still on sale, at 99 cents.

7. Back to a less cheerful note, another book I’d recommend is Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956. I don’t believe history ever repeats itself, per se, but it sure does rhyme frequently, and all too much of what Eastern Europe went through as it fell into totalitarian ruthlessness is all too similar to trends today. Not encouraging, that. But forewarned is forearmed, if you’ve got the stomach for it. It’s not as brutal a read as The Gulag Archipelago. But it’s scary enough, and I doubt our schools are likely to provide the info. On the contrary, they seem to be in a ‘oh, communism would be wonderful if only we ran it’ propaganda mode. Again. Or do I mean still? On the upside, the Iron Curtain didn’t stay up the way the central planners wanted it to, now did it?

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday posts, please visit Conversion Diary.

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From a new book, a look at the epidemic hijacking of airplanes in the ’60s and ’70s, with emphasis on those starry-eyed people who sought to go to Cuba – where they found themselves despised.

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1. I wonder how many people who die in fires these days are found near a smoke detector, with a ladder in one dead hand, and a battery in the other? Surely I’m not the only person who is, by now, trained to respond in Pavlovian fashion to beeps and screeches not with a run for the exits with the idea of escaping a still-young fire, but with an obsession with finding a fresh battery and some way of getting it into the beast as soon as possible, before I am driven to madness by the brain-ripping sound?

2. Have you heard? The Russians have been teaching Russian Orthodox chaplains to parachute, and have devised chapels that can be transported to troops along with the airdropped chaplains. Seriously. See Russian army introduces the flying Orthodox church-in-a-box. (Via Mere Comments.)

I can remember when Russia was death to Christians, per government policy; while the United States was the freest place in the world for the faithful. How things change. And how quickly. Yinga.

And yes, I did notice that the news comes to us via an architectural and design blog.

3. Cubans have reportedly been getting around government control of other media by distributing information hand to hand on thumb drives. So of course they’d be excited to hear that someone has been working on developing a flash drive on ordinary paper.

4. The two-year-old in the family has been obsessessed with switches and buttons for as long as I can remember. Until recently, she has pretty much confined herself to nearly wearing out the light switches, but recently she has become enamored of trying out nearly every button and switch that falls within her sight. So far, the older members of the family have been able to prevent out and out calamity, but she did manage to provide her grandparents with a private power outage that went on and on, until someone thought to check the circuit breakers. Yes, indeedy, she has discovered that there are switches there, too.

5. Shameless self promotion: I’m doing a book giveaway at Goodreads, for Why We Raise Belgian Horses. I know most of the giveaways are for new releases, or for pre-release copies. But they allow giveaways of older books. This was my first novel. Feel free to enter. The more the merrier.

6. Speaking of pre-release books, Eric Metaxas has a book coming out the end of this month that celebrates seven great men. In an age when many amongst us have been raised more or less without real heroes, or whose heroes were scrubbed of their faith in the history books (my generation had this problem, in spades), it’s nice to see Christian men held up as inspiration.

7. Speaking of heroes, I am delighted to find that many younger adults are showing both more sense and more backbone than some of their immediate ancestors. For example, look who’s helping lead the fight to defend – and restore – marriage to its proper definition and level of commitment. Having felt the damage from easy divorce and feminist experiments, they know firsthand what the ‘it’s-all-about-doing-what-feels-right-to-you’ mindset has done. And they want better. Good for them.

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday posts, pop on over to Conversion Diary.

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1. Tell me I’m not the only person chasing preschoolers around who is seriously considering locking up the soap dispensers and not letting any girl under the age of six have access without a grown-up in attendance. Two girls I babysit love to wash dishes, windows, doors, toys, faces, hands, mirrors, what have you, and have a tendency to use up all the dish soap and hand soap they can get their hands on, most of it for uses other than keeping germs at bay. I don’t want to discourage their domestic streak, and I certainly want them to keep their hands clean, but they’re in danger of busting the budget, and of making it impossible to keep soap in stock for people who want to wash hands. On the upside, if I need a breather, all I need to do is let them have a sink and some soap, and they will usually wash away for unspeakable lengths of time, happy as larks.

2. I’m currently reading Amazing Grace on my Kindle. It’s currently $2.99. It’s a biography of William Wilberforce. If you don’t know who that is, you might want to remedy that shortcoming in your education.

3. We’ve been having winter trading off with pseudo-spring lately, sometimes back and forth in the same day. That’s usual for February around here: we get a taste of spring, and then get hammered with snow, ice, and frost. I like to think it builds character. Or, at least, that it could build character.

4. I’ve been busy for weeks now helping an older gentlemen get his aviation memoirs ready to publish. We’re getting close. He’s flown back country mountains for more than 50 years, much of it as a charter pilot, and I’m enjoying working on the book, even though I’m not a flyer, or even interested in flying. I’m enjoying the adventures, and also the personality of the man. When one passenger refused to behave, the author just landed at a handy airport, hauled the man off the plane, and took off again without him. I can appreciate that sort of pilot. Oh, my, yes. The book’s title is Adventures of an Idaho Mountain Pilot. Coming soon to a bookseller near you.

5. One of my favorite old ladies died this week. I’d see her nearly every week, at a Bible study I help with at the assisted living facility where she lived. She was already frail and wheelchair bound, and often a bit unsure what was going on, when I met her, but she was unfailingly gracious and courteous, and concerned for others above herself. She’s been a mighty inspiration to me. Last week, she was too sick to come to the study, mostly from some small strokes she’d had, so we popped by her room to say hello and wish her a happy 99th birthday before we left. As usual, she was sweet and kind and sent us out the door with a God Bless You, even though she was struggling from damage from the strokes. Amazing.

6. Speaking of Bible study, have you ever noticed what’s in the Revelation 21 list of who will be kept out of heaven? “…And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death…”

I don’t know why, but when I read that for this week’s study, cowardly jumped out at me like I hadn’t seen it before. I don’t know why it surprised me. After all, how many times does God command us ‘Do not be afraid’? But, still, it jumped right off the page at me.

7. I finally slogged my way through G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. The man could make me half crazy, tossing in some of the best quotable quotes in the English language, and some of the most brilliant observations in print, side by jumble with passages I find questionable, or even counterproductive. To his credit, the man almost always forces me to think, and usually sends me off on a round of study. But he exasperates me, too. Should I dive for cover now – prudently, not cowardly, of course? (This neighborhood of Bloggityville, if you don’t know, is thick with nearly rabid Chesterton fans. It just is.) As a conversion story, it’s a great read. As a convincing presentation of orthodoxy, I find too much fairy land in it. If it gets you headed toward Christianity, all well and good. God works in mysterious ways. But, all the same, I’m glad I didn’t read it until after my own conversion.

Speaking of conversion stories, why not pop over to Conversion Diary, host blog for 7 Quick Takes Friday?

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