Saturday, November 14, 2009

Peter Pan

(BOOK 31 of the 52 week Challenge)

The girls and I just read this book aloud. I had forgotten how rich the language is in this children's classic. The version we read (pictured) was beautifully illustrated. We have the movie (2003 non-animated version) on its way from Netflix.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

(BOOK 30 of the 52 week Challenge)

Catherine, Elizabeth, and I recently read this together and then topped it off with another viewing of the movie. I never get tired of this story.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our Town

(BOOK 29 of the 52 week Challenge)

Zachary, Ryan, Catherine, and I just read this play of Thornton Wilder's which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938. After we finished the book, we watched the excellent Masterpiece Theater production which starred Paul Newman as the Stage Manager. We greatly enjoyed both.

The Metamorphosis

(BOOK 28 of the 52 week Challenge)

Kafka is a master of surrealism in this novella about a man who wakes up one morning and finds he has turned into a cockroach as he slept.

Animal Farm

(BOOK 27 of the 52 week Challenge)

Orwell's allegory of Soviet communism is one of my favorite books. Zachary, Ryan, and I read it together recently as we studied about the Russian Revolution and life in Russia under Lenin and Stalin.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Great Gatsby

(BOOK 26 of the 52 week Challenge)

From the back cover:

"The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s."

The adulteries of two of the main characters, along with the hosting of weekly alcohol-drenched festivities by Mr. Gatsby, are parts of the main storyline of this book. It is assigned as high-school level reading in our literature studies, but I've opted to wait a couple of years before I assign it to Zachary and Ryan, even though it goes with our current time period in our history studies. I do want them to read it in high school, just not while they are 14.

All Quiet on the Western Front

(BOOK 25 of the 52 week Challenge)

"The greatest war book that has yet been written."
~ Redakteur Stohr

"It is the strongest document that has come out of the war."
~ Ernst Toller

"It surpasses all other war books in its cruel truth."
~ L'Action Francaise

"It is a great document. A powerful work of art. All other books about the war become small and insignificant in comparison."
~ Albert Engstrom

These are some of the reviews of this book which describes the horror of life in the trenches on the front lines of WWI, and the inability of the men who fought to adjust to their previous lives when on leave.

The author had this to say about his novel:
"This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war."

Many parts of the reading were difficult to get through due to the emotional impact of the passages. I recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about the daily atrocities faced by some of the men and women of our armed forces. Be warned that there is some sexual content.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Free Writing Workshop

Cindy Marsch of Writing Assessment Services is offering for free her Writing Prep Workshop for Great Books. The offer expires in October, so hurry if you're interested in signing up.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Though The Darkness Hide Thee

(BOOK 24 of the 52 week Challenge)

When Thomas Clement accepts the job as pastor in a small, country church, the Clement family returns to the wife's hometown to renew family relationships . They land right in the middle of a long-standing family feud complete with two suspicious deaths (considered suicides) and a murder. The tale is complete with ponderings on how Jesus really wants us to live while here on earth.

The book is a page-turner; I settled in on the couch one night this week around 8 pm to "read a couple more chapters" and I finished the book around 12:30 am. It definitely kept my attention.

This novel was written by Susan Wise Bauer, co-author of The Well Trained Mind, a book which provides guidelines on giving your children a classical education at home.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Teen-Proofing: A Revolutionary Approach to Fostering Responsible Decision Making in Your Teenager

(BOOK 23 of the 52 week Challenge)

I think John Rosemond had a little fun with his title. There is nothing *revolutionary* about the advice he offers. As he explains in the book, his suggested methods of parenting teens are nothing new; they are simply good, old-fashioned, common-sense ways of thinking that seem to have gone out the window in today's era of feel-good psychobabble.

If you are a parent, read this book. You won't necessarily agree with everything he says, but I guarantee that he'll give you some things to think about.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For Women Only: What You Need To Know About the Inner Lives of Men

(BOOK 22 of the 52 week Challenge)

If you're a woman, read this book. Eye-opening. I wish I had read it 20 years ago.

An Ideal Husband

(BOOK 21 of the 52 week Challenge)

This was another play by Oscar Wilde that I greatly enjoyed.

Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule

(BOOK 20 of the 52 week Challenge)

As part of Reconstruction when the American Civil War ended in the spring of 1865, the Freedmen's Bureau instituted a plan to give 40 acres (and maybe a mule) to families of former slaves. This story follows the life of Pascal, a 12-year old orphan who has been a slave on a plantation in South Carolina. When the war ends, his brother, Gideon, returns to South Carolina to collect him and a former slave girl, Nelly, and they head to Georgia in hopes of receiving one of the parcels of land. During their journey, they collect a grandfather and his granddaughter, and this newly-formed "family" continues on in their quest for land of their own.

I listened to this book being read by Andrea Johnson and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Summons

(BOOK 19 of the 52 week Challenge)

The wasn't the best John Grisham novel I've ever read (I prefer his earlier works of A Time to Kill and The Firm), but it was fine for quick beach reading.

The Cherry Orchard

(BOOK 18 of the 52 week Challenge)

Anton Chekhov's last full-length play tells the story of an aristocratic Russian family at the turn of the 20th century. The family has lost their fortune and faces the sale of their estate, including its showpiece, the cherry orchard. The storyline also depicts the social changes occurring in Russia during that time period.

I enjoyed reading this selection, and look forward to discussing it with Zachary and Ryan in a couple of weeks as part of their TOG literature studies.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Importance of Being Earnest

(BOOK 17 of the 52 week Challenge)

In The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde has written a comedic masterpiece filled with puns and satire. Catherine and I read this one together, and we literally laughed out loud in a few places. I thoroughly enjoyed it from cover to cover, and highly recommend it.

The Invisible Man

(BOOK 16 of the 52 week Challenge)

This science fiction novel tells the story of a man named Griffin who has developed a process which has allowed him to make himself invisible. This state of being invisible causes many unforeseen problems in his everyday life, and he frantically attempts to create just the right concoction to reverse the effects of his first creation. He quickly descends into a life of brutality, thereby depicting the negative power that certain scientific discoveries can wield on mankind.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

(BOOK 15 of the 52 week Challenge)

This is another Tapestry of Grace selection that the boys and I read together. The book depicts the dual natures of humanity, and details how Dr. Jekyll allows the evil side of his personality to overtake any good that was in him. I found it a rather depressing read, but it did allow for some good discussion in our family.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

(BOOK 14 of the 52 week Challenge)

I loved this Sherlock Holmes novel. Zachary, Ryan, and I read it together as it was one of the literature selections in Tapestry of Grace. I want to find time to read more of the Sherlock Holmes offerings this year.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


(BOOK 13 of the 52 week Challenge)

I love the book of Daniel. The first six chapters include narrative history; the last six chapters include prophecy which is foundational for much of the end-times prophecy in the Bible.

The history portion of the book tells of the prophet Daniel who was taken from Jerusalem into captivity in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king. Daniel and three of his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were chosen to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians. God gave knowledge and understanding to these young men, and they entered into the king's service; they remained there through several rulers, and God's hand was upon them at all times. Daniel rose to a high position of authority during those years.

Also during his years of service to the Babylonian rulers, Daniel had four dreams/visions of events that would take place in the future. Some of the events of Daniel's dreams have come to pass; some are still yet to occur.

I borrowed the Precept videos for the book of Daniel from a friend, and Joe and I have been enjoying watching those while we learn much about Biblical prophecy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Latin Scholars

Zachary and Ryan took the National Latin Exam for Latin I last month, and their on-line instructor e-mailed their results yesterday.

They both received Gold Medals, and Zachary had the distinction of having a Perfect Paper.

Way to go, boys!! Your mom and dad are proud of you!!

National Latin Exam

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Story of the World, Volume 4

(BOOK 12 of the 52 week Challenge)

This book is the 4th volume in Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World series for children. I sat down to read one specific chapter of the book, and became so engaged that I ended up reading it from cover to cover over the period of a few days.

Bauer wrote her series for elementary-school-aged children, but I know several schools/curricula that utilize this series as a spine up through middle-school. TOG schedules out the series as an alternate reading resource in all 4 of their Year Plans.

We'll be covering the 20th century in history (TOG Year 4) next year, and I plan to have Zachary and Ryan read this volume over the summer to get the big picture before we begin studying the details of each of the major events in the 20th century. Catherine will read through the book as it is scheduled out on a weekly basis in TOG.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

(BOOK 11 of the 52 week Challenge)

This selection is one of the Rhetoric-level literature books in TOG Year 3, so I decided to read it again while we are covering the 19th century. Zachary and Ryan won't be in the Rhetoric-level materials until next year, so they declined joining me in this reading. Their assignment was to read Tom Sawyer.

I think the last time I read this great American novel was in high school. It chronicles the adventures of Huckleberry Finn (a teenaged boy) and Jim (a runaway slave) as they make their way down the Mississippi River on a raft in the mid-1800's. Alongside the serious issues tackled in the book (slavery, injustice, child abuse and other cruelty, etc.) is much humor. I literally laughed out loud in several places. The storyline is definitely engaging, and will keep your interest through the 300+ pages of the book.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Across Five Aprils

(BOOK 10 of the 52 week Challenge)

This novel tells of the Creighton family who lived in southern Illinois when the American Civil War broke out in April, 1861. The story chronicles each year of the family member's lives until the end of the war in April, 1865, and is told from the viewpoint of the youngest son, Jethro. Jethro is only nine when the war begins, and he quickly takes on the responsibilities of a man in his family as his brothers head off to war: one to fight for the Confederacy, and the others to fight for the Union.

I was amazed at how much I enjoyed reading this; it was hard for me to put it down once I started it. I highly recommend it as excellent reading material for all ages; your family might enjoy it as a read-aloud if you are studying about the Civil War.


(BOOK 9 of the 52 week Challenge)

I like Sarah Palin. She is the kind of straight-shooting, gutsy, conservative politician that this country needs. She's not afraid to tell it like it is. She's a real person who raises her own kids and enjoys being around them. That alone is refreshing in this day and time of hearing moms endlessly complain about their children getting out of school in May for the summer. She was told she was carrying a baby, her fifth child, who had Down's Syndrome and *chose* life. Quite an admirable woman.

From the book, concerning her candidacies in Alaska:
"In a world where representative government was shaken by corruption, people took power back into their own hands [by electing Palin]."

"[People marveled] at how someone as down-to-earth as Sarah could reach such extraordinary heights by standing firm for her beliefs."

Sean Parnell, who was elected as Sarah Palin's lieutenant governor, shared these thoughts in his inaugural speech:
"This vision of Alaska - of safe homes and streets, excellence in our schools, of families together in peace, and for dignity in our twilight years - rests securely in hands larger and more capable than our own. However, we cannot simply wait and watch events unfold. Every one of us must own this vision of Alaska's future. We must take responsibility for the things we can change."
Sharon Leighow, Palin's deputy press secretary, had this to say about her boss:
"She can be on the phone with Dick Cheney and have [Alaska's state Senate President] right outside her door, and her kids call and she goes, 'Oops, hold on.' Her kids trump everyone, and I think that's pretty neat."
I hope we hear more from Mrs. Palin and other like-minded conservatives in our coming elections.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Crazy For God

Subtitle: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back

(BOOK 8 of the 52 week Challenge)

Frank Schaeffer grew up in his family's L'Abri ministry in Switzerland, just as his sister, Susan, did. What a difference there is in the writings of these siblings!

While Susan chose to focus on the big questions of life in her book, Frank (formerly known as Franky) chose to dish the dirt on his family's shortcomings while also dragging other famous evangelicals through the mud.

In his book, he drifts from proclaiming certainty about his Christian beliefs to a place of being doubtful about any of the truths that he formerly embraced. He embodies the type of person that Joe and I don't want our children to become: one who chooses a faith based on his parent's beliefs, but who never really *owns* those beliefs himself.

I felt sorrow for Frank Schaeffer as I read his book. The man spent years living as though he had found the truth, and he now has renounced many of those beliefs and seems to be adrift and struggling.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to be Your Own Selfish Pig (and other ways you've been brainwashed)

(BOOK 7 of the 52 week Challenge)

This book is part of the reading material for the Worldview Class that Joe and I are teaching to Zachary and Ryan and a small group of their friends. I've recently seen it on a couple of high school level Great Books lists, and decided to give it another read from cover to cover.

Susan Schaeffer Macauley is the daughter of the famous evangelical Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith. She spent a good portion of her childhood at L'Abri, her family's home in Switzerland which they used as a ministry. This book recounts conversations among L'Abri students during the years as they discussed the big questions of life.

The main reason Joe and I want our children to go through the Worldview materials while they are still in our home is because we want our children to *own* their faith; we don't want them to be *Christians* because Joe and I tell them that is what they should do. They need to think about the big picture / big questions of life and decide for themselves what is truth and what isn't. We want them to compare Christianity to other religions, and note how many times the viewpoints espoused by other religions don't match up with reality. And they need to be able to articulate the reasons for their faith. In 1 Peter 3:15, we're given instructions to "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Thinking through the big questions *does* prepare you to give an answer for your hope in Christ Jesus. This book definitely gets the ball rolling on the discussion of those big questions.

Early on, the author has this to say about truth:

"The basis of this book is the idea that you can find the key to truth. But before you read on, you must decide if there's really something to look for. Do you think that there might be a key to reality? That some things are true and others false, some right and others wrong? I'm not rushing you into an answer; some people would answer yes to the above question, and others no. What do you think?" ~ Susan Schaeffer Macauley
So right off the bat, the reader is deciding whether or not there *is* such a thing as truth, how you can know, and if truth matches up with reality.

Other questions posed in the book include:

"Why shouldn't my highest goal in life be happiness for myself?"

"Look inside yourself. Do you feel some direction about right and wrong in your own mind? If so, where do you think it came from?"

"Do you think that a good God could be like a kindly Santa, and pat people on the head? Or does it make sense to you that there could be a heaven and a hell?"

"Do you have value?"

"Can you sense what your purpose in life should be?"

"Who am I? Where am I going? How will I get there? How do I know?"

This book is written at the middle-school level, and is definitely for middle school ages and up; topics discussed include sexuality, abortion, and suicide. I highly recommend it for those who want to guide their children to think about the big picture of their existence.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


(BOOK 6 of the 52 week Challenge)

It's been 3 1/2 weeks since I've posted about my reading. I haven't stopped reading, I've just stopped posting about it. :-) I'm going to catch up on posting over the next few days.

Sophocles is one of only three ancient Greek tragedians whose writings have remained; only seven of his plays have survived in their complete forms. Antigone is one of his Theban plays.

It is vital to be familiar with the background of this story before you begin reading the play. The edition pictured above does a wonderful job of providing information on the play's setting, including the importance of burial in the Greek religion. Antigone is one of the daughters of King Oedipus and his wife, Jocasta. (Those of you familiar with Greek mythology know that is a story all by itself.) When Oedipus died, Antigone's brothers, Polynices and Eteocles, agreed to share their father's kingship over Thebes. Eteocles soon decided to rule Thebes alone, and had Polynices exiled. Polynices found support in the city of Argos; he raised an army and marched on the city of Thebes. During the battle, both Polynices and Eteocles were killed. Antigone's uncle, Jocasta's brother Creon, was appointed king. He gave Eteocles a proper burial, but decreed that the body of Polynices would not be respectfully buried since he was fighting for the Argives. He determined that Polynices' corpse would be left unburied to rot and be eaten by the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.

The play opens with Antigone and her sister, Ismene, discussing the events that have transpired. Antigone announces that she must bury her brother's body in accordance with the requirements of her Greek religion. Ismene warns her sister that the punishment for defying King Creon will be death.

I won't post any more of the story line so as not to spoil the play for those who wish to read it. The great conflict of this story centers around civic responsibility and personal duty. Should Antigone obey the dictates of the state in which she lives? Or should she remain true to her personal beliefs?

After reading the play, I watched a 1972 stage adaptation of Antigone which starred Genevieve Bujold in the title role and Fritz Weaver as Creon. Their scene together in the boardroom (did I mention this was an updated version of the story?) made the whole thing worth watching. Wonderful acting! At the end of the play, the narrator made this remark:

"Creon was the most rational, the most persuasive, of tyrants. And yet, like all tyrants, he refused to distinguish between the things that are Caesar's and the things that are God's."
The more I read of ancient writings, the more I realize that King Solomon was right: There really is nothing new under the sun.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Pigtail and Chopsticks Man

(BOOK 5 of the 52 week Challenge)

This week's selection is a biography of J. Hudson Taylor. Taylor was born in 1832 in Yorkshire, England, the son of a chemist and part-time lay Methodist minister. He became a Christian at the age of 17 and, after his conversion, prayed and asked God to give him a special work to carry out. The Lord responded, and told Taylor to spread the gospel in China. Taylor spent the rest of his life - over 50 years - devoted to evangelizing the people of China.

He was the founder of the China Inland Mission (now known as OMF International), which was directly responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country. It is believed that those missionaries were directly responsible for over 18,000 Christian conversions.

When Taylor first went to China, he was poorly received by the native Chinese people; he believed part of the reason was because he looked like a foreigner. He made the decision that he (and all later members of his organization) would attempt to fit into the culture better by adopting native Chinese dress and, for the men, the Queue (pigtail). He was then regularly greeted by the Chinese children with these words:
"Here comes the pigtail and chopsticks man."
Historian Ruth Tucker summarizes the theme of Taylor's life as follows:
“ No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.”
Each of the book's 30 short chapters includes questions or thoughts for discussion, and this would be a good book for family devotions.

Taylor and his wives (he remarried after his first wife passed away) spent quite a bit of time away from their young children as they served the Lord in China. That bothered me. It has also always bothered me that Billy Graham spent so much time away from his young family. I know that both these men were doing what they felt called to do, but children need their parents. Don't they? Were these Christians hearing God correctly? Or should they have taken their children with them full-time on the mission field? I don't know the answers to those questions.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Heroes or, Greek Fairy Tales

(BOOK 4 of the 52 week Challenge)

As I am guiding my children through a neo-classical education, I am enjoying reading books that I never encountered in all my years of high school, college, and graduate school. This week's selection is a retelling of three Greek fairy tales: Perseus, Jason and the Argonauts, and Theseus. It was written for young adults by Charles Kingsley (an English historian, professor, and writer) and was first published in 1856.

A full online version of this book is available here.

I'll be writing more about our family's decision to pursue a classical education in future weeks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Scarlet Letter

(BOOK 3 of the 52 week Challenge)

Last week I said that I was reading Climbing Parnassus for this week, but I picked up The Scarlet Letter instead. So Parnassus has to wait.

Don't read any further unless you want to know the plot of the book.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a 19th century American novelist and short story writer, and a transcendentalist. The Scarlet Letter is considered to be a part of the Dark Romanticism movement of his time period.

The novel tells the story of Hester Prynne, a married woman who is sent ahead of her husband from England to live in Puritan Boston. While her husband is still across the ocean, Hester gives birth to a child who was conceived after Hester reached the New World, and she is placed in prison for her *crime*. When she is released from her incarceration, she is forced to wear a scarlet *A* on her clothing as a continuation of her punishment.

Even though the daily wearing of the letter brings Hester the scorn of the townspeople, she refuses to reveal the identity of the father of her child, and the man refuses to reveal his identity as well. Hester, and her daughter, must bear the shame alone. Not until the end of the novel do the townspeople learn that Hester's partner in crime was the young minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, who they have ardently worshipped. Hawthorne describes the parishioners adoration for their minister in this passage:

Never, on New England soil, had stood the man so honored by his mortal brethren as the preacher! How fared it with him then? Were there not the brilliant particles of a halo in the air about his head? So etherealized by spirit as he was, and so apotheosized by worshipping admirers, did his footsteps in the procession really tread upon the dust of earth?
The Reverend Dimmesdale describes to Hester his agony at carrying his secret in this passage:

"Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret! Thou little knowest what a relief it is, after the torment of a seven years' cheat, to look into an eye that recognizes me for what I am! Had I one friend, -or were it my worst enemy!- to whom, when sickened with the praises of all other men, I could daily betake myself, and be known as the vilest of all sinners, methinks my sould might keep itself alive thereby. Even thus much of truth would save me! But, now, it is all falsehood! -all emptiness!- all death!"

Hmmm, Reverend, maybe you should have confessed years ago and not paraded around town like you were above mere mortal men. That might have made you feel better. Can you tell I didn't appreciate his obnoxious piety?

Also on the scene is Hester's husband who has arrived from England, but he swears Hester to secrecy and changes his last name so as not to be associated with Hester and her child. Roger (Prynne) *Chillingworth* then spends the remainder of his life consumed with seeking revenge against the man who impregnated his wife.

This encounter between Roger and Hester later in the novel made me wish that the two had never met. How different each of their lives could have been!

"Woman, I could wellnigh pity thee!" said Roger Chillingworth . . . , "Thou hadst great elements. Peradventure, hadst thou met earlier with a better love than mine, this evil had not been. I pity thee, for the good that has been wasted in thy nature!"

"And I thee," answered Hester Prynne, "for the hatred that has transformed a wise and just man to a fiend! Wilt thou yet purge it out of thee, and be once for human? If not for his sake, then doubly for thine own! . . . "

All in all, I found The Scarlet Letter to be a very sad tale.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Writer of the Week

Here is a full Maxim essay that Zachary wrote for Diogenes. For this assignment, each student chose a Maxim to amplify. (Previous weeks had the Maxim assigned.)

Wisdom vs. Folly

“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.” ~ Solomon

by Zachary (age 13)

All wise writers deserve admiration, but none so much as Solomon, the third king of ancient Israel. When God told Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted God to give him, Solomon chose wisdom over personal wealth, a long life, or any other selfish desire. He ruled with great diplomacy and never used much military force. Of all the maxims and proverbs he wrote, his teaching on how wise sons please their parents must be one of the finest.

This maxim speaks of how children who live with respect towards the knowledge and fear of God and who are devoted to obedience to His commands will please their parents. In contrast, children acting without regard to the laws of God will cause their parents grief. The wisdom of this maxim will be observed in the sections below.

The person who heeds this maxim will discover what is right, or true, according to Scripture. He will also learn what is upright in God’s eyes, understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. He will have favor with God and man, and his reward will be eternal life.

In contrast, if someone disregards this maxim and chooses foolishness over wisdom, then he will not know what is right according to God’s will. He will not have knowledge of God or a fear of the Lord. This kind of man is what Scripture warns us against imitating; he is a perfect example of what not to emulate. He will reap destruction in the end.

Such is also the situation with students. The student who pays attention in class and studies hard will bring joy to his teacher by displaying appreciation of the teacher’s time. But the student who does not pay attention in class and entertains himself rather than studying will discover that his teacher will not be pleased with him, since the teacher wasted his time teaching a student who does not appreciate his time and effort.

An example of this maxim is the Parable of the Prodigal Son told by Jesus. The son asked his father for his inheritance early, and when he received it, he moved away to the city. There he wasted his money on his own pleasure, and quickly exhausted his resources. He decided to return to his father’s house, but planned to ask to be a slave since he had sinned against his father. When he returned, his father, having been worried about him, welcomed him with excitement and refused to let his son be his slave. His father had the fattest cow slaughtered and a feast was held to celebrate his son’s return to living wisely.

Cicero, the great Roman philosopher and orator, testified to the wisdom of this maxim when he said, “The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.”

When all of this is considered, can Solomon possibly be admired and praised enough for his wise saying on wisdom and folly?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


(BOOK 2 of the 52 week Challenge)

Moses had died and the Lord had declared that Joshua would be the next leader of His people. The Israelites were camped just east of the Jordan River. Thus begins the Old Testament book of Joshua.

Joshua declares how the Lord led his chosen people into Canaan, and how He guided them as they established their dominion over the land that had been promised to their fathers. The book imparts the stories of Rahab and the spies, the crossing of the Jordan River, the taking of Jericho, and the day the sun stood still. It describes the wars waged as the Israelites took possession of cities in the central, southern, and northern parts of the Promised Land. And it tells how the land was divided among the tribes.

I very much enjoyed reading again how God was faithful to keep His promises to the Israelites. He is the God of truth, and we can believe what He says. Always.

My pastor is preaching through the book of Joshua right now, and reading through the entire book this week motivated me to get back to my chapter-by-chapter summarization that I began, oh, a few months back. :-)

I learned a couple of new things this week in relation to Joshua.

Did you know that the name Joshua tree was given to this plant by a group of Mormon settlers as they moved westward across the Mohave Desert in the mid-1840's? The tree's unique shape reminded them of Joshua stretching his hands up to the heavens in prayer

In modern times, the flow of the Jordan River has been much reduced from that of biblical times due primarily to three occurences: in the 1960's, the country of Israel began operating a dam that diverts water from the Sea of Galilee, a major provider of water for the river; also in the 1960's, Israel constructed a channel that diverts water from the Yarmouk River, another main tributary of the river; and Syria has also built reservoirs that catch the Yarmouk's waters. It is estimated that the flow of the river has been reduced from 70 to 90 percent.

NEXT UP: Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons.

UPDATED: I've changed my mind. I'll read The Scarlet Letter this next week.