Sunday, July 29, 2007


It is a good thing to find blobs of toothpaste in the children's bathroom sink. It means they are brushing their teeth.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Year 3

NT Catechesis w/Dad
Memory work
read Exodus & Matthew
The Story of Icons
Icon coloring book set

Math & Logic:
Developmental Math workbooks
Montessori math lessons: multiplication, division, fractions, decimals
Memorization of multiplication and division facts
(on the link, scroll down to "The First Year Student and Math Facts")
Mind Benders A1
FamilyMath & Let's Play Math activities
Mathematicians are People Too Vol. 1
Mathmagic (Childcraft)
Math for Smarty Pants
On Beyond a Million: An Amazing Math Journey
Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales
Anno's Magic Multiplying Jar
The Story of Clocks and Calendars: Marking a Millenium

copywork: copying own narrations which mom writes out
Getty Dubay handwriting book C or D
English for the Thoughtful Child
Greek: study of John
Typing with Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor
memory work: selected poems & psalms, the Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the Constitution, Chief Joseph's speech

History: Early Modern
Spine: Story of the World vol. 3 & activity book
Usborne Book of World History
Squanto's Journey
Pilgrims First Thanksgiving
Buttons for General Washington
Louis Braille, the Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind
America's Paul Revere
Naya Nuki: Shoshone Girl Who Ran
Seaman: The Dog Who Travelled with Lewis and Clark
Tree in the Trail
Great Speeches of Native Americans
Trail of Tears
Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
Ben and Me
American Adventures: True Stories from America's Past
Phoebe the Spy
The Double Life of Pocahontas
Betsy Maestro American History series
Shh! We're Writing the Constitution!
The Birchbark House
How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark

Montessori puzzle maps
Montessori pin maps
State by State

Science: Chemistry & nature study

nature notebooking
4-H projects
Handbook of Nature Study
Burgess Bird Book
Learning the Birds podcast
A Drop of Water
Fizz, Bubble and Flash: Element Explorations & Atom Adventures
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon


Favorite Poems Old and New
Lamb's Tales From Shakespeare, 6 stories
A Treasury of North American Folktales
Kildee House
The Wheel on the School
The Sign of the Beaver
Caddie Woodlawn
The Prince and the Pauper
The Incredible Journey
Little Lord Fauntleroy
The Courage of Sarah Noble
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Art, Music, & Handwork:
Suzuki violin
Recorder using Recorder Fun!
My First Patchwork Book
My First Machine Sewing Book
origami projects from Easy Origami
nature crafts from Nature Smart
Native American crafts: moccasins, beadwork, pine needle baskets
Hymns: 1 per month
continue observation drawing using Drawing for Children
Watercolor for the Artistically Undiscovered
picture study of 6 artists
music appreciation 6 composers

Most of the books are on Amazon in a listmania list here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


That's right. The almost-eight-year-old is bored. I informed her that this is the normal condition of being almost eight, and that it will likely pass once she actually turns eight. But I am confused. This is one of two imaginative, resourceful children who are adept at entertaining themselves, spending hours painting with watercolors, reading (very challenging) books, writing, pretending, playing chess and Clue and card games, and begging to be allowed to help with the cooking. Today this very same bored child spent a long, peaceful morning looking at a book of string figures and figuring out how to do them.

I am also chagrined. Because this bored child is asking to go to public school, thinking that it will alleviate her boredom. But in his essay Against School, John Taylor Gatto writes:
School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they'll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology - all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.

What is happening here? I thought we were already doing this. Shall I utter the lament of Everyparent: "Oh-where-did-I-go-wrong?"
Or is it Gatto that is wrong, about school being the source of boredom?
But Gatto goes on :
Who, then, is to blame?

We all are. My grandfather taught me that. One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. Certainty not to be trusted. That episode cured me of boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to pass on the lesson to some remarkable student.
This is, in essence, what I tell my daughter. Boredom is the product of the undisciplined mind and body, not of environment.

But I also investigate further. What activity or benefit is she expecting school to provide? Why, specifically, does she think school will solve her boredom problem?

Her younger brother is ahead of her in math, she tells me, and she feels bad about this. This is true. Actually, they are at about the same level. She is doing perfectly well with math, but he is a year and a half younger, and has a knack for math. "The way to get better at math," I point out, "is to work on it more. Do you want to work more on math?"

"Yes," she says. "I want to work on it every day!" She goes on to tell me that public school kids work six hours each day instead of two or three, so they must be learning more. I point out that that is not necessarily true, since she knows as much as, if not more than, schooled children her age. Learning only happens if interest an attention are there, which is why we get more done in less time at home. "Do you really want to have someone else do your thinking for you and tell you what to do with your time?" I ask. "That is what your six hour public school day would be like."

"Yes," she replied, "sort of. Sometimes I don't know what to do." The answer is dawning on me. Her request for public school is a request for more structure, more direction, more responsibility, and more challenge. I think of what would have been expected of a seven or eight year old child 100 or even 200 years ago -- perhaps not so much academically, but several hours of home and farm chores and learning practical skills like sewing and knitting. A girl of eight in those days was halfway to adulthood; it was time for intensive training in the complex tasks of running a home. I think back over the past few days: happy, smoothly-flowing days. I had assigned her more tasks than usual: baking something without my assistance, entertaining her little sister, mopping the floor, writing her 4-H story. She is asking for more of this sort of day: guided days, so she can move into more complex projects, greater responsibility, and a larger sphere of independence. I run this idea by her. Yes, she says, that's what she wants. More projects. And more jobs.

As homeschoolers we often argue, along with authors like the late Raymond Moore and Charlotte Mason, that we want to allow our children to have a childhood, to not push their learning, to not hurry them to grow up too soon. We want to give them the gift of time, to look at the clouds, to dig in the sand, to think for themselves and discover their own interests. So, then, isn't it paradoxical that John Gatto also resonants with us when he says:
Don't let your own have their childhoods extended, not even for a day. If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a pre-teen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there's no telling what your own kids could do.
Are we talking out of both sides of our mouths here? I don't think so. Our culture does force children to grow up too quickly...and at the same time it inhibits maturation, pushing the age of adulthood back farther and farther. Perhaps it is that we foist upon children the problems and privileges of adulthood without establishing a foundation of responsibility, identity, belonging, and order. Or perhaps it's that we give them breadth without depth, as Dana has been pondering. I'd like to hear from others -- what do you think?

At any rate, with my "bored" child, I am reminded that "giving the gift of time" and "letting them follow their interests" doesn't mean doing nothing or giving no direction. Instead of leaving her so many free hours to play -- she has matured beyond that -- I need to revisit the Moore formula, and make sure she has a sufficient dose of study, service, and work.

You Call Me 'Good'...

Did Jesus come to teach us to be good people?
Well, that depends on how you want to read the Bible. We can read the Bible, beginning to end, as a book of rules telling us what will make God happy, what we have to do, and then go out and try to do it. We may make an admirable try. Yet we know that, without exception, we will fail. Not only will we fail to do what is right before God, we will actually break his law and make him angry. Then what? If we don’t manage to follow that old saw, “What Would Jesus Do?” every minute of every hour of ever day, what good does it do us? None. Yet we can’t do it perfectly. Nobody ever has.

So where should our focus lie? What did Jesus come to teach us? He wasn’t crucified for what he said about how to live a good life. The Pharisees were all in favor of rules. They were angered, and plotted against him, and crucified him, because of what he said about Himself. “I am the good shepherd.” “I am the light of the world.” “I am the bread of heaven.” “If you do not eat my flesh and drink my blood, you do not have life in you.” When they asked him clearly if he was the Son of the living God, he said that he was, and that they would see him coming in power. And see him come in power they did– as he went to the cross, and paid the price for all our falling short.

Did Jesus come to teach us to be good people? No. He came to teach us that we cannot be good people, but that he, the only Good Person, would pay the price for our not being good, and give his goodness to us so that we could stand beside him, without fear– so that we could see God. Any teacher who says that the core of the Christian faith is “How to be good people” has entirely missed the point. Any church that makes our goodness the center of their preaching is not a church of Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ has gathered us on the foundation of his goodness, not our own. He laid down his life to buy us, poor miserable sinners that we are. That is how we read the Bible– the whole Bible– as the story of God’s love for us, which led him to give his life for people that would never be good without him.

82nd Carnival of Homeschooling up at Tami's Blog. Check it out!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Story of Christianity

Church history has become an area of passionate interest for me in the past couple of years, so among the books currently on my bedside table is The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez. It is a general overview of church history, and I have been working my way through it slowly over the past eight months -- I'm sure it's going to take me at least another eight months to finish it, since I have barely reached the Middle Ages. (It's not dense reading at all; I just don't have lots of time to devote to it, and I am trying to fully process what I am reading as I go along.) Gonzalez is a Methodist, and although his Methodism peeks out in corners, it is so far an engaging read without too much bias. The is my first chronological jaunt through the entire history of the Christian faith. I'm learning a lot and thinking about a lot, so I thought I'd begin posting my thoughts on this reading as I go along -- they will have the tag "the story of Christianity."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Abortion and the Weight of Glory

Marcy at Marcy's Musings wrote recently about The New View of Abortion . This "new view" is embodied in Dr. George Tiller "the Killer" of Wichita KS. Tiller is the medical director of Women's Health Care Services, an abortion clinic specializing in late-term procedures.

Tiller's clinic is unique in that, rather than trying to persuade women that what they are disposing of is not human -- a difficult case to make for a late term abortion -- women are offered grief counseling, photos, memorabilia, funerary services, and "spiritual care" (more here) -- including baptism of their aborted infants. (Yeah, that makes sense: kill them and then baptize them.) Indeed, in the counseling process, patients are shown photos and given information about fetal development. They are also informed of their rights according to Kansas law. It's all very clean and above board.

The "chaplaincy" page on Dr. Tiller's website states that "abortion is acceptable in ten of the world's religions and in Christianity many denominations affirm and uphold the right of a woman to make the choice of abortion." Sorry, Dr. Tiller, but right and wrong is not determined by consensus of the world's religions. And within the Christian church, abortion has been soundly and universally condemned by the historic church from its inception, in every century but our own.

The pro-life movement has won a victory. The ignorance --willful or genuine-- of the mainstream "it isn't human; it isn't a baby" argument is crumbling under the tread of thousands of "tiny feet". But in its stead, an uglier and deeper evil has reared its head: rather than kill believing -- or persuading ourselves -- that we are simply removing unwanted tissue, now we kill what we acknowledge to be human, premeditated murder in full flower, and then desecrate the comfort of heaven and the sacrament of baptism by using them not to comfort the repentant, but to assuage the consciences of the guilty. "Your child is going to a better place. He won't suffer anymore." God be praised for His infinite mercy that that is true -- for the babies.

But the power of baptism resides in the death of Christ and in the Divine Name of the Triune God -- so the second commandment is broken as well as the fifth. Luther's Small Catechism defines the second commandment in this way: "We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use Satanic arts, lie or deceive by His Name, but call upon it in every trouble (including an unwanted pregnancy or a terminally handicapped child), pray, praise, and give thanks." Thus the new abortion is infinitely more harmful to the souls of the women involved than the former, as if the whole thing weren't both damning and damnable to begin with. There is no love in that. Tiller's baptisms belie him; they have nothing to do with the concern for the souls of babies, because he cares nothing for the souls of women -- the body, the opportunities and comforts of the world, maybe, but not the soul. And so the demon has returned, found his house swept clean, and has brought seven of his fellows, so that the latter state of the man -- and society -- is worse than the first.

Dr. Tiller, I am ashamed to say, is a Lutheran. He is even an elder in his church, but it is a liberal church in a liberal synod which has drifted far astray from the Lutheran Confessions. He ought to be excommunicated, according to the Scriptures, according to the canons of the ancient church, according to Luther. Instead he enjoys the protection and blessing of his church. Two theological errors are at the root of George Tiller's twisted humanitarianism: Gospel without Law, and the theology of glory. It is the Law in all its harshness which gives the Gospel its sweetness. When the Gospel is preached without the Law, Christ's death is an atonement for nothing, and grace is cheap -- "There is no right or wrong, just what's right for you." But what does Jesus say? He who is forgiven much, loves much. When we lessen the seriousness of sin and the weight of its penalty, we lessen love.

The Theology of Glory is any theology which attempts to sidestep the cross and its sufferings. It is best illustrated by the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, when Satan tempts Jesus to bypass the cross by using His divine power to establish his Kingdom. Tiller presents himself as a Christian humanitarian because he performs late-term abortion on babies which have terminal genetic conditions. This is one of the two circumstances in which late -term (post-viable) abortions are permitted under Kansas law. Examples include spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, and fatal dwarfism. Isn't it the duty of doctors, especially Christian doctors, to end suffering? Yes, it is right to alleviate suffering, but within the bounds of God's Law. And yes, it is the duty of doctors to save life, but not to decide when it should end.

Aren't these children going to die anyway -- why should they be allowed to suffer pain and difficulty, when death will take them to heaven and ultimate healing? This is where the theology of glory really causes us to stumble. Suffering came into the world as the result of sin. But in taking up the suffering of the cross, Jesus Christ absorbed it into Himself and transformed it. When we suffer as Christians, we suffer with Christ, and if we suffer with Him, we will be glorified with Him. This is the theology of the Cross, which stands in opposition to the theology of glory. Christ Himself suffers not only for us, but in us and with us. In our suffering we are united with Him in His suffering; His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

We cannot eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferers. In this life God calls upon us to suffer, even little babies, who are made in His image, who share fully in the condition of humanity, and who participate fully in the riches of God's grace through baptism. Some of us suffer much, some of us little, and those of us who suffer little are called to serve those who suffer much, and to take up their burdens. We'd like to spare those children their time of pain, spare their families the emotional agony of caring for them, and the overwhelming expense of paying for that care. But we must do so unselfishly, by not sparing ourselves the spiritual burden of crying with them and praying for them, the temporal burden of providing respite for their families, and the financial burden of giving up our movies and our eating out to share in the medical expenses. If we really believed in eternal life, rather than hastening little ones on to glory through murderous means, we would recognize, as St. Paul teaches us, that our sufferings here are small in comparison to the incomparable weight of glory which will be ours in heaven.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Thoughts on Modesty

A few months ago, when my husband was out of town, I indulged myself and stayed up all night on the internet surfing and following whatever bunny trails interested me. I started out shopping for long flowery skirts (which are not as easy to find as you'd think!), but what resulted was an all-night research on the topic of modesty.

It may seem odd to start out a post on the subject of modesty with a discussion of nudism, but bear with me! Yes, there really is a philosophical rationale behind social nudism (note: this Wikipedia article does include photos) and it is exactly the opposite of a perverse voyeurism/exhibitionism. Social nudists (no, I'm not one) maintain that clothes are an elitist expression of rank and power; they speak of the "textile world" in which people use clothing as a power tool to assert their status, wealth, knowledge, and sexuality and to present an (often false and pretentious) image of themselves to society.

This is an anthropological certainty and an important point in any discussion of modesty. Every culture uses clothing, and decoration, to communicate something to others. Often that something is false, pretentious, and power-driven. But because sin is in the heart, simply removing our clothes doesn't remove the problem.

Social nudists also base their ideology in respect and acceptance of the normal, natural human body, in the face of a culture which programs the mind and the eyes with images of impossibly perfect, over-sexualized bodies. This is truly a problem in our culture, and it is important to recognize that modesty is not the same as embarrassment. It is evidenced in our double standard for women of different ages and physiques. A curvaceous teenager wears something tight or revealing and receives compliments and catcalls. An older or overweight woman dons the same outfit, and passersby are appalled at her "lack of shame" -- not meaning that she ought to have a sense of modesty, but that she ought to be embarrassed about her unattractive body and cover it up. This inversion of values also becomes evident in American attitudes toward breastfeeding: a woman can wear a tight, sexy blouse with a plunging neckline and bare midriff that amounts to little more than a bra and no one blinks, but discreetly lift a modest top to breastfeed a baby in public, and you might find yourself the object of the anger, embarrassment, derision, or even legal actions of those around you.

Another assertion of social nudists is that nudity is not in and of itself sexual. Among some native cultures such as the Hawaiians, nudity is (or was) the norm. When Christian missionaries arrived in Hawaii in the early 19th century, one of the first cultural changes they introduced among converts was the mu'umu'u. To their great surprise, instead of increasing modesty and chastity, the exact opposite ensued. The men, accustomed to seeing bare female bodies, found themselves inflamed with lustful curiosity upon being confronted with so much mystery.

Which bring me to this: modesty is a universal social more. Every culture, even those which to our western eyes are completely naked, have rules or customs of modesty. Amazon tribal mothers teach their daughters to squat with their knees together. Fathers teach their sons to tie their male members up into a vine belt worn around the waist.

Though modesty is a universal ideal, its cultural delineations are not. Googling modesty took me far and wide, from Christian sites, to funky swimwear, to conservative Jewish instructions on how to tie a head scarf (I want one of these!), to high fashion Muslim styles. Everyone has a different idea about which body parts must be covered. Jewish customs define the torso as upper arms to the elbows, thighs to the knee, and chest to the collarbone, all of which must be covered, as well as every bit of head hair (no curls peeking out!). Serbian Orthodox cover the neck as well as the head and wear socks. Fundamentalist Christians do not uncover the thigh. This Catholic author express the concept well:
Modesty, however, can vary from place to place and time to time. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, modesty concerns four areas of human behavior,

First, "the movement of the mind towards some excellence, and this is moderated by "humility." The second is the desire of things pertaining to knowledge, and this is moderated by "studiousness" which is opposed to curiosity. The third regards bodily movements and actions, which require to be done becomingly and honestly, whether we act seriously or in play. The fourth regards outward show, for instance in dress and the like" [ST II-II q160, a2].

Dress, external behavior, mannerisms, etc. are signs of the person, and become so in the cultural context in which the person lives, and in which it indicates something to others. The Christian conforms to the culture in such matters, unless sin is intrinsically involved (clothing which will have the general effect to tempt the opposite sex). Modesty is humility in dress and mannerisms, an outward sign of the disposition of the inner man. By not standing out the Christian assumes a humble posture toward his neighbors.

Head Coverings in Church, Colin Donovan STL

He rightly points out that modesty has a larger definition, encompassing much more than sexual mores. Modesty is a humble attitude before God and others, a desire to decrease that Christ may increase, self-restraint in all things. St. Paul illustrates this by vivid contrast between outward ostentation of wealth and beauty, and inward meekness and quietness. Donovan's article goes on to argue that head coverings are neither obligatory nor meaningful in our current cultural context. His argument falls flat, however, when he tries to use 1 Cor. 11:16 to support his point that head coverings are a merely cultural expression. An interesting and well-reasoned counterpoint can be found at Fisheaters.

Three points in all my researches interested me most. First, a comment by a fundamentalist Baptist about why clothing with a crotch is inappropriate for women: she points out that crotched clothing draws attention to the crotch area, while a skirt or dress draws attention to the face. When I looked at traditional women's clothing from many cultures, there was one commonality: the crotch area is covered. If pants are part of the costume, as with the Pakistani salwar kameez (which looks deliciously comfortable) a long tunic top covers the crotch area.

Second, the use of head coverings during worship has been a consistent custom among Christian women of every stripe (including us Lutherans) up until the 1960s -- it has been the norm in every generation but my own, as demonstrated by this telling pictorial history.

Third, the Greek word in 1 Timothy 2:9 katastole refers specifically to loose, flowing clothing, like a robe. It doesn't necessarily imply that only skirts or dresses should be worn, but that clothing should obscure the curves of a woman's body. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago at a public park where a pentecostal group was having an outdoor service. One of the young ladies definately stood out from the crowd in a pretty blouse, a long lacy head scarf...and a long black skirt that hugged every inch of her lower body. There are a million little ways to flaunt the external rules of modesty, because true modesty is an attitude of the heart, born of love for neighbor and a recognition of our place before God.

Now, does anyone know where to buy long flowery skirts?!

When Life Gives You Lemons...

...make Limoncello!

This is a delightful traditional Italian lemon liqueur that is sweet, refreshing, intensely colorful, and easy to make. Check out the recipe and try it yourself!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Christmas in July

And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for
. . .

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with the single Truth compare—
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

--Christmas, John Betjeman

John Betjeman was the most popular British poet of the twentieth century. Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984, he won the affection of the British middle classes, and his books were bestsellers at a time when poetry had generally ceased to sell.

The Wood Between the Worlds

In Dumbing Us Down, John Taylor Gatto writes:
One thing I do know though: most of us who've had a taste of loving families, even a little taste, want our kids to be part of one. One other thing I know, is that eventually you have to come to be a part of a place, part of its hills and streets and waters and people -- or you will live a very, very sorry life as an exile forever. Discovering meaning for yourself, as well as discovering satisfying purpose for yourself, is a big part of education is. How this can be done by locking children away from the world is beyond me.
Some people think homeschoolers are depriving their children by locking them away from the "real world." They would probably agree with Gatto's statement if they didn't know its context. Homeschool families find this a very strange and incomprehensible point of view. In fact, we tend to think exactly the opposite -- as Gatto is actually asserting, that it is institutional schooling which locks children away from the world.

What is really at odds is not so much the definition of schooling, but the definition of home. Home in our modern society has been deconstructed into little more than a way-station, a place to sleep and eat (and not always even to eat!) and watch TV and store your stuff before you go out into the real world and live your real life. Home is a Wood between the Worlds:

"No, I don't believe this Wood is a world at all. I think it's just sort of an in-between place."
Polly looked puzzled
"Don't you see?" said Digory. "No, do listen. Think of our tunnel under the slates at home. It isn't a room in any of the houses. In a way it isn't part of any of the houses. But once you're in the tunnel, you can go along it and come out in any of the houses along the row. Mightn't this wood be the same? -- a place that isn't in any of the worlds, but once you've found that place you can get into them all. "
"Well, even if you can --" began Polly, but Digory went on as if he hadn't heard her.
"And of course that explains everything,' he said. "That is why it is so quiet and sleepy here. Nothing ever happens here."
---C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew

Nothing ever happens at home.
How can children grow up if they are trapped in such a nowhere place all day every day?

One of the essential elements of homeschooling, as a movement, as a philosophy, is the reconstruction of home and family life, of home as the hub, home as the place where the most significant interactions take place, home as the place around which the activities of life revolve. I have yet to meet a homeschooler, fundamentalist, atheist, or other, who doesn't seem to have at heart a profound concern for the restoration of genuine family and community life.

It isn't in any of the worlds, but once you've found that place, you can get into them all. After all, isn't a Wood-between-the-Worlds exactly the right place for children with magic rings?

On War

"You've gotta learn that you can't shoot at people without letting them shoot at you."
--Aidan, age 6

Saturday, July 7, 2007

In Reality...

I've got a post in my drafts that I've been working on for awhile (and will continue to work on for awhile) about why I'm Lutheran -- the "why" being mainly the Sacraments. I have long desired to spell out my reasons in detail for my confused family and friends, and I am better able to do that in writing better than in conversation. In the meantime, Rebellious Pastor's Wife discusses with a Baptist how baptism now saves you also (1 Peter 3:21)

The title of her post calls to mind one of the turning points for my husband and I in our conversion. The footnote to 1 Peter 3:21 in the NIV Study Bible begins, "In reality..." and goes on to explain how "baptism now saves you" doesn't really mean that baptism saves you. How can you begin a study bible footnote with "in reality"? It belies a fundamental lack of faith in the words of Scripture, as if the Apostle Peter were a bit mistaken about reality and needs the commentator to help him out. That was when the scales began to fall away from our eyes. As evangelical protestants, we claimed to possess the highest view of Scripture, taking the words on the page at face value. But -- in reality -- we were reading our theological presuppositions into the text.

Presuppositions like: baptism is a human work. Human works cannot save. Therefore, baptism cannot save. So, almost unconsciously, we read "baptism" as "the spiritual reality that baptism symbolizes" -- or even "spiritual baptism".

But St. Peter, far from being out of touch with reality, goes on to clarify: "not as a removal of dirt from the body" (because he is talking about an actual physical washing with real water, he specifies that its effect is not ritual outward cleanliness) "but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience" (the remission of sin and guilt). How can water do such great things? "...through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him."

First Butterfly

Today the first of the swallowtails emerged from its pupa in our butterfly house:

We set him free in the back yard this afternoon. He fluttered across the lawn and visited two rosebushes before leaving the yard for the big world beyond. You can see one other pupa on the back wall in the photo. We still have plenty of big fat caterpillars devouring dill and parsley and pooping at an astonishing rate. (I had never really considered the scatological implications of keeping the Very Hungry Caterpillar in a small enclosed space!)

By the way, we ended up building a very different butterfly house from the one pictured in my previous post. This one is made from a cardboard box, with pieces of fiberglass screen taped into place over the windows. (The instructions can be found in Nature Smart by Gwen Diehn.)

One thing that I haven't been doing that I need to start doing is lining the bottom with paper towels so that the poop (frass) doesn't build up, creating a moldy environment. I keep their greens in a small vase, narrow necked to prevent any caterpillars falling into the water. A second vase is handy for replenishing the dill/parsley every few days. I take out the old vase full of greens, caterpillars and all and set it on the kitchen counter. I prepare a fresh bouquet in the second vase, then I carefully transfer any stems with caterpillars on them to the new food supply. (It's important to move the caterpillars by cutting off the stem or leaf they are standing on and carrying that. Pulling them off the branch with your fingers can tear off their prolegs, the false legs at the back of the caterpillar's body used for gripping and climbing.) Then the old vase is washed out and ready for the next feeding.

Color by Numbers

About a month ago, we learned that Aidan has some "color deficiency", as the ophthalmologist put it. Poor guy -- he was squinching up his eyes and glancing alternately at me and the doctor unbelievingly as he tried to see the image on the card that we assured him was there.

This week, Erin asked me, "Mom, why do numbers have colors?" My eyes got round as I questioned her further; it appears that we have a synesthete in the family.

All this is making me wonder about my own genetic weirdness -- both of these are X-chromosome linked traits.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Punk Pastoral Care

So yesterday was the Fourth of July. We had a good time at the city's hot dog feed at the park, and met up with several of our parishioners there. As we were saying goodbye, M. said to my husband, "See you Sunday, Pastor!"

To which the Man in Black replied, "Do I need to get out to the golf course for that?"

This isn't the first time Punk Pastor has gotten away with this sort of thing. When we were on vicarage, he visited H., a parishioner who hadn't attended church since anyone could remember, in the hospital. Now, this was in southern Arizona in the summertime, and temperatures were soaring into the 100s. The sidewalks were like the walls of an oven, and H. was in the hospital for treatment of second degree burns on his hands and thigh that he gotten falling on his driveway. "It was hot like hell," he told the vicar.

With holy love and almost-apostolic authority, the vicar speaks. "Hmm. Let that be a warning to you, then."

Blame the office of the Holy Ministry. "That must have been my office talking," he told me later, "because it wasn't me!"