Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lines of Literature: Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, part II

"In every culture the message of the gospel is in constant danger of being compromised by the value system that supports that culture and its goals. The stranger to that culture can instinctively identify those points of surrender and call the community back to a purer and more authentic faith. But such infusions of new life are usually resented and resisted."

-Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, page 166

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lines of Literature: Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

From chapter seven, "The Lord's Prayer: God Our Father":
We are immersed in words and in the process they have become cheap. Rarely are words heard as pearls, carefully selected and artistically strung on a golden thread called a sentence. Jesus invites the reader to step into a world where words are few and powerful. In such a world each word must be examined with the care it deserves.

This book, by Kenneth E. Bailey (InterVarsity Press, 2008), is hard to put down. Bailey relates the cultural background of the Middle East, Palestine, and Judaism and what it means to understanding the Gospels. There is much about the culture of those times that is presupposed by the Gospel writers, but lost to us. Bailey seeks to fill us in.

I am understanding the Christmas account, the Beatitudes, and now the Lord's Prayer in new ways after reading the first seven chapters. I still look forward to reading his chapters on the parables and "dramatic actions of Jesus."

This Makes Me Crazy

Did you know there is a giant flotilla of plastic gathering in an area of the Pacific known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre? Some say it is as big as Quebec, others fear it is much larger. The mass of plastic junk floats out of sight, just below the surface of the ocean. This collection of plastic trash that doesn't sink is disheartening.

It makes me crazy that everything comes packaged in plastic: detergent, milk, peanut butter, soda bottles, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, water bottles, dish soap, lotion, shampoo, and the list goes on and on. Even juice cartons have plastic caps and pour spouts. And then there is the vexing clear plastic theft-proof packaging that displays action figures, electronic accessories, toys, and even the weather radio that we just purchased.

We are told to be good citizens and recycle this plastic. Except that there is no economic demand for recycled plastics, for it cannot be used by manufacturers as readily as virgin plastic. We recently toured a recycling center and were told that there is no one globally that is accepting plastics for recycling.

This makes me crazy. Plastic is a wonderful thing. I love my plastic dishes, plastic MacBook, plastic radio, plastic school desks, plastic markers, plastic molding in the car, my son's plastic "Coupe car," and other plastic items. I merely resent the plastic packaging that has only a very temporary purpose.

Can't we just go back to using glass or cardboard? I'd haul my empty glass bottles back for a deposit, or drop them in a glass recycling bin. Wouldn't you?
Photo by Amy M. Edwards, taken at a local recycling sorting facility.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Academy Update: The Seventies, Nixon, Joni Eareckson Tada, the Middle East

We are now studying the 1970s in the Edwards Academy (TOG Year 4, Week 28-31). This is the decade in which I was born, so from here on out our studies of history cover events that I've known as "current events." Many people despair to teach their kids about the 20th century because of all the awfulness of war, turmoil of modernism, and degeneration of culture. I wonder, however, if these descriptions match every age, it is just that the age that lives in our collective memories seems much worse to us. (For instance, some prefer to skip TOG Year 4 and would rather study the ancients. But how can ancient paganism be better? It is further removed from our reality and easier to study without fear, I'm guessing.)

It was, to be sure, discouraging to read to my kids about Richard Nixon, Watergate, communism, Vietnam, divorce, feminism, and the rest. I love the way Tapestry of Grace approaches these subjects, offering opportunities to read Hinds Feet on High Places, learn about Joni Eareckson Tada and Billy Graham, and focus on God's hand in these times.

What a blessing it has been to tell my kids about Joni. In doing so, I've realized that their generation is barely aware of her. I remember standing in a theater line as a child, eager to see the Joni movie that had just been released. We watched the DVD of the same film on Monday with our Truth Treasure Hunters families. Not only is Joni's faith inspiring, it was valuable for the Edwards Academy students to witness the sufferings of disability.

A few weeks back we watched a video of Joni speaking on Feburary 11, 2009, at the Dallas Theological Seminary chapel. Her topic was the theology of suffering. Another video of Joni's current ministry through Joni and Friends is available to watch online here: "I'd Rather Be in This Wheelchair Knowing Him..." More resources about Joni and ways to participate in ministry to disabled people are available on the Joni and Friends website.

We've only six more weeks of school! The girls are working on a realistic story and then we'll finish out the writing year with a poetry unit. Lane is writing about the Presidents that are left to study.

I really appreciate the emphasis that Tapestry of Grace gives in this final stretch to the geography and events of the Middle East. Our kids are getting a very simplified version of this (being grammar students), but they will be coloring maps of the Middle East almost every week until the end of the year, noting different areas and focusing on different nations. This week we talked a bit about the Six-Day War and learned some key things about this region from the 50,000 feet level, if you will. (Enough to recognize terms like OPEC, PLO and words such as guerillas, terrorism, car bombs, oil/petroleum, Palestine, and the like.) 

Image of Nixon leaving the White House after resigning is from

False Dilemma

Is classical education relevant? You'd better believe it!

It seems the current Presidential administration is bent on training us in logical fallacies and rhetorical devices (remember the straw man?). After last night's presser,  consider the false choice (or dilemma), in which two choices are presented as the only two options, i.e. my way or the highway!

(This seems to be a favorite technique of Obama's, one that he uses almost constantly. Start listening for it and you will see what I mean.) Check this out from NRO's The Corner

This Little Light of Mine

Toby's favorite song lately is "This Little Light of Mine." Our church is teaching evangelism right now, so we have been thinking about telling others about the gospel of God. Coincidentally, my Bible reading in my "coffee with the Lord" has taken me to I Thessalonians. The first two chapters of this book are packed with principles that guide us in evangelism:

Paul shared boldly in the midst of conflict (2:2). Paul's time in Thessalonica was marked by conflict (see Acts 17). Opposition should not leave us silent.

Paul acted to please God, who tests our hearts, not to please men (2:4). We must be so close to Jesus that we are motivated to please Him, not others. We don't share the gospel to win points with fellow church members or gain personal glory for our faithfulness. We must do it to please God. He tests our hearts and knows our motives.

Paul did not flatter his listeners, nor was he greedy (2:5). Because we know that the word of God can be offensive (Jeremiah 6:10) and, to the perishing, a smell of death (2 Cor. 2:16), we sometimes try to smooth things over a bit and make it easier on the ears. Paul never softened the message or obscured the truth.

Paul was gentle and affectionately desired the Thessalonians to be saved (2:7-8). We can demonstrate gentleness and affection for others without softening the message of the gospel. Indeed, we will want those we care about to be a part of God's kingdom.

Paul was ready to share the gospel (2:8). Well, of course he was, right? He was Paul. But what about you? Are you ready? We need to know the Scriptures and be confident in them. Recently I read G.K. Chesterton say in his book Orthodoxy that real humility is doubting ourselves, but not doubting the truth. So be confident in the truth of the gospel as you present it and never apologize for it. That is not humility. Humility is born in knowing that it is only by God's grace that you are redeemed! 

Paul shared not just the gospel, but he shared himself, and the Thessalonians, whom he just met, became dear to him (2:8). I find that the best way to care deeply about people is to pray for them.

The Thessalonians who believed did so because they were chosen by God (1:4). We can take no credit in the belief of others, but we can rejoice to be used by God in communicating His salvation. 

The Thessalonians who believed did so because the gospel came in word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction (1:5). It is God who works to bring conviction in the heart of our listeners. But, we also need to be sure that we are sharing in His strength and direction and not in our own meagerness.

The Thessalonians turned from idolatry to believe in Christ (1:9). We shouldn't pre-judge the likelihood that our listeners will believe. Whatever the current belief system of our listener, we must be confident that the living and true God (1:9) that we serve is more powerful than the impotent idols (whatever that may be) of our listeners.

The Thessalonians, new in their faith, patterned themselves after Paul (1:6). Are we living holy lives that are worth imitating?

Engraving of St. Paul preaching to the Thessalonians by Gustave Dore, 1865, found on

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blogging About Orthodoxy: Chapter 5

This month I am reading G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and blogging about it along with my blogging friend Sharon. Catch up on all my Orthodoxy posts here, and see Sharon's posts here.

Chapter 5: The Flag of the World
In chapter five, Chesterton realizes that Christianity is the answer to the riddle of the world. It comes as a surprise to him, but it is a relief as well. He opens the chapter with wondering if it is an apt description to divide the world into optimists and pessimists. He decides it is not.

Chesterton observes that a better description of man’s situation in the world is that of the patriot. We are citizens of the world and must fight under its flag. We do not have a choice in this matter, for we cannot choose against being a citizen of the world. It doesn’t do much good to simply complain about the awful state of the world and so seek its destruction. We, like the patriot, are motivated to make our homeland better. We have a stake in its success. We have a sort of national pride in being a part of humanity just as a patriot is proud of his nation, even when his government fails him. In fact, a true patriot, according to Chesterton, seeks reform to transform his nation, if need be, in order to preserve it. Likewise, we live under the flag of the world. We cannot merely be pessimistic for we need our world to succeed.

In patriotism, men unite in seeking to preserve something important: their city or their religion. He writes,
“They fought for the shrine, and found they had become courageous. They did not cultivate cleanliness. They purified themselves for the altar, and found that they were clean.”
Morality is not so much the aim as it is the result. In fact, Chesterton suggests that men banded together in social contract not to preserve kindness and order among themselves, but to work together to protect their holy place.

The issue of patriotism is a contentious one in America today. Are you a patriot if you condemn your nation’s foreign policy? Is it treason or is it patriotism? Chesterton would say it is patriotism.
“A man who says that no patriot should attack the Boer War until it is over is not worth answering intelligently; he is saying that no good son should warn his mother off a cliff until she has fallen over it.”
And yet, the critic is not completely off the hook.
“But there is an anti-patriot who honestly angers honest men, and the explanation of him is, I think, what I have suggested: he is the uncandid candid friend; the man who says, ‘I am sorry to say we are ruined,’ and is not sorry at all. And he may be said, without rhetoric, to be a traitor; for he is using that ugly knowledge that was allowed him to strengthen the army to discourage people from joining it.”

But what, you wonder, does this have to do with Christianity? Chesterton is using the concept of patriotism as a parallel in understanding the predicament of our place in the world.
“We must say there is a primal loyalty to life: the only question is, shall it be a natural or a supernatural loyalty? If you like to put it so, shall it be reasonable or an unreasonable loyalty?”
Chesterton is helping us see the puzzle of life, for we must see that puzzle before we are convinced that Christianity is the solution.

Only the man who loves the world unconditionally—without a reason—is willing to take the time to reform it. Think of the faithful wife, Chesterton suggests. She is “ready to defend [her man] through thick and thin” but privately will be “morbidly lucid about the thinness of his excuses or the thickness of his head. A man’s friend likes him, but leaves him as he is: his wife loves him and is always trying to turn him into somebody else.”

But what about these irrational optimists? Are they willing to die for the cause? And with this thought Chesterton turns to the suicide/martyrdom riddle.

Suicide, the taking of one’s own life, and martyrdom, the giving of one’s own life, are very similar. Some “free thinkers,” in fact, suggest that they are the same, according to Chesterton. Moderns were no longer willing to condemn suicide, Chesterton observes. And yet this doesn’t seem to ring true to Chesterton. He writes,
“The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world. His act is worse (symbolically speaking) than any rape or dynamite outrage. For it destroys all buildings; it insults all women. The thief is satisfied with diamonds; but the suicide is not: that is his crime.”
“This was the first of the long train of enigmas with which Christianity entered the discussion…The Christian attitue to the martyr and the suicide was not a matter of degree…The Christian feeling evidently was not merely that the suicide was carrying martyrdom too far. The Christian feeling was furiously for one and furiously against the other: these two things that looked so much alike were at opposite ends of heaven and hell.”
Chesterton wrestles with these matters until he slowly begins to realize that Christianity offers the best explanation.
“Here it was that I first found that my wandering feet were in some beaten track. Christianity also had felt this opposition of the martyr to the suicide: had it perhaps felt it for the same reason?”
Next Chesterton addresses the attitude of “chronological snobbery,” something C.S. Lewis echoed in his writings.
“An imbecile habit has arisen in the modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age, but cannot be held in another…You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays…What a man can believe depends upon his philosophy, not upon the clock or the century.”
Chesterton examines two belief systems: the Quaker and the Pantheist. This surprise pairing actually confronts two opposites, for the Quaker looks inward for truth and the Pantheist looks outward, but in doing so mistakes nature for a god. First, the Quaker.
“Of all conceivable forms of enlightenment, the worst is what these people call the Inner Light. Of all horrible religions, the most horrible is the worship of the god within.”
 But the Pantheist also hit a wall.
“A man loves Nature in the morning for her innocence and amiability, and at nightfall, if he is loving her still, it is for her darkness and her cruelty…Physical nature must not be made the direct object of obedience; it must be enjoyed, not worshipped.”
Christian Theology Solves the Puzzle
And here Chesterton takes a great leap forward and concludes:
“I had found this hole in the world: the fact that one must somehow find a way of loving the world without trusting it; somehow one must love the world without being worldly. I found this projecting feature of Christian theology like a sort of hard spike, the dogmatic insistence that God was personal and had made a world separate from Himself. The spike of dogma fitted exactly into the hole in the world—it had evidently been meant to go there—then the strange thing began to happen. When once these two parts of the two machines had come together, one after another, all the other parts fitted and fell in with an eerie exactitude. I could hear bolt after bolt over all the machinery falling into its place with a kind of click of relief. Having got one part right, all the other parts were repeating that rectitude, as clock after clock strikes noon. Instinct after instinct was answered by doctrine after doctrine.”
Chesterton has finally realized that Christianity holds the key to the dilemma.
“The optimist’s pleasure was prosaic, for it dwelt on the naturalness of everything; the Christian pleasure was poetic, for it dwelt on the unnaturalness of everything in the light of the supernatural.”

Personal Reflections
This is my first Chesterton book and I am beginning to see that he did indeed leave an imprint on the thinking of the 20th century, especially in the area of Christian apologetics. His was able to analyze the thinking of his own age and find its error. Even better, he clawed his way out of that erroneous thinking until he discovered the truth.

In chapter six, Chesterton gives Christianity a thorough examination, facing the objections against it to see if they have any validity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Break on the Prairie

Today we returned to one of our favorite places: Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. (See memories from our '05 trip here; from '08 here.) It was chilly, trees were bare, and the tallgrass is bent over, brown, and dry. This time we went with our friends the B. family. Actually, it was just Mrs. B. and her crew plus one friend and me and my crew. We met up with my aunt and uncle at the park. It was so good to spend the day, Leida and Doug! Thanks for being with us.

Edwards kids and their friends in front of the old ranch house.

Doesn't his hair match the prairie? 

Running free!

Life's Frustrations

Life's frustrations can sometimes become our most precious opportunities. Mr. Edwards is repairing our washer this evening. We're frustrated that it needs repairing, but it is great for our son to imitate his dad and start imagining himself as a man. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick was kidnapped from Britain and taken to Ireland where he was sold as a slave. The suffering he endured helped bring him back to faith in God. After he escaped Ireland and returned to Britain, he decided to go back to the pagan island of Ireland with the Good News of Jesus Christ, as a missionary.

Did Patrick use the shamrock to explain the Trinity to the Irish? Find out by listening to this ten-minute interview with Philip Freeman, author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography: NRO's Between the Covers.

Saturday we danced in the St. Patrick's Day parade here. Since January the girls and I have been learning Irish dancing on Saturday mornings. This was our first time to dance for a crowd! Actually, I think we were way off on our steps most of the time, but we had a great time. Hope and Sydney were pretty thrilled to be in a parade! The boys and Mr. Edwards watched us go by and we were proud to know they were watching. Still, when I asked Lane which group was his favorite he replied, "The little cars!" But Mr. Edwards faithfully told us, "The Irish dancing was my favorite!"

You can see Sydney (l) and Hope (r) dancing with Mr. G. I am behind them. 
The tradition of Irish dancing was all new to us in January when we started learning to dance. Here you can see some of the Corry Academy girls in their black and gold class dresses. The other girls are wearing colorful competition dresses. The white poodle socks are traditionally worn for competition, but competitors over 18 wear black tights. Also, Irish dancing girls traditionally wear their hair very curly and over the years dancers began wearing curly wigs for performances. 
Our friend Mr. G. made the big Celtic cross with dancing silhouettes that you see on the float.

More pictures of the parade here and here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blogging About Orthodoxy: Chapters 3 and 4

This month I am reading G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and blogging about it along with my blogging friend Sharon. Catch up on all my Orthodoxy posts here, and see Sharon's posts here.

Chapter 3: The Suicide of Thought
In chapter three, Chesterton takes a look at the world of modern thought in which he lives. It is "a rough review of recent thought," as he calls it. I find it interesting that the thinking of the elite in Chesterton's day is now the thinking of the commoner in our own day, one hundred years later.

Here is a great example:
"But what we suffer today is humility in the wrong place...A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth. This has been exactly reversed. Nowadays, the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt--the Divine Reason...For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether."

"We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table."

In this we have the forerunner of today's, "How can you be so arrogant to think that you know the truth?" But Chesterton spots the error: it isn't arrogance to recognize truth and be sure of it! More specifically, we are told today that it is arrogant to declare that Christianity is true and other beliefs are false. And yet, these same people have complete confidence that whatever they set their minds to doing, it is right for them to do it.

He explores the idea of laws, limits, and breaking free from them, something anarchists and modernists desperately seek to do. (Consider that Picasso's Cubism period began in 1909, so the dawn of abstract art was just on the horizon, yet Chesterton notes the yearning to shrug off all limits.)
"Anarchism adjures us to be bold creative artists, and care for no laws or limits. But it is impossible to be an artist and not care for laws and limits. Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe. The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits.

You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes."

Chapter Four: The Ethics of Elfland
In chapter four, Chesterton sets out to show that fairy tales capture truth better than rationalism.
"I have always been more inclined to believe the ruck of hard-working people than to believe that special and troublesome literary class to which I belong."

He makes some keen observations of fairy tales that I never contemplated while reading them to my children (or as a child):
"There is the lesson of "Cinderella," which is the same as that of the Magnificat--Exaltavit Humiles. There is the great lesson of "Beauty and the Beast;" that a thing must be loved before it is loveable. There is the terrible allegory of the "Sleeping Beauty," which tells how the human creature was blessed with all birthday gifts, yet cursed with death; and how death also perhaps may be softened to a sleep."

Chesterton began to see "the soil for the seeds of doctrine" in his belief that
"the world does not explain itself. It may be a miracle with a supernatural explanation; it may be a conjuring trick, with a natural explanation. But the explanation of the conjuring trick, if it is to satisfy me, will have to be better than the natural explanations I have heard. The thing is magic, true or false."
He goes on to say that he felt the magic must have meaning, a meaning and purpose beautiful in its design. He realized, "We owed, also, an obedience to whatever made us."

Chesterton's journey to faith as recounted in Orthodoxy has, at the close of chapter four, embraced the supernatural and even the existence of God, and yet he still searches for the knowledge of Who God is.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Our Second Twins

Five years ago in February, I discovered I was pregnant. Our twin girls were three-and-a-half at the time and our son was one-and-a-half. We were very excited about having another baby, but we were even more amazed to see, on a sonogram when I was six weeks along, that it was twins! Again. As I looked over at the screen, I saw that both little embryos had beating hearts, in fact at that stage they seemed to be almost all heart.

I was very sick, but knew it was a good sign that the babies were growing. But just a few weeks later all my symptoms vanished. I felt too good and I noticed that my tummy wasn't growing. I tried to stay hopeful, but my twelve-week-check-up confirmed my fears: the babies had died.

We mourned and were grieved. Our experience is not unique. You've probably had miscarriages and felt the same grief.

We have a couple of little glass angel figures in our china cabinet that were given as a gift after the miscarriage, to remind us of our two little babies now in heaven. The grief of a miscarriage is real. It is a loss of life. It isn't as wrenching or intense as the loss of a child that you've been able to hold and know and love, but it is a loss.

With all the talk about our government's lifting of the stem-cell research ban, I remember again our precious children that only lived to be embryos. Soon after we lost them, I knew that the little lives I carried in my womb were now worshiping their Creator at His throne. Their value is not in the fact that we loved them and mourned them. Their value lies in the fact that God created them and they are His. Many embryos have no one to love them and no one to mourn their loss, but their value before God stands.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The LORD Bless You

"The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."
(Numbers 6:24-26)

Today we attended the departure ceremony for my brother-in-law and his National Guard unit that is leaving for Afghanistan. The ceremony was brief, but we were proud to be there and proud of our soldier. 

Following the ceremony we gathered at a restaurant with relatives and friends from another city that we only see occasionally. It was good to see them and their growing children and new baby and very good to hear about their lives. 

The departure ceremony was held at this historic train station that is now restored for events like the one today.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Flyin' High and Lovin' Lane

Nearly a year ago I sat in a meeting with other moms in a homeschooling co-op planning meeting. When it was my turn to say what I was interested in teaching, I thought of Lane. I really wanted to teach a class that he would be in. In my first two years in the co-op, I taught Heroes of the Faith, Poetry, Kansas History, and Poetry (again, to a different age level). I was chafing to go in a little different direction. So I suggested a flight class. I figured it would be just the sort of thing I would never bother with at home--perfect for a co-op. The months passed. I taught a Honor and Protocol class last semester and after Christmas realized it was time to plan for FLIGHT.

No big deal, I told Mr. Edwards. We'll do three weeks on paper airplanes, three weeks on kites, and three weeks on rockets. How hard can it be? I'm through with typing lesson plans! This will be a breeze!

Well, the paper airplanes worked out okay.
The kites haven't been so successful. Mrs. B. and Mrs. C. and I  spent class time hurrying around tying knots, taping dowels, and trying to keep chaos from erupting as restless children waited for help. Mr. Edwards and I have been toiling over kites over two weekends (it turns out that even a dozen amazing and bright six and seven-year-olds really aren't up to assembling kites!). Today was the day. Time to fly.
Isaac's actually did fly for a bit. Before it completely fell apart.
I worked as best as I could to quickly repair kites, but I would have been more successful with a roll of duct tape!
Ethan seemed to have fun anyway. (Lane's not looking at the camera here, but there he is.)
My friend Pam took these pictures for me. Her daughter stayed cheerful even in the face of a stiff wind!
"Mrs. Edwards! My bridle broke! Mrs. Edwards, can you tie this? Mrs. Edwards! My wood snapped!"

It was too windy, but in Kansas you are hard pressed to find a day that isn't. The funny thing about all of this is that I thought I picked a really easy design, after researching kite design online. The plastic and tape system seemed easier for small hands to manage than the traditional notched dowels and butcher paper. Trust me, after this I'm getting back to lesson planning and sticking with what I know. Who wants to take economics? Writing? Bible?

Mr. Edwards, thank you for bailing me out on this project. Will you still help me figure out rockets?

Lane, I love you, kiddo. We'll go get a kite at Wal-Mart and try this again!

Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. B. and Mrs. C. for their help today. Special thanks to Mrs. B. for taking these pictures with my camera. Mrs. C. took quite a few, as well, so if nothing else it made for a fantastic photo op!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Blogging about Orthodoxy: Chapters 1 and 2

This March I'm reading G.K. Chesterton's (1874-1936) book, Orthodoxy. (Sharon is reading and blogging along with me and perhaps you're reading it too?) Chesterton was a British writer and thinker who wrote a variety of books around the turn of the last century. He wrote Orthodoxy (1908) as a follow up to an earlier book, Heretics, written in 1905. Heretics was a criticism of atheist and false philosophies. When readers pointed out to Chesterton that he criticized the philosophies without offering an alternative, he set out to write Orthodoxy, the story of his journey to faith in Christ.

Chesterton is an intellectual hero of sorts to Christians, although many people now have only vaguely heard of him as a writer that C.S. Lewis read. I believe he is better known in the Catholic community, since Chesterton ultimately took his journey to orthodoxy to Catholicism. We'll probably come back to that point later.

Since I have not read or studied Chesterton before, I came to the book not knowing what to expect. Chapter 1: Introduction in Defense of Everything Else makes clear what is coming. It is a classic introduction, a great example of "Tell the reader what you are going to write about." 
"I have attempted in a vague and personal way in a set of mental pictures rather than in a series of deductions, to state the philosophy in which I have come to believe. I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me."  
Near the end of chapter one, Chesterton writes about the fact that his journey to faith took place largely outside of church. He writes, 
"It might amuse a friend or an enemy to read how I gradually learnt, from the truth of some stray legend or from the falsehood of some dominant philosophy, things that I might have learnt from my catechism--if I had ever learnt it."
In his search for truth, Chesterton went to to the ends of the earth philosophically ("in an anarchist club or a Babylonian temple") and did find the truth, but what he found was that those philosophies were false and Christianity true. I found this observation to be an affirmation of the value of Scripture memory or catechism. That is, even if my children take a journey in adulthood in search of truth as Chesterton did, wishing to test out false philosophies for themselves, I pray that the truth of Christ that they've hidden in their heart in childhood will be there for them when re-discover that Christ is, in fact, the Truth. There all the time.

If I thought this would be an easy read, chapter two proved otherwise. I feel a bit like I'm reading Orthodoxy in another language! Why? Because he speaks in terms of philosophy and I'm realizing I'm a bit lacking in my knowledge of philosophy and, more specifically, the history of philosophy. In any case, chapter two, The Maniac, has some brilliant and witty quotes. In fact, Chesterton had me laughing out loud in several places!

In chapter two, Chesterton observes that one cannot recount a journey to Christianity any longer with the most obvious of facts: sin. He marvels that,
"Certain new theologians dispute Original Sin, which is the only part of Christian theology that can really be proved...But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street."
Indeed, "the fact of sin--a fact as practical as potatoes" as Chesterton says, is still in dispute today! With sin off the table as a starting point, Chesterton starts with insanity. 
"Men deny hell, but not, as yet, Hanwell." 
(Hanwell being an insane asylum near London.) I found chapter two to be a challenge for me, since (as I said) I am under-educated in philosophy. But Chesterton says it is practical.
"This chapter is purely practical and is concerned with what actually is the chief mark and element of insanity; we may say in summary that it is reason used without root, reason in the void. The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad; he begins to think at the wrong end. And, for the rest of these pages, we have to try and discover what is the right end."

"...What is it that keeps them sane? ...a general answer...Mysticism keeps men sane." 
In other words, to be purely materialist (the material world is all there is) is beginning at the wrong end. 

Next week: Chapter 3: The Suicide of Thought and Chapter 4: The Ethics of Elfland

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Toby Shares the Gospel

Toby has preschool with my mom about four days a week. Sometimes they use the EvangeCube to go over the Gospel. Do you know how to share Christ? The EvangeCube helps cover each major point of the Gospel, which you will hear Toby and his Grandma cover:

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

"...that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures..." (1 Corinthians 15:3b-4)

For more about EvangeCubes, click here.

At 2.25 in the clip, Toby and Grandma are talking about prayer and out of nowhere he says "I found my journal and my pen." Grandma misunderstands and thinks he said, "Jonah." It seems random, but Toby thought of his journal and pen when they mentioned prayer because he knows that I journal my prayers each morning. He likes to imitate that in a little notebook sometimes.

UPDATE: My mother, featured in the video, would like to clarify that when she teaches Toby the EvangeCube, she never calls the person, the sinner,  "Toby." When we recorded this, Toby called him that all on his own. Toby clammed up a bit for the camera. Mom reports that Toby can go through the whole cube unprompted when he isn't being filmed. This is a really great tool for teaching the Gospel.

Update for my Reader subscribers: I posted this originally through a Blogger video upload. It was such a drag on the blog, I switched gears and used YouTube. Sorry about the confusion in your Reader feed (since it shows up twice, but one is missing).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chesterton in the Conversation

It is always interesting when you turn to read an author and suddenly notice all the instances of his work that crop up in the national conversation. Here's an example on National Review Online's The Corner.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Washing Dishes and Listening to Sermons

Tonight while Mr. Edwards and the older three kids were at BSF, I listened to a Mars Hills Church podcast from his 1 Peter series (as I washed pots and pans and scrubbed the kitchen). This iTunes link takes you to the podcast; I listened to "Trial: Submission to Authority," the 2/23/09 sermon.

So biblical and practical, Pastor Driscoll helps us understand what it means to submit to authority. "It's not about whether or not people think well of you...the real issue is, what do they think about Jesus? ... So, our goal is to submit to authority and serve...critics...and repent when we fail."

Pastor Mark Driscoll - Mars Hill Church: Mark Driscoll Audio - Mars Hill Church: Mark Driscoll AudioMars Hill Church: Mark Driscoll Audio

While I'm at it, I'll recommend another podcast from Paradise Valley Community Church near Phoenix, Arizona. We look forward to hearing Pastor Switzer at Family Camp every summer, but in the meantime I listen in to his preaching occasionally through his podcast. Pastor Switzer is preaching on Ephesians, a book I've been praying through recently.

Unknown - Paradise Valley Community Church - Paradise Valley Community ChurchParadise Valley Community Church: Frank Switzer

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sock Hop and Soda Shop: Truth Treasure Hunters Celebrate

It is hard to believe that we finished up our third quarter of school! One of my favorite things about our Tapestry of Grace co-op is our unit celebrations. This quarter we covered the Post-War era through the Johnson presidency, which means we studied the the independence of India and Pakistan, the Middle East, the Korean War, the Cold War, the civil rights struggle, the space race, the 1950s culture, the Kennedy presidency, the Vietnam War and President Johnson.
The three Edwards students stand in front of their Peanuts posters (drawn by mom, colored in by the students) and their written compositions.

Lapbooks on display, made by Edwards students and the other Truth Treasure Hunters, about President John F. Kennedy.

Salt-dough maps of East Asia.

The Edwards' kids Andy Warhol inspired art (in frames), Lane's Apollo rocket (made from paper towel tubes) and school books.

Hope shows her lapbook to Mr. Edwards.

Lane shows his rocket to Grandpa S.

Sydney shows her Tapestry of Grace workbook to Grandpa Edwards.

The  Truth Treasure Hunter group poses in their 1950s inspired attire.

Our evening began with time for each of the Truth Treasure Hunters to give an oral presentation. Some presented artwork, some read their writing compositions, and some did both. 

After the presentations, we had some gallery time for the kids to show their guests and their dads what they've been working on in the last nine weeks.

We concluded with a sock hop and served black cows (i.e. root beer over ice cream). The kids (and Grandpa S.!) danced to 1950s hits. It was a grand evening.

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