Thursday, September 29, 2005

Write well - read more

What a great day! I don't say that everyday but this one was especially memorable.

Our English Lit. class hosted a guest speaker today, the journalist, Russ Pulliam. He is an elder at the Indy RP Northside congregation, and has been a reporter/editor for many years. The Pulliams have six kids who they've homeschooled. Russ also teaches writing classes to high schoolers and kids in Jr. High too (I think.) Barry (our pastor) had contacted me during the summer and suggested that I get in touch with Russ about coming to our school to conduct a writing workshop. So a few weeks and emails later, it all came together. My English Lit. class which normally has ten students ballooned to twenty-five today with the homeschool guests who showed up.

Russ's presentation was highly motivational with encouragement to write well. He said that many times folks may get to know you long before they ever lay eyes on you though your writing. I'm sure that happens all the time in the blogsphere. So you want to put your best foot forward (and never display your shallow wit by using overused cliches.) You are what you write! (I'm so clever!)

Gosh, going to hear him makes a blogger kinda nervous. I guess I wouldn't ever pick up a pen or sit down at the computer if I thought I had to put down every word perfectly. Of course, I don't think that he was expecting writing perfection (if there is such a thing outside the Bible.)

A point that Russ emphasized was that we all should think about the consequences of our writing - especially on the Internet and on email. We should just be careful of our honor and the honor of Christ. As Proverbs 3:35 says, The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.

Still everyone knows that blogging tends to be conducted in a more casual manner. To me, one of the beauties of blogging is the relaxed, revealing nature of it. It's a place where people get to know each other. That's nice and that's the part of blogging that appeals to me.

Another major point he emphasized was that we all should read at least 20 minutes every day. Some fun reading, some biography/history, and some devotional reading. Good advice. He was speaking to upper high school students and he knows that they're all very busy, but he said that some day they will realize in hindsight that they aren't really busy now. As adults they'll say, "I wasn't busy then, NOW I'm busy!"

Much to munch on.
(Oh, and he would frown upon that dangling preposition there.)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Pretty recent photo biography

Here are some random photos.

We don't call him Ben-JAMIN' for nothing!

Here's a photo sure to please all the badger fans out there.

And of course we need some mushrooms!

Volleyball weirdness.

We went camping this weekend with our church.

We cooked some local cuisine called Bratwurst last night for dinner. Here's what it looks like.

(Better keep the toes away if you want to keep them!)

This morning we enjoyed some camp coffee.

And here are some very perky drinkers ( get it? ... perky? ...)

And finally the best pic of all a baby and her dog!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

woodle woodle woodle

I just looked on the floor here by the computer and spied a sheet of paper with the title of this blog printed repeatedly on over two thirds of it. Don't ask me its significance - I couldn't even begin to guess. Do you realize how strange it is for me, a perfectly rational human being, to live here in a house full of teenagers? I like it and all, don't get me wrong, it's just a little weird sometimes. If you know why someone would print out such a word over and over again, please let me in on the secret. I could even understand someone printing out a helpful word over and over like "study study study" or " clean clean clean" or "mine mine mine" (volleyball players or two-year olds know about that one). But woodle ?

Today I taught the SCA Latin classes. I teach my four second year Latin students right after they finish up Greek class, poor dears. They are real troopers to press on through close to two hours of none stop conjugating and such. I fancy that I see in their faces the same enthusiasm for the ancient language that gushes out of me, but you'll have to check with them on that. Let me live on in my happy Linguistic Utopia.

After lunch I teach the teeming crowd. The dust has settled and I have 20 students in that class ranging from those in the 4th grade all the way through the high school grades. Teaching such a wide age range poses quite a challenge. The hardest part is trying to fit a week's worth of instruction into 50 minutes. I try to end the class at the correct time, but since I have so many students and since I know that a whole week will pass before I'll see many of them again, we continue class out in the stairway. The mass moves to the stairway to make room for the next class who will meet in that room. I continue to answer questions and hand back quizzes and hand-outs until everyone disappears up the stairs. I think every homeschooler involved enjoys being a part of this large class (including me)!

Rob turned in his church history paper today. Please pray that it may be well received, and that he would sucessfully pass this requirement. Man, did I learn a lot from his paper. I guess, I knew many of the details about Convenanting and Covenanters, but reading his paper helped me to put it all together and see the connections throughout history and their relevance today.

Well, I need to clean up around here. I put away piles of laundry this morning before class and I worked out at the Y this evening - so I'm not riddled with guilt at the moment. Of course the main reason I'm not presently riddled with guilt is because of my dear Lord and Savior, but I was only speaking of trivial things. :-)

Saturday, September 17, 2005


This week brought:

Volleyball games,
Maya Angelou poems,
Latin quizzes,
a beautiful moon,
and some good reads from Josh (he periodically sends me some of his writing for school and newspaper articles, per my request.)

I asked his permission to post one of his class essays on my blog. Here it is.

Joshua Jones

Dr. Johnson

HIST 4983 -- “Puritanism”

Sept. 7, 2005

There is no doubt in my mind, both from the week's reading and my own encounters with Puritan works, that Puritanism represents more than early 17th century piety, as the opening line of the Miller reading suggests (64). It is an intellectual system. Though it is nearly always steeped in religious language, Puritan intellectual ideals are common elements both in formal treatises and books, in addition to some preaching.

Miller certainly records a valuable history of argumentation both within and without the ranks of Puritan divines. However, the continuing prevalent misconception about Puritan intellectualism merits a different focus for today's educational needs. Perhaps Miller addresses this issue elsewhere in his book, but on a chapter about the intellectual mind and debates of Puritans, it is vital to include the significance of Puritan thought – their contributions to the American mind and its development (notably in the strong reaction to Puritanism, as other more secular influences came from England.)

Puritanism affected the American mind, first, by providing an intellectual, yet religious tone we still feel today. Though America is devoted to ideals of religious freedom, one cannot deny the specifically Christian overtones present in many of our national documents, including the Declaration of Independence. I find it likely that this respect for ultimate truth in non-religious documents must in part stem from this Puritan precedent: their abundant writing and esteem of higher education.

In addition, Puritanism brought a certain respect and inquisitiveness to the pursuit of philosophy, science and art. Though many people today do not characterize the Puritans as being concerned with these, a simple scan at their widely varied writings will prove Puritanism spawned investigations into numerous fields. These writings often comprise the first American intellectual forays into their fields.

The case is very strong that many Puritans were intellectuals and openly encouraged rationality, argumentation and an open search for truth. Their strong religious beliefs were both a springboard and a justification for what Hofstadter called intellectual “playfulness,” since they heeded a biblical call to know God's creation, as well as acknowledging a beginning and end in the search for truth: God. As John Norton said on page 67, “The end of the Gospel is to be known, the duty and disposition of the Beleever, is to know.” On the other hand, the Puritans' intellectual “piety” was subservient to their religious piety, which would in secular minds limit their respect for truth by making some areas “off-limits” for human investigation.

Simply put, I think a specifically Puritan brand of intellectualism differentiates itself from other movements with its foremost starting point in religion. Unlike other intellectual movements based on a political or educated elite, Puritanism birthed a new and far-reaching intellectualism in America. Other religious movements simply did not encourage intellectual thought and discussion in the way Puritanism did. For over a thousand years, the Catholic church generally frowned upon an open reasoning into metaphysics, though it did preserve much intellectual history, especially in Ireland. The English church also stressed the preeminence of orthodoxy in a different and, I think, more anti-intellectual way than the Puritans. Though the American Puritans did not leave England for intellectual reasons, their very different attitude towards the investigation of ideas made them a distinct and powerful start to intellectualism in America.

I commented to him.

"Your article on Puritanism was right on the money from my observations. The Puritan mindset opened many more intellectual doors than it shut."

And further ... I think that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most mind broadening stance from which to learn and think (and just think of what He can do for your soul!)

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Now with the first week of school under my belt, I can make some observations.

1) In second year Latin, four sharp students = one excited teacher. Let the conjugating begin.

2) Latin 1 has broken the record for largest SCA class size with a whopping 20 students (not that all the students are fat - that's just a large total population for an SCA class.) We even have some interested moms who are attending the class with their kids this year. Hey, what's not to like about that? I love to teach Latin so bring 'em on.

3) In English literature, we're having a bumpy start as we work through some book issues. It seems that both a compact edition and the "real" 2000 page edition have the same ISBN (BTW: one doesn't have to say "ISBN number" since the word "number" is already represented in the "N" of ISBN - just thought you'd want to know that.) When the dust settles we're going to have a smashing class. This is the class where we get to explore what's out there in the world of literature, what the Bible says (the greatest literature book of all), and work on writing about literature from each individual's unique perspective.

All in all, an exciting year ahead!

And finally, here are some descriptions of Christ from last week's sermon - excellent meditation material.

Genesis – The Seed crushing the Serpent’s head

Exodus – The Passover Lamb delivering His people

Leviticus – The perfect High Priest who enters the holy of holies with His blood

Numbers – The Rock bringing forth life-giving waters

Deuteronomy – The Prophet like Moses giving us law

Joshua – The Conqueror who brings us to land of Promise

Judges – The One like Samson whose own death destroys enemies and brings deliverance to His people

Ruth – The Kinsmen Redeemer who rescues us from our poverty

Samuel – The Son of David who rules over the earth

Kings – The King like Solomon whom the ends of earth seek to behold His wisdom and glory

Chronicles – The One who will build an eternal throne

Ezra – The One like Ezra who rebuilds people on the perfect law of God

Nehemiah – The One who rebuilds the fallen walls of the church

Esther – The One who casts down proud and raises the humble

Job – The One who will truly trust God though he be slain by Him

Psalms – The glorious Shepherd-King who leads His people to righteousness and victory

Proverbs – The One in whom the wisdom of God resides

Ecclesiastes – The One whom brings meaning in this otherwise vain world

Song of Songs – The Groom who sings love songs to His bride, the church

Isaiah – The Suffering Servant who bears the sins of His people

Jeremiah & Lamentations – The Prophet who weeps over destruction of Jerusalem and His people

Ezekiel – The Glorious Lord seated on throne on a sea of crystal

Daniel – The Son of Man receiving the kingdom from the Ancient of Days

Hosea – The Faithful Husband who seeks after His straying bride

Joel – The One who will pour forth His Spirit on all His people

Amos – The Plumb Line before whose holy standard no man's righteousness can pass

Obadiah – The Lord who will ultimately possess even His worst enemies’ lands

Jonah – The One who was raised up on third day like Jonah from the belly of fish

Micah – The One who simultaneously does justice and loves kindness

Nahum – The One who brings wrath on those rejecting His message

Habakkuk – The One who will not spare false professors of faith

Zephaniah – The Victorious Warrior exulting over His people

Haggai – The One who will build the true temple of God

Zechariah – The High Priest who is crowned as King

Malachi – The Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings

Much to think about. Have a good one!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


"Everything you see I owe to spaghetti."
- Sophia Loren

Yup, that's my secret, too.

Just got up from supper and guess what Amy made?


It was yummy.

You may be asking yourself, "Didn't you all have an awfully early supper?" Yes, we did. We ate at 4:30 to be precise. That's what happens when you leave the house at 8:45 in the morning to go to music lessons, then drop Cabbage off at college around 12:30, then take Amy to the allergy doctor at 1 o'clock, then run some errands, then come home.

You eat early - especially if Amy has spaghetti ready. By this time you're pretty hungry so you just sit down and eat. That's what you do.

Not to say that you didn't eat all day. But sandwiches on the road just don't satisfy like some of Amy's spaghetti.

And besides, Sophia probably ate her speghetti at about 4:30, too. Don't you think?

I know you're just itching to see some photos from our Labor Day trip to the state park. Aren't you? Well, here they are.

Can you guess the name of the park?

Amy takes pictures of the ...


While Chili and the Cabbage navigate,

Ben contemplates.

The kids bravely crawled under this tree even though Candace was being attacked by a bee.

And oh yes here I am after a morning hike
and a plate of spaghetti ...

Good-bye, daaaarling.