Thursday, May 28, 2009

Book notes

I have recently finished several books, and thought i'd give you a few impressions...

Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising: I must confess I didn't love this book. it was a fairly interesting story line, but features a "hero" who not only doesn't know he's a hero, but never figures out what it means exactly, and things seem predetermined to make him do what is needed without any volition on his own. I have no desire to read further in this children's fantasy series.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy: This was an excellent book, interesting for its story, its pictures of both redemption and the consequences of sin, and the ironic, meticulous voice Hardy brings to his work. It is my first time to read a Hardy novel, but I hope it will not be my last. I disagree with my eldest dear son, who see so much overly-romanticized English agrarianism in the novel. But I do agree with my dear daughter-in-law that Gabriel Oake is the best of heroes.

And now, I'm off on a weekend excursion with my dear husband. Hope you all have lovely reading time this weekend, Gentle Readers!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday without words (mostly)

As if the Monday holiday didn't confuse me enough (did you notice I titled my Tuesday post "Monday"?), now I am exiled to my husband's computer until a new CPU fan arrives and replaces the old one, which is in its final death throes. So today's photos are from whatever Dave has hidden away on his computer: and here it is:

This is the 2002 Los Alamos Homeschool Cross-Country "A" team in the Bandelier races.
Back row: Dave, Tim, Eric Francisco, Jesse Piotrowicz
Front row: Joey Piotrowicz, Curtis Christensen, Dan Wermer, Jonathan Roybal

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday Miscellany

Here is a hodgepodge of interesting items I have read recently, and thought you may find of interest, Gentle Readers.

Need to break free from you addiction to entertainment? See Piper here.
Does it seem that the Church is no earthly good? See here.
Have you assumed all the "green" and "environmentally conscious" companies are doing it for the good of the planet? Check this out.
Think a tattoo sounds like fun? Think ahead here.
Think teen pregnancy is the only marriage problem we have? Think again.
Think your social-networking ends with death? Afraid not.
Considering heading out to see "Angels and Demons"? Do so if you must, but read about it here first.
Wondering if the government has the right to trump businesses? See George Will's thoughts on the matter here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

In memoriam, on Memorial Day

Dave's dad, George, was a decorated veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. When he returned from the war, he was changed forever. He spent the rest of his life refusing to call on God, though we pray the gospel grabbed his heart in the final hours when he was unable to communicate and alone with the Lord. He did amazing things during the war, and paid a significant price for them.

My poet son, Ben, caught much of the essence of the man when he wrote the following poem. Both the bitter and the sweet show through in a breath-taking way.

When the Purple Heart Stopped Beating

My grandfather never told
me, but I heard how
in’45 he was ordered to hold
an insignificant farm house
against an unlooked-for thousand,
and he did show me
the scars
once. But I always (wars
and all) admired the medals.
He left us, angry
because there wasn't a damn
thing left and he couldn't breathe;
asbestos got him in his bed
waiting for something that he could see.

Is it worth trying
where failure is certain?
Is there a single striving
moment of nobility,
in the aiming, in the dying
fall of a dream pursued?
Is there something
in death-denied driving,
a poignant purpose
for the lost fought-for cause?

It took a machine-gun,
an entire division
to get Grandpa out of that house,
but when he lost hope
he laid down and stared
and wheezed.

A hope that is seen
is not a hope at all.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The fullness of glory...

Almighty God, Thou hast in the Gospel set clearly before us with how many and how dreadful sins we are afflicted. This Thou hast done in order that we may learn to be displeased with ourselves, and so lie down, confounded and despairing, in our sins and in the guilt contracted from them. Thus we may yet know the true glory that Thou hast offered to us, and we can be made partakers of it if we embrace with true faith Thine only begotten Son, in whom perfect righteousness and salvation has been offered us. Grant we may so cleave to Christ and receive his benefits in faith that we may be able, not only before the world, but also against Satan and against death itself, to glory in Thee, for Thou alone are just and wise and strong. May Thy strength, Thy justice, Thy wisdom shine upon us in our iniquity and ignorance and weakness, until at last we may reach that fullness of glory laid up for us in heaven through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
~A prayer of Calvin, as reported by Dr. David Calhoun

Saturday, May 23, 2009

...What shall be seen of God in them...

"The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the " river of the water of life" that runs, and " the tree of life that grows, in the midst of the paradise of God." The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will for ever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another; but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in any thing else whatsoever that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what shall be seen of God in them."
~Jonathan Edwards, from a sermon on the inheritance of believers (Thanks to JC)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Free Friday fling

Nathan Clark George is a wonderful musician, and a godly man. He and his homeschooling family travel around ministering to many. There is a free give-away of his newest DVD here. And while you're at it, check out this website and its sister, My Audio School.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mid-week miscellany

Of interest to bloggers: here are some winsome and biblical thoughts by Kevin DeYoung on the problems of the blogosphere. And, here are some more from Matt Heerma. And this looks like a great resource for non-techie bloggers like myself.

Of interest to bibliophiles and classicists: Here is a genuinely interesting interview with Sarah Ruden regarding her new translation of Virgil. And in case you need to be reminded why Latin is such a practical necessity in life, check out Andrew's post here. And just in case you're wondering what you can possibly do on your commute, or why you should always carry your cell phone, read this interesting article. (Thanks to CR)

Of interest to Darwinists and non-Darwinists:
Well, some scientists think they have found the "missing link". You can check it out here. The absence of a missing link is only one of Darwin's problems, however. I am not holding my breath that this will end religion as we know it. As a matter of fact, if you listen to these scientists, with their misty eyes and cracking voices, you realize they are simply remaking religion.

Of interest to all of us reading through Calvin's Institutes: Why not take the celebration of his birth even farther, and get a Calvin bobblehead. No, I'm not joking. And offered by my son's alma mater, no less! (As TC said, "You know you want one..."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nothing left to make trouble about

Hudson Taylor once commented: "Let us give up our work, our thoughts, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into His hand, and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about, or to make trouble about."
(Thanks to JC)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The loss of things worth having...

Last night at our evening fellowship, we continued, as is our practice, reading aloud together from J. I. Packer's book Knowing God. As he discusses Romans, especially the eighth chapter, Packer drove home the greatness of what God has given us.

While I "know" this, it struck me afresh that in my current circumstances, when I am likely to grieve the losses in my life, I often forget that none of these things is really worth grieving, and that all that is worthwhile is yet available to me. Packer discuses Romans 8:31-32 (What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?) in this way:
But we shall come closest to Paul's mind if we understand this phrase as Paul's special brand of pastoral logic, which counters by anticipating wrong inferences that his readers might otherwise draw. The wrong inference which he was countering in verse 1...was that the Christian's sins of infirmity may endanger God's continued acceptance of him; the wrong inference that he is countering here is that following Christ will mean the loss of things worth having, uncompensated by any corresponding gain--which, if true, would make Christian discipleship like the Roundheads in 1066 and All That, "right but repulsive." Paul's assurance that with Christ God will give us "all things" corrects this inference by anticipation, for it proclaims the adequacy of God as sovereign benefactor, whose was with his servants leaves no ground for any sense of fear of real personal impoverishment at any stage...
~Packer, Knowing God, p.266

Those are great thoughts to ponder this week!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sabbath sentiments

Am I a Soldier of the Cross by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

1. Am I a soldier of the cross,
a follower of the Lamb,
and shall I fear to own his cause,
or blush to speak his name?

2. Must I be carried to the skies
on flowery beds of ease,
while others fought to win the prize,
and sailed through bloody seas?

3. Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
to help me on to God?

4. Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
supported by thy word.

5. Thy saints in all this glorious war
shall conquer though they die;
they see the triumph from afar,
by faith they bring it nigh.

6. When that illustrious day shall rise,
and all thy armies shine
in robes of victory through the skies,
the glory shall be thine.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

An educable nature

Aeneas Sylvius, taking a page from Plutarch's book, restated the three elements making for the educated mind: nature, training and practice. Curiosity and effort supported training and practice, as together they were the great elevator. But nature was the great leveler. One must be born with an educable nature. "No master can endow a careless and indifferent nature with a passion for learning"...
~T. L. Simmons, Climbing Parnassus, p.98

Friday, May 15, 2009

Assiduous learning...

And to acheive the eloquence of speech, one must have "Grammar to order expression; Didactic to give it point; Rhetoric to illustrate it; [and] Philosophy to perfect it," all together engendering, by graduated steps, the learned mind nd the cultivated soul. Underlying this method was the assumption that wisdom can be attained through assiduous learning. So the Renaissance provided both an ideal and a curriculum designed to realize that ideal.
~T. L. Simmons, Climbing Parnassus, p.98

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mid-week miscellany

Items on the economy: JT has a great post here, complete with lecture links by Jay Richards on his book dealing with capitalism. He makes excellent points, and I recommend them to you, Gentle Readers. David Limbaugh takes a slightly different approach, but also bears hearing.

Items on abortion: Remember the photo of the in-utero surgery when the baby grasped the doctor's hand? Well, fast forward 10 years, and read this follow-up. There are some interesting reflections here on the twisted use of language in the abortion debate. And fairly straight-forward address to the President on the issue from John Piper can be seen here (thanks to JT).

Interesting photos/videos: Here is an excellent picture about immigration patterns in the US. And here is a heart-warming story about a real-life hero.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An ad for Ben

Here is my eldest son Ben, and his dear wife, Elsa. He is offering classes and tutorials again online, and I am giving you all the information just in case you would like to take advantage of his services. He knows his subject, is a funny and interesting teacher, and needs some additional funds and teaching experience, so if you are interested, his contact information is at the bottom.

My name is Ben Finnegan. I am a former homeschooler (all through elementary, middle, and high school), and, having finished my Bachelor's and Master's degrees, I am currently working for my PhD in Classical Studies at Indiana University. I'm looking for more teaching experience in an environment that I know and enjoy, so I thought I would offer Greek, Latin, and Classical Culture classes or tutoring to members of the homeschool community.

I would be willing to do a larger cooperative class or smaller tutoring sessions in any of the following subjects. I must say that, given the difficulty of the material and my expectations as a teacher, these classes are generally limited to those of high school age, though if a student is well developed enough and has a good work ethic I would be willing to accept younger children as well.

--Beginning Latin
Using the venerable and exacting Wheelock's Latin Course, this course of study would introduce students to learning foreign language in general by close grammatical study, and would provide the same amount of Latin as one semester of College language study.

--Intermediate Latin
With this offering, I would ask for a diagnostic meeting with any prospective students in order to ascertain at what level their Latin is. This course would work towards greater reading comprehension and analytical grasp of the Latin language.

--Advanced Latin
As with the above, a diagnostic meeting would be required. I would give students an overview of several types of Latin literature (poetry, history, drama, oratory), and then move on to intensive translation and study of particular authors and works, dependent on the interests of the student. Books for this class would likely be more expensive than any of the other offerings, given the high price of original language texts.

--Beginning Classical Greek
The study of Greek is a difficult but rewarding enterprise. This class would be at a much slower pace than any of my Latin classes, as the material is much more demanding. The textbook used would be Chase and Phillips' course for Classical Greek

--Beginning Koine (New Testament) Greek
For those who do not wish to embroil themselves in Ancient Greek literature, but would like to approach the Bible and other Late Classical and Patriarchal authors. Koine is a slimmed-down, simplified form of Greek. The text used would be the beginning text written by the great J. Gresham Machen.

--Greek Literature in Translation
This class avoids the problems of a second language altogether, but still gives a larger cultural and historical grasp of Ancient Greece. With this class, I would read at least one work by all the major authors, and at least one work of each literary genre. The emphasis here would be on religious, political, historical, and cultural ideas viewed through the lens of beginning literary criticism and a good understanding of the Greek world-view. A word of warning, though: much of Greek literature deals with troubling themes of violence and sexuality. While I will avoid the lewd and obscene, these currents are too strong for any class in Greek literature to avoid completely. So please consider this offering only for those spiritually and emotionally mature enough to discuss these subjects from a Biblical world and life view

--Latin Literature in Translation
Like the above class, this will deal with English translations of the great works of Latin literature. Again, the emphasis in this class would be on developing a good understanding of the Roman world-view through literary-critical reading and involving discussions of the Roman religious, political, historical, and literary world. As with Greek literature, much of Latin literature is filled with themes of violence and sexuality. Again, I would avoid the more lascivious of the works, but the history of Rome is filled with too much corruption and deviance for any course to completely avoid the actions of immoral men and women.

These classes would be offered twice a week beginning in September and continuing through early December for the first term, and beginning in February and ending in May. The exact schedule of the classes will depend on interest and enrollment. I can accept a maximum of 18 students per session because of the software that I will be using.

---Summer quick-start and review classes for parents
I am also willing to tutor parents over the summer who wish to review any of the above subjects to equip them to better teach their own children. This can be done individually or as a group, meeting once a week or more frequently depending on the goals of the students.

At this point, I do not want to settle on a price, as that will depend on demand and the number of students. Books for each course should be readily available at an online bookseller, and would average about $40-60 per class, depending on the class. My rates for each class will be negotiable, but as a ball-park idea, in the past I have been paid $15-20 per hour of one-on-one tutoring, $12-18 per hour of class with less than five students, and $8-15 per hour of class with more than five students. However, I am perfectly willing to work with anyone who wants to come to a reasonable price that they find more appropriate for the services rendered.

If you are interested in any of these classes please either e-mail me at: or call 505-690-8936.

References available upon request.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sundays with Jean

I usually post quotes from my reading of Calvin's institutes on my other blog, but since I posted about Mother's Day there, I thought I'd share a few good quotes here today...

"The name of Jesus is not only light but also food; it is also oil, without which all food of the soul is dry; it is salt, without whose seasoning whatever is set before us is insipid; finally, it is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, rejoicing in the heart, and at the same time medicine. Every discourse in which his name is not spoken is without savor."
~2.16.1, quoting Bernanrd

[H]e loved us even when we practiced enmity toward him and committed wickedness. Thus in a marvelous and divine way he loved us even when he hated us. For he hated us for what we were that he had not made; yet because our wickedness had not entirely consumed his handiwork, he knew how, at the same time, to hate in each one of us what we had made, and to love what he had made.
~2.16.4, quoting Augustine

He therefore sits on high, transfusing us with his power, that he may quicken us to spiritual life, sanctify us by His Spirit, adorn his church with diverse gifts of grace, keep it safe from all harm by his protection, restrain the raging enemies of the cross and of our salvation by the strength of his hand, and finally hold all power in heaven and on earth. All this he does until he shall lay low his enemies...(who are our enemies, too) and complete the building of his church. This is the true state of his kingdom; this is the power that the Father has conferred upon him, until, in coming to judge the living and the dead, he accomplishes his final act.

Amen, and amen!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Our smug belief that God is on our side...

I read an interesting column today in the ABQ Journal, written Leonard Pitts Jr., a columnist from the Miami Herald. He was responding to the recent Pew Foundation Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life research survey, which surveyed Americans' attitudes on the torture of suspected terrorists. Amazingly (to me at least), the survey found that 62% of people who claim religious affiliation are in favor of using torture as a viable method of interrogation. Mr. Pitts asks the question I have been asking myself. He says:
You'd think people who claim connection to a higher morality would be the ones most likely to take the lonely, principled stand. But you need only look at history to see how seldom that has been the case, how frequently my people -- Christians -- acquiesce to expediency and fail to look beyond the immediate. Never mind that looking beyond the immediate pretty much constitutes a Christian's entire job description.

In the Bible it says, ''Perfect love casts out fear.'' What we see so often in people of faith, though, is an imperfect love that embraces fear, that lets us live contentedly in our moral comfort zones, doing spiritual busywork and clucking pieties, things that let you feel good, but never require you to put anything at risk, take a leap, make that lonely stand.

Again, there are exceptions, but they prove the rule, which is that in our smug belief that God is on our side, we often fail to ask if we are on His.

You can read the whole piece here. It is good food for thought.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A lost day

Somehow, I keep thinking today is Wednesday. This afternoon when I was reading items in my google reader and saw the posts I posted to my blogs yesterday, I actually had to look at the calendar to make sure today was Thursday, not Wednesday. And in the afternoon, I told a friend that Dave would need to be asked to do something early since he didn't do that normally until Thursday. She looked at me, puzzled, and said, "Well, it *IS* Thursday."


I would love to know what is going on neurologically when I have such brain burps. But then again, maybe I don't want to know...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mrs. Miniver

I recently finished reading the book Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther. I thought I might have an inkling about the book since I had seen the movie version, and loved it. But I was in for a surprise. The book has almost nothing in common with the movie, except the characters, the setting (England, just before and during the start of World War II) and the fact that I enjoyed them both!

Mrs. Miniver is a quiet, reflective sort of book. It is the sort of book in which almost nothing really happens, but we watch a slice of someone's life, and are enriched as we do so. I will leave you with a few quotes to give you a flavor of its gentleness and humor. And if you need a little escape to a quiet time, Gentle Reader, you will enjoy Mrs. Miniver. It would be lovely to read over the summer, under an apple tree or on a beach somewhere.

Clem (Mr. Miniver) caught her eye across the table. It seemed to her the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there being always an eye to catch.

"It was a Wedgewoood day, with white clouds delicately modelled in relief against a sky of pale pure blue. The best of England, thught Mrs. Miniver, as opposed to countries with reasonable climates, is that it is not only once a year that you can say, "This is the first day of spring." She had already said it twice since January--

"Looking up casually in the middle of writing a letter, Mrs. Miniver saw, through the back window of the drawing room, something that she had never consciously seen before: the last leaf being blown from a tree. One moment it was there, on the highest bough of all, waging wildly in the wind and rain. The next moment it was whirling away across the roof tops, a forlorn ragged speck. The line of its flight was the arabesque at the end of a chapter, the final scroll under the death-warrant of summer. Once more the lime tree stood bone-naked.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Monday Miscellany

Economics item of the week: watch the video here to get some perspective on what it means to cut $100 million from the budget.

Frightening statistic of the week: try these thoughts about torture, and pray for the church in America...

Sale of the Week: Check out this sale from Canon Press.

Photos of the week: look at these photos from Alaska's Mount Dedoubt volcano.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

The Gospel Song by Drew Jones and Bob Kauflin

Holy God, in love, became
Perfect Man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again