Sunday, November 30, 2014

Phos hilaron

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What are your reading plans for 2015?

I'm always in the middle of several books, but right now I'm in the middle of so many it's not even funny.

The two I've been reading from the most lately:
  • The Right Side of Normal: Understanding and Honoring the Natural Learning Path for Right-Brained Children, by Cindy Gaddis, which is very interesting and not too heavy
  • Only a Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen, by Jane Aiken Hodge, ditto

Other things I've been dipping into regularly:
  • Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition, by Karen Glass, ditto
  • Children's Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction, by Thomas Carpenter et al, ditto


I'm seeing a theme emerge here.

Books I was working steadily through until hibernation-brain made it nearly impossible to continue:
  • A History of Mathematics, Carl Boyer and Uta Merzbach
  • Arithmetic, Nicomachus of Gerasa
  • The Story of Pi, Pietr Beckman
  • Beauty for Truth's Sake and Beauty in the Word, Stratford Caldecott

Books I haven't picked up in so long that I'll probably have to start from the beginning when I get back to them:
  • Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics, Liping Ma
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
  • Onward and Upward in the Garden, Katharine S. White
  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English, John McWhorter
  • Realm of Numbers, Isaac Asimov
  • The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers

Books that sat for so long in my TBR stack that I finally shelved them (maybe 2015 will be the year!):
  • Toward a Truly Free Market, John Medaille
  • An Essay on the Restoration of Property, Hillaire Belloc (actually, this one might belong in the previous list)
  • Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered, Woody Tasch
  • The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, Karl Polanyi
  • Rallying the Really Human Things, Vigen Guroian
  • Modern Fascism, Gene Edward Veith
  • Saving the Appearances, Owen Barfield
  • An Introduction to Philosophy, Jacques Maritain
  • Begin Here, Jacques Barzun
  • Truth in the Flesh: Introducing Apologetics to the Local Church, John Hartung
  • The Allegory of Love, C. S. Lewis
  • Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky

Recent acquisitions:
  • The Rise of Moralism: The Proclamation of the Gospel from Hooker to Baxter, C. FitzSimmons Allison
  • History of English Literature, H. A. Taine (written in 1864, tr. from the French in 1872 by Henri Van Laun, there's no date in my copy, but it says "Complete in One Volume" so hopefully it's not the 1900 abridgement!)

Some of the stuff I've gotten free (or for under $1) on my Kindle in the last few months:
  • The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins (I've recently finished The Woman in White, so hopefully I can start this one before too long)
  • The Philip K. Dick Megapack: 15 Classic Science Fiction Stories
  • The Complete Collection of E. M. Bounds on Prayer
  • Homilies of St. John Chrysostum on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans 
  • The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, E.T.A. Hoffmann (ooh!  I'd forgotten I had this one -- need to read it to the kids, as soon as we finish Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
  • Lots of P.G. Wodehouse

Obviously there's a lot of stuff I need to finish before I start anything new, and I need to intersperse all that heavy reading with fiction of a lighter nature.  I haven't read any Jane Austen in over a year, so I'll probably reread one or two of those at least.  I had hoped that after my concentration this year in mathematics I'd be able to pick up all those books on economics, but right now I think I'd rather read the educational/philosophical ones -- Guroian, Barzun, Sayers -- and they'd be more practical at this point in my life than more political economy.

How about you? Do you have reading plans for next year?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Classical education and philosophy turn up in such interesting places

Some day I hope to have time to read a bit of Confucius.  Having read a bit of Plato and a lot of Lewis, I'm discovering that Confucius ought to be part of the Classical tradition.  I wonder if Asian Christians read him like we read Plato and Aristotle?

Last night the two oldest girls and I watched the Korean film "The Fateful Encouter," starring Hyun Bin as King Jeongjo.  If you have any familiarity with K-drama at all you'll know who that is, but for those of you who don't I'll give a bit of background info.

King Jeongjo of Joseon

Jeongjo became king in 1776 on the death of his grandfather, King Yeongjo, who had been forced by one political faction to put his own son, Crown Prince Sado (Jeongjo's father), to death for siding with the other political faction.  So it was a mess he inherited, and it is said that on the day he took the throne, he sat there and said to everyone in the court, "I am the son of the late Crown Prince Sado," which was practically a declaration of war against the faction that had had his father put to death.

The movie covers the 20-hour period leading up to an assassination attempt the year after Jeongjo became king.  I'm not sure whether the event is actually historical, but it's a wonderful piece of storytelling, beautifully filmed, well-acted, and I'm going to show this one on our next family movie night.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Well, I said all that to say this -- a few minutes into the film, Jeongjo quotes a passage from Confucius' book The Doctrine of the Mean:

What Heaven confers is called Nature.
Accordance with this Nature is called the Way.
Cultivating the Way is called Education.

Isn't that perfect?

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The literal title is "The King's Wrath,"
which I like much better than the one under which
it was marketed to English speaking audiences.

This isn't a movie review, but I thought I'd mention to anyone who's interested in watching it that it would probably be a PG-13 on account of lots of blood during the assassination attempt, plus some blood and implied cruelty of a horrific nature when one person is accused of treason and is "questioned," and a few scenes involving cruel treatment of slaves.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Preparing for the Season of Preparation

This week we brought the box of Advent decorations down from attic.  It's full of Chrismons we made last year and opening the box filled the air with the fragrance of apples and cinnamon -- beautiful!

Here's the recipe we used to make the ornaments. It's a good project to do with your children. One year we invited another family with small children over to make them with us, which was a lot of fun.  That link has lots of lovely ideas for using the ornaments as gifts, and as decorations all year.

This doesn't look like much . . .

. . . but when I add fresh greenery and candles it'll be our Advent wreath.

Here's what it looked like a few years ago:

A year or two after we moved here a friend gave me a set of candles in the traditional colors -- three purple and one rose -- and I used that color for three or four years, but since white was our family's traditional color, some of the children were upset at this innovation (you know what rigid traditionalists children are!) and we've reverted to white the last few years.  But yesterday one of the children asked for the purple and rose candles, so I ordered a set from Cokesbury

And here's a great idea I found in the course of my research -- on Christmas Eve you can take out all the Advent-colored candles and put in white ones instead, then burn those for the twelve days of Christmas. 

I don't know why I never thought of that myself.  Isn't the internet a wonderful thing?

Here's an earlier incarnation of our Advent wreath.  It's a styrofoam wreath form with artificial greenery poked into it.  I didn't use candle holders, I just worked the candles into the styrofoam.  This wreath lasted about five years before it started falling apart.

I'm also working on a missal for us to use when lighting the candles during Evening Prayers on Sunday nights.  The Advent wreath is a German tradition and as far as I can tell there isn't any particularly Anglican tradition surrounding it so each year I use the Daily Office in the Prayer Book for Scripture readings, but I also search the internet for ideas.

Much, much easier is putting together a missal for Thanksgiving since it's just Morning Prayers with the Litany of Thanksgiving.  I made a Scribd document in 2011 that you can download and print if you're looking for something to use with your family.

If you'd like to know more about Advent, this article by Dennis Bracher was the most helpful to me when I first started learning about myself.  The article concludes with a long list of Advent hymns, so be sure to check it out.

Advent centerpiece

What about y'all?  Are you planning anything special for Advent?  Do you have any resources you'd like to share?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How to write

This morning I read this excellent little article on writing successfully (which is different from writing well, as the author points out), and because I'm also reading Karen Glass's wonderful book, Consider This, in which is stated more than once that knowing something and doing it are two different things, and that knowing and doing the right thing is the definition of virtue, and virtue, of course, is the point of a classical education, and because this is National Novel Writing Month and, though I've participated two or three times I've never come close to finishing anything, I decided to follow the advice in the article, which can be boiled down to "Just write."

His article is much more helpful and practical than that, of course, and you really ought to read it.  It won't take more than five minutes and he's funny.

I am determined to do this exercise every day this month, so just for fun, here is today's effort.  And I promise I won't post any more of these.