Monday, September 24, 2012

A Girls’ Weekend

The Rosie Girl and I spent Saturday and Sunday together on a Girls’ Weekend – being girls together and having fun. I’d share photos, but I only took a couple. I’ll just share  memories instead.

  • We shared the driving from Weyauwega to Minneapolis and listened to Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card most of the time. Interspersed we had some serious conversations about religion and life.
  • I’m really glad Rosie Girl is old enough to drive.
  • We were hobbits and had breakfast when we left home and then second breakfast a few hours later.
  • When we reached our hotel, I took a nap (because I’d slept so poorly the night before) while Rosie Girl researched whether we could take public transportation to the Mall of America and/or the concert that night. Short answer – no.
  • After my nap, we drove to the Mall of American for dinner and shopping. And, can I just say, thank you, Minneapolis for all your clear driving instructions through the construction – NOT! Thankfully, Rosie Girl reads quickly.
  • For dinner, we went to Bubba Gump’s and shared snow crab legs. Wow. Yummy.
  • Then, a quick stop at Hot Topic for Rosie Girl to find some more T-shirts (like she needs any more!) before we were off to the concert.
  • We needed to drive west for one exit and then go north into downtown Minneapolis to the Orpheum theater. Unfortunately, it was about 7pm and the sun was directly in our eyes. Despite sunglasses, Rosie Girl and I were completely blinded. I couldn’t see the cars in front of me or the barricades beside me (again, thank you, Minneapolis construction!) and Rosie Girl couldn’t read the signs because of the sun!! Talk about stressed! Rosie Girl had me just keep going for another couple exits till we got to the exit for our hotel where we knew we could turn around and then go east to find the correct exit to go north.
  • We got to the Orpheum theater and parked in time for the concert – Zelda Orchestra: Symphony of the Goddesses!
  • Talk about geek heaven!! Rosie Girl didn’t change into her costume until we got to the theater, but there were tons of folks of all ages already in costume when we got there! Some were costumes purchased online or in costume shops, others were homemade, while others (like Rosie Girl’s) were a combination of thrift shop and homemade.
  • The Orpheum Theater is beautiful! I have no idea how old it is, but it has been restored and looks amazing. We were in balcony (aka cheap) seats, and could see so much. It was gorgeous!
  • The symphony conductor is a woman! I realize I should not be shocked, especially since I went to medical school at a time when women were still a minority. But I was still surprised since I’ve never seen a woman conduct in person.
  • The conductor was just wonderful, but her jacket was atrocious. She wore what looked like a black suit with pants, but the jacket had ruffles on the back right on the butt that were just awful. Thankfully, the music more than made up for it.
  • And the music was, indeed, amazing!! They had two harps!!
  • On a large video screen, there was footage from the game that went along with what the orchestra was playing. I understood some of it really well, but some of it I was completely unfamiliar with. But the music was wonderful!
  • At intermission, Rosie Girl got a T-shirt and a poster.
  • I can’t say enough good things about the music. What was really cool was that I was used to hearing it while the other three family members played the video game, but hearing it played by a symphony was like going from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions. Wow.
  • Saturday night, Rosie Girl and I stayed up and I listened to her chatter for about an hour about music, Zelda, and books.
  • We were a bit disappointed that there was no free continental breakfast in the morning, but that motivated us to get moving and get to the Mall of America.
  • When we got to the Mall, we had manicures at an Aveda salon – something we’ve never had done before.
  • The next few hours were spent shopping (I got some cute tops at Lane Bryant) and generally sight seeing.
  • The hardest part of the trip was coming home! We were both tired and had a hard time staying awake, so we traded off frequently. At every stop, the next driver would get some soda and run around outside in the chilly air.
  • But, the best part of the trip was coming home because we were very glad to get home to PWM and Wild Man – and to tell them about the amazing concert and all the fun we had!

Monday, September 17, 2012

On How to Read the Bible

Note 1: This is not a post on how you should read the Bible. Rather, it is a post about the myriad of ways I’ve read the Bible in my 45 years. You may or may not get anything useful out of it, but it may be entertaining nonetheless.

Note 2: I’m coming off a 36 hour migraine. See Note 1 about this post possible being entertaining.

I grew up in a Christian home, going to a Baptist church, and (for my elementary years) going to a Christian school. I have been exposed to the Bible. In many ways. And many were good and useful. Although some not so much. But I see a counselor about those. (I kid, I kid. I see a counselor about lots of other things, too.)

As a very young child, I was read Bible stories at home, church, and school. Generally, these were the basic Adam and Eve, Esther, David, etc. stories. Much of the book of Genesis was left for later.  (PWM and I learned to edit on the fly when we decided to read the Bible all the way through to our kids one year when they were entirely too young to hear about Lot’s daughters, Tamar, and plenty of other stuff that makes me blush.) One rather disturbing thing that I do remember during my elementary years about Bible stories is that the third grade class one year acted out the story of Aachen. You know, Israel is told by God to completely destroy the city of Ai and collect all the treasure. Well, Aachen hides some treasure in his tent, which God knows about because he’s God. Joshua calls Aachen on it. Aachen and his entire family are stoned. What disturbed me as a first grader was that they acted out the stoning part, too, although they had the decency to use tissue paper “stones”. That’s a tough story to understand, but then to act out as 8 year olds? Hmmmm.

A big part of what I learned about reading the Bible in my Evangelical and vaguely Fundamentalist Christian school was that it is full of rules. And, man, this school did rules like no body’s business. We had rules for how short our skirts could be at school, for how close boys and girls could sit on the bus, and even that we couldn’t wear blue jeans at school events. In fact, every classroom I was every in had a board with the kids’ names and little paper pockets for “tallies” which were the slips we got when we broke rules. We learned lots of Bible verses, particularly the ones with rules. But, I was good at following rules, so I did well at that school.

We also only used the King James Version of the Bible. I think the NIV was still pretty new, but the school was also pretty conservative. There are lots of verses that I memorized as a kid that I still have in my head in the KJV and probably always will! As a child, I got a gorgeous Bible with a blue leather cover with my name in silver script and silver edging on the paper. I still have that Bible but I hardly ever use it because the cover is coming off and we have about a zillion Bibles at home. When I was a teenager, my parents gave me a leather bound Thompson Chain Reference NIV Bible which I still use as my primary study Bible when I’m not at the computer. But, being a child of the modern age, I have to admit that I usually use Bible Gateway at home and my ipod at church.

As I got older, I learned some more important things about reading the Bible. In the 80s, people were getting worked up over the Bible being “inerrant”. In the two youth groups I attended when I was in junior high school and high school, this translated to “literal”. Particularly when we were talking about the first two chapters of Genesis. Not only were we supposed to read them literally – as in, God spoke the universe into existence 6000 years ago in 6-24 hour days – but, we were supposed to make sure that our Biology teachers knew that we believed this. The good news for me was that my Biology teacher didn’t seem to think that evolution was all that necessary for a good Biology education (or I fell asleep that day – but, really, the man could only handle so much controversy; he also had to teach us about sex that year and I think that almost did him in). Somewhere along the way, we were also told that Psalms and Proverbs didn’t have to be read literally, but that if we didn’t read Genesis literally, then we were probably denying the Gospel. Life got really confusing around high school. (That was also when the hormones showed up, though, so I don’t think it’s fair to blame it all on the Bible or biblical interpretation.)

Somewhere along the way, I also learned to “proof-text”. If someone had a problem, someone else would find a verse for them. (As you’ll see later, I’m not so much a fan of this nowadays.) I was pretty good at this since I’d learned tons of Bible verses in school and at church. Need prayer answered? “Pray without ceasing” Need help in making a decision? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God . . . “ Things not going your way? “But I know the plans for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you . . .”
Feeling stressed? “The Lord is my shepherd . . . “ Heck, with a little work, I could come up with some serious enemy-smiting verses, too!!

When we hit the 90s, people got more enlightened and started reading the Bible for answers to life’s tough questions: how to lose weight, how to find a spouse, how to become emotionally healthy. And guess what? They found answers! It wasn’t much different than the way the Bible was used in my elementary school – it was a whole bunch of rules. This time, though, they had come across some really cool verses with promises about what would happen when you followed the rules. People are still doing this today, by the way. Check out your local Christian bookstore. The Christian Living section looks pretty similar to the Personal Growth section of Barnes and Noble – and about as large.

I bought into it, too! Some author would take some section of scripture and decide that we could also apply to some problem that’s common to our current society. Wow! What an idea. We’d be off and running. But, when we quit following the rules, we weren’t any better off. Turns out that following rules doesn’t actually effect much inner change. But, eating your fruits and veggies still is good for your cholesterol.

But, then, post-modernism came along and told us that we needed to quit reading the Bible as a puzzle to be solved and instead get into the narrative and understand the story. We’re all part of the grand meta-narrative and we just need to understand our place within it! Huh? That didn’t resonate too much with me. I’m a decidedly modern thinker.

A few years ago, our pastor was taking some online seminary classes and he asked me to read and outline his hermeneutics book to help him study. That was one of the best things I’ve done for my Bible study! I started to get a picture of how a text is situated in time and place and situation. For us to understand it, we need to first understand what it was saying to it’s original audience and then try to figure out how God wants us to understand it today. (BTW, this wasn’t my first introduction to this concept. My dad had already given me and PWM a set of Barclay New Testament commentaries and Broadman entire Bible commentaries. This book was the best explanation of how to use commentaries, other resources, the rest of the Bible, prayer, and common sense.) One of the biggest practical effects of this “little education” was that I almost never take proof-texting at face value any more. I always want to know the original source and context of the text.

Most recently, in the last few years, I’ve been reading some blogs and books that have helped to sharpen my focus on reading and studying the Bible. They are a reminder that the Bible is about Jesus. It’s not a science textbook. While it gives a lot of history about Israel, it does it in order to point to Jesus. It may give us lots of good guidelines for living, but it’s not a book on how to live – it’s a book on how to know Jesus, and he’ll walk with us through life. it’s still quite important to look for the best scholarship out there to find out what the text says. How is it pointing us  to Jesus? In some parts of the Old Testament, it may just be giving us some background or history of Israel. But, God gave it all to us.

So, what does this mean for me now? I usually try to study what the pastor is preaching at church since he likes to preach through books of the Bible. Right now he’s doing “King Jesus Rules the World” about the book of Ruth. I also read daily (well, I don’t actually get around to them daily, but it’s a goal . . . ) readings on Bible Gateway. I have an audio Bible on my ipod and I’ve started listening to the Gospels recently. The advantage of audio is that I can listen to a large section and get a real “feel” for it while I’m knitting or cleaning and don’t need to feel like I’m “studying”. These are all valid ways of interacting with the Bible as long as I understand their strengths and weaknesses. (A blog I enjoy is studying Esther over the next couple of months, so I might do some of that as well. It will be a nice contrast to look at women of the ancient East while studying Ruth.)

I hope this has been helpful, enlightening, or entertaining. If nothing else, it got some stuff out of my head and written down. How has your interaction with the Bible changed, if at all?


Saturday, September 08, 2012

Our Week In Review–Week One is Done!


This was a very sentimental week for me – Rosie Girl’s last year of high school and Wild Man’s first year of high school. Forgive any random outbreaks of “Sunrise, Sunset” in this post.

The children, however, were not remotely sentimental. They were, for the most part, typical teenagers. Meaning, they needed to be reminded to do schoolwork and housework and they occasionally had teenager attitudes. And they did not understand my need to hug them and sound like a Hallmark commercial.

Here’s how the week went (with commentary):

Our evening read-aloud is usually one of the kids’ literature selections. This week, though, we’re finishing The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. OK, fine literature it’s not. But, it’s entertaining.

Wild Man

  • Social Sciences – He is doing Sonlight Core 100 American History. I alternated reading out loud with him on Monday and I’m confident in his reading ability and comprehension of the books. Whew! (I was a little concerned that his dyslexia might be an issue, but I guess it’s not.) This week, he read about ancient South American peoples and very early Native Americans. I had him writing a paragraph each day and one of his paragraphs was about his history reading.
  • Literature – This is part of his Sonlight Core. His book this week was Peace Child.
  • Math – ALEKS Algebra 1 – Seems to be going pretty well, but PWM and I need to stay on top of this a little more to make sure Wild Man spends enough time on it each day.
  • Science – Wild Man is reading 3 or 4 pages from Smithsonian Earth each day. This is his most challenging reading, but he wrote about it twice this week and was able to talk intelligently about it the other days, so I’m pleased with how he’s doing.
  • Bible – We are reading N.T. Wright’s Revelation for Everyone, a commentary on the book of Revelation. So far, it has been an excellent book. The reading level is great for Wild Man, and it is broken up into very manageable sections. I really like most of what I’ve read by Wright, and this is no exception.
  • Spelling – Ah, spelling, the bane of Wild Man’s existence. We are still using Spelling Power. Unfortunately, Wild Man’s assessment placed him lower than he was last year. This means that his lists are easier, but he’s still got a long way to go. I hope that the increased amount of writing this year will help him use more words and put them in his working vocabulary. He speaks with a wide vocabulary – he just can’t spell them!
  • Writing – This last week, I had Wild Man write (as in, use a pencil on paper) a paragraph each day. His writing fluency is improving markedly, but he still has issues with capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. And, in order to fix those while he’s writing, he should be writing on his computer. This week, I’m going to have him answer some study questions each day from one or two of his subjects. That should give him practice in writing fluency. On Thursday, I’ll have him do a paragraph that should have good punctuation, spelling, and all the IEW “dress-ups” that he learned last year. He’ll be able to fix any issues that come up on Friday. In a few weeks, I hope we can increase his writing assignments to a couple of paragraphs. For a kid with such great verbal expression, we’re having to work really hard on written expression!! But, he’s doing the work and not fussing about it.
  • Band – Wild Man isn’t crazy about playing cymbals, but he’s sticking with it. Next week is the first pep band of the season.
  • Volunteer work – Unfortunately, Wild Man won’t be able to work at the Nutrition Site because of his band schedule. We’re hoping that the kids will be able to do music at one of the local nursing homes (their idea!).

Rosie Girl

  • English – Rosie Girl is doing Sonlight Core 530 – British Literature and is pretty happy with it so far. The core is intended to be an Advanced Placement course. Rosie Girl isn’t too interested in the AP exam, so I’ve reduced the memorizations from 6 to 3 and the research papers from 2 to 1. Otherwise, she has lots of reading and writing to do each week. This week was Beowulf, so Rosie Girl requested the DVD of it being read in Anglo Saxon with captions instead of just reading it from the book. OK. She also bought a copy of Henry V when she and a friend were out shopping because she’s going to memorize the prologue for her first memorization. She’s a little confused that I didn’t read all of Shakespeare’s plays in my free time in high school and college. Ummm, yeah.
  • Social Science – She’s reading a book about American Government right now and answering study questions about it. So far, so good.
  • Religion – This year, we’re using the Hippocampus World Religions course. I’ve also added the few chapters from the textbook that the online course doesn’t use. She has been answering the questions I assigned without problem.
  • Math – Rosie Girl is still finishing Algebra 2. Hopefully, she can do this in a month or so because she’s scheduled to start the Dave Ramsey Personal Finance Course sometime in October.
  • Japanese – She’s almost finished with her BYU Japanese semester 2. When that is done, she’s going to start Rosetta Stone for her last Japanese credit.
  • Music – Rosie Girl started her piano lessons again this week. She has pieces for her college audition to learn as well as some other pieces for the final contest. In two and a half weeks, she also starts her composition lessons. Yep, lots of music.
  • PE – Rosie Girl has been diligent in getting out to walk every day. She’s going to continue taking a tap class every week. She’s pretty excited that she’s also going to be a dance demonstrator for a Music and Movement class (3 year olds) and  Pre-Tap/Pre-Ballet class (4-5 year olds).
  • Volunteer work – Rosie Girl was the one who suggested taking their guitars to the nursing home. I will be talking to the nursing home next week to see if this is something they are interested in.
  • Employment – This was the first week in a long time that she didn’t work at all during the week. She was only supposed to work till noon today, but ended up having to work till 4pm. Bummer. On the flip side, she has a good bit of money in her savings account from working all summer.
  • Getting into college stuff – In addition to getting schoolwork done, Rosie Girl is supposed to be filling out her application, writing a personal statement, and practicing her piano pieces for her audition. She’s taking the ACT one more time (mostly to improve her chances for academic scholarships). There are three possible times to do her music audition, so she’ll do the early spring since she doesn’t think her pieces will be ready in the fall.

My babies are growing up entirely too quickly! But the school year is off to a good start. I think both kids will do well and learn a lot.

How is your year going? Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see how others are doing!