Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to Become Rich

"Life begets life.

Energy creates energy.

It is by spending oneself


one becomes rich."

Sarah Bernhardt, French actress

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


This lovely print by Anthony Watkins bears a resemblance to my oldest daughter, who has been doing quite a bit of knitting and crocheting this winter. Her example has inspired her sister Joy to bring out her needles, and this morning they were both clicking while I was reading our literature selection aloud. It's the perfect winter pastime~~ something industrious that can be done by the fire. Melody likes the lush angora yarns and uses big needles to create long scarves. She figured out her own way to make the fringe, a little different from anything I've seen. She has used crochet chains and I think the end result is very pleasing.

Although I haven't engaged in any knitting lately, I have wonderful memories of knitting with my neighbor and bosom buddy during my growing up years. We made Barbie doll dresses, slippers, scarves, and lots of other little projects. We did it in the summer, though, pulling our lawn chairs into the shade, talking and knitting furiously like 2 little old ladies.

I was very proud that I was able to teach my Grandmother to knit after developing my skill. She far exceeded anything I ever accomplished. I think she knitted an afghan for each of her 9 grandchildren.

I hope to do that someday! Knitting is like riding a bike; you never forget how to do it. The only reason I don't do it now is because I can't figure out a way to read and knit at the same time!

Do you knit?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ideas Have Consequences, Chapter IV- Egotism in Work and Art (Part I)

"The sin of egotism always takes the form of withdrawal. When
personal advantage becomes paramount, the individual passes out of the
community. We do not mean the state, with its apparatus of coercion, but
the spiritual community, where men are related on the plane of sentiment and
sympathy...." Richard Weaver

Weaver has demonstrated throughout his book, Ideas Have Consequences, just how important religious moorings really are. When a society embraces a Big Story (some would call it "myth"), they are unified by the truth therein. People work together toward the same transcendent goals, each individual knowing exactly where he fits in and what his role is in achieving the greater good. Consequently, each job is executed skillfully and with an eye to achieve excellence in the quality of that work. The intangibles of truth produce a tangible ideal: perfection in craftmanship.

Do your everyday purchases bear the marks of excellent craftmanship? I think of the dishwasher we purchased last year, a well-known name brand. At one time they were made in Iowa, but now have been out-sourced and are produced overseas. The dishwasher was an absolute lemon. It had to be replaced before the year was over.

How about clothing? My daughter wore a new pair of socks ONE TIME, and they had holes in them. Another daughter bought a lovely knit sweater that literally did not last through the first washing.

We've all had similar experiences, and we perhaps sadly shake our heads and complain that "things just aren't what they used to be". But we don't stop to think WHY? and search out the reason for the deterioration.

With the cutting away of religious moorings, work ceases to become an act of worship. Instead, it becomes a utilitarian necessity done only for self enrichment. This philosophy of egotism promotes materialism to such a degree that the individual laborer is totally deprived of understanding how his small part fits in to the big picture.

As an example, Weaver sites an incident that happened in a factory during WWII. Factory workers were assigned to make parts for the bombs. They had no idea what they were making or how they fit together. If they had known, would their consciences have pricked them? There was no way to find out, because the workers were never given full information as to what they were making, why, or how these things would be used as weapons of warfare.

Because such factory work is mindless and meaningless, it is ultimately done for only one reason: for the paycheck. Workers must receive more and more oversight and discipline from the management because there is no inner gratification to keep on the task or to do it well.

Egotism, which Nathanial Hawthorne dubbed the unpardonable sin, has the potential of opening the door to tyrrany:

"...the spirit of self, which has made the worker lose sight of the calling
of his task and to think only of aggrandizement, is the plainest invitation
yet offered by the Western world to the tyranny of force." --Weaver

Did you catch that little phrase "calling of his task"?

We still have some wonderful, called individuals in this society. I can think of teachers, preachers, librarians, cooks, nurses, and custodians who do their work because they are called of God. They do not receive financial remuneration in proportion to the worth of their work. Some do not receive any financial remuneration at all, and yet they labor on with excellence because they see something bigger and more important than a paycheck. They see from an eternal perspective, and they know the lives they touch are worth much more than a monthly paycheck. They know that because they touch living, breathing souls in their everyday rounds, they are affecting eternity.

Do you know any such individuals? I think of my dear hairdresser, D., who feels called to provide haircuts for pastors' families as a ministry and who has blessed me immeasurable. Or W., a kindly and very industrious man who cheerfully cleans our BIG church building week after week just as an act of service to the saints who gather there. Viola was the first Sunday School teacher that I remember and she went home to be with the Lord after serving children-at no cost-for 62 years!

As I provide education for our children, I want to offer an alternative to the world's standard which tells them that education is something they have to slog through in order to get a fat paycheck at the other end. That alternative education must sensitize them to TRUTH, which in turn will cause them to aim for ideals of virtue in whatever calling they embark upon. Classical models of virtue, the ones we read about in great literature, are all great and wonderful, but I think it also important that they rub shoulders with living, breathing examples of people who are actually living those high ideals- eschewing the fat paycheck and serving others because they are CALLED.

This chapter was so long and rich, I'm going to review it in 2 parts. The next half of the chapter will be about the effects of egotism in art, literature and music.

Friday, February 08, 2008

What's New?

Teaching has been my life as of late. Here are some of my latest "doings".

Teen Boys~ I have a half-dozen boys in my teen Sunday School class who are engaged in a "secret service" project. After studying the parable of the talents from Matthew 25, each boy received a ten dollar bill. They have been challenged to make it grow during the next 2 months and the money will be used to bless a dear lady we all love on her 80th birthday. (Shhhh, it's a secret!) She needs a couch :)

Cooperative School~ Administrating the school should be enough, but I would probably shrivel up if I couldn't participate in the teaching, too! This time it is a "Living Math" class with a dozen 1st-3rd graders. We are doing a lot of art projects that have math correlations, such as making a quilt block banner, painting tesselations, folding 3D polyhedra, and constructing a geodesic dome out of rolled newspaper large enough to crawl inside. Amazingly, I've also found some mathematical poetry. Fun, fun, fun!

Women's Ministry~ This is a verse by verse study of the book of John, my favorite book in the Bible. We keep it really simple. I just ask the ladies to read the section daily and follow up with a little journaling exercise: What does this passage teach about the nature of God (or Christ)? Identify the key words and define them. Write a personal application, using the word "I": Is there a promise I can claim? A sin I should avoid? Is there a positive action I should take or an example I should follow?

Homeschool: Our favorite read aloud right now is the Dry Divide by Ralph Moody. This would be a great book to include in an economics course, but we're reading it because we just love this series. It's much more interesting than an economics textbook, for sure. And speaking of textbooks, we continue to learn biology mostly without one. We've learned about the circulation of the blood from Huxley, binomial nomenclature from a biography of Carl Linnaeus, and the immune system from a book called Dr. Jenner and the Speckled Monster. In between times, the kids have read 2 modules in the Apologia biology text.

Sunday School: We host a quarterly supper meeting in our home for the teachers and try to provide ongoing training. These times together have been so rich. By sharing our victories and difficulties, by praying together and encouraging one another we are sharpened and stimulated to love and good works.

Life has a rhythm. I spend my summers reading and soaking up all I can and then try to give out during the rest of the year. Both are energizing in different, but complementary ways. Teaching is for me one of the greatest joys of life.