Saturday, March 25, 2017

March's Reading Goal

Our reading goal for March is to read a book or books from a series. Katriel is continuing to work on the Chronicles of Narnia series (which is one of my favorites!), and she is currently in the book "Prince Caspian" after having read "The Magician's Nephew," "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," and "The Horse and His Boy." Landree is reading the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. She enjoyed "The Hobbit" and thought she might enjoy those. I look forward to her being exposed to this classic series. As far as my goal. . .well, Landree has been begging me to read the "Harry Potter" series, so I began, and am currently in book 2. You would think as a teacher that I would have already read this series long ago. Well, when the books first came out, I heard all about how wonderful they were by many, but then heard how dangerous they were by the Christian community. As a dedicated Christian, I wanted nothing to do with witchcraft, and wanted to do the "right" thing, so I steered clear of them. Well, age and maturity has a way of showing you that things are not always so "black and white." In fact, how many times did I enjoy "The Wizard of Oz" with my children despite the presence of witches, good and bad? I also began to see how much damage the Christian community did in the world by judging things harshly that were not a big deal and batting an eye at things much more damaging. Not only that, but I had seen too many Christians judge books and movies without every having watched or read them, and so had little chance to discuss them intelligently. There is a time to steer clear of entertainment that might draw us away from the Lord, and a time to not indulge in that entertainment if it will cause others to stray, but I believe there is a time to view books and movies through the lens of redemption (see this blog for clarity as what I mean by that: Using godly wisdom in these things takes maturity and discernment. So as a mom, when my third daughter (who received permission from dad to read the books) begged me to read them, I consented. What a better way to open up the discussion about a variety of things, including the real nature of witchcraft (as opposed to the fantasy based world of Harry Potter), friendship, bravery, obedience, etc. What did I discover and what are my conclusions of this series so far, based on my Christian worldview? Though I would hesitate to recommend it to a child not grounded in the faith, since a fascination with the books could possibly lead to a curiosity about real world witchcraft, I find that for a believer grounded in their faith or someone with no curiosity of the occult, it appears to be a harmless fantasy world. I would rather the story not include so much occultic terminology, but the story is not centered on the magical as much as it is upon the friendship and adventures of the characters. The magical that it does contain has a fantastical childlike quality about it. Real witchcraft is based on the manipulation of others and nature through demonic power and self-will so as to thwart the good will of God and the free will of other humans. These books does not appear to encapsulate the essence of true witchcraft so far (though many things in the books go by that name.) Overall, there are lessons to be learned, such as in the first book, where Harry had to take the existence of platform 9 3/4 on faith, where Ron sacrificed himself for his friends and the greater good of the school, and the mirror and Dumbledore taught Harry that being truly happy means being content with life as you have it. Now, granted, I have not finished the series, but this is my perspective so far. Does this mean I think these are books for everyone or all Christian families? And do they compare to the depth of Christian teaching contained in the Narnia series? No, but we must use discernment, wisdom, and a view of redemption in all we do, and not jump to conclusions out of spiritual pride or without intelligently and wisely considering things.

How is the family reading plan going?

My oldest two daughters, due to their band commitments have mostly dropped out of our reading program. I am sad by this, but it is understandable. Their band, Crossing Fire, is doing well; their first song is #1 on, and my oldest daughter is trying to prepare for the ACT. I suppose they are doing well in how to handle multiple commitments (especially when being a "one track mind" runs in your family genetic pool). How? They have learned it seems to "choose your top priorities and focus on them, letting other things go." Music is their ministry right now, and their age demands they focus on preparing for college. Not only that, but living in a large family, I am a happy momma that they consider helping out around here and developing relationships with their younger siblings as priorities. Does this mean I do not think they should make reading more of a priority? Not necessarily, but it is important to me not to meddle too much in their volition to think, pray about, and then choose for themselves these kinds of things at their age. I want them to learn to depend upon God in making choices and not push upon them my own self-chosen agenda. Every now and then, I am sure I will encourage them to not forget the important part in ones' life reading can play, and see if they want to join in again.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Where are we now in our reading goals?

So I ended up choosing Tom Sawyer as my classic book. Landree began reading it for fun, so I thought, "Hey, maybe we can discuss it if I choose it as my classic book!" She actually chose a different book for her classic book (which I fail to remember because she reads so many books outside the categories of the month), but she inspired me in mine. I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn last year and thought it was a well-written adventure. I have to say that although the orneriness of Tom bothered me at first (I am a schoolteacher after all, and didn't find his antics as amusing as a child might), the genuineness of Mark Twain's characterization and his childhood simplicity appealed to me greatly. His adventures and outlook were enjoyable, and as the book went on, I enjoyed it more and more, just like with Huck Finn. I also liked being exposed to a story so connected to my American/Missourian history and heritage. I think it is a valuable part of one's education to know the stories connected to your own heritage; I think it helps us better understand ourselves. Multi-culturalism is important, because we need to understand others, but understanding ourselves is the first step towards understanding others. Maybe this is why I am saddened that European-American and early colonial and pioneer stories are being forgotten as we focus in on stories of Native and African Americans. We need both, and each child should be able to celebrate their own even as they learn about others.