The Screwtape Letters Part 3

While I have loved going back through my highlights for The Screwtape Letters, I want to wrap up this series with just a few more thoughts. I will be reading Surprised By Joy in January and February and am anxious to switch mental gears and focus on this book.

I am constantly amazed at how contemporary Lewis’ writing seem. If it were not for the few mentions of the war taking place (World War 2), it would be difficult to “date” this work.

Letter 20 finds Screwtape discussing the patient’s chastity. I had to chuckle when I read this letter, because it sounds like it could have been written recently in response to all the uproar concerning Photoshopping of women’s bodies.

“It is the business of these great masters to produce in every age a general misdirection of what may be called ‘sexual taste.’ This they do by working through the small circle of popular artists, dressmakers, actresses and advertisers who determine the fashionable type. The aim is to guide each sex away from those members of the other with whom spiritually helpful, happy, and fertile marriages are most likely.”

“We have engineered a great increase in the license which society allows to the representation of the apparent nude (not the real nude) in art, and its exhibition on the stage or the bathing beach. It is all a fake, of course; the figures in the popular art are falsely drawn; the real women in bathing suits or tights are actually pinched in and propped up to make them appear firmer and more slender and more boyish than nature allows a full-grown woman to be.”

“As a result we are more and more directing the desires of men to something which does not exist – making the role of the eye in sexuality more and more important and at the same time making its demands more and more impossible. What follows you can easily forecast!”

This letter, in my opinion, could have be written to address the unrealistic image that women have to compete with thanks to Photoshop, and all the damage that is done. Damage done to women and their self-image and their expectations of themselves. Damage done to men who are bombarded with images of what men should be find desirable, but that are not realistic and often serve to lead men away from potential mates that could actually be suitable and complementary.

Letter 21 follows up on the assault on man’s chastity by suggesting fostering attacks on man’s sense of self-ownership. These claims on his life can lead to a sense of injury and result in man feeling ill-tempered.

“They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own.’ Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.”

“The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so. Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men’s belief that they ‘own’ their bodies – those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another!”

“We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun – the finely graded difference that run from ‘my boots’ through ‘my dog,’ ‘my servant,’ ‘my wife,’ ‘my father,’ ‘my master,’ and ‘my God.’ They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of ‘my boots,’ the ‘my’ of ownership.”

“And all the time the joke is that the word ‘Mine’ in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father or the Enemy will say ‘Mine’ of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong – certainly not to them, whatever happens. At present the Enemy says ‘Mine’ of everything on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it: Our Father hopes in the end to say ‘Mine’ of all things on the more realistic and dynamic ground of conquest.”

This was a powerful letter. This ‘Mine’ mentality is epidemic at this point, in my opinion. We really do take injury to so many things and it sours everything around us. My time, my opinion, my feelings, my body, my right. We take this ‘mine’ thinking so far to want to claim things that cannot be claimed, or not in the sense we think.

I could go through and comment on some much more – The Screwtape Letters are just so rich in content. I do want to wrap up for now and move into Surprised By Joy, but I will reread later this year and comment on some of the other letters I didn’t get to this round. I hope you will continue to follow my progress through several of the works of C.S. Lewis.

2016 Reading List

As promised, here is my complete reading plan for 2016. I have it planned out by month to go along with book club reading schedules as well as to distribute the reading throughout the year. In addition, I have two year-long reading topics. I look forward to sharing reading updates and reviews throughout the year here.

Year-long Reading Topics:

  1. The Great Ideas. Each month I am reading one chapter of The Great Ideas (the Syntopicon from The Great Books of the Western World). This monthly reading includes the introduction to each topic, as well as several of the selected reading passages.
  2. Plutarch’s Lives: The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. I will be working through the complete lives, along with the comparison essays over the course of the year.
January 2016
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Abigail Adams: A Life by Woody Holton
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Charlotte Mason Volume 6: Philosophy of Education
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Keeping a Nature Journal by  Charles E. Roth and Clare Walker Leslie
February 2016
The Song of Roland by Dorothy Sayers
The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers
Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
Feardom by Connor Boyack
A Guide to Teaching Elementary Science by Yvette F. Greenspan
March 2016
The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour
the Liberal Arts Tradition by Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark
Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville
10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur
April 2016
Beowulf by JRR Tolkien
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
May 2016
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
The Princess and Curdie George MacDonald
Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott
The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe
The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
June 2016
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis 
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonheifer
July 2016
A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlante
Consider This by Karen Glass
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
August 2016
Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter
The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
Native Son by Richard Wright
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
September 2016
Learning All the Time by John Holt
For the Love of Learning: Giving Your Children a Lolipop Education by Amy Edwards
Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore
The Best Short Stories of O. Henry
October 2016
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
November 2016
Letters from a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
Father Brown by GK Chesterton
The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fennimore Cooper
December 2016
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Dubliners by James Joyce

 

Homeschool Reads December Edition

I wanted to share what books we are currently reading, or have finished reading, in December. Most of our morning school time is devoted to reading good books. Here are our recent selections.

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

This is the first title we covered in our Teaching Character Through Literature Study (available from Beautiful Feet). This is a quick read, and we covered it in just a few days. I purposely kept us at two or three chapters per day so we could discuss what was going on in the story and with the characters. The children quite enjoyed this and (I think) took several lessons to heart. This story prompted a very good conversation about pride.

With holidays in December, our school schedule has been light. We have started a few new titles, mentioned briefly below, but I won’t comment too extensively until next month when we are finished reading them.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyon

This book was added to our Reading list because it is the book that the March sisters are reading throughout Little Women. This is the first allegory for Kyri, and I have been so impressed with how well she is following the story and understanding the deeper meaning.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

As mentioned above, Kyri is working through Little Women. She is reading an Illustrated Classics edition (abridged) but I recently added a lovely unabridged volume to our library so we will read the unabridged together when she finishes.

The Burgess Book of Birds by Thornton Burgess

We have recently added in this selection to our morning reading time. I love it because it is a wonderful way to introduce real facts about animals, like migration and nesting, but in a delightful, fanciful way.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Kyri finished the Illustrated Children’s (abridged) edition last month, and has started the unabridged version this month. She is so enamored with the entire story. I think we may have to get some goats and a hay loft for her!

King Arthur and His Knights by Elizabeth Lodor Merchant

This is a wonderful collection of stories about King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. This has been our family read aloud and we will be finishing it in January.

The Ever Scholar

I’m working on a new project. Well, it’s not really a project so much as a mission. I have always been a book worm, having several books in queue at any given time. But over the last several years, between the pressure of growing a career and the pressures of growing a family, my personal reading habit has suffered.  

 
Now I find myself moving into a new phase. We are officially done growing our family, and my youngest, at 7 months, sleeps though the night regularly. My home routine s becoming more regular as the children get a little older. While my life is far from calm, with a husband, four kids and four dogs, I am finally able to find small lulls to focus on myself again. 
 
Even though I’ve gone through college and graduate school, I will be the first to tell you I still have a lot to learn. I’m not going back to school, though I am about to start a year-long course that I’m really excited about (I’ll post more details on that soon). What I am doing is reading, lots of good books, on a variety of subjects. And I’m not settling for passive reading, just to log books as “read.” I’m reading books “actively,” taking notes and annotating as I read, following rabbit trails when they appear, participating in online book groups and discussions. 
 
I realized that, as I record my notes on the books I am working through, I’d love to share them with others. Since I’m reading several books at a time, and also doing an in-depth Bible study as well, I have decided a new site would be the best thing for sharing. I will be posting my Bible sudy notes, book journaling and other personal scholar notes over at the The Ever Scholar.  I would love to have you follow my reading progress there!

Finding Children’s Books

childrensbooksI am always on the lookout for excellent book selections for the children. We love illustrated books and try to read several throughout the week as part of our school day. I will often find the children reading them together in the evening as well. 

 
While I can scan the shelves or displays at our library branch easy enough, and we do tend to come home with several books that we just grab off the shelves, our library system has several branches and content changes as books are reshelved where they are returned. 
 
I also prefer books that I’ve read some feedback on or that have been recognized in some way for their content. I regularly sit down with book lists compiled from various websites and request them from our library. Then I can pick them up from our branch’s hold shelf. Super easy! Here are some of my “go to” resources for children’s book recommendations.
 
ALA Book Awards
 
Various book medal awards are given each year by the American Library Association to recognize outstanding books. The Caldecott medal is awarded each year for children’s picture book, and the award goes to the artist, regardless of whether they are also the author of the book. The Newberry Medal is awarded each year to the author of the most distinguished contribution to  American children’s literature. The Silbert Book Medal is awarded to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished informational book each year. 
 
Current medal recipients, as well as winners from previous years, are listed on the ALA website. Additional award lists can also be found on the ALA website under Youth Media Awards.  The ALA also puts together a list of Notable Children’s Books. This is an excellent source of children’s book titles to include in your weekly reading.
 
SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books
 
Science Magazine also includes a roundup of science and nature themed children’s books each year when they publish the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books. Often there are medal recipients included in this roundup. Current and previous years are available here
 
Goodreads
 
Goodreads  is also another great resource for book recommendations. You can “Explore” book selections by genre, and see new releases as well as most read each week. There are also Lists  – Goodread members often put together lists of their own recommendations or contribute to larger lists that are searchable. Each book selection includes reviews and commentaries by members. 
 
Pinterest
 
Pinterest is a great resource for book lists. A simple search for children’s literature will turn up a large selection of blogs and websites that contain children’s book recommendations. These book lists range from the top books “all children should read” to content specific titles such as “books about courage.”
 
Author’s Websites
 
Another way to find books is to explore a particular author. Once we’ve read one book from a particular author, we usually seek out other titles, which are often award winning books too. A simple Google search will usually turn up an author’s website and book list. For example, right now we are reading through several selections by Molly Bang. Look for an upcoming post on a science series she has put out! 
 
 
 

Learning with the Tuttle Twins

I think one of my most important jobs as a parent is educating my children about their inherent rights and liberties that exist regardless of politics or government. I believe that growing up with a firm understanding of their rights will allow them to function more confidently in the world. 

 
This past Spring we discovered a wonderful resource for learning about some of these topics. Connor Boyack’s new series, The Tuttle Twins, presents some of these ideas in a colorful, fun format that is easy to understand by a younger audience but not over-simplified.
 
The first book in the series, The Tuttle Twins Learn about the Law, introduces children to some of the ideas that Frederic Bastiat covered in his well-known collection of essays, The Law. Through colorful illustrations and fun conversations with the main characters, Ethan and Emily, concepts such as legal plunder, which might be a little heavy for younger audiences, are readily understandable.
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Kyri loved The Tuttle Twins Learn About The Law, and carried around Bastiat’s The Law for weeks afterward, reading the essays.
 
We were SO excited when this first book in the series was released! Kyri walked around the house reading this book, as well as her own copy of Bastiat’s The Law, for weeks. We had wonderful conversations about the topics the book introduced.
 
I was excited to learn about the much-anticipated follow-up book that was published just before the holidays – we preordered and Kyri received it as a Christmas gift! In the second book in the series, The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil, Ethan and Emily learn about what is really required to produce something simple that we probably take for granted every day – the wooden pencil. Boyack has presented the ideas from Leonard Read’s classic essay, “I, Pencil”  in a fun way for children to really comprehend how the free market works. 
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Kyri was amazed to learn about the complicated family tree of the simple wooden pencil.
 

This series is wonderful and I can’t recommend it enough. Check out the links above and see for yourself – the illustrations are amazing and the stories are powerful. You can also click on my affiliate link to the left of the page to read more about The Tuttle Twins series.

Dreaming Dots

Kyri and I love DK’s My Art Book. This is our main art resource this year and it has wonderful information and projects to work through. Each section has a two page lesson on an art form or particular artist’s style. This is then followed by a detailed art project. The pictures are stunning and really make it easy and fun to complete the projects.

This week we had a lot of fun learning about aboriginal Australian art, and decorating our own rocks.

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We used smaller rocks than suggested in the book (because that is what we had on hand), and acrylic paint to decorate. We outlined our animal shape on each rock and then painted. We paused a few minutes between colors to keep paint from mixing. One optional step we did not do was coat the rock, or at least the painted part, in varnish to protect the decoration. We had a lot of fun with this and will end up doing several more, so we may end up varnishing them after the next batch.

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10 Little Caterpillars: September Virtual Book Club

We have been reading A LOT of books to Ender as part of his early preschool. At 2 1/2  years old,  lots of colorful, engaging books, along with plenty of messy crafts, make for an excellent early preschool curriculum.

I have really been looking forward to participating in the Virtual Book Club for Kids. This month we have focused on several wonderful selections by Bill Martin Jr., the September book club author.
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? Board Book
Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? Board Book (World of Eric Carle)
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
Ten Little Caterpillars

I decided to plan a craft day for just one of our reading selections (and it was a tough choice!). I cut out 10 caterpillar shapes from white card stock. I free hand drew one and then used it as a template for the remaining caterpillars. This wasn’t really a work of art, I just kind of sketched something that resembled a mix between a jellybean and an oval, approximately 6 – 7 inches long.

I then cut thin strips from various colored paper. I also used a hole punch to make a pile of little dots to be used to decorate the caterpillars. Then I let the kids have at it, saving only one caterpillar for myself. Ender is still getting the hang of the whole “glue stick” thing, so we did end up with paper glued to the table as well as his hands, but he had a blast! I finished each caterpillar with a small eye drawn in with a black marker.

After our caterpillars were finished, I attached small craft sticks to each one to turn them into puppets. We then read through 10 Little Caterpillars several times, using our caterpillar puppets to interact with the gorgeous scenes in the book.

We have read this book quite often since getting it from the library, and it is one of Ender’s favorites – he loves pointing out the caterpillars and other small creatures on each page. Letting him interact with the book using the caterpillar puppets totally made his day!

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