Gretta Vosper and the atheist church

Gretta Vosper is a minister in the United Church of Canada, at least for now. A committee in Toronto has recommended that she not be allowed to continue as a minister, given her statements that she does not believe in God or call herself a Christian. The United Church, of which I am a part, is a church that recognizes that people’s understanding of theology changes. When someone says they don’t believe in God, the reaction is not necessarily shock as much as the question “what God is it you don’t believe in?” There is space a lot of space between believing Continue reading

sometimes staying home is better than the extracurriculars

Sometimes staying home is best.

As a homeschooler, I’ve felt at times like I’m a bit of a failure as far as extracurricular activities go. I hear people talk about how they provide socialization and the chance to follow one’s passions. We’ve had varying degrees of success at different activities, but most of the various activities we’ve signed the kids up for have involved us herding them into the car against their wills. I’ve tried to look at the extracurriculars from my kids points of view. They end up being dragged away from things they like doing. I’ve tried to encourage them to make friends, but Continue reading

a waiting room movie – the gift of imagination

monarch on my fingers

We went into a waiting room and sat down. After a while of playing with the toys, my five year old announced that she’s watching a movie and plops herself onto a chair opposite the receptionists desk. She stared intently at the receptionist while pretending to eat imaginary theatre snacks. “This isn’t a kids movie,” she announced after a minute or two. Then she noticed a shadow as someone moves in front of a door in the inner office. “Wait,” she says, “I saw a shadow.” She then proceeded to tell me, slowly, the story, as it took place in Continue reading

into the unknown: preparing myself to send my children to school

I feel like I'm looking ahead too, at an unknown path.

I sighed in the grocery store the other day. The store clerk, seeing I was watching my children, made a comment expressing sympathy about how it was only the beginning of summer holidays. I smiled, paid, and thanked him. He doesn’t need to know how much he misunderstood. To me this isn’t the beginning of a summer of having the kids around all the time. My kids have been around me almost constantly since they were born and this particular summer I am in mourning for the fact that my time homeschooling is coming to an end. This isn’t the Continue reading

my experience and plans teaching with Minecraft

a dwarven kingdom in minecraft

My kids and I are eagerly working on our minecraft server these days. We build scenes and then add non-player-characters (NPCs) the scripts of which we write using a plugin called Betonquest. The boys built a fairy kingdom full of mushroom houses. With their help, I wrote up conversations for the fairies based on Shakespeare’s fairies in A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. We added a nine men’s morris board built of a grass path, like the “the quaint mazes in the wanton green” that the Shakespeare’s Titania had said was “for lack of tread are undistinguishable.” For each snippet of Shakespeare Continue reading

being wrong, accepting criticism and imperfection

beebalm-and-monarch

“No, friendship is NOT about ‘supporting your friends even when you know they’re wrong.” That’s not friendship. That’s being an enabler. That’s being an accomplice. Friendship is loving someone enough to tell them to stop being an idiot before they ruin their lives.” I saw a text-in-a-box thing on facebook today with that text. I read it, re-read it, and thought about a time when I acted as an enabler, supporting someone as she got back together with an abuser, and how I wish I had handled it differently. I had been so scared she’d stop talking to me that Continue reading

to blog or not to blog

black-eyed-susan

I went almost a year without blogging. In many ways, it was an experiment in privacy. I had become self-conscious about the idea that my own thoughts might be worth sharing, and hesitant about putting them out. I wasn’t completely private. I can’t stop writing, so I took to writing more on facebook in long friends-only posts. There I encountered the problem that facebook is more a place people go to express themselves than a place where people are willing to put time and energy into reading slowly enough to comprehend what someone else is saying. I had a number Continue reading

politics in Gulliver’s Travels

I’m reading Gulliver’s Travels again right now and wanted to share this excerpt from when Gulliver is explaining about British government to the king of the giants: He then desired to know, what Arts were practiced in electing those whom I called Commoners. Whether, a Stranger with a strong Purse might not influence the vulgar Voters to chuse him before their own Landlord, or the most considerable Gentlemen in the Neighborhood. How it came to pass, that People were so violently bent upon getting into this assembly, which I allowed to be a great Trouble and Expense, often to the Continue reading

reading 18th century history, reflecting on today

I’ve been reading about various wars in North America during the 1700s. Several things stand out to me. One is the idea that the governments were not able to control their people. Native elders were not able to prevent individual or small groups of native warriors from going off and killing colonists, and the colonists were unable to prevent individuals from going off and killing natives. The acts of individuals were then used to justify the acts of more individuals and of governments. The second thing is that the elites were manipulating everyone into war. Before the American Revolution, the Continue reading

using an incomplete knowledge of Shakespeare for meaningful discussion

I have written before about reading Shakespeare with kids so they gain some familiarity with the stories and another time I wrote about reading it with kids as part of discussion on language and exploring complex ideas. Today I write about yet another reason to read Shakespeare with children. Today my argument is that Shakespeare gives us a chance to look at the incompleteness of our own knowledge and what scholarship means. We get to do that, all while enjoying the works of a master who filled his works with such amazing jokes and clever ideas. A few years ago Continue reading