• Picture of a five year old child holding a protest sign.
    goals,  politics,  the ethical life

    Making a difference

    Sometimes I feel helpless in the face of all the problems of the world. Then I remind myself there’s lots I can do to make a difference. I can: write a letter to the editor to try to change others thoughts on an issue and to let those who share my beliefs know they are not alone. pick up garbage beside the road. reach out to a friend and let them know I care. encourage good discussion in a world where we don’t always think things through. donate to organizations that are doing good work. volunteer with organizations. stand on a street corner in support of causes I care about.…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    teaching civics with reflections on a small town council meeting

    It is Saturday morning and I’m watching a video recording of a town council meeting that took place several provinces away. I’m taking notes to write the story up for my dad’s newspaper. The strange thing is, I actually find counsel meetings kind of interesting. I love the little details of small town life. The minor hockey club asked for their meeting notices to be displayed on the town’s signs. This would add to the frequency of which staff would have to change the text on those signs. The administration is willing to do it but want permission to draw up a policy, because presumably if they put the hockey…

  • climate change,  politics

    “500 climate change denying scientists” – yeah, no.

    I’ve been bothering to engage with some of the climate change deniers on the Sudbury Star’s Facebook page. They link to a Brietbart article saying that there’s over 500 scientists that are petitioning the UN to say there’s no climate crisis. I start looking up the scientists who signed the letter. I’m going through the top names, the ones who started the petition. From Wikipedia: “Guus Berkhout (born 1940) is a Dutch engineer. He has worked for Shell in the oil- and gas industry and served as professor of acoustics, geophysics and innovation management at Delft University of Technology between 1976 and 2007. From 2000 to 2002 he was chair…

  • Biblical history,  homeschooling

    More notes on attempting to secularize Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World.

    This is the second part of a series of articles exploring the way that Susan Wise Bauer presents Biblical stories in her Story fo the World curriculum. In chapter six of volume one she presents the stories of Abraham and Joseph. In chapter twelve she recaps this briefly while talking about the Hyksos invasion of Egypt: These enemies were from Canaan. Do you remember reading about Canaan? In your story about Abraham, Abraham heard the voice of God, telling him to go to Canaan. And do you remember what he thought? He thought, “Why would I go to a wilderness filled with strange, wild tribes?” It is important to note…

  • The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer and one of many academic books on the topic of the early Hebrew religion
    Biblical history,  history,  homeschooling

    Notes on the Story of the World – from a secular academic perspective

    The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is a very popular history curriculum amongst homeschoolers. However, one complaint frequently made is that the book presents Biblical stories as if they were history. In chapter six of volume one it tells the story of Abraham and then the story of Joseph, both embellished from the Bible. Here are some notes on how I would approach these. Placement of the Story The Story of the World situations the story of Abraham as taking place shortly after Sargon the Great. Sargon the Great lived over two thousand years before the Common Era (CE or, as it was known in my childhood,…

  • Biblical history,  politics

    Biblical history and Israel

    Did you know there’s a political component to the question of the literal truth of the Bible? There are people who argue for it being true not just because they want it for a spiritual guide, but also because they want justification for the nation of Israel to be a Jewish nation? Part of the politics of the question of “was there a King David?” and “How much land did he control?” is about whether or not that land should be Jewish now and how much land. I don’t talk about this much in my classes, partly because the situation with Israel is incredibly complex. I want to comment about…

  • history,  politics

    On the Trail of Ella McLean

    As a child growing up in Smoky Lake, I remember my dad, newspaper editor Lorne Taylor, taking me up to the graveyard off Victoria Trail. We pushed through the bushes to find a big pink granite stone, the text of which read: “Ella A. McLean Devoted Missionary. Born June 24, 1881. Died July 6, 1912. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” “This is the grave of the woman whose husband built our home,” my dad would tell me. We lived at 4924 50th Street, the old Smoky Lake Signal Office. Miss McLean had been a missionary first at Wahstao mission and then Kolakreeka mission. She…

  • homeschooling

    Worldbuilding as a Homeschooling Project.

    I’ve been a pretty lazy homeschooler recently, busy with a temporary part-time job as well as getting ready my online classes, so I am unbelievably grateful that my kids have some awesome projects going. Today I want to share, with his permission, about my middle child’s project. His project is worldbuilding. He’s got an imaginary world. He’s spent months now working on the language the dragons speak. It isn’t just a matter of a different alphabet or different words for all the same concepts we have. He’s thought about what kinds of concepts a dragon might develop. His word for a surface you write on is based on his word…

  • Biblical history

    Teaching a Secular Bible Study class on the New Testament

    In some ways a New Testament class feels harder to make secular than an Old Testament class, and I’ve noticed people are much more willing to sign up for the Old Testament class. I think this has to do with the idea that more people view stories of Moses, Noah, David, etc, as stories, and absolutely any story about Jesus in inherently theological. (Or maybe I’m over thinking this and people just think they need to take the Old Testament class before they take the New Testament class.) Anything I could say about Jesus is in some ways a theological statement about him. Was Jesus a man? A god? A…

  • Biblical history

    Origins of the Judeo-Christian Monotheism.

    I am reading a book called Monotheism and Yahweh’s Appropriation of Baal. It is a fascinating little study adding more details to some theories about the origins of monotheism. Those familiar with the Bible might know that Baal is one of the gods that the Biblical writers are incredibly critical of. However, this book points out the little ways in which the Bible references to Yahweh having the powers of Baal. For example, in 2 Kings 7.2 there is a reference to making windows in the sky. Many Bibles translate this as opening the storm gates of heaven, making a flood, but one of the Baal myths specifically speaks of…