• Biblical history

    Reading Nadav Na’aman’s essays on Canaanite history

    Over the last week I’ve been reading from the book Canaan in the Second Millenium BCE by Nadav Na’aman. It is a collection of essays, many based on the Amarna texts. The one I read last night has profound implications for my understanding of Canaanite history and so I’m using the break time to reflect on it. The essay in question deals with the Akkadian word “Habiru,” which some people interpret as being connected with the word “Hebrew.” Apparently some interpret the Habiru as being the origins of the Hebrew people. Na’aman argues instead that the term was borrowed. The older term was used for uprooted migrants. Na’aman argues that…

  • history,  politics

    Where does political authority come from?

    One of the books I’ve been reading recently is called Piety and Politics: The Dynamics of Royal Authority in Homeric Greece, Biblical Israel, and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia. One of the things it points out very early is that the divine authority of kings in ancient times is not necessarily the same as the European concept of the divine right of kings. In the later European concept the authority of God is bestowed upon the king for his whole life. The king is not accountable to anyone. In its extreme the will of the king could be taken to be the will of God. In the ancient understanding the god could…

  • Biblical history,  education,  history,  politics

    Sophists And Today?

    Aaron Sorkin’s television show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip aired in 2006. Already, the show feels somewhat dated and when watching it with our children my husband and I found ourselves trying to explain how the public debate was different at that time. (Just as one example, these days we hear more about the white supremacists than the religious right, but the show focuses on the latter, not the former.) There is something fun about stepping outside of the time period and thinking about the debates of other time periods. It is part of what I do in the secular Bible studies classes I’ve been teaching. I try to…

  • activism,  politics,  the ethical life

    The true reason I haven’t been involved in political activism for a while: not time shortage but fear of being wrong.

    Life is complicated. I look back at so many things I used to believe and I don’t hold those beliefs anymore. The knowledge of how my beliefs have changed makes me a bit more hesitant to express my beliefs. What if I say something now, and then look back at it a few years later and think “oh, how ignorant that was?” That is, of course, the reality of life. We all should be growing, changing, and accepting that our beliefs don’t hold still and we shouldn’t let that stop us from speaking about what we believe now. Yet perhaps it still needs to shape our actions. The awareness that…

  • Text says: Feel good aboutoneself -> interact more with others -> feel out of sync -> withdraw ->
    accepting criticism,  depression

    Being True to Oneself – and the cycle of depression

    I’m noticing something about the cycles of how I run my life…. Reaching Out I have times where I’m feeling more confident in who I am and I reach out to others and try to interact. I book to do interviews online or I make coffee dates with friends. I comment more on Facebook. I write more. I talk more. For a while the reaching out ends up boosting my confidence. I like that I reach out. I like that I’m trying to interact with the world. I like who I am and I want to share that self with the world. However, the more I let myself be myself,…

  • activism,  history,  politics

    Conversations with Leigh Robertson and some reflections about making change in the world.

    I had a great talk with Leigh Robertson the other day. Our conversation wandered from talking about child labour as a focus for teaching children about the history of the labour movement to talking about the gig economy. Then we moved onto talking about the Danish resistence movement during WWII. It was really fun. Leigh is an Outschool teacher. You can visit her profile to see the classes she teaches. I’m sharing the videos of our conversation here and then I’ll comment with a few of the things I found particularly interesting. There’s a few take-aways I want to comment on. One, I appreciated what Leigh said about making change…

  • history,  religion,  the ethical life

    Thoughts on Reading about Medieval Religious Beliefs, Self-Improvement and Lying

    I am reading a book called Lies, Slander and Obscenity in Medieval English Literature by Edwin Craun. I can’t understand everything in the book but it raises such fascinating questions. It is fun to read about people who took questions of truthfulness so incredibly seriously. It helps put what I read about the origins of the word equivocate, in the late 16th early 17th century into context. I had read long ago (in a different book) that the word came into common use at a time where Catholics in England were being persecuted. Some Catholics wrote instructions about how to equivocate as a way of trying to be truthful without…

  • homeschooling

    Day-to-day to challenges homeschooling

    I’d love to say that homeschooling was this paradise of cooperation between parent and children, where we do amazing fascinating projects and have plenty of fun. The fact is, most days are a strange tug-of-war between watching the children pursue their own projects and trying to get them to do just a little bit of schoolwork while also carving out a bit of time for my own projects. Every day is filled with little interruptions and distractions. Some are mild and simple. Some drag me down a rabbit-hole of questions about how I should be responding. Here are just a few: kids inventing their own games and wanting to tell…

  • memes,  the ethical life

    Life is so much more complicated than the pro-small business memes make it sound.

    Today I saw a meme that read “When you buy from a small business, you’re not helping a CEO buy a third holiday home. You’re helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy his team jersey, moms & dads put food on the table. Shop local.” Let’s ignore for a moment the sexism involved in assuming the girl get’s dance lessons and the boy a sports jersey. Let’s focus on this issue of big businesses verse small. There’s an extent to which that is true. A small business owner is probably not buying a third holiday home. However, many so-called small-businesses these days are actually multi-level marketing schemes,…

  • activism,  meaning of life,  music,  religion

    Reflection on a Linnea Good Concert

    Last night I took my children to a Linnea Good concert. Linnea Good is a United Church singer, songwriter and storyteller. I took my very-atheist children to her concert because her music was a big part of my teenage years. This was my second time attending a concert of hers, and the first was way back when I was younger than my oldest is now. So, why was the music meaningful to me? I think the most amazing meaningful part was that Linnea was willing to show some of her own vulnerability. She talked about how after thirty years of performing she’s really good at being nice, but that she…