• how do we know what we know is true,  politics

    Cancel Culture and the Need to not Define Acceptable Speech to Narrowly

    There has been a lot of discussion on Cancel Culture recently as a result of an open letter by a group of writers and academics. This post is based on a number of comments I made in Facebook groups where this topic came up. What is Cancel Culture? Cancel culture can mean several different things. Partly it is about holding people responsible for their actions, so that society doesn’t endorse and prop up people who are spreading bad ideas and doing bad things. So celebrities who say bad things can find themselves dropped from television shows and such. Journalists who say racist things can find themselves unemployed. That sort of…

  • Biblical history,  books

    Book Review: Josiah and the Theocrats

    If the Bible was written by humans, would it not be susceptible to the same corruption that drives so much of human existence? Different groups of Christians will argue others have twisted it for political purposes, but what if the texts themselves arose from political purposes, and what if those purposes were neither noble nor loving? That’s one of the questions that seems to underly the plot of Josiah and the Theocrats. The book is set in 623 – 622 BCE, at the time of King Josiah of Judah. The book is written with a focus on Shaphan, the king’s secretary, charged with bringing a long-lost religious text forward to…

  • A 15th century picture of Adam and Eve after they are kicked out of the garden of Eden.
    Biblical history

    Exploring the story of Adam and Eve, and how it changed over time.

    Genesis 2:15 – 3:22 tells a story of Adam and Eve, supposedly the first humans to exist. In the story God puts these first humans in a garden. There they have plenty of food for only one tree is off limits to them. This one tree, God says, is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He says the humans will die the day they eat that fruit. Then a crafty serpent speaks to Eve and tells her that eating from that one tree will not kill her but open her eyes and make her like God. She eats it and gives some to Adam. They realize they are…

  • Biblical history,  homeschooling,  religion

    Being Non-Religious in a Christian Context

    The question was posed to me recently about how one might go about explaining Christianity to an atheist or agnostic child who will be exposed to Christianity in a homeschool co-op or local community. I assume we have several goals in mind. The first is to keep everyone safe. Another goal is to be respectful. The other is to be truthful. This can be tricky if the Christian community is actively teaching that it is the only path to salvation or other exclusionary language. It can be tricky if the children are really young, and have difficulty dealing with the idea that these friends and teachers are correct about some…

  • Picture of a goose standing alert next to goslings.
    how do we know what we know is true

    Life of an Over-Thinker

    Part One: My Mind Palace Sometimes I imagine myself in a huge, enormous library. No, library isn’t the right word. It suggests a single room or perhaps two. I imagine myself in a mansion that is nothing but libraries, winding pathways to different rooms. Whenever I read something new or study something new, I am being let into a new room, able to absorb its contents and expand my knowledge of the world. Yet each new room is also attached to multiple other rooms and as soon as I move into one, I know there’s more other passageways than I can go down. I can never learn something new without…

  • history,  homeschooling

    A Potential Resource for Looking at WWII

    Want a really different way to talk about WWII with your child? I’m reading a book right now that is a memoir of a Taiwanese man who was in university in Japan at the time of WWII. While I’m not finished reading the book and I’m not sure how much of it I’ll share with my kids, I know I’ll be reading them some of it. I want to read to them about the schools and hospitals, the systematic racism, and the little bits about how the country mobilized for war. The little details are fascinating. It is too easy to teach ‘history’ as the story of the west and…

  • God,  how do we know what we know is true

    Thoughts on Religion

    A few days ago someone posed the question to me that even if I write about the Bible from a secular point of view, I’m still spiritual, right? Do I still believe in some connection with God? I grew up in the United Church of Canada, and I even started university to become a minister. However, at this point in my life, I’d have to say no, I don’t believe in God. As I think about it, I picture people talking about God. And in the past, we’d have conversation where anytime I might explain why I didn’t believe in God they would explain that they don’t believe in that…

  • homeschooling

    Online Classes – alternatives to Outschool

    Live online classes can be plenty of fun. One of the most popular places for them these days is Outschool, which is sort of the Uber of online classes. Outschool has hundreds of teachers who are private contractors, writing and listing their own classes. There is a convenience to having so many online classes all in one place, but there’s also a problem. As Outschool grows they get to set the rules and teachers become replaceable. So it might be worthwhile to check out these smaller locations. Places with Multiple Teachers: Gifted Conference Planners – specializing in classes for gifted learners with different teachers teaching science, creative writing, math, literature,…

  • homeschooling

    Riddle Writing Instructions

    Writing riddles provides a chance to practice several different things at once. The riddle writer has to think about the qualities of an object and how they can describe that object in vague terms. With each clue, the writer has to imagine how others might understand the clue. Writing clues which could be understood in multiple ways helps prevent the clue from being to easy. Sometimes it helps to start by picking a theme for riddle-writing. Riddles can be used to review science terms or to encourage one to think about a historic setting. A reluctant writer might enjoy writing riddles about things from his or her favourite movie or…

  • homeschooling,  poetry

    Train Poems

    If you’ve ever read a Thomas the Train Engine story, you might have noticed that the trains tend to speak in a particular rhythm. “I’m going to burst! I’m going to burst!” cries Thomas when his boiler is plugged with fish. “I hope it’s all right, I hope it’s all right,” Annie and Clarabelle (the train cars) whisper to each other. There’s a rhythm to the train cars speech that resemble the sounds of the train wheels jostling over the tracks. The stories are of course in prose but well written prose often contain elements of poetry. Thomas the Train Engine’s original author, Revered Wilbert Awdry, isn’t the only writer…