• 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…

  • Biblical history

    Looking very closely at Bible translation questions

    One of the things that fascinates me about the Bible is that there is no one definitive translation. There are parts that are unclear. For example, take Genesis 49:10. It can be interpreted in different ways, each with their own potential meanings. The verse is part of Jacob’s blessings to his sons. The oldest three sons are given criticism for previous behaviour, and the bulk of the honour goes to Judah. This reflects or predicts – depending on whether one believes the Bible was written by man or God – the idea that King David was said to be from the tribe of Judah, and that Jerusalem is within that…

  • Biblical history

    Why secular parents wishing to teach their children about the Bible should avoid children’s Bibles.

    I teach secular Bible studies classes online. This means I teach children and teens to read the Bible and look at the Bible stories as literature written by people over a specific period of time, a couple thousand years ago. I ask students to have a copy of the Bible available during class and for their homework. I encourage them to have a study Bible. I strongly discourage the use of children’s Bibles. Children’s Bibles are retellings of the Bible stories meant for children. The stories are often arranged in the same order the stories appear in the Bible, but with only specific stories included. First, I’ll admit there are…

  • goals

    Weightloss, when the time is right

    I have lost about 20lbs this past few months and developed an endurance for long, long walks. It seems so easy, in a way, to lose weight right now that it is tempting to think “why didn’t I do this before?” The reality is, I couldn’t have done this earlier. The long walks are dependant upon my being able to leave the kids home alone – something I couldn’t do till recently. An earlier attempt at getting more exercise was ended abruptly when I fractured a bone in my foot. Another time it was put on hold by a long drawn out cold and breathing problems. The food restrictions would…

  • Biblical history,  history,  religion

    Comparing the Bible with Mythology

    I’m reading Charles Penglase’s book Greek Mythology and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. The heart of Penglase’ book is the idea that myth writers took motifs from other stories. He identifies rough motifs such as the goddess-and-her-consort stories where there is a journey to the underworld and a return and then he argues that those motifs show up even in unusual places. For example, pointing out how Apollo’s birth could be seen as fitting the goddess-and-consort-and-underworld myth. It has a wandering mother searching for (a place to bear) her child. It has the personified Island being scared it will be pushed down into the (underworld?)…

  • history,  homeschooling

    Reading Ancient Hittite Laws with my Kids

    I’ve been reading through an old book on the ancient Hittite laws. (Why? Why not?!) The first interesting detail in the book is the idea that they might not have had a word for the abstract concept of “law.” They had a word for “a law” or “the laws.” Some of the laws seem unremarkable but others have led to some interesting conversations with my kids. We talked about the following law and how it compares to modern compensation for injuries: “If anyone injures a person and temporarily incapacities him, he shall provide medical care for him. In his place he shall provide a person to work on his estate…

  • politics

    Independant Media and the Canadian Budget

    Today on Facebook I noticed a story about how the Trudeau government is creating “newspapers and websites deemed reliable.” That makes it sound like the government’s creating a serious official list of which papers are trustworthy or not. Except that isn’t what is really happening. The article in question was by the Post Millennial and it had little information but a link to an article by Blacklocks Reporter blog.  So I go to that and read that, and they’re talking about how the Federal Budget Bill C-97 has some funding for journalism. This is good. Local newspapers are losing out on advertisements as everyone advertises online and they lose out…