• activism,  Biblical history,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  meaning of life,  seasons

    Thanksgiving and the Wandering Aramean Text

    As we approach American Thanksgiving, and my Facebook feed ends up filled with posts expressing a mix of views about the holiday – some objecting to the mythology attached, the occasional post in favour of the mythology, and many more concerned about Covid-19 spread – I find myself thinking about a Biblical thanksgiving mention. Deuteronomy 26 tells that when people enter the land “the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance” they are to take the first fruits of their harvest and give it to God in a basket, reciting to the priest a specific creed: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a…

  • Houseful of Chaos Press,  religion

    Witchcraft?!

    The very word “witchcraft” scares some people. I acknowledge that fact in my upcoming book The Edge of the Circle. The book includes a teenage girl exploring witchcraft and that might be upsetting to some. So, I want to talk a bit about what that means. Why does witchcraft scare people and what does it mean anyway? In general, the rejection of witchcraft comes down to two things – a belief that religious practices should be standardized and a belief that there are alternative dangerous sources of supernatural power that people might tap into. I’ll look at those one at a time. The criticism of witchcraft has been part of…

  • culture,  history,  meaning of life

    What to remember on Remembrance Day?

    Remembrance Day and its American counterpart, Veterans’ Day, are coming up soon. November 11th is a tricky holiday where on one hand I’m not comfortable with the idea of glorifying war and on the other hand I want to acknowledge the risk soldiers have taken and the sacrifices they, and their families, have made. This year my thoughts are shaped largely by the book  A War of Individuals: Bloomsbury Attitudes to the Great War by Jonathan Atkin. The picture of the war I gain through that book is of a war that whole countries felt drawn into. It wasn’t sending off their soldiers, it was sending off their young. Sacrifices were made by…

  • history,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  meaning of life

    A Paradise Without the Need to Work?

    I love following wisps of ideas as they lead me through different times and works of literature. Today I’m thinking about how different writers questioned the possibility of a paradise without labour. Start with the Gonzalo’s speech in The Tempest about how he would run an island, if he could: I’th’ commonwealth I would by contrariesExecute all things, for no kind of trafficWould I admit; no name of magistrate;Letters should not be known; riches, poverty, (165)And use of service, none; contract, succession,Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;No occupation; all men idle, all;And women too, but innocent and pure; (170)No sovereignty—…All things…

  • Picture of the book Fever 1793, and the text "Learning through Literature: a guest blog post"
    books,  homeschooling

    Learning Through Literature: Epidemics in World History with Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson

    This guest post has been written by Yvie, who blogs at Homeschool On the Range. World history has been shaped by its epidemics…cholera, smallpox, influenza, yellow fever, the plague, and now coronavirus are just a few diseases that have swept entire nations.  What exactly is a pandemic, and how does it differ from an epidemic? In this literature-based unit study, Yvie Field, author at Homeschool On the Range, is taking middle and high schoolers on a thrilling ride through the major epidemics in world history.  You can assign the reading and classwork to one student, or read the book aloud and learn together as a family! Vocabulary Words miasma, bilious,…

  • Cover picture from A Flight of Angels
    Biblical history,  books

    Book Review: A Flight of Angels

    When you hear the word “angel” what do you find yourself thinking? Guardian angel? Angel of death? Messengers of God? Fallen angels? Heavenly beings? In the graphic novel A Flight of Angels the fate of an unconscious angel is in the hands of a young enslaved fawn. A variety of other magical creatures gather and share stories about who they believe angels are, before the angel’s fate is decided. It is a strange mix of stories, each representing something of the person who tells it and exploring one aspect of how people have envisioned angels. Unfortunately the book has tons of unnecessary nudity, as one of the story tellers is…

  • Picture shows a cat climbing out of a drawer, representative of my feeling of needing to get back to some type of activism.
    activism,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  politics

    Actions Matter

    I am fascinated by this short poem by Piet Hein: CONSOLATION GROOK Losing one gloveis certainly painful,but nothingcompared to the painof losing one,throwing away the other,and findingthe first one again. Apparently the poem was written as part of the Danish resistance during WWII, encouraging people not to throw away their patriotism and self respect just because Denmark had been captured by Germans. In many ways, it is a more poetic subtle way of saying that no matter how hard a situation is, what matters is what the individual chooses to do in response to it. The response is the more painful, important thing. I’ve been thinking about that the last…

  • politics

    Donald Trump, corrupt CEO of America

    What Trump says reveals so much about him. In the last presidential debate of 2020 Trump said that only those of low IQ would show up for their immigration hearings if not imprisoned. A study says that actually, 99% do. What Trump said doesn’t reflect the reality of migrants to the United States. It reflects Trump. He wouldn’t show up. He thinks those who willingly follow laws are stupid, because he doesn’t. Trump has suggested that if Ethiopia doesn’t negotiate with Egypt on issues pertaining to a damn, that Egypt will just ‘blow up’ the dam. Again, this is Trump revealing who he is. This is what he’d like to…

  • homeschooling

    How correspondence courses are changing how I look at education (and not for the better)

    The biggest problem with my teenager’s correspondence courses is that they take up so much time and they make all the other learning things we used to “not schoolwork.” There are so many things where I think “oh, that would be fun and educational” and then I think “oh, but will that take him away from his schoolwork?” Or he says that the other things sound great but he needs to work on his schoolwork. Somehow this is all getting to my brain. I start thinking about my other children’s schoolwork differently. I’ve always said, “oh, yeah, I make sure the kids keep up with their peers in school,” but…

  • Picture shows the backs of a teenage boy and his younger sister walking down a path in autumn.
    homeschooling

    Switching to Correspondence Courses for Highschool Credit

    We’re taken another step in our homeschool journey. I’ve spent a huge part of this past week going through and trying to ensure that my teenager gets credit for grade nine, even though were homeschooling, so that he can do grade ten correspondence courses this year. (Yes, yes, I know I should have done this months ago, but I didn’t know about this particular source of correspondence courses or what the requirements would be.) Anyway, it is a very interesting task. I go through the Ontario curriculum requirements for the courses that I believe he has completed and for each item in the requirements I have to describe how he…