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Showing posts from October, 2011

Happy Reformation Day!

I know, I know, I'm late posting book reviews, but I couldn't let this day pass without wishing you all a happy Reformation Day. I'd be a pretty poor Lutheran if I didn't! October 31, 1517, was a watershed day in the history of Christianity, and if you're a Protestant, you have much to celebrate this day. If you think of October 31 as only Halloween, read this Wikipedia article, which isn't too long, to get a basic overview of why and how the Reformation began. In honor of the day and its founder, Martin Luther, here is a rousing rendition of Luther's best-known hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," which became the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation."**

Now, I'm off to watch the Luther movie and hand out candy to the kiddies. :-)

**I'm told that the Catholic church has included this hymn in its most recent revision of their hymnal. Whatever side of the Reformation you come down on, this is a great hymn for all Christians to sin…

Word Watch ~ "Holpen"

"Holpen" is the archaic past participle of "help." It has Germanic, rather than Latin, roots. I first came across it when teaching "Masters in This Hall," a Christmas carol by Marin Marais and William Morris (yes, the famous one), to a group of elementary students sixteen years ago. The chorus says,

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell, sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on earth, Born is God's son so dear:
Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell, sing we loud!
God to-day hath poor folk raised
And cast a-down the proud.

Then last week I came across it again in the good ol' King James Version of the Bible. Psalm 86:17 to be exact:

Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.

You can listen to "Masters in This Hall" on Youtube. It's rollicking fun!

2011 Reading Challenge~~Books #38 and #39

I'm not a fan of John Piper. I know that's heresy to most Christians, but there it is. I've read a few of his books and they just fell flat with me, and that was before I was Lutheran even. So I'm of the small minority of American Christians who do not rush out to buy the latest book by Piper, but when I saw that his newest title was about Christians and thinking and that Christian Audio was offering it as their free download this month, I decided to give it a try. It wouldn't cost me anything but some time.

And Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God is the best Piper book I've read, though his circuitous method of exegesis still loses me. Perhaps I would have followed it better had I had the print version, but if past experiences count for anything, I doubt it would have helped. Piper, who shows his debt to Jonathan Edwards strongly in this book, makes a strong case for a Christian cultivating right thinking and against the anti-intellectualism so…

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ Oct. 20, 2011

I totally missed last week's {phfr}. Man of the House was at a pastor's conference most of the week. He needed to be delivered to the train station 60 rural miles away on Monday and picked up on Thursday. The only problem was that our only car broke down on my way to pick him up. Thankfully, I hadn't gotten very far, so at least I wasn't stranded with nothing but cornfields and/or grain elevators in sight. But getting him home was more of an ordeal than I had anticipated, so I missed posting. Oh, well. I'm happy to be back. :-)


I have lots of {pretty} to share. A parishioner who is a farmer invited us to ride his combine during the soybean harvest. We had never done anything like that, so we eagerly said yes. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.


This is Farmer John's dog, Mac. He is the typical happy-go-lucky farm dog.


There was GPS and air conditioning in the combine!


Evidence that Man of the House really did make…

2011 Reading Challenge~~Books #36 and #37

Terry Pratchett is one of the most imaginative authors around today, and in The Wee Free Men he lives up to his reputation. Tiffany Aching is a young witch wanna-be who must rescue her brother from the evil Queen of the Elves who attempts to rule through the use of dreams. The Wee Free Men are Pictsies (pixies, get it?) in the manner of traditional folklore. We are not talking Tinkerbell's Disney incarnation or saccharine Victorian fairies. The Pictsies, also know as the Nac Mac Feegles, are rowdy, mischievous, and very funny. They aid Tiffany in fighting the Queen and bringing her brother back. The plot moves fast and is full of the jokes, puns, and twists and turns one expects from Terry Pratchett. Despite the book being set sometime in the pre-Industrial Revolution past, Pratchett succeeds in making jibes at our modern world's sensibilities. That's one of the things I most enjoy about Pratchett: he sees modern life as it really is and is able to cut through much…

Word Watch ~ "Where"

As I've been reading the King James Version of the Bible during 2011 in honor of its 400th anniversary, I've been struck by so many turns of phrases and unusual words and usages. I've decided to share them, and any other interesting bits of philology I come across elsewhere, with my vast readership. I should have started in January, alas, since I have noticed so many good examples in the intervening months, but since I can't turn back the clock I'll just start here. This will be a periodic series with entries occuring as words and phrases present themselves. This isn't professional analysis; I'm just a rank amateur who thinks words and their usages and development fascinating.


Usually we see "where" as an adverb, but there is a verse in the English folksong "Searching for Lambs" that uses it as a noun:

“How gloriously the sun doth shine,
How pleasant is the air.
I'd rather rest on a true love's breast
Than any other wh…

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ October 6, 2011

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter again . . .


Girl of the House and I made this banner using scrapbooking supplies and ribbon a few years ago. In our old house we hung it on a fireplace, but here we hung it from the bookshelves. It's pretty there, don't you think?


This utility sink makes me inordinately and ridiculously happy. I've never had one before, but I have wished for one many times. It's so much better to wash out paint brushes here than in the kitchen sink or to empty the mop bucket here instead of outside. It's truly the little things in life that make us happy!


This tree ~ I don't know what to say about this tree! I'm not even sure a tree like this should be allowed. But I can vouch for its existence. It lives in my neighborhood a few blocks from my house. Doesn't it look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book? And just how did it get that way??? It's at least thirty feet tall!!


Girl of the Ho…

From My Commonplace Book

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances."~~Martha Washington

"The task of scholarship is in fact a lowly role which demands tremendous dedication. My own personal feeling is that young men with a gift of conceptualization and perception need to be encouraged to really believe that God can be served in the solitude of one's study surrounded by the fruits of scholarly labor."~~Robert Mounce

"Don't be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn't do. Each must do his duty 'in that state of life to which God has called him.' Remember that a belief in the virtues of doing for doing's sake is characteristically feminine, characteristically American, and characteristically modern: so that three veils may divide you from …

2011 Reading Challenge~~Books #35

Whew! I finally finished Augestine's Confessions at long last. That was the longest 200-page book I think I've ever read. The more I read ancient literature the more I realize I do not have a natural affinity for it (unlike my beloved). I'm not saying it was boring exactly or unworthy to be read. Parts of it did drag, but it was worth reading and I'm glad I did; however, I don't think I will again for a long time.

Why am I glad I read it? Because it's a classic not just of Christian literature but of Western literature. Augustine's influence on the Western church, and consequently Western civilization, is enormous. I have gained a better understanding of the man and his influence through his Confessions. I value the perspective gained from reading books written by minds from dramatically different ages and places; as C.S. Lewis said, reading old books is a corrective for historical myopia. Sometimes it's a chore to digest such correctives, but ju…