Books Read in February

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison- this was, of course, a re-read, but I hadn’t read it in probably 15 years. I still like it. It was fun reading my notes, too- there were a couple areas I once strongly disagreed with her and later revised my opinions. It’s a fast read, and a quick escape pod read to shoot you out of the public school mindset and into the nuts and bolts of a CM education. IT’s more about practice than principles, but sometimes that’s what you need to get going. She never pretends that what she’s written here is all anybody needs, but recommends repeatedly that people read the six volumes for themselves (even gives suggestions where to read for different topics). I have some minor caveats- I wish she sourced her statements more thoroughly. One or two minor points she makes are taken out of context, IMO, but overall, it’s a very useful read. She also has timetables from December, 1908 reprinted in the back of the book along with the timetable she uses instead, and she’s very clear on the fact that timetables are helpful primarily as examples, not as straightjackets. Still Recommended after all these years.


JFK: History in an Hour, UNABRIDGED by Sinead Fitzgibbon, Narrated By Jonathan Keeble.  An audiobook.

Planning and Implementing Retreats, A Parish Handbook by Nicki Vergloegen Vandergrift,a nifty little handbook aptly described by the title. It’s written by and for Catholics, but can be used by others.

Essay on Man & Other Poems by Alexander Pope.

Pope is out of style these days, but I like him.  He’s witty. His words are gems, finely cut, perfectly fitted in their setting. He sparkles.

The Jekyll Legacy by Robert Bloch and Andre Norton, I picked this up for about 20 pesos at a used bookstore, and for that price, it was a light, amusing, interesting read. IT was 2 parts obvious social commentary, 1 part mystery.  The gist of it is that Jekyll’s niece has no idea she is his niece because her father moved to Canada and changed his name years ago.  She happens to have come to England as a penniless governess who promptly loses her job because she’s too independent, and just before she’s about to starve, she discovers her surprise inheritance.  There are some murders and some mysteries as well as human trafficking, and yet, it’s still a light Read.

Two short stories by O Henry- The Ransom of Red Chief and Tobin’s Palm- both amusing, with Red Chief being the funnier of the two.

The Importance of the Electoral College by Dr. George Grant- “The architecture of the Electoral College established a procedure wherein the Republic’s Chief Executive would be chosen by the people as citizens of the States in which they reside.”  We don’t really have a single national election, we have fifty State elections on the same day.  This is so the President will be accountable to the citizens of each state. The various states have very different interests and the President should know about and try to represent all of them. Otherwise, in a winner takes all vote system (which we have never had), the presidential     candidates could completely ignore the middle states and just campaign in thhe two or three most populace states, which a recent candidate attempted to do and thus lost the election. It’s frustrating to me to try to explain this to people who hate the electoral college. They are recalcitrant in their lack of understanding that we are not a simple majority rules democratic form of government- and never were intended to be. WE’re a republic with a federal government, and it matters. The fact that we’ve grown so much larger both geographically and population wise is not a reason to dump the electoral system, it’s a reason to keep it. It keeps the Chief Executive paying heed to the varying needs and interests of the different states. We are not all Californians, and we are not all Minnestoans or Dakotans, either, and citizens of each of the States have some right to expect their President will have some knowledge of their respective concerns.

If we’re going to do away with the electoral college, then we would also need to look at something other than a simple majority. AFter all, Woodrwo Wilson received less than 42% of the vote, Truman and Kennedy receives less than half, Nixon and Clinton won with only 43% of the vote.
The president needs broad cross-national support or else the candidate could simply pander to a populous area, promise them the moon in exchange for votes and use the rest of the nation as a dump for the waste of the most populous states.

This little book explains that well enough. The chapters are short, and the book includes a copy of the pertinent sections of the constitution. It is a bit dated, in that it spends overmuch time on the election of 2000, but that’s understandable. Each chapter opens with a brief quote related to liberty, government,or specifically our government. Unfortunately, at least one of them is spurious- Grant relied a bit too much on Barton and David Barton allowed his enthusiasm to outstrip his careful scholarship in some cases.

Foundation of a Biblical Worldview by G. Thomas Sharp– a slim little volume. It was intended to be the first of a series, and may have been republished with the others here, I am not sure.

Some of it I agreed with, some I didn’t, some was very interesting for reasons not really related to the book itself.  From my notes: Secularization is the source of America’s problems, the foundation of that secularization is Darwinism, including the industrial revolution and its dehumanization of workers, however at the same time claims ‘trend toward secularization of Christian thought can be ‘traced to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas’ (from the intro, but a Thomas Reid), and other places blames the enlightenment and renaissance eras.

Prefers term Hebrew- Christian to Judeo-Christian because he says Judeo-Christian is too connected to Zionism.

Culturally we are no longer either, but rather pagan largely because one generation (I think the 50s-80s) taught one worldview and lifestyle regarding biblical truths and God, but actually lived as if they did not believe what they were teaching.

He recommends all Christians be careful students of the Bible and then compare their attitudes, goals, and values with what they read. I can agree with that.

This was interesting because of the cultural implications (which you all know I am hungrily devouring while living in the Philippines)- Presuppositions, preconceptions, sets of assumptions, dominatn theoretical framework- these are nearly impossible for us to recognize in ourselves, and yet they filter everything,they determine what we see, how we see it, how we interpret it. These invisible filters, compasses, calibrations actually determine what we think is interesting and worth studying (what we even notice in the first place), how we respond to information.  We truly almost never challenge our own worldview because we almost never even recognize those underlying presuppositions.  We interpret new information through them and ignore or reject observations or conclusions which contradict our own presuppositions.

We are vulnerable to cultural sins for those reasons.  Hebrews 12:1- the sin that besets us could be interpreted as the sin that surrounds us, the surrounding encompassing sins, sin which clings too easily…

He quotes Alfred North Whitehead, and this quote is one all of us should consider:

“…students of the history of ideas should not look for those ideas which are under constant discussion in any age, but instead should look for those basic assumptions which are so fundamental to a man’s way of thinking that he does not even realize he is assuming them. ”

The Russian Revolution: History in an Hour
By: Rupert Colley
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
Series: History in an Hour
Length: 1 hr and 20 mins

I like the History in an Hour series, and I like Keeble as a reader. The History in an Hour series is useful for review, helpful as an introduction. By nature, most of them have to be a somewhat superficial overview. You can’t cover the Russian Revolution in depth in two hours, let alone 80 minutes (this one is a bit over an hour). But the recordings in this set are usually very inexpensive and accessible and give you some background and highlights that will help smooth your path should you pursue more in depth studies.

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