Short Lessons and Readings

line-of-childrenIt seems counter-intuitive to stop a book or a lesson while the child is still enjoying it, but there are reasons.  We have touched on many of them here before– but here’s another, gleaned from a story by Ina Hervey:

“The hour devoted to this exercise flew by so rapidly, that the children could scarcely realize that it was time to go home, and coaxed to stay longer ; but their teacher was too wise to exhaust their enthusiasm by granting their request. Even their recess was partially occupied by lively discussions on the relative beauty of their discoveries.”

We don’t want to ‘exhaust their enthusiasm.’  We want them coming again to the next lesson with their appetites and interest still seasoned by the sauce of curiosity.  Don’t glut their appetite for learning more.

Posted in education | 1 Response

Media: I don’t care, and you are the reason why.

Obama sentenced whistleblowers to 31 times the prison time as all previous presidents combined.   The press did not really give that fact much coverage.  Perhaps they were afraid.

But I am supposed to be outraged that President Trump called on some other media source before the AP.

“All hype and spin.” “Restrictive in every sense of the word.” “Cramped and windowless.” “Locked.” That’s how just four reporters described the job in Politico Magazine’s second annual survey of the White House press corps, with nearly 70 journalists weighing in on what it’s really like to on the presidential beat. ”  From a Politico source.  Politico was incredibly friendly to both Obama and Hillary, they show up as lapdogs in the Podesta emails.

But it’s absolutely the end of Democracy as we know it that Spicer might have lied to the press about the size of the inauguration crowd (more likely, the press chose not to understand him, as he was speaking of airwave audience as well).

Chilling and Orwellian is essentially what Obama’s approach to the press is being described as here.

CNN has a very long history of idolizing totalitarian governments.

Remember when a judge slammed Obama’s DOJ for lying to him and other unethical behavior in amnesty case?

The fake story about Mike Flynn and Russia was fake, but super important.  Obama’s secret meeting with Iran? Yawn.

Media complicity in Obama’s dishonesty over same sex marriage.

Obama spied on Journalists and the media overlooked it.  Trump tells some social media lackeys at a Federal Agency to stop using their position to stir the pot (again, a FEDERAL agency, which is supposed to represent the policies of the currenty head of the FEderal government, i.e. The President currently serving), and now the media cares about something the President does?

Trump has every right to ask the EPA to stop representing the previous office holder’s policies.  And even if he didn’t, why would I care any more?


Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Responses

Share their food

As missionaries go, we are possibly the least trained, officially speaking, of anybody here. It’s okay for the most part, from our end. But I can’t imagine this is a good choice for a young family just starting out who have zero overseas experience and not much cross cultural interaction anywhere. And probably any other country but the Philippines the lack of training would be more problematic as well, but they are very open and friendly and accepting here, and forgiving of strange foreigner’s odd ways and occasional rudeness.

Other young missionaries here talk about the intensive reading and training and moving and teaching and studying they had to do and everything they went through for five years and then ask how long ours was, and we shuffle our feet and grin sheepishly and ask, “Training? Um. Life. it took all our lives up until now.” But I know what they mean, and they are horrified we have none, and I do understand why. I expect there are things we would be doing more effectively if we’d had that training, although for us it’s not quite the same as they are imagining.

Otoh, Funny story. We share a household helper with one of the nicest, most helpful young couples here who went through the five years of training including having to live in Manilla first and be disciples by more experienced missionaries there for two or three years, and learn the language. They have her two days a week and so do we. She’s a great find, a real treasure in many ways and I’ll share more about her another time. But anyway- so they have all this extensive training and are really shocked that we have had none and very worried about us, and consequently, very, very good to us.

Yesterday our shared helper was at my house and I served Filipino food for lunch. She was shocked, and very excited and happy and kept going on and on about how amazing it was that we eat Filipino food already even though we have only been here one month. Then she found out we eat street food, too- off the carts on the sidewalks, from peddlers wheeling carts through the street. She was practically dancing in glee. I didn’t really think it was a big deal. Of course we eat it. It’s what’s here. It’s delicious. It’s affordable. And also, seafood is fresher than ever in my life except Okinawa days and Washington state- and amazing and very affordable, even cheap, and I’ve been trapped inland for 12 years.

“You eat seafood?” She was shocked. She wanted me to tell her what seafood we eat. I started naming them. I get points because I know 3 of them by their Visayan names, although I don’t deserve points because I had them the first time here and when I asked what it was and somebody said Bangus, I said okay. It’s Bangus. It’s like admiring somebody for knowing pizza is pizza when that’s the only thing they ever heard it called.

“Do you know,” she asked me, ” the ….. family, there is not a single thing that comes from the ocean that they will eat, except fish in a can!!” She says they want her to teach them to cook Filipino food but it cannot have fish or seaweed in it. That’s more than half the food here. The previous family she worked for were Korean missionaries at the school, and they only ate Korean food. So she is just amazed and delighted to discover there’s nothing we won’t try (except balut. Nobody is up for that. Fortunately, she says she hates it, too), and nothing we’ve had yet that we don’t like.

We do eat American food here. We have had a lot of pizza and Mexican food. I get the yearnings for things with the right texture and scent. But in spite of our lack of official training, we have scored an astonishing number of points with lots of local people just by being willing to eat local food. There is something, as has been said before, almost sacred, sacramental, about sharing food together.

Posted in Davao Diary | 1 Response

Reading: Sea of Skulls

Vox Day’s Sea of Skulls
The prologue and opening chapter feature a stomach churning horrible attack on a local feudal lord’s holdings and a subsequent rape of the only survivor by orcs and a favorable description of a intimate union between a sorcerer and a young woman who possesses latent magical talents. Because of a dire shortage of magical practitioners in the land (they are born, not made, it’s genetic) the King has insisted that all females who show any magical ability must come the Kingdom capital and live at a sort of elevated, special brothel where they consort with magicians until they have birthed 2 magical children, whereafter they may regain their freedom and marry if they wish. They lose their magic in the process.

The male character in this coupling is relieved that in the performance of his ‘duties’ he has happened upon a lass who isn’t a ‘whiner’ about her horrible lot in life, but is making the best of the situation by using her time for self development with an eye to improving her station in life when she is allowed to marry. To be fair, the whining remark is the viewpoint of a character, not necessarily that of the author. I don’t know what he thinks (and am not interested in arguing the question). It is the kind of thing you’d expect from the character. Also this series is Day’s answer to George R. R. Martin and his fans, and as such and by comparison the rape scenes here are practically children’s fairy tales.

While I can, through the eye of cold logic, see the merit in the king’s plan (sorcerors are an integral part of the kingdom’s defense and an orc army the likes of which has never been seen before is sweeping through the land, a scourge against which all defenses have proven useless) and the merits of making the best of what cannot be helped, I am a human and not a robot and I found the ‘whining’ comment distasteful ,to put it ridiculously mildly.

However, that said, once on the other side of those opening scenes, I found the rest of the book a rollicking good read with much to recommend it. It’s part two of a series, I read the first and liked it. The third isn’t published yet.
Middle Earth meets Roman Legions meets Middle Ages, and it’s a surprisingly effective and enjoyable mix. Aside from those first two bits, I recommend it without reservations.

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Religion as a Museum Piece

Filipinos Writing: Philippine Literature From the Regions, edited by Bienvenido Lumbera

I am thoroughly enjoying this anthology and most of the editorial commentary and background information. I have checked it out from the school library and will probably have to check it out again.


“Missionary and bureaucratic reports during the Spanish period highlighted the ‘barbarism’ of the Ygolotes, while American ethnographic surveys usually reinforced Western concepts of the irrational and therefore incomprehensible ‘primitive.’ These colonial records served colonialist ends. “
In the 1900s Americans built roads and enabled more travel in the region “The insulation of many villages came to an end as migrants from the lowland provinces began to settle in different parts of the region and Christian culture intruded into native lifeways.”
Isn’t that an interesting choice of verbs? The Christian culture ‘intruded’ all on its own. He could have also said ‘was embraced, and subsequently the natives altered their lifeways” or created new lifeways. Or you could more neutrally merely observe that Christian culture, once introduced and accepted by natives, prompted changes in the culture. There are reasons why it was more likely to have been accepted, even welcomed, than to have ‘intruded’ like a thief in the night, unwelcome and unwanted:

“Although there are differences in their religious pantheons (of the various ethnic groups living in this area)
The peoples of the Cordillera are one in their interpretation of the relationship between human and supernatural beings. On the whole, they consider the supernatural world as hostile to the world of mortals. The gods are generally regarded as spiteful beings, and their anger or displeasure is often cited as the cause of various afflictions. They must therefore be constantly mollified through prayers, sacrifice, and rituals. This attitude toward the deities is also extended to the spirits of the dead, who are frequently blamed for the misfortune of mortals. They too must be appeased. Also widespread in the Cordillera is the belief that communication between human and supernatural beings has to be mediated “(by priests or shamans).
..The lyrics of the ballads and even of many ritual songs are remarkable for their concreteness, with the imagery that establishes the connection of these songs to the affairs of daily life and to phenomena of the spirit world. This is especially so in the case of songs and chants recorded in the past, when the integrity of communal life had not yet been sullied by concerns extrinsic to the community, and native singers could still tap a rich repository of metaphors in the social and ritual life of their .. village… Many recent samples gathered by teachers and researchers lack the sensuousness of the old pieces. Even more disturbing is the disappearance of many types of songs and chants because of changing mores and the spread of Christianity in the Cordillera. As more Cordillera natives embrace the Christian faith and adopt the lifestyle of lowland Filipinos, the number and frequency of traditional rituals diminish. The decline of ritual activities is naturally accompanied by a decrease in the folklore associated with rituals. Nowhere is this decrease more dramatically shown than is the mythology of the Cordillera peoples. “
The editor speaks of sad loss of much rich religious ritual (the old religion, the one which held the natives in bondage to spiteful gods who constantly require appeasement to keep them from mucking up your life and spoiling your crops and striking you or your loved ones dead, and who must be placated and communicated with via shamans, mediums, and priests, and some ceremonies are only for the rich), in a culture which was formerly “permeated by religious ritual in almost every aspect of life” One people group included over a thousand deities and “as to be expected, a complex system of rituals and myths has developed around the major divinities and the lesser gods of this polytheistic society.”

“biased accounts say the natives of the Cordillera are lacking in morals. Many native cultural practices and forms of social behavior which are strange to the biased outsider are immediately ascribed to the native’s deficiency in ethical standards. This is, of course, a misapprehension. Cordilera myths are full of references to codes of conduct and social values which must be upheld by every member of society. The significance of moral norms may also be found distilled in the rich proverb lore of the region.”
It’s always odd to read accusations of bias from an equally biased but unaware observer, but what I find quite astonishing is how many pages it took before we learned, almost in passing, that among these ethical values, codes of conduct and social values was the practice of head-hunting. And in a culture which prized head-hunting and the warrior spirit, one ethnologist who had been collecting riddles from one group laments that with the onslaught of contact with the outside world, the head-hunters now include ‘disturbing images like guns and soldiers.’
We could speak also of the death of Christianity, and lament the sad loss of much rich religious ritual in American or European cultures which formerly were also permeated by religious ritual in almost every aspect of life”. Which of these ethnobiologists would share my sorrow that the education of the young is no longer firmly rooted in Christian traditions, that nearly all the citizens of every town can no longer be seen at worship together with other members of the community in their various congregations, that public prayers are scorned and our codes of conduct and social values have been altered by the intrusion of popular culture and lawsuits forcing small bakeries, pizzerias, and photography studios to participated in celebrations that are anathema to their own ‘native cultural practices, forms of social behavior, and ethical values.’ This not respect for these natives as fully faceted human beings with free agency and deep spiritual needs and desires. It is respect for them as museum exhibits and collector’s pieces.

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