• Learning and Exploring

    10 Questions to Consider Before Addressing a Controversial or Sensitive Subject

    If the answer to any of these is “no,” please stop right there and re-evaluate and be quiet.

    1. Is your desire to add a layer of concrete information or analysis?
    2. Are your emotions in check and are you well aware you might me wrong?
    3. Are you addressing a specific, well-defined, and significant issue?
    4. Are you an important voice for your sphere or forum?
    5. Is the issue or your understanding of it unique?
    6. Can you clearly define the error?
    7. Will you use formal and informal logic, scholarly resources, and critical reasoning with good interpersonal communication skills to address the error and point other people towards helpful resources?
    8. If there is good, will you acknowledge it?
    9. If someone offers a valid counter-point or counter-argument will you answer it?
    10. Are you going to change or align your own life with your views (not merely tell others how to act)?
  • Daily Life

    Link Love: Character

    Advice from a mom. I have a hard enough time responding sometimes.

    How to deal with nightmare guests one and two. And perhaps how to see if you are one. One of the
    most aggravating things about rude people is when hosts don’t deal with them.

    The comment in section six of this blog post. Um, that should be a caution/stop sign for us!!! I’m really good at dredging things up that I’ve done, I’ve got a good memory, I’m sensitive to reactions, but what if I didn’t know/wasn’t thinking about the reaction, didn’t see the reaction?

    Honesty online. Ranting, raving,  and complaining ties in here. People do that too much with friends, and it’s never a good idea at work, why would it be online? It is not fake to be “reserved.” To be careful. The Internet isn’t your diary, oversharing (over-familiarity) repels, oversharing creates a false sense of knowing people. Online you are missing a relationship, you are missing body language and tone and context (hello, why all emotional and subjective issues are dangerous online).

    Gratefulness list. This isn’t new, but sometimes hearing an idea in a different way makes it seem more appealing.

  • Learning and Exploring

    Character Links

    I know I’ve been bombarding you all with links, but I’ve been trying to declutter my bookmarks and putting links in posts is a way to share and save.

    Traits of people with high EQ (and fully functioning and ethical conscience; I posted a link about the dangers of high EQ earlier, this is a very important point to consider)
  • Daily Life

    Balance in Hospitality

    The best way to deal with issues is with preemptive measures like these: 

    ~Limit number of guests.

    ~Limit time.

    ~Ask other people to bring food.

    ~Set up a clean-up plan so all family members help.

    ~Put out toys, games, etc. that are durable and put away anything easily broken or precious.

    ~Limit range of house and grounds (make sure the parents and their children both hear).

    Passive aggressiveness only enables the offendors to hurt other unwary hosts, and unforgiveness or harshness hurts the sensitive or sane guests, so

    ~Ignore irritations and small issues, don’t make guests feel bad for small issues (or even some bigger issues); they should still feel welcome if they act like sane people. Just make sure boundaries are clear. Here are some books on hospitality. My family has always been hospitable, so our problem is not with welcoming.

    ~Respectfully ask for help or cessation (depending on the situation) when guests are continually excessively inconsiderate.

    ~Address the beyond rude guests with their sin strongly (we’ve had a HUGE issue, so I’m not talking about the above).

    I cannot share the major issues, but I will share one lesser issue. We had an irate neighbor (of course, I think this neighbor looks for offense; they’ve watched us in our yard and clearly weren’t thrilled that a family of 6 kids moved next door) ring our doorbell about guest kids trespassing (and another innocent guest had to answer the door and take the heat); we have 3 acres, that is plenty of room to explore.

    How to be a good guest.

  • Learning and Exploring

    How to Deal with the News Links

    Yes, I know the election is old news, but these are (mostly) general and timeless attitudes and responses.

    A safe and hospitable home no matter the news and ways to cope with the news cycle and paying attention to news close to home

    Ways to pray on election day

    News consumption News is biased in so many ways. One major way is toward anger and fear and gloom and doom. That is not honest.

    Opinions and beliefs are not the same thing

    9 Sins the Church is Okay With All of these are quite tied to this posts title, believe me. Along with a dose of arrogance and self-righteousness

    Kind over Epic

    And Lord of Ring responses to the world and evil This is a serious article and quite good

  • Reading

    Code Name Verity and Insensitivity Regarding WWII

    Takes a deep breath before exploding

    Even though I consider Code Name Verity is a waste of reading time, I still appreciate the ability to juxtapose my impression of it next to All the Light We Cannot See and The Book Thief. Both novels use shadows and hints and impressions to create the fear and horror of the war without stooping to the inferior and disgusting method of graphically detailing the abominations for a sort of violence voyeurism. My understanding of all the novels is of course based in in my somewhat different knowledge of WWII. I still prefer The Book Thief. Characterization is FAAAAAR better in this novel. But All the Light We Cannot See is more accurate in reproducing the feeling of surreal horror without graphically painting all the horror.
    Code Name Verity is a trivial, insensitive, shallow, silly WWII story. Such a stupid 10-year-old “girl power” story has no place in the gritty, horrifying history of WWII. But the worst of it was that the fantastic plot is INCREDIBLY disrespectful
    I mentioned the disrespect to my sister, and I meant disrespect to the real heroes, the men and women who self-sacrificed to save others in what compared to this ludicrous book would seem a “hum drum” way. My sister thought I meant disrespect to victims. That is true too, for many of the same reasons and more. WWII is not some sort of freak show to watch. *
    The author of the book apparently forgets how weak we are when we are merely hungry or frightened. How much more are we when terrified, starving, isolated, sleep-deprived, tortured, depressed, and injured all at once? In such a situation, basic efforts are a struggle. This novel exhibits an incredible level of ignorance of humanity, war, trauma, and history. And yet in this fantastic novel a pampered genius could originate a mind-boggling elaborate plot in code under all the deprivation and trauma. This ridiculously unreal ability devalues the work of the real people who went through real deprivation and real trauma.  
    I don’t think people really understand or take WWII seriously enough. I am not well-versed in it; I’m not a historical scholar (nor is anyone who does summary “research” for a “historical” novel). I took a lower level class but most of what I remembered was first-hand accounts of American soldiers. The textbook focused on war strategies and battles. I don’t have a good grasp of what happened on the Continent to the civilians, to the prisoners, etc. I don’t know Gestapo methods. I do know much more about the Eastern Front, the history of the horror there that led up to the war because of my graduate level Stalinism class. I know how Stalin and Hitler destroyed people between them. I know some nightmarish stories that are censured from popular history books. I don’t appreciate the gung-ho American attitude. The greatest generation attitude. The mighty heroes. How about we understand the devastation first? War isn’t so clear cut, especially on motivation. People, we weren’t fighting to stop the Holocaust. And yes, people did know it was happening (and I’m skeptical about the lack of knowledge of what Stalin did too; I feel like we should’ve, could’ve seen through the sham tours and show trials). I’m reading a history of Israel now, and the Allies don’t appear like such heroes. Antisemitism is an insidious sin.
    *Hogan’s Heroes could be legitimately criticized for disrespect too, but I think that something that purports to be serious is worse.

  • Learning and Exploring

    Minimalism, Hoarding, and Excess

    I’m not naturally a minimalist but the concept of controlling excess is not novel although minimalism has made it trendy. The concept was partially practiced in our family. My mom tried to keep our toys in control, we weren’t given allowances, we usually only shopped for clothes seasonally on an as needed basis. I had clothes as a 20 year old that my parents bought me as a young teenager. But we also were sentimental and as homeschoolers, we had a lot of books even though we used the library regularly.

    As as teenager and young adult, I had a problem keeping my room clean; to the point my mom would occasionally point out that it was a fire hazard. I would systematically reorganize and rearrange my room, but it was physically and emotionally exhausting, and I hardly got rid of anything and kept buying more, and so of course I could not keep it neat. Over the last year or so, every time I’ve reorganized this I’ve gotten rid of stuff. I also not been able to buy as much.

    Minimalism and hoarding are parts of an continuum (I’m a little obsessed with continuums, especially since people construct false dichotomies with issues that are actually on continuums). Hoarding is at one extreme and asceticism at the other. I dislike extremes in grey areas (its a GREY area for crying out loud). Find what works for you and cut everything else out. I have a lot of things I want to minimize both physical and electronic.

    I want to track my spending this year like I read about here although I’m not going to institute any ban. My major areas of stuff are arts and crafts, clothing, books, “for the future” and decor, and beauty. I need to constantly monitor everything because although I’ve cut down considerably, I need to always comb through to make certain everything is still relevant to my wants and needs, to ensure I’m using up perishables and art and craft supplies or throwing away broken or worn items, and to make sure I’m not rebuilding my hoard.

  • Daily Life

    Excess: Oversharing and Uncontrolled Emotion

    A couple years ago I heard a lot about authenticity in blogging with the implication that not sharing everything is always deceptive. I really appreciated this simple post addressing these issues.

    Another way people talk about this issue is “being vulnerable.” Here is an article on vulnerability from a Christian perspective. Authenticity and holiness.

    And, sorry, not sorry, some laughs. I must throw in this bit of humor about our absurdly selfish and shallow emotional age. Here is an outrage app. And for when you’ve about had it when a condescending celebrity of any sort self-righteously, insincerely preaches his or her opinion to his or her echo-chamber.

  • Daily Life

    Link Love: Drama Llama

    Sometimes we need to laugh about the drama, sometimes its too ridiculous and too continual to take seriously

    Cut the Drama Lighthearted vlog about drama

    But sometimes we do need to take it seriously

    Being in the Know Is Not a Virtue (p.s. it actually can be a vice). We all have curiosity (otherwise known as nosiness, busybodyness, etc.)

    A lot of drama is cause by intentional misunderstanding and misleading and being easily offended and slow to listen, but sometimes people have difficulty interpreting and need to slow down and ask when they really care. And others may need to explain.

    A Tough Bible Verse to Inspire Shutting Up

    And of course, Pinterest helps explain everything

    THINK I’ve seen this on signs for this house, a good idea

    Those who start drama and my sympathy

  • Reading

    On Leaving Books Unfinished

    I feel that I have put down more and more books down. I think it is probably because I have spent more time actively trying new books. Anyway, I wanted to talk about my vague reasoning behind choosing to discontinue a book.

    All of this is intuitive for me mostly. I just like to think out or hear others think out why we do or ought to do things. There are so many things that I feel instinctively are wrong but am not able to express why. Anyway, I am happy to eventually get to the point when I can figure out a sound reason for the why of what I sense.

    Content Concerns
    I think we all know the content issues: immorality, vulgarity, foul language, violence, revenge, etc. But we don’t want perfect books with boring characters . . . i.e. total unreality. And the previously mentioned list would limit historical fiction to about zip. Some good concepts to consider are both how the issue is presented and how it is described. Is it overly graphic or intended for vicariousness? Is the author sympathetic to the action? I find understated descriptions, implied actions, and hints to be faaaaar more effective in eliciting emotion and far less desensitizing.

    Quality Concerns
    When we read pointless and poorly written writing our aesthetic discernment and mental acumen is weakened in the same way more serious content concern deadens the conscience. And an exciting plot does not equal a good book. Actually, sometimes exciting plots are quite ridiculous. Melodrama is no substitute for art. “Grittiness” and “realism” is no substitute for talent.

    I find it far easier to put away troubling books than candy-fluff books. I need to work on selectivity, especially since reading is a leisure activity.

  • Learning and Exploring

    Not Finishing Books, Unpronounceable Foods, and Learning to be Cultured.

    So, I picked up a YA novel from an author I had seen mentioned in the blog-sphere. And foul language smacked me in the face. So much. I skimmed it, teetering in my mind. No, there was NO justification.

    I started The Sound and the Fury; it sucked me in but confused me, so I was impatient to find out the story via Wikipedia. I flipped ahead. Wait, what. Perhaps I had better put it down. Wikipedia. Yeah, not quite as bad as I thought, but still no.

    My brother and sister-in-law watching a certain old film for “culture.” I looked it up, familiar with the name, not the plot, no.

    I am sorry, but grovelling in the dirt no matter how gilded the medium makes said dirt CANNOT be a good activity. And there ARE more uplifting aspects of culture. I understand facing some of the evil in the world, yes. But not wallow in it like a pig, especially in fiction. Find some real reality.

    I know how to find good, well-written books. I can find classic movies. But there are some areas in which I have no point of reference (opera) or feel awkward (gourmet food, at least the pronunciation).

    Here is a lovely blog set up to help some of us who feel like country bumpkins to inspire ourselves to be cultured. I already tried to at least set standards for better reading, but I need to work better in other areas of high culture. Maybe become a little more aware (gag) of some pop culture aspects.

    Now before I go on, let me say that one can still be cultured without being obsessed with certain genres. A person does not have to like every single famous book, film, etc. A person is not truly cultured if he has not cultivated his own tastes nor is a snob truly cultured, etiquette is important too. Nor do I think that a person ought to only be interested in high culture. That is rather flat and one-dimensional. And of course merely knowing some information while possessing no skills is not truly cultured. Yes, I know I sound like Miss Bingley, but I consider such things as walking on country roads an essential part of a person’s repertoire of activities.

    I have taken up piano again after close to a decade hiatus, and while it is still quite apparent that I am not gifted in this area, I still enjoy playing. I need to pursue a study of music and musicals.

    I also am using Duolingo. Let me just say that my Latin professors were the best. The carefully taught grammar allowed me to more easily pursue other languages. I plan on ordering tons of note cards, dictionaries, and grammar books to supplement. I also want to pursue some way of conversing in foreign languages, but for now I am doing so much better than before.

    I want to formulate a list of subjects to study and skills to learn.