Truer Than True

 

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I love to read statements made by authors (or their characters) that are even more true today than when they were written. The following examples are some that have jumped out at me in the past couple of years. I have ordered them backwards chronologically.

⇒  “I wouldn’t be surprised if a show about nudists was a hit…_ “ – I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (2010) 

Now we have Dating Naked, Naked and Afraid, and a host of others

⇒  “Look at television, Father had said- Dad is shown as a dummy who stumbles around and breaks things and gets into trouble, usually to be rescued by a small child or a pet. Children watch hours of this junk every week.” – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor (1985)

A 2001 study by Erica Scharrer in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media found that the number of times a mother told a joke at the father’s expense increased from 1.80 times per episode in the 1950s to 4.29 times per episode in 1990.

⇒  “We aren’t persecuted very much nowadays, we Christians, at least not overtly. But in point of fact there is a good bit of sub-rosa persecution, ridiculing if not reviling. In children’s books, death and sex used to be taboo, Now death and sex are “in”, and Christianity is the new taboo; other religions are appreciated, Buddhism, Hinduism, the pre-Christian Druidism; Christianity is not tolerated. And not only in children’s literature. It has been made taboo by those who do not understand it … of course we intelligent people don’t need God and we certainly aren’t interested in the cross. Only those poor people who aren’t strong enough on their own go in for the false promises of religion. – The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle (1977)

All I can say is this is even more prevalent today than ever before. I see it not only in children’s literature, but on TV programs, in the news, on social media.

⇒  “We have – particularly in the United States, particularly in the suburbs – allowed ourselves to live in a child-centered world; the children have become more important to the parents than the parents are to each other; and suddenly the children grow up and leave the nest and the parents find themselves alone with each other, and discover with horror that there is nobody there.” – A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle (1972)

Wow! It was surprising to me to hear her talk about a child-centered world in 1972. Today’s world is even more child-centered, from play-dates and birthday party productions to travel sports teams.

⇒  “When a city begins to grow and spread outward from the edges, the center which was once its glory is in a sense abandoned to time. Then the buildings grow dark and a kind of decay sets in; poorer people move in as rents fall, and small fringe businesses take the place of once flowering establishments.” – Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck (1961)

I’ve seen this happen in Jacksonville and have seen the results of it in Birmingham. Both of these towns have and are making efforts to bring people back to the city centers.

⇒  “Today, the language of advertising enjoys an enormous circulation. With its deliberate infraction of grammatical rules and its crossbreeding of the parts of speech, it profoundly influences the tongues and pens of children and adults.” – An E.B. White Reader, from the chapter titled “Prefer the Standard to the Offbeat “ by E.B. White (1959).

Here are some examples of intentional infractions in advertising:

“More power. More style. More technology. Less doors.” – Mercedes breaks the grammar rule that says “less” is used with mass nouns and “fewer” with countable nouns: “Door” is a countable noun; ergo, we’re obliged to say “fewer doors.”

“For hair and/or body, or both.” (Old Spice)

“Got milk?”

 

 

A Walk in the Woods

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Moss Rock Preserve – 5/17/17

 

A Walk in the Woods

there in pieces of sunlight
through pieces of shadowlight
cardinal swoops down, takes flight
filtered memories alight
anchored by sound and by sight
lifted by a breeze so light
scamper of chittering squirrel
dreams unfurled are not finite

This poem was written in response to a Wednesday Prompt , pieces, by Robert Brewer, using the Cyrch a Chwta poem form. Cyrch a Chwta is a Welsh poetic form which involves both end rhyme and internal (or cross) rhymes.

You may also enjoy this “pieces” poem by Sarah Lea:  The First Mr. DeWinter .

 

Urban Dreamer

When I saw the prompts for PAD day seven was Urban _____, I thought right away of all my trips to downtown Jacksonville and Birmingham.

Urban Dreamer

Driving in from the suburbs
To the city
Where the homeless and the yuppies coexist
Though not quite rubbing shoulders

I stroll the streets
Sipping a latte
Browsing the bookstore
Admiring history and graffiti
Wishing to be a part of it all

Kid Picks for Martin Luther King Day

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Martin Luther King Day is January 18th It has been a national holiday since 1983 and a school holiday for most children.  A chance for kids to stay home and chill. But, what if they spent some of that day reading about why they are home in the first place?

There are numerous fictional stories aimed at kids that bring to life the real struggle for civil rights. These stories can open eyes better than many a dry history lesson. I’m not saying as a replacement, but as an addition. In elementary and intermediate school it’s easier for teachers to integrate lessons and subjects, but in middle school it takes more effort and planning. That being said, what follows is a short list of well-written books that teachers could use, parents could suggest, or kids might just pick up and read. I’ve read each of these, and I’m sure there are many others out there.

 

FRANCIE, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, is a good look at life before the Civil Rights movement made its way on the scene.  This wonderfully written story, by Karen English, takes place in the 40s or 50s in rural Alabama. Written from the viewpoint of the title character, Francie Weaver, it tells of a life of hard work and discrimination, and how sometimes you just have to stick your neck out for the less fortunate.

 

THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, 1963, written by Christopher Paul Curtis, is one of my favorite middle-grades books.  In fact, it tied in to the original title of my blog, now called Carry Me Home. This story begins and ends in Flint, Michigan, with a trip to B’ham in the middle.  Readers will laugh and cry along with the Watson family as the kids experience the south for the first time.

As in many coming of age stories, there is a loss of innocence and a struggle with the knowledge that the world is a complex place. This happens not only with the main character, Kenny, but also with his older brother, Byron. Though filled with humor, this book deals with racial issues in a way that opens the eyes of the reader.

 

GLORY BE is a middle-grades novel  by Augusta Scattergood. The story takes place in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer, 1964.

Glory is the main character who turns twelve on July Fourth, in the midst of a very unsettling time in the fictional town of Hanging Moss. (There is a real neighborhood called Hanging Moss East in Jackson, MS). The book is well written and keeps the attention of the reader. There are numerous other characters, including her sister Jesslyn; old friend-enemy-friend Frankie; new friend Laura; and the new guy in town who looks just a bit like Elvis. The author did her homework to make the story believable and accurate.

 

CROSSING JORDAN was written by an author who has a real heart for children.  “Sometimes an author writes a book because they feel they have to do something. CROSSING JORDAN is that kind of book. I wrote it for the girl next door and for any other kid who is being taught prejudice at home,” says Adrian Fogelin. I heard  Fogelin speak at a writers’ conference   and have since followed her on facebook and at her blog.

This book is a story of friendship amidst the backdrop of prejudice circa 2000. Cassie (white) tells the story of her budding friendship with Jemmie (black) who has moved in next door.  Set in Florida, where the author lives, it is a touching and believable story.

 

The books in this selection are suitable for younger children, also. And for adults, like me, who enjoy a good story no matter the recommended reading level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editing and Grace

Last week’s lesson for my #capturetheham group was on editing. Our fearless leader (yes, the one willing to step into the road for a good photo op) gave us all kinds of tips and app recommendations for editing our photos right on our phones.

photo by Jamie Golden

                    photo by Jamie Golden

I’ve downloaded one called TouchReTouch – I have an android and it was $1.99. Check out the before and after below:

before

       before – Taken at Cahaba Lily Park

after

                              after

Jamie also applied the idea of editing to not just photos but to life. I think her take was on the idea of editing out unimportant things and keeping the important ones. Which to me means taking a look at my life and seeing what I need to edit out. There isn’t an app for that. There also isn’t an app that can edit our past to make it look better. Oh, I think we all often try to. And it would be wonderful to be able to edit out all the bloopers like I did in the photo.

The better thing is forgiveness. God can and does forgive sin. My job as a Christian is to work toward the goal of having less that needs editing, less that needs forgiving. I think that’s called growing in grace.

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever         2 Peter 3:18

Shadows and Reflections – Part Two

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This is a follow up to my post “Shadows and Reflections”

In the picture above the little boy has a shadow and a reflection. I wrote earlier about shadows; today I’m going to reflect on reflections (pardon the pun).

My first thoughts were on how, as a Christian, I should reflect Christ. Just how am I to do this? A simple look back at the Ten Commandments is a good start. Then the word ‘emulate’ came to mind. To emulate is to imitate, follow, copy, try to be like. To reflect is also to imitate. So, I can reflect Christ by imitating Him; trying to be like Him. There is no way I can do this perfectly. But, I am encouraged to press toward the goal.

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:14

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. – I Corinthians 13:12

Shadows and Reflections

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I’ve been thinking about this picture I took on Thursday of a little boy walking along the water at Railroad Park. He probably didn’t even notice his shadow or reflection, but I did. The first thought that popped into my mind was the poem My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson. My daughter memorized this in elementary school for a talent contest.

It starts like this –

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,

And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.

Today we hear people talk about “shadowing” someone. It means to follow around someone who is in a career you are interested in. In this case, shadowing is a choice. But, when it comes to our physical shadow, we have no choice – it follows us no matter what. It may be in front of us or behind us and we can’t outsmart it. Most of the time, like the little boy, we aren’t even aware of it. And when we do notice it, we may see it doesn’t even look like us. It may be taller, or shorter, or wider than we really are.  Our shadow is kind of like what people think of us. They may see our shy shadow and think we’re stuck-up; or our laughing shadow and not realize we are covering up our hurt.

You’ll find the word shadow many times in the Scriptures. Here are some of the most comforting –

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,

Psalm17:8

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

And most pointed –

Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow. – Psalm 144:4

The little boy also has a reflection in the water. Now, our reflection looks more like us, though the reflection in the water is kinder than the one in the mirror. I’ll REFLECT more on this in another post. 🙂