Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Libation for St. Luke

Today, October 18, is St. Luke's Day, and I have a drink for you in celebration of the feast day!

Now, I fully admit that the origin of this drink is a little silly - okay, more than a little silly: the origin of this drink is a pun.

St. Luke is sometimes referred to as "Luke the physician". So he's a doctor. And he lived during the days of the Roman Empire.

The drink is a rum & Dr. Pepper. (Like a rum & Coke, but oh-so-much better.)

A rum'n'doctor.

A Roman doctor.


I know, I know, I'm so sorry.

BUT. If you do want to raise a toast to St. Luke in all sincerity, and you'd like to use a punny drink to do so, here's how you make a St. Luke:

To make a "St. Luke":
-1 can Dr. Pepper

-1 oz. rum

Mix and enjoy! (Responsibly, as a legal adult, etc.)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica snell

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Notes: "The Sword Bearer" by John White

I've written about the other Anthropos books by John White here and here.

This one is a little different. The Anthropos books are Christian children's fantasy. And if the first few are a sort of allegories of the New Testament, this one is definitely an allegory of the old.

And as such, it's darker. Darker, and harder to read.

Nonetheless, despite the darkness, and despite the frustrating obtuseness of John, our protagonist, who is constantly choosing to be stubborn and wrong and stupid in the face of choices for goodness and mercy and right, this is a good book. (In fact, the truth is that John's stupid stubborness is all-too-recognizable-and-familiar, at least to this reader.)

I've been reading this book to my children in the evening, before our prayer and Bible reading. They draw or play with magnet sets while they listen to the story. And this book has inspired a lot of drawings. It's that kind of very visual fantasy world - easy to picture and to sink into.

And I guess I have to go back on what I said a bit: it's not all Old Testament allegory. A big part of the plot, especially in the beginning of the book, revolves around "the wine of free pardon".   I loved the inclusion of this simple analogy to the Eucharist. It means even more to me now than it did as a kid.

I guess the highest praise I can offer to this book is this: my son, Gamgee, swears that he dislikes this book when we're not in the middle of reading it, yet every time I picked it up and read another chapter, he was open-mouthed, caught up in the suspense of what's-going-to-happen-next, and eager as any of his sisters to hear how things would go for Jon, and Mab, and everyone else on the island.

This is a great read-aloud. I loved it when I was young, and I'm happy to say that now, as an adult, my kids love it too.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

scripture memorization as a type of copywork

Recently, in one of her blog posts, Melissa Wiley talked about the idea of daily doodling being "just another kind of copywork"

And aside from making me pull out my sketchbook again (no, really), it made me think about why people - artists, speakers, etc. - have classically trained by copying the greats. It's not an unusual idea, historically, to learn your craft by aping your betters. Now we might call it plagiarism - and it would be if you didn't give the person you were copying from credit - but it's not such a bad idea to learn what you want to learn by scrupulously copying folks who are really, really good at it. Yes, eventually you strike out on your own, and find your own new ideas and your own new ways, but you learn the method by copying the greats.

Think about it; it makes sense:

If you copy good writing, your brain and your hands get to experience what it feels like to write great words.

If you copy good painting, your brain and your hands get to experience what it's like to paint great work

And . . . if you memorize scripture, your brain and your heart get to experience what it is like to think like the great men of God who were directly inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Think about that. It's amazing! But anyone who has taken the time to sit and memorize scripture can tell you that it's true: if you memorize God's word, you will think in the patterns dictated by the Holy Spirit.

Read the Psalms through monthly, like monks do, and you will find yourself thinking along those lines whenever you hit a time of anxiety or stress or joy. "Blessed be the Lord!" you will hear yourself think, "who has not given us as a prey to their teeth!"

It will astonish you when it begins to happen. "Where did that come from?" you will wonder. But there it will be: the words of God, echoing in your own sinful head.

It's absolutely amazing. It's such a gift.

It's why we memorize scripture.

Because these rhythms of grace don't come naturally. But the lovely, stupid, pattern-loving structures of our very human brains thrive on memorization. They love repetition.

Like Chesterton says, it's that very childlike joy of "Do it again! Oh, do it again!" that lives down deep in our human brains.

And if your brain yells "do it again! say it again!" to the rhythms of scripture? Then you're that much further ahead when the Holy Spirit has something for you to hear.

The patterns of His own speech, His words, will already be there in your head.

It's just good training. It's just following the basic principles of good training.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekend Links: Letters, gospels, and more

"Pastor Saeed's Letter to His Daughter Rebekka":
I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY In your mind you are asking: WHY Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family.
"The Gospel, the Gospels and Rome - Where Do We Draw the Line?": Such a nice, long, chewy article.

"The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)":  My husband and I are determined to give this a try. It's exactly the kind of food we love eating and - portable! cool!

"Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Coffee":  And this one is cool because you can make the pumpkin-milk base ad keep it in the fridge for a few days. Mmmmmm . . . .

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Notes: "Cleaning House", by Kay Wills Wyma

I had to get this book. Of course I did. The premise was to good not to.

Teaching your kids to clean the house, in 12 easy months?  (And when, pray, did the idea of "12 months" become a manageable stretch of time in my eyes? Must have been sometime after I turned thirty . . .)

But, yes: I do want my kids to become capable adults. That's the whole point.

(Well, no. The whole point is to raise them up in the love and admonition of the Lord.

But after that? I would like them to be capable adults.)

This book did not leave me thinking that I wanted to follow the exact same schedule that the author did, but I was encouraged to give my children more responsibilities as they grow, and to remember that they can do a lot more than I assume they can.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Monday, October 6, 2014

follow-up on "Brother Ass"

Gustav Jaeger: Bileam und der Engel, PD-US, via Wikimedia Commons
This is a follow-up on my post "Brother Ass".

I ended up talking to my husband about that blog post - the one on bodies, emotions, and the prophet Balaam.  And in that conversation, and after reading comments on the original post, I realized that there was a little more that I needed to explain.

What I'm not saying
In that first post, I talked a bit about how our bodies and our emotions are inseparably tied together.  But here's the thing: when it comes to stress or anxiety or depression or the like, I'm not saying that it's all in your head. I'm not saying: make yourself feel better, and then you'll feel better.

I love traditional medicine.

I have traditional medicine to thank for the fact that my kids and husband are alive. My youngest two children were saved by modern medicine (monoamniotic twins) and so was my husband (melanoma).  My sight was restored by modern medicine (laser surgery!) and I've been grateful for antibiotics and vaccines time and time again.

And psychotropic drugs? They are a Godsend when you need them.

So I'm not saying: be happy and you'll be healthy. It's more complicated than that.

What I am saying
Our bodies, though, are more connected to our minds and our emotions than we'd like to believe that they are.

We want to believe that our feelings have nothing to do with our health. And that's just not true.

Of course, there are things we can't control, like genetic predispositions to depression. Or the brain development that results in autism. Or cancer striking out of the blue. Or so many, many other devastating illnesses, injuries, and conditions.

But what can't be denied is that our psychological states affect our bodily functions, and vice versa.

Stress results in cortisol spikes that lead to all manners of disease.

Or try going without sleep for a night or two in a row. You'll be as drunk as a sailor.  Or at least as same as makes no nevermind. You can mind-over-matter that.

God made us with bodies. Those bodies aren't something separate from us. They are part of us. They are not the whole of us, but they are us.

If you deny your body, you're a heretic. Having a body is part of what it means to be human. Your body is part of you. And it changes how you experience life and how you can experience life.

And sometimes, when you're particularly in denial, your body can be smarter than you are.

Your body might be what sees the danger before you can, like Balaam's ass was able to see the angel before he could.

Your body might warn you - by panic attacks, by back aches, by persistent lethargy - that you're living in a manner that is unsustainable.

St. Francis
St. Francis famously called his body "Brother Ass" - and that's where I got the title for these blog posts.

Because our bodies are like that. They are dumb animals - dumb until God grants them speech.

And then they tell us what we really need to know. They warn us about the angels in our pathway; they save us from death.

People used to call this sort of thing "nervous breakdowns". Now we might say "panic attack" or "depressive episode".

But it's the same thing: our bodies are no longer able to carry the burdens our minds and hearts force on them.

I like this about bodies: that they are honest. Like the animals that they are. They do their best, but some things are too much for them. Drink too much, eat too much, sleep too little . . . eventually your body will let you know about it.

Balaam's ass carried the prophet well, as far as she was able. But eventually, she was able to tell the prophet about a danger the prophet himself could not see.

Our bodies do the same thing.

And I am grateful for that.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Weekend links: Productivity, special needs, and funny Austrailians!

"How to Get Things Done": I really liked the way Tim Challies laid out a straight-forward theological argument for Christian productivity. First in a series.

"About that mom who’s not bragging about her kid":
So the next time you are having lunch with friends and the talk turns, as it often does, to what your kids are doing and the kvelling begins — one of the moms is happy that her daughter aced the SATs, the other’s son just got into law school, a third mom glows about her daughter’s engagement — and you see that one of your friends around the table is sitting silently, fiddling with her drink, just waiting for that part of the conversation to pass? Consider that quiet mom. She loves her son or daughter just as much as you do. Smile at her, and ask how her child is doing. She may need to do a different kind of kvelling.

I loved this video:

Have a great weekend!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell