Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Saturday Night Experiment: Momtini

-4 parts gin
-1 part dry vermouth
-squeeze of lemon
-1 Sir Isaac Lime Otter Pop, crushed

Stir all ingredients with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into glass. Enjoy.

All I'm sayin' is: sometimes you gotta work with what you have.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

links - mostly on writing

But there's also this.
I'm not entirely certain it's appropriate for a church . . . but it seems appropriate for a wedding, and where should a wedding be but in a church? (Actually, on further thought, it seems to me that it would be most appropriate if they did it going out of the church rather than in - concentrate on the joyful solemnity on the way in, and party at the accomplished fact on the way out! Either way, it's a great video.)

(And yes, I know I show my true nerdiness in that I can't just enjoy the film, I have to enjoy it and then think about it.)

Then there's this fascinating post on having 1000 True Fans. The author points out that to make a living as an artist, you don't necessarily need to be the platinum-selling artist; instead, you need a certain, finite number of true fans, people who to whom your art has an absolute appeal, people who will buy everything you make. It made me wonder if I was anyone's true fan, and I was surprised to find that I was. I'll buy any of Caedmon's Call's cds, Carla Kelly's Regencies, and anything Lois McMaster Bujold cares to write about Miles Vorkosigan. I also thought about artists of whom I'm a sort of secondary fan - I won't go out of my way to buy their stuff, but if it falls in my path, I'll always pick it up and read it/listen to it/watch it.

This also led to the sad reflection that many of the people of whom I am a True Fan are dead: Rich Mullins, Dorothy Sayers, Anthony Trollope, Essie Summers etc.

I think my new goal as an artist is to keep making True Fans after I die. :)

I could be wrong, but I think this next link might be interesting to readers as well as writers, because it reveals one of the tricks of the trade: how to reveal your character's backstory without a huge info-dump in the first chapter. You know, "Joe was desperately attracted to Mindy. Sadly, he couldn't marry her because she had cheated his brother in a business deal. But what Joe didn't know is that Mindy was forced into this dastardly dead by her wicked uncle who had been holding her beloved poodle Butterscotch hostage. Thus, the lovers were star-crossed. Commence story." Ever read a book that started like that? Theresa Stevens reveals that you can avoid that boring info-dump by turning it into conflict! Neat trick.

Finally, an unlikely pairing: Writer's Digest interviews Stephen King and Jerry Jenkins together. I'll admit, I've never read any of King's work, but I'm always impressed when I read his interviews.

Enjoy your weekend!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, July 20, 2009

dates of note: St. Macrina and the Moon

Today is the anniversary of the first lunar communion. If you've never heard this story, it's well-worth reading about. Yes, Eucharist in space! Weird as that sounds, it's true.

Also, yesterday was the feast day of St. Macrina. (Of course, often observed earlier or not observed because the weekly celebration of the Resurrection takes precedence.) I don't know of any particular way her feast day is usually celebrated at home, but I think it's worth rereading a brief biography of her, just as a mom of young siblings. To put it simply: she and her brothers turned out really, really well. It's kind of the result we're all working towards every day. (Though I admit that I selfishly want grandchildren.)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

The Homeschooling Mom and the School Board Member

On Friday, my family and I went to Sam’s Club, and Bess, our oldest, was dressed in a bright purple t-shirt, bright orange-and-pink-striped shorts, hot pink boots and sunglasses. Yes, she dressed herself.

A friendly older couple commented on her outfit and laughed, saying that their daughter used to do something similar when she was little. Then they realized they recognized me, and introduced themselves as the parents of one of my friends from middle school. So we stopped and chatted, and I asked how their son was doing and they asked about my kids. On hearing that Bess was turning five, they asked where she was going to go to school.

“Oh, we’re planning on homeschooling her for kindergarten.”


“Yes, our local kindergarten only offers full-day, and it’s a very frantic atmosphere – so high pressure. I just don’t think it’s appropriate for a five-year-old.”

It was at that point that the lady of the couple reminded me of something that I’d forgotten – but that I should have remembered from seeing her last name on posters all over town around election time: she’s on the school board.


I really didn’t mean to criticize the local public schools to a member of the school board, who no doubt works very hard to make them good public schools. I felt a little badly, especially as, after that, her husband kept chatting with us, but she stayed mostly silent. (Her husband was assuring us that our local school was an excellent one, to which our answer was, I think, “yes, we’ve heard that.” Unspoken was, I suppose, “but we don’t agree.” The conversation really did end on a friendly note – but the lady really did look pretty put out.)

But, on reflection, the fact that I gave my reaction to the school before knowing who she was probably was a good thing. I bet most school board members don’t get honest feedback from homeschooling parents – if they get any at all. Maybe, if it ever comes up, talking to me might encourage her to vote for restoring half-day kindergarten?

I still feel a bit badly about it. But it’s the kind of random encounter that you just can’t quite view as random. So, who knows what will come of it? Good things, I hope.

Friday, July 17, 2009

worth highlighting

This is comment #13 from this post, regarding the Episcopal church. I've never heard Episcopalianism described this way, but it seems fairly accurate to me. Any comments?

God is the judge of human hearts, finally—and for that we are all glad. Thanks be to God, profoundly. So even as we make our judgments we do so with humility, knowing our own frailty. But we do make judgments, discerning light from dark, truth from error, belief from non-belief, orthodoxy from heterodoxy. As I have been watching TEC over the last years, having traveled some to India too, I have come to believe that TEC is Hinduism with an Enlightenment face.

As there is nothing really new under the sun, TEC’s stated convictions are Hindu—but they are offered to us through the experience of the Enlightenment, i.e. the problem with the global South church is that it has not come through the Enlightenment, it is still “pre-modern,” sadly and tragically. Oh if they only knew the Enlightenment tradition as we do! Then they would know!

Are there Christians in TEC; yes, and God knows his own. Is TEC an honestly Christian institution? No, it is happily Hindu, where Jesus among many other ways to the divine are all honored as equally true and right. But it is modern, maybe even very post-modern too—whose worst face is the culture of whatever.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the Episcopal Church looks for its handbasket

If it weren't enough for the Presiding Bishop to proclaim confessional Christianity "the great Western heresy" (because it's too individualistic), or for the bishops to repeal the moratorium on people in same-sex relationships being considered for bishoprics, or for the convention to refuse to be transparent about how much money they're spending to sue all the churches who've left, General Convention has now declined to affirm the good news that Christ alone saves us from our sins.

I don't actually think it can get any worse than that.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on us. You alone can.

There was no way for us to live again after we died. But when Jesus - the immortal Son of God - willingly took on human flesh and became a man, he became able to die. But since he was at the same time God, when he died, he did not stay dead. And in rising again from the dead - becoming alive again, He made a way for us to follow in his footsteps. Because he assumed our mortal flesh, we can assume his immortal flesh.

He is the only one who was able to do this, because there is no one else who was both God and Man.

I am so grateful. He saved me, and is saving me, and will save me. And, if he is willing, my children too. Can you imagine? Knowing that even if your children die, they don't have to stay dead, if they too have accepted the Lord's offer of life? This is the hope of all humanity. and it is only found in Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Lord. Without you, we are truly lost. Have mercy on us.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Going to CHEA and languages ancient and modern

This weekend I got to spend a few hours at the CHEA convention in Long Beach. It was huge and overwhelming, but happily I had a kind friend there who was willing to take a good chunk of time out of her day to show me around.

I got to attend a session with Andrew Pudewa, who was insightful and hilarious (it didn’t matter that the subject of the lecture was spelling, because the theories he brought to the subject could be applied to any number of things) and got to wander ‘round the exhibition hall.

I came home dehydrated and exhausted, but after being very lazy on Sunday afternoon, I woke up this morning excited again about homeschooling. I think going to that convention reminded me of all the reasons I thought that homeschooling was a good idea: chief among them that my kids and I will get to read lots of really good books together.

(Okay, that’s not all there is too it, but that’s what I’m excited about right now.)

I’m also once again diving into figuring out how we’re going to start this adventure out. I know there’s lots that I don’t have to decide quite yet, but one of the things I’m pondering is whether it’s possible to teach not just two languages well, but three.

(I pause to quote from the excellent Sports Night:
Casey: I speak four languages –
Dan: You speak three languages.
Casey: I speak four.
Dan: You speak three languages: you speak French, Italian and Spanish.
Casey (drily): I dabble in a little English.)

English comes first, of course, and we’ll be working on reading and writing that this year. I’d also really like our children to learn Spanish. While I’d like them to be able to read and write it, even more than that I’d like them to be able to speak it and to understand it when they hear it. Given where we live, this is pretty important.

But I also am attracted to the idea of teaching the kids Latin. I’d be learning it too. In this case, while speaking it and understanding it when they hear it would be nice, reading and writing it would be the primary goal. Exactly the opposite of our priorities in learning Spanish.

Of course, Spanish and Latin are very related, so I’m hoping that the one would aid in learning the other. But are they so close there would be a lot of confusion? From reading The Bilingual Edge, I’m guessing that there wouldn’t be, especially if they were taught in different contexts and different ways.

I’d also probably start teaching Spanish in Kindergarten (well, before that, actually – we’re already working on it informally by reading Spanish picture books), and not start Latin till 3rd grade (after the kids have learned to read and write with some competence).

But does anyone have any experience with this? I know lots of my readers are experienced homeschooling moms, and I’d be really interested to hear if anyone has combined learning a modern language and an ancient language (while of course also promoting greater and greater mastery of English) and how you did it, and if you like it – or if you specifically have avoided doing so, and why. Thanks for any advice you can offer!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, July 10, 2009

a couple fun links for Friday

In the grand tradition of Cake Wrecks, check out "There, I Fixed It" and "Don't Judge My Hair." The lattice beard post on the latter is particularly impressive.

(btw, I don't think there's anything in these links to offend anyone - well, I mean, your sense of taste will almost definitely be offended - but with humor links, it's always possible, so read with care.)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, July 9, 2009


A quick break from the "church" side to look at the "homemaking" side: I made doughnuts for the first time ever!

I used this recipe and oh-my-goodness, I was swearing as soon as the first doughnut hole touched my tongue that I would never ever again no not ever buy doughnuts from the store. No, this was the doughnut itself, the very form of doughnut, and I couldn't settle for anything inferior.

Well, that lasted till they cooled off, because a cold homemade doughnut is not as good as a cold storebought doughnut.

But if you eat them while they're hot . . . oh my goodness. Bliss in a not-baked good.

And deep-frying was not as tricky as I thought it would be. I think this is mostly because I had the sense to attempt it while the twins were asleep. :D

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

General Convention and when it "comes through the red doors"

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church (TEC) is going on just down the street from me, in Anaheim. And reading the reports about it have me thinking about my parish. There are those in my parish who say that they won't leave TEC until the heresy "comes through the red doors", i.e., into our parish itself, into the very church building.

I think it already has, in the form of our candidates for ordination being denied because they were Christians. But many of my friends (again, good and faithful people) disagree.

Anyway, reading this report from the floor of General Convention has me thinking about my parish:

. . . "I think I've said this before, but send any average pew-sitting "everything's okay and the guy to my right is just making too much noise about our beloved church" moderate to a General Convention and they quickly become both Highly Knowledgeable and Deeply Depressed about the state of our national church."

But send any average pew-sitting moderate to a General Convention and they also quickly decide "let's not focus on the national level" too. They hunker down and think about their Brotherhood of St. Andrew, or their DOK chapter, or their altar guild, or their [fill in blank].

In a strange sense, then, blasting to your average moderate all the Bad Awful News about just how dreadful things are doesn't do a lick of good -- because their response, once they grant your underlying thesis ["we're being led by the inmates"] is "there is nothing that we can do about it so why even think about it."

That's one reason why I've always loved the movie The Patriot. It so amply demonstrated just what it took to get the main character good and riled up. It wasn't abstract glorious principle about liberty, freedom, and individual rights. It wasn't his sitting by the fireside and reading Thomas Jefferson, Paine, or French philosophers. It was when his farm was attacked, his crops burned, his child killed.

The metaphor in that last paragraph exactly describes the "through the red door" frame of mind. And I'm no different from anyone else in my parish, except that my "through the red door" moment came earlier, no glory to me - I was a late-comer compared to many of my friends who left years ago. Is it bad that I hope my fellow parishioners' "through the red door" moments come soon, so that we can all leave together?

I don't want more heresy. But if God does not see fit to confound the heretics (or convert them - better yet!), may He instead make their heresy crystal-clear, so we can all see it for what it is. As the old Irish blessing goes:

May those who love us, love us.
As for those who do not love us, may God turn their hearts.
And if He will not turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles,
That we may know them by their limping.

Anyone for a new read-through of That Hideous Strength?

Pray for us Episcopalians.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, July 6, 2009

He who spoke through the prophets

I’ve been reading through the Bible chronologically this year, and I just finished Obadiah – the first stand-alone book of the prophets – and am still in the midst of the story of Elisha. Which means I just finished reading about Elijah. (And, oh my goodness, it’s hard to get over the shock when he simply explodes onto the scene, after a king after king after king who did not remove the high places and walked in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat. All of the sudden: Elijah! Confronting hundreds of false prophets, running faster than a chariot drawn by horses, slaughtering crowds, running from an angry king, abiding in the desert, walking boldly up to the same angry king and proclaiming his doom, disappearing in a chariot of fire. Wow.)

Anyway, reading the words of Obadiah and Elijah and Elisha has me thinking about that line in the Creed which describes the Holy Spirit, saying “He has spoken through the prophets.”

I talked at Pentecost about how sometimes it seems like the Holy Spirit is the member of the Trinity we know the least about, and how part of the reason for this is that He is always pointing towards Jesus, and when He does, we look.

But I think that this one line in the Creed – He has spoken through the prophets – shows me who the Holy Spirit is. All of the sudden there are scores of passages I might read where I know I will hear His voice. This is where I learn what His voice sounds like.

And, I find, the amazing thing is: those Old Testament passages point toward Jesus too. The Holy Spirit speaks a message of salvation, of promise, even all those years ago. It’s the same voice. And we’ve seen and see the fulfillment of His words in Jesus.

But His words are still, always, more than I expect. More wild, more severe, more beautiful, more comforting than I expect. He is holy. And He deigns to speak to us, to show us Himself. Because He loves us.

If Elijah is amazing, it is because the Lord he serves is even more so.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell