Monday, December 22, 2008

Should Christians Fight? Some Thoughts

As a veteran (who’s opposed to our aggressive foreign policy and the often illegal use of our military) and also an ardent reader of the peaceableness writings of Wendell Berry , I‘ve often asked the question: should Christians fight? In searching for the answer I discovered that the responsibilities deduced from the sixth commandment require us to preserve, when we are able, our life and the lives of others. I find helpful the following: Question 107 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks: “But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner above mentioned?” Answer: “No; for when God forbids envy, hatred and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good even unto our enemies.” In the answer to question 105 read: “Wherefore the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder.” The following books have also been very helpful to me on this subject: The Commentary of the Heidelberg Catechism, by Zacharias Ursinus, commentary on questions 103-107, on the 5th and 6th commandments; The Institutes of the Christian Religion , by John Calvin, Book 4, Chapter 20:10-12, On Civil Government; Politica , by Johannes Althusius, who writes often on defensive and just war (especially in chapter XVI:1-17) and expounds the political and social duties contained in the second table of the Decalogue (especially in chapter XXI:22-29); The Marrow of Theology, by William Ames, Book II, Chapter XVIII, Humanity Toward Our Neighbor; Systematic Theology, by Robert L. Dabney, Lecture XXXIII, 5th and 6th Commandment; Systematic Theology, by Charles Hodge, Part III, Chapter XIX: 10, The Sixth Commandment.

(A discussion post on the group: Calvinism: The Group That Chooses You.)

White Christmas

We found a little reindeer wandering the beach. Apparently, Santa decided to let her go (we are in a recession, after all) because she keeps ripping open the presents and eating the paper. Oh, and she won't let any of the other reindeer get a good night's sleep . . .

Here she's thinking, hmm--could this be potentially embarassing when I'm a teenager?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Politics in a Post-Literate Society

"Forget Red vs. Blue -- It's the Educated vs. People Easily Fooled by Propaganda"
By Chris Hedges

In our post-literate world, because ideas are inaccessible, there is a need
for constant stimulus. News, political debate, theater, art and books are
judged not on the power of their ideas but on their ability to entertain.
Cultural products that force us to examine ourselves and our society are
condemned as elitist and impenetrable.

. . . It feels good not to think. Full article here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

End of semester reflections

As a horrible, horrible semester draws to its close I thought I would make a list of good things that happened to remind myself of why I still teach.

-After submitting a paper in which she expressed her distaste for freeganism, a student decided to investigate for herself and went dumpster diving with a friend. They had great fun and found a perfectly good file cabinet, a set of John Deere tools, and a large bag of unmoldy bagels, among other things. The student enthusiastically showed a video of her adventures to the class.

-For the first time, I taught the story “The Ones Who Walk away from Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin. We had a meaningful discussion about America’s “non-negotiable” lifestyle and a former Wal-Mart employee suggested we stage a protest. This was even before the Black Friday trampling tragedy. An article about the story is forthcoming.

-Amidst much groaning and grumbling, I forced students to act out scenes from Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House. Duplicating the scene in which Nora dances a frenetic tarantella for her domineering husband, a middle aged mechanic/Army vet (male) rolled up his pants to show some leg and proceeded to sachet around the classroom shaking my daughter’s toy tambourine. Uproarious laughter ensued. Ah, for the good old Shakespearean days when men played the female leads . . .

-A student cited Ron Paul as a source in a research paper without any prompting, coaxing, or threats from me.

-I taught three Flannery O’Connor stories--as always, some “get” her and some don’t. Flannery (we’re on a first-name basis) always manages to make me laugh, not take myself so seriously, and reminds me that so much of human machination is hogwash. A wise person on the Internet once said that reading Flannery is like waiting at a railroad crossing catching glimpses between train cars of the scenery beyond--you can’t quite make it out, but you know it’s something wonderful and mysterious. Although it wasn’t this semester, one of my finest Hallmark-shed-a-single-tear moments of past ends-of-semesters occurred when a student who was wise beyond her years simply said, “Thanks for the Flannery.” If I meet Flannery in heaven, I doubt I’ll be able to say much except “Thanks for the stories.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

Girls' day out at the beach

Here MiMi is at St. Andrew's State Park over Thanksgiving weekend. We went with Granny and Auntie. She especially liked sitting and standing on the jetty rocks and raking her fingers in the sand. She wasn't quite sure what to think of the waves (can you say, "sensory overload"?). It was slightly cold, but we caught it just before the rain. I had forgotten how pretty it is out there.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rod Dreher on Wendell Berry

"Crunchy Con" Rod Dreher talks about why Berry is more relevant than ever:

The root of our collective crisis is as old as humanity itself: We've been
overcome by a colossal sense of pride, which entails the Luciferian belief that
we can be as gods. "The problem with us is not only prodigal extravagance," [Berry]
writes. "but also an assumed limitlessness. We have obscured the issue by
refusing to see that limitlessness is a godly trait."

In the months and years to come, we all will have to learn the meaning
of limits. Wendell Berry is no dour scold who preaches a joyless austerity. To
the contrary, he tells us that what we truly seek in life is not comfort, but
meaning – and that you don't have to live a life of rigorous asceticism to find
it. Rather, we only need to order our lives around the ancient idea that
happiness depends on virtue – virtue lived in community. We can only be
fulfilled by living within the bounds prescribed by our nature, and in fidelity
not to our selfish desires but to the greater good of our families, friends and

Full article here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

From Eugene Genovese, 1994

“Whatever slim hopes the Agrarians may have had of arresting the industrialization of the South sixty years ago, their successors have none. John Shelton Reed has said it all in two sentences: ‘It is no longer a matter of defending a Southern way of life against industrialism. Increasingly, that way of life is industrialism.’ Hopes for the maintenance or restoration of cherished values now rest with the possibilities for the growth of new types of communities in cities and suburbs. Bradford even suggested, regrettably without elaboration, that the technological revolution in communications might be turned to advantage by those who value privacy and a responsible individualism that resists state intervention in community, family, and personal life.”

The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism by Eugene D. Genovese, Harvard University Press, 1994, page 19.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Birthday present

Another addition to my arsenal: Flannery O'Connor: Unmasking the Devil by Regis Martin. Anyone whose obsession with Flannery borders on idolatry will enjoy this brief and readable ode to her greatness. A few gems from Martin:

"In short, to read Flannery O'Connor with an adequacy of attention is, as someone once suggested, on the order of Horatio seeing the ghost of Hamlet's father: 'It harrows me with fear and wonder.' How well, in other words, she could separate out the sentimental syrup, the cloying treacle of so much contemporary literature, seeing right to the bone and marrow of real meaning. Not to have understood this, of course, and thus to be pulverized and never quite know why, is the fate of all sentimentalists" (45).

"Her preferred way to persuade the godless that God had better not be dead . . was to spin tales which truthfully rendered the consequences of their belief that He was. Here she would unfailingly flesh out for her readers what surely must remain the most ludicrous aspect of our fall from grace, to wit, our persisting and sentimental refusal to acknowledge that we had and have" (42).

"Even at its antiseptic best, ours is an age wrapped in cellophane. Can it not be a good thing, now and again, to pierce the cellophane?" (34)

Pierce away.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New batch of chickens

Four hens--hopefully they will start laying in the spring . . .

MiMi likes the chickens . . .

Friday, October 3, 2008

Film Adaptation of McCarthy's "The Road"

The movie version of Cormac McCarthy's "post-apocalyptic" novel The Road is scheduled for release on November 26. It stars Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron. Can this film in any way do justice to McCarthy's stunning, heart-shattering story? We shall see. If you haven't read the book, please do. Especially if you are a parent. This book will club you over the head with the brunt of its truth and dazzle you with its beautifully wretched descriptions of a scorched earth. The last few paragraphs are among the finest I've encountered.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Garden Report: 07 June 2008

It’s hot and dry and it’s been this way for a few weeks now. The garden, however, is doing well.

We ate the last of the lettuce in mid-May. The Parris Island and Capistrano Romaine grew best into April and May, the other varieties bolting soon after it warmed up in March. The Freckles Romaine did well and looked good in the garden but didn’t grow as large or as thick as the other Romaines.

My garlic bulbed and has been harvested, but never grew as large as last year, and most of my onions have flowered and never bulbed.

We planted five blueberry bushes and three blackberry bushes.

Most of our tomatoes have been potted up into three gallons or are planted into larger containers. We have about sixty plants. Last year that was just about the right amount. The Giant Tree Tomatoes have been planted along the north fence and are trellised. We have two eggplants planted into the garden and they’ve been producing for about three weeks. There are several more eggplants elsewhere that are a few weeks behind. The peppers are doing well. They’re planted into the garden in various locations. The Sweet Bananas, College 64L, and Jalapenos have been producing for a few weeks as well.

We added an eighty square foot raised bed along the south fence. It currently has nightshades and herbs growing in it. Most of the herbs are growing very well: the Basil, Dill, Chives, and Cilantro growing best.

The cucumbers are doing very well. The Bush Champions may be the best variety of cucumbers I’ve tried.

The squash has been producing since mid-May. The Early White Bush Scallop Squash is more susceptible to stinkbug damage than the yellow or the zucchinis. The Burpee’s Hybrid Zucchini is again this year an amazing plant. We only have two plants and that’s more than enough. There have been very few problems from stinkbugs, squashbugs or vineborers. I’ve removed some yellow and white squash plants due to bug damage. Today I planted New Zealand Spinach in the place of the former squash.

That’s about all we’re growing right now except for the flowers all over the place. Pretty soon I guess we’ll start thinking about the fall garden.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Insight from Rev. B. M. Palmer, 1876

“The original curse, pronounced upon the first transgression, wraps up a promise in the bosom of the denunciation, ‘in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.’ The language certainly implies that, if man be doomed to labour, he shall at least live by that labour. With the multiplication of the arts by which labour is cheapened, nay, by which iron arms and hands are made the substitute for human muscle and strength, wealth is more and more accumulating in the hands of the few, and the distance is widening betwixt capital and labour. The great peril of our modern civilization lies in this direction; and the specter which is haunting the mind of the statesman, is the gradual and steady approach to that crisis when labour shall be utterly unable to procure a bare subsistence. Nothing will stand when the point of starvation is reached by the masses in society. The only remedy is found in this law of equity which the Bible lays upon the conscience of the master. The servant is entitled to maintenance, and wages cannot be reduced below the point of a decent support. If this fundamental law be disobeyed, the retribution may be slow, but it will be only the more terrible in its fury when it breaks upon society at the last.”
Palmer, B. M., The Family in its Civil and Churchly Aspects. Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1991 (1876); pp 140,141.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Naomi's Baptism

Naomi Jean Andress was baptized on the 13th of April 2008 at Covenant OPC in Pensacola. “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39) “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” . . . And immediately he and all his family were baptized.” (Acts 16: 30-33) For more information on paedobaptism please read Rev. Herman Hoeksema's The Biblical Ground for the Baptism of Infants

Stella De Oro Daylilly

Monday, April 21, 2008

20th April Planting

Yesterday I pulled up the remaining English Peas, saved a few hundred for seed. In the their place were planted the eggplant and peppers that were started on the 5th of February indoors and some squash and cucumbers. I also mulched heavily with the leaves of live oaks and some straw.

Lettuce Photos: 21 April 2008

Parris Island Romaine

Freckles Romaine

Giant Red India Mustard
(Not exactly lettuce, but it’s great in salad.)

Black Seeded Simpson

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Naomi's First Worship Service

Gardening Report: 06 April 2008

Spring is here. With a small-scale suburban garden it’s vital to not have too many of last season’s crops scattered around when it comes time for spring planting. We’re getting better and probably the best lesson learned over the fall and winter was figuring out how to maximize the winter garden without negatively affecting the space available for the spring’s earliest planting. Almost two days of well needed rain poured upon our soil. This is great except my lettuce is well beaten up. The rain even ripped many of the leaves right off the stems of the Giant Red India Mustard. Except for their rain beating, the lettuce and various other salad greens are growing well. Despite the few aphid attacks, I expect to have lettuce, in the ground and containers, into late May. We’re now out of carrots. Last year we did much better in the planning and growing of carrots, but the few we did have were much better than anything bought in a store. The english peas are about done; considering the limited amount of growing space we had a few to eat and I’m pleased with the result. The squash, zucchini and cucumbers are established and reaching for the spring sky. The radishes are still growing well and the various types of onions are doing real good. The garlic is looking good too. I’m expecting bulbs in May. The oldest of the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are potted up in our little greenhouse and awaiting next month’s transplanting.

Knight English Peas

Various Lettuce in one of our porch containers

Nightshades in our greenhouse

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gardening Report: 29 March 2008

Today we harvested the last of the Nero DiToscana Kale and transplanted a tray of Freckles Romaine and Parris Island Romaine Lettuce into the front yard garden. We also planted into a container some more Crimson Giant Radishes (29 days) and planted into a tray some Bush Champion Cucumbers (55 days) and some Early White Bush Scallop Squash (50 days). A cluster of Black Pearl Peppers emerged from the compost pile and we transplanted them into a tray. So we now have over twenty plants of that very hot variety of pepper. I’m sure we can figure out something to do with them. From the compost pile (and from the compost that was mixed into our beds) we also have tomatoes and potatoes popping up.
Nero DiToscana Kale

Day Five

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Raising the next generation of rEVOLutionaries.

Birth Photos: Naomi Jean Andress, 25 March 2008

Naomi Jean Andress

Announcing the birth of our beautiful gift from God, Naomi Jean Andress. Seven pounds, three ounces, she was born at 2:08 in the afternoon on Tuesday the 25th of March 2008. We thank everyone for their prayers and support.

Knight English Peas

Knight English Peas (56 days) planted Jan. 11

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Radishes & Carrots

Crimson Giant Radish (29 days)

Short 'n Sweet Carrots (68 days)

19 March Planting

Yesterday we transplanted two trays of Lettuce and Pak Choi into one of the beds in our front garden. These were the seeds planted into trays on 11 Jan. Also we planted into the front garden along the walkway the following varieties: Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard (60 days), Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce (45 days), Common Chives, Sweet Basil, Coriander, Sage, True Lavender, Cosmos, Shirley Poppy, Texas Bluebonnet, Magic Fountains Delphinium, First Ladies Snapdragon, Digitalis Foxglove, Crakerjack Marigold.

Today we planted into a tray the following varieties: Mammoth Sunflowers, Sweet Basil, Mammoth Dill, Early Golden Summer Crookneck Squash (55 days), Burpee’s Hybrid Zucchini (50 days), Cool Breeze Cucumber (45 days). We also planted into the south east garden the following varieties of Sunflowers: Mammoth, Aztec Gold Hybrid, Cutting Gold, Chianti Hybrid.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March First Planting

The following varieties were planted today into trays and are inside our small greenhouse: Patio Hybrid Tomatoes (65 days), Costoluto Genovese Tomatoes (70-80 days), Yellow Taxi Tomatoes (58 days), Giant Tree Tomatoes (85 days), Sweet Banana Peppers (70 days), Jalapeno Peppers (75 days), Chinese Giant Peppers (80 days), Burpee Hybrid Eggplant (70 days), Parris Island Romaine Lettuce (68 days), Freckles Romaine Lettuce (70 days).

The following varieties were directly planted into the garden: Bush Champion Cucumbers (55 days), Burpee’s Hybrid Zucchini (50 days), Early Golden Summer Crookneck Squash (53 days), Early White Bush Scallop Squash (50 days). I also planted more Evergreen Bunching Onions and Crimson Giant Radishes.

Thirty-Five Weeks