One Wintry Night

one winry night

One Wintry Night, by Ruth Bell Graham. Richard Jesse Watson, illustrator. Originally published in 1994. 72 Pages.

This review is late, using our traditional Western calendar, and I am regretful that I forgot to post the review in a more timely manner. However, since Orthodox Christmas has yet to arrive and many people celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas which extend until  January 5, this review is not as thoroughly untimely as it appears at first glance.

On Christmas Eve night, our family read this book together and it occurred to me that despite my intentions, I hadn’t offered reviewed this book as a wonderful addition to a family’s Christmas library. Despite the date, I’m offering it now.

One Wintry Night is the Christmas story, from Genesis to the Crucifixion, as told by a woman to a young boy who finds his way to her home after getting lost on his hike through the mountains near his home on a cold, wintry night. She begins the story by telling the boy that if the baby born to Mary was coming to “save His people”, then someone must be in trouble, and needs to be saved. From there, she goes back to Genesis and begins in the Garden of Eden.

Much like Adam and His Kin, which I reviewed some time ago, this book offers a loose dramatization of life in Eden, and in the life of the Biblical people whose narratives Graham touches on as she sets the stage for Christ’s advent into the world. Because it is a dramatization, she takes a few safe liberties. By safe I mean that while not found verbatim in scripture, the narratives she constructs are not in opposition to the tone and message of Scripture. However, her ascription of thoughts, feelings, and motivations of the Biblical protagonists are her own.

The illustrations in this book are striking, to say the least. Richard Jesse Watson’s beautiful work is a highlight of this book, taking it to a higher level of beauty and invoking wonder even for people like me who know the Biblical narrative well.

I highly recommend this book. If not for this Christmas, definitely for next. It is technically a children’s book but is enjoyable for people of all ages.

5 out of 5 stars.


Word Nerd Wednesday: Impeachment

Apparently, and sadly, there are full-grown, adult, (college-educated!) Americans who are unaware that impeachment does not mean the President of the United States is being removed from office. And so:

Impeachment: : to charge with a crime or misdemeanor specifically : to charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal with misconduct in office

In other words, it’s an indictment which has to be presented at trial. If sufficient evidence and a compelling enough case results in a conviction of the impeached official , he or she will then be removed from office.

You’re welcome.



Confessions of a Food Catholic

food catholic

Confessions of a Food Catholic, by Doug Wilson. Published in 2016. 212 pages.

A friend loaned me this book to read and I was very interested to see what, exactly, it is all about. I wasn’t sure what Doug Wilson could possibly mean by the term “food catholic”, but eventually the idea became crystal clear.  If I had to summarize the general thesis of Confessions of a Food Catholic, I’d say it’s this:

The fact that the church has joined the world’s food fads, crusades, and trends has created a situation where the simple and joyful yet profound Christian experience of breaking bread with other believers is being tainted and hindered.

He argues that we all need to learn to accept what is set before us with thankfulness, and stop pretending that we are going to be irreparably damaged if we accept one dish of sweet Sister Jones’ homemade macaroni and cheese because “carbs” or “gluten” or “Monsanto” or whatever other excuse we can conjure up to resist being gracious towards our sisters and brothers in Christ. That is what I would describe as the thesis statement of Wilson’s book.

I agree with his overall thesis, but as is often the case when I read Doug Wilson’s writing, I ran into something that short-circuited his execution. I found his extensive insertion of caveats in the first three chapters problematic. In a world where almost nothing goes without saying anymore, I can appreciate the compulsion to say things like, “If you are deathly allergic to milk, I don’t expect you to risk your life eating sweet Sister Jones’ mac ‘n’ cheese in some misguided attempt at Christian unity”. What I don’t appreciate is feeling the need to say it over and over…and over again.

Thankfully, as the arguments unfolded and Wilson began to tackle the myriad individual food causes and crusades which have infiltrated the church world, the book gradually became much more pleasant to read. The secondary thesis, if you will, is almost as compelling as the first. I don’t necessarily agree with every assertion Wilson makes, but I do agree with this overall idea:

I am an active participant in my food chain, and I occupy a particular place in it. My moral duties are strongest right next to me, and they are weakest (to the extent they exist at all) at the far side of the food chain.

This is not to say that moral responsibility cannot be transmitted along the food chain. Surely it can, as when my buddy shoplifts something from Safeway so we can share it for dinner. Eating stolen goods that I watched get stolen is morally problematic, and I cheerfully grant it. But I am here talking about my supposed complicity in the strange oaths that the foreman in the Texas pecan orchard swore at his underpaid migrant workers, in the season before those pecans from said ranch made their way through thirteen other morally problematic checkpoints on their way to my pie. p.109

The numerous documentaries produced for the sole purpose of “informing: and inducing guilt into the American populace about the foods we eat has reached such a level of absurdity that even I, a girl who has to be careful about jumping on bandwagons, have learned to tune them out. I’m still a sucker for a good health fad, but I can no longer be bothered to bear guilt for Jose and Juanita’s suffering experienced on the tomato farms of South Florida.

I certainly believe that when we know better, that to the extent that we can, we should do better. I might be proving Wilson’s point here to a degree, but I don’t think it’s wise to ignore medical knowledge and advancements which offer information we can act on and to build on, especially in the areas of health and wellness. However, as Wilson aptly points out, every generation believes it has the lock on the truth about any number of things, and ours is no different. We should keep that im mind.

Touching on everything from our misguided expectation that a government which ushered corruption into the food industry should somehow fix it, to the ironic reality that the people who browbeat us the most about our food choices abhor our faith and values, Wilson offers a lot of food for thought here. He certainly opened up my thinking in ways that will help me to be a little more conscious of the areas in which I have raised food choices to the level of moral authority on par with The 10 Commandments.

Overall, it’s not a perfect book, but it is a worthwhile admonition.

3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Word Nerd Wednesday: Fallacies

I’m currently finishing Doug Wilson’s Confessions of a Food Catholic (review scheduled for Friday). In it, he references a quote from G. K. Chesterton:

Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.

We live in a time when fallacies are routinely embraced as fact because, and only because, they have become fashionable. It made me stop and think about the word fallacy and how we are able, despite all evidence to the contrary, to discard empirical truth for the sake of fashion and warm fuzzies. I could go into a long list of examples of the kinds of things I’m thinking of, but what would be the point? Instead, I’ll just begin with a dictionary definition of a fallacy:

  • noun A false notion.
  • noun A statement or an argument based on a false or invalid inference.
  • noun Incorrectness of reasoning or belief; erroneousness.
  • noun The quality of being deceptive.

We have reached a juncture in our social and political discourse where definitions of terms are no more. If you believe that literal, historical, or scientific understandings of words still hold true, you’re in trouble in the public discourse.

Facts aren’t fashionable. Even men and women of goodwill and a general agreement on broad principles stumble to communicate as everyone strives to be superior and the most ideologically pure.

When fallacy is treated as fact, and the truth is subjective, common American culture no longer exists in any meaningful, unifying way.

It’s an unfortunate development.




Friday Faves: Reasons to Study Shakespeare

comedy of errors

This is a busy week. Our children are performing in a Shakespeare production, we’re all stretched thin, and my mind is on Shakespearean things. Or at least on the reasons why Shakespeare is valuable, since we’re all working 10 hour days on limited sleep. I thought we’d discuss the things to be gained from studying the ancient works of Shakespeare in this postmodern year of Our Lord, 2019.

~ That you may ruminate: If there is one thing Shakespeare provides, it’s the opportunity to consider the complexities of human nature and conduct. There really is, to quote King Solomon, nothing new under the sun, and it’s usually a straight line between someone we know, perhaps ourselves, and a Shakespearean character’s foibles.

~ One man in his time plays many parts: Is there a better description of the many ages and stages of a single life? In a world of two-dimensional characters and one-dimensional depictions of a good life, Shakespeare offers a rich and full examination of the stages of life as well as their advantages and drawbacks.

~ I have no other reason but a woman’s reason: I actually do have a reason, but I like this quote from The Two Gentlemen of Verona because it illuminates my next point. Shakespeare is politically incorrect and brutally honest. On most subjects, perhaps because he was a man of his time, Shakespeare unapologetically expresses things as they are, not the way we wish a mysterious alternate reality fairy might make them.

~ They have been at a great feast of languages and stol’n the scraps“: So much of our modern language, its idioms, and axioms, are borne of ideas first penned by William Shakespeare. From “break the ice” to “love is blind” and “as good luck would have it”, our modern language is peppered with mainstays we borrowed from Shakespeare’s 16th Century writings. In our flash-in-the-pan culture, I’d say that’s pretty amazing. Only the Bible has had as much or more impact on our use of language. And oh yes, I’m aware that the quote that I used here is not quite in context. I couldn’t think of one more fitting and so…I turned it into scraps.

~Mine eyes smell onions: Lastly, Shakespeare is funny, if you can get the joke. This very obvious quip is from All’s Well that End’s Well when the duke excuses his emotional reaction to a touching scene by complaining that his eyes smell onions. A lot of Shakespeare’s humor is what as known as “blue comedy”,  but even those jokes are insightful and tinged with truths about human nature.

Those are five of my favorite reasons why it’s worth the time and intellectual investment required to read some of the works of William Shakespeare.

Feel free to add your own observations to the list, and Happy Friday!






Word Nerd Wednesday: The Shadetree Mechanic

This installment hardly qualifies as intellectual wordsmith worthy. I know this, but recently my Southern gal surfaced and I used this term in a conversation with a woman who was born and raised up north. She was bewildered.

So I asked my hillbilly friend if she’d heard this word before and she hadn’t either. This left me wondering if what I thought was a Southern thing was actually a black thing. A few clicks, a bit of reading, and here we are. It’s neither, really.

From the urban slang dictionary:

Shadetree mechanic: A hobbyist mechanic who works on their own vehicles, often in their driveway. (Perhaps underneath a tree providing shade.)

When I was a kid, they often worked on the vehicles of folks in the neighborhood as well. They tended to know cars, and well, but lacked the requisite commitment and business sense to open a “proper” garage.

Well as it turns out, these guys are a dying breed. Cars and trucks are being designed differently now and most people simply take their vehicles to the dealer for service.

Autotrader has a good article on the death of the shadetree mechanic:

For decades now, every neighbourhood had their local shadetree mechanic. That man (or woman) that did their own oil changes, replaced their own brakes and generally did most, if not all, of their own repairs on their personal vehicles. These handy types would even help out a neighbour or a friend for a few beers and some good company or maybe a few dollars if the job was a long drawn out one that needed special tools or expertise.

But the days of the shadetree mechanic are now numbered, not necessarily due to the lost interest of your fellow neighbour, but due to the complexity and computers built into the modern car.

This is a term that will be completely removed from our lexicon in the near future, and in my opinion, it’s too bad.