Friday Faves: Thanksgiving Edition

thanksgiving capture

In less than a week, most of us will join our extended families and friends, break bread, and give thanks for all of the blessings we enjoy. In the interest of the spirit of the season, I decided to have a conversation about the best things about Thanksgiving Day, at least in my personal estimation.

  • Time with family: Our life is busy, and we are blessed to spend a lot of time with great people and awesome Christian friends, but we don’t spend as much time with our extended family. Family, even when things are hard, is still family. To spend a few hours eating good food and engaging in stimulating conversation is an opportunity that most of us don’t get to enjoy often enough.
  • Preparing good food: While turkeys and sweet potatoes are available year-round, it just never occurs to most people -at least not us- to smoke a turkey or bake a sweet potato pie in March. Our family cooks together pretty often, but cooking a Thanksgiving meal is a special meal preparation that’s not quite like any other. Everyone in our house has a particular specialty, and putting them all together is lots of fun.
  • Table settings: One of our kids has a God-given eye for beauty and a gift for design. I suspect her father bequeathed her his artistic eye, but hers has a particular feminine flair and she is wonderful at designing just the right look for the table.
  • A spectacularly clean house: We are constantly cleaning around here. Floors are mopped daily and all that good stuff. But when 12 or more people are visiting to sit around your table and hang out at your house for an afternoon, a deeper cleaning is in order; the kind of cleaning that gets relegated to seasonal scheduling when life is extremely busy, which ours usually is.
  • The crash afterward: The run-up to Thanksgiving can be kind of frantic. I started this afternoon with most of my shopping for the day. The next few days will be consumed with preparations and by Wednesday, I’m ready to get on with it. Thursday will be a lot of fun, laughter will rule the day, and after the clean up is done, I’ll be excited for the moment when I can shower, put on some comfy clothes, lay my head on my husband’s shoulder and play a Christmas movie. Of course, the chances that I’ll get 1/3 of the way through the movie without falling asleep is are pretty slim.

Those are a few of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.

What are some of yours?

 

Word Nerd Wednesday: Quodlibet

Quodlibet, which basically means “whatever”, is a word I recently learned after a friend handed me a copy of Touchstone Magazine. Touchstone, according to their own description, is a Christian journal, conservative in doctrine and eclectic in content, with editors and readers from each of the three great divisions of Christendom —Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox.

I loved the issue, and am considering subscribing. Touchstone is a publication that many people might find a little hoity-toity, by both the first and second definitions.  I found a few of the pieces a little hoity-toity myself. However, on balance it was worth my time and mental investment. I wondered if, as a classical homeschooler, I should have heard of this word before, but alas, no one has heard of everything.  Better late than never.

Merriam-Webster defines quodlibet this way:

“Whatever.” Try to get philosophical nowadays and that may be the response you hear. We don’t know if someone quibbling over a minor philosophical or theological point 600 years ago might have gotten a similar reaction, but we do know that Latin quodlibet, meaning “any whatever,” was the name given to such academic debates. Quodlibet is a form of quilibet, from qui, meaning “what,” and libet, meaning “it pleases.”

“Whatever it pleases” on the one hand sounds great to me, being a live and let live type of gal in a world where fewer and fewer people seem capable of living and letting others live.  I can see the danger in it as well, being a woman of deep religious faith.

In the section of Touchstone titled quodlibet, you’ll find short editorial pieces written by various editors about “whatever they please” to write about.  And whatever they please is guaranteed to be decidedly politically incorrect but more than that, it may even be interpreted as inflammatory, depending on your perspective Such is the case with this bit by Douglas T. Johnson.

Whether it’s someone I agree with or not, I rather enjoy being free to listen to and interpret the philosophies of those who wish to discuss “whatever”.

Quodlibet.

I like that.

 

 

Film Review: No Safe Spaces

no sfae spaces

No Safe Spaces, released October 25, 2019, featuring Adam Corolla and Dennis Prager.

Whether or not we are living in an era when free speech is under assault is a point of debate. Those among us who believe that harsh consequences imposed as a result of politically incorrect speech are a bad thing will love this film. Or at least, they’ll like it. Those who believe that the 1st Amendment is protection from legal prosecution, but not economic sanction or social ostracization, will consider Prager and Corolla as nothing more than white boys crying wolf. After all, as one reviewer quipped, Prager and Corolla are actually profiting from their free speech rights.

I suspect this divergent understanding of the limits, if any, on free speech and the acceptable scope of consequences is at the heart of the mostly negative reviews I read of this film before recently venturing out with friends to judge for myself. My take? When we have to be afraid of any consequence that may be imposed as a result of a dissident or unpopular perspective, our free speech is in danger.

This is not to say that individuals and corporations are not equally free to exercise their rights. However, what we have now is tantamount to a speech cartel, cocked and loaded for bear against anyone who dares utter or has ever dared to utter any words against selected groups of people or behaviors. It is this dynamic, the carnage it leaves, and the fear it imposes on average Americans that Prager and Corolla set out to address.

This is a documentary and not even a great one as far as documentaries go. If you’re looking for great filmmaking, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a well documented series of incidents, mostly on college campuses, in which well-meaning, even-handed professors are punished for failing to espouse the right ideology. You’ll find conservative and religious students increasingly penalized and marginalized for their beliefs. Of course, there’s also well-publicized instances of conservative speakers being threatened and harassed on college campuses to the extent that many of their talks had to be canceled. Most importantly, you’ll see that universities as bastions of various ideas and critical thought has given way to something far more sinister.

The interspersed animated skits to illustrate the absurdity of social justice warriors and the assassination of the Bill of Rights were rather extemporaneous, but the commentary is valuable for those people who are not up to speed on the current trajectory of our political discourse.

It is worth remembering that the young people on college campuses today will be leaders of politics, academia, and media tomorrow.

3 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

Friday Faves: Quotable Literary Quotes

As is my custom, I have completely abandoned my planned reading queue for the remainder of 2019. How did that happen, you might ask? It happens the way it always does: with a trip to my local library, where I stumbled upon another book that piqued my interest.

In my bibliophile distractedness, I am now reconsidering family, community, beauty, and all of the things our culture purports to value while simultaneously throwing hand grenades at the foundations of the same. Inexplicably, we wail and lament, wondering why the whole thing is crumbling.

There have always been a quiet, thinking minority of great minds among us. Rather than preening before cameras and blathering into microphones, however, these thinkers are far more likely to take to the pen to share the wisdom they have acquired. In other words, to hear reasoned, thoughtfully considered opinions on the dilemmas of our day, you’ll have to shut of CNN, FOX News, and yes, even YouTube. You will have to pick up a book.

Today’s Friday’s Faves are quotes from some of my favorite thoughtful social and political writers, with one or two from writers that diverge from me on the major issues, but from whom I’ve read a glimmer of wisdom nonetheless.

I disagree with our first writer, Henry Miller, on quite a lot, but I agree with him completely on this:

There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy~ Henry Miller

Of course, the greatest source of wisdom is found in the book of Proverbs. Our culture seems trapped in a reactionary vice grip. We -collective, cultural we- scream in outrage over minor, perceived offenses, and tear them down with words; often without cause.

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.~ Proverbs 17:27

We are quick to excoriate others with very little context or information, only to learn a short time later that we are lacking even a fraction of the facts:

He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.
 ~ Proverbs 18:13

I’ve reviewed Wendell Berry in this space before, and I highly recommend his writings for an oasis of sane social commentary in our desert of postmodern intellectual thought. Here, he breaks down the problems with both conservatism and liberalism:

“The conventional public opposition of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ is, here as elsewhere, perfectly useless. The ‘conservatives’ promote the family as a sort of public icon, but they will not promote the economic integrity of the household or the community, which are the mainstays of family life. Under the sponsorship of ‘conservative’ presidencies, the economy of the modern household, which once required the father to work away from home – a development that was bad enough – now requires the mother to work away from home, as well. And this development has the wholehearted endorsement of ‘liberals,’ who see the mother thus forced to spend her days away from her home and children as ‘liberated’ – though nobody has yet seen the fathers thus forced away as ‘liberated.’~ Wendell Berry

The book I am currently reading is Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Cons, and it is from there that I pulled this quote. I am not sure if I will review the full book, but so far it’s proving to be worth my time:

Both mainstream liberalism and conservatism are essentially materialist ideologies, and we should not be surprised that both shape a society dedicated to the multiplication of wants and the intensification of desires, not improvement of character. ~ Rod Dreher

One of my favorite black people who lived during the period immediately following Reconstruction and shortly following is Booker T. Washington. His reception in the black community, then as now, is mixed depending on the ideology and circumstances of the interlocutors, but he is always tops with me:

I want you to get it firmly fixed in your minds that books, industries, or tools of any character, no matter how thoroughly you master them, do not within themselves constitute education. Committing to memory pages of written matter, or becoming deft in the handling of tools, is not the supreme thing at which education aims. Books, tools, and industries are but the means to fit you for something that is higher and better. All these are not ends within themselves; they are simply means. The end of all education, whether of head or hand or heart, is to make an individual good, to make him useful, to make him powerful; is to give him goodness, usefulness, and power in order that he may exert a helpful influence upon his fellows. ~ Booker T. Washington

Lastly, is a quote from the man many consider a father of modern conservatism. My mental jury is still out as it relates to a fully formed opinion of Russell Kirk, but I’m thinking I like him. A lot. I plan to read a book of his essays in its entirety in the near future, but until, here are his thoughts on the relationship between rights and responsibilities:

Every right is married to a duty; every freedom owes a corresponding responsibility; and there cannot be genuine freedom unless there exists also genuine order, in the moral realm and in the social realm. ~ Russell Kirk

Those are a few of the thoughts I think we need to internalize in order to revitalize what’s left of our culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Nerd Wednesday: Princess Bride Edition

don't think it means

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. ~ Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

I am pretty sure we’ve discussed this here before, but this past week I thought about it again. So you get to be the beneficiaries of my periodic belaboring over the misuse and misapplication of words and how this makes it easy for us to misunderstand concepts that should be simple. As a result, we live in a culture and society where a majority of people are misled about the reality of things. This accelerates the erosion of our personal and collective freedom so it needs to be considered. I’ll start with the word which recently reignited my passion for this particular topic.

*Healthcare: The quick click online definition of healthcare is as follows: The prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical and allied health professions.

That is not a terrible definition, except that it neglects to include the things we can do individually to contribute to our health and personal well-being. Things such as the brisk walk I took with my husband not long after 5:30 AM, or the weight training workout that followed it. The idea that individuals can be largely responsible for the care of our own health has been largely ignored. However, that’s not the part that sparked my notice. How many of us have heard a politician breathlessly bleat out this panicked refrain into the nearest microphone:

“Millions of Americans are living without healthcare!”

Yeah, you’ve heard it. And by that, they mean health insurance. In effect, our entire society has been conditioned to equate health insurance (the bureaucratic apparatus by which medical bills are sometimes partially paid) with healthcare. Drinking plenty of water, eating your broccoli, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is probably better insurance than said bureaucratic apparatus.

*Sex: The first quick click online dictionary definition of sex is, again, pretty close to the purest definition of the word, which is actually a biological term: either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures.

Of course, we’ve replaced sex with gender (which now operates on a spectrum) and taken the words coitus and intercourse and replaced them with sex. For the longest time, I didn’t see a problem with this particular evolution of language, but that was back when I was gullible enough to think that science still held some clout in our society even as religion waned.

I could go on about this particular evolution of language, but then I’d be wandering off the word nerd reservation and that’s not really what we do here.

*Education: The quick clink online dictionary definition of this word is pretty strange: the action or process of educating or of being educated. When I looked up educated, I got: having an education. The second definition is like unto the first but it at least gets to the heart of my problem with our modern understanding of education: the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools.

The classic understanding of education (probably prior to mass schooling) was this: that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations.

In effect, we have discarded the idea of education as a comprehensive endeavor meant to form the whole person into a useful citizen, spouse, parent, employer, and employee. We have replaced that with the notion of education as synonymous with schooling.

Well, that’s it for this edition of Word Nerd Wednesday.

As always, feel free to add your picks for words that don’t mean what we’ve been conditioned to think they mean.

Animal Farm

animal farm

Animal Farm, by George Orwell. Originally published in 1945. Paperback 140 pages.

I read the book online for free at this link.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others ~Animal Farm

This is a book that hardly needs an introduction. Our language has erected an entire lexicon around ideas we describe as Orwellian. Of course, we most often hear that particular term, Orwellian, used in reference to circumstances that resemble the narrative Orwell unfolded in his famous novel 1984. Although the allegorical Animal Farm paints a different, equally somber picture of human corruption, cultural manipulation, political malfeasance, his use of animals universalized its presentation.

In fact, the reason I re-read this book over the weekend, several decades since I first encountered it in high school, is that our children are currently reading it as a literature class assignment. I am really looking forward to hearing how they process this story. In the highly unlikely chance that someone may not be familiar with the story of Animal Farm, we’ll start with a brief synopsis.

On Manor Farm, the animals live the way farm animals live. They fulfill their work to produce income for the farm’s owner, Mr. Jones, and they are fed food appropriate to their needs and species. Life is neither misery nor bliss. It simply is what it is: farm life.

Brewing inside the heart of Old Major, the oldest boar on the farm however, was a dream that one day, animals would throw off the yoke of oppression which humans used to bind them.

“Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.

“But is this simply part of the order of nature? Is it because this land of ours is so poor that it cannot afford a decent life to those who dwell upon it? No, comrades, a thousand times no! The soil of England is fertile, its climate is good, it is capable of affording food in abundance to an enormously greater number of animals than now inhabit it. This single farm of ours would support a dozen horses, twenty cows, hundreds of sheep–and all of them living in a comfort and a dignity that are now almost beyond our imagining. Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings. There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word–Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever.

He didn’t expect to live to see or participate in the animal rebellion, and he didn’t. But before he died, he made a rousing speech complete with an animal national anthem, and the animals he left behind began to plan for the revolution which would one day come. In that day, all animals would be equal comrades, wealth would be shared equally, no animals would kill other animals, and Utopia will be realized.

When the opportunity presented itself the animals revolted, fought hard, and won their freedom. It wasn’t long however before their stated principles gave way to reality, unlike anything the more gullible animals had expected after their “freedom” was secured. The pigs, descendants of Old Major, were the cleverest of all the animals and it wasn’t long before the camaraderie gave way to hierarchy, with everything this implies.

Seeing as I read this entire book in roughly 2 hours, I’d say it’s worth your time to reacquaint yourself with this modern classic. It’s particularly relevant in our current cultural and political environment.

Orwell really was a masterful writer, and Animal Farm is a wonderful book.

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday Faves: Fall Fashion Fluff

This is fluff about clothes and other things that aren’t vitally important in the grand scheme of things. It’s all in good fun.

November is a busy time of year, but also a fun time. The collision of obligations, deadlines, and celebrations can provide an interesting challenge for those of us who are wife dressing. That is, we don’t own the option of sacrificing femininity and beauty in exchange for the comfort and expediency we’d like in order to get things done. The good news is that we can do both.

We don’t really experience a change of seasons here. Because of that, a lot of fashion conventions fall flat in this neck of the woods. For example, it’s warm nearly year-round, so sandals are always in order and Floridians don’t generally adhere to the “no white after Labor Day” convention either. Although…I’ve learned that there is such a thing as “winter white“, which makes me wonder if any place adheres to that rule anymore. But I digress. The goal of this post is to list five of my must-have essentials to get dressed quickly, easily, and fashionably enough.

  • Wide belts: I love a wide, genuine leather belt. They’re not cheap, but I’ve found that the best way to get them at a reasonable price point is to go through Etsy. Each one I bought has been shipped from Eastern Europe, where there is a robust collection of women performing quality artisan leathercrafting. I own this one, as well as the belt I’m wearing in my gravatar.  I also have two others  in different shades of brown that I ordered from Etsy. They’re categorized as corset belts, so be aware that the advertising will run the gamut, but the quality of the leather is excellent. One belt which I bought stateside is of vastly inferior quality for a similar price, so I decided it was worth it to order them from overseas.
  • V-neck sweaters and fitted long-sleeved shirts: In whatever colors look best. For me, those colors are saturated colors: blues, reds, browns, and also off white, which matches just about anything.  These also look good with both jeans and midi skirts. For me, however, those tops require an additional go-to item:
  • Camisoles: The blessing and the curse of my body type are that I look better in fitted clothes. I think this came up in my review of the 50s fashion book, Wife Dressing. I layer my fitted clothes with fitted camis underneath. I’m pretty open about that because I think women should look good in our clothes. Although I exercise hard and take good care of my health I’ve also had five babies, so accommodations must be made. My stomach is naturally flat, but also extremely soft, so I layer with lightweight, fitted camisoles.
  • Midi Skirts: Who doesn’t love a good midi skirt?  They are versatile, comfortable, feminine and pretty. They’re not too long, not too short; just right. They look good with sandals, heels, and even Sperrys. I like a great maxi skirt as well, but my fondness for midi skirts has grown recently.
  • High rise jeans: I must admit, I don’t share the typical American’s love of blue jeans. At least not for the reasons other people seem to like them. I don’t find them particularly comfortable, and living where we do, they can be rather stifling. That said, I do appreciate a nice fitting pair of jeans for their fashion possibilities. Put with a few simple, no-fuss elements (dangly earrings, a cute wedge heel, and a smear of lip gloss for instance), jeans are an easy way to get dressed in 5 minutes without looking like you threw your ensemble together in 5 minutes. That’s why I wear them. And when the temperature does finally drop, they are warmer than a midi skirt.

This is always the most fun part of these posts; finding out what you like best.

So…what are the essentials of your wardrobe that make getting dressed much easier than it would be otherwise?

*You might also be interested in my review of The Lost Art of Dress.