Month: December 2011

Messiah by Tammy Glaser

My Sunday school class has been studying the text and story behind hymns. Every week, we pick a hymn and dig up something to share the following Sunday. In December, we turned our attention to Christmas carols. Since I cannot go through advent without airing Handel’s Messiah, I suggested that sacred oratorio. Our teacher volunteered me to guide the class since I sounded so enthusiastic. I showed up the following week with copies of the text of all three parts for everyone to study. Before sharing the story behind the music, I asked, “How many of you have ever heard Handel’s Messiah?” Only one hand went up while everyone else shifted in their seats. My stomach dropped and silently wondered how the next half hour would go. First, I explained the background. Handel’s Messiah was born out of distressing circumstances. Charles Jennens, a wealthy English gentlemen, grieved the death of his brother Robert. The young student became deeply depressed after lengthy contact with deists. Deists believe that god is an impersonal creator of the universe …

I Am At My Most Contemplative at This Time of Year by Sandy Rusby Bell

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” Anna Quindlen This season always finds me contemplative. The long, dark evenings at the end of the year invite reflection. I find myself looking back even more than usual this year though. I will soon be graduating my oldest daughter. It seems only yesterday that my four year old fireball was telling me that we could not be done lessons until she saw the school bus drive by our home. But this fall we’ve been visiting universities. My part in educating her is almost done. I’ve learned so much on this journey we’ve shared and there are many things I would do differently if I could do it all over again. But there is one thing I would do exactly the same. I would still read to her every single day of her life. We have built a life around books. I started collecting children’s stories before my girl was even …

Be Generative: Makoto Fujimura by Bonnie Buckingham

Makoto Fujimura – 2012 Keynote speaker! Charlotte Mason Educational Conference June 6, 7, 8, and 9, 2012 Last March, I sat in the auditorium in Tribeca at the International Arts Movement 20th Anniversary Conference to hear Makoto Fujimura. Here was a contemporary artist selected by Crossway to illuminate the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible.  I was a teacher amongst artists, musicians, actors, and writers. At that conference my mind awoke to living ideas.   For example, Makoto talked about language that rehumanizes us. This expression was first seen by Makoto in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and he connected it to cultural renewal.  Jane Eyre says: “It is time someone undertook to rehumanize you,” to Mr. Rochester parting his “thick and long-uncut locks” (Jane Eyre, chapter 37). “We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.  Our lives have become fragmented with overconsumption in every level of life,” Mako told us, “What we do matters.” What you do as educators, parents, artists, and …

A Peace that Passes Understanding by Lisa Cadora

When my friend’s daughter, Lauren, was very little, she learned the song “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart” in Sunday School. One day my friend heard her daughter singing the song, complete with its second verse. She had a good chuckle when she realized that Lauren was singing –at the top of her voice–“I’ve got a piece of plastic understanding down in my heart!” Lauren is all grown-up now– a beautiful, intelligent young woman. She knows that the words to this song are “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart.” Chances are she has no idea when or how she came to realize what the actual words are. Her initial misunderstanding and her subsequent correct comprehension of the words are great examples of how most human learning takes place. Our learning can indeed be “plastic” in the sense that it remains superficial when we “cram to know” and reduce ideas to facts. It can also be “plastic” in the sense that it is malleable, mold-able, changing …