Cranach painting updates

Paul McCain has put up some more material on his blog devoted to that Lucas Cranach altarpiece.  He includes some exposition of the figures in the painting and what they mean.  Note the self-portrait of Cranach, who shows the blood of Christ shooting out from His wounds upon himself.  That’s a powerful confession of faith from the great artist.  Go to A Painting That Preaches Christ.

Saving mathematics

The Washington Post has sure been publishing some good articles about today’s education debacles, which tells us that even the liberal establishment is waking up to the necessity of actually educating children, as opposed to what contemporary educational theory is doing.  Today’s edition included a feature entitled Parents Rise Up Against A New Approach to Math.  It’s about a math textbook entitled “Investigations in Number, Data, and Space.” It tackles the problem of  multiplying six times three, by having students make six marks on a piece of paper in a little box and to do that with three boxes.  Then count how many marks.  And it does away with the traditional way of adding big numbers, in which you put them into columns, add each one, and carry as needed.  Instead, students are taught to make pyramids, in which they first add up the ones, then the tens, then the hundreds, then the thousands, then put them all together.      Defenders say this method, which scorns memorizing “math facts,” teaches the concepts better.  But it makes math harder, not easier, and it is doing nothing to improve test scores.    I admit that classical education may be lagging in the math department.  The new classical schools are doing little with the Quadrivium, the other four liberal arts (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music).  The Trivium, which is being implemented to great effect (grammar, logic, and rhetoric), has to do with mastering language and what you can do with it.  The Quadrivium has to do with mathematics (yes, even in the way music was taught).    This, I think, is the new frontier for classical educators.  Yes, there is Saxon math, but it seems traditional (which is better than the contemporary), rather than classical, as such.  Does anyone have any suggestions about what a classical approach to mathematics  might look like?

Castro quits

Fidel Castro Resigns Cuban Presidency. Who would have thought that he would peacefully retire, rather than being assassinated or overthrown in a revolution? Do you think communism will hang on in Cuba, or can we expect a revolution of freedom now that the old man is no longer running the firing squads?


My son-in-law and I explored the Antietam Battlefield  yesterday.  That site of the bloodiest day ever in American history, with 23,000 casualties, was amazing, humbling, sad, thrilling, inspiring.  We read Jeff Shaara’s account of the battle in his guide to Civil War battlefields, so we understood about the corn field, the sunken road, and Burnside’s bridge, still standing and upon which we walked, imagining the carnage it held (as well 

I will make the moon disappear tomorrow night!

Just checking to see if people are so uneducated and unknowledgeable today about the lunar eclipse coming up that Columbus’s old gambit would still work:

An eclipse is credited with saving the life of Christopher Columbus and his crew in 1504. 


Stranded on the coast of Jamaica, the explorers were running out of food and faced with increasingly hostile local inhabitants who were refusing to provide them with any more supplies.

Columbus, looking at an astronomical almanac compiled by a German mathematician, realised that a total eclipse of the Moon would occur on February 29, 1504.

He called the native leaders and warned them if they did not cooperate, he would make the Moon disappear from the sky the following night.

The warning, of course, came true, prompting the terrified people to beg Columbus to restore the Moon — which he did, in return for as much food as his men needed. He and the crew were rescued on June 29, 1504.

Happy Presidents (or Presidents’, or President’s) Day

 I want to wish each and every one of you a merry Presidents Day.  I hope you have all of your decorating done and will have a wonderful Presidents’ Day dinner and enjoy all of your President’s Day customs like. . . . 

Notice:  The Church knows how to throw good holidays, but the government has not got a clue.  This day began as a commemoration of George Washington, that great man and father of our country.  He deserves a holiday, and customs started to grow up around the day, such as having cherry pie and stores throwing sales.  

But then the sentiment grew to throw in Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday was also in February.  And then, what the heck, let’s just celebrate ALL presidents, as if they were all of the stature of these two great Americans.So the holiday became generalized into impossible-to-visualize vagueness.  In doing so, the very reason for the holiday became lost.  (Why should we celebrate presidents and not have days devoted to the other branches of government?  Legislator Day?  Supreme Court Day?)  

And then the real reason to have holidays in our secularized state emerged:  Let’s change the day, marking a specific historic event, into a moveable feast so that it will always produce a three-day weekend!  That way government workers and others will have their day off work as part of a long weekend!

(I just wish someone would authoritatively rule on the place of the apostrophe in the holiday’s name.)  

Here is why this all matters:  This is another example, along with what we are seeing in education and theology, of the shift away from the OBJECT  (content,Christ,  honoring someone) to the SUBJECT (me, me, me).