New Entries for Our French-Redneck Dictionary

So I've got four high school students sitting at my kitchen table, and we're going over the passé composé today, that stalwart French tense that is the bane of first-year students.  I grab a random verb from the list in the textbook, renverser, to spill.  Because they have an evil instructor who gives difficult quizzes at the start of every class session (the better to learn from, my dear) I remind them that a phrase such as j'ai renversé . . .  [insert your own object, or wait five minutes and o … [Read more...]

Easter Season Internet Safety For Parents

The spouse sneaks back to the bedroom this afternoon and says in a low voice, "There are bunny things in my Amazon shopping cart.  Am I supposed to buy them?""I didn't put them there, if that's what you mean," I tell him.  A likely suspect comes to mind. "What kind of bunny things?""Lego, Playmobil.  Things like that."Ah yes.  I remember somebunny mentioning these things.  "You know that one-click feature?  We need to be careful about that or we're going to have some surpr … [Read more...]

A Patron Saint for Rabble Rousers and their Bishops

When I answered Tom McDonald's How I Pray series, one of the pile of question marks in the black hole that is my prayer life concerned spiritual reading.  Two answers of late:1. The book I'm carrying around town and reading in snatches is Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper, by Brant Pitre.  So far, it's excellent. Recommended if you have a general understanding of the significance of the Mass and the Last Supper, and are looking for so … [Read more...]

Civil Liberties and the Obama Indifference

Found myself in an awkward spot today, needing to be in the state capital at about the same time as President Obama.  He's out speaking at a historically-Black college and church about the civil rights movement.  I've just got ordinary places to be.  The difficulty is the traffic.  Small city, not a lot of roads to choose from, and he gets priority.  The rest of us get to be late.I care tremendously about the civil rights movement.  I don't care a bit about our president (beyond a generic con … [Read more...]

Understanding Low-Literacy Cultures: My Living History Tea Experiment

I'm home sick today with something normal for a change, sore throat, which means I have to get into the box of Korean teas a friend of mine keeps me supplied in, because I have awesome friends this way.So here's something: I never really understoood low-literacy cultures.  I'd read about kings who could barely read, or not at all, and I'd scratch my head and think, "Um, how does that work?  I mean, what did he do with his library card?"  When I'd think about people going through life not read … [Read more...]

Something Beautiful for Lent: Cultivating God’s Garden by Margaret Rose Realy

The book I've just finished reading is Margaret Rose Realy's Cultivating God's Garden Through Lent.  I'm going to concede it took me a long time to open this one, because I had several stupid book-fears:That the book would be tied to the upper Midwest's seasons, and would be all out of sync for a southern gardener. That the book would be too nice for me.  Margaret is a really nice person. That I wouldn't like it, and that would be awkward, since Margaret and I are writing fr … [Read more...]

50 Shades of Arousal Disorders: BDSM and the Moral Life

If you browse among the purveyors of sex toys, which you most emphatically should not do, among the offerings you'll find all the regalia of oppression and humiliation.  BDSM as a variant on traditional women's porn as sold at the grocery store didn't come out of nowhere.   Long before the intelligentsia were conflicted in their literary analysis by the clash between "cutting edge" and "terrible writing", the neighbors were busy acting out sexual fantasies straight from the annals of Amnesty In … [Read more...]