Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Here is my family's 2005 Christmas picture. From left to right: Mom, Ben (23), Dad, Hannah (19), and me (21).

We are all having a nice break from work and school. My dad, mom, and I, who all teach/tutor in some form and fashion, are enjoying a break from students. My sister, who will transfer to the University of Georgia next month, is glad for a break from being a student, although she is voluntarily continuing to pore over her language books through the school break. . . My brother is home for 3 weeks or so, before moving out to Seattle to begin his job with Microsoft. He just graduated with a master's degree in computer science from Georgia Tech.

Saturday my family is heading up to Indiana to spend Christmas in Hoosierland, as we do every year. That's right: I'm a Yankee. My parents were both raised in Indianapolis, where Ben and I were also born. We moved to Georgia when I was a baby, but I've spent every Christmas of my existence in Indiana. I love traveling to visit relatives over the Christmas season. The added chance of seeing a White Christmas is also a plus although, while I love the beauty of snow, I do hate the combination of wet and cold, and limit my close contact with the stuff.

We're driving first to Indianapolis, my parents' old stomping grounds and where my dad's parents and 4 of his 5 brothers still live. Then we'll head 2 hours south to Hanover, the little town where my mom's parents grew up, met, and married, and where they retired several years ago. We'll see two of my mom's sisters and their families, who live in the neighboring town of Madison, but my mom's other two sisters and her brother won't make it to Hanover this year.

On our way home we'll stop in Kentucky to spend a night with our good friends the Trues, who have five daughters. Their oldest daughter Lydia, who has been one of my best friends since I was 6, recently became engaged, and we'll have a fun time talking over details and discussing color combinations for the quilt I'm planning for her and Quinton :).

Another good childhood friend, Erika, is flying into Atlanta on New Year's Eve and spending the night with us before we drive her up to Tennessee to rejoin her drama troupe. She spent two nights with us earlier this week before flying out of Atlanta to see her family in Virginia. While here she took our Christmas picture (above).

As they often do, my parents will spend their anniversary driving home with us all from our Christmas visit. This year is special, since it marks 25 years they have spent together. I am thankful that the Lord chose to bless me with parents that have had a strong marriage. One thing I never doubted growing up, even when my parents had disagreements, was that they would always stay together. In our modern world where too many marriages crumble, I am thankful for their example.

Amongst all the busyness of the next few weeks, our church's new pastor starts on New Year's Day. Please pray for our church, that the transition will go smoothly and in a Christ-honoring direction.

I won't be on the internet much in the next week and a half or two, but I wanted to wish all my friends in blogdom a very Merry Christmas! Among the hustle and bustle of Christmas, make sure not to forget the very first gift of Christmas, the Lord Jesus Christ, and please stop with me for a moment in remembrance of the holy babe in the manger.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A 12 year-old girl, e-mail forwards, and my Seven 7's

When my family first got e-mail when I was 12, I was in a group of about 8 girls who e-mailed back and forth. We gave personal updates by e-mail, but mainly we swapped forwards and surveys. Over the months I accumulated (digital) files upon files of e-mail forwards with touching poems, heartwarming stories, and funny pictures that I could not do without.

I enjoyed the pretty pictures people had created using only a qwerty keyboard, and I enthusiastically perpetuated the "virtual snowball fight" that came my way. My e-mail life was deeply changed with every inspirational poem or testimony I read, and I automatically hit forward like any dutiful middle school e-mailer. My friends knew they were my friends because of the cute teddy bear I forwarded them; I knew they were my friends when they followed the instructions at the end of the e-mail to send it back to me. I proclaimed my faith by forwarding "Jesus Loves You" e-mails, not daring to not send them on, since that would be "denying my faith", as the end of the e-mail threatened. I also stopped the spread of untold numbers of viruses by warning my friends of their existence. I helped raise money for cancer research, for poor people in Africa, and for orphans in the Amazon. I was one busy humanitarian, all with the click of my mouse.

. . . And the chain letters that promised rewards. I did become dubious of those relatively quickly, after my forwards did not yield 70 postcards from around the world, $100, a free trip to Disney, or a partridge in a pear tree. Some of them were hoaxes, no doubt, but they couldn't have all been fake!

Microsoft never even followed through with their promises of cash for every friend who I forwarded their e-mail to, and each person my friends forwarded my e-mail to, and each person those people forwarded their e-mails to, on down the line. Hey, I knew my math, and I could work exponentials. There was tons of cash to be had using this payment method, but not a penny did I receive, even after all the trouble I went to in helping Microsoft test their new e-mail tracking software. Believe me, when my brother starts working for them in February, I'll make sure he gets old accounts settled.

Then there were the surveys. . . I think in the course of about one year I filled out every survey known to man (er, middle-school girls) at that time. I've always loved sharing personal information in a question-and-answer format, so I reveled in all the surveys that came my way, even writing a few myself - the lengthier the better. I spent hours and hours filling surveys out and reading them, until I realized how much of a time-waster they were and how similar they were all starting to look :). It must have been about the time I answered the question "What is your favorite entree?" for the umpteenth time that I started thinking:

You know what? This is getting old. Everyone I am sending this to already knows my favorite entree (umpteenth times over) as well as my favorite side dish and dessert, and they know that I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate or white.

It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't have to fill out another survey; the world would keep spinning, the birds would continue their tweeting, my computer would still deliver my e-mail, and my friends could even deal with not knowing the answer to the single, solitary new question on the latest survey. I've often wondered since then if Lydia, Angel, Brooke, Jessica, Christy, Sarah, or Sarah ever led a harder childhood because they never found out whether I put on my shoes and socks in a sock-shoe-sock-shoe order, or a sock-sock-shoe-shoe order. I can only assume they have forgiven me.

Okay, but in all seriousness, I did outgrow my excessive e-mail forwards phase after a while, and I can look back on it now with a laugh. I've since that time sent on very few e-mail forwards and filled out very few surveys. I've nicely reformed my e-mail habits, thanks to a few sessions of e-mail forwarders anonymous (EFA).

My name is Susan, and I am an e-mail forwardaholic.

A part of me still loves to fill out surveys, though. I admit to liking those online quizzes that calculate your IQ, personality, or the character you are most like from a book or movie. Mind you, I don't go around searching for them on a regular basis, but if someone links to one I am apt to take it.

I'm Peter in the Chronicles of Narnia, by the way.

The umpteenth identical e-mail survey sent to the same friends is pretty pointless, but I think a good, basic, short survey is a good way to get to know people. That is why I was glad when Lydia Hayden tagged me in the "Seven 7's" survey. I'd seen the survey on a few other blogs and thought it looked interesting, so without further ado, here are my seven 7's (some of these shameless stolen from Lydia).

Seven 7's

Seven things I hope to do before I die:

Have a more disciplined lifestyle
Have a meek and quiet spirit
Practice a consistent, meaningful quiet time with the Lord each day
Be wed to a godly man and raise godly seed
Live to see my children's children serving the Lord and raising up godly seed
Mentor young women
Create a home environment that is warm and inviting, and practice hospitality as a lifestyle

Seven things I cannot do well:

Play sports
Be spontaneous
Fake my emotions
Tell a lie
Be really confontational in person
Drive a stick shift ;)
Hold my tongue

Seven things that would attract me to my future husband:

Tall stature (at least 5'10" but over 6' would be better)
Love of the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength
Intelligent (especially in the fields of math, science, and theology)
A gentleman in dress and manner
Down-to-earth (can laugh at himself and acknowledge when he's wrong)
Understands and holds to sound Biblical doctrine
Has a vision for his life and his family and wants a whole lot of kids :)

Seven things I say often:

"Right. . . "
"Isn't math wonderful?"
"Does that make sense?" (tutoring situations)
"Why?" (tutoring situations, getting students to clarify their reasoning)
"That's another one of my soapboxes. . . "
"But I digress. . . "
"There's nothing I would rather do."

Seven authors, books, or series I love:

Bible (especially Genesis, Romans, I and II Corinthians, Phillippians, and Hebrews)
Elisabeth Elliot (especially The Mark of a Man)
Elizabeth Prentiss - Stepping Heavenward
Corrie ten Boom (especially The Hiding Place)
L.M. Montgomery (especially the Anne books and the Story Girl books)
Jane Austen - any and all of her writings
Louisa May Alcott (especially An Old-Fashioned Girl)

Seven movies I watch over and over again:

The Andy Griffith Show (Do tv shows count?)
Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
(extended editions, of course)
The Sound of Music
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Seven people I want to do this (in alphabetical order, of course):

Mrs. B

Those without blogs, feel free to comment to this post instead. Anyone else who would care to participate can share their responses in the comments section.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

An appropriate graduation gift for a mathematics major. . .

We had way too much fun making this clock for my brother Ben's girlfriend Stephanie. She graduated today from Georgia Tech with highest honors in the area of Applied Mathematics. We knew she'd appreciate such a fine piece of clockmanship.

We are considering marketing our creation ;). Included with each clock, which can be personalized to your own favorite mathematical equivalences of the digits 1-12, would be a tri-fold brochure on the wonders of 144, 8128, and phi (Hannah's, Ben's, and my favorite numbers, respectively). Note the prominent location of these three numbers in the clock face, and also the time suggested by the placement of the hands.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Answers to Questions on Magic in Fiction

Mrs. B asked me for my opinion on books such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, so here it finally is.

I grew up loving The Chronicles of Narnia, having them read to me and eventually reading them myself. The Christian elements in them are so strong: creation, fall, antithesis, promise of a seed, betrayal, sacrifice, resurrection, redemption, etc. I also have grown to love The Lord of the Rings trilogy over the past few years, and find great Christian themes in it as well, albeit not as strong. While Harry Potter certainly has many noble, moral themes in it, I find it to be in an entirely different class, and although I have seen two of the movies, I have never read the books, nor plan to read them or watch any more of the movies.

First off, I think care in choosing books related to magic is a good thing, and I certainly believe that anyone who has doubt when reading a certain book would be better not reading it (Romans 14:23). I am not advocating making people read a series of which they feel uncomfortable. I would, though, like to explain how I personally feel about magic elements in fiction.

Second, I am fully aware that I have readers both to the right and to the left of me on this issue. I am merely giving my honest opinion on the matter, which I have formed after much thought, prayer, and research. You can disagree with me and that's fine. Just hear me out :).

One thing I've been pondering recently (concerning an unrelated issue) is that our moral assessment of a situation should be approached quite differently if it is an assessment for ourselves or for others. For ourselves, we should err on the side of safety, choosing not to do anything we have misgivings about, and choosing to do anything that we feel we may be required to do. In regards to assessing the actions of others, we should use the opposite approach. We should err on the side of safety by giving others the benefit of the doubt in areas of which we are not certain. I admit I am the first to fail in this regard, so I say this in all humility.

Back to magic in fiction, let us first of all go to the Bible for a few relevant verses:

Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.

This verse shows that witchcraft is a serious offense before the Lord, and not to be taken lightly. As such, anything related to witchcraft should be carefully considered (note I am not saying automatically discarded). Now obviously there is a big difference between practicing witchcraft and reading about it (or watching a movie about it). But that doesn't mean they are incomparable. God cares about what we think, not just what we do:

Phillipians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Here we see that not only should our actions be controlled in holiness, but our thoughts as well. God is the Lord of our heart, soul, and mind (Mark 12:30) not merely our actions. So whether or not one is actually participating in the act of witchcraft is not the entire issue; the issue is whether one is willingly subjecting himself to reading or viewing something that is an abomination to God. I won't spend any more time on this aspect now, except to say that this is precisely why I am so picky in my choice of movies, and why I almost never watch TV.

So now the question is not whether it matters if one reads or watches immorality, but if any of these book series fit that description. Furthermore, one must differentiate between different portrayals of filth. It is one thing to read a movie like Pride and Prejudice, which although containing a subplot concerning a wild young girl running off with an officer, treats the incident like the shame and immorality it is. It is quite another to watch a movie where such an act is treated as fine or even noble. My problem is not so much the presence of sinful acts, as it is the portrayal of the act as right or wrong; I like my lines to be clear, not blurry. If sin is portrayed in a "neutral" or positive light, then it is a mockery of God's law.

Furthermore, sin that is portrayed in such a way as to tempt others to fall into it should be avoided, particularly by those (like children) who are more prone to such temptation. Shortly I will expand upon this, but for now it will suffice to say that if our right hand causes us to sin, we must cut it off. Drastic measures must be taken in our sanctification.

So now that we've established that (a) sorcery is an abomination to God, (b) we are held accountable for our thoughts as well as participatory acts, (c) sin must be portrayed in a proper light, and (d) we must particularly avoid portrayals of sin that will tempt us, what about the three series that are before us?

Doug Phillips wrote an excellent article on magic in fiction. Make sure you get through the whole article before you draw conclusions on his own opinion. His article is a longer version of what I stated just above, namely that we must not subject ourselves for entertainment sake to a favorable depiction of immorality.

I also found another excellent article by Steven Greydanus that contrasts Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings. This really is a masterpiece and if you have the time it will clearly explain to you the differences that I see in the three series. Below I will outline a few of the main points of the article to explain the differences between the series, but if you want more detail you will have to read the article in its entirety.

I will say that Doug Phillips' article is a little farther to the right than I am, while the other is farther to the left. I am not by any means saying I agree 100% with everything in these articles, but I do respect both of these Christian men for their honest, thoughtful opinions on the matter. Both articles are a good read if you have the time.

The above referenced article by Steven Greydanus focuses mainly on point (d) from above - we must particularly avoid portrayals of sin that will tempt us, although touching on the other points, especially (c), as well. He explains how the three series are different in this respect, forwarding seven "hedges" or safeguards that exist in the latter two series of books, but are noticeably absent in the former:

At the very least, then, these seven “hedges” disprove the claim of some Harry Potter fans that parents cannot consistently disapprove of the magic in Harry Potter while approving of Tolkien and Lewis.

Here are the seven hedges in Tolkien and Lewis.

1. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to wholly imaginary realms, with place-names like Middle-earth and Narnia — worlds that cannot be located either in time or in space with reference to our own world, and which stand outside Judeo-Christian salvation history and divine revelation. By contrast, Harry Potter lives in a fictionalized version of our own world that is recognizable in time and space, in a country called England (which is at least nominally a Christian nation), in a timeframe of our own era.

2. Reinforcing the above point, in Tolkien’s and Lewis’s fictional worlds where magic is practiced, the existence of magic is an openly known reality of which the inhabitants of those worlds are as aware as we are of rocket science — even if most of them might have as little chance of actually encountering magic as most of us would of riding in the space shuttle. By contrast, Harry Potter lives in a world in which magic is a secret, hidden reality acknowledged openly only among a magical elite, a world in which (as in our world) most people apparently believe there is no such thing as magic.

3. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to characters who are numbered among the supporting cast, not the protagonists with whom the reader is primarily to identify. By contrast, Harry Potter, a student of wizardry, is the title character and hero of his novels.

4. Reinforcing the above point, Tolkien and Lewis include cautionary threads in which exposure to magical forces proves to be a corrupting influence on their protagonists: Frodo is almost consumed by the great Ring; Lucy and Digory succumb to temptation and use magic in ways they shouldn’t. By contrast, the practice of magic is Harry Potter’s salvation from his horrible relatives and from virtually every adversity he must overcome.

5. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to characters who are not in fact human beings (for although Gandalf and Coriakin are human in appearance, we are in fact told that they are, respectively, a semi-incarnate angelic being and an earthbound star.) In Harry Potter’s world, by contrast, while some human beings (called “Muggles”) lack the capacity for magic, others (including Harry’s true parents and of course Harry himself) do not.

6. Reinforcing the above point, Tolkien and Lewis emphasize the pursuit of magic as the safe and lawful occupation of characters who, in appearance, stature, behavior, and role, embody a certain wizard archetype — white-haired old men with beards and robes and staffs, mysterious, remote, unapproachable, who serve to guide and mentor the heroes. Harry Potter, by contrast, is a wizard-in-training who is in many crucial respects the peer of many of his avid young readers, a boy with the same problems and interests that they have.

7. Finally, Tolkien and Lewis devote no narrative space to the process by which their magical specialists acquire their magical prowess. Although study may be assumed as part of the back story, the wizard appears as a finished product with powers in place, and the reader is not in the least encouraged to think about or dwell on the process of acquiring prowess in magic. In the Harry Potter books, by contrast, Harry’s acquisition of mastery over magical forces at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft is a central organizing principle in the story-arc of the series as a whole.
I think it important to note that the portrayal of magic in The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings is limited to two types of people. First, in the two above mentioned series magic is limited to those beings that are clearly portrayed as evil. Second, it is limited to those beings gifted these powers by Aslan, the "powers for good", the Creator, etc. in a made-up world where these figures represent God, unlike a portrayal in the real world where they would represent opposing powers to God. "Magic" powers are not in and of themselves evil; it is when they are used contrary to an ordination and blessing from God that they are indeed a mockery of God's power. Witchcraft is evil because it breaks down God's created order and hierarchy of powers and is an attempt to displace God from his rightful place as ruler and sustainer of the universe. This is where I believe Harry Potter falls short, not recognizing nor safeguarding the power and sovereignty of God over the laws of nature and the universe.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

2 more days! . . . and my ramblings on teaching and tutoring math :)

I haven't had a great deal of time for blogging recently. At least, not time to write some deeper posts that require time and effort. It took me 4 days just to post a brief review of the Narnia movie. I am still planning a more detailed response to queries about Chronicles of Narnia/Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter, but I haven't been able to work on it much. In the meantime, make sure to check out Lane Keister's response to the concerns about C.S. Lewis that are raised by Keepers of the Faith. He provides a kind yet solid response to concerns about C.S. Lewis. Also on my blog draft list is a post on Santa Claus, which I would like to post sometime during the Christmas season. Other posts also drafted and waiting to be completed.

These past few weeks, but especially the past week, have been busier than before, with extra students added to my tutoring schedule (Am I supposed to do miracles with a student's math average with 3 weeks before finals?) and the excitement of friends in town for Narnia. I've also been working a bit on Christmas presents and finishing So Much More, so I could return it when our friends came down. Then we had Christmas cookies to make and decorate to bring to Ashley's on Saturday after her church's Christmas program, plus another Christmas program to attend on Sunday evening. Then I decided to make cookies for my students tomorrow, so more baking and icing today.

I'm almost done with the semester! I have one more day of teaching tomorrow, followed by three tutoring sessions afterwards, then miscellaneous paperwork and two more tutoring sessions on Thursday. Then I'm done until January :). Yay! I am thankful for the program for which I teach, and for my tutoring students, but I am ready for a break. Two weeks ago after 5 tutoring sessions in one day (until 8:00, which is unusual) I had nightmares all night long that I was tutoring geometry and trying to explain proofs to a student who did not have a clue how to do a proof. All in all, though, if I must earn an income (part-time though it is), I'm thankful I can do it with my favorite subject :). I still haven't found the time in my classes to explain the wonders of 144, but I'll have to make time sometime this year. Perhaps I'll have time tomorrow in Geometry, as we are not doing a great deal. . . I also have a geometry student begging for me to explain to him why we cannot trisect an angle with a compass and straightedge, but I have tried to explain that vector spaces are a little beyond the scope of a high school geometry course. . .

While I'm on the subject of math, I have a semi-random math thought of the day. I've been trying to lay low with my geeky math posts, but I've held back long enough. I say "semi-random math thought" because it is a little related to a project (read Christmas present) my family is working on right now. I first had this thought back in the spring, but it resurfaced this evening during a family math conversation.

Did you know that 0.4999999999. . . (ellipses denote repeating infinitely) rounds to 1? :-D I was quite delighted when I realized this earlier this year. I love collecting random fun facts about math. It looks like it should round down to zero (assuming we are rounding to the nearest integer), as it begins with a 4 in the tenth place. But the key here is that 0.4999999999. . . is exactly 1/2.

There are a few ways to show this. I will provide two.

(1) 0.3333333. . . is exactly 1/3, undisputed as far as I know. This means that 3 times 1/3 must be 0.9999999. . . . As 3 times 1/3 is 1, we know that 0.9999999. . . is equal to (not just approximately) 1. Now if 0.99999999. . . is equal to 1, than 0.09999999. . . is equal to 1/10, which means that 0.4 + 0.099999999. . equals 0.49999999. . . and also 4/10 + 1/10, or 5/10, or 1/2.

(2) Let n = 0.4999999. . .
Then 10n = 4.99999999. . .
10n - n = 4.99999. . . - 0.4999999. . . which equals 4.5, or 9/2
10n - n also equals 9n, so 9n = 9/2
Solving for n gives n = 1/2

To complete the explanation as to why 0.49999999. . . rounds to 1, we must merely note that since 0.499999999. . . repeating is exactly 1/2, it must round up to 1, as per standard rounding rules. :-D

Isn't mathematics beautiful? *becomes teary-eyed*

I'll close with a picture demonstrating what happens to poor unguarded pieces of paper in our house. This particular work of art was created by Mother Dear on the back of an old envelope.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Movie Review for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I just had to post a picture of Hannah hugging the lampost :). Her lampost-hugging caught on the next day during a walk through our neighborhood. It seemed that every lampost we passed was hugged by one person or another*.

*Disclaimer: No lamposts were harmed in the process. Furthermore, the author of this post was merely a bystander in this activity and took no active part in the proceedings.

The picture with all 4 girls is of Lucy Pevensie, a dryad, the lampost, and the White Witch. I thought all the costumes were quite creative, especially the lampost hat that really turned on!

Whew! What a blur of a weekend. I planned on typing up my review on Friday, but various events prevented me until this morning. I took a 3 hour nap yesterday to finally recover from my loss of sleep on Thursday. I now feel refreshed and back to normal :).

So, did I like the movie? Well, yes, I definitely did! I also do have nitpicks to share, but overall I would say I very much enjoyed it and felt it was overall faithful to the original story. I will first share the pros of the movie, then the cons. If you haven't seen the movie and don't want details, then don't read my review :).


- The acting was excellent - considerably better than the BBC production.
- The special effects were good, and the centaurs and fauns really looked real. No cartoon winged horses in this adaptation :).
- The scenery was breath taking and fit my mental image of Narnia. The rendition of the castle of Cair Paravel was especially beautiful, although more regal than I had imagined. The mermaids leaping out of the water was a nice inclusion.
- The costumes were well-done. I especially liked Susan's and Lucy's Narnian dresses and the Narnian armor for battle, with the Red Lion emblem engraved on the metal. Very real looking. The start of the battle, with the two armies lunging towards each other, really looked like Pelennor Fields :).
- The story and overall message was preserved. The themes of sacrifice, redemption, loyalty, etc. were still very much there.
- There were a few little details, added for the bibliophiles, that were nice: the moth balls falling out of the wardrobe as Lucy opens it up and the book titles in Mr. Tumnus' library (Is Man a Myth?, etc.). I also thought the effect of Jadis' icicle crown was neat. It slowly melts as the movie progresses, symbolizing her gradual loss of power.


- One costume I did not like was Jadis'. Her dresses were really oddly shaped, as if the top was stuffed with styrofoam or something of that sort.
- The beavers were a tad annoying, but okay. The BBC beavers, while really corny looking, were much more loveable and faithful to the book.
- The depiction of the dryads was a little odd, imo. They were kind of a whirlwind of flowers that came off the trees. Hard to describe, but not to my liking. I especially did not like that the dryads told Peter and Edmond of Aslan's death before the battle.
- Peter's battle stance was odd - the way he held his sword was abnormal.
- The book quote "battles are ugly when women fight" was instead changed to "battles are ugly" when Father Christmas explains to Susan and Lucy that they are to use their weapons only in great need. This leaves the audience wondering why he told Susan and Lucy this, but not Peter. The quote would have been better left out completely since they decided to distort it.
- Aslan didn't seem to have the same aura that he does in the books. I can't put my finger on it, but something was missing. He was much more life-like than the BBC puppet, though ;-).
- Many scenes seemed rushed and undeveloped. It would have nicer if more time had been allotted for lingering.
- Finally, and perhaps most notable, it struck me as rather selfish the way the Pevensies spent almost the whole movie trying to get out of Narnia and the conflict as quickly as possible. They kept talking about getting home and leaving the problems to other people, etc. Not the same feeling one gets from the book.

Well, there you have it. My own list of pros and cons to the movie. I definitely have some complaints about the movie, but far fewer than I anticipated. Overall it was faithful to the book, and this is one movie I will definitely want to get on DVD. I'd be interested to hear anyone else's opinion of the movie.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Narnian Dryad

The birchgirls in silver, and the beechgirls in fresh, transparent green, and the larchgirls in green so bright that it was almost yellow.

Hannah and I had too much fun tonight at Goodwill, finding a dryad costume for her to wear to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Zeglen girls, who are coming with us, are also planning to come in costume - Lucy Pevensie, the White Witch, and the Lamppost, tentatively. The rest of us are going without costumes. I had considered dressing as a dryad, but wasn't satisfied with any of my costume options. Hannah, sweet sister that she is, wanted me to be the White Witch, but I've declined. She thought I'd be perfect for the part. She quickly clarified that I have the pale complexion and tall figure. Smooth recovery, Dear :).

The Far East

Since the wisemen likely did not visit Jesus as a newborn, in our house I make sure that the wisemen of our nativity scenes are in "the far east," having just started their journey in search of the Christ child. Here are our wisemen, lined up along the eastern wall of our main room. They'll arrive in time for Epiphany :).

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Teddy Roosevelt on Motherhood

I'm currently reading through So Much More, by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. So far I am quite enjoying it. I found the following quote from the book, by Teddy Roosevelt, to be quite interesting. Truly he believed that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Hard to imagine a modern-day president giving a similar speech.

In 1905, when President Theodore Roosevelt addressed the nation on the
importance of motherhood, he revealed a mature understanding of the biblical

No piled-up wealth, no splendor of material growth, no brilliance of artistic development, will permanently avail any people unless its home life is healthy. . . unless the average woman is a good wife, a good mother, able and willing to perform the first and greatest duty of womanhood, able and willing to bear, and to bring up as they should be brought up, healthy children, sound in body, mind, and character, and numerous enough so that the race shall increase and not decrease.

There are certain old truths which will be true as long as this world endures, and which no amount of progress can alter. One of these is the truth that the primary duty of the husband is to be the home-maker, the breadwinner for his wife and children, and that the primary duty of the woman is to be the helpmate, the housewife, and mother. . .

Into the woman's keeping is committed the destiny of the generations to come after us. . . The woman's task is not easy - no task worth doing is easy - but in doing it, and when has done it, there shall come to her the highest and holiest joy known to mankind; and having done it, she shall have the reward prophesied in Scripture; for her husband and her children, yes, and all people who realize that her work lies at the foundation of all happiness and greatness, shall rise up and call her blessed.