Saturday, April 14, 2007

Copycats and Inspiration

We know that there are lots of places in the New Testament where the Old Testament is quoted by Jesus or Paul or somebody else. Psalm 118:22 is quoted by Jesus during Holy Week (Matthew 21:42-44), but is also referred to indirectly in Matthew 16:18 (by Jesus in response to the Confession of St Peter). And then Paul picks up on it later in Ephesians 2:19-22.

But I've been finding it surprising (although I don't know why) that New Testament writers quoted other earlier New Testament writers, and Old Testament writers quoted earlier Scriptures.

For example, the canticle in the Service of Prayer and Preaching (LSB 261) is from Isaiah 12: "The Lord God is my Strength and my Song, and He has become my Salvation." But that is a quote of Psalm 118:14. And the psalm quotes the canticle sung centuries before on the east side of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:2).

John (Revelation 21:5) quotes Jesus' statement, "Behold, I am making all things new." Paul (who wrote before John) brings that up at the end of 2 Corinthians 5. That's why I like so much that Mel Gibson's movie put that quote in the mouth of Jesus on the way to the cross.

We know the words in the catechism from Mark 16:16 about baptism. But I just noticed recently that John includes that same statement when he records Jesus' catechesis on baptism (John 3:18, as He spoke to Nicodemus).

I knew Jesus would often apply OT Scriptures to Himself. But His preaching would also be based on OT Scripture. For example, in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) one of the things He says is based on Psalm 37's theme (vv 9-11) about the meek inheriting the earth.

When the Babylonian captives returned to Jerusalem, they prayed and confessed their sin and listened to the Bible readings. Their words (recorded in Nehemiah 9) included the confession (v 17) that God is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness" which is a quote from the prophet Joel (2:13) three centuries earlier. There are also lines in their confession which sound almost identical to phrases from Psalm 78, as well as the whole overall shape of Nehemiah 9 being very similar to Psalm 78.

Another example: Psalm 90 (written by Moses) is quoted in the Isaiah 40 passage about the grass withering and the flower fading. Then later Jesus refers to this in the Sermon on the Mount (end of Matthew 6).

These are just a few of the "copycat" examples I've noticed recently. I guess the reason I never saw these things before (and the reason I see so few now) is that I know so little of my Bible. But when I do notice these things, it's neat to see how the inspiration of Scripture is so much just the repetition of the words God has given before. And it underscores the importance of thoroughly knowing those words -- memorizing those words -- so that they become our own too.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Good Friday in the One-Year Series

The one-year lectionary from LSB lists the Good Friday epistle as 2 Corinthians 5. The Good Friday epistle for all three years of the three-year series is listed as Hebrews 4. The LSB altar book says that the epistle is Hebrews 4. There is no mention that the 2 Corinthians passage is an option. They just left it out of the altar book. The altar book just defaults to the 3-year series there.

Congregations using the 3-year series hear the 2 Cor 5 passage every Ash Wednesday, as well as on Lent 4 in series C. They use the Hebrews 4-5 passage every Good Friday, as well as hitting the Hebrews 4 part for Propers 24 in series B, and the Hebrews 5 part for Lent 5 in series B.

Congregations following the 1-year series will hear the Hebrews 4 passage on Lent 1, and the 2 Cor 5 passage on Good Friday. But if the one-year series is used in conjunction with the Holy Week services out of the altar book, then they'll hear the Hebrews 4 passage on both Lent 1 and Good Friday, but would never hear the 2 Corinthians 5 passage again.

How Long Do You Homeschool Each Day?

A common question from non-homeschoolers concerns how much time it takes to homeschool children. Some people are "checking up" to see if they approve of what a homeschooler is doing with her children. Others are interested in homeschooling their own children, but are fearful that they won't have enough time to commit to the endeavor. In her article "How Many Hours?" Barbara Frank discusses the difference in time needed to teach in a homeschool versus teaching a group of children in a typical classroom setting. She's got a lot of good things to say in this article.


Catching up on some blog reading recently, I was reading the last month's worth from Chaplain to the World. I really liked his report of church on Easter Sunday at his brother-in-law's congregation.

On a lighter note, I also thought I'd pass on a few teasers from his Good Humor list.
What do you call cheese that isn't yours? Nacho cheese.
How do you get holy water? You boil the hell out of it.
Why do gorillas have big nostrils? Because they have big fingers.
There are 19 more like this at Pastor K's site. Click on the link above.


We attended the Easter Choral Vespers in Milwaukee last night, led by the seminary Kantorei. It was the best one of those I've been to yet -- that probably has something to do with there being five Gerhardt hymns.

Tonight (Friday) they're at St Paul in Lockport IL (near Joliet) at 7:30.
Saturday at 7:00 they're at Zion in Grant Park IL (just northeast of Kankakee).
Sunday morning they'll be at St Peter, North Judson IN.
Sunday afternoon at 4:00, they'll be praying vespers back at the sem chapel.

Definitely worth attending if you can get there with a drive of an hour or two.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Critical Thinking Skills Press

We have used some materials from Critical Thinking Press. Although they are highly touted in many homeschool catalogs, I haven't been as impressed as many others.

The Mind Benders seem fun as well as being beneficial for developing thinking skills. But, hey, they're mostly just logic problems. And you can get those in puzzle books for a lot cheaper than you can from this educational publisher.

We bought Building Thinking Skills when the older kids were younger. I was seriously underwhelmed. Some friends have been impressed with these sets of books. They give practice in analogies (both verbal and figural-spatial) that would probably help a kid practice for annual standardized tests or the SAT. But since that's not important to us, I wasn't finding anything valuable in these books. Now, that is probably due in part to having kids who are more right-brained than average. The Building Thinking Skills books seemed way too easy, and almost entirely pointless. However, when Kid#6 came along and exhibited some learning difficulties, I started learning about non-verbal learning disorders. I figured she would need some help in areas that came naturally to the older kids. So I purchased another copy of Building Thinking Skills. Maggie seemed to enjoy it, and it may even have helped a little. Once or twice a year she asks to go on to level 2, but I haven't let her yet. I want her to get a little older first. But someday we will use that book with her, whereas it seemed pointless with the other kids.

I used Critical Thinking with a group of three teenagers (aged 12-17). It is a logic course. It's fairly decent. It covered things like "and" and "or" and "if-then." It talked about reasonable arguing versus unreasonable fighting. It had a section on truth-tables. It covered propaganda techniques, advertising schemes, and common errors in reasoning. It wasn't something we looked forward to working on during our time with the course, but, hey, it served a purpose.

I thought their history books looked more intriguing. So my friend Barb loaned us her copy of Critical Thinking in United States History Series: New Republic to Civil War. Paul and I were excited to start it. We loved the concept of studying logic in the context of American history. But as we got into it, we had some complaints. The lessons seemed to us to come from too liberal a slant. But worse, it was just plain hard to follow. There were lessons in logic on one page. Then there were worksheets to practice the skills elsewhere, with the answer guide somewhere in the teacher's book. Then there were the history readings to analyze, along with questions and answers. Then the answer guide for those were in a different section of the teacher's guide. And along with a gazillion bookmarks for those things, there was the part of the teacher's guide that showed what sections needed to be done in preparation for which lessons. And I tell ya, my head was spinning. I need something easier than all that page-flipping.

As we worked our way through the book, it got more and more painful. About 1/3 of the way through, I finally decided I was ready to quit Critical Thinking's New Republic to Civil War, and the boys cheered! One reason was because it was purporting to teach us something we'd already learned in a MUCH clearer way from the book Fallacy Detective. Although I deeply object to the theology behind the first three chapters of the Fallacy Detective (equating biblical "wisdom" with intellectual smarts instead of the "fear of the Lord"), the rest of the book is done superbly and is not necessarily pro- or anti-Christian. The book makes its points. It does so clearly. It does so in an orderly manner. It's easy to teach from. It's easy to refer back to when that becomes necessary. It has practice problems that teach new concepts and review old concepts. It has the answer key in the back of the book instead of scattered in different places in a separate teacher's guide (like the Critical Thinking books do). We learned a lot more from Fallacy Detective than from any other logic course we've tried.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Why is it that whenever my husband leaves for a conference, I seem to end up soaking wet, cold, and dealing with problems that take a man's strength? Rachel and Philip didn't go to work today because of weather conditions. I was glad that Paul -- the least experienced driver -- made it home from work safely. Andrew and I managed, cautiously and slowly, to get to town for paper routes. But once we got home, it took us 40 minutes to get into the driveway. And that was with three of us shoveling and trying to dig the car out of the drifts. We had the same problem getting into the driveway on the day back in December when Maggie was sprung from the hospital after surgery. As bad as it is out there today, it's nowhere near as bad as the storm the last weekend in February, which was nowhere near as bad as the storm the following week (which was the worst we've seen since we've lived here).

The snow and high winds caused power outages -- something to which we are NOT accustomed here. I think this may have been the longest we've been without electricity since living here. Being without electricity isn't good. But out here, no electricity means no water. That's really really not good. We suspected electrical problems were on the way because the power was flashing off and on for about half an hour before it went down altogether. We were reading schoolwork when I suddenly realized that the bleeping electricity was a sign of things to come. We stopped schoolwork and started gathering buckets and filling them with water: drinking water in the kitchen, buckets of water for washing dishes, buckets of water for flushing, and enough to be able to do a little personal clean-up in the event that showers/baths were unaccessible later. Happily, by mid-afternoon it seemed like the electricity was back on for good. At least until the storm picks up again later today (if the forecast is accurate).

Boy oh boy, I guess this is what winter looks like when the drought ends, huh? It's been dry so long that I can scarcely remember what Real Winter is.

Psalm 118:24

"This is the day which the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it."

That has oftentimes been sung as a song around the campfire or in Sunday schools. It's usually taught as a song about "ain't this a nice day that God gave us" or a "cheer up and be happy" kind of song.

But when you look at it in context, the day is the day when the Stone which the builders rejected became the Chief Cornerstone. This is a Passover psalm. This is the psalm chanted on Palm Sunday by the crowds welcoming Jesus. This is the psalm we still sing in the Sanctus every Sunday.

If we actually understood this campfire song, we'd realize that this song isn't a "cheer up" song, but is really telling us why Good Friday is good.

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord
for He is good,
for His mercy endures forever."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Vanity Plates

I picked up a fun book at the library recently. Leonard Wise put together The Way Cool License Plate Book, published by Firefly Books in 2002. It's full of pictures of license plates, with exclamations, or indicating the person's profession or something about his pets or vehicle. I don't think it has any redeeming educational value, but it sure is fun to browse!

A Capella Math

My kids linked to some of these things recently. I don't know how to post a You-Tube picture, but I can post a link to the Klein Four's song Finite Simple Group (of Order Two). These guys are mathematicians from Northwestern University, and they sing a capella. They're good singers. And they're hilarious. And they're mathematicians! "Finite Simple Group" is a song about love, but it's drenched and steeped and riddled (pun intended) with mathematical terms.

Under "quick links" on the Klein Four website, you might want to click on "Bottle Choir." They came up with a 27-note set of bottles to blow into (beer bottles, wine bottles, etc). They play Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming in parts sort of like a handbell choir would operate, only they're blowing into partially filled bottles instead of ringing handbells. We sat here in awe last night as Gary played the song, and even applauded the guys when it was done.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Just Desserts?

My son tells me that when somebody gets what's coming to them, they get their "just deserts," not their "just desserts." But, I told him, a desert is a dry place, and it's pronounced differently, and "just desserts" is pronounced like the word that has two S's. We looked it up in the dictionary. Deserts is a noun that means "what you deserve" or "merits." Makes sense when you see it that way. But who knew??

And as long as I'm on this theme, when you do what you're told, you "toe the line," not "tow the line." And when a person measured up, he "passed muster," not "passed mustard."

We have a potluck at church next Sunday. Probably nobody will have to pass the mustard -- there are seldom ham sandwiches. People usually only bring just desserts.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Wedding Gifts

I suppose this is entirely tacky for the mother of the bride to comment on. But some people have asked, so I'll answer. Rachel and Matt are registered at Target.

Upside Down

Imperfect Homeschooler had a post about a movie that offended somebody. In the movie about an advertising executive, this fellow happens to meet up with Jesus in the desert near Emmaus. He gives Jesus a Coke, and Jesus happily drinks it.

Now, is the Church upset by this? No outcry there.

Who's upset? The Coke folks. They aren't "interested in this kind of product placement." It could give Coke a negative image. The Coke folks insisted the movie be pulled from distribution until the scene can be edited out.


I missed the Te Deum last night.
I missed the hymns and chorales we used to sing interspersed with the Old Testament readings.
I missed the 2 Corinthians passage for the Good Friday epistle.
I wish the committee had chosen the NKJV (instead of ESV) for the Romans 6 passage in the Baptism service.
I don't like Beethoven in church.
The hymn committee for LSB was compelled to include some praise choruses in the new hymnal. They did a great job of picking ones that have good words. But even so, the music itself (apart from the text) just SAYS something. It makes me uncomfortable.

Kantor can do awesome things with the organ.
I sure do like the Easter hymns by John of Damascus.
Matt was confirmed and is now communing again.