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Review: Irenaeus of Lyon by Simonetta Carr

As we look ahead to Good Friday and Easter, it is good to remember that the Bible tells us all we need to know about our salvation and about how to be thankful for it.  We do not need to wait for special revelations or hidden messages.  We just  need to humbly accept God’s Word.

Irenaeus taught that, and more, many hundreds of years ago.

Young Irenaeus, born around 130 AD, was taught by Polycarp who “had studied under the apostle John and had met others who had been with Jesus.”  Besides getting the usual classical education of his time, Irenaeus thus also learned to really understand the Bible.

However, during his days there were those, now called Gnostics, who said that real Christianity involved mysteries that were not part of the Bible. Simonetta writes, “Their message was tempting, because gaining higher knowledge seemed more exciting than admitting that human beings are limited and have to depend on God’s written revelation.

Irenaeus studied these ideas extensively and, despite persecutions as well as disagreements among Christians, he remained faithful to the Bible.  In fact, he worked so hard to understand the confusing teachings that he was asked to write a book to explain them and show how they differed from the Bible. His book, Against Heresies, summarized both Gnostic teachings and Christian thought, exposing the foolishness of Gnostic ideas with humor and clarity.

Weaving in the stories of Polycarp, Blandina, and others, Simonetta tells a tale of faithfulness, confusion, persecution, and mission.  Photographs and Matt Abraxas’s stunning illustrations add visual appeal and details to this story of Irenaeus and his times.  Even so, to the author’s surprise, her Sunday school class found the theological portions of this book the most thrilling and exciting of all.

I am in awe of what Simonetta has been able to do with the story of Irenaeus. Even though little is known about his life, she was able to write a compelling and factual story about those around him and about his writings.  Essentially Irenaeus of Lyon is a history of early theology for children and, as Simonetta’s Sunday school class showed, kids like it.  Teens and adults will also enjoy this introduction to Irenaeus and his wisdom.  In fact, any Christian who absorbs the things written in this book will benefit hugely and be able to detect false teachings much more easily.

Even though Irenaeus of Lyon is written for ages 7-12, it can teach Christians of all ages important and timeless lessons.  I certainly learned a lot.

Note:  In the first edition of this book Lyon has been misplaced on the map on page 4 (it is actually under the ‘u’ of Gaul); this will be corrected in future editions.  You can see the correct map here.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I share what I read. 

Disclosure:  We received a review copy from Simonetta Carr and Reformation Heritage Books.

This article may be linked to Raising Homemakers, Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook

Want your family to be healthier?

Want your family to be healthier?

Me, too.

We have all heard that many of the health conditions many of us deal with are modern-day issues, from the increase in cancer and heart disease to the explosion of autoimmune diseases and mental illness.

Undoubtedly these conditions are partly related to things we have no control over, but it seems that many of them can be improved by something we control 100%, what we eat.

And, according to the doctor who has gotten me from barely being able to walk or lift my fork to being able to function adequately, it’s not only what we eat but also how we prepare what we eat.

For example, this doctor wants me to eat traditionally fermented food every day, food like homemade sauerkraut or kimchi or ginger ale.  And I’ve done it occasionally, but I’m always slightly uncomfortable with how I prepare them, wondering if it is really safe.  Especially since my kefir-making adventure went wrong and gave me alcoholic milk to drink every morning….

So I have not been doing it faithfully.

As you may know if you read my blog regularly, I am again struggling with health issues and so is my family, so I have decided to focus on trying these ideas again.

And that turned me to Wardee’s Traditional Cooking School.  I’ve known about Wardee and her GNOWFLGINS (God’s Natural Organic Whole Foods Grown Locally IN Season) project for years and was even featured on her Simple Lives Thursday link up, a huge thrill and encouragement when I was a beginning blogger.  (In case you’re interested, the featured articles were “Goldfinch Nest in a Purple Loosestrife Plant” and “Medieval Cookery.”)

So I tried Wardee’s free mini-course, liked what I learned, and am now going to spend a whole year learning all sorts of traditional cooking methods.  The thought of being able to go for nature walks again, of being able to sing more than one stanza of a Psalm at a time, and of increasing my family’s health is so exciting!

What’s more, my teens will also take some of the courses with me for part of their foods and nutrition high school credit.  Not only that, but understanding traditional cooking methods is a hands-on connection to history that most of us do not have any understanding of and that is certainly also valuable as a homeschool history project.

I am going to be sharing our adventure with you as we learn, reviewing different individual Traditional Cooking School courses every once in a while so you can see what they are about and whether or not they might be something for you and your family.  (If you don’t want to miss any of these posts, feel free to follow me.)

Heads Up:  If you are even slightly interested, I suggest you look around Traditional Cooking School right away, since costs for both the cooking school membership and for the individual courses will go up on April 1.  Wardee has a blog full of information, a huge recipe data base, and over a hundred podcasts.  If these appeal to you and you want to dig deeper, you can read Wardee’s story and sign up for the free introductory mini-course at the bottom right of the page.

Disclosure:  When I looked around for an independent review of Wardee’s Traditional Cooking School to help me decide if it would work for my family, I could find none.  What does a reviewer like me do in such a circumstance?  Offer to prepare a review, of course.  So I have a one year membership in the Traditional Cooking School in order to review some of its courses.  As always, I am not compensated for this, nor have I promised to give positive reviews.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I, eventually, share what I read.  When I get around to it I will figure out how to set up a proper ‘follow me by email’ button as well; if you want me to hurry up with that, feel free to encourage me in the comments.

This post is linked to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

First Day of Spring

Although just a few days ago the snow was still blowing into drifts on our road, spring is officially here!

The trees know that and are sending up sweet sap which some of my friends toilsomely turn into maple syrup.

We know, too, and are almost ready to order our seeds for the summer, dreaming of delicious vegetables, beautiful flowers, and a world that is green instead of white.

Itching to get started, we have already planted some purple kohlrabi sprouts inside for our salads and wraps.

Soon the outside world, too, will be full of sprouting miracles.  But first we need to wait.

We wait, and it seems that nothing is happening.  These short videos of germination show that, behind the scenes, much is going on even when it seems nothing is.  That could be a metaphor for life, as the first chapters of Job show.

But even more happens before a seed visibly germinates.

I recall a graduate course I took decades ago in which we studied what happens at a molecular level at the very beginning of an organism’s life.  The things that go on are nothing short of amazing and the course was one revelation after another.

To my surprise, this was the most religious course I ever took at university.  Every awe-inspiring sequence of molecular events and every incredible miracle was ascribed, reverently, to Evolution.  Every question about mechanisms of cell differentiation was met with the simple statement, “Evolution does that.”

We Bible believers know Who it really is who designed and now upholds all these unimaginably intricate events, and research is unearthing more and more facts that would point an unbiased observer to Him. 

In fact, scientists at the forefront of research in various fields realize that the idea of evolution has serious shortcomings and struggle hard to fit newly discovered facts into their theory.  However, often laypeople and students are just patted on the head and told that, of course, evolution works.  I suspect that evolution popularizers may not even be aware of the research challenges to the ideas they present with such missionary zeal. (See Total Truth for scientific references about lies presented in many textbooks and No Christian Silence on Science for scientific advances that just don’t fit the evolutionary paradigm.)

Be that as it may, after the snow melts, when billions and trillions of seeds sprout around us this spring, think of the miracles going on under the soil. Realize that the wonders happening at a molecular level are even more amazing than the ones you can see on the videos. And then give the glory to God rather than to a faltering, beleaguered theory.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I, eventually, share what I read. 

Review: Windows Programming and Game Programming by CompuScholar

Why should you and your kids care about computer science?  As the Sonlight website points out, there are many jobs in the field.  Furthermore, as one of our daughters discovered to her dismay, not knowing about programming can make it difficult to find work even in other fields.  (The next year she managed to fit programming into her university course schedule.)

A careful look at interests and aptitudes, such as with Vicki Tillman’s Career Exploration, will help your children determine whether or not computer science would be valuable for them.  However, for those in grades 6-8, the ones who would be taking this particular course, there is nothing like some hands-on exposure.

If you want to learn more about this excellent homeschool computer course, read my complete review “Windows Programming and Game Programming by CompuScholar” at the Curriculum Choice.

Looking for a Classical Christian One-Year College?

Are you looking for a classical Christian one-year college? An excellent one that includes community and is not too expensive?

Let me tell you about Augustine College, a top-notch, intentionally-tiny college in the heart of Ottawa, Canada.  With its close-knit community and commitment to rigorous, Christ-centered study, Augustine College has been a formative influence in the lives of many young people from around the world.

Its goal is for students and faculty, in community, “to grow in wisdom and in virtue by exploring the riches of Western culture….We study the wisdom of the past so that, having been built up as bearers of the Divine Image, we may truly glorify God and further his Kingdom in all that we say, think, and do.”

Thus Augustine College also equips its students to impact our culture from a foundation of historical understanding, excellence, and Truth, no matter how they end up serving God in this life.

If this sounds interesting, you might want to attend the upcoming Student for a Day open house, March 24, 2018.  Augustine students range from homeschoolers in their mid-teens to university graduates looking for a year of Christian education in preparation for med school; anyone who is willing to work hard can find a place here.

Several years ago I wrote about attending Student for a Day with one of my teens.  While none of my children so far have ended up attending Augustine College, I have fallen in love with it and its mission, and that’s why I am sharing those memories with you today.

Yesterday Miss 15 and I were students for a day at Augustine College in Ottawa, Canada, a Christian college that reminds me of both classical and Charlotte Mason education.

Our visit was inspiring as well as mind-expanding.  In fact, I’d love to take a year ‘off’ to study at Augustine if yesterday’s lectures were representative.

First we, students and visitors, had three hours (!!) of Art in Western Culture taught by Dr. Tingley.  He spoke about Romanticism in Art, tying in history, theology, philosophy, literature, and music.  He showed slides and discussed their meaning.  He didn’t spare the students; the content was heavy, and though the artwork contained violence and eroticism he used them to show God’s truth and expose man’s lies. Rather than merely describing the Romantic movement, he carefully analyzed it, its sources, its results, and its representatives.

At end of this intense talk, Dr. Tingley discussed ‘On the Sailing Boat’ by Caspar David Friedrich. Do you see the man and woman, holding hands, gazing at the horizon?  They are together but focusing on something beyond themselves, the hazy spires on the distant shore. To his audience of young adults, Tingley explained, step by step, how Friedrich painted an image of marriage itself instead of merely a married couple.  There is something to learn here, he pointed out:  Marriage is being bound to someone by a shared, independently accepted destiny, so that the two of you eagerly focus on the future, symbolized by the church spires, rather than merely on each other.

Recently I reviewed Schaeffer’s Art and the Bible, but it wasn’t until this lecture that I really understood how Schaeffer’s ideas can be applied to movements and to individual works of art.  That is probably why those three hours whizzed by so quickly!

Later, students told me that the concepts they learned in Dr. Tingley’s class echoed what they were learning in other classes, and that there were so many overlapping ideas across their various subjects.  The students’ comments reminded me of our time with Ambleside Online, when we learned from authors passionate about their subjects and when connections among the various books and topics developed naturally.

In the afternoon we had two hours with Dr. John Patrick, physician, apologist, lecturer, lover of Truth, and teacher of the Science, Medicine, and Faith class.  This lecture, like the morning’s, began with prayer. Then Dr. Patrick, seated comfortably on a table, began to discuss…The Sermon on the Mount!  He explained to the visitors that past students had told him this was the most important part of his course, so now he goes through the Sermon on the Mount each year.

Then he continued with the history of science where, rather than emphasizing memorization, he focusses on the key ideas that did and didn’t work and the major players.  Yesterday’s topic was the history of chemistry, so he told stories about early chemists, their activities, and the theories of the day. He read aloud excerpts from Mendeleyev’s Dream by Strathern (this may be our next lunch time read aloud).  There was a wonderful excursion into Polanyi’s idea that we know more than we can verbalize and how that relates to conversion. Somehow that morphed into a discussion of how to become a good teacher: by loving the subject and the students rather than by learning rules.

The final few minutes of his lecture were as unexpected as the first ones:  Dr. Patrick taught the students to defend Judeo-Christian ideas, and to recognize and deconstruct foolish arguments.  There is a list of topics he cycles through, repeating them until the students thoroughly understand them. This time it was tolerance, but at other times he discusses ideas such as the myth of neutrality or the sanctity of life.

I rather suspect that Dr. Patrick’s course should really be called critical thinking, for that seems to be his passion:  to teach the students how to think critically, to prepare them for attacks on Christianity and Christian values, and to show them key ideas and players in the history of science from a Christian point of view.

In both lectures the students were given a huge amount of subject material but they were also taught about life.  While both professors were passionate about their subject, they seemed equally passionate about preparing the students to live as Christians in their future education, in their interaction with others, and in their future marriages.

This is the kind of education I try to provide, in a small way, for my teens at home. However, at a post-secondary level, nothing can compare with the expertise of gifted teachers passionate about their subject and their faith.

Is this the kind of education your family is interested in?  Then you should check out Augustine College.  You can visit in person during Student for a Day or make arrangements that suit your family better.

Why Augustine College? Explore seven reasons that form a profound manifesto for Christian education. Remember also that this small interdenominational liberal arts college has provided an affordable, Christian classical education for many years.  Furthermore, credits are transferable and the one year at Augustine often translates to more than a year at larger institutions.

You will also want to explore the Augustine College website, check out “What We Study” and look at the Augustine College Youtube channel.

Whether or not Student for a Day or Augustine College will work for you, for now just keep teaching your kids at home, doing your best to pass on wisdom as well as knowledge.

May God bless all Christian education, whether at home, at day-schools, or at post-secondary institutions.

Rereading this article, I realize it sounds like an advertisement.  Hence the disclosure:  I am in no way compensated for writing this post.

(Image from Augustine College Student for a Day poster.)

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