Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Discussing Harry Potter

This summer Tara and I decided to read the Harry Potter series with Evan. He had been wanting to start them, and with all the controversy, it seemed like a good idea to provide parental guidance as we read.

So the standings are like this: I am in the middle of book 4, Tara just finished book 4, and I think Evan is somewhere in book 4. We have a rule applying to him that he can't go any more than one book ahead of us.

At least in the first four books, I really don't think these books are about witchcraft and wizardry. I think the wizard thing is a vehicle for introducing fantasy/amazing events into the stories. All the magic is certainly there, but it seems like it is substituted for ordinary methods, often to humorous effects. For example, Harry and his close friends take classes all day at Hogwarts, the boarding school for magical young people. J.K. Rowling's descriptions of classes, teachers, and the struggles of being a young student are very realistic and often very funny. They just take place over a boiling kettle of gloop in Potions class instead of over a beaker of slime in chemistry.

If I had concerns about the series, they could be summarized like this:

1) Harry and friends are always breaking rules for a perceived good reason. There certainly are good reasons to break rules, but life usually doesn't present them quite as often as these books do. This series gives young readers the idea that there's always a better route than following the rules, talking to the teacher, etc.

2) Harry Potter presents the use of magic as normal and healthy, which it is not, as we know from Scripture. If the magic is seen as fantasy, I doubt it will be a problem. If readers, however, are looking for special powers, then they could be tempted to seek a magical solution to their perceived weakness. In contrast, the Bible is huge on making sure that we seek our strengthening only through Christ, his word, his ways, and his authority.

Beyond that, I think she's a fantastic writer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Getting Ready For...

As I crunch down my cereal this morning, I am mostly thinking about things that we're getting ready for. Here are a few of them.

+We're getting ready for a new job today. Friendly Jim's (my painting and outdoor services company) finished a big house last Friday and we're on to something new today. This client asked for an installment plan -- they want to pay once a month until they're finished with the bill. I agreed that they could do this, but it will be interesting to see how it goes.

+ We're getting ready for an ice cream social at our house this Friday night. We want to get to know our neighbors a little better and to see where they are spiritually. If you are a believer in Christ, please pray with me for our event, that it would go well and lead where God wants it to lead.

+ We're getting ready to go on the road. I bought a travel trailer on Saturday from Auto Recyclers. It was made in 1963 but still seems to be roadworthy enough to get us out to experience more of Minnesota and maybe Iowa too. Who knows?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reflections on Early Summer

Yeah, I know it's not summer yet, but in Minnesota any day above sixty degrees is summer. Of course, today is only about fifty and rainy, but hey...

We finished up another school year about about two weeks ago. I had no students with incompletes and was delighted to turn in my paperwork and call an end to the year.

I praise God because he is providing business for us just as we have entered the summer cycle of our lives. In some ways summer is more relaxed and in other ways more stressful. It's like I know that I both need to rest and earn, so I can sometimes get torn between the two activities.

Tara took all the children and herself to the dentist last week, so that is where our extra money is headed. At least for now. ;-)

My dad came over this morning to help me install our new storm door on the front of the house. The last one was ripped when we came and a few weeks ago deposited its fibrous insides all over the front steps. That was a clear sign to replace it. So I bought a new SURVIVOR (tm) storm door and set about installing it.

We were doing well until we came to the direction that said "Peel the adhesive backing off the template and place it around the edge of the door 38 inches from the top." Grandpa and I looked and looked, but there was no template, and certainly not one with adhesive backing on it.

So will drilled the holes ourselves with no guide and great courage. And they basically turned out all right. Could have been better, no doubt, but better than no door at all.

We still have to install the hydraulic closer-thinger and the spring-thinger at the top, but we are well on our way to getting between the inside and the outside.

I am almost ready to start traveling greater Minnesota by van or RV or pull-behind camper or whatever. I want to see the places, do the work, and share the Word. It will be interesting if nothing else.