The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why do you look so resentful?” (Genesis 4:6, CEB)
The Jedi Master Yoda warns both Aiken and Luke Skywalker about anger. Yoda tells Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Someone should have warned Cain.
There was another school shooting recently, this time in Santa Fe, Texas. I was out-of-town and found out from Megan who texted me the news. Even though we are parents of a toddler, the anxiety that a school shooting creates is not lost on us.
According to a recent Washington Post article, the Santa Fe shooting was not the only one that week. In fact, there has been a large number of school shootings and threats of shootings in 2018. Another article from the Washington Post reports that more children have been killed by school shootings this year than deployed service members.
And while I’m in favor of some action happening to discuss the various issues related to school shootings, I found myself praying. I share with you my prayer and invite you to pray with me.
Harvey’s Hideout, Russell Hoban, Plough Publishing, 2018.
Harvey Muskrat and his sister, Mildred, find themselves in a continual feud.
Originally published in 1969, Russell Hoban’s classic, much like Bread and Jam for Frances or Charlie the Tramp, Harvey’s Hideout has a hint of realism. Whether muskrats or humans, siblings fight. Both siblings have their lesser qualities, which seem to be the entry of frustration with the other. Harvey is inconsiderate, while Mildred is bossy.
But, as Father Muskrat reminds them, it does not mean that they are “stupid and no-good” or “mean and rotten.”
Liam Takes a Stand, Troy Wilson, Owlkids Books, 2017.
Liam loves his older brothers, Lister and Lester. The brothers are twins who are competitive with one another. They strive to outdo the other.
Liam, however, just wants to play.
Liam wants to be with his brothers so badly, that when they each open their own lemonade stand, he offers to work for them. Even for free. But his brothers reject his offer.
Instead, Liam takes on various odd jobs in the community, from walking dogs to cutting grass. When Mrs. Redmond pays him with a basket of apples, it inspires an innovative idea. While his older brothers were trying to attract larger crowds, Liam opens an apple juice stand.
Pretty soon, Liam’s stand takes all of his brother’s business, and they go into debt. They end up coming to their little brother asking for a job. Liam hires them to work and to play.
On Easter-eve I was flipping through the channels on the television and found Charlton Heston. He was dressed as Egyptian royalty giving orders to the other Egyptians. It was, of course, the well-known film The Ten Commandments.
M. J. Thomas continues his Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series of children chapter books with the third installment – The Great Escape – by providing a slightly different take on the famous Moses narrative.
Siblings Peter and Mary hear the roar of the lion and are transported to ancient Egypt to solve the mystery of the hidden scroll. The children emerge into the narrative of Moses pleading with Pharoah the let the people go. Peter and Mary meet both Egyptian and Hebrew children that offer a different perspective to this well-known story.
WorthyKids/Ideals and the Museum of the Bible are partnering together to put out some new and creative books. The Museum of the Bible is one of the newest museums in Washington, D. C., just a few blocks from the Capitol. The Museum of the Bible is an innovative, global, educational institution with the goal of inviting people to engage with the Bible.
The newest additions to this collection are Colors in the Bible and Numbers in the Bible, ideal for little learners. Both of which Toddler J enjoys.
I read a lot! From Batman comics to works of theology, current events to historical reflections. Here is a sampling of what I have read over the last several months.
A former speechwriter for President Ronald Regan, Noonan has been a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Her book pulls many of her pieces together in one collection. A gifted writer, Noonan is able to share critical observations about current realities without being overly political. But don’t let that fool you. She praises Regan as one of the best presidents and is overly critical of the Clinton’s and Obama. That said, it is important to remember that this collection of essays is being read out of context. Weekly columns deal with the present. Perhaps the best part of this book is the introduction. Noonan offers a glimpse into her writing process. For any person whose main form of communication is the written word, Noonan provides a primer in writing. (3 out of 5 stars.)
Ever since the Planet 316 Story Bible arrived at our house, Toddler J has not let it leave her side. We had to read from it right away. In fact, we read most of the Old Testament stories in that one sitting. We continued reading at bedtime.
She loves this new Bible.
The colors are bright and inviting. The Biblical stories are appropriately retold. We had read, and reread, Jacob and Esau, Baby Moses, and Samson. There are over a hundred stories, with hundreds of illustrations.
The Lost Art of Good Conversation: A Mindful Way to Connect with Others and Enrich Everyday Life, Sakyong Mipham, Penguin Random House, 2017.
Have you noticed in this highly politicized time that it’s hard to have a good conversation? Among family members, in the workplace, and in churches, having a good conversation has become challenging. When you consider the conversations that the United Methodist Church is (and has been) having, particularity about human sexuality, it becomes even more challenging to have a good conversation.
Sakyong Mipham, head of the worldwide Shambhala community, uses his book to remind readers that in this hyper-connected time in which we live, we do not always communicate well. It is easier to make our point and refuse to hear another’s on Facebook and Twitter than it is sitting at a table, face-to-face.
By doing so, we no longer rejoice with those who rejoice or cry with those who cry. We lose any intimacy that a conversation would normally have. As Mipham writes, “We are at a dangerous crossroads because when we lose feeling, our exchanges with others lose value.” (11)
“It is a warrior practice of kindness using words.” -Sakyong Mipham (16)
Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior, Ed Clayton, Candlewick Press, 2017.
During a road trip one summer, Megan and I made a stop in Birmingham, Alabama. There, we went to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. As we walked through the museum, retracing the steps of the Civil Rights Movement, we walked pass Martin Luther King Jr.’s jail cell where he wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Crowded with large families, summer school programs, and other vacationers like us, the Institute was challenging to navigate. I noticed a museum employee pulling a cart through the crowd, politely asking people to make a path for him. On the cart was a bench. I watched as the employee took the concrete bench to the Birmingham jail cell.