Showing posts from January, 2020

How to Talk to Your Kids About __________: In Defense of Reading Aloud

There is a genre of article I see online often. I saw an article on how to talk to your kids about war after the recent airstrike against an Iranian General. Then, I saw an article on how to talk to your kids about a famous person's death after Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash over the weekend. The descriptions for talking about war with your kids read like a prescription bottle or recipe. It was all facts and details and truth. Here is my suggestion: read them fairy tales. G.K. Chesterton argues in chapter 4  of Orthodoxy , "The ethics of elfland," that fairy tales help us understand our world better. In short, by making us step out of our world and see a magical land, we understand comparable things in our world better. The rivers of gold in fairy tales help us realize the wonder that rivers of water truly are. The evil tyrants in fairy tales help us see wicked people more clearly in our world. S.D. Smith introduced me to this chapter by mentioning it several

Apple Reviews: Cosmic Crisp and Opal

Cosmic Crisp I've waited to try this apple for two years. The Washington State Apple Growers have done a great job marketing it, and that is why I've heard about it for two years. I know other people that have been looking forward to it as well. It finally came to a store in our area. I would describe it as the most appley apple ever. If you described the platonic ideal of an apple, you might say "red, round, crisp, juicy, sweet, tart, etc." Cosmic Crisp has all of those in a high degree. It is super juicy, very crisp like Honeycrisp, both sweet and slightly tart. My wife thought she noticed a lemonade flavor. I love it. It's not the greatest apple ever or my favorite (Sweet Sixteen and Mutsu take that prize) but it is still outstanding and well worth buying. It makes a great dessert just to eat it fresh. I love the red color. The ideal apple in my head is red, but few red apples taste very good. This one is great. Opal I picked these up today to try

What should 26 year-olds write about?

Over dinner tonight, Emma and I talked about writers and writing. We talked about 26 year-old writers who write about life planning, marriage, and children. 26 year-olds can write novels, sci-fi, books about the structure of the internet, or the history of something-or-other. But not life planning. I mentioned a quote from Annie Dillard in The Writing Life: "A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all." The kids giggled when I told them about Dillard's first book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  She writes about the bugs crawling across the plants in one specific place. She writes about the fish in the creek and the plants at that one moment in time. She helps us see other places by writing about that one creek. One book that does this well is Beth Macy's Dopesick . She wanted to explore and explain the opioid crisis. So she focused intensely on one place along an interstate in western Virginia. By showi

Art for Our Sake

I read a writer this week lamenting/mocking a poet who won a prize. He thinks she's an absurd poet. He may be right. But his lament was that another poet that he admired should have changed so he could make money. We live in a world that judges the worth of something by the economic benefit from it. Music is only valuable if someone can make a living from it. Painting and poetry are only what people pay for them. People mock those who study art or literature or music. Or they study something and lament that they cannot get a job in that field. But could there be a reason to make music, art, poetry, literature that can't be counted in money? Could there be a reason to write poems or paint pictures even if no one pays for them? That is how art and music and literature and architecture have advanced for thousands of years. There is something valuable about beauty even if is not worth money. The good poet does good work even if he never makes a living from it. I hope for my