Sunday, November 11, 2007

Homegrown Revolution at Path to Freedom

If you've not yet seen this video about the dangerous occupation of growing your own food, dangerous because you are on the way to becoming free (to paraphrase Jules Dervaes), I'd highly recommend it. It just might change your life.

For more on the philosophy behind Path to Freedom, that a step backwards is progress, read this interview with Jules Dervaes at Celsias.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Home School

Whilst rummaging in my garage for something else, I came across a file of messages from early 1994 from a LISTSERV called Faith-Learning. I was working at a Christian university at the time as a transcript evaluator, and this e-mail list gave me a glimpse into some of the higher thinking regarding educating college students.

Someone posted an article by Gerard Wegemer titled, "Thomas More on the Liberal Arts and Virtue," originally published in The University of Dallas Rostrum, Fall 1993. Thomas More, who lived in the sixteenth century, "homeschooled" his three daughters (via tutors from Oxford) and believed that, as important as the liberal arts were, "education in virtue" was primary and best achieved at home.

Wegemer writes (and quotes More):
More's favorite metaphor to illustrate education in virtue was the traditional one of cultivating the garden of one's soul. What must be planted in this garden are good affections and principles, while "the nettles, briars, and other barren weeds of pride and deceptive pleasures are carefully and consistently rooted out." [...]

True virtue is essentially a freely chosen and fervently cultivated love for the highest and most enduring goods, not for fleeting goods and passing pleasures.
Some of the ways More cultivated the "gardens" of his daughters' souls were through good conversation and the use of playful irony; daily prayers and spiritual instruction; reading and discussing books together; creative punishment; and caring for the poor.

Just a couple more quotes about the importance of conversation:
[More] saw every conversation, even about apparently trivial things, as a way of cultivating the garden of that child's soul. Not only did these conversations cultivate reflection and self-knowledge, they provided the best opportunities for planting and cultivating those precepts and principles which each soul needs. [...] readings took place before dinner since More made a special point to see that dinner conversations were a good mixture of the serious and the entertaining. Visitors like Erasmus marvelled at how well the children could follow an argument and participate in sustained conversation; they also marvelled at the cheerful atmosphere of this large and busy household.
I admire this portrait of More, who, in spite of all the other demands on him, gave such personal importance to the complete education of his daughters.

(Add to movie list: A Man for All Seasons.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Life's point of no return

From my offline journal, dated June 30, 2002, two quotes from Markings, by Dag Hammarskjöld:
There is a point at which everything becomes simple and there is no longer any question of choice, because all you have staked will be lost if you look back. Life's point of no return (p. 66).

Dare [she], for whom circumstances make it possible to realize [her] true destiny, refuse it simply because [she] is not prepared to give up everything else? (p. 67)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The current cover story in National Geographic Magazine is "Malaria," by Michael Finkel, who reports on the disease's disastrous effects in Zambia.
It's difficult to comprehend how thoroughly Zambia has been devastated by malaria. In some provinces, at any given moment, more than a third of all children under age five are sick with the disease.

Worse than the sheer numbers is the type of malaria found in Zambia. Four species of malaria parasites routinely infect humans; the most virulent, by far, is Plasmodium falciparum. About half of all malaria cases worldwide are caused by falciparum, and 95 percent of the deaths. It's the only form of malaria that can attack the brain. And it can do so with extreme speed—few infectious agents can overwhelm the body as swiftly as falciparum. An African youth can be happily playing soccer in the morning and dead of falciparum malaria that night.

Falciparum is a major reason nearly 20 percent of all Zambian babies do not live to see their fifth birthday. Older children and adults, too, catch the disease—pregnant women are especially prone—but most have developed just enough immunity to fight the parasites to a stalemate, though untreated malaria can persist for years, the fevers fading in and out. There are times when it seems that everyone in Zambia is debilitated to some degree by malaria; many have had it a dozen or more times. No surprise that the nation remains one of the poorest in the world.
The article focuses on the North Western Province of Zambia, where I grew up, and, in particular, Kalene Hospital, located about six miles from the boarding school I attended.
In the North-Western Province, competent medical help can be difficult to find. For families living in the remote northern part of the province, across more than a thousand square miles of wild terrain, there is only one place that can ensure a reasonable chance of survival when severe malaria strikes a child: Kalene Mission Hospital. This modest health center, in a decaying brick building capped with a rusty tin roof, represents the front line in the conflict between malaria and man. Scientists at the world's high-tech labs ponder the secrets of the parasite; aid agencies solicit donations; pharmaceutical companies organize drug trials. But it is Kalene hospital—which functions with precisely one microscope, two registered nurses, occasional electricity from a diesel generator, and sometimes a doctor, sometimes not (though always with a good stock of antimalarial medicines)—that copes with malaria's victims.

Every year for a century, since Christian missionaries founded the hospital in 1906, the coming of the rainy season has marked the start of a desperate pilgrimage. Clouds gather; downpours erupt; mosquitoes hatch; malaria surges. There's no time to lose. Parents bundle up their sick children and make their way to Kalene hospital.
Now that malaria is resistant to synthetic drugs, a drug based on a herbal remedy is being brought back.
The country has dedicated itself to dispensing the newest malaria cure, which also happens to be based on one of the oldest—an herbal medicine derived from a weed related to sagebrush, sweet wormwood, called artemisia. This treatment was first described in a Chinese medical text written in the fourth century A.D. but seems to have been overlooked by the rest of the world until now. The new version, artemisinin, is as powerful as quinine with few of the side effects. It's the last remaining surefire malaria cure. Other drugs can still play a role in treatment, but the parasites have developed resistance to all of them, including quinine itself. To help reduce the odds that a mutation will also disarm artemisinin, derivatives of the drug are mixed with other compounds in an antimalarial barrage known as artemisinin-based combination therapy, or ACT.
DDT is also being used in controlled applications and mosquito nets are being distributed.

The article describes the sadness of the death of so many children from malaria, as well as the lasting effects on the children who make it through:
This legacy of malaria has sobering repercussions for people and nations. "It's possible [...] that due to malaria, almost every child in Africa is in some way neurologically scarred."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Not always so thankful

From the introduction written by his wife, Catherine Marshall, to a book of sermons and prayers by Peter Marshall:
[Peter] was always most appreciative of all the details that went into creating a home. Often his blessing before a meal would be: "Father, we thank Thee for the loving hands that prepared this food." Sometimes, though, he was not quite so generous in his praise. I have seen him sit down, look at what was before him, grin at me and say: "Catherine, I think you'd better thank God for this. I don't want to be a hypocrite."
From Mr. Jones, Meet the Master, edited by Catherine Marshall, page 11.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what can be, for the eye, which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility?
Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, as quoted in The Art of Possibility, page 113.

Monday, February 26, 2007

God and war

For those interested in following another discussion currently taking place at Holden Village, see the God, War and the Law Web site and posts by Charlie Mays.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Eschewing comfort

From the quote in the comment box at whoopsy daisy! today:
To the degree we're not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves. -- Peter McWilliams
From an interview with Jules Dervaes of PTF:
You must be prepared to sacrifice to achieve results and, also, to stay the course over the long haul. No dream of any worth can be realized cheaply. The fulfillment of a dream comes only at a cost; so, at every stage of its development, you must be willing to step up and pay the price—whatever it is!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage, to pay the price...One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.
Morris L. West in The Shoes of the Fisherman. Quoted in Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? by John Powell, SJ, page 119.

(I just discovered another movie for my Netflix queue: The Shoes of the Fisherman [1968].)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Path to Freedom

From tomorrow's paper, a story about the Path to Freedom family: "O, Pioneers in Pasadena," by Joe Robinson.
"We believe that a step backward is progress," says Dervaes, a former beekeeper, teacher and constant gardener trapped in the wrong century. "Some people might feel we're regressing, but I feel we're progressing to a better life. We've lost that independence and the things that make us truly happy. The people that got us here must have done something right. We want to repeat that for the next generation."
And a short guide to beginning a micro-farm: "Novice's guide to an urban homestead."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Mouw's Musings

The president of Fuller Seminary now writes a blog at Mouw's Musings. Familiar title! But, undoubtedly, his musings will be much more erudite than mine.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Seeing things in a different way

Shhh...I'm not really here. But I couldn't resist linking to this article in the LA Times (via PTF): "She's L.A.'s Pedal Pusher," about a young woman, Monica Howe, who is promoting bicycle riding as "everyday transportation" in Los Angeles.
To ride a bike in L.A. is to examine the accepted ways of doing things [...] It's a way of stepping out and seeing things in a different way.