Tag Archives: Greek

Kindle Keyboard Compared to Kindle Fire

Michael’s further observations on the two devices:

In May 2011 our son bought me a Kindle. Though we own hundreds of paperbound print books, this one device has almost completely replaced our entire library. Print books are just too large and bulky. All but a handful are now in storage. We use our laptops for study because we can multitask, use a full size keyboard with keyboard commands to quickly look at multiple open books, surf the web and use the larger color screen.

But for simply reading a book, a laptop is too large and bulky. The Kindle is the size of a small print book and just as easy to read. As with any new device, the navigation menu and buttons take some getting used to. We have taken our Keyboard Kindle with us into restaurants, on walks, to read in bed, and just about anywhere else you can think of.

We bought our Kindle Fire about three weeks ago. The Fire is Mary’s Christmas present. The first problem we had with the Fire was finding a WiFi to which we could connect so that we could register it. We bought the Fire just South of Madison, Wisconsin, and were unable to find a WiFi until a McDonalds in Fargo, ND. We have rarely even tried to use the Fire for apps, video, surfing the web or music. All we use the Fire for is reading books. The touch keypad is slow and awkward, but unimportant. If you want a Galaxy or iPad, then spend three times as much money for a Galaxy or iPad.

Compared to an iPad, the touch features are awkward and slow. Compared to the keys on a keyboard Kindle, the touch features are a wonderful blessing. The size of the screen is almost perfect. The larger reading area compared to the keyboard Kindle is an improvement and the lighted screen is great. It makes reading in the dark easy. The reduced battery life is not so great. Once we had the registration issues straightened out, which took weeks, ordering books off the laptop’s aircard and transferring them to the Kindle is easy.

What I like most about the Kindle Fire is the lighted color screen, the cost, the ease of use and the number of books it stores. What I dislike is the “fat finger” problem, the working icons that are too small; the short battery life and difficulty finding a WiFi connection.

In addition:

We have actually learned more about how the Kindles work since getting the Fire, since the controls are easier to use in touch-mode. Our disappointingly small illustrations in or books jump to full-screen with a couple of touches on the Fire, and this feature is also available with buttons on the keyboard model.  The dictionary function we knew about, but there is actually a dictionary for Greek words in Michael’s Interlinear Septuagint and Koine Greek New Testament books.

2 Comments

Filed under Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Principles of Teaching Fine Arts and Foreign Languages


Historically, the Fine Arts included painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry, plus drama and dancing. Lesser arts include book printing, jewelry and clothing design, quilting and home decorating. Computer design, both commercial and artistic, have revolutionized print (or electronic) media, audio and visual productions. Musical creations can be produced without a single “real” instrument or voice, just a person with computer, keyboard and music software.

Fine Arts, being electives, may not be taught at all in homeschool. Coloring papers or paste and glitter craft projects don’t count. Real art instruction should include more. Children need to learn to draw. Drawing should include basic shapes, perspective, proportion. Teach primary and secondary colors, blending, use of charcoal, pastels, watercolor. Crayons and colored pencils are also a good media as long as children learn how to shade and blend colors.

Teach hand and machine sewing, knitting, crocheting, needlework if you can. Use fabric paints to put Scripture verses and biblical designs on clothing and wall decorations. Working the Scriptures into your projects reinforces memorization. In one church women had quilted banners with Scripture and Christian elements, which was a wonderful ministry opportunity.

We cover Music as a separate curriculum area but it is frequently related to Drama, Poetry and Speech. Memorize poems or play passages and perform them for family gatherings or homeschool groups. If there are several students production chores can be divided up. A sound effects person gets music clips, rice in a tin pan and pair of shoes, a deerspotter spotlight operator, a costume designer, and a set builder, as well as performers. These need not be difficult or complicated, and give an outlet to different talents and ability levels.

A computer opens up worlds of artistic expression and parents should realize the relative simplicity with which their child could create a digital portfolio of his schoolworks or a favorite subject, a slideshow or video clips, captions and titles, recorded narration, music background, and, by the way, a fine arts elective class. Almost every computer includes some type of movie making or slide show creations software with fun effects and a few music background choices.

Many Christians do not believe any kind of dance instruction is appropriate, but we do know homeschoolers who have had their children take ballet. Folk or Square dancing are often considered acceptable. We have seen a performance by a Christian who studied interpretative dance and used it in a church service with Christian music. The Bible does talk about Miriam and David dancing before the Lord. Dance instruction can be physical education and also training in the arts. Parents have to decide how to obey the Scriptures in this matter. Great caution must be exercised to avoid situations where other Christians would consider it wrong. Also, a teacher might introduce elements of dance clearly sensual or suggestive or music that is not appropriate for your child to be exposed to.

Foreign Language is required for almost all High School graduates. If you already speak a language other than English in the home that should not be your foreign language. It should be one the child is not familiar with. Portuguese is a good foundational language and permits easier learning of Spanish and Italian, and to a lesser extent French. It is spoken in a large geographic area of the world, Brazil, for example. Learning Portuguese might be excellent foreign mission field preparation.

Koine Greek and Latin are excellent choices but often ignored because they are not modern. They will give more benefit to an American remaining in America than an unused foreign language. Latin is the basis of many European languages and gives aid in learning vocabulary, spelling and Scientific and law-related subjects. Latin was the language of Scholarship in the Middle Ages in Europe and is still used a great deal in Science and Law. A student might benefit from a study of the Latin Vulgate translation of the Scriptures, a translation through which many have come to Christ. Koine Greek is the language of the New Testament and would aid in study of the Scriptures. Even Classical Greek can be useful in the study of History, Science and Literature. These two languages present difficulties in part because they have alphabets differing greatly from that of English.

Hebrew is also a good language, especially because it is an ancient but still living language. There are many study aids available. It is the language of most of the Old Testament Scriptures, but it is also a very difficult language, reading from right to left. The alphabet has no resemblance to ours, making it even more difficult.

Our daughter is Hard of Hearing, and we taught Sign Language as a language course. This opens many minstry opportunities, and our daughter went on to major in Special Education and is looking at international ministries to the Deaf.

2 Comments

Filed under Education

Principles of Teaching Literature and English Skills

English Skills must include Grammar, Composition, Spelling, and Vocabulary. I am an English teacher who hates Grammar, at least the way it is usually taught. Rather than drill on sentence diagramming and parts of speech in isolated sentences, I taught Grammar from Tom Sawyer. The student finds parts of speech in realistic speech, regional, standard and non-standard dialects, and many other grammatical and ungrammatical principles that represent real life situations. Our students learned Composition from Alice in Wonderland, a collection that introduces students to social and political commentary essays in a way second to none. Spelling and Vocabulary came courtesy of Around the World in Eighty Days, a work rich in travel words, technology terms, and especially context clues to help a student learn to read for meaning without a dictionary always at his elbow.

We also included Literary Criticism. We made use of Bullfinch’s Mythology for comparison studies between mythologies and the truth of the Scriptures to examine and understand their similarities and differences. We taught figurative language (special uses of words and phrases in Literature, like metaphors and similes). These English study techniques have important applications in studying the Scriptures, in the instances where secularists will claim that the Scriptures had their origin in more ancient writings. The flawed echoes of Greek, Roman and Norse myths don’t uphold the standard of truth, morality or consistency that the Scriptures present.

Sometimes critics claim the “plain literal sense” interpretation doesn’t fit a Scripture passage. For example, when Revelation 1:16 says Jesus had a sharp, two-edged sword coming out of his mouth, we should say, “Aha! That’s a figure of speech, a metaphor. The Bible uses the same figure, but as a simile, in Hebrews 4:12!”  The Scripture frequently explains its figurative language, and saying there is figurative language does not make an argument for the Scriptures containing errors or not being inspired and authoritative.

In a Christian school, I taught The Merchant of Venice, and we put on a one-hour performance version for which I cut down the play, preserving Shakespeare’s wording and the essence of his story, just cutting extras and combining some characters. A homeschool group could produce a “Shakespeare in an Hour” play, using the exercise of cutting as part of the study. The Faerie Queene Part One is an epic poem, a forgotten treasure of English lit. It is the Christian allegory that inspired Pilgrim’s Progress, C.S. Lewis and Tolkien in their writings. We have a video summary and study of the literary devices used in it on YouTube of this great poem.

The main focus of our literature studies included analysis of various kinds of works, ancient to modern, TV shows, movies, even Video Games and Graphic Novels, with an eye to learning what is good and bad in literature. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you have to put in modern stuff to be relevant or to keep students interested. Use modern stuff because it is relevant to show your students what is good and bad in what they see every day. Our children got tired of analyzing every movie or TV show we watched, but they couldn’t miss the message that nothing is just entertainment for a Christian.

Here’s just one example: Make a study of what makes a true hero. Start back with the superheroes Nimrod, Gilgamesh, and Hercules. Check out Joseph, David, Daniel. Take a look at Hector versus Achilles in the Trojan War. Jump forward to Beowulf, Galahad, Siegfried. Go all around the world, all through the ages, and learn what characteristics God values in a hero as opposed to what man values. Then compare them to modern heroes, the characters John Wayne plays, crimefighters in comic books and movies, ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and how they respond.

Have students read a lot, and have them write a lot. Millions of works are available free on sites like Gutenberg.org. You will find collections of short stories, poems, speeches, biographies and religious writings. Have students read a little of everything, as long as you have a good idea of what it is and that it’s not seriously harmful to read. Don’t think they have to read great long things to be literate. The example project above can be done by reading relatively short excerpts. I had a college English teacher who used to say, in her southern drawl, “I am appalled by what some people have not read!” Well, there’s a lot I haven’t read that “English people” are supposed to have read.

I “Go with my gut” (usually the Holy Spirit’s leading, I hope and pray) when it comes to reading. I haven’t read Clockwork Orange, or Catcher In the Rye, or Lord of the Flies, for example. I’ve educated myself about them, but that’s all that’s needed. I’ve read nothing but excerpts by Cervantes, Dumas, Hugo. I have trouble reading very long works. (I have read Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, which is really long, and really worth it.) Some authors of longer works have short stories and I’ve read them. Tolstoy is an example. School situations don’t really allow for reading very long works anyway. Keep things moving and encourage the students to read longer stuff on their own time.

Writing for a student assignment should be an exercise in self-editing, and figuring out what’s important and unimportant, what’s good and bad in his own writing and in what he’s read, morally and structurally. Can he tell that writers like Dickens got paid by the word? (Yes, he did, whatever people claim. He wrote serials, had to have a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of ever magazine issue, and had to justify what he was getting paid by filling the space allotted. He also loved words and didn’t edit himself for length much.) Have you considered that the translators of the KJV wanted variety in the vocabulary at least as much as they wanted accuracy? (This doesn’t mean the KJV is inaccurate. It just means that it’s a literary translation, striving to elevate the beauty of the Scriptures and the English tongue. Consider doing a study of how many times a different English word was used to translate the same Greek word in the New Testament.)

6 Comments

Filed under Education

Giants, Genetics and Original Sin

After the death of Virgil in the First Century BC, the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar posthumously published his Aeneid. Caesar Augustus loved this book because it took the history of Rome, romanticized it and treated it as “prophecy.” Virgil built on an existing legend about the founding of Rome. He expanded a story around that legend based on the Odyssey. The most famous part of the book is the story of the Trojan Horse.

The hero of the Aeneid, Aeneas, son of Venus, was one of Hector’s commanders. He fled Troy with a small band of Trojans when it fell to the Greeks. They built ships and sailed to Italy, with many adventures along the way. They were commanded by the gods to join with the existing people in Italy and to build Rome. Aeneas and the Trojans were opposed and attacked by the Latins, led by Turnus. Turnus is described by some scholars as having a mother who was a nymph, and the Aeneid states that his sister was a nymph. In the final scene, Turnus and Aeneas fought to the death for Lavinia, the daughter of the old Latin King. By killing Turnus and marrying Lavinia, Aeneas united the Trojans with the Latins.

Both Turnus and Aeneas are described as giants. Aeneas challenged Turnus to single combat soon after the arrival of the Trojans, but Turnus was afraid of the larger Aeneas, so Turnus repeatedly stirred up many cities against the Trojans.

At the end of the duel, Turnus picks up and throws a stone with one hand which Virgil describes as requiring 12 men of today to lift. Though the giant Turnus was stronger with one arm than 12 of Caesar’s legionnaires, he was no match in size or strength to Aeneas. Yet the Iliad repeatedly describes the giant Hector as much larger than any other Trojan. Hector’s mother, Hecuba, is described by some accounts as being the daughter of a river god.

Hector was equally fearful of facing Achilles in single combat because he was so much smaller than Achilles, son of Thetis. Thetis is described by some accounts as a nymph, by some as equal to Neptune and one of the descendants of the Titans, and by others a creator-goddess. Though no other Greek was able to stand before Hector, the larger and stronger Achilles humiliated and defeated Hector in single combat.

That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Gen 6:2-4

“Sons of God” has two possible meanings. It either means that line of Adam’s son Seth, spoken of in the Scriptures as having descendants who “began to call upon the name of the Lord” polluted itself by intermarrying with pagans. or that the “Sons of God” were fallen angels.

Normal men filled with the Spirit of God did superhuman feats of strength. Jacob and Moses both lifted a great stone off a well that seems normally to have required many people to move. Samson (although he does not exemplify the best in God’s servants) performed stunning feats of strength. So it is possible that the descendants of these earlier, formerly godly people, who intermarried with pagans, might have produced “giants” or “mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

Many ancient sources claim that the “giants” and “mighty men of old” were pagans who believed in many gods and goddesses. Their parents were at least part “divine.” The phrase “Sons of God” is the also found in beginning of the book of Job where the phrase clearly means angels or demons. Some say that Gilgamesh of ancient Mesopotamia, who was said to be “two thirds god,” Hercules, the son of the god Zeus, and other ancient “superheroes,” Herakles in the Indus Valley of India, the Viracocha of the Incas, and even Nimrod of the Scriptures, may have all been the same person or his descendants.

This is food for thought, a point on which good men can disagree. The “superpowers” described in ancient documents could be the remnants of God’s great blessing, or they could be indications that the great deceiver, Satan, used his rebellious angels to try to corrupt man beyond his fall and drive a greater wedge between the Creator and His creatures. In any case, the “superpowered” actions governed by enormous pride, the conflicted beliefs about God or “the gods,” and the despairing or outright evil decisions made by these demigods and heroes of old, and the people who lived around them, indicate the workings of our fallen nature and Satan, the “accuser.”

Understanding genetics can help us understand what the sin nature is and how sin is passed on. Some scholars arrive at the interpretation of the Sons of God being Seth’s line because they do not believe that angels or demons have the power to interact with the human race genetically. This position requires belief that the genetic character of original sin literally makes man “born in sin” only because of Adam’s sin.

In the passage in Genesis these “sons of God” are clearly male, spoken of as taking wives. If they were angels or demons, this would call into question the genetic character of Adam’s original sin. Man could not be held fully responsible for his need for redemption if these were non-humans introducing corruption into the genetic material.

In many ancient cultures, most notably the Egyptians, inheritances of property and position passed from mother to daughter. Mitochondrial DNA is DNA in a cell outside a nucleus. It is passed from mother to daughter without any genetic recombination. This explains Christ’s redemptive power, as the “one born of woman,” having Mary’s mitochondrial DNA passed on but not Adam’s original sin.

1 Comment

Filed under Bible Teaching, Current Issues, Politics, Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books