Monthly Archives: October 2011

Principles of Education for Findley Family Video Publications


bib studies teacher ebook


bib studies student ebook

(In honor of the launching our first full Curriculum offering, Findley Family Video Biblical Studies, a 600+ page compilation of Bible teaching, with a separate, full teacher’s manual, we begin a series of articles on our philosophy of education and homeschooling. The Biblical Studies book, a greatly expanded and complete revision of our original Biblical Studies title, should be up on Amazon, Scribd  and Smashwords later today.)

We seek to teach a biblical worldview and impart Scriptural principles.

Students cannot be permitted to divorce academic disciplines and areas of study from the Scriptures, as Secularists would have them do, to relegate God’s Word to Philosophy, Morality and the realm of feelings and emotions. At one time these disciplines were one study, interconnected at all points, and they need to be restored to that state. Even the arts exist to serve God and glorify Him, as men sang His praises and ornamented His house and His servants’ garments.

It is essential to view Creation and related scientific concepts as accurately recorded in the Scriptures, because this establishes the accuracy and authority of the Word of God from its very beginning. Paleontological finds are secondary to the true record of God’s Word, welcome as supports, but they must be handled without the bias and preconceptions secularists attach, frequently to try to disprove the Scriptures.

The genealogies and records of kings’ reigns in the Scriptures provide a close timeline of the history of the World, with the possible exception of a few missing generations or co-regencies. Reliance upon archaeological findings and artifacts should not be the primary, or especially the only, means of establishing history’s events. Consideration should be given to ancient documentation, primarily the Scriptures, and other discoveries secondarily, as welcome supporting evidence.

Literature is often the records of man’s achievements and seeks to glorify him. Only the Scriptures give glory to God while highlighting lives and characters of His choicest servants and those who failed to follow Him with all their hearts. We study other examples of poetry, prose and historical records to see where man’s sin nature has corrupted the truth, where the light of his former character as made in God’s Image still shines out, to learn to discern what is excellent and reject what is false and hurtful.

Especially we want to teach students to reject the pervasive, overwhelming secularist thinking in education and culture. We want to restore man to a right relationship with God. This can only be done as he learns to do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly with his God. To do justice he must control his desires, do his rightful work, and serve others. To love mercy he must want to help others come to God and grow in Him and to love them as God loves them. Above all he must be humble, selfless, seeking God’s glory and not his own.

He must learn not to view disagreement, discipline, or correction as a personal attack. He is not a victim. If others have wronged him or sinned against him, he should seek to make that right by Scriptural means and then let God comfort him and bring him past any bitterness or pain. Conversely, he cannot forgive what has not been repented of, though he can let God strengthen him to look beyond personal wrongs or hurts.

He must not put the Scriptures into a mold made by Humanists that will require stripping it of its absolute authority. He must not listen to his heart, for it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. He must not trust his feelings, for they come from his fallen, sinful nature and will make him behave without regard for God’s teaching and usually selfishly and proudly.

There is a spiritual component to life. There are Angels and Demons as well as God and Satan, Heaven and Hell. Only the Scriptures can “empower,” by teaching us how to live as God wants us to. We cannot “open our minds” or “empty them” to let in some mysterious wisdom, nor can we be guided by an “inner light.” These are concepts opposed to the teachings of the Word of God and make us vulnerable to Satanic Control and human failings.

We cannot be fascinated with unnatural or supernatural beings and their so-called powers. The obsession with personal advancement and power is evil unless it is through God’s spiritual gifts and as a means to serve Him better.  Resurrection from the dead or immortality should be considered only in the context of the miraculous instances in the Scriptures or the believer joining Christ in Heaven. We cannot speak with the dead. We cannot use nature’s “forces” or “spirits.” We cannot transform into something else except by Satanic means. No spirit or person can control our souls or spirits or eternal destinies beyond God’s power to redeem us.

Families consist of a mother and father who are legally married and wholly committed to a life together, each giving all to the other and to God. Parents must be an example of self-control, unselfish love for each other and their children. A family is a unit and under the best circumstances they will all work together to grow spiritually, physically and financially, sharing responsibilities of keeping an orderly, spiritual household and providing for its financial maintenance.

The woman’s place in the home is described best in Proverbs 31, where she earns income that benefits the household while making its internal maintenance, her husband’s security and reputation, and her children’s growth in character, her primary concerns.

4 Comments

Filed under Bible Teaching, Education, Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, History, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

A Simple Plan for Christian Romance

3 romance sale

Make it an element of the story, not the main focus. Adventure, suspense, mystery, or some other focus helps keep the story balanced. Focus on purity, privacy, and married intimacy rather than oozing emotion and sensuality between unmarried people. Fidelity, self-sacrifice, and playful fun help round out the romance. Keep it within the context of adults and near-adults and get them married as soon as possible or prevent the constant tug of physical temptation.

I have used the device of having the hero disabled in the second chapter and literally unable to move for most of the book. He is too busy wrestling with his self-pity, acknowledging his need to depend on others, and facing the danger of a second assassination attempt to worry about his romantic issues.

Another device I have used is to force the romantic characters into “arranged” marriage before they even acknowledge their love. The rest of the book describes their growth together in love, loyalty and dependence on each other, and some intimacy is expected.

A variation of the arranged marriage is one in which secrets and lies make love and trust impossible, keeping the characters apart until they can tell each other the truth and discover they are involved in solving the same mystery, at which point they can marry and work together to solve it.

Plenty of interaction with other characters and plot elements keep the focus off the attraction and strengthen the bond and commitment as the main characters go through the hardship or danger or mystery-solving together.

3 Comments

Filed under Excerpts from our Fiction Books, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

New Blogger Review on Kindle Author

http://kindle-author.blogspot.com/2011/10/kindle-author-interview-mary-c-findley.html

Also, check out http://genrebuds.com, a new site connecting readers and writers, with cute graphics and awards for reading, reviewing, and posting.

1 Comment

Filed under Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Peer Review Or Peer Pressure?

Everyone who’s written a paper knows the pressure of a grade. At some point, maybe in High School, maybe after obtaining a doctorate, the student has enough grasp of the subject material to help grade, not just be graded. This type of evaluation, grading papers written by those with similar education, is known as Peer Review. In professional careers which require publishing, Peer Review is required before publication. Some Peer Reviews are mostly editorial functions. Are the sources cited properly? Is everything spelled correctly? Other Peer Reviews, often called refereeing, require as much expertise and skill in the subject as possible. These reviews examine the technical details. Did the research follow proper protocols? Are there obvious errors? Does this paper use the most reliable information available? Are the conclusions warranted by the data?

In the end, peer reviews just advise the publisher. When the peer reviewing process is complete, the publisher can publish the paper, ask for the author to make changes, either major or minor, or reject the paper outright.

The Peer Review System is designed to produce the most accurate, professional results possible. No one expects perfection, but a system relying on honest professionals throughout the world should produce very accurate documents. Professionals throughout the world insist the system, though imperfect, works. Professionals point to overall higher quality, shared knowledge, since no one can know everything, but most important, enforced uniformity.

In this idealized world, everyone is honest, everyone is professional, everyone is competent and the end results continually advance the frontiers of knowledge. The real world is just the opposite.

In the real world, the driving motives are money and prestige, not advancing the frontiers of knowledge with honest professional standards. Honesty is acceptable, as long as the grant money keeps coming and no one important is embarrassed, or thinks that they might be embarrassed. If the money stops, then the right people must be placated. If the right people complain, then apologies and retractions are necessary to keep one’s job.

A famous example might keep anger and outrage to a minimum. On February 15, 1898 the USS Maine exploded and sank in the Havana, Cuba harbor. An 1898 Spanish inquiry concluded that a fire in the coal storage bunker ignited munitions. An 1898 US inquiry concluded that the cause of the explosion was a mine. Based on the US inquiry, this report became the final reason for the US to declare war on Spain. In 1911 a new inquiry built a cofferdam and removed the parts of the USS Maine from Havana harbor. Once again, the US inquiry concluded that the cause of the explosion was a mine. This inquiry destroyed all evidence. In 1974 Admiral Rickover conducted his own private investigation. He concluded that the original Spanish investigation was correct and that the reports of a mine were politically motivated. In 1998 a National Geographic Society investigation concluded that there was no evidence of a Spanish mine, the actual cause was inconclusive. Many investigators believe that there was a mine, but it was attached to the ship in just the right place to ignite the coalbunker. That person would have needed access to confidential US information.

This blog will not resolve the USS Maine explosion. It demonstrates that money and politics control the final results of a professional research paper, in this case several research papers, not an honest desire for the truth.

Up to this point, most people, even professionals will agree. Of course, there’s peer pressure, but they will argue some peer pressure is good. The question is how much and what kind of peer pressure.

We were told several times that we need to have our books and articles peer reviewed by people who disagree with us, not just by people who agree with us. Anyone who makes such a statement proves that he does not understand what a legitimate peer review is. An honest peer review requires a reviewer (referee) who is honest and qualified. If the honest, qualified referee disagrees with you, so be it. The referee needs to be clear and thorough as to why he disagrees. But if the referee agrees with the paper, he needs to state why, with equal clarity and thoroughness. The issue is not agreement or disagreement, but honesty and competence. For example, a paper on the Apollo 11 moon landing does not need to be peer reviewed by someone denies that men have ever been to the moon just for balance.

The problem is that today’s “professional standards” include religious bigotry. Certain religious myths are now required for publication in any periodical with any academic standing. Secular Humanism is required. Richard Dawkins, David Attenborough and many others insist that the teaching of creationism, or even God, must be banned from schools. Only their religion can be taught. The ban must be “statutory and enforceable.” Anyone who examines the facts and concludes that the earth is not millions of years old will never be published. Anyone who examines the facts and concludes that the universe is designed will never be published. Anyone who examines the facts and concludes that the there is a something called “spiritual” will never be published. Anyone who examines the facts and concludes that there is more to the universe than the material part will never be published. Science is no longer an examination of the facts but bowing to authoritative pronouncements. Because censorship keeps them from getting published they are condemned as “unprofessional” and “not capable of being published.” This peer pressure keeps them from being published, getting tenure, or even being hired.

1 Comment

Filed under Current Issues, Politics, History, Scientific

The Greatest Commandment


“Master Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

Everything we do, every decision we make must have these two guiding principles. Does it glorify God? Does it show that I love my neighbor as myself? This blog post is inspired by a variety of topics that come across my Facebook page.

People have said in many different ways that they want their Facebook experience to be, in effect, “light and fluffy.” They don’t want to talk about religion or politics. A cute picture or a funny story receives many, sometimes hundreds of “likes,” reposts, and comments. Sometimes we like and repost such things too. But important posts, prayer requests for persecuted Christians or links to important news items, rarely show any evidence that anyone has even seen them.

As believers in Christ Jesus, we are not keeping these two commandments when we keep our lives “light and fluffy.” As believers, we are part of the Church, engaged in warfare. As believers we are faced with daily choices. Are our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit, or are they simply, as the Secular Humanist bumper stickers claim, amusement parks?

The Scriptures have detailed teaching about how a church should conduct itself and what it should expect of its membership, and vice-versa. Failure to follow these Scriptures is sin. A church or an individual needs to condemn failure to follow clear Scriptures or the making up of practices the Scriptures do not teach or allow for.

The Word of God clearly commands us not to fellowship with believers living in open sin. Though it grieves God’s heart, some people in positions of church leadership are living in open sin. Sadder still, unbelievers mock and ridicule the Word of God in the majority of the church buildings of Western Europe and the United States. We can neither glorify God nor love our neighbor in these services. We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us discern exactly what type of ministry we should join and support.

But some people say they won’t go to a church service if it does not meet their “needs,” whatever that means. Would you attend a church where men were segregated from women and children? What about a service without pews or chairs, where you had to stand for the entire service? What about a church that met in a different place each service because of threats on the worshipers’ lives?

There are three standards in the word of God for choosing to fellowship and support a local work by joining in membership. First, does it preach the Word of God? This means the whole council of God, not just what I want to hear. Second, is there a place for ministry? If the abilities and gifts God has blessed you with cannot be used in one fellowship, seek out another place where they can be used. Third, can I faithfully attend the services? The perfect fit a thousand miles from your house is not such a perfect fit.

These should not be such high standards. Instead, Christian Churches are filled with people “whose god is their appetites.” Philippians 3:9. These people will only attend a church which meets their appetites. The sad part is, what might be acceptable for one believer, might be a stumbling block and a sin for another believer.

The following is a brief list of some of the issues we have seen which cause people to leave a church. 1) The church is not the right size. These are “Goldilocks” Christians. This church is too big. This church is too small. They go through life forever searching for the church that is “just right.” 2) The music or worship service is not “contemporary” enough. They often tie this to other issues. They say the church is cold, unfriendly, judgmental, sometimes after attending for years and suddenly discovering that all these things have bothered them for years. Do they really mean to say, “I hate this church and I know this church hates me because I hate its music”? 3) The Church isn’t “giving” enough. What they usually mean by this is that other members are not giving them enough. 4) The Church is “legalistic.” This word is so overused that it has lost it’s meaning. In the Bible the word legalism simply means works salvation. Sometimes people simply mean that this particular church has standards they do not like.

So maybe our facebook pages, and our churches, and our lives, should not consist of what is light and fluffy, of what is pleasing to us, but rather of things that fulfill the Greatest Commandment.

7 Comments

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

The Hows (And Whys) of E-Books

Screenshot from Kindle of a page from The Illuminated Hope and the Black Lion

Do you really understand the spiritual warfare taking place in publishing? Christian publishers and bookstores are, to put it mildly, not very Christian anymore. There is a desperate need to make writers aware that secularism is a real and powerful enemy determined to prevent the dissemination of any works with a truly godly and scriptural basis.

Conventional publishing, Christian and non-Christian, seems to be completely lost as an avenue of getting the truth out. Christians have allowed so much of the world in, praised such small bits of semi-religious content, scrabbled for any crumbs of good that could be found in a work, that the leaven has leavened the whole lump and there seems nothing left that is pure, good, lovely, or of good report.

Independent publishing disseminates truth when truth is stifled. Writers don’t have to see their message suppressed by indifferent or hostile publishers and literary agents. They don’t have to watch the mangling or destruction of truth, if they are “accepted,” by an editor who “knows what will sell” but doesn’t care what must be preserved because it is right.

E-readers come in many formats. Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader Store, and Kobo are only a few. Smart phones can display e-books. Many e-readers are grayscale. Nook has a color version. Amazon’s Kindle Fire, coming soon, will also support color. People can, of course, read books on their computers.

An e-author should still make his work as “perfect” as he can. Grammar, spelling and punctuation matter to most readers. The work must be original. The author must own the rights. After that, there are two basic ways to translate the book into e-format.

First, an e-author can produce a .pdf document and distribute it online. It can be formatted much like a conventional print book, with specific margins, numbered pages, spacing and fonts like a “real” book. It can have illustrations, in full color if the author wishes, and emulate the size and shape of a print book. Open Office Writer, and the newer versions of Microsoft Word, can convert the document to a .pdf which will look just like the author lays it out. Many e-readers can read a .pdf document. There are limits to how well it can display if the author formats his document rigorously like a conventional book.

The second method produces an e-book formatted very differently from a print book. The author is creating a type of HTML document, similar to a webpage on the internet, that will change its size, shape, font size and type, and  almost everything else from e-reader to e-reader. There are no “pages” as such. The person reading the book can make more changes as he reads the book on his reader. He can in most readers make the font larger or smaller, rotate from portrait to landscape mode, and in some even change the color of the font and background.

If the author has formatted his work like a conventional book, or even with inconsistent styles, and converts it to this second form, it will likely have large blank areas, lines that end in strange places, varying fonts the author can’t even see in the original, and other problems that will make a reader think the book is defective. For most e-readers, it is better to use the second method of formatting, especially to allow the book to be read on as many format readers as possible.

Although there are many sites that accept e-books for free distribution or for sale, and many are free to upload, some charge, some reserve the right to reject what is submitted, and all take a percentage if the book is to be sold.  Some sites (such as Booklocker) ask that an entire work be submitted for review. The author is notified if the site declines to publish it. Marketability is one factor in this decision. Content criteria, like rejecting “hate speech,” discrimination, or objectionable content can also be a factor. All sites require an author to be able to list “tags” and search keys to make his work “visible” on the Internet so that people can find it in search engines. Most upload sites have easy places to enter these words reflecting content, identifying and describing the work.

This article will only deal with three sites as examples, all of which have no expressed criteria by which they “accept or reject” books as long as format guidelines are met and content is not rejected as objectionable. They are representative of many others and exemplify probably the easiest (Scribd.com), the “one in the middle,” Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, which is time-consuming but has the most methods of self-promotion, and the most demanding (Smashwords) in e-book upload sites. Detailed submission guidelines and step-by-step instructions can be found on the sites. Only some of the basic requirements will be included here. Any site that allows e-book uploads requires an “account,” free to set up, giving the site email contact information and usually very little personal information. If works are offered for sale, an author will be required to give information so that percentage payments can be made, SSN number for IRS accounting, and an address for checks to be sent to or a bank account for electronic transfers. Many require electronic transfer.

Scribd.com accepts a number of formats and creates pdf documents. Authors’ submissions do not have to be complete books. Many authors submit essays, books in progress, even single poems or photo collections. Many works on Scribd are offered free. Scribd has a rotating display of featured works. It has category listings for searching the site, and the site shows multi-page previews of books for sale. People can become “followers” of authors’ works and links can be made to a facebook or twitter account to announce what the author has “readcast” on Scribd, his own works or those of others.

Smashwords.com is a site that specializes in producing e-books for multiple formats. The site has a detailed style guide which can be downloaded from there or at Amazon.com for the Kindle reader at no cost. This style guide can be used to create the second type of e-book described above, even if the author is not using Smashwords as his publisher. An author can, if desired, upload a book to the Smashwords site and, if accepted, it will be converted for free to most of the formats listed above. (They do not format for Amazon Kindle). The submitted work must rigorously follow their style guide, however, because they use an automated system they call the “Meatgrinder” to convert to the multiple formats. They give very clear instructions in the style guide but it does require considerable simplifying to format correctly.

Books that do not format correctly may be rejected, and Smashwords has a “premium catalog” for perfectly-formatted books that includes distribution in more outlets than ordinary uploads, which are only featured on their site. The style guide is quite detailed. It explains that there are a limited number of fonts that reliably convert correctly into e-documents. It cautions authors to remove most complicated formatting and gives guidance on how to include graphics, though it recommends they be small and few. The philosophy of Smashwords is to focus on the words and message of the book and not to be concerned about the loss of certain conventional features. Smashwords only publishes complete works for sale and file size cannot exceed 5 megs.

Amazon.com allows writers to upload e-books through Kindle Direct Publishing, or kdp. The system is very easy and even cover art is optional but extremely simple to upload with the book or at any time afterward. It takes a day or two for a book to become live, and authors must charge at least $.99 for original works. There are no length limits and books can be illustrated, though the e-book will probably have space gaps above or below the illustrations depending on the page display size and the size of the graphic. Instructions for uploads are very easy to follow. The book cover, information and “look inside” features display like any other book on Amazon. Amazon has sold more e-books than print books for more than a year now. Authors can easily check sales, which are updated very frequently.

Authors can add as much information about themselves and their books as they like. Amazon has Author Central, where a writer can add blog and Twitter feeds, images, videos, and biographical information which can be changed and updated very easily. Amazon has Kindle stores in the UK, Germany and France, and even English language books can appear in Europe. Amazon Shelfari is a reader/writer community where the author can place his books on his “shelf” along with those he reads. He can write reviews and detailed character, plot and book info. The author can also have followers here and send messages back and forth to them. Amazon recently started a facebook page for Kindle Direct Publishing where they pose questions to writers and allow for book promotion and exchange of advice and encouragement.

Microsoft Word is the preferred format for Scribd, Smashwords and Amazon. The 2000 version can be purchased for $30 or less. Covers or illustrations can be created by hand and scanned, or by using simple photo editing or paint programs. Photo Impact from Corel includes impressive faux 3-D titling and object creation and great texturing and effects for under $50.

                                                       Screenshot from Kindle of a page from The Illustrated Antidisestablsihmentarianism

3 Comments

Filed under Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

The quote “Nature red in tooth and claw” comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s very long series of poems “In Memoriam A.H.H,” completed in 1849. Many evolutionists quote this phrase in support of their ideas of natural selection. When he began to write this poem, Tennyson questioned God’s love and sovereignty over nature because of the death of a beloved friend. Parts of the poem comment on the pre-Darwinian writers who were beginning to promote man’s reason and to shove God out of the Life Sciences. Tennyson might not be the best person to quote on the subject of crowding God out of Science, however, and here’s why, from the appendix of our e-Book Antidisestablishmentarianism.

The phrase “Nature red in tooth and claw” comes from In Memoriam, A.H.H., a long group of poems written over many years by Alfred, Lord Tennyson completed in 1849. In it Tennyson struggled with his grief over Arthur Henry Hallam, a dear friend who was engaged to Tennyson’s sister but died at age 22. The section containing the often-quoted phrase appears below. The complete work is many pages in length and can be viewed in various literature textbooks or online.

LVI

So careful of the type? but no.
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, `A thousand types are gone:
I care for nothing, all shall go.


Thou makest thine appeal to me:
I bring to life, I bring to death:
The spirit does but mean the breath:
I know no more.And he, shall he,


Man, her last work, who seem’d so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll’d the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,


Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law;
Tho Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed;


Who loved, who suffer’d countless ills,
Who battled for the True, the Just,

Be blown about the desert dust,
Or seal’d within the iron hills?


No more? A monster then, a dream,
A discord. Dragons of the prime,
That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music match’d with him.


O life as futile, then, as frail!
O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
What hope of answer, or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil.

These poems chronicle Tennyson’s struggle to understand how death fit in with the God of life. In them he also tried to deal with philosophical questions in areas including the newly-named science of Biology.

Darwin had not yet made a name for himself, but other writers were beginning to put together theories of evolution. These were based on ideas like inheritance of acquired characteristics, spontaneous generation, and vital fluids flowing through living things that forced them to undergo evolutionary changes.

All of these ideas were disturbing to thinking men like Tennyson, trying to embrace Rationalism and rely on man’s reason to solve life’s great questions. They also wondered how the so-called “discoveries” of randomness and chance could co-exist with the orderly Creator and loving Sustainer of the Bible. The theories listed above have all since been discredited but more have sprung up to replace them.

Tennyson’s final conclusion in the same set of poems, finished in 1849, includes the section below. It is usually placed first in the published versions but was probably written last. The emphasis is added to show what Tennyson thought of his earlier doubts about how “Natural Law” fit in with a loving creator God. The text comes from http://www.online-literature.com/tennyson/718/).

For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness:
let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before, But vaster.

We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

1 Comment

Filed under Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Scientific