At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson.
whoa, it was like the book that would never end. but don’t let that comment deter you from getting it or checking it out for the maximum allowed 5 time library renewal. it is one of those books that is enjoyable to pick up and put down over a few weeks. bryson uses the rooms of his home in england (a church rectory from the 1800s) as a guide to discuss…well, everything. his chapter “the kitchen” describes everything from a short history of ice to what the average londoner consumed in the 1850s. the chapter on “the dressing room” details the history of cotton and the insane 1700s trend of wig-wearing (including a story of a woman who discovered there were mice(!) living in her towering wig). i love this kind of stuff.
Xeriscaping For Florida Homes by Monica Moran Brandies.
lawns. i don’t like them. i love bushes and trees and gardens, but i have little love for something that doesn’t thrive easily or naturally in south florida. the only lawns that look great down here seem to be the ones that use crazy amounts of water (thus disregarding the extreme water restrictions) and chemicals. so after a bit more planning and research we hope to remove some (most? all?) of our small and weed-ridden lawn and replace it with plants that can better tolerate the heat and drought-like conditions we’ve had recently. finding brandies’ book was timely and is helping me navigate the world of ground-covers, drought-tolerance, irrigation, etc.
Family Worship in the Bible, in History, and in Your Home by Donald S. Whitney.
i began this book with a bit of hesitation and when i finished it i was disappointed. but it took me a couple of days to put my finger on it. i admire whitney’s love for God and the bible, but his language on what “family worship” must be falls in the territory of legalism. whitney argues that biblically we must have a daily structured family worship time that consists of bible, prayer, and singing. i do not see the command for a structured time spelled out in scripture.
here he writes about starting up a tradition of family worship with less-than-thrilled kids:
Your children may or may not be as enthusiastic, but that does not really matter. The less interested they are, the more your family needs family worship. pp54-55
i am not saying reading the bible and teaching your children about what you believe is an optional thing as a christian, but i do not at all believe that family worship, as described by whitney, is a ticket to righting my kids’ spiritual health. we spend a great deal of time reading and singing and praying and talking and catechizing our kids. some days it looks formal. some days it doesn’t. and all of it almost never happens every day at the same time or in the same place. i have seen healthy families do a formal set-time family worship and that is wonderful. i have also known unhealthy families who were rigid and unyielding in their style of family worship and yet didn’t seem to care that it was driving their kids away from and not to them and God.
as i was thinking through all of this, i came across the article “Second Thoughts on Family Worship” and was thankful he was able to put words to many of my thoughts. here is a quote that will perhaps give some of you pause and lead others to breathe a sigh of relief (wink):
Family Worship Isn’t Required by the Bible: This might seem impious, but it’s really only impietistic. We simply are not required to have a set, formal, liturgical time of worship as families. I’m glad some people do this and benefit from it, and as far as they do, I’m for it, but no one should feel it is something they ought to do.
now go read the rest.