Liberalism and Social Justice Warriors have ruined children’s literature.

A while back, some guy said:

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.

Liberals take this very seriously.  That is why children’s literature now sucks so bad.

Evolutiontheorist left a humorous and insightful comment on my post about the children’s book The Tooth:

“I’ve noticed that the children’s book world is full of sentimental/boring works that only adults would be interested in. Every time I go to the library, it seems like I come home with at least one book that looked good, but turns out to be about a kid who’s pet died or a bird whose best friend turned out to be a snowball and then melted. Or about how the author grew up in poverty but it’s okay because they liked eating paint. (I am not making that up.)

Kids like books about cheeky toy trains, hoppy bunnies, funny superheroes, or grand adventures. They like rainbows and unicorns and swashbuckling pirates. They do not want to hear about how if you eat too much candy, you might have to go to the dentist and get a tooth pulled, for goodness’s sakes.”

If you don’t think that there is any particular agenda behind this, listen to the following children’s story.

Moral of the story: It’s fun being married to a cross-dresser!

But it isn’t (just) the liberal/SJW agenda that I’m objecting to.  If the story is well-crafted, I could talk through with my kids why I don’t agree with whatever political or “social justice” point the author was trying to make.  Kids’ books have always been a bit preachy in their own way, it’s just that back in the day the preachiness was aimed at getting kids to behave and be good and now it’s aimed at getting them to tear down Western civilization faster, faster, faster.  But the craft aspect to it is TERRIBLE now.  Thornton W. Burgess was a preachy conservationist, but my children loved hearing his stories about Reddy Fox and Lightfoot the Deer (you can listen to his stories being read by non-professional readers here).  He was a fine children’s literature writer despite his tendency to anthropomorphize deer and his inability to comprehend that slow death by starvation due to overpopulation is not kinder than a quick death by a hunter’s gun.

Several years ago on another blog I wrote a post entitled What is happening to children’s literature?  I think we understand now exactly what is happening to it, but I am going to repost that essay here since it seems relevant.

What is happening to children’s literature?  

Posted on 03/09/2014

Painting by Emil Rau | Public Domain image from Wikimedia Commons

If you have children, you probably already know that March is National Reading Month.

Because we don’t watch television, our family listens to a lot of audio books.  We try to choose ones that we all enjoy listening to and which will appeal to a range of ages.  A typical evening in our house finds us gathered in the living room, the children drawing or writing and me working on a blog post, while listening to stories on the CD player.  Because of this, I have listened to quite a number of both classic and modern children’s stories, and I have concluded that the modern ones are largely unimpressive.

Surely I am not the only parent who has noticed the startling decline in the quality of children’s literature?  I first began thinking about this about ten years ago, when my husband and I noticed that many of the picture story books that had the Caldecott Medal Winner sticker on them were so…weird.  The books were uninteresting to children and sometimes even frightened them, but I’m sure they were intriguing to the highly-educated, liberal parents of our generation who were raised to see things that are “alternative” as superior.  This is the basic ethos of progressivism; anything new and strange, no matter how objectively crappy, is better than what came before.  Weird, disturbing children’s books must be better than the simple, charming types of stories that came before, right?

We have continued to notice this trend as our children have gotten older.  One year awhile back, we joined a mother-daughter book club at the library.  One of the first books that was assigned to us was called The Higher Power of Lucky.  We were given a free copy of the book to read, and let me tell you, it was dreadful.  It was equal parts morbid and boring.  The ten-year-old main character is a girl named Lucky whose mother died from being electrocuted during a storm; her father is unaccounted for and she lives with her father’s first ex-wife in an old trailer in a depressing desert town.  She is obsessed with Charles Darwin for some reason and the primary adventure in the story seems to center around Lucky eavesdropping outside AA meetings and worrying that her guardian will abandon her.

Librarians are obsessed with this book.  It is everywhere; it is one of their most highly recommended books.  Just now we have returned from the library and there were five copies of the audio book on the shelf.  Five copies!  Audio books are expensive, and it always takes them ages to order the classic ones that I request, but somehow we have money for five copies of this book.  No one ever checks them out, but I’m sure it makes the librarians feel very cheerful and progressive to see them on the shelf.

There were several other books that we read for that book club, all equally strange and uninspiring.  Modern children’s books usually have main characters who are female, have an intense grrrll power message, and often involve scenes in which girls behave unethically to get what they want.  I allowed our girls to listen to a modern story called The Callahan Cousins on audio book last summer about three cousins (all girls) who stay with their grandmother for the summer.  The girls – all grrrl-powered up of course – lie, steal, gossip, sneak out, sneak around, and none of this is portrayed in the story as a negative thing.

I can’t imagine what kind of literature is out there for boys now.  I rarely see much of anything geared at boys on the shelves, other than stories based on movies, video games, and TV shows.  Classic literature isn’t used much anymore, but the new literature is mostly badly written, dull, upsetting, and uninteresting, mostly progressivist propaganda.  Virtually every book for girls in the age range of 7 to 12 seems to include some kind of self-conscious gender-bending or gender “stereotype” smashing theme.

I know that many of my readers are parents and would probably like to know of good books for children between the ages of 7 and 15.  I will start by recommending the following five books, none of which are Christian books.

All of these stories are available on audio book at our library, but even if you can’t get the audio version, I think your children would enjoy reading these stories:

The Miracles on Maple Hill  (1956) by Virginia Sorensen:

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1939) by Margaret Sydney:

Rascal (1963) by Sterling North:

Larklight (2006) by Philip Reeve:


The Mistmantle Chronicles – start with Urchin of the Riding Stars (2005) by M. I. McAllister:

And our family’s FAVORITE series of audiobooks ever, Hank the Cowdog.

These are perfect for young boys as well as girls.  You can buy the books, but I very strongly recommended springing for the extra few dollars to buy the audio books.  The author reads them himself and includes songs, and his delivery is just so entertaining.  I recommend Hank the Cowdog very highly.  We have almost the entire series on audio book now (we’ve been purchasing them slowly over the past decade); also, check your library’s children’s audio book collection because they very well may have some of these or may be willing to purchase them.

Here is a YouTube clip of the author, John Erickson, giving a reading (he’s a much in-demand speaker and lecturer and is a salt-of-the earth Texan Christian sort.)

Listening to the wind and counting blessings

The wind is a-howlin’ tonight and it has been raining ice for most of the day…a perfect night for curling up in bed with a cup of hot tea.  I spent most of the day in the kitchen, since bad weather always makes me want to cook and bake and clean.  I don’t know why; it’s like I have this deep need to prepare food when the weather turns very bad.

I have a bit of a wind phobia, actually, since about 13 or 14 years ago we had a terrible windstorm that brought down a huge old cottonwood tree on our house and crushed my car, which was parked in the driveway, like a pancake.  Since then I get the heebie-jeebies whenever it’s extremely windy.

“But we don’t have to worry about losing power,” I proclaimed happily to my husband earlier this evening, “because we have a generator!”  One of my most favorite little perks in this house has been the generator that automatically comes on when the power goes out.  It’s come on a handful of times since we’ve lived here when storms have knocked out the power, including the very first day we owned the house.

Not ten minutes later after remarking on how we don’t have to worry about losing power, the power went out.  The girls started to panic, but don’t worry girls, I said cheerfully, we have a generator.  And any minute now, it’ll kick on…any minute now…any minute.


Hey honey, why isn’t the generator coming on?

Five minutes later, clad in heavy boots and coats and bearing flashlights, we skidded across the icy grass over to the generator to have a look.  My husband’s usual first course of action in these kinds of situations is to give the non-functioning appliance a good swearing-at.  You’d be surprised how often just telling a mechanical object what a piece of shit it is will cause it to shamefacedly spring back to life.

But the generator stubbornly refused to be cowed into fixing itself by being called four-letter words.  And then the electricity came back on by itself, so my husband was spared having to try to diagnose and possibly fix the potentially-broken generator in the midst of the raining ice, raging winds and pitch dark.

Only now I’m sitting in bed all anxious, listening to the wind and worrying about the power going out.  Which would mean not only no lights, but no heat and no water since we have well water here.

So I’m counting my blessings instead of worrying.  Care to join me?

Let’s see…if your house wasn’t blown away in a tornado or flooded out like in Texas or Missouri, well then, you’ve got something to be very grateful for!  My sister and her husband live in San Antonio, and they didn’t get hit by any tornadoes, but as I’m sure you’ve heard on the news, many people in the Dallas area weren’t so lucky.

What else?  Oh, it you weren’t shot in the stomach today, you’ve also got something to be grateful for!

A 39-year-old Flint man was hunting with his 25-year-old nephew from Burton, and the pair were headed out of the woods about 5:40 p.m., Kaiser said.

“Those two are walking out of the woods at night. They hear a noise. They see a glimmer of light and believe it to be the eyes of a deer,” he said of the incident police have labeled an accidental shooting. “The nephew points his gun in that direction and fires.”

The Davison man, who was archery hunting, was struck once in the abdomen with buckshot fired from a 12-gauge shotgun, Kaiser said. The man was taken to a local hospital for treatment and was listed in stable condition.

Glad he’s okay, and I know it was an accident, but they literally hammer it into your head during Hunter’s Ed to always clearly identify your target and what is beyond it before you shoot.  You aren’t just supposed to say, “Hey, sumpin’ shiny!” *blam*

Well, you know, let’s enjoy a bit a cute humor to pass this dreary night, shall we?  This has been around for awhile apparently, but it’s new to me.  I think this might be what happens when the Youth Pastor and the high school ministry interns get a hold of the Children’s Ministry puppets.  High church-basement madness…

Which reminds me of a story from when our eldest daughter was about 3 years old.  One day whilst we were driving to church, she was wondering about how Jesus had told his disciples that he would eventually be crucified.  Well, I said, I think he managed to communicate that to them in so many words.  “But how?  Like did He use puppets or something?”

My husband and I about died laughing.  But it made sense; in her little world, profound Biblical truths were nearly always communicated via puppetry or felt boards.

May your night be safe and peaceful!

And now, for those puppets…

“You can do what you want”: transplantism instead of tradition and friends instead of family.

The author of the blog Face to Face sometimes writes about the social trend he calls transplantism, which refers to people who migrate in adulthood to a different state from where they were born and grew up.  It seems to mean not just moving, but moving in order to satisfy some aspect of status-striving. He outlines three types of status-striving: career, lifestyle, and persona.

He has a number of very interesting posts on this subject, but one caught my eye on Thanksgiving evening, as I was relaxing with a cup of coffee just before we left to go out of town overnight, Transplant-ism Breaking Down Large Family Reunions on Thanksgiving.
Read the whole post (it’s brief), but I’ve picked out a quote that I found interesting:

“My memories of Thanksgiving in the ’80s still included most of the extended family, aside from an uncle and his wife who moved Out West awhile ago (my cousins through them were absent, too). For those of my mother’s siblings who stayed in the general region, it was common to see all the aunts and uncles, as well as the cousins, and of course the grandparents on that side. But those get-togethers involved one-way travel times of at most three hours by car for all involved, and usually under two hours. You could travel there and back in the same day, so nobody needed to put you up.

Contrast with today, where transplants spend seven or eight hours door-to-door, one-way, and will have to be put up for one or more nights.

There’s another way in which the lifestyle strivers seem to be making things worse. Since they’re foodies, meals are a fashion contest, and fashion corrodes tradition. So why would a foodie want to trek all the way back to family, just to have the same old things for Thanksgiving? They would rather spend Thanksgiving alone and pick up a pre-made dinner from Whole Foods, as long as they put sriracha in the stuffing. That’s something you could post to Facebook for status points — not whatever your non-foodie parents would have prepared.”

I found it interesting because this is a subject I’ve written about a bit myself*.  But I didn’t realize how bad the whole “foodie” and “friends instead of family” thing had gotten, especially among Gen Y and millennials. I even wondered if maybe he was exaggerating a little bit.

We got into the car and when we hit the highway, I settled back and decided to read the news on NPR on my phone.  This was literally the headline article:

How to Put Real Giving into the Friendsgiving Feast:

“Culturally, we’ve seen the rise of Friendsgiving, as young professionals take the opportunity to create the Thanksgiving they want with their friends,” says Clay Dunn, chief communications officer for Share Our Strength, a hunger nonprofit. “You can avoid your Aunt Ina’s terrible cranberry sauce. You can do what you want.”

And as long as you’re reinventing traditions, he says, why not put more emphasis on the “giving” in your feast? That’s the idea that Share Our Strength is pushing this year. It’s asking people to leverage their holiday goodwill by turning their friendly gatherings into fundraising opportunities to fight childhood hunger.

[…] So if the Friendsgiving fundraiser piques your interest, there are plenty of places to look for tips on planning the feast, like here and here. Share Our Strength has resources, including templates for table name cards and a Pinterest board for cooking and decorating inspiration, too.

[…] And if the do-good feeling isn’t enough to motivate you, Dunn says there are prizes. The top fundraiser will get to tour the official Food Network kitchens in New York.

I just had to laugh at how well the guy from Face to Face had described this.  Hey, don’t like the boring cranberry sauce that’s going to be served at your family’s?  Then don’t even bother with that multi-state drive home to see them.  Do what you want, but whatever you do, make sure to earn status points by creating fancy table name cards and signaling how charitable you are by making it a fundraiser for some charity no one’s ever heard.  Of course, there might be a little somethin’ in it for you, you Foodie, you!  How many of your friends have gotten to tour the Food Network kitchens, I ask you!

The sad thing is that these young people are chasing after the lie of modernity that blood is no thicker than water.  It’s not really about with whom you ate Thanksgiving dinner this year so much as it is about the whole ethos of the age, the disconnectedness, rootlessness, and emptiness of individualism (“You can do what you want!”) in place of family, faith, and tradition.

*Here are a few of my posts that are related to this subject:

Apples from Lesser Farms!

This past Saturday we dropped by Lesser Farms to get apples.  If you live in this area, I highly recommend Lessers.  The family has been in the Chelsea area for a number of generations; I saw in the paper that old Mr. Lesser recently passed away in his late 80s and had farmed in this area his whole life.  His sons and grandkids farm around here now, and one of the Lesser farms is within walking distance of our house.imageimage

It’s not a fancy place; it’s a real, working farm, diversified as small family farms tend to be, with a little bit of this and that, but of course a whole lot of corn, too.image


One of our daughters paying for the Cortlands and Honeycrips we bought.

Fruit sales happen on the back porch:


Fresh eggs and their own honey are always available on the side porch of the house.  It’s help yourself and self-pay on the honor system.  Our daughters discovered the joy of eating honeycomb last fall thanks to the Lessers.


Lessers grow their apples conventionally, which means they are sprayed several times during the growing season.  During one of the aerial sprayings this summer, my husband and one of our daughters walked over and hung out with the Lessers to watch their new crop duster guy, who was some kind of winged madman.  My husband said one of the Mr. Lessers was just shaking his head in amusement as the little crop plane whizzed back and forth at a ridiculously high speed.  Everyone was amazed he didn’t crash.  Our daughter amused herself by trying to catch one of the barn kittens, which Mr. Lesser said she could keep if she could catch.


Yesterday I cooked a traditional Sunday dinner and invited my mother-in-law to join us for a big pork roast with maple syrup glaze (made with syrup from Jane Kelly’s farm in Dexter), mashed potatoes, and butternut squash from our garden, and I made two big apple pies for dessert from the Cortland apples we’d bought.  Cortlands are my favorite pie apple by a mile:


Here is my favorite pie crust recipe:


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 2/3 cups lard
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add 1 2/3 c lard.
  3. Cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together water, egg, and vinegar.
  5. Pour into lard mixture and stir until dough is thoroughly moistened and forms a ball. Divide into 4 portions (if you like a thicker crust, I recommend only dividing the dough into three portions instead of four) and wrap tightly until used.

Here is the pie filling recipe I used:

  • Enough Cortland apples to fill 9-inch pie plate (heaping)
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of salt
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 T butter sliced over the apples
  • Mix one egg with 2 T Half n’ Half and brush over top crust. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350° for one hour or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.

Of course, if you are going to go to all the trouble of making a homemade pie, I recommend making two.  A slice of bacon, a sliver of leftover apple pie, and coffee with cream makes an awfully nice breakfast on an oh-no-it’s-the-start-of-another-hectic-week Monday morning.

Making and using mint jelly.

One of my daughters asked to have her own little garden plot this year, and one of the things she grew in it was peppermint:


I asked her to harvest some mint for me today so I could make some Mint Jelly, and she obligingly brought me a basketful:


I pulled off the leaves, washed them in a colander, chopped up 1 1/2 cups of them and put them in a pot with 2 1/4 cups water:


I brought the leaves and water to a boil, then removed the pot from the heat and let the leaves steep for ten minutes, after which I poured it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. I then poured 1 3/4 cup of the strained mint juice into a pan, added 3 1/2 cups sugar, 2 drops of green food coloring (optional) and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and brought the mixture to a hard boil, stirring constantly.


I added one pouch (3 ounces) of liquid fruit pectin and returned the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly and allowing it to boil hard for one minute.


After one minute, I turned off the heat and skimmed off the foam on the surface.


I poured the liquid into four half-pint canning jars and put on the lids and rings.


I then processed the jars in a water bath canner for five minutes.


The bright green color is so pretty, but I normally don’t add food coloring.  If you don’t add the coloring, the jelly will be a nice golden honey color.  However, I added the coloring this time because I want to use this jelly to fill thumbprint cookies at Christmas.  I’ll also make thumbprints filled with raspberry jam, and the green and red filled cookies will look festive together on plates for the holidays.


I got this recipe from the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  Frankly, though I’m not a big fan of the federal government, if we must have one then I think researching food preservation techniques and teaching food safety and home canning to people is a very good use of government funds. They have access to food safety laboratories to conduct research that we home canners can use to safely preserve homegrown food for our families.

Here is the recipe:

  • 1-¾ cups mint juice (1½ cups firmly packed fresh mint and 2¼ cups water)
  • 3-½ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin (3 oz.)

Yield: About 3 or 4 half-pint jars


  1. Sterilize canning jars and prepare two-piece canning lids according to manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Wash mint, crush leaves and stems or finely chop. Place in saucepan, add water and bring quickly to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. (A few drops of green food coloring can be added if desired.) Strain to remove mint. Discard mint.
  3. Measure 1-¾ cups mint juice into a large saucepot. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Place on high heat, stir constantly and bring to a full boil that cannot be stirred down. Add the liquid pectin and heat again to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat; quickly skim off foam.
  4. Pour hot jelly immediately into hot, sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids.
  5. Process in a Boiling Water Canner for five minutes.

So, what can you do with mint jelly?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Use it as a glaze for rack of lamb or leg of lamb (this is especially nice for Easter)
  • Stir a teaspoonful into a cup of hot tea to sweeten it and add a minty flavor
  • put a smear of cream cheese on a water cracker and top with a dollop of mint jelly (I’ve never done this, but I’ve heard tell that they do down south)
  • spread Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) on a graham cracker and add a thin layer of mint jelly
  • fill jam thumbprint cookies

If you have any other suggestions for using mint jelly, I’d love to hear about it!

What would it look like for Christians to honor husbands and fathers?

Several weeks ago, IB linked to this quote at Preston Yancey’s site:

I want to hear about the Jesus who demanded loyalty, who commanded authority from storms, sinners and satanic forces, who said vexing and frustrating and wild things. I want to hear preaching which is not just faithful to His words but to His TONE: of comfort but also of rebuke, of welcome but also of warning. I want to hear His dares, His call to come and die, His challenge to make hard choices. I want the Jesus of the gospels who does not just meet our needs, but who calls us to bold and courageous adventure, to self-sacrifice, to taking risks. I want the Jesus who promises huge rewards for huge sacrifices, who embraces fiesty Peter and wayward Mary and touchy-feely John.

I want the Jesus who welcomed the little children, but also the Jesus with eyes like a flame of fire, with feet of burnished bronze and a sharp two-edged sword coming out of his mouth…I want the Jesus who inspires my awe and calls forth my worship: a gospel from The Gospels. That’s the Jesus I want. That’s the Jesus I need: the one who is worthy of the honor, adoration and allegiance of men and women alike.

The word honor in this quote stood out to me because for the past several weeks I’ve been mulling over this quote from a post at Dalrock’s (highlighting mine):

Father’s Day is a day set aside to honor fathers.  This doesn’t translate into modern Christian culture because honoring fathers is a truly alien idea.  What would that even look like?  Note that Thiry’s pastor doesn’t say that he will honor fathers, he says he will try to encourage them.

I’ve been pondering how to honor Christian men, and I decided I would try to answer Dalrock’s question about what it would look like for modern Christians to honor fathers and husbands.  I think there are some good scriptural references in the quote from Yancey’s blog that can guide us.

1. Jesus is worthy of honor because of Who He is, the husband and head of His bride, the Church.  We should honor husbands and fathers for who they are in addition to anything they may have done.

Christ lived a perfect life, and no man or woman can do that, so if we base our decision to honor husbands and fathers solely on what they do, we will always be able to find something they have done wrong, some place where they have fallen short.  Therefore, husbands and fathers must be honored for who they are, for the position they hold, as the head of the family.

So what does honoring our husbands and the fathers of our children look like practically?  Let us consider the very first definition at Merriam-Webster for the word honor:

respect that is given to someone who is admired

To honor our husbands, we women should treat them with great respect and admiration, not only for the things they do but for who they are.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33)

For the Church to honor husbands and fathers, it would look like pastors speaking respectfully rather than with condemnation about husbands and fathers.  Any rebuking of men that needs to happen (and there would be some, as men are not perfect the way Jesus is) would happen in a men-only setting, out of the presence of women and children, in a church that honors husbands and fathers.  And it would be helpful if pastors stopped doing that jokey thing where they make self-deprecating jokes about both their own and other men’s wives’ superiority; that’s cheap humor and disrespects men. Would Abraham or any of the other patriarchs have spoken about their wives in such a way even in jest, I wonder?

2. Jesus demanded loyalty (Matthew 26:31-35).  He Himself was loyal but he also expected it from the apostles.

Sarah’s Daughter has a new post that speaks to the importance of women demonstrating loyalty to their husbands.  Please read her entire post, but for the moment just consider her conclusion from Men and Loyalty (highlighting mine):

God made your husbands in a very special way, different than you. He knows how they perceive value (loyalty) and He knows how they respond when they know they are valued. Trust God that He gave you very specific instruction for your marriage for a reason. Do not fear it. Do not project on to your husband a distrust of his integrity. And stop talking publicly about the line in which your husband must walk to receive your loyalty.

So, for Christians to honor husbands and fathers, it would look like women being loyal to their husbands, children being loyal to their fathers, and pastors teaching from the Bible that husbands, fathers, and Christ are all to be given our loyalty.  It would also look like the modern Church ceasing to provide moral cover for unbiblical divorce, which is often (but not always!) initiated by wives.  For too long now, much (but not all) of the modern Church  has either turned a blind eye to disloyalty or even at times supported it; this dishonors husbands and fathers.

3. Jesus was a leader who expected to be obeyed (Mark 14:32-42).  When the apostles disobeyed Him, He did not abuse them or stop loving them, yet He he directly stated what their sin was and rebuked them.

One way that women can honor their husbands and children can honor their fathers is through obedience (the Bible calls this “submission” for women):

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

The way that the Church could honor husbands and fathers is by accurately teaching these verses from the pulpit and ceasing to teach the unbiblical concept of mutual submission.  The Church could also

  • affirm that men have both the right and the duty to insist upon obedience,
  • teach husbands and fathers how to identify and lovingly confront disobedience in their wives and children, just as Christ did with His Apostles,
  • and support men in their efforts to lead their families by supporting their right to gently, lovingly rebuke rebellious family members.

Respect, loyalty, and obedience are three key components of honoring Christian husbands and fathers.  The way that the Church could honor husbands and fathers is by explicitly and accurately teaching from the many verses that demonstrate Jesus’ loving insistence for respect, loyalty, and obedience from the Apostles, the verses that teach wives to respect, be loyal to, and submit to their husbands, and the verses that instruct children to honor and obey their parents.

My first food forest guild.

One of the reasons I find permaculture so useful is because it provides a systematic framework for what I have already instinctively been doing in a hit-or-miss fashion for years.  For example, my husband used to think it was kind of weird that I mulched in all my flower and vegetable beds with grass clippings all summer; neither of us had heard of other people doing that, but it just seemed instinctively right to me.  Lo and behold, I find lots of permies do this too!

However, there are many novel growing techniques that I’m learning from permaculture, and the one that fascinates me the most is the idea of planting a food forest in guilds.

Here is a good explanation of what polyculture food forest guilds are:

Permaculture is based on natural systems like those that we see in forests.  In a forest system, there are mulitple layers of vegetation growing together in a very diverse setting.  We see many types of trees, shrubs, plants, insects, animals, and various other things all living together in a system that continually strengthens itself.  All of these components of a natural ecosystem serve a function (or several functions) that support each other like the strands of a web.  One strand on its own may be weak, but the combination of all the strands together add to the overall strength and usefulness of the web.

In order to mimic these natural systems and to provide for human needs (i.e. food, building supplies, fuel, fibers, etc.) we must learn to identify and work with the various functions of our natural resources.  This is where the concept of the “Permaculture Guild” comes from.  A guild is usually defined as an association of people working toward a common goal.  In Permaculture, a guild is a grouping a plants, animals, insects, and other natural components that also work together to help ensure their survival.  Instead of planting gardens, Permaculture teaches us how to “build guilds”.  Instead of teaching about specific plants, we teach about the plant’s functions.  This is why Permaculture can work throughout the whole world.  It is a guide for design rather than a “how-to” type of agriculture.

The basic design of a guild generally follows some variation on this theme:

I’ve put together the beginnings of my first guild and I thought I’d share it.  Behind our house is a mature full-size pear tree, which is currently loaded with baby pears:



I did not add a dwarf fruit tree because the area is rather shady and prone to deer visits.  Instead I put in red currant and gooseberry shrubs because they like partial shade:



I was thrilled to find the currant shrubs; when I lived in Russia one summer, I learned to love red and black currants as Russians are crazy about them.  They go into the forests and gather large pails of them, and you can buy them in all the open-air markets.  I always wondered why we don’t have currant bushes in Michigan as our climate is not dissimilar to some parts of Russia, so I did a little investigating, and it turns out that for many years, it was actually illegal to grow currants in the U.S. due to a fungal infection they can carry which completes part of its life cycle on White Pines.  The fungus does not seriously harm the currants, but it causes a “rust” on the pines that eventually kills them (you can read more about this here).

However, several varieties of red currants and gooseberries have been bred that are resistant to White Pine Blister Rust, and it is once again legal in some states to grow them.  In Michigan, black currants can only be grown with a special license, but red currants and gooseberries can be grown without a permit in certain counties provided they are the resistant cultivars:

Under the currants, I planted rhubarb:


Rabbits, deer, and other critters do not much care for rhubarb, and the leaves are toxic (we only eat the stalks), so there was no need to fence around these.  Rhubarb is one of the few perennial vegetables (yes, it is actually a veggie and not a fruit), so I think it’s a natural fit in a permaculture (“permanent agriculture”) guild.

I then mulched everything heavily with grass clippings to keep down weeds, keep the soil moist, and to nourish the rhubarb, which is a heavy feeder.

So here’s my guild thus far:



I still want to add a “ground cover” layer which may end up being strawberries if I can’t figure out something better to plant, though strawberries may not love the partial shade here.

The only harvest I’ll get from the guild this year is pears, but next year I hope I’ll be making and canning lots of pectin-free strawberry rhubarb jam!