Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WWJD? -- (I'm afraid I would be OUT of there)

View Mugabe co...jpg in slide show

I have finally finished reading Mugabe and the White African, written by Ben Freeth.  It was not an easy read, or an enjoyable one for that matter.  It reminded me of The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom in that respect.  One big difference between those two books, however, is that The Hiding Place tells of events that happened many years before I was even born.  Mugabe and the White African, on the other hand, chronicles horrible, shameless events that are happening as I type.

I wrote some of the background of the story in my last post.  Robert Mugabe is the current President in Zimbabwe, and he has openly and unapologetically changed that country's constitution to make it illegal for any white person to own land there.  In essence, all land is controlled by the government, and the land is taken from the white farmers and 'redistributed' to black peasants--on paper, anyway.  Freeth tells the story of his family's history with being African residents and landowners, and details Mugabe's reign of terror in much detail.  He documents specific dates, encounters, interactions and legal battles that have occurred over the years, which helps explain why Zimbabwe has gone from a land of prosperity to one of the poorest countries on earth in the relatively short time that Mugabe has been in power.

Of particular interest is the background and outcome of the international court case filed by Freeth's father-in-law, Mike Campbell, against Mugabe.  After many delays and postponements, the courts (in Namibia, not Zimbabwe) ruled in favor of Campbell, stating that the white landowners could retain ownership of their land. It was a great civil rights victory, but totally ignored by Mugabe and his government.  Freeth goes on to tell of how his family lived in constant fear, and their farms completely destroyed by Mugabe's henchmen anyway.  Mr. Campbell was so severely beaten, that he died just a few months ago from injuries sustained from ONE of the times he was beaten up.

There are so many details and stories in this book that bear knowing and repeating.  I couldn't help but think of the quote; "All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing".  Mr. Freeth was very clear in this book that he and his family feel called by God to fight this battle.  He wishes there were many others alongside them, but even if all leave, his family will continue to stand as long as possible to confront what he characterizes as pure evil and satanic forces.  I have heard various missionaries to Africa say that although it is something that most Westerners just can't grasp, the powers of evil and destruction are very real and evident is so many places there.  It sounds like just the kind of setting where Christ followers should be fighting, and this book chronicles one family's experiences with that so effectively.

This book has also provided much material for me and my husband to talk about.  Would I be willing to do what this family has done?  At what point do you just give up and give in and leave?  Do you potentially sacrifice your family for a belief?  How effective can being a martyr be?  Is it providential that I received this book to review?  Is it providential for anyone who might read this blog?  What do we do with this information now?

You can find out more about Mugabe and the White African and what others thought of this book at the Litfuse Blog Tour.  There is the opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate just for helping to spread the word about the book on Facebook or Twitter.  PBS also recently aired a documentary with the same title, about the trial against Mugabe. It was very interesting, and covered some of the events in the book.  It can be seen here.

You can also pray...

Disclaimer:  I received a complementary copy of this book as a participant in the Litfuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ever Heard of Mugabe?

Have you ever heard of a country in Africa called Zimbabwe?  It used to be called Rhodesia.  I'm not sure why the name changed but it happened when I was in elementary school (I think).  Since 1980, Zimbabwe has been ruled by a man named Mugabe (Moo GAH bee).  I tell myself that I am pretty up to speed on world events and civil rights abuses, but this one has gone completely under the radar for me.

I have been reading a book called Mugabe and the White African, which has just recently been released.  The atrocities this leader has committed are horrible.  He has systematically driven his country into poverty and desperation in an attempt to force every white person in his country to leave and abandon their farmland, so that he can turn around and give it away to political supporters.  If they don't leave of their own volition, then his henchmen beat the residents until they are brutally killed.  He is vocal about his intentions, and has compared himself favorably to Hitler.

Under his regime, Zimbabwe has gone from the number 3 food producer in the world, to the lowest producer with abject poverty.  It has gone from a 90% literacy rate to almost 0%.  The life expectancy has gone from 69 y/o for women and 64 y/o for men, to 37 for men and 34 for women--the worst life expectancy in the world.

Apparently, this is no secret.  There are UN sanctions galore, and many countries, including the US, have imposed their own sanctions.  It is also common knowledge that he has rigged and sabotaged his 're-elections'.  So, why isn't anything being done?  I don't know what the answer is, but there has to be something.  How many lives could have been saved if someone had tried to stop him sooner?

What if the world had taken the same stance with Hitler?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Attitude Check

Last night I was cutting a bell pepper and sliced into my thumb.  It bled, and hurt(s), a lot.  After several minutes of dealing with that--hot running water, ice cube compression, and a tightly placed band-aid thanks to my dad--I went on with the whole process of getting ready to grill out.  Only, everything had to be modified in a way that was less effective.  It is just harder to dice, slice, and chop without use of a thumb.

As I was trying to wash the dishes later without getting my thumb wet, I was mentally taken back to the months after my car wreck over a year ago.  While the bulk of my mental and physical energy was spent on dealing with my broken knees and leg braces and everything else associated with that, I also had to deal with a fracture in my left hand that required a finger to elbow cast.  It was not as 'major' in the medical sense, but caused me all manner of problems with my rehab.  The entire process of moving and going to the bathroom and giving myself sponge baths for a couple of months, and everything else for that matter, would have been exponentially easier if I had been about to use the left side.  But I couldn't, so I learned to adapt, and am still dealing with the structural consequences today.

So, last night, I was faced with the same choice I have had to make every day now:  do I get angry and have a pity party, or do I just go on doing my thing as well as I can?  If there is one thing I have learned from all this, it is that I may not can control what happens to me, but I can control my attitude about it all (after I weaned my self off those pesky pain meds, that is).

Because, regardless of how I feel about it, those dishes aren't going to just wash themselves.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I still like the Walkman, and I don't text, either.

Today's blog question:  Do I prefer paper books, or e-readers?

I have pretty much fought the whole e-reader genre from the beginning.  I had no desire to even try it out, even after my husband got an iPad and free book apps.  Then, we were travelling in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and I gave it a try.  I have to admit, it did not take long for me to see the appeal of it all.  The cost.  The portability.  The lighted night time reading.  I finished a couple of his books that way, and have even reviewed a couple of more since then that were free.

That being said, nothing quite beats the feel of an actual, paper book.  Being able to see how much I've read and how far there is left to go.  I think I'm able to enjoy and process it better that way.  I don't foresee that changing anytime soon.

I guess I'm just stuck in the old 80s technological era.  I'm OK with that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Short Answer? The Scarlet Letter

Today's blog question:  What is the last book you read?

Well, like most book lovers, I seldom read just one book at a time.  I tend to be reading out of several books at any given time, unless there is a particular one that I want to read quickly from start to finish.  My next book like that is on its way from Amazon right now, which is book 2 in the MonsterGrrls series.  (This series was written by my old high school friend, John Rose.  Check his stuff out at the Monster Shop).

Since school is starting back up, I have to concentrate more of my reading time on my boys' school work.  Right now, I am reading Red Sails to Capri with the youngest, and The 13th Reality with the middle one.  My oldest is reading on his own, so I just finished reading the first book on his reading list, The Scarlet Letter.  I had never read this book, and found it to be bit of a challenge because of the writing style.  I don't think my son is going to like it very much, but I do want to discuss the main themes with him.  He asked me this morning if he could just watch the movie--"even one of those old gray (meaning black and white) movies if I have to".  My answer?  "You know this isn't public school".  Yes, apparently the bulk of the local high school's history, literature, and social studies classes are taught my Netflix.

I am also reading a review book called Mugabe and the White Africans.  It is a fascinating look at the 'leader' of Zimbabwe (in Africa), and his tyrannical rule. I had never heard of him, or that country's story.  I'll have that review up next week.

So, what are you reading right now?  Really, I'm curious...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spicy Water = Perrier

Today's blog question:  What is your favorite book store?

Ooh, I do like book stores.  All kinds and sizes.  The earliest one I remember was called Bookland at the Village Fair Mall.  My mom liked to read as much as I did, so we would spend quite a lot of time there if we were at the mall.  I don't know what kind books she looked at, but I would always head straight to the back right corner--the kid's section.  I'm pretty sure looking back on it that I wasn't supposed to do this, but I would pick out something that looked good, and just sit down on the floor and read until mom said it was time to go.

Bookland (and that mall) have long since closed down, but my love for book stores has remained strong.  I like Borders and Barnes & Noble as much as the next person, but my current favorite is an independent book store called Lemuria.  It is not a huge store, but it feels like walking into a real book land with the extra high celings and every inch of wall space covered floor to ceiling with books of all kinds and sizes.  There are nooks and crannies, with book displays in the aisles.  There is a Mississippi section (Mississippians have written A LOT of good stuff) and an absolutely amazing kid section called Oz.  They sponsor all kinds of book readings and signings, and the staff is very knowledgeable and helpful.  I like the overwhelming 'bookiness' of it all.

It doesn't feel like a book mill that is just promoting the book du jour.  It seems to be promoting a pure love for and appreciation of books.  Not to mention that right downstairs is a bakery that sells the most amazing bread and hummus and spicy water.  A good book, a croissant, and a decaf cafe au lait.  What could be better than that?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You just can't beat free - (Thank you, Ben Franklin)

Today's blog question:  Do you prefer to own books or borrow them from a friend or the library?

I have always loved books.  One of my earliest memories is of a friend of my mom's knocking on the door and giving her a bag of books that her kids had outgrown.  It was like Christmas that day.  And for most of my life, I have spent any extra money on my own books.  I have them on every flat surface of the house--bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room, so that I can have something to read within reach when the urge hits.

One big difference now is that for the past several years, I have almost made a complete switch in my book reading habits.  Now, I try to borrow them from the library if at all possible.  Part of this is simple economics--they don't make you pay for the books at the library.  Another part is the whole clutter aspect.  A lifetime of books makes for a headache of clutter.  Plus, with the multiple moves we have had in the past few years, it has been harder and harder to get the same people to graciously volunteer their moving services when they remember the sheer volume of boxes we have containing nothing but books.  In fact, I have slowly but surely been donating or giving away books for a while now.  At first it went against everything in me to pass those books on, but now I see it as freeing.

Freeing up more space on the shelves for my newest obsession (free review books), that is

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Weren't There Thousands More?

I went to a prayer vigil/walk for James Craig Anderson tonight.  My husband and two youngest kids were with me.  And so were hundreds of other people.  As we were walking down a main street in Jackson, singing 'We Shall Overcome', I was struck by the sadness of the situation.  Why in the world are we still dealing with this mess?  I know racism is about as old as mankind itself, so I don't know if there will ever be a lasting solution.  I do know that I don't want to be part of the problem.

What that looks like exactly, I don't know.  I'm pretty sure I'll be fleshing it out here, though.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"--Edmund Burke

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Magic of Legos and Dollar Store Toys

In my area, most public and private schools started today.  At our house, no.  I don't even have a definite 'start' day yet, but as my kids have gotten older I have found it to be easier to try and stay as close to the public school year as possible.  I learned that the hard way when they got up old enough to hear their Sunday School teachers say, "Aren't y'all excited about getting out of school next week?", and we still had a good couple of month's material left.  Not the makings of a good summer.

It is hard to believe that I have a decade of homeschooling behind me--and possibly a decade more to go.  There have been numerous changes in curriculum and location and philosophy and excitement levels through the years, but one thing has remained constant:  the first day of school.  It is my one chance every year to create the illusion that school is carefree and easy and fun at our house.  (For those of you who truly have a fun homeschool experience--good for you.  Seriously.  Don't take that for granted).  For my kids, it is like Christmas in August.  Or September.  Or October... I know the time is nearing, though, because all of my boys are asking, "When can WE start school so we can get our cool stuff?".  In our house, that first day is a BIG DEAL

It goes something like this--on the morning school starts, the boys wake up to a stash of materials, supplies, and toys that is marked with a poster board that has their name, grade and year on it.  They aren't allowed in the living room until everyone is awake and I give them permission to go for it. When they were little, I could get away with giving them their workbooks and manipulatives and new crayons, with a small Lego kit added in for good measure.  As they have gotten older, I have had to become a little more creative, as the actual curriculum materials in no way symbolize 'fun' for my boys.  Now we focus on craft kits, and science kits involving lizards and butterflies, and play-doh.  I have given DS games that have a learning component, and this year they are getting the newest Just Dance Wii game for PE, and a Phineas and Ferb Wii game as an added incentive of being able to play at night if they complete their work before a certain time each day.  Sometimes I will throw in a poster or frivolous ruler (you know, the ones that shine or bend or sing--and cost 68 cents instead of being on sale for 25 cents).

My high schooler still loves this part of the new school year, but it has gotten tougher to please him.  Play-doh just doesn't do it for him anymore.  I tend to buy a new CD or two, or an iTunes card, or a T-shirt.  This year some music lessons will be included, which we planned on getting for him anyway, but he might as well just think of it as a back-to-school goody.

We also have a tradition of buying a kit from Hobby Lobby that has pre-cut round paper, which they decorate with markers and then mail in (eventually), to be sent back a few weeks later as a plate.  They write their names and grade and year somewhere on the paper, and then decorate with their current favorite things - Mario, bugs, Perry the Platypus-stuff like that.  Each year they look at their plate stash and laugh at how they used to draw and what they used to like.  Me?  I just marvel at how quickly they are growing up.  Or that it is a whole year later and they still can't spell 'grade' or 'America'. 

They usually spend the whole morning playing or creating, and then we go out to eat for lunch, or go get frozen yogurt, or go bowling.  Something we don't ordinarily do.  In essence, our first day back to school isn't an actual school day at all.  The 'real' schooling starts the next day.  But for that one glorious day, we operate under the illusion that this year will go smoothly, and quickly, and will remain stress free.


It is nice to pretend, though.  And hey, isn't using your imagination part of the learning process?  Maybe I should write it down in their schedules as cognitive reasoning/instruction and count it as an actual school day after all. Now, if I can just locate where I put that schedule book at the end of last year...

2014 Update--Last year, instead of trying to guess what they would like or appreciate, I gave each of them a $50 gift card to Hobby Lobby.  They had to each pick out a science, art, creative, building kit and a couple of other categories that I can't remember right now, and the rest they could spend as they wanted.  This worked well, and is probably what we will do again this year.

They do still love their Legos, though.   Boys....