Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Words of Wisdom from Charlotte Brontë

Portrait of Charlotte Brontë
by George Richmond

The English novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë (1816 –1855) was a the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood. She first published her works under the pen name Currer Bell.

What follows is the an excerpt from the Preface to the second edition of Jane Eyre. As with all words of wisdom, Brontë's sentiments expressed here are timeless.

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is - I repeat it - a difference; and it is good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.

Excerpt from the Preface to the Second Edition of Jane Eyre and signed:

Currer Bell
December 21st, 1847

Brontë's most famous works:

Jane Eyre (published 1847)
Wuthering Heights (published 1847)
Villette (posthumously published 1853)
The Professor (posthumously published 1857)

Bronte's pens names:

Currer Bell
Ellis Bell
Lord Charles Albert
Florian Wellesley

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Challenges Writing Teachers Face

"A great teacher makes hard things easy." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Well-crafted written communication is one the hardest things to teach. Consider the complexity of the task.
Many students are uninterested in learning to write well. They do not consider this a necessary skill for life.
Good writing takes time. There is a process of writing and revision. Students are not rewarded by immediate gratification.
There is the matter of recognition of good writing which comes through reading well-written material. Many students lack good reading skills. Those who like to read often fail to distinguish mediocre work from truly great literature.
There is the problem of distraction so that students have difficulty organizing their thoughts.
There is the additional challenge of logical order and sequence of ideas. Students often lack the critical thinking that this requires.
Good writing also requires grasp of grammar and syntax. Writing teachers spend a great deal of time teaching and re-teaching grammar.
Students tend to stay in their comfort zones when it comes to vocabulary. They do not stretch themselves by employing more sophisticated language unless they are challenged.
Teaching students how to write well is no simple task. Writing teachers who can do this should receive special honors. In some cases, the honor comes years later when a former student's work is published in a prestigious magazine. Sometimes, the former student takes the time to write a lovely letter to his writing teacher in which he acknowledges her influence and thanks her.
That happened this week for me. Thankful! Very thankful!
Alice C. Linsley

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Precious Wood

I found this poem by Ed Pacht very moving and beautiful. It is one of a number of poems he has written that were inspired by the Cocheco River and by Hanson Pines Pubic Park. Ed was walking in the Pines and came across a dead tree. It was hollow and riddled with holes. The shape and image intrigued him and he paused to contemplate it, when he saw motion. It was a grey squirrel poking its head out of various holes and suddenly appearing at the tip of a presumably hollow branch. The image came instantly.

Hiding Place

Ah, the precious wood
to which a sinner flees,
oh, the precious wood
on which the Savior hung,
ah the great salvation
wrought upon that tree,
O my Jesus, hide me,
set this sinner free.

--ed pacht

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Hard Lent

March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation for Orthodox, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics. The story of the Feast of the Annunciation is found in Luke 1:26-39.

Mary said, “Be it unto me according to thy will,” and then, in the famous words of the Magnificat, she said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord…”
It is often difficult to say either or both of these things, and that is part of what Lent is supposed to do for us. Ed Pacht explores this reality in the following poem.

It Has Been …

A hard Lent,
a thoughtful Lent,
a less than pious Lent,
with less time in church,
less formal prayer,
less meditative reading
than in other Lents,
but with a sharpened knowledge
of the weakness of the spirit,
and the frailness of the body,
and the shortness of the time
that one is given on the earth –
it is a Lent of sickness,
of myself and others around me;
a Lent where death is near
and several die around me,
where sickness in a church
brings changes that seem wrong
but have descended willy-nilly on it;
a Lent of laws that work injustice,
of discouragement and near despair,
of depression, but of hope:
for behind the negativity of life
there is the hand of God,
there is the gateway of the cross,
there is a pathway from the trials of this life
that surely leads unto the throne of God;
there is a will to good I cannot see,
to glories never to be seen with eyes,
to a presence seldom fully realized,
but never absent from a Christian’s life;
and in the hardness of this Lent,
in the midst of burdens I can’t really bear,
at the heart of all my unhappiness,
I give thanks:
for God is good,
His goodness never fails,
and even now I walk and dwell
in the arms of One who’ll never let me go.

-----ed pacht

Related reading: John Donne's Annunciation

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rayanne Sinclair's Flight Risk

Rayanne Sinclair's latest novel Flight Risk is a dramatic story of crisis in the air and on the ground set in Alaska in the mid-20th century.

This is a compelling story of committed love between a beautiful Nuxalk woman of the Bella Coola Valley of British Columbia and a manly bush pilot who grew up in Alaska. They meet during an aviation crisis and their relationship grows stronger as they face one crisis and challenge after the other.

As an anthropologist, I was especially interested in the excellent details the author provides about the native cultures of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. It is evident that Rayanne Sinclair did her homework!

The characters are well drawn and the plot moves quickly. The book is full of good news, especially for women who have reason never to trust men.

If you know someone like that, give them the book as gift. They will thank you one day. Trust me.

Alice C. Linsley

Other books by Rayanne Sinclair:

Page Turner
Beso Dulce
Steal Away

Friday, February 26, 2016

Waiting for the Spring Rains

Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone. (Zechariah 10:1)


Falling wetly from the sky,
a weeping from the One who cares
to cleanse and heal a messed up world,
falling wetly from the sky,
to show the world His deep compassion,
a calling to the badly broken,
falling wetly from the sky.

-----ed pacht

Friday, January 29, 2016

Dancing for the Lord


A Dancing Disciple

The following was written by a 15-year-old Christian. Grace Jaqueline has a marvelous talent as a dancer and she has performed in numerous ballets and musicals.

I believe that God has a divine plan for everything. I believe that He works in our lives to accomplish incredible things before we even know what He has in store for us. However, I also believe that God works most through struggles and hardships. Unfortunately, I think that most frequently we must first be broken for his light to shine in on us, but there is nothing better than when God steps in and takes control.

When I was in the sixth grade my life felt like it was on a road that didn’t go anywhere. I felt like I was never going to be happy, never succeed, and never get to follow my dreams. But to look back on my life since then, I realize that that was one of the most crucial times in my life and that I could never be in the place I am today without that time. And I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. If I had not been through that extremely hard time in my life I would not have been prepared to realize that I couldn’t fight the troubles of this world on my own. In that season, God showed his power of provision to me by providing a better school environment for the second semester of that year. But everything changed when I went on my first service youth retreat in June 2013 and I realize that I wasn’t capable of fighting the fight on my own. Although I was fighting for myself, I was never alone. God was there in every hour of tears, every moment when I felt worthless and unwanted and in every moment that Satan told me that I wasn’t good at any of the things I loved. God was there protecting, providing and waiting for me to realize that I am nothing without my purpose. My purpose was and is to follow God with everything I have in me even when I fail. On June 13, 2013, I finally decided to stop just letting God run alongside me and to instead run hand-in-hand with Him through the rest of my life. Now I realize that God had been trying to show me what I needed, and that was simply that I had to accept his grace and love for me so that He could show me how He saw me; beautiful and chosen, exactly as he had designed me to be.

That is my story and it has taken me a long time to realize what God has been trying to teach me through that time. Now I am finally starting to see tiny glimpses into Gods character and plan for my life. He has taught me that even my passion for dance, though I may never be the best in my class or the lead character, can be used in further His kingdom. He has been teaching me that all the parts of His spiritual body are important though some are unseen. I believe we must except that we were created to worship Him and that He has equipped us with unique spiritual gifts for just that purpose.

God has given me a heart to dance for his glory, to be a missionary to my community, other cities and other countries, and He has given me a heart for teaching dance. I may not become a dancer but at least for this time in my life I am called to this ministry. God hasn’t left me feeling completely helpless to follow the great commission to, “Go and make disciples of all men” (Matthew 28:19). He has given me a tool and I intend to use it until He instructs me otherwise. I believe God has a plan for my life, and if being broken is what it takes to see His light, then so be it.