M.I.T. professor Sherry Turkle has written two previous books on the subject of technology and its effects on humanity. Apparently The Second Self, published 26 years ago, presents a more sunny thesis that online exploration is beneficial to self-development. But Turkle’s new book, Alone Together, is a fascinating and at times devastating exploration of the question posed in its subtitle: “Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.” The first half of the book describes our interaction with robots: robotic toys like…Continue Reading “Alone Together”

“Was it a good book?” I asked my daughters this question after finishing The Ordinary Princess. The answer seemed obvious; though I read it to them on my Kindle (complete with some decent illustrations, but still without the attractions of actual ink and paper), they were completely captivated from beginning to end. “Lots of giggles!” exclaimed my warm-hearted 7-year-old. “And I almost cried at the end!” “It was great,” said my reflective 9-year-old. Last week I pondered princess tales of two varieties: the helpless princesses…Continue Reading “The Ordinary Princess”

In my study of growing up in a networked culture, I meet many children and teenagers who feel cast off. Some have parents with good intentions who simply work several jobs and have little time for their children. Some have endured divorce — sometimes multiple divorces — and float from one parent to another, not confident of their true home. Those lucky children who have intact families with stable incomes can experience other forms of abandonment. Busy parents are preoccupied, often by what is on…Continue Reading “Pathological — or “normal”?”

One never knows, but I’ve been thinking lately that I’m probably about halfway through my life. Maybe a little over. What do I have to show for it? I look back over my story so far and see an odd jumble of ingredients that don’t seem to have resolved themselves yet into a definite direction. If I were reading it in a book, some episodes would make me sad or worried, but nevertheless I like my story. I wouldn’t want to trade it for someone…Continue Reading “Poetry Friday: Finishing Well”

This afternoon, we finished Rosemary Sutcliff’s Wanderings of Odysseus. My second-grader squirmed with delight next to me, pumping her feet and clapping her hands over her mouth to smother the squeals at Odysseus’ return. My fourth-grader was silent and rapt. (This is despite the fact that when I asked them for words to describe the book, “bloody” was one they both offered…) There is something so satisfying about Odysseus’ multi-chapter homecoming. Concealed from his family and faithful servants by a beggar’s disguise until one by…Continue Reading “The Fair Penelope…”

True confession: I’ve never actually finished any of the Pooh books. I’ve tried more than once; most recently, I attempted Winnie the Pooh as a read-aloud. Failure again. But The Red House Mystery is one of A.A. Milne’s books for adults, written, one source explains, for his father, who loved mysteries. I found it an entertaining, witty read that maintained a light-hearted mood despite being a whodunit. In the office of an English country estate, a shot is heard, and a corpse is found. Just…Continue Reading “The Red House Mystery”

The other day I pulled open the kitchen drawer where I keep my Bible, and saw my old photocopy of this list. It’s a comparison between proud, unbroken people, and broken people. I’ve had it for years — it was given to me by a friend at our old church, where much was made (in talk) of the idea of brokenness. I pulled it out and read through it again. In all honesty, I don’t pan out all that well as a broken person. I…Continue Reading “Brokenness: The Heart God Revives”

We’ve been revisiting a read-aloud from a few years back: Rosemary Sutcliff’s┬áBlack Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad. I reviewed this book when my now-4th-grader was in first grade, and I feel pretty much the same as I did the first time. What struck me this time was what a strange position my choice of the classical approach to education puts me in at times. On the one hand, I’m pretty choosy about what my children watch on television or what movies they…Continue Reading “First Encounters with Homer”

When I first read about Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, I couldn’t wait to read it. The title, and the trailer I watched over at the author’s blog, seemed to promise something I need. For the most part, the book delivers. It recounts Ann Voskamp’s odyssey of gratitude, which began when she responded to a dare to list 1,000 things she was thankful for. She laid a journal open on the counter and began, without any…Continue Reading “One Thousand Gifts”

Yesterday, my mother-in-law told me that she had led her father to the Lord. He had left his wife and family many years ago, when she and her brother and sisters were all little kids. Now he’s in a nursing home in failing health. She has walked the difficult path to forgiveness and grace, and felt that the Lord wanted her to share the gospel with him. Her obedience bore eternal fruit. It’s a wonderful story in itself, but it’s made more wonderful if you…Continue Reading “Heritage”