An Open Letter to Our Senator

I generally try to stay out of politics, especially online, but I guess the stress of the last year is getting to me…and I have accepted the challenge from Summer Kinard (the editor of Park End Books and Darkness is as Light) to blog more frequently in the New Year. So, since I had already written this letter to our illustrious senator John Neely Kennedy, I now share it with you, and check off “blog this week” from my to-do list.

If you’re wondering what I’m responding to, the statement Kennedy, Ted Cruz, and others posted can be read here.

Dear Senator Kennedy,

I am writing to you as one of your constituents from Lafayette. I was initially happy that you won election to be our senator, as I had heard you on Jim Engster’s show several times and found your ideas to be reasonable and generally in line with my own. Since your election, however, I have been repeatedly disappointed in your continual pandering to the whims of President Trump and the far right wing of the Republican party, sometimes even to the detriment of your own constituency. 

Up to this point, I have considered this the sort of “playing politics” that we can’t seem to escape in today’s political climate. While I wasn’t happy about some of your statements and votes, I have not felt compelled to contact you until today.

This morning it came to my attention that you intend to vote to reject the electors of states whose elections were decided by narrow margins. I think this is a terrible idea, and there are several reasons why. I will follow the format of your public statement to elucidate them.

First, your concern seems to be not that there actually was election fraud, but that many people BELIEVE there may have been election fraud. While I agree that it is vital in a democracy (or a republic) for the people to have faith in the public institutions, and the elections process in particular, I find it disingenuous for the very people who have stoked, if not created, this distrust with their own statements to now say that distrust is so rampant that we should not trust our elections. If you want people to have faith in the elections, please convince your fellow party members to stop lamenting (without evidence) how fraudulent they are.

Secondly, in the statement you suggest that if the Supreme Court had heard the two cases that were brought to it, this whole problem might somehow have been solved. The Supreme Court is not required to hear all cases brought to it; it is its prerogative to decline to hear a case that it finds to have been satisfactorily dealt with in the lower courts. It is telling that out of the dozens of voter fraud cases which were lodged after this election, only two even were worthy to be considered for a hearing by the Supreme Court. To claim that the election ought not to be certified because Republican lawyers brought a slew of unsubstantiated claims of fraud and the Supreme Court declined to waste their time any of them is ludicrous.

If your true motive is to shore up faith in our elections, it is unclear to me why Senator McConnell has not brought to the floor a request for a special commission prior to now. Why wait until two weeks before the inauguration, when he has had two months since the election to address this problem?

If you’ve read this far, Senator Kennedy, I commend you and thank you for taking the thoughts of your constituents seriously. I’d like to take just a moment more to express to you why I think that it is so vitally important that you vote to accept the electors of all the states on January 6. 

As you are well aware, we are in an extremely divisive political climate. We have had an election; all the evidence suggests that it was as free and fair as could be hoped. Undoubtedly, if there were actual evidence of the sort of wide-spread voter fraud that the Trump administration, for one, claims, they would have brought it out long before now. Yet this has simply not happened. Thus based on the evidence, to continue to claim that the elections were “rigged” is not only a lie, but is the very basis for the lack of faith in elections that you and your co-authors lament.

It is in your power, and the power of your Republican colleagues, to change the narrative. I understand that voting to reject the electors will play well with much of the staunchly conservative base here in Louisiana; I implore you to step above petty politics and look out for the good of the nation as a whole. Take a stand for the truth, Senator Kennedy. If there is no evidence, despite two months of searching by election officials and Republican supporters,  why drag our elections through the mud any longer? 

What our country needs to restore its faith in our elections is not more grandstanding, not more political theater, and not a 10-day commission. It is for men and women of good faith to tell the truth about the facts as they are, and to allow our political process to continue to work, as it has done for over two centuries now.

Thank you for your time, Senator Kennedy. May God bless you in your work on our behalf, and I wish you all the best in this new year.

Happy New Year, y’all.

Children’s Novels in Which the Pen (or Love) is Mightier than the Sword

A friend recently asked me for recommendations of children’s novels where the day is saved…but not by lots of violence.  He has a ten-year-old son who loves Narnia and Middle Earth, but he doesn’t want his son to count on Glamdring to solve all his problems.  (I am aware that it is Aslan’s sacrifice, as well as Frodo and Sam’s sacrifices, that make things right.  But there are soooo many swords in the meantime!)  Anyway, here is my humble attempt at a list, with a few comments.

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

I loved this one.  It’s an animal story – cats, dogs, snakes – but be warned – it is not for the faint of heart.  There are some heart-wrenching scenes, and a broodingly evil character who gives the White Witch a run for her money.  But the payoff at the end is worth it, and it’s beautifully written.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Time travel?  Yes.  School bullies?  Yes.  $20,000 Pyramid?  Yes!  And finally all the pieces come together in this middle-school mystery story.  Let’s just say, someone goes to incredible lengths to give up his life for a friend.  

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  Lyrical, very magical, it sweeps you off your feet.  A magic little girl and her grandmother, the mother who went mad when she lost her, a young man trying to protect his family from an evil witch…plus a dragon, a swamp monster, and a volcano.  There is violence, and attempted violence, but it is love and forgiveness that win the day.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

A modern-day fairy tale.  Again, this one is heart-wrenching, delving into the depression can bring into a family.  Hazel knows it is up to her to save her best friend Jack from the grip of an evil witch.

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Another story about forgiveness.  An orphan boy wonders if his sister is still alive.  A magician accidentally conjures an elephant – right into a woman’s lap.  And the snow just won’t stop… This one is a quick read, and it’s hard to beat Kate DiCamillo’s unique use of language.

A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door by Madeline L’Engle

These two are classics, but in both it is self-sacrifice, not violence, that wins the day.  Madeline L’Engle was my introduction to science fiction, though neither of these is too science-y to appeal to those who don’t care for the genre.  Actually, I thought it was amazing to read about a heroine, and physics, and a Christian worldview all in one book.

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly

This is an amazing historical novel for its detail describing the Middle Ages – I highly recommend it for that alone.  The language is what you’d expect from a book from 1928: the vocabulary and syntax are both more challenging that what you find in most modern children’s literature.  But the characters are wonderful, and the story is gripping, and, of course, good triumphs over evil in the end.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

This was another one of my favorite books growing up.  Annemarie must use all her wits and bravery if she wants to save her best friend and her family – who are Jewish – from the Nazis.  Beautifully told, and edge-of-your-seat exciting, yet still appropriate for younger novel readers.

The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son by Lois Lowry

I read The Giver in second grade, and I don’t think I ever recovered.  It wasn’t until a few years ago, however, that I realized there were three more books in the series!  That was a joyous day.  Each is wonderful on its own, but I recommend doing the whole set, because Son brings it all together so beautifully. 

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz

This book blew me away, simply because I’ve found very few children’s novels which take faith seriously, and fewer that take a child’s faith seriously.  Three misfit children and a miraculous dog race to save Jewish books from being burned by a crusading prince.  With all the fun of the middle ages plus secret identities, The Inquisitor’s Tale is a thrilling ride.  (Violence-wise, there is one pretty harrowing scene early on, with William and some bandits, if you’re looking to avoid such things, but it’s not Williams’ strength that wins the day in the end.)

Whew.  So really this is also a short list of some of my favorite books ever.  Enjoy!  I’d love to discuss them if anyone is interested!

Bucket List


A humble suggestion for an alternative “Bucket List” (courtesy of the Gospel reading for the Feast of Christ the King – Matthew 25:31-46):

  • Feed the hungry

  • Give drink to the thirsty

  • Welcome the stranger

  • Clothe the naked

  • Care for the ill

  • Visit those in prison

1 Thess 5:(5cf.)

First, the irony.  I am a large five months pregnant, and was scheduled to lector this weekend.  [Which is now last weekend.  The whole no-internet-at-home thing seriously delays posting sometimes.  Or often.  Or always.]  In case you forgot, or were wrestling small children during the first two readings, the first was the bit from Wisdom about a good wife; the second included the lines then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

So that was fun.  But that wasn’t what convinced me to drag out the ol’ laptop and actually bother to post.  It was the next bit of the reading from First Thessalonians:

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief.

For all of you are children of the light and children of the day.

And as I looked out at those listening (more or less…it was roughly eight AM), at the faces I had been watching through the pre-Mass announcements and the first reading, I thought how true that was.  These were the faces of the “children of the light,” whether they knew it or not.  Did they think those words were for them, if they even heard them?  I almost choked on the words, realizing their meaning.

We are not of the night or of darkness.”

I was blessed to proclaim that for myself, and for everyone in the church with me, and honored to be included in their company.  I hoped, and hope, that everyone in the room this morning thinks of themselves this way.  Not perfect, of course, but living, struggling, and hoping in the light of Christ.

Homeschool Highlights

Lucy and her friend were practicing multiplication tables this morning (not my idea – I love having extra kids around sometimes!) and they decided it would be fun to make it into a Go Fish! game.  So they did.  And spent half an hour or so playing 6 Times Table Go Fish.

Just caught Clare explaining to another friend about how difficult it was for Michelangelo to carve David (“and if he made a tiny mistake, just this big, the whole thing would be ruined!”) and retelling the story of The Library Mouse.  Narration?  Done.

And as I type, Isaac is trying to put an apple slice in my pocket.  Earlier he was working on building train tracks.

In other news, I should be putting my first children’s book manuscript in the mail in the next couple of days.  Pray hard!  Asking St. Therese of Lisieux for special help, since it is about her, after all.  (And if you want a preview, let me know and I’ll send the text along.)

Homeschool…it’s been a while

So it’s been a while…like almost three years…but yesterday morning was too much fun not to record.

Samantha was up before 7 asking for paints to finish the canvas she’d drawn on. (It’s a split image of a Holy Spirit dove and a crucifix.)

We got dressed, had breakfast, etc.

Then came the morning routine of Book of Saints (St. Jerome today!), Life of Fred, and today’s special: “How are mammals and fish different?” More work to do there the next couple weeks. And Story of the World part III starts next week, if the book ever gets here. My fault – I sent it to the old address and the post office can’t seem to forward it very quickly.

Then I came in from trying to change the alternator in the Honda (success! In case you were wondering) and found:

Clare running a ballet class (including stretching) for a 1-, a 2-, a 3-, and a 4 year-old,
Samantha engaged in Legos with a 5- and a 6-year-old,
And Lucy (who only does math with moping and sighing) happily doing Saxon math with her 9-year-old friend.

And apparently the older girls had the little girls color drawings of their hearts for the life-sized human body tracings they made of them. I know this because Clare’s heart was left out on the homeschool room table.

And the older girls are also on a crochet kick, which has taught them hand-eye skills, and taught Samantha that there is an end to the length of tape measures. And that they don’t work well anymore if you pull them too far.

Now the crochet chains are going into the tent plans.

Week Three: The Letter C

Well.  We’ve made it through another week, somehow.  It was actually pretty laid back until today.  Took the girls to run errands, then the nurse called back and said it might be a good idea to bring Lucy in for the swollen bump on her arm (just a little infection, nearly healed, so no need to worry), and so we spent two hours at the urgent care clinic.  At lunch time.  And I still have to go pick up the medicine, since it wasn’t ready when we went and I wasn’t up to entertaining the girls any longer.  But we made it through lunch, and I’ve got the cranberry cookies in the oven.
Next we drop the girls with “Aunt B” so Craig and I can go to the first True Fasting meeting, which will be our Friday afternoons pretty much until Thanksgiving.  Then it’s to the Verrett’s for a back to school party.  If I’m still awake.  But like I said, the rest of the week was calmer.
We made C’s and clouds out of cotton balls (Sam made a bird nest instead.  You know Sam!)  Lucy worked on writing out number words and cursive, which was her favorite thing to do this week.

This week’s reading included:

illustrated by Barbara Cooney-

Emma by Wendy Kesselman

And we’re back

A tablet computer has reappeared in our house.  I am ambivalent about this, but it means I don’t have an excuse not to write anymore.  So we’ll see how I do.  For now:
Why I think I like Louisiana better than Texas:
Two words: heated restrooms at the rest stops.  Stop calling Louisiana backward, y’all.  At least we’ve (mostly) moved past outhouses.