Reading the classics – on the beach

More about the Beowulf On the Beach Challenge.

Here is a widget to see the TOC and see what 50 classics are listed.

This summer I plan to read The Odyssey, hopefully reread Jane Eyre, and even tackle Metamorphoses by Ovid (it’s already on hold at the library). I will also finish the Old Testament this year. I have a few others of these classics on my 999 Challenge list as well.

I have read 7 of them, and haven’t even heard of 10 or 11 of them.

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Dred Scott’s Revenge (review)

My latest Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers is about slavery in the US. Dred Scott’s Revenge by Judge Andrew Napolitano covers an aspect of our history that I am not that familiar with.

_80_140_book47coverThis book starts with a bang. He is challenging the attitudes and actions of the founding fathers in the introduction and doesn’t slow down after that. The book covers history, politics, judicial rulings, and long-term effects of each major step in our nation’s path. The author offers a framework for looking at slavery and then uses that framework to show the wrong choices and bad values that kept slavery, segregation, and the view that blacks were an inferior race alive for so long in the United States.

He challenges a lot of what I learned in school and backs it up pretty well. He argues a few things that I am still not convinced about but that doesn’t detract from the truth of the book. Even if I think the founding fathers had little choice if they were going to create a united country, his point is well made when it goes on for another 200 years and not only does the federal government allow the South to keep slavery/segregation, but then it starts to institutionalize it across the entire nation.

He teaches more than just racism and sees more concerns with our government’s behavior than just race-related. But the arena of race is an excellent example of the issues and a subject worthy of more attention and effort.

I married a Northerner and the few times the War of Northern Agression has been raised he has pointed out that “we won that one”, and if the point was to keep all the states in the union, then he’s right. But if the point (as we were both taught in school) was to end slavery, then it is very obvious that the South won and really, in the end, everyone lost.

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Misc Reading

A few short blurbs about books I’ve read lately.


First: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.

I got this from the library. I started out at position 40 on the hold list, but it came pretty quickly. I read it and returned it just as quickly so someone else can get it. I didn’t fall in love with the book or really connect with any of the characters, but I did find the premise interesting.


Next: How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil by D. A. Carson. I can’t remember where I saw a review of this book, but it looked interesting. I bought it on the Kindle and started it shortly after finishing up Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ by John Piper and while listening to Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs .That makes for a lot of suffering in one month. Carson and Piper are very biblical in their analysis of suffering and sin. I found How Long, O Lord? slow reading because there was so much in ever chapter. He is a challenging read because he uses sophisticated arguments and big words. He provides definitions and context so it isn’t frustrating. But he expects the reader to think and to be prepared to go deep into the subject. I will be reading this one again.

He has a real sympathy for people suffering and a real understanding of why this is not an easy topic with short or glib answers. He also points out that the book is not written for people currently in the midst of great suffering, but instead for preparing Christians for suffering when it comes, because it will come.


Third: Light from Heaven (The Mitford Years, Book 9) by Jan Karon.This was a soothing interlude while working through How Long, O Lord. I love the daily Christian walk and the many characters we meet in Mitford.


Fourth: In the RSS feed from our library I found a book by Christopher Buckley about dealing with the loss of both his parents with 12 months. I enjoy his humor, I discovered William F Buckley, Jr only in the last few years, and I lost my father in October, so I checked it out. Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir is a very interesting mix of grieving, handling the many expectations and demands and wishes of a busy life, and a respect and love for two very quirky and special parents. This is very much a book about dying or watching someone you love die. It is also about the regrets and frustrations that often accompany watching a parent die. And about dealing with the aftermath, the decisions, the condolences, and the follow-up.


Finally: I have been listening to the free audio book from This month it is Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs . I’m not finished yet, but I am to the last 1/3rd, the Marian Persecutions.

This has been an interesting book. It begins with persecutions right after the death of Christ and the first few centuries. Then it moves to Catholic persecutions of protestants. I had forgotten how many people broke with the Catholic church’s insistence on transubstantiation and worship of the saints 100+ years before Martin Luther. Due to workouts and other things I have listened to large swatches of this book at a time (it is 19 hours) and at times the unrelenting death of so many believers can be overwhelming. As I have said elsewhere, reading other books on sin and suffering by John Piper and D. A. Carson have helped put this in some perspective. In fact, in How Long, O Lord by Carson he makes the statement that “it is not normal to never hav an incident in life where professed allegiance costs” and then he recommends reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

The book was written as an affirmation of the Protestant Reformation during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, of England. Yet, it admits to some barbarity on the part of Protestants when they have the upper hand. I don’t doubt that there was some selectivity in choosing the material and the anti-Catholicism and persecutions that arose (perhaps encouraged by this book) were wrong. However, the persecutions performed by the Catholics, the belief that death was the proper punishment for disputing non-biblical portions of Catholicism, the fact that Protestants felt strongly enough about the dangers of superstitions about Communion and Saints that they would risk death are all very thought-provoking. The wikipedia article points out that some say the section on the Marian persecutions leaves out the political aspects that were mingled in with the religious issues. I agree that this section doesn’t seem to spend much time recognizing that part. But the earlier section on the medieval period made it pretty clear that getting more attention than the Jesuits could result in political maneuvering that would lead to a conviction of heresy and death.

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Beowulf on the Beach

I found a new blog and a book to look into. And they have a reading challenge to go with it. Click here or on the picture to see the details on the book and the challenge. I figure my reading of The Odyssey fits the challenge perfectly. I already have a few others on my 999 Challenge list for this year. Now I want to get a copy of this book too!


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My Nightstand for June


I’m approaching the end of the Spring Reading Thing challenge and not at the half-way mark yet with the 999 challenge. Here’s what I plan to read over the next month.

  1. Dred Scott’s Revenge by Judge Andrew Napolitano (Thomas Nelson book review blogger)
  2. Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation by Richard Norton Smith
  3. The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
  4. The Odyssey by Homer
  5. Believing God by RC Sproul Jr.

Quick status on last month’s list:

  1. The Odyssey by Homer
  2. Spectacular Sins by John Piper – on Kindle
  3. How Long, O Lord by DA Carson – 2 chapters left
  4. Believing God by RC Sproul Jr
  5. make progress in Les Miserables
  6. The Scarlet Pimpernel – on Kindle – done – loved it, as always
  7. The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

Not very good progress. I didn’t even pick up The Odyssey or Les Miserables and only picked up The Nicomachean Ethics to move it on the desk.

I did read other books this past month, including Light of Heaven by Jan Karon (great, as all Mitford books are), Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (an enjoyable read), The Shack by William Young (not life-changing), and Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley (funny and true to dealing with the death of a parent).

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So what have I been doing?

So nice of you to ask. I have been very active this week – as in physical activity for fitness purposes.

Two weeks ago I bought a brand new road bike, a Trek 1.2 WSD (that’s a beginner Trek bike with woman specific design, such as shorter in some places and longer in others). Along with it I got the clip-in pedals and the computer to tell me how long I’ve been riding (usually not as long as it feels).

We also bought a trainer, which is a handy little contraption that lets us use the bicycle inside (when it’s too cold, too wet, or too hot). I like it because it holds me up and I can focus on getting in and out of the pedals and adjusting my rear because my bum is sore.

But, what’s a road bike that never hits the road? So, last Saturday I prodded dh out of the bed and we loaded it all up and headed for a nearby business park. I like this place because the road is wide (4 lanes) with little weekend traffic and it’s a big circle so I don’t have to stop at intersections or turn onto new roads. DH finds it BORING. I find it comforting and SAFE. (We’re different like that.)

DH was very good about spending a few minutes in the parking lot reminding me how to get onto and off of my bike. I know, what’s so hard about that. But with clip-in pedals the routine looks like this.

  • Stand on the left side of the bike.
  • Position the right pedal at 6 o’clock.
  • Put the right food on the pedal and click in
  • Now bring the pedal back up to 3 o’clock (that’s toward the front). This means I can push off and get some momentum. Speed is my friend (yeah, crazy, but I keep repeating it thinking maybe some day I’ll believe it)
  • Now, while the bike is moving (with me on it, sort of) get that left foot up and clipped in
  • If the left foot doesn’t clip in right away, pedal normally to keep up the speed (remember, speed is my friend) until I can get that foot clipped in

Now that I’m moving, stopping requires a lot of planning as well.

  • Get up some speed (yep, speed really is my friend)
  • With the left foot at the top of the stroke (12 0’clock) jerk the shoe out of the pedal clip. I still have some difficulty with this so I start preparing to stop long before I really need to stop. I can walk the bike the last few feet if I have to.
  • Now start braking and lean to the left to put the left foot on the ground when I stop
  • Then unclip the right foot

All of this was practiced numerous times at the bike shop as the guy there walked me through it and then watched me do it. I wrote it all down while we were at the store. I have some very real and valid fears about this part.

DH is telling me the fears may be real but they aren’t valid, this will all become second nature to me in no time. Then we practice in the parking lot and I do really well. We finally end up over at the exit onto the road and off he goes. I position my pedal, clip in, pull it back to 3 o’clock to get some momentum and off I go. Only, I didn’t really move much at all (just a slight little itty bit of incline) and I can’t get the other foot up and all my weight is on the right and I know how this is going to end, but I can’t do anything about it. So down I go.

A small part of me is saying “see, I told you so. this is ridiculous, and at your age” but it’s hard to hear that voice over the tears that are coming. Then dh whips around (and gets his foot unclipped with no problem at all!) yelling “that’s number 1” like my first fall is some great achievement and I’m well on my way to the cyclist hall of fame now that I finally accomplished my first fall. I really love that man!

State changed, tears gone, elbow not really scraped worth talking about, bum bruised, and knee red but not actively bleeding, I pick my bike up and tell him we’re going to finish this ride. (Yes, my age is showing, 10 years ago I would have gone home and mourned all that money wasted on a good bike.) I did point out that my fears were apparently real AND valid.


I have to say, it was much worse than the picture looks. I think the camera lies.

The next 30 minutes were a lot of fun because I actually moved fast enough that DH could ride next to me, rather than taking off and coming back around the circle once in awhile.

However, it was also a lot of work figuring out how to work the brakes and the gears and, of course, dreading the point when we would actually stop and I would have to get my feet unclipped and get off the bike.

I’m sure it meant nothing to DH, but I did notice when we finally coasted into the parking lot that there were 4 women getting their bikes ready. So I had an audience if I decided to end my ride as well as I started it. But, I managed to get my left foot out of the pedal, then brake, and stop (well away from our truck) and walk the bike on over.

I’ve been back on the bike on the trainer twice this week, riding about 8 miles each time. Then I got some crazy idea about signing up for a local 31 mile ride on June 6. That’s just two weeks away. DH thinks it will be a lot of fun and we should be able to knock it out in about 2.5 hours. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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Bragging rights

Time to celebrate some accomplishments in the Navarro household.

Right now I want to recognize just how awesome my hubby is. He and my brother-in-law have been discussing building an entertainment center for a few weeks. The b-i-l kept asking how it was coming, DH kept saying he needed to finish sketching it up to make sure it was what the b-i-l wanted. I wondered how long this would drag on. Then DH decided this past Saturday was a great day (I encouraged this thought) to get it done!


The MBF was bought Friday and got home dry in spite of the spitful showers we had all weekend. Then Saturday I dragged him off for a bike ride (more on that in a separate post) so he didn’t get started until about 11 am. He got it all done, though. He sent a few pictures to the b-i-l through the day so he would know it was coming along nicely!

The weather looked dicey on Sunday so we opted to keep it in our garage until later in the week. Monday was bright and sunny and DH decided (again, with my encouragement) to just finish this little project so he loaded it all up in the truck and headed to Hickory. The b-i-l got off work and headed home to dismantle the tv and shelf he had. Then b-i-l, DH, and the nephews did some work and got it all in place. Everyone is happy!

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Weekly status for 5-15

Well, I haven’t posted much over the past 2 weeks, but I have been doing things.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Rom 8:28

Prayer and study

Not perfect here, but I did read Esther. I read Job earlier this year. I did not read Psalms or Proverbs, although I hope to do Proverbs soon. Next week is Ecclesiastes so I’ll start working on reading through it. I can use the time over the summer to catch up and read Isaiah and Jeremiah for our monthly Tree to Tree studies.

I am also working with a friend on the Bible study preparation for the Women’s Beach Retreat in Nov.

Outplacement Agency

I haven’t checked in over there in the past few weeks.

Job Search

I put on my new suit and met with a local contract company. At the least I figured I should see what is going on here with local jobs. I have one so I’m not desperate, but it is nice to see what the market looks like, how my skills transfer, what salaries are like, and just have some more connections. The time with the two recruiters was really nice, good practice talking about myself and my career history. I like the way the company works and it would be a good way to get into consulting under their management and direction.


I am working on 3 projects now as a contractor. In the final testing stages of one, which is great to get me back into creating test cases, thinking about all the different ways to try to do something wrong or right, and get the results documented and then retested when the developers put a fix in.

The other is still near the beginning, creating use cases and documenting the scope and requirements so we can all agree on what we’re doing. This is a bit more complicated because it is a local project based on a global project so we can’t customize a lot and there are still gaps being worked on at the global level. This reminds me how frustrating a project can be, and how much is dependent on a few people to either get the right information or make the right decisions.

The third is just documenting the solution after it’s all done so the steady state support team can take it over. Much of the work is done and I am just providing coordination so the developers can write up the last few pieces.

I needed a new way to handle long distance phone calls, and just calls in general without tying up the home phone line. I didn’t want the expense of another phone line into the house. DH mentioned he had seen a thing called MagicJack which is a small VoIP that you plug into your computer and then plug the phone line into it. We picked it up for $20 a year for unlimited long distance. It works really well for outgoing calls. I have stored some most used numbers in the contacts list and the reception is great. People haven’t noticed any issues with hearing me and I can always hear them. My only issue is that often (but not always) when people call me it forwards to the home phone instead of ringing the phone I have hooked up to the MagicJack. I have verified that I don’t have forwarding turned on so I’m still investigating.


This has been great! I have worked out 4+ times last week and this week. I bought a road bike last week and have spent some good time on it using the trainer. I’m building up my stamina, toughening up some of my muscles and sore spots, and getting accustomed to clicking my shoes in and out of my pedals.

I am also working out with some strength and core exercises. Of course, I am also doing my Egoscue exercises and seeing more progress there.


I had to spend some time looking at health insurance. I have access to really cheap COBRA (thanks to the money our gov’t is spending) for the next 6 months, but only if I didn’t have access to a group plan through a job or my spouse. This turned interesting and ended just like it did 9 years ago when I self-insured instead of going through the contract company.

The health insurance for self + 1 through my employer cost about $630 a month. I was only paying a portion of that, of course. This was a high deductible plan with an HSA, so the cheapest plan offered.The contract company I’m working for now provides a group plan but I pay 100%. Health insurance for self+1 was somehere between $600 and 830 a month.

I checked out BlueCross BlueShield NC, Aetna, United, and a few others and ended back at BCBSNC where our plan for self+1 will cost $450 a month. Makes me wonder if I should have stopped getting insurance through my employer years ago. I liked the COBRA cost of $18.50 much better!

Dental is not as easy a fix. I can get it with BCBSNC but it is more expensive. The group plan through the contract company is actually pretty good, but I may not be able to get just dental coverage. Oh well, not as big an expense or concern as health insurance.

And the life insurance contract is in place, with an even better rate than was quoted.

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Religion vs Gospel

Found this here. Which refers to both Keller and Driscoll.

Much here worth spending time on. Convicted by any of it?

RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted.

THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.

THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.

THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.

THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.

THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.

THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure.

THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”—simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’

THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.

THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.

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D. A. Carson on Tithing

Every year at the Ligonier National Conference we discover at least one new speaker/author that we had never heard of or didn’t truly appreciate. One year it was the electrifying discovery of John Piper. This year it was D. A. Carson. I had at least heard of John Piper before Ligonier, but I admit that I had not run across Carson in any memorable way before this March. We were blown away by his talks at the conference and I am now reading How Long, O Lord: Reflections on Evil and Suffering and loving it.

Here is a Christianity Today article from 1999 on tithing. Great stuff. He doesn’t take the easy way, but gets into the details and wrestles with the many sides and, with this topic, he gets straight to the point!

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