Tin Cottage Journals

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Autobiography of an ExColored Man

The Autobiography Of An Ex Colored ManThe Autobiography Of An Ex Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just finished this book for the 3rd or 4th time. I reread very few books, no matter how much I like them. Though classified as fiction, the speaker in this narratives lives & breathes. This time, listening to the Libravox recording, read by James K. White, brought him more to life than ever.

The character is SO real, and the historical perspective so revealing. I felt as if I were there with him, from his "Little Lord Fauntleroy " beginnings to his cosmopolitan adulthood, and the down to earth stuff of life that both broke & shaped him.

His comments on the attitudes, weaknesses & strengths of the various demographics of the African American population at that time explained so much. Both black & white Americans need to understand the changes since that time, both encouraging & discouraging if we are to grow in unity and become a mutually supportive society. This should be required reading in high school. However, in mixed race class in some localities, there might be too much friction to get the benefit of it.

I wonder if this would make a good movie or if it would lose too much in that form. It would be interesting to meet his family, friends & enemies, and I'd enjoy the 1920s styles and music but so much of the meat of the novel is introspective. Only a very gifted, sensitive director could hope to achieve good results. Anything less would cheapen it.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Does it take a village?

It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach UsIt Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us by Hillary Rodham Clinton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Considering I spent years in the Conservative community, where people who never read this book joked about & condemned it, I had never bothered to read it in the 90s. It's been on my "to read" pile a couple of years now, and I decided if there was ever a time to read it, that time has come.

Regardless how one feels about Hillary's ambition or political tactics, this book is worthy of being judged on its own merit. It has plenty of wisdom to offer for every time and place in human society.

At it's simplest, this is a peasantly nostalgic read, exploring the general sense of safety most Caucasian, middle class families felt in the 50s and 60s. Penny candy, walking to the park to play until the street lights came on, the values instilled in church and school, the strong sense of community, community pride and patriotism, and so much more.

Though for African American families, the challenges were harder, I have long heard those who grew up or raised a family during that time reminisce about the pleasures of walking to the corner store, playing outside without fear of impending danger, and how family, friends and neighbors all kept a watchful eye on everyone's kids, intervening as needed, affirming & mentoring, and telling your Mama if your escapades were of a dangerous or ill intentioned nature.

Hillary addresses, within the context of her pleasant or fearful memories, how different our society is today: how long work hours increase family instability and undermine marriages, the importance of monogamy in creating a safe environment in which to nurture a child, and how when families fall apart, the undergirding of our entire society is torn asunder.

She speaks of how our sense of alienation, fear of strangers, and inability to feel safe anywhere, limits our involvement in community, cooperative service projects, and ability to raise children to be free, run and play, or even go to the corner store without a sense of forboding.

She reminds of things we took for granted, such as good schools, public pools & playgrounds, safe streets, neighborhood policemen who knew your family and were our mentors, protectors and  friends. Libraries were free, most school supplies were provided, we had recess twice a day, participated in public performances, created art & explored many types of physical activities to increase our health and fitness.

She explores how extremist political policies have robbed us of most of these ingredients of creating cultured people, fostering compassion, patriotism and developing skills to express ourselves as needed to be active participants in our careers & the national dialog.

By condemning the safeguards & opportunities that made these things possible, by calling it "government interferance" and "communism", we have allowed private business to take over these privileges and have ceded our American inheritance to corporations who monopolize our resources and hold them for ransom at unaffordable prices.

Though "Mayberry" was never a complete reality, its spirit did exist in communities who fostered its sustaining values for many generations. In the name of "free market," we've sold our birthright as Americans to preserve community rooted in our shared strengths, wisdom and contributions. We now sacrifice our mutually owned public amenities to private control. Public libraries, school systems and public utilites are becoming increasingly owned or controlled by private interests. Guardians and transmitters of classic literature, art, history and the 3 RS have become purveyors of pop culture, mythological versions of history, and expensive tutoring with the sole intention of gaining profit, whether or not they successfully perform or deliver the promised goods and services.

The Hillary who wrote this book in no way resembles the person the conservative right presents as a murderer and a dictator who will ruin our lives.This Hillary is a person of commitment, humility and a desire to serve.  Whatever the sum total of Hillary Clinton may be, the foundational building blocks of a healthy society offered in "It Takes a Village " are generally agreed upon by most Americans.  Only suspicion and political programming keep us from exercising our rights and reclaiming our personal and common birthright from those we allowed to defraud us of it.

I'm taking my time with this book, so I have no idea when I will finish it. I'm sipping it like a fresh cup of coffee. It's a pleasure to read.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lost? Learn to Listen!

Life has become more complex than ever. 

On a personal level, we make decisions concerning our health, careers, finances, relationships and parenting choices.  Our families depend on us to tend and guide them well.

Furthermore, we have moral and civic responsibilities.  Should we choose to engage, we can influence the stewardship of natural and financial resources, caring for the less fortunate, and guiding the character of our communities and our states.

On a national level, we are responsible to be honest and informed voters, voices for justice and defenders of freedom for all.  Our vote can determine the fate of the homeless, the disabled, the unborn, the uninsured, the immigrant and the refuge.

Even globally, we, Americans especially, because we have a government "of the people," can address issues concerning war, peace, world hunger, education and more. 

Information abounds.  It's more difficult than ever, without hardening our hearts, to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and the homeless on our doorstep. 

Even on a personal level, the availability of scientific studies, television talk shows and celebrity doctors keeps us thoroughly informed and demands our best efforts as parents, spouses, sons and daughters, to insure our families are educated and healthy, mentally, physically and spiritually.

How can we handle it all?  How can we sort the information and our priorities and discern which choices are best?  Which needs are our God given assignments?

Facing such demands, we need the gentle guidance of God's Holy Spirit to have any chance of choosing well, or even to maintain our sanity!  However, unless we listen for that still, small voice, we will only hear the clamor of our own minds and the voices that surround us.

Isaiah 30:21 offers just the instruction and assurance we need for such a time as this.  The Lord says,

"Whether you turn to the right

or to the left, your ears will hear
a voice  behind you, saying, 
“This is the way; walk in it.”

That sounds like an offer I can't afford to refuse!

When have you been guided by that still, small voice?
What was the outcome?

How have your missed out on this offer?  What were the results in your circumstances?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ancient Paths

Our Father,

The ancient boundary lines are covered hidden by the litter of the centuries.  The ancient boundary stones are overgrown by millenia of religious, cultural and political traditions.  We follow maps marked with the lies and errors of those who came before us and continue to further deface them with our own foolish notations.   Even a true map can be "read" to suit the purposes of predators and mad men.

Even what one generation learns the hard way is discarded and forgotten by the next, even while the wounds left by the hard lessons are bleeding still.

We no longer can tell left from right, up from down, sick from healthy, or true life from walking death.

We need your guidance more than ever.  Lead us by your Spirit, in Jesus' name!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Save $5 on your first Swanson's order

If you're anything like me, you spend a bundle on vitamins and supplements.  On top of that, my grocery bill has increased considerably since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and must eat gluten free.

To save money, gas and time, I order my vitamins, supplements and over the counter meds from Swanson's Vitamins.  I also order certified gluten free oats, buckwheat (a.k.a. Kasha) and other gluten free foods from Swanson's.  Swanson's carries herbal teas, natural remedies, beauty and skin care products, and many other items most families need and use.

If you subscribe to their email updates, you can get great deals, and if you order $50 or more, shipping is free!

Get $5 off your first order by using this link to visit Swanson's web site and set up your account.  If you do this, I will get a discount on my next order, too!
Get $5 off your first Swanson's Order!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I have long suspected I was gluten sensitive or had Celiac disease.  Because I dreaded the idea of such a drastic life change, I never experimented with a gluten free diet.  I had read that doctors are resistant to testing for it.  Perhaps that has changed more recently, because when I did request testing a few weeks ago,  at the prelude to my age 50 colonoscopy, I mentioned it to the gastroenterologist and he agreed to test me without any hesitancy, just because I told him my family tree is full of diseases related to Celiac.  Or, perhaps my blooming red cheeks,  the grooved corners of my  mouth and hypothyroidism influenced him.  The blood test was positive for Celiac and the endoscopy confirmed it.

I'm not glad I have Celiac, but I'm glad to have the diagnosis, because it gives me hope I will soon have more energy and a clearer mind.  As I learn more about Celiac and gluten free living, I will be writing articles about it at Examiner.com, posting on Pinterest, and perhaps keeping you updated here as well!