A Christian Perspective on Magic In Fiction, Including Harry Potter

For years I’ve wrestled with what to do about Harry Potter. Almost everyone was raving about the HP series when I was a young mom with three little children. Yet, the books talk about witches and wizards. Not just talk about them, but glorify them. Does this make the books bad? After all, the Bible says that sorcery (which I put witchcraft under) is evil. I felt like I couldn’t make a final decision about the series until I read them and saw for myself what the books say, but I had so many other books I wanted to read. To this day, I haven’t read them. My sisters told me the books are great and totally worth reading. Until I read them, I didn’t want my kids reading them. So I forbade them from my home. At the risk of being viewed as a horrible mom who left my children out of the loop of popular culture, I didn’t let them watch the movies based on the books in my home. At least one of them (maybe more, who knows?) sneaked them into my home from the public library and read them secretively in a bedroom. My older kids watched the movies and read the books after leaving my nest.

Yet, I realized that C.S. Lewis uses a witch in his Narnia book. That doesn’t make the book evil. Shakespeare uses witches in Macbeth. I heard this BYU speech about the gospel truths found in Harry Potter and put the issue on a shelf in my brain, to percolate until the right time when I could understand it.

I finally found a source to give me a Christian perspective on the series. Yes! I am so grateful for the people over at the Literary Lives podcast for talking about this!

You can listen to it too. Because of this podcast, I realize I have been wrong this whole time. I’d love to hear your comments.

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Such Great Commentary on the Prodigal Son Story, Maybe the Best Ever

Image Credit for Above and Below: Jared Halverson’s Unshaken YouTube Channel

This video by Jared Halverson of the Unshaken YouTube Channel is soooo good! He comments on the parables of Luke 12-17 and John 11. This was the reading assignment for last week’s Come Follow Christ New Testament Study of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If you have ever felt sorrow and grief over a child leaving the covenant path, you will be blessed by these videos by Brother Jared. His interpretation of the prodigal son story is sooo insightful and beautifully comforting. My words won’t do it justice. You will just have to listen to it and/or watch it! The commentary specifically about the Prodigal Son is around 40 minutes into the part 1 video.

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Why Board Games are Great for Mental Health

The games above are what I played with some close friends last Friday for Game Night. These are all such great games. We had a great mix with a word game, a getting to know you game, and a press your luck game. For me, knowing I have a game night coming up really helps me easily deal with the trials of the week. Then I also got to play Imaginiff on another weekend night with some extended family. It was so much fun! I love the video below that tells why board games are great for our mental health. I have a lot of projects going on, and games definitely help me to destress.

Here’s a great video below that explains why board games are great for mental health.

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Want to Laugh and Be Inspired to Follow Jesus? Here’s A Collection of Hank Smith Talks

Photo Credit: deseret.com

Last night we drove to see some relatives to share Sunday dinner. Whenever we do this, I love to find some inspiring gospel-themed speakers to listen to as we drive, for my husband and me and our two kiddos left at home. One of my favorite gospel speakers is Hank Smith. Below I put the talk we listened to plus a bunch more.

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4/27/23 Tree of Life Mama’s Book of the Week: Planted by Patrick Q. Mason

This is one book I’ve been meaning to blog about, ever since I finished it, over a year ago. You can see that I had it on my “books to read in 2022” list over here.

I found it as a book on CD at my local public library. For about two months, I listened to it in the car any time I drove the car. It is such a great book. I really love the ending, with how he talks about believing in miracles.

Here are some great quotes from the book:

“My own experience is that while some people choose belief from a range of possible options, and other people choose skepticism from the same menu, there are many people for whom faith or doubt appear more as an unearned inheritance than a personal choice. To be sure, as moral agents we decide what to do with the various givens in our life–but we don’t get to choose our givens.”

“What one does with seemingly damning facts is a matter of judgement. They have to be interpreted and may take on a different aspect when viewed from another angle.”

“One of the primary reasons why some members of the church have become disenchanted, disappointed, or even angry in recent years is because they were never taught to expect skeletons in the closet of church history and so are shocked when they find them.”

“Many of our problems stem from the fact that in the church we have developed an erroneous cultural notion of prophetic infallibility that has its foundation neither in scripture nor in the teachings of the modern prophets themselves.”

“When certain things are off limits–implicitly or explicitly–then some people will naturally suppose that the church cares more about public image than about truth and the the truth will somehow destabilize the very foundations of the church’s claims. That is simply not the case, as attested by the many scholars who are deeply familiar with the hard issues but remain faithful nevertheless.”

The people who choose to stay are not simply naive or blind or victims of false consciousness–any more than those who choose to leave are inherently biased, blinded, or wicked.”

“Mormonism is wonderful in all its swirl of paradox, contradiction, and challenge. Mormonism’s whole is greater than the sum of of its parts. It is not docile to either its best or worst features.”

It’s a wonderful book about how to respect people with doubt in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints yet also respect people with belief.

Here is a video of the author in a presentation that basically encapsulates the book. (Fun fact: he is speaking at the very church building I attended for many years in my youth and had my wedding reception.)

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4/26/23 Tree of Life Mama’s Game of the Week: Trekking Through History by Underdog Games

This week’s game is Trekking Through History by Charlie Bink of Underdog Games. He is also the creator of Trekking the National Parks. In this game, you win by gaining the most victory points. You get points by creating the longest timeline possible with cards. Each card depicts a different real event or activity involving a real person. These cards cover thousands of years. You get penalized if you create a timeline that only involve one event. The timeline cards are placed in a row on the playing mat to be “purchased” by moving spaces on the clock. You have three rounds or “days” to create your timelines. It’s not a trivia game about history, rather it’s a game about learning the chronological order of historical events and people.

While you are waiting for your turn, you can read the details on each card, thus learning more about history. All the components of the game are high quality. I love the beautiful, realistic illustrations on the cards. The cards are thick and full-color. The playing mat is thick neoprene and rolls up, a nice change of pace from the typical board made from cardboard. If you love history or want to create a love of history with your children, I highly recommend this game. It is for 1-4 players. Yes! It has a solo mode, although it doesn’t say that on the box. Watch the second video below to see it being played in solo mode. Ages 12 and up will most likely enjoy it. Maybe some bookish under 12s will like it as well. The box does say ages 10 and up but some under 12s are probably not ready for it. The game recently made the list of “Ten Games for Every Home.” See here about that.

Below I have a variety of videos about it:

-a review of the game

-Mike from the Dice Tower playing it solo mode

-a group of people playing it

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4/26/23 Tree of Life Mama’s Picture Book of the Week: Sing a Song of Seasons

I heard about this delightful book from one of the moms at my homeschooling co-op group. It has a poem for every day of the year. With pictures on every page, and poetry from nature, it has something to to wake up your senses to the wonders of nature. It has thick glossy colored pages and a ribbon bookmark. I keep mine on the bookshelf by my dining room table, and we read the “poem of the day” over dinner.

Here’s the review over at goodreads.com:

Sing a Song of Seasons┬áis a lavishly illustrated collection of 366 nature poems — one for every day of the year. Filled with familiar favorites and new discoveries written by a wide variety of poets, including William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, John Updike, Langston Hughes, N. M. Bodecker, Okamoto Kanoko, and many more, this is the perfect book for children (and grown-ups!) to share at the beginning or the end of the day.”

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4/25/23 Tuesday’s Tip for Homeschooling: Create a Nature Study Group

Today’s tip for homeschooling is to find your homeschooling community by starting a nature group. Listen below to the video with Pam Barnhill and Joy Cherrick to learn more. I never thought of doing a nature group in order to find other homeschooling families, but now I can totally see it’s such a great way. Pam and Joy explain why in the video with these reasons:

-it’s easier to find a place to meet outside instead a dedicated space inside

-the shared passion of “nature” can unite many different types of homeschoolers: unschoolers, Charlotte Masoners, Classical Conversationalists, etc. The study of nature is a powerful unifying force. You an find a variety of homeschoolers by attracting them with a study of nature.

You can find Joy’s website here about nature sturdy. Then you can see the podcast Joy does with her children here.

Want to play some nature-themed games? Go here.

Want to read some nature-themed picture books? Go here.

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Evangelical Christian Joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints After Searching for 47 Years!

Photo Credit: David Alexander’s YouTube Channel

This man’s story is amazing! David Alexander, pictured above, was raised Catholic. He fell into being a hippie during the Counter Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Astonishingly, that led to him becoming an Evangelical Christian in his late teens. Thus began a 47 year search to find a church with true apostolic authority of Jesus Christ. This past December, he finally found it in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was visited by two sister missionaries of that church in Australia.

He already had a testimony of Jesus Christ, the need for proper authority to bring someone to the covenant path, the plan of salvation, and baptism for dead as mentioned in 1 Corinthians in the Bible. He says, “I wanted to become a holy man, and I didn’t have the power to become a holy man, because there wasn’t the authority there.” Then he found it in The Church, so he recently got baptized. Here are a bunch of videos telling his story. He tells members of The Church, “What you have is beyond glorious!”

He gives a challenge to each member to send him his testimony for him to share.

As he points out, from the Bible, we will fight the enemy with the power of our testimonies.

Image Credit: True Millennial YouTube Channel
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Nature Study From Your Couch

I love the idea of nature study! But let’s face it…as Sarah Mackenzie says in the podcast linked below, it’s not always feasible. Sometimes, as a mom, it’s just sooooo daunting to get outside with little kiddos to study nature. What about bringing along a sketchbook and watercolors to capture the outdoorsy images you see? The chances of being able to actually use them seem as likely as a trip to Mars. Well, here’s a no-stress alternative: get picture books about nature and scientists of nature. Enjoy looking at them with your children from the couch. Nature study, done!

Since it’s cold outside right now, I’m all for this idea. Spring hasn’t quite completely “sprung” here. There’s still a chill out there that comes and goes and seeps into my middle-aged bones.

Listen here for a delightful chat between Sarah and Cindy West of ourjourneywestward.com. Go here to get Sarah’s complete booklist, organized by seasons.

Because I just can’t resist, after the book images below, you will see some tabletop game ideas for learning about nature with children.

These books speak to me so much! If I could, I would go back to myself 24 years ago and tell myself, don’t worry about not getting to nature study with your three little kids 5 and under. Just go get all these books from the library and snuggle with them, the kids, and some blankets. There will be a season for going outside and studying nature in person, I promise!

Now for the games!

These are just a few from the amazing Laurence King Publishing. Go here to get them and get more, about bugs, birds, oceans, plants, etc. If you want ideas of nature-themed games for ages 10 and up, go here.

Happy nature studying everyone!

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