Patterns — in Reading

My Reading Plan

The Core

I began a Bible reading schedule several years ago. It grew to become the rhythm of my daily and weekly reading. Back then I began with Genesis chapter 1, Psalm 1, Matthew 1, and Proverbs 1. I read each chapter, or listened to in as an MP3, daily for a week.

The chapters in Psalms are picked by the date of the Sunday at the end of the week. There are 150 individual psalms in the book, so after five months the Psalms begin a repeat. The second month, add 30 to the date, the third month 60, the fourth month 90, and the fifth month add 120.

There are 31 chapters in Proverbs. The Proverb of the week is the date of the Sunday ending the week. The book repeats monthly, so there is no need to add 30 each month as in Psalms.

The other threads are also cyclical. It takes about fourteen years to read the Old Testament (minus Psalms and Proverbs) at fifty-two chapters a year. The New Testament will repeat every five years at fifty-two chapters a week.

The Old Testament begins with the advent of the Son of God in his role as creator. The Old Testament leads to the climax of creation in the advent of the Christ as the Son of Man. Historically several hundred years are missing between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The New Testament begins with the birth of the baby Jesus as the Son of Man and continues to the end of time and the judgment of all creation. So together the Old and New Testaments run from before time as we know it until time as we know it ends.

The Psalms are the major musical part of the Bible. Here are all the Hallelujahs that are the background of creation. Here is the celebration of victory, the praise and the glory.

Proverbs is like the manual mankind needed didn’t come packed in the basket at childhood. These are the signposts that tell us how to behave, how to succeed. This is the stuff we should all have learned in Kindergarten. This is the most valuable part of any education.

Annual Reading

There is a small core of books I find valuable to read over and over annually. They are not difficult to read. Nor are they greatly expensive. For several years I have been using the Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle for the core of my annual reading. The titles follow:

  1. A Wrinkle in Time
  2. A Wind in the Door
  3. A Swiftly Tilting Planet
  4. Many Waters
  5. An Acceptable Time

When you have started this reading program with the daily/weekly Bible reading setting the rhythm and melody of your reading life, these books by Madeleine L’Engle read like the grand finale of a Fourth of July fireworks display. Don’t miss the joy in your reading.

Semi-Annual Reads

For the purposes of keeping in touch with the historical nature of this website, I add a number of histories that I like to review periodically. My first interest was in what once was pre-historic America. Now much that was once unknown or seriously misunderstood by the scholars of not very long ago has been made known by scholars like Barry Fell who have interpreted what ancients in America carved in stone.

Books by Barry Fell
  • America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World
  • Bronze Age America
  • Saga America
Book by Steven M. Gillon
  • Ten Events that Unexpectedly Changed America
Book by Tony Horwitz
  • A Voyage Long and Strange
Books by Thomas Cahill
  • How the Irish Saved Civilization
  • The Gifts of the Jews
  • Desire of the Everlasting Hills
  • Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea

Horwitz’ book gives the story of a driving tour of all the early explorers of America, from the Vikings through the Spanish conquistadors. I used it as a time-line for early history of America, and added to it a time-line from one of Barry Fell’s books. As the major part tells of the Spanish exploration, I intend to alternate reading the Spanish history with English and other explorers. It will be interesting to compare how each group has shaped the world.

Gavin Menzies has some interesting titles that fit the pattern to become semi-annual reads. Particulary

  • The Lost Empire of Atlantis

Also I must add Bryan Sykes into the cycle:

  • Saxons, Vikings, and Celts
  • The Seven Daughters of Eve

The Avenue of the Giants

Each year I pick three authors to read. I once moved to a small town and made it a habit to try to read each of the authors in the novels section. I read sequentially, one book after the other, one author after the other, starting with A.

Now, as I am collecting books I make a note of possible future authors to read. Having following this practice I have become familiar with a dozen or more authors. And picking three authors I have multiple starting points in the alphabet. I am not neglecting the authors later in the list. I have a couple thousand books in print, but mainly I read digital books. It is easier to keep a book handy on my phone than to stuff a book under my arm and keep track of it.

Sometimes one author runs naturally into the next. Last year I read Henry Rider Haggard. The last book in the sequence was co-authored by Andrew Lang, a natural place to start a new author year. I first noticed Lang when I was collecting fairy tales to read with my granddaughter. Then I discovered how broad his topics were, and how deep. Sometimes with Lang I am way over my head. That is OK, it is good to practice treading water, even in your reading.

These chains of books by the three authors are like the roadbeds on great highway. Sometimes on author will mention one of the other authors I picked for the year. (Highways merging 400 yards ahead.) Sometimes an author mentions other authors who might disagree with his theories. (Make a note for future reading list.)

Sometimes while reading the three authors it happens that there is something in common among the stories, maybe a common setting. One week a year or two ago I discovered I had an ancestor in Iceland. That week I was reading a Jules Verne book set in Iceland and a Henry Rider saga of Iceland. Three highways, sometimes running in different worlds, sometimes running parallel in the same valley.

Side-Roads and Detours

A reader can’t live by three authors and a ton of annual reads. Sometimes someone else has something important to say. Maybe a detour suggested by one of the other authors, or just a catchy title on Amazon, or maybe some background literature for a trip I am planning, or books about ancestors. Can’t let reading get in the way of enjoying reading.


Story Starters — Truncated Headlines

Once upon a time and not so very long ago, there was a Supreme Court decision that was very important among the people. The case was duly reported by the drive-by media, but some simple people like myself only caught part of the title and almost none of the content of the decision.

The case in question called forth the court’s final answer on same sex marriages. The decision overturned parts of laws passed by some states to limit the right of same-sex couple to marry. The headline as my puny mind absorbed it read like this:

Supreme court overrules (all) state laws regulating marriage.

The headline should have read:

Supreme court overrules state laws restricting the rights of same sex couples to marry.

You can see there is a major difference between what my mind remembered from the news and what the court issued in its decision. I kept watching the news waiting to see the fall out of all the state practices pertaining to marriage.

What if the first headline as I remembered it had become the real case? What are the domains included in state marriage laws? As you begin with the truncated headline, you realize that state marriage laws include issuance and registration of licenses, performance of wedding ceremonies and registration of officials licensed to perform the ceremonies. Divorce and property settlement are part of marriage law. State classification as common-law or community-property law states is part of marriage law. Intestate succession makes Probate a part of the body of marriage law.

Some state laws pertaining to marriage were acquired by treaty. Treaty law is outside the jurisdiction of the court, so the states that got community-property by treaty would remain community property states. These states have no common law marriage, so they would have then had no way to offer marriages. Want equal protection? Zap, now nobody can get married.

OK, you could have still gotten married. In D.C.! or by contract of marriage and using a Federal Official like a military chaplain.

Now. aren’t you really glad that the news was better than the headline? We still have all our former state laws, AND more citizens have equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. I take back everything I said about the Supreme Court based on that puny truncated headline. It was a good decision, public complaints not withstanding.

This is where we should be able to end the story by saying the same-sex couples all got married and everyone lived happily ever-after (or at least until they died).

The truth is something went very, very wrong. Same sex couples needed wedding services. Persons to officiate a ceremony, people to make dresses and cakes. This is were things began to go South. Some people in the service industries believed that there services were part of their religious practice. They thought they should be able to perform or not perform based on freedom of religion. Seems reasonable. But people blazing new social trails are seldom reasonable.

Ordinary people like me and you were taken to court for expressing their religious faith. They were marked as criminals, much as Jews in Germany were forced to wear yellow stars. Much as Hitler rounded up Jehovah’s Witnesses before his war. Forcing people to do a service that goes beyond their personal religious faith has the smell of the establishment of religion. It is a lot like the Spanish Inquisition. If you can accept with me that forcing people to perform religious acts against their own belief system, you have to accept that these court cases in effect were a violation of civil rights and an unlawful establishment of religion.

Inasmuch as the courts and some of the prosecutors were paid out of funds appropriated by Congress, the cost of these trials was unlawful. The Congressional Office of Management and Budget should make a survey and see who and where Justice funds were unlawfully used. Further, 1) the prosecuting attorneys should repay to the treasury their salaries for the cases, and the costs of the court; 2) the defendants should receive their reasonable defense cost plus fifty percent for loss of normal income while defending themselves.

The congress should act quickly to right this great wrong. The President should consider setting up a special prosecutor. If he fails to do so, this may become an issue for the coming presidential elections. They great wrong done by these unlawful prosecutions has done more harm to the faith of the people in government and more damage to their civil rights that the September 11 hijackings. But in this case our ship of state has been hijacked by attorneys in our federal courts.

Can we get past this and live happily ever after? Please reach out and share your own need for freedom. Can you perhaps set another human being free?

Story Starters – Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, and longer ago than I like to admit, I wrote story starter ideas on 3 by 5 cards and tossed them into shoe boxes. Now that I have been reading for some time in the Kindle format, I have been highlighting how stories begin in collections of stories and fairy tales.

In some of the volumes of Andrew Lang’s volumes of fairy tales there are many ancient tales that begin in original styles. The boiler-plate beginnings belong to a later era in literature.

Sometimes a story actually comes in different versions. There are two versions of the three bears. In the familiar story it involves a young girl named Goldilocks. Apparently the original tale involved an older homeless woman. Perhaps the later teller of the tale should begin thusly, “Twice upon a time….”