Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting Ready for John Milton's Paradise Lost

Take a deep breath or a long rest and get ready for a ready mountain unlike anything else you have experienced.  We are soon beginning John Milton's epic Paradise Lost.  Here are some steps to get ready.

1.  Read carefully and prayerfully the first three chapters of Genesis and as much of the Bible, perhaps in the King James version, as you can.

2.  Read and remember and have access to as much of Greek and Roman mythology as possible.  Read Edith Hamilton, Thomas Bulfinch, and Robert Graves.  Have a mythology handbook nearby.

3.  Read as much about mid-17th century England as possible. Read about Puritans, Cromwell, the Stuart kings, the Restoration, and life and learning during that period of history.  (We will soon watch the movie Cromwell which will be helpful.)

4.  Read as many of the shorter poems of Milton as you can.  At least read the sonnets and re-read them.  Then read the poems again, slowly, pausing over each word and phrase.

5.  Read about Milton's life, blindness, literary career, political activities, theological views, and trials. 

6.  Become familiar with the names and works of Milton's contemporaries.  His career follows that of Shakespeare and Spenser.  Spenser's Fairie Queene would be a good prepatory reading before getting into Milton.  Some of the other writers of his era, including John Bunyan (greatest of devotional writing), John Locke (greatest of political philosophy), John Owen (greatest of theology), and John Donne (greatest of poetry), are all helpful in capturing the spirit of the times in which he lived.

7.  Take some long, meditative and reflective walks.  Think of that Dooyeweerdian triad of man's creation, fall, and redemption.  Think more deeply upon it than ever before.  Jog or sprint, if appropriate.

8.  Find and create a wonderful reading nook.  Preferably, a nice, cushiony chair, with a window nearby overlooking a lake or the slope of a slightly wooded hill.  Calming chamber music or acoustic guitar might be best.   

9.  Have a ready supply of good caffeine based drinks.  Good strong coffee is my preference, but others might prefer hot tea or hot cocoa.  Cokes or energy drinks?  Doesn't fit the ambiance.

10.  A clear mind, shined up around the edges with prayer, and uncluttered by techno-gadgets, trivia, and interruptions to the soul.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Season Near--Thoughts of Books


On the Art of Browsing

"If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them be your acquaintances." Winston Churchill

Friday, December 3, 2010

Week Fifteen: December 6--10


Readings for the Week: 
  1. From Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion:  Read Book IV, Chapter 20, "Of Civil Government.  Keep this chapter in mind as we deal with political upheavals in England and Scotland.
  2. Read lots and lots of poems from The Annotated John Milton: Complete English Poems.  Glance, on occasion at Paradise Lost and imagine how wonderful it will be when we read it.
  3. Finish Douglas Kelly's The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World: The Influence of Calvin on Five Governments from the 16th Through the 18th Centuries, Introduction and Chapter 4 "Calvinism in England: The Puritan Struggle and Its Results."
  4. Read Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume II. Chapter 8, The Reformation in Great Britain
  5. Finishing reading the complete version of  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
  •        More on "The Reformation in England" with a Timeline of Key Events and People
  •         Film/Documentary:   "The Body of the Queen"
  •   Who were the Puritans?
  •    Continue film/documentary
  •  Continue Notes and Readings on the Puritans
  • Continue film/documentary
  •  Readings from Milton and others

  • England's Golden Age Under Elizabeth
  • The Defeat of the Spanish Armada
  • The Problem of Succession
  • The Continued Presence of Puritans
  • Poets of the Age:  Shakespeare, Marlowe, Ben Johnson, & Others

1.  Worksheets over The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World. Due Thursday, December 9.

2.  Read all the "shorter" poems of John Milton.  "Shorter" means any poem that is not an epic.  This means pages 1-130. Due By Christmas Eve.

Field Trip this week if possible to the Tudor era castle and garden grounds pictured above.

Queen Elizabeth