Baptism references

A recent discussion prompted me to think again of some posts I did on baptism. My friend was emphatically saying something like we all know baptism isn’t necessary, etc, etc. I know very well how deep that thinking goes for many Protestants, and the context of the discussion wasn’t good for challenging assumptions, so I just let it be, but I know now that baptism is necessary. I also believe that God works with people where they are, and that one’s conscience is fundamental, so I’m not particularly worried. Still, it’s good to refresh one’s memory from Holy Scripture and be ready for possible future discussions.

This post was originally publish April 26, 2011.

Sermon of St. John the Baptist, Pieter Bruegel the Elder 1566

The following citations come from the English Standard Version (ESV) translation. The purpose of this list, for me at least, is to gather in one place as many of the scriptural references on baptism as I can so that I might begin to understand the place and meaning of baptism in the life of faith. If I have missed any biblical references, whether directly mentioning baptism or whether pointing to baptism metaphorically or symbolically, please let me know.

John baptizes:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:4-5)

And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:3)

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matthew 3:5-6)

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7)

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. (Luke 3:7-8a)

John points to Jesus:
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

“I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Luke 3:15-16)

They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:25-27)

Jesus gets baptized:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9-11)

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)

“I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:33-34)

Jesus baptizes:
After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). (John 3:22-24)

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” (John 3:25-26)

The nature of John’s baptism?
“The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?'” (Matthew 21:25)

“Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” (Mark 11:30)

He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” (Luke 20:3-4)

Jesus’ teaching on (or related to) baptism:
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized . . .” (Mark 10:38-39)

“I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) (Luke 7:28-30)

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:49-51)

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)

Baptism in the first generation church:
“. . . beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22)

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:37-40)

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)

But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. (Acts 8:12-13)

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:14-16)

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:36-39)

So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. (Acts 9:17-19)

“. . . you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed” (Acts 10:37)

“Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:47-48a)

“And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” (Acts 11:16)

“Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” (Acts 13:24)

The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” (Acts 16:14b-15a)

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)

He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. (Acts 18:25)

And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19:3-6)

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name. (Acts 22:16)

Paul on baptism:
By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:2-4)

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Corinthians 1:13-17)

For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4a)

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? (1 Corinthians 15:29)

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)

Peter on baptism:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:18-22)

Some woefully incomplete favorite films lists…

I made these lists about two or three years ago for my other blog. I will probably revise them in the near future, as there are several films I MUST add to the lists below.

Truth is, I do not like top ten lists at all, not one bit, but I do love them because they’re candy. I have avoided jumping into the ever present top-ten-film-list milieu because, I say, I just don’t see the point. Fact is, I really want to, but can’t make up my mind. And the more I look at the list below, the more I realize I’ve missed some that should, should, should be there.

I also cannot rank films – I mean, it’s like choosing between steak and lobster, how can I pick a favorite? So what I have is a top 25 “pool” of films that seem to constantly swirl around my consciousness, that I find myself returning to over and over, and that send me into the closest thing to a religiously ecstatic experience I can find. This pool is also fed by underground springs and winding tributaries, and it empties into larger and larger pools until it connects with a vast ocean where all the films swim. Huh?

My top 25 favorite films (in alphabetical order):
Andrei Rublev (1966)

Andrei Rublev: The Casting of the Bell
Andrei Rublev: The Casting of the Bell

Apocalypse Now (1979)
Au hasard Balthazar (1966) See my post on this film.
BDR Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1979; Lola, 1981; Veronika Voss, 1982)
Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932)
Breathless (1960)
Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
L’avventura (1960)
Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rashomon (1950)
Rules of the Game (1939)

Singing in the Rain (1952)
Stalker (1979)
The American Friend (1977)
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
The Blue Angel (1930)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather II (1974)
The Last Laugh (1924)
The Searchers (1956)
The World of Apu (1959)
Vertigo (1958)
Wings of Desire (1987)

25 films is really not a lot. If I had the inclination I could come up with a lot more, but to what end? At some point all cinephiles end up mentioning most of the same films over an over, and then throw in a few odd ones as if to say “I’m also a unique cine-hipster.” The truth is, great films are objectively great on some level. To recognize those films is to be human and, in some instances, thoughtful and observant too. So the above list isn’t really all that insightful. Consider it a kind of common ground.

But I can’t just stop there, for movies are like potato chips, and I gots the cravings…

My 25 favorite “makes-me-want-to-be-a-filmmaker” films that are not in my top 25 (in alphabetical order):
A Man Escaped (1956)
Alice in the Cities (1974)
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
Catch-22 (1970)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Diamonds in the Night (1964)
Dog Star Man (1960s)
Goodfellas (1990)
Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)
Jaws (1975)
La Strada (1954)
La Terra trema (1948)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Life of Oharu (1962)
Mirror (1975)

Orpheus (1950)
sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
Street of Crocodiles (1986)

Sunrise (1927)
The 400 Blows (1959)
The Civil War (1990)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Vagabond (1985)
Week End (1967)

“Why stop there,” said the voice in my head, “you know you don’t want to.”

My 25 favorite films “no one” ever lists on their all-time favorite films lists (in alphabetical order):
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
A Room with a View (1986)
Airplane! (1980)

Barcelona (1994)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Halloween (1978)
La Belle Noiseuse (1991)
Jean de Florette (1986) & Manon of the Spring (1986)
Meshes in the Afternoon (1943)
Mindwalk (1991)
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
My Dinner with Andre (1981)
My Life as a Dog (1985)
Rear Window (1954)
Scenes from a Marriage (1973)
Stealing Beauty (1996)
Strozyek (1977)
The Boxer and Death (1963)
The Decameron (1971)
The Golden Coach (1953)
The Road Warrior (1981)
Vampyr (1932)
Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
Window Water Baby Moving (1958)

I have come to the conclusion that top whatever film lists are like tee-shirts and bumper stickers – they have everything to do with telling others about oneself, of staking out some psychic and moral turf and saying “this is who I am… for now.” It’s also like a banker wearing a suit or a professor wearing a sweater with elbow patches; it’s a way for other like minds to say, “ah, you’re one of us!” You can take it or leave it, but when I look at the lists above I see an awful lot of myself up there.

…wait a minute, where are Dr. Strangelove? Umberto D.? The Earrings of Madam d…? Star Wars? Last Tango in Paris? Manhattan? Mulholland Drive? How could I have left them out? And where are Man with the Movie Camera? The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp? The Man Who Skied Down Everest? El Capitan? I just realized I haven’t listed a single film by the Coen brothers! And there’s not one film by Terrence Malick — and I could add ALL of his films and put them near the top of the list. Oh Lord, what have I done?!

I just don’t know where to stop. Or maybe I really don’t know where to begin. I vow in the future I will craft a true top ten list and stand by it… for a while. (or not)

a cultured person’s book list

The following post I originally published in 2007 on another blog. I think it is worth posting again.

I entered the University or Oregon’s film studies department (Dept. of Telecommunication and Film) in 1984. During that period I took classes from Prof. William Cadbury who, in my opinion, was a GREAT teacher and one of my favorite professors of all time. In one of his classes he handed out a booklist that I have kept with me all these years. I have re-typed it below (any misspellings are my own). There was also a classical music list, but I have not included it.

The list was created by Prof. Cadbury and his wife, the poet Maxine Scates, for her niece Tracy (hence Tracy’s Booklist), who was entering UCLA as a freshman. The list first appeared in 1980 and was then updated. This is the 2nd edition. I suppose you could say this is a book list for anyone who want’s to combine being well read and culturally intelligent. It’s not a “classical” reading list, but has a healthy dose of modern and relatively modern books.

The premise of the list is as follows:

“People are rarely told an opinion of the actual bibliography of fictions (mostly novels, a few stories), of which a cultured person in modern America is master. The following is an opinion of that bibliography. It suggests: don’t waste your time reading lesser books when you read; always have at least one book that you’re in the middle of, and usually have it be one of these. The list is divided into translations and English language originals; it is presented in full awareness of the presumption in doing so, and in the hope that the utility will override the presumption.” [from Prof. Cadbury’s introduction]

Naturally, this is a very personal list. The non-fiction section is also skewed towards the arts, which is okay by me (a critical topic for our contemporary, visually-based culture). And for myself this list represents the considered opinion of an older and wiser person who, after engaging for many years both intellectually and emotionally with college students, felt the neccessity to impart some idea of what it means to be a cultured person—not in totality, but at least a slice of that ideal.

Tracy’s Booklist: 2nd Edition


Balzac, Honoré de: Eugénie Grandet; Old Goriot; Lost Illusions
Borges, Jorge Luis: Labyrinths
Borowski, Tadeusz: This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
Camus, Albert: The Stranger; The Plague
Cervantes, Miguel: Don Quixote
Chekhov, Anton: The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories
Colette: My Mother’s House; Sido
Condé, Maryse: Segu
Cortazar, Julio: Blow-Up
Döblin, Alfred: Berlin Alexanderplatz
Dostoyevsky, F.: The Brothers Karamozov; Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; Notes from Underground
Eco, Umberto: The Name of the Rose
Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary
Garcia Marquez, G.: 100 Years of Solitude
Kafka, Franz: The Trial; The Castle; “Metamorphosis”; “In the Penal Colony”
Levi, Primo: If Not Now, When?; The Periodic Table
Lustig, Arnost: Night and Hope; The Unloved
Mahfouz, Naguib: The Thief and the Dogs; Miramar
Malraux, André: Man’s Fate
Mann, Thomas: Death in Venice; The Magic Mountain; Joseph and His Brothers
Murasaki, Lady: The Tale of Genji
Nabakov, Vladimir: Pale Fire
Narayan, R. K.: The Financial Expert; The Man-Eater of Malgudi
Pavese, Cesare: The Moon and the Bonfire
Proust, Marcel: Remembrance of Things Past
Rulfo, Juan: Pedro Paramo
Schwartz-Bart, André: The Last of the Just
Sembene, Ousmane: God’s Bits of Wood
Stendhal: The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma
Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace; Anna Karenina


Achebe, Chinua: Things Fall Apart
Amis, Kingsley: Lucky Jim
Arnow, Harriet: The Dollmaker
Austen, Jane: Mansfield Park; Emma; Pride and Prejudice; Persuasion
Baldwin, James: Go Tell It On the Mountain; Another Country; Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone
Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily: Wuthering Heights
Brooks, Gwendolyn: Maud Martha
Carroll, Lewis: Alice in Wonderland
Cather, Willa: My Anatonia; A Lost Lady
Chandler, Raymond: The Big Sleep; The Long Goodbye
Cherryh, C. J.: “The Chanyr Saga”; the “Cyteen” books
Chopin, Kate: “The Storm” and other stories
Cisneros, Sandra: The House on Mango Street
Conrad, Joseph: Lord Jim; Heart of Darkness; Nostromo
Daley, Grace: Enormous Changes at the Last Moment
Darganyemba, Tsiti: Nervous Conditions
Dickens, Charles: Bleak House; Great Expectations; Hard Times
Eliot, George: Middlemarch
Ellison, Ralph: The Invisible Man
Emecheta, Buchi: In the Ditch
Erdrich, Louise: Love Medicine
Faulkner, William: The Sound and the Fury; Absalom, Absalom
Fielding, Joseph: Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Great Gatsby
Ford, Ford Madox: Parade’s End
Forster, E. M.: A Passage to India; Howards End
Fowles, John: The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Glasgow, Ellen: Barren Earth
Golding, William: Lord of the Flies
Gordimer, Nadin: Burgher’s Daughter; Occasion for Loving; July’s People
Green, Graham: The Heart of the Matter; Brighton Rock
Hagedorn, Jessica: Dogeaters
Hammett, Dashiel: The Thin Man
Hardy, Thomas: Tess of the D’Urbervilles; Jude the Obscure
Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter
Head, Bessie: When Rain Clouds Gather
Heller, Joseph: Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest: The Sun Also Rises
Hogan, Linda: Mean Spirit
Hurston, Zora Neale: Their Eyes Were Watching God
James, Henry: The Ambassadors; The Golden Bowl
Jen, Gish: Typical American
Jones, Gayl: Corregidora
Joyce, James: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Ulysses; Dubliners
Karbo, Karen: The Diamond Lane
Karmel, Ilona: An Estate of Memory
Kincaid, Jamaica: Annie John
Kingston, Maxine Hong: China Men
Kogawa, Joy: Obasan
Lawrence, D. H.: Sons and Lovers; Women in Love
Lessing, Doris: The Marriage Between Zone 3, 4, and 5; The Golden Notebook; Shikasta
Lesueur, Meridel: Ripening
Loge, David: Small World
Mansfield, Katharine: Collected Stories
Marshall, Paule: Brown Girl, Brown Stones; Praise Song for the Widow
McCuller, Carson: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Melville, Herman: Moby Dick
Meredith, George: The Egoist
Milne, A. A.: Winnie-the-Pooh; The House at Pooh Corner
Momada, N. Scott: House Made of Dawn
Morrison, Toni: Beloved; Sula
O’Brien, Tim: The Things They Carried
O’Connor, Flannery: Wise Blood; The Violent Bear It Away
Olson, Tillie: Tell Me A Riddle
Orwell, George: 1984
Paton, Alan: Cry the Beloved Country
Petry, Ann: The Street
Porter, Katharine Anne: Collected Stories; Ship of Fools
Pratchett, Terry: Moving Pictures
Pynchon, Thomas: Gravity’s Rainbow; V
Rhys, Jean: After Leaving Mr. MacKenzie
Roth, Phillip: Portnoy’s Complaint
Saki (H. H. Munro): The Short Stories of Saki
Salinger, J. D.: The Catcher in the Rye; Nine Stories
Schwartz, Lynne Sharon: Disturbances in the Field; Leaving Brooklyn
Scott, Sir Walter: Rob Roy; The Heart of Midlothian
Silko, Leslie Marmon: Ceremony
Singer, Isaac Bashevis: The Family Moskat; The Magic of Lublin
Stein, Gertrude: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas; The Lives
Swift, Jonathan: Gullivers Travels
Tan, Amy: Joy Luck Club
Thackeray, William M.: Vanity Fair
Thomas, D. M.: The White Hotel
Tolkien, J. R. R.: Lord of the Rings
Toomer, Jean: Cane
Trollope, Anthony: Barchester Towers; Phineas Finn
Tutuola, Amos: The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Twain, Mark: Huckleberry Finn
Updike, John: Rabbit Run
Wachtel, Chuck: Joe the Engineer
Walker, Alice: The Color Purple; Meridian; The Short Life of Grange Copeland
Waugh, Evelyn: Vile Bodies; Brideshead Revisited
Welty, Eudora: Collected Stories
West, Nathaneal: The Day of the Locust; Miss Lonelyhearts
White, T. H.: The Sword in the Stone
Wodehouse, P. G.: Blandings Castle
Wolfe, Thomas: Look Homeward Angel
Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse; The Waves; Orlando
Wright, Richard: Native Son
Wharton, Edith: The House of Mirth; The Age of Innocence


Baritz, Loren: Backfire
Baxandall, Michael: Painting and Experience in 15th Century Italy
Beardsley, Monroe: Aesthetics
Berger, John: The Success and Failure of Picasso
Bernstein, Leonard: The Unanswered Question
Campbell, Joseph: The Mythic Image
Chomsky, Noam: Language and Mind; Turning the Tide
Des Pres, Terrence: The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps; Writing Into the World
Eriksen, Erik H.: Childhood and Society
Freire, Paulo: Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Frye, Northrop: Anatomy of Criticism
Gombrich, E. H.: Art and Illusion
Hacker, Andrew: Two Nations: Black and White, Separate and Unequal
Harding, Vincent: There is a River
Hauser, Arnold: The Social History of Art
Herbert,, Robert L.: Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society
Hollander, Anne: Seeing Through Clothes
Hyde, Lewis: The Gift
Jencks, Charles: Postmodernism
Johnson, Paul: The Birth of the Modern
Kegan, John: The Face of Battle; The Price of Admiralty
Kozol, Jonathan: Illiterate America; Savage Inequalities; Rachel and Her Children
Levi, Primo: Survival at Auschwitz
Monod, Jacques: Chance and Necessity
Neisser, Ulrich: Cognition and Reality
Robert, J. M.: The Pelican History of the World
Schama, Simon: Citizens
Schell, Jonathan: The Fate of the Earth
Sheehan, Neal: A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
Spiegelman, Art: Maus; Maus II
Weismann, Donald L.: The Visual Arts as Human Experience
Williams, Juan: Eyes on the Prize
Zinn, Howard: People’s History of the United States

I’ve been thinking of adding to this list myself. There are at least a few books I would consider. Suggestions are welcome.

16 Words to Think With


“And God said. . .”

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”

In the beginning there was language, and in the everlasting there shall be language. We do not ever get away from language, or from words. The fact of words never leaves us. We are run through with words and their meanings and their power. We do not understand ourselves or each other without words. We do not conceive of the future or understand the past without words. We cannot think or create without words. Words are in our souls because ideas are in our souls. We embody those ideas as we embrace and live through the words of our lives. We all have words. We never get away from words. But we can also choose which words to embrace and to live through. We have no choice that there are words, but we have significant choice of which words will make us who we are. We do well to embrace and to live through the best words we can choose. The list below is a good place to start.

The Words

“These are the words that precede logic.” -Andrew Kern

The following list of sixteen words I unabashedly stole from Andrew Kern (not that he necessarily owns them any more than you). In his lecture, A Celebration of Beauty, Pt 2., Kern listed these sixteen words as words “to think with.” I understand that to mean these are words that should form a foundation upon which our thoughts and, by implication, our teaching and our own education stand. We should take these words into our souls and then see the world “through” them. We should bring these words into our teaching and give them as rich gifts to our students. One could probably add more words, but this list is a great start. I have added definitions that seemed appropriate (mostly and unashamedly copied from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and a couple from Wikipedia) plus some quotes I was able to rummage to help us think about the words’ meanings and uses (and to think about other things too). However, and this is far more important than memorizing a word list, these are words that need to be pondered over a lifetime and understood beyond their mere dictionary meanings. They should be contemplated in the fullness of their uses and origins, and taken into one’s soul and embodied in one’s life. Also, notice how many have their origins in the 13th or 14th centuries, and also notice how many have their roots in Latin. What does that tell us?


Definition: 1) the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed; 2) formal reserve or seriousness of manner, appearance, or language.

Origin: Middle English dignete, from Anglo-French digneté, from Latin dignitat-, dignitas, from dignus. First Known Use: 13th century.

Quote: “What a soul that is which is ready, if at any moment it must be separated from the body, and ready either to be extinguished or dispersed or continue to exist; but so that this readiness comes from a man’s own judgement, not from mere obstinacy, as with the Christians, but considerately and with dignity and in a way to persuade another, without tragic show.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 11.3

Final Cause

Definition: The purpose, end, aim, or goal of something.

Origin: Aristotle? Greek: telos.

Quote: “For the deliberative faculty is the spirit’s power of contemplating a kind of cause—for one sort of cause is the final cause, as although cause means anything because of which a thing comes about, it is the object of a thing’s existence or production that we specially designate as its cause: for instance, if a man walks in order to fetch things, fetching things is the cause of his walking. Consequently people who have no fixed aim are not given to deliberation.” Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, Book 2


Definition: 1) the shape and structure of something as distinguished from its material; 2) the essential nature of a thing as distinguished from its matter; 3) established method of expression or proceeding; 4) a prescribed and set order of words; 5) conduct regulated by extraneous controls (as of custom or etiquette); 6) manner or conduct as tested by a prescribed or accepted standard; 7) one of the different modes of existence, action, or manifestation of a particular thing or substance; 8) orderly method of arrangement (as in the presentation of ideas) : manner of coordinating elements (as of an artistic production or course of reasoning); 9) the structural element, plan, or design of a work of art.

Origin: Middle English forme, from Anglo-French furme, forme, from Latin forma form, beauty. First Known Use: 13th century.

Quote: “But that man with whom the Word dwells does not alter himself, does not get himself up: he has the form which is of the Word; he is made like to God; he is beautiful; he does not ornament himself: his is beauty, the true beauty, for it is God; and that man becomes God, since God so wills.” Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3

Formal Cause

Definition: The pattern or form which when present makes matter into a particular type of thing, which we recognize as being of that particular type.

Origin: Aristotle?

Quote: “[A]s a quality, grace is said to act on the soul not as an efficient cause, but as a formal cause, as whiteness makes things white, or as justice makes things just.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: Nature and Grace, Article Two


Definition: 1) good name or public esteem; 2) a showing of usually merited respect; 3) one whose worth brings respect or fame; 4) a gesture of deference; 5) an award in a contest or field of competition; 6) a keen sense of ethical conduct.

Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French onur, honur, from Latin honos, honor. First Known Use: 13th century.

Quote: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” 1 Peter 2:17 (KJV)


Definition: 1) firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; 2) an unimpaired condition; 3) the quality or state of being complete or undivided.

Origin: Middle English integrite, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French integrité, from Latin integritat-, integritas, from integr-, integer entire. First Known Use: 14th century.

Quote: “Then I have pointed out the truth, and shown the preaching of the Church, which the prophets proclaimed (as I have already demonstrated), but which Christ brought to perfection, and the apostles have handed down, from whom the Church, receiving [these truths], and throughout all the world alone preserving them in their integrity, has transmitted them to her sons.” Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, Book V


Definition: 1) a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion; 2) a formal decision given by a court; 3) the final judging of humankind by God; 4) the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing; 5) a proposition stating something believed or asserted.

Origin: 13th century.

Quote: “In agents that determine their own movements, the outward action goes upon some judgement pronouncing a thing good or suitable according as it is apprehended. If the agent pronouncing the judgement is to determine himself to judge, he must be guided to that judgement by some higher form or idea in his apprehension.” St. Thomas Aquinas, That Subsistent Intelligences have Free Will


Definition: 1) the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments; 2) the quality of being just, impartial, or fair; 3) the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action━conformity to this principle or ideal; 4) conformity to truth, fact, or reason.

Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French justise, from Latin justitia, from justus. First Known Use: 12th century.

Quote: “Accordingly, these things have happened to you in fairness and justice, for you have slain the Just One, and His prophets before Him; and now you reject those who hope in Him, and in Him who sent Him.” St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter XVI

Just Sentiment

Definition: [Note: I am kludging together the definitions of “just” and “sentiment.”] 1) an attitude, thought, or judgment prompted by feeling while having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason; 2) refined feeling conforming to a standard of correctness; 3) an idea colored by emotion while acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good.

Origin of Just: Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French juste, from Latin justus, from jus right, law. First Known Use: 14th century.

Origin of Sentiment: French or Medieval Latin; French, from Medieval Latin sentimentum, from Latin sentire. First Known Use: 1639.

Quote: “I confess, indeed, that that is a just sentiment, and worthy of being particularly noticed — that no one can be punished by the decision of the Church, but one whose sin has become matter of notoriety[.]” John Calvin, Commentary on Corinthians, Vol. 1


Definition: 1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; 2) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests; 3) warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion; 4) the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration; 5) unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another; 6) the fatherly concern of God for humankind; 7) a god or personification of love.

Origin: Middle English, from Old English lufu; akin to Old High German luba love, Old English lēof dear, Latin lubēre, libēreto please. First Known Use: before 12th century.

Quote: “And it was not without reason that that remarkable and holy man, when he departed this life, left to me an unbounded regret for him, especially since he himself also glowed with such a love for me at all times, that, whether in matters of amusement or of business, he agreed with me in similarity of will, in either liking or disliking the same things. You would think that one mind had been shared between us two. Thus he alone was my confidant in my loves, my companion in my mistakes; and when, after the gloom had been dispersed, I emerged from the abyss of darkness into the light of wisdom and truth, he did not cast off his associate, but━what is more glorious still━he outstripped him.” Minucius Felix, Octavius, Chapter 1


Definition: 1) the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing, an inner force or the sum of such forces in an individual; 2) a creative and controlling force in the universe; 3) the physical constitution or drives of an organism; 4) a spontaneous attitude (as of generosity); 5) the external world in its entirety; 6) humankind’s original or natural condition.

Origin: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin natura, from natus, past participle of nasci to be born. First Known Use: 14th century.

Quote: “When men, then, give way to a dislike simply because they are entirely ignorant of the nature of the thing disliked, why may it not be precisely the very sort of thing they should not dislike? So we maintain that they are both ignorant while they hate us, and hate us unrighteously while they continue in ignorance, the one thing being the result of the other either way of it.” Tertullian, The Apology, Chapter 1


Definition: 1) the quality or state of being noble in character, quality, or rank; 2) the body of persons forming the noble class in a country or state.

Origin: Middle English nobilite, from Anglo-French nobilité, from Latin nobilitat-, nobilitas, from nobilis. First Known Use: 14th century.

Quote: “He is distinguished not only for his high birth, but also for the nobility of his mind, for his knowledge, and his irreproachable life.” St. Benard, Abbot of Clairvaux, Letter LXII to Pope Innocent


Definition: 1) the quality or state of being proper or suitable; 2) conformity to what is socially acceptable in conduct or speech; 3) obsolete : true nature; 4) obsolete : a special characteristic.

Origin: Middle English propriete, from Anglo-French proprieté, propreté property, quality of a person or thing. First Known Use: 14th century.

Quote: “The knowledge or confession of sins, sorrow on account of sin and a desire for deliverance, with a resolution to avoid sin, are pleasing to God as the very beginnings of conversion. In propriety of speech, these things are not the mortification itself of the flesh or of sin but necessarily precede it.” Jacobus Arminius, from On Penitence


Definition: 1) the quality or state of being pure.

Origin: Middle English purete, from Anglo-French purité, from Late Latin puritat-, puritas, from Latin purus pure. First Known Use: 13th century.

Quote: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” 1 Timothy 4:12-13 (KJV)


Definition: 1) something set up as an object or end to be attained; 2) a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution.

Origin: Middle English purpos, from Anglo-French, from purposer to intend, propose, from Latin proponere (perfect indicative proposui) to propose. First known use: 14th century.

Quote: “What is God’s purpose in creation and what is His purpose in redemption? It may be summed up in two phrases, one from each of our two sections of Romans. It is: ‘The glory of God’ (Romans 3:23), and ‘The glory of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21).” Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life, Chapter 7


Definition: 1) conformity to a standard of right; 2) a particular moral excellence; 3) a beneficial quality or power of a thing; 4) manly strength or courage; 5) a commendable quality or trait; 6) a capacity to act.

Origin: Middle English vertu, virtu, from Anglo-French, from Latinvirtut-, virtus strength, manliness, virtue, from vir man. First Known Use: 13th century.

Quote: “Since the life to come is to be attained through virtue, chief attention must be paid to those passages in which virtue is praised; such may be found, for example, in Hesiod, Homer, Solon, Theognis, and Prodicus.” St. Basil, Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature

educating myself (in a novel way)

I am uneducated. There, I said it.

Sure, I’ve been to school, and I know how to read. I also know a few things, including a lot of trivia. But the more I learn the more I am convinced that I am largely uneducated. I am also convinced that many adults, especially those who have been to college, do not think this way about themselves, but they should. It is a kind of catch-22; the more one knows, the more one doesn’t know. In other words, it takes being educated to realize one isn’t. So, I guess I am both. I could become disheartened, but in fact it is just the opposite. The world of knowledge is before me and that is exciting.

Being a homeschooling parent I am also interested in the concept of a classical education. A classical education includes a lot of reading. If you are looking for some good books to read, and you want to spend several decades reading them, take a look at both of these lists:

Adler’s book list
Professor Cadbury’s book list

I want to read them all.

Now I love books, but I have to confess a problem: I love to buy (or check out) books more than I ever read them. I have stacks and stacks of books. I’ve gotten rid of more books over the years than most people have ever owned or, for some, even held in their hands. I’m not saying this is a good thing. A lot of the books I have are classics. They range all over, but probably most are works of non-fiction, including a lot of philosophy, theology, history, and biography. The fiction is a lot of European and American classics, and mysteries. I also have a fair amount of poetry. Regardless, most of these books sit on their shelves or in their piles having been started several times each but never finished. Novels are the worst for me.

With that in mind I am embarking on a plan. Or, at least, attempting to embark. The plan is not really my own, but I am willing to embrace it and try to make it my own. And like most grand schemes announced by bloggers, mine will likely suffer the usual fate of making it gloriously to sometime next week and then failing due to some minuscule, but entirely “understandable,” problem. Regardless, here is my plan: I will read through the book list proposed by Susan Wise Bauer in chapter five of her book: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. That chapter is titled: “The Story of People: Reading through History with the Novel.”

Here are the books on her list:
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605)
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress (1679)
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1815)
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (1838)
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)
Nathaniel Hawthorn, The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851)
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1857)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment (1866)
Leo Tolstoy, Ann Karenina (1877)
Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native (1878)
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn (1884)
Stephen Crane, The Red badge of Courage (1895)
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925)
Richard Wright, Native Son (1940)
Alert Camus, The Stranger (1942)
George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
Saul Bellow, Seize the Day (1956)
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler (1972)
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (1977)
Don Delillo, White Noise (1985)
A. S. Byatt, Possession (1990)

You will notice the books are listed in chronological order of their publication. That is part of Susan Wise Bauer’s strategy. To read in order of publication date is to also read through the order of the history these books are a part of; it is to see just a little more the significance of each novel as they pertain to their time and place. In this way one gets a sense of the novel’s development.

I realize some of you are laughing because you know I will never get through this list, and others are laughing because you are surprised I have not already read each of these several times and even wonder why the list is so short. Hey, I’ve read a couple on the list, and started a few others more than once. Anyway, I am thoroughly excited about tackling such a great list of books. I hope this project will provide some genuine and lasting educational substance to my life.

I figure if I give myself two or three years I should be able to get through the book list without killing myself, but it will still be a difficult push for me. It might even take much longer depending on how much work I want to do with each book, such as note taking and re-reading. Susan Wise Bauer also provides some good advice on reading, a history of the novel, and thoughts pertaining to each of the books. I picked the novel because that’s the kind of book I have the most trouble getting through. Unfortunately I am a rather slow reader, though I am also working on my reading mechanics; my eyes tend to go back over the words I just read (back and forth) which slows me down considerably. I also tend to daydream when I read. In fact it is difficult for me to read more than a couple of sentences before I start making connections with other things and my mind wanders. It is my bane!

So what do you think? Is this something you would do?