Trivium Pursuit

The Muck-raker in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Teddy Roosevelt

August 21st, 2017




Excerpts from a speech delivered by Theodore Roosevelt on April 14, 1906

The Man with the Muck-rake

In Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” you may recall the description of the Man with the Muck Rake, the man who could look no way but downward, with the muck rake in his hand; who was offered a celestial crown for his muck rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.

In “Pilgrim’s Progress” the Man with the Muck Rake is set forth as the example of him whose vision is fixed on carnal instead of spiritual things. Yet he also typifies the man who in this life consistently refuses to see aught that is lofty, and fixes his eyes with solemn intentness only on that which is vile and debasing.

Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed. But the man who never does anything else, who never thinks or speaks or writes, save of his feats with the muck rake, speedily becomes, not a help but one of the most potent forces for evil.

There are in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave evils, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil man, whether politician or business man, every evil practice, whether in politics, business, or social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform or in a book, magazine, or newspaper, with merciless severity makes such attack, provided always that he in his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful.

The liar is no whit better than the thief, and if his mendacity takes the form of slander he may be worse than most thieves. It puts a premium upon knavery untruthfully to attack an honest man, or even with hysterical exaggeration to assail a bad man with untruth.

An epidemic of indiscriminate assault upon character does no good, but very great harm. The soul of every scoundrel is gladdened whenever an honest man is assailed, or even when a scoundrel is untruthfully assailed.

Now, it is easy to twist out of shape what I have just said, easy to affect to misunderstand it, and if it is slurred over in repetition not difficult really to misunderstand it. Some persons are sincerely incapable of understanding that to denounce mud slinging does not mean the endorsement of whitewashing; and both the interested individuals who need whitewashing and those others who practice mud slinging like to encourage such confusion of ideas…..

The men with the muck rakes are often indispensable to the well being of society; but only if they know when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward to the celestial crown above them, to the crown of worthy endeavor. There are beautiful things above and round about them; and if they gradually grow to feel that the whole world is nothing but muck, their power of usefulness is gone.

Read the entire speech here.


Louis Rhead Illustrations of The Life and Death of Mr. Badman by John Bunyan

August 21st, 2017














The cookbook I used to raise my kids

August 20th, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.

This is the cookbook I used to feed my kids. More-With-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre is a Mennonite cookbook, first published in 1976. The book advocates that families eat more whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, eat meat and dairy products in moderation and avoid processed and convenience foods, which was a relatively new idea in the 70’s. But, really, for me it was more than just a cookbook. It was a how-to book on eating and living simply.

My favorite recipe was always spoonbread. Spoonbread is a custard-like cornbread you scoop with a spoon. Lots of eggs and milk. Nutritious and delicious and can be used as a main meal. I wonder how many times I made it? I’d give you the recipe, but several years ago the cookbook fell apart and I’ve forgotten the details.

Here are more of our family favorites:

Coconut-Custard Pie
Oatmeal Bread
English Muffins
Cheese Crackers
Split Pea Soup
Master Mix
Potato Soup
Edna Ruth Byler’s Potato Dough
Baked Lentils with Cheese
Cucumber Salad
Roman Apple Cake


The wound religion receives from hypocrites

August 18th, 2017

The wound religion receives from hypocrites is far more dangerous and incurable than that inflicted on it by the open and scandalous sinner. For religion is never brought into question by the enormous vices of an infamous person; all see and all abhor his sin. But when a man shall have his mouth full of piety and his hands full of wickedness, when he shall speak Scripture and live devilism, profess strictly and walk loosely, this lays a grievous stumbling-block in the way of others; and tempts them to think that all religion is but mockery, and that the professors of it are but hypocrites. –Ezekiel Hopkins (1633-1690)

Unless the being of a God be presupposed, no tolerable account can be given of the being of anything. --Ezekiel Hopkins (1633-1690)


This might have been my first homeschool purchase

August 18th, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.


McGuffeys Eclectic Readers (Seven Volume Boxed Set, paperback)

In 1978 we bought a set of McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers. I think it was my very first homeschool curriculum purchase. I still have that set, and now my grown kids borrow it for their own children.

There are many versions of the old, original McGuffey Readers. Some currently in print are the Thoburn version (this is the one we bought in the 70’s and love very much), the Mott Media version (we bought this version years ago and I ended up selling it as I didn’t like it near as much as the Thoburn version), the Burger version, which looked to me a lot like the Mott Media version, and the Raymond Moore version (which I don’t like because they edited it). Actually, it’s all a matter of opinion. The reason I like the Thoburn version is probably because I have very happy and warm memories of reading it over and over to my children. Our copies are quite worn and tattered now, but I would never think of getting rid of them or replacing them. I am sure that all and any version of the readers would be fine to use. I would suggest getting one of these reprints, though, instead of going to an old book store and getting one of the really old ones, one of the originals. The very old copies would be hard to handle and would fall apart in your hands.


Gardening in 2017 with Ovarian Cancer

August 13th, 2017


There would have been no garden without Harv. He did it all. Every morning I take his arm and we hobble out to check the tomatoes and see what flowers we should pick.


Fragrant peonies — the queen of flowers




Which color of zinnia do you like best?


My fuzzy wuzzy sunflower to brighten your day


Words to liven up your August

August 12th, 2017

Kakistocracy A state or country run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens

• jettison = to throw something from a ship, aircraft, or vehicle in distress in order to lighten the load; to discard or abandon something such as an idea or project

• kakistocracy = a state or country run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens

• legerdemain = a display of skill or cleverness, especially for deceitful purposes; sleight of hand

• permutation = a change or transformation; an arrangement of items created by moving or reordering them; the reordering or rearranging of items in a group

• provenance = the place of origin of something; the source and ownership history of a work of art or literature or of an archaeological find

• purloin = to steal something, especially when the theft breaks another’s trust

• turgid = pompous, boring, and overcomplicated; swollen and overflowing


Are you looking for a beginners self-teaching text in music theory and part writing?

August 11th, 2017
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.

Norton Programmed (self-teaching) Texts in Music Theory

Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter by Claire Boge, John Clough and Joyce Conley

This programmed interactive text introduces the basics of music theory and part writing and can be used with high school and college students. The student is assumed to know the names of notes in the treble and bass clefs and the names of keys on the piano keyboard. Otherwise, no special knowledge or musical skill is assumed. The average student should be able to complete the book in one semester.

Basic Harmonic Progressions by John Clough and Joyce Conley

Basic Harmonic Progressions is designed to follow Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter. The average student should be able to complete it in one semester.

Both of these texts are highly recommended by numerous university music departments.

Our daughter Ava studied through Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter when she was 18, taking less than one semester to complete. She said it was challenging, yet thoroughly self-teaching.


Homeschoolers are raising a generation of custom-built children

August 2nd, 2017

If you try to follow a classroom model in your homeschool – dragging in the desks and chalkboard, conforming to a one-size-fits-all scope-and-sequence method, following a rigid bell-ringer schedule, and the like – you will probably buckle under the burden. That kind of schooling does not fit well in a homeschool environment. Rare is the pair of parents who have the time and the talents to bear such burdens. It will truly test your determination to homeschool. The great strength and advantage of homeschooling is that it releases you from the burdens of the classroom and invites you into the natural schooling environment of one-on-one tutoring in your own home.

Homeschoolers are raising a generation of custom-built children – no factory models here. We want to keep it that way. The classical model and method for education leaves plenty of room for the several different approaches to homeschooling. The goal of a classical style of homeschooling is to tutor children in those skills which will make them able to teach themselves whatever they need to learn throughout their life. Our purpose is to show you that you can homeschool in a classical style.

Here is a brief overview of our Suggested Course of Study. A more thorough discussion can be found in our book Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style and in our audio and video seminars.

Homeschoolers are raising a generation of custom-built children – no factory models here.


Pre-Logic Textbook for Age 12 and Free Logic Books

August 1st, 2017

Elsewhere we have discussed a suggested course of study for pre-logic and logic. You don’t learn to swim by jumping in the deep end first, and it is my opinion that children benefit from a progressive study of logic.

Right now, I’d like to show you more details on just one of the books in our suggested course of study: Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Verbal. In addition, I want to show you how you can get this book free.

Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Verbal is suggested for age 12, but it can be used for older students also.







Answers are included in this book.

Here’s a list of some of the concepts covered in Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Verbal:

–Spelling/Vocabulary/Writing: describing things and words
–Following and writing 1-, 2-, and 3-step directions
–Analogies: kind of/part of/used to/association/action
–Deductive/Inductive reasoning
–Parts of a whole
–Map reading
–Writing directions
–Logic: if-then/yes-no/true-false
–Orientation: person/place/time
–Auditory memory
–Language acquisition
–Denotation and connotation/degree of meaning

We have one copy of this book, along with several other logic books from Critical Thinking Press, and this week if you make an order from our Trivium Pursuit catalog, you will receive one book free. See this post for more details.

Fourteen different logic books available