“Watch me. Now you try.” These five words are constantly repeated by parents to their children. But they are for people of every age. We are mimetic creatures who learn by imitation. Every good baseball coach teaches a batting stance by modeling one for the athlete. Preachers provide examples and illustrations so their congregants can apply theological truths. Parents read stories and fables to their children which provide models for emulation. Because we learn by imitation, teaching is inescapably mimetic.
The hardest thing by far about my vocation is the travel, and the hardest thing about travel is coming home.
No, it isn't returning to my dear Penelope (nee Karen) that is so hard. It's returning to a world that has kept on moving without me, both at home and at work. And it has been moving without my guidance or oversight or sovereign rule.
Again, don't misunderstand me. I don't even mean the people - I just mean the world. It keeps on changing and adapting to changes around it.
“Kids can smell morals. And they smell like Brussels sprouts.”
That line summarizes, more pithily than most, the general attitude towards “preachy children’s books” reflected in a cursory Google search. It comes from an article by a published author giving tips for writing children’s books, and most articles of that sort seem to include, fairly high on the list, the admonition to avoid preachiness at all cost.
Three small marks, a blend of dirt and water, pocked the middle of the back patio. The small paw prints with elongated fingers, slightly larger than a quarter, did not appear before or after the three. My oldest three children, who always enjoyed following deer tracks in the backyard, saw me looking down at the prints and gathered around me. They are nosey that way.
I love that scene in the old Cecille B. Demille movie, The Ten Commandments, in which the Israelites are leaving Egypt: hundreds of people streaming out of captivity and heading into the wilderness where they will learn how to be a free people.
A few hundred years after the Israelites left Egypt, King Solomon used the resources collected by King David to build a temple to replace the tabernacle made by those escaping Israelites. For about 400 years, pilgrims would gather for an annual pilgrimage to Solomon's temple in Jerusalem.
The following is excerpted from the new fifth edition of The Lost Tools of Writing, available today.
The Five Stages of Mimetic Teaching
St. Matthew composed his gospel primarily for the Jews of his day. In all likelihood, Matthew was a despised man. He was a tax collector (Matt. 9:9), which garnered as much admiration then as now. Both his Greek name (Matthew, which means “gift of Jehovah”) and his Hebrew name, Levi (Mark 2:13-14, Luke 5:27-28) rooted him in Jewish heritage. Yet, there he was, a Jew working for the Roman government.