Welcome

Back in 2008, I started a blog called Uncommon Sense. My posts were sporadic and it never really took off. Over the years since then, I’ve dabbled with creating Catholic media with some limited success. At the same time, my vision for the direction my efforts needed to take became clearer. And so here we are, thirteen years later, with a re-launch of the blog, perhaps hiding in the background but nevertheless alive and well…

But more importantly, the resources. They’ll grow as time goes by. Check out the menu tabs and click around. I hope you find them helpful. I’m focusing my efforts primarily on Catholic homeschooling parents who want to follow a classical curriculum or at least supplement their current one with classical resources.

What does that mean?

Illustration by Dorothy Lathrop

At the most basic, it means that you are feeding your kids healthy doses of what John Senior called the Thousand Good Books that every child should have read. Check out the 1000 Good Books tab. Right now, it’s a bare list of those books which have entered into the public domain and are now absolutely free. The list is categorized by author, under age-appropriate headings. 

Some have criticized what we might call the Western Canon, as exemplified by Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World and the Harvard Classics, for being too exclusive. But they don’t claim to be what they are not. They are what they are, and what are they but a continuing conversation (what Hutchens and Adler called the great conversation) on the most important topics over which mankind has conversed over the past three-thousand years.

But what of the 1000 good books? They are a stairway to the upper floors where the great conversation takes place. In reading them, one receives an education in freedom. Not freedom for hedonism, but freedom for pursuing truth. They stimulate the imagination. With proper guidance, they can instill natural virtue. Many of these stories, especially those of the fairie variety, come from all over the world. They are an artful retelling of stories that have survived for hundreds and often even thousands of years. Andrew Lang, in publishing his many colored Fairy Books, dove deep into the pool of world history in compiling his works. These books are a treasure trove, and they should be the bedrock foundation of a fruitful education. 

What I hope to accomplish over time is to link each book title to a downloadable epub file that you and your children or grandchgildren can instantly access and enjoy.  This will take me some time, because there are nearly 130 Good Book authors, and quite literally over 1000 books. Will your children read them all? For most, of course not. Some of them are heavily geared toward girls, others toward boys. Most are interesting to both. Some of them are heavily illustrated toddler’s books that delight the eyes and the ears. You’ll read those to your little ones at bedtime or during storytime. Others are appropriate for early readers, where you have your children read passages out loud to you and help them when they struggle with pronunciation and bigger words. The list continues upward into works appropriate for adolescents and young adults.

What John Senior reminded us is that while most of the books are not explicitly Catholic, they are wholesomely Christian in worldview and content, and they are a tremendous aid, along with healthy amounts of time spent out-of-doors exploring, in shaping your childrens’ imagination.

But another project dear to my heart is Good Soil magazine. What I envision is a monthly publication featuring seasonally appropriate excerpts mostly from the 1000 Good Book, accompanied by the original artwork, and broken down into those age-appropriate categories. Along with this, eventually I want to add monthly resources from the Church’s liturgical calendar, and eventually articles from Catholic columnists addressing topics of interest for today’s classically homeschooling Catholic families. The magazine will be small in its first iterations, but will grow over time.

If these projects sound pealing to you, I can use all of the encouragement I can get! To keep it fair and to ensure these resources are widely available, I’m not going to charge for access to the 1000 good books that I’m compiling. I’ve begun uploading them to ISSUU so you can view and download them on your digital devies. What I encourage you to do instead, is support me as an author by going to my Books tab and purchasing whatever might interest you, and subscribing to Good Soil magazine, which I’m in the process of putting together the January 2022 issue.  You can also make a direct donation by clicking on the unobtrusive icon below. 

I would love, eventually, to provide this service to you full time as my “retirement job” so we’ll see how well it is received. My hope is that it will be transformational for you and your family.

Check back often, as I’ll be regularly adding content.

God Bless!

Jim




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