Friday, November 7, 2014

Ourselves 1.3 and 2.1

I daresay you have already found it difficult to make everything fit; but, never mind; what you do not understand now you may understand some day, or you may see a meaning better and truer than that which is intended. 
In Ourselves, Charlotte Mason uses an analogy to compare the soul to a kingdom, in which the government is made up of officers representing the following parts of the soul:
  • Appetites
  • Desires
  • Affections 
  • Intellect
  • Imagination
  • Aesthetic sense
  • Reason
  • Conscience
  • Will
Mason's parceling of the soul reminded me of what I had read about Judaism and the soul. In Judaism, there are five "parts" of the soul: soul (engine of life), spirit (emotional self/personality), breath (intellect), life (will, desire), and yechidah - a translation of which is "only" and, to make it too simplistic, is the part of the soul that is connected to God.


In Part II: Chapter I, Mason writes about the appetite for food. He is "Esquire Hunger." Mason uses this character to discuss some of the following issues:

  1. You shouldn't complain about the food put in front of you.
  2. You should eat breakfast.
  3. You should eat to fuel your body.
  4. Don't spend your allowance on candy.
  5. Do use your allowance to pursue your hobbies.

Reading this section, I thought of my childhood aversion to ingredients like peppers and onions and celery. Every Sunday after church, we went to my grandparents' house for lunch. My grandparents (my father's parents) were Armenian, and my grandmother cooked traditional Armenian foods. She used onions in everything. And she always made a green salad. The salad often included bell peppers and celery and raw onion. I picked out these ingredients and only ate the lettuce, cucumber, and tomato, and got a finger-wagging every week.

I perceived the food at my house and the food at school as normal. My mother, who is not Armenian, did not cook like my grandmother, and the food at school was especially normal. I liked the way the hot items came in an aluminum tray and the cold items came in a plastic one, and how everything was in its own compartment. I liked that nothing touched.

One day at school, my teacher gave us a journal prompt that resulted in me writing about how my grandma's food was "wierd." (It was after I had learned the "i before e except after c" rule.) At home, my father read my journal, and the following Sunday, he read it aloud at lunch. My grandmother was not amused.

Everyone else thought it was hilarious.

At some point - during my teens - I developed a taste for my grandmother's weird food. For peppers and onions and celery, and sumac and raw lamb and fresh mint. This gives me hope that my three-year-old will one day outgrow her very-preschool food preferences (example: still-frozen-chicken-nuggets - nugget-sicles).  Now, I enjoy most foods (sashimi, Ethiopian food, Oaxacan-style goat, everything my Korean-American neighbor makes). When someone makes something using spices I'm not familiar with, I can appreciate the flavors. I can also appreciate the effort that went into making it, and the generosity of the person sharing it.

When you read this section, does it make you think of your own childhood aversions to foods? What were they? How did your preferences change over time? How do you handle your children's food preferences? Or maybe this section makes you think of table manners? Read with me...
Therefore I have said that no one has discovered the boundaries of the Kingdom of Mansoul; for nobody knows how much is possible to any one person. Many persons go through life without recognising this. They have no notion of how much they can do and feel, know and be...

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