Thrill, Son of Werva: Part 10 of 10. The grand finale!

Original fiction by Dr. Lindsey Scholl, Logic School Academic Director

Part 1: We meet Thrill the goblin. He is fascinated by the Declaration of Goblin Rights, which stands as a monument to goblin pride, though no one can read all the words carved into the high, dark cavern wall.
Part 2: Thrill admits to his co-worker, Sistig, that he reads books only reserved for the librarians. Before Sistig can work the situation to his advantage, the goblins are called out to attack some wealthy humans travelling through the woods.
Part 3: Thrill is caught in a very un-goblinlike activity by Sistig. He has been watching ducks on a pond while his fellow goblins are having a riotously successful time attacking humans. The incident convinces Thrill that he must leave the inside of the mountain, which means getting himself exiled.
Part 4: In an attempt to get himself exiled, Thrill offers to alphabetize the books in the goblin library. His activity creates quite a stir.
Part 5: Thrill finally finds himself on the outside, but Sistig is exiled, as well. His griping threatens to undo all of Thrill’s well-laid plans.
Part 6: Thrill and Sistig are arrested by the first humans they meet.
Part 7: Sistig is enraged to find out Thrill’s plan, but Thrill finds some unexpected allies.
Part 8: Thrill makes the rounds in the town. No one knows about the Declaration, but he does get some free food. 
Part 9: Thrill gets in trouble, but not before learning the location of the Declaration, or what’s left of it.

Part 10 (note: this installment is longer than the others, as it has so many fascinating events that must be told):

Thrill had rarely been scared in his life, but he was scared now. Hauled roughly and wildly through town, he kept thinking: Guy will be expecting me in the morning. What do I do? Guy will be expecting me. Now I’ll never see the Declaration. Never see the Declaration! The injustice of it made him howl, which earned him a rough clap on the head.

“Quiet, traitor!” Sistig snapped. The blow, though unpleasant, stirred Thrill out of his terrified stupor.

“Help!” He began to bellow at the top of his lungs. And then, upon greater inspiration, and before they could clap something over his mouth, “Goblins! Goblins are attacking!”

But if the inhabitants of the town heard him, they gave no sign. He drew breath for another big effort, but by then a rag had been shoved into his open mouth. To be silenced and to be bound cut of all his escape options. His ears drooped. His shoulders sagged. He walked quietly with his captors. Even in his despair, he did wonder why Owlich and Sistig were taking him down the main street of town. Arrogance, perhaps? Or to show him the remains of the children’s house? But the town was not up in alarm, as it should have been in the house were on fire. All was quiet, and yes, the house was still standing.

His spirits leapt. They leapt even higher when he noticed that a light was on. Higher still when he heard a man’s voice speaking inside. Their father!

The unexpected presence of their father gave him fresh strength. He lunged forward with sufficient violence to knock over a bundle of rods near their front door. The attempt earned him several painful cuffs, but it was worth it: the rods caused an enormous clatter. The father’s voice stopped. Thrill held his breath. Three seconds later, the door opened a crack.

“Somebody there?”

The street was so dark that the man could not see the owners of the shadows outside his door. But he could hear the scuffling.

“Guy! Fritz! Get some torches!”

Thrill continued to make as much noise as he possibly could, even managing to bite Owlich’s hand, which caused a noise of its own.

“Guy! Over here!” he hollered before a hand clapped over his mouth again.

The children’s father raced towards the sounds, at which point Sistig, Owlich, and the others decided to yield their prey. With a vicious shove, they sent Thrill barreling towards the dark form, which received him with a grunt. Candles were starting to be lit through the town now. In their soft glow, the father held Thrill at arm’s length to look at him.

“A goblin!” he exclaimed. “We had better get you inside.”

Once inside, the children introduced Thrill to their father with many excited gestures. Raymond de Hubert heard them out, introduced himself to Thrill, and sent the children to bed. Then Thrill told his entire tale to him, during which he frequently shook his head and said, “A goblin! Well, I never!”

At one point, Thrill was so exasperated with his exclamations that he interrupted his own story. “Why do you keep saying ‘a goblin!’ as if you’ve never heard of us or seen us before?”

“Oh I’ve seen and heard of you, no doubt about that. I just returned from some dwarves on the other side of the mountain who would kill a goblin just as soon as look at him.”

“That’s no surprise. They’re a nasty lot, the dwarves.”

“Nastier than you?”

“No, I suppose not. Excuse me for asking, but what is it exactly that you do again? The children said you were some sort of priest.”

Raymond nodded.

“That’s exactly what I am. As a priest, I build bridges between the races and also between them and their creator.”

“Our creator! What do you know about our legends? Goblins are as old as the mountains. Older, perhaps.”

“But there is one older still. The one who created the mountains.”

“Bah! No one created the mountains. They… They have always been.”

Raymond winked. “Then how could the goblins be older?”

Thrill flushed and changed the subject. “So I’ve told you about the Declaration. I don’t want to betray a trust, but Guy mentioned that he –”

“I know. He has a bit of it tucked under his bed. He may not have told many people about it, but he has told me. In the morning, we will have a look at it. But now it’s time for bed. I have journeyed many hours today, and a few hours’ rest would do me good.”

Raymond slept late the next day, much to Thrill’s impatience. The children would scarcely move without him, nor would they even speak of getting the Declaration out. Thrill therefore spent a restless morning. He was too excited to get more sleep. He didn’t dare go outside because of last night’s fiasco. The children talked only in low whispers, and to make matters worse, Thrill’s over-sized ears picked up every one of Raymond’s gentle snores.

By the time the patriarch awoke, Thrill had retreated into a corner to bang his head on the wall. Much to Thrill’s disgust, the children fawned on their father when he awoke. Heloise made him breakfast while Guy and Fritz monopolized conversation with him. The sun was almost at its zenith when Raymond turned his knowing gaze on Thrill.

“Well, Thrill, son of Werva? You have waited patiently for me to get my rest and talk with my children. Shall we go see what is under Guy’s bed?”

“Dust and mud, I expect,” Heloise offered.

Guy did not say anything. Instead, he led them all up to the loft. Thrill’s heart was pounding. Would it be the whole thing? No, surely not. A large fragment, perhaps. He couldn’t bear it if it were the same fragment he could see under the mountain.

“I found this several years ago,” Guy declared as he pulled out a large, wrapped bundle. “It was barely legible when I discovered it. It took a lot of hours to scrape off the moss and the lichen. I had to be careful not to carve into the original letters. I call the technique is ‘escraping,’ which is more like erasing than scraping.”

Out of the mercy of his great heart, Raymond cut him short. “I think we will be more interested in your story after we see the item, Guy.” Guy stopped talking, placed a bundle on the bed, and uncovered it.

Thrill almost fainted. It was a slab as large as Guy’s torso, covered in small letters. The top of it read, “THE DECLARATION OF GOBLIN RIGHTS.” Underneath those blessed words was the entire text. It read as follows:

The Declaration of Goblin Rights, drafted by the Goblin Senatorial Committee (hereafter named GSC) and approved by the International Goblin Congress, in which Goblin rights and feelings are addressed. The drafters of this Declaration are of the belief that certain negative views toward Goblins have shaped the majority of presentations concerning our kind. Consequently, Goblin-kind has been maliciously attacked, libeled, and humiliated in the eyes of the public.

In the interest of this same public and for the preservation of world order, this Declaration will withhold specifics regarding the offending parties. It is sufficient to say that certain publications concerning Hobbit-kind have debased Goblin-kind by characterizing it as terrifying, cruel, and foul-smelling. Such characterizations have been the cause of multiple anti-Goblin protests and attacks. Other certain publications, while pretending to present a more honest view of Goblin-kind, have nevertheless classed Goblins as avaricious, unkind, and attached to the banking profession to an unhealthy degree.

This Declaration asserts that such negative treatment is inaccurate, unnecessary, and detrimental to the cause of a diverse yet peaceful global population. We the GSC and with the approval of the International Goblin Congress, therefore propose that the following articles be honored by all races as essential to proper and sensitive Goblin relations…

Article One: That dwelling inside of mountains and other dark places is a simple dwelling choice, rather than a character trait reflecting evil intentions.

Article Two: That if any Goblin be considered in a negative fashion, it be made known that such a consideration is a testimony of the subject’s individual character, rather than on Goblin-kind as a whole.

Article Three: That Goblins be allowed equal participation in heroic actions, comparable to the participation enjoyed by Humans, Fairies, Elves, Dwarves, etc.

Article Four: That physical characteristics of any race, Goblin or otherwise, not be equated with or considered indicative of the vices or virtues of said race; likewise, personal odor is a right of all species and should not be identified with moral propensity.

Article Five: That Goblin-kind’s past alliances with what might be considered ‘evil powers’ be addressed in light of exceptional circumstances.  Goblin-kind as a whole should not be judged on the basis of possibly ill-advised cooperative enterprises.

Article Six: That Goblins are a unique and noble race, born with all due rights, and not a perversion of any other race, such as Elves or Dwarves.  The Committee nevertheless acknowledges the possibility that both Elves and Dwarves could be products of corrupted genetic material. T

The GSC hereby declares that the above articles are true and inviolate.  Should amendments become necessary, said amendments must be approved by the Committee itself, the International Goblin Congress, and a unanimous vote of the international Goblin population.  If any race or sub-race fails to honor the above articles, the Committee and relevant affiliates approve the use of beneficial force in order to ensure Goblin equality and freedom.  Such force is likely to include violent attacks, alliances with appropriate evil powers, and the necessary destruction of civilization.

Respectfully signed,

Thrak - President of Goblin Senatorial Committee, Lead Resident of the Caverns of Doom

Unghgar - Chief of International Goblin Banking Association Orif - Ambassador to Evil

Powers Alliance, Head Gardener

Nukdar - First Geneticist of Goblin Research and Vivisection Laboratories, Inc.

Steve Jensen - Ambassador to Human-kind, currently under Goblin mind-lock

Werva - Lead Advocate of Goblin Civil Rights Committee, co-chair of World Domination Board.

Thrill’s thirsty eyes read it again. And again. When the family had retired to lunch, he was still reading it. When the children asked him to help with their chores, he read on. After dinner was served, he returned to it like a fish to water.

“What you looking for?” Raymond asked him as he read through it again by the light of the fire, after the children had gone to bed.

“It’s everything I expected it to be. It describes goblins perfectly. Too perfectly. It describes Sitig and Owlich and everyone I’ve ever known. Every goblin would get behind this Declaration and say, ‘That’s what I want from the world.”’

“But?”

“But somehow I don’t feel any better about being a goblin. We want equal rights, but we don’t want to be any better than we already are. We don’t want to be good. Why don’t we want to be good or kind? Why must we always be defensive, and violent?” He stopped. “I wanted it to say that goblins are good. Or rather that we could be good. Or even that we realize we’re bad.”

Raymond gently took the slab from his lap. “But goblins aren’t good.”

Thrill’s eyes filled with tears. “I know.”

A caterpillar was crawling across the floor. It paid the larger creatures no mind until Raymond picked it up and positioned his fingers to flick it into the fire. Thrill watched him.

“What are you doing?”

“I was going to throw it into the fire.”

“Why?”

Raymond shrugged. “Why not?”

“But it’s unnecessary. I mean, I’ve kill caterpillars before, but you shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t seem right, just right now.”

Raymond returned the caterpillar to its road.

“Thrill, do goblins have a sense of right and wrong?”

“Of course. We have laws like everybody.”

“According to goblin law, is it illegal to kill the caterpillar?”

“No. But it doesn’t seem right.”

“So goblins do have a sense of right and wrong—outside the law, that is. Thrill, do goblins always choose what is bad?”

“I suppose not. We build things. That can’t be all bad.”

“But that’s not good enough, is it?”

Thrill shook his head. “I didn’t want to find the Declaration because I wanted an adventure. I wanted it to tell me that goblins were something good. And not just for ourselves. That we can be good for others.”

“The Declaration can’t tell you that.”

“I know!” Thrill’s ears drooped, and he considered consigning the caterpillar to the flames.

“But I can.”

“What?”

“Thrill, I am a priest. I reconcile and build bridges, like I told you. And not just between races. I build bridges between the bad and the good. Did you know that it was goodness that created the whole world, including goblins?”

“You said it was a creator.”

“A good creator.”

“Then why are we so bad?”

Raymond looked at him.

“You mean it’s our fault that goblins are so bad?”

Raymond nodded. “And if you can choose to be bad. . .”

“I can choose to be good. A good goblin?”

“Sort of. Let’s be frank. Goblins have done a lot of damage to themselves and to others. Humans have, too,” he added as Thrill’s opened his mouth. “We all need help, and the only one who can help us is the one who made us in the first place.”

“The creator.”

“Even the goblins need him.”

Thrill looked again at the big slab. “What a horrible Declaration. What rights can we possibly have, since we’re so rotten?”

“Come now! I have just given you hope. Rights are but a means of preserving hope.”

“But I don’t know anything about this creator.”

So Raymond told him. He told him about the maker of goblins, humans, dwarves, elves, ducks, and everything else. He told him about patience and justice and forgiveness and all the things the Declaration left out. He told him the difference between being created and just being. And Thrill had ears large enough to listen.

In the morning, Thrill began to change a little. He began to mimic the children as they did things that were good. He began to think of others before he thought of himself. It was a slow process, but even slow processes need a beginning. And he began to ask Raymond if he could meet this creator fellow, who would continue to instruct him in the difference between rights and what is right.

“I’ve got it!” Thrill exclaimed one day. “I will write ‘The Declaration of Goblin Right.’ And then I’ll carve it in stone so that everyone—goblins, humans, dwarves, and ducks—can see.”

“I believe you will,” Raymond answered. “But first, please help Heloise with the laundry.”

Thrill hurried to obey. As he did so, he glanced at the bright blue sky and wondered if the creator could see him. It was an unnerving thought but not a horrible one. Maybe the creator himself was a bridge-builder. Maybe he, Thrill, could be one too.

The End.

Encouraging Your Child to Read

by, Julie Moore, Grammar School Academic Director

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss 

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Learning From Experiences

Experiences can have a huge impact on whether reading excites a child or not.  The experiences we have during our childhood are often the ones we remember most vividly.  Helping your child discover and appreciate these experiences will be an important part of his/her growth in reading.  Readers tend to use the experiences they have encountered in their lives as a foundation for understanding and enjoying the ideas in the books they read.

Your child’s success in reading can be stimulated by offering a variety of experiences inside and outside of your home.  Reading becomes more personal for a child when he/she can relate it to actual experiences.  When children feel they are a part of the action in a story (or can relate the actions to their own personal experiences), they will most likely develop a positive attitude toward reading.  Even seemingly insignificant experiences may aid in improving your child’s attitude towards reading.  Try some of these ideas to help your child discover new experiences.

  • Keep the book(s) your child is reading in mind when choosing an activity or place to visit. For example, visiting a farm while reading Charlotte’s Web would be a great way to make the setting come alive.
  • Plan a special trip to the museum, zoo, arboretum, dairy farm, aquarium, or other place that relates to a book being read.
  • Pull out old family albums or documents. Talk with your child about your family history, ancestors, where family members have lived, etc.
  • Visit community buildings.  A fire station, police station, and city hall offer wonderful opportunities for your child to expand his/her world of experiences.
  • Plan a simple family project such as planting a small garden, building a simple bookcase, or other activity that relates to a book being read. Encourage your child to participate in the planning of the project.
  • Read books to your child about the past. Discuss the similarities and differences in the way we live now.
  • Try to expose your child to something new once a month.  Open a lemonade stand, fly a kite, go camping, or participate in another activity that relates to a book being read.
  • As you work around the house, share your job with your child.  Take some time to talk about the various parts of the work you are doing (fixing a faucet, cooking a meal). If practical, have your child participate in the activity.

Ways to Encourage a Love for Reading

In order for children to enjoy reading and make it a significant part of their lives, they must be motivated to explore new books.  Children who are excited to read are children who will want to read. Try some of the following ideas to help inspire your child to read:

  • Create a culture of reading in your home.
  • Read aloud to your child every chance you get.  When children listen to adults read, it helps them develop an appreciation for written material and the thoughts and ideas that books can convey.  You can open up a whole new world of adventure that cannot be found anywhere else, including television!
  • Set a good example by putting aside a special time each day for all family members to read together.  You may wish to use this time as silent reading time or an opportunity to read to each other.  If your child has a pet or stuffed animal, let him/her read to it occasionally.  This silent audience gives your child an opportunity to share the joy of reading with a non-critical audience.  Older children can be encouraged to read to younger brothers and sisters.
  • Place a small rug in a corner of your child’s room along with some large pillows or a bean bag.  Hang some posters or pictures and make this a special reading place for your child.
  • Encourage your child to look for and notice all the things which surround us daily that contain words, letters and/or numbers (i.e., signs, toothpaste tube, globes, price tags, etc. …).  Your child may choose to start a list and add to it regularly.  Making the connection between written words and the importance of reading may inspire your child to pick up a book of his/her own accord.
  • Try one or all of the following reading activities:
    1. Map it Out – Purchase a map specifically for the books your child is reading.  Identify the setting of the book by labeling the location with the book title; compare the locations from the different books.  Older students may be able to provide historical events that took place there.
    2. Bookmark ­– Provide your child with a bookmark or allow him/her to make one.  At times, reading can become more enjoyable if the child has a bookmark he/she likes.
    3. Puppet Show – Work with your child to create puppets for characters from the book and put on a play for other family members.
    4. Advertisement – Have your child create an advertisement for the book. If needed, provide examples of advertisements from magazines or newspapers.  Your child may wish to “sell” the book to other family members.
    5. Pantomime – Provide your child with a few simple props (chair, box, pencil, etc.) and ask him/her to act out the book for family or friends.  You may also wish to help your child locate clothing or objects that a character may have worn or used.
    6. Name Game – Write your child’s name in large letters vertically on a large piece of paper.  As your child reads new books, look for characters whose names begin with the letters in your child’s name.  Record the names on the paper until all the letters are completed.

Helping and encouraging your child to love reading is one of the most worthwhile investments of your time and efforts.  Your child will thank you for it later!

 

A Life of Education

By Jasmine B., Logic School teacher

I stood in front of a father and his two uniformed children at the grocery store the other day, eavesdropping. 

“Nine times two is?”

“Eighteen!” 

“Twelve times three is?”

“Twenty four?”

“Say what now?”

The kids laughed, but Dad looked pretty serious. “Thirty-six,” his son said, and Dad immediately cracked a smile. “No more B’s on our math tests.”

This dad understood that his responsibility to help his son learn math couldn’t be completely abdicated to whatever school they were enrolled in. He was taking an active part in getting those math facts into his kid’s head. And it didn’t just take place at his desk at school or at the kitchen table at home, but in the grocery store checkout.  

And that poor kid’s eye roll resonated deeply with the childhood “me.” 

Education as Part of Life 

As a homeschool graduate, the scene looked familiar. 

Growing up, we did school all year round, taking breaks whenever family vacations or burnout presented themselves. We didn’t have a set time to finish school each day, sometimes finishing at noon, sometimes taking long breaks during the day and finishing after dinner. And, speaking of dinner, our conversations could range anywhere from why mathematics is important for believers to conquer (there are very few math lovers at my house) to why George Orwell is just a much better dystopian author than Aldous Huxley (my brother and I could never agree). 

For us, education wasn’t just something that happened at school time. All of life was full of opportunities for discovery and illustration. We weren’t antisocial eggheads by any stretch of the imagination, but our thirst for learning was stoked by realizing that learning wasn’t just something that we did from eight to three every day—it was the active worship of our Lord. 

Education as an Act of Worship

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” –Deuteronomy 6:4-9

As the Israelites stand on the verge of walking into the Promised Land, Moses speaks the commandment given him directly from the Lord: love him with all of your heart, teach his ways diligently to your children, and never let up. 

Now, true, this passage says nothing about drilling math facts while you’re buying produce. But throughout the ages the Lord has made himself apparent in a redemptive plan that has been ever-unfolding, a plan that has been revealed to us through the years, a plan that we interpret through his Word. 

And as the plan has unfurled, great mind after great mind has interacted with thought after thought. The act of educating ourselves about these thoughts not only enables us to gain deeper insight into truth, but to articulate that truth with a confidence all our own. And the greatest thinkers have always known: this discovery does not take place in a box. 

Education as a Lifestyle

The concept of education as a lifestyle may be hard to impress upon a middle schooler rolling his eyes in the grocery store checkout. And the concept of education as a lifestyle isn’t always rooted in the gospel. 

But when it is, something beautiful happens:

Education becomes less about not getting a B on the math test and more about viewing math as a vessel for God’s glory. It becomes less about winning an argument and more about relating to others in a meaningful, challenging way that points them to truth, goodness, and beauty. It becomes a passion, a fire lit by educators who want more for their students than empty, heartless repetition eight hours a day. 

This is my goal in the classroom because this was my parents’ goal at home. And abroad. And in the car. And during soccer practice. And in the grocery checkout. 

I hope I never stop learning, never stop growing in a curiosity that is rooted in a desire to know more about the world the Lord has given us, and to become more adept at communicating those truths to others. I hope that for my students, and I hope that for their parents. 

I might have balked, mouth wide open, during those summer days of homeschooling if you told me that I’d end up spending my days in a classroom. But the older I got, the more that balking gave way to the fact that being involved in education as an adult was just inevitable for me, because education is such an inextricable part of my life and my walk. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Thrill, Son of Werva: Part 9 of 10

Original fiction by Dr. Lindsey Scholl, Logic School Academic Director

Links to previous installments:
Part 1: We meet Thrill the goblin. He is fascinated by the Declaration of Goblin Rights, which stands as a monument to goblin pride, though no one can read all the words carved into the high, dark cavern wall.
Part 2: Thrill admits to his co-worker, Sistig, that he reads books only reserved for the librarians. Before Sistig can work the situation to his advantage, the goblins are called out to attack some wealthy humans travelling through the woods.
Part 3: Thrill is caught in a very un-goblinlike activity by Sistig. He has been watching ducks on a pond while his fellow goblins are having a riotously successful time attacking humans. The incident convinces Thrill that he must leave the inside of the mountain, which means getting himself exiled.
Part 4: In an attempt to get himself exiled, Thrill offers to alphabetize the books in the goblin library. His activity creates quite a stir.
Part 5: Thrill finally finds himself on the outside, but Sistig is exiled, as well. His griping threatens to undo all of Thrill’s well-laid plans.
Part 6: Thrill and Sistig are arrested by the first humans they meet.
Part 7: Sistig is enraged to find out Thrill’s plan, but Thrill finds some unexpected allies.
Part 8: Thrill makes the rounds in the town. No one knows about the Declaration, but he does get some free food. 

Part 9:

Thrill’s first thought was that he was back under the mountain. The moonlight soon dispelled that notion, to be replaced by the joyful reminder that he had left the mountain and was now in the land of ducks, color, and sunlight.

Bounding to his feet, he was out the door before he knew what he was doing. He stopped in the middle of the street, reared his head back and stared at the moon full in the face. She gazed back at him: cool, benevolent, refreshing. To go back inside was impossible. The moon beckoned him to walk in her light, and so he did: down the street, towards the far end of the town, and ultimately out of town.

He wound up in a meadow. The moon was being very kind. She showed him the shadow a stalk of wheat can make, the silhouette of a horned owl, and how the breeze might bend the edges of a tree but not its bulk. He felt as if he could see the entire world – and do so while avoiding the burning eye of the sun.

So taken was he was he with the sights and sounds of the night that he heard the footsteps long before they drew near to him. It was Guy.

“I heard you leave. Are you looking for more goblins?”

Thrill did not want to admit to gazing in the moonlight, so he agreed. “Always. As long as they are not going under the mountain.”

Guy was quiet. It seemed as if he, too, had come out just to look at the moon. Then he spoke some surprising words.

“I have a secret to tell you. I’ve never told it Fitz or Heloise, because I didn’t figure they would understand. But since you are a goblin, you might have a right to know.”

Thrill’s heart skipped. What did this human know? He tried to sound not too excited and yet urge Guy on. It turned out that Guy did not need much urging.

“I found it a little ways from here. At first I thought it was a joke. If so, I can’t imagine who would take the time to do a joke like that. Seems like a lot of effort.”

“What was the joke?”

“Do you know any goblins who can read or write?”

Did Thrill know any goblins! The thought! His curiosity was stronger than his indignation, however, so he settled for saying, “Yes. Many. I am one of them.”

“Do they carve, too?”

“Yes, absolutely. We all do.”

Guy was infuriatingly silent, so Thrill added, “Why do you ask?”

“Because I think I have seen part of this Declaration that you’ve mentioned.”

“You have? Where? Can you take me to it?”

Guy went on as if Thrill had not spoken. “I haven’t told anybody else. It seems like such a strange piece of writing, as if it’s a joke. But you don’t act like it’s a joke.”

“No, I don’t think it’s a joke at all. Could you show it to me?”

“I mean, goblins don’t think about things like rights, do they? All they do is fight each other and steal things from us.”

Thrill felt a twist of shame as he thought about the massive library under the mountain, as well as the thousands of personalities that maintained, use, or ignored it. Had goblins been so horrible to the outside world that humans thought of them as ignorant thugs?

“Guy, can you show me the Declaration? Can you take me to it?”

“It’s too dark now. But I can show to easily enough. It’s under my bed.”

Thrill would have pressed the issue, but Guy declared himself tired and returned home. What followed for Thrill were the most exciting, impatient hours he had experienced since he had first discovered the Declaration. Sleep was out of the question. Part of him wanted to stay outside with the moon and see everything he could by her light. The other part of him was desperate to be as close to the Declaration as possible. What if there was a fire before dawn? He would need to be there to save it. What if the boy was mistaken and he spent hours of anxiety for nothing? He could see in the dark very well. He could go back to the house, sneak up to the bed where Guy had returned to his slumber, and find the Declaration himself.

This last part was very tempting, and his goblin nature told him it was the only sensible thing to do. But he hesitated to do it. Something about it seemed rude. So he paced the meadow for a few hours, reciting the words he knew by heart: “Declaration of Goblin Rights, drafted by the Goblin Senatorial Committee (hereafter named GSC) and approved by the International Goblin Congress. Steve Jensen, Ambassador to Human-kind, currently under Goblin mind-lock. Werva, Lead Advocate of the Goblin Rights Committee, co-chair of World Domination Board.”

He said these words over and over in an attempt to give them meaning. Soon, though, he would know the meaning! He would know what those old goblins considered to be rights. He might even learn a little more about Steve Jensen and Werva! His mind began to entangle itself with visions of what he would see. Would it be a small carving, with a tiny inscription? Would it be the entire Declaration or just a few tantalizing words of it? He couldn’t bear that thought. Surely it would be the majority of the document, and the rest he would be able to figure out for himself through his own learning.

“That’s him.”

If it had been a large slab, Guy must have had a difficult time getting it under his bed. How could Fitz have not noticed?

“Of course it is. Get him.”

Only at “get” did Thrill realize he was not alone in the meadow. Hands had begun to clutch at him, pinning his arm painfully behind him. They were goblin hands.

“Got you now, traitor!”

“Sistig?”

It was Sistig who had uttered the dreadful words in his ear, and Sistig who had wrenched his arms behind his back. But he was not alone. Thrill recognized Owlich, the junior librarian who had signed his permission slip to reorganize the library. There were two others: large brutes who had each laid a meaty hand on his shoulders.

“Sistig, what are you doing? Why are you here?”

“You should know the answer to that question, you lying human lover! Thought you could hide behind children? Thought they wouldn’t betray you? Thought you knew humans so well!”

These words put a new kind of fear into his heart. Had Sistig talked to children? He knew very well that angry goblins never “talked.” They raged. They attacked. They burned. If they had burned the house, then what had become of the Declaration?

“Sistig, you don’t understand. I’m not a traitor. I was exiled, remember? Owlich, you should know. Surely you don’t want me to go back?”

Owlich sneered. He had endured a great deal of mocking for signing Thrill’s form, and he intended to make Thrill pay for it. “No, I don’t want you back. But I’m awfully curious as to what you’re looking for out here. You can’t be the human lover Sistig says you are, otherwise you wouldn’t have led us to them.”

Compassion for Fitz, Guy, and Heloise had been far from Thrill’s heart. They were so much less important than the Declaration. Still, the thought of Heloise’s kind face now scared—or worse—was uncomfortable. She had done nothing to merit Owlich or Sistig’s wrath. She had, in fact, been as kind as any human had ever been to a goblin.

“If you hurt those children or their house, I—”

“You’ll what? You’re going back to the mountain to stand trial for treason. Sistig here says you sought out the humans and told them all our secrets. There’s no forgiveness for that.”

Thrill turned an accusing eye toward Sistig. “That’s a lie! I never told the humans anything.” Well, he had told Guy that goblins could read. But surely that did not count. And Sistig had not been there for that. And of course, he had also been asking all over about the Declaration of Goblin Rights. But surely that didn’t count, either.

“Listen, I didn’t tell them anything important! What did you do to them?”

“Never mind that,” Owlich said, ordering the brutes to tie him up. “I would worry about yourself, if I were you.”

Thrill resisted, but of course he was a weak little goblin. Soon he was completely in their power. But they could not stop him from looking at the moon, from whom he had the audacity to request help.

To be continued in Part 10, which is too exciting to say anything about right now. 

Full Minds and Clear Thoughts

By Neil Anderson, Head of School 

Early on in my public speaking life, I had the dreadful experience of standing in front of a room of people with nothing to say. I had relied on my cursory knowledge of the content and the assumption that I could fill in any necessary gaps on a whim. On this particular occasion, the plan failed, and I vowed to avoid that humiliation at all costs in the future. This has not resulted in my becoming the prototype for preparation, but I do have a firm conviction that one who asks for the attention of others in a speaking/teaching context should be worthy of that attention. Usually this demands adequate preparation.

The first of the Seven Laws of Teaching, according to John Milton Gregory, states: a teacher must be one who knows the lesson or truth or art to be taught. This law is stated more specifically as a rule: know thoroughly and familiarly the lesson you wish to teach — teach from a full mind and a clear understanding.

At our winter faculty inservice, we talked about full minds and clarity in understanding. The rule is simple and obvious. Why would we teach what we don’t know? How can we teach what we don’t know? We all know it happens often in classrooms, pulpits, athletics, etc. We wing it. “Winging it” is occasionally linked to lack of time for prep and busy lives, but most often it is a product of laziness, an illness that few escape.

We often teach what we don’t know because we are lazy and didn’t carve out time for the first law of the teacher. On the opposite end of the spectrum, thoroughly knowing the content we wish to teach is no easy task. The calling of the teacher and faithfulness to this rule requires much of us, typically more than we are able to give. On any given day at our school, teachers at the grade levels we currently have need to apply this rule to several different disciplines each day. The content of each school day could warrant a ludicrous amount of preparation in order to truly become equipped with a full mind and clarity of understanding.

I bring this rule to light because it is equally applicable to our co-teachers, our parents. Just because we know how to do long division does not mean we are ready to teach it. Just because we read Macbeth in high school does not mean we are ready to take our students through it on a whim. This is a good topic for this season of resolving. Teachers and co-teachers alike: resolve not to teach what you don’t know. Resolve to teach from a full mind and a clear understanding at all times. Resolve to be a student first, then a teacher. Perfection in this task requires more than we have to give. But the chasm between perfection and slothfulness is great. Find a healthy place for yourself somewhere in between.

Amongst a host of things you could be doing in order to be faithful to the first law, the simple and practical commitment is to read ahead. You may not be able to accomplish it with every discipline, for every child, every day. You can start by tackling one subject per child. For example, if you have three children in grades 1st, 4th, and 7th, put the Story of the World 1, Saxon 6/5, and Arabian Nights on your nightstand and read ahead. If that’s all you can do, do that. Read ahead, think about the content you’re going to teach or discuss, and experience the reward of teaching with clarity.

I will be writing on more of the Seven Laws of Teaching in future posts. I recommend the book to you if you’ve not read it. The most important aspect of this first law is to remember the privilege of being a teacher. Preparation for the teacher is not drudgery, it is joy. Teaching is the desire to share what we are excited to know.

The Gospel of Flatland

By Dr. Lindsey Scholl, Logic School Director

Imagine that you were flat as a pancake – flatter, even. And not only are you flat, but everyone and everything in your world is also flat. In fact, you are only a shape and your world is two-dimensional. How would such a world look to you? How could you tell the difference between your best friend the equilateral triangle and your boss, the octagon? There are no aerial views: you can only see the sides of your fellow shapes. So any approaching square would look like this: ———–. An isosceles triangle would like this —-, if he’s approaching you with his base. If he’s approaching with you with his sharp point, he just might run you through.

This is the world that Edwin Abbott envisions in his classic 1884 novel, Flatland. The main character, A. Square, is a successful shape who is entirely content with his height-less world because he cannot envision anything else. He has no tools to conceive of a third dimensional shape, such as a sphere.  Then one day, Sphere appears in his sitting-room.

It takes some work for Sphere to convince Square of Sphere’s true nature (after all, with his two-dimensional eyes, Square can only see a line that claims to be a Sphere). But Sphere is insistent: he has come to proclaim the Gospel of the Three Dimensions, and he will not give up. Finally, in a dramatic effort to convince Square of the truth, he plucks poor Square up out of his two dimensions and reveals to him the vast, breathtaking world of three-dimensional Space.

Here is what Square says of the experience: “I looked, and behold, a new world! There stood before me, visibly incorporate, all that I had before inferred, conjectured, dreamed, of perfect Circular beauty.”*

If you like apologetics, you will immediately see the value of Square’s religious experience: a new and complete plane of existence has suddenly been made known to him. He might have said, like St. Paul in First Corinthians, “For I have seen through a glass darkly. . .I knew in part, but now I know even as I am known.”  Just as the idea of two dimensions is incredible yet desirable for Square, the idea of a fourth dimension is tantalizing and even necessary to those of us already living in three dimensions. Surely we can know God more fully in that fourth dimension. Although there is no evidence that Abbott wrote Flatland with an apologetic agenda, he clearly understood that his work has religious overtones. After all, it is Abbott who puts the phrase “The Gospel of the Three Dimensions” in the book, and when Square finally sees the Third Dimension, he enters into a sort of ecstatic, religious trance.

But neither Square nor Abbott stops with the Third Dimension. A highly intelligent fellow, Square quickly assumes that if there is a Third Dimension he did not know about, there must be a Fourth. And a Fifth. And a Sixth, ad infinitum. Suddenly, the good news of a Third Dimension becomes a series of infinite progressions, and Square drinks it in.

Yet Square’s story does not end happily. Although he has been given this semi-divine revelation, he has to return to his two-dimensional existence. He cannot live in the Third Dimension, and what’s worse, no one at home believes him. He spends the rest of his days imprisoned as a madman.

What good had his “gospel” done him? It gave him knowledge but nothing else. It transformed his mind, but not his body. The same Square that was born as a Square would die as a Square. The story gives no indication that Square had a hope of going to the Third Dimension after death. Nor did Sphere offer any promise that he could make Square third-dimensional like himself. The Gospel of the Third Dimension good news was not actually good news at all. It was just news. It may have offered exciting truth, but the only change it wrought in Square was an exciting vision and perpetual imprisonment.

How different is the Gospel of Christ that we know and love! Our Gospel proclaims that God the Father has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13). We have been transferred into a better dimension, and unlike Square, we will be changed and become like our Savior.

Knowledge of higher planes is not enough to constitute a gospel. But knowledge that brings transformation and deliverance . . . that is good news. May we always proclaim that news at TCS.

Merry Christmas!

*p. 117 (Signet Classics, 2005).

**For more thoughts on Flatland, listen to James Harrington’s talk (“Vampires, Governesses, and Anglo-Catholic . . . Oh My”) from the 2013 Pursuing Wisdom Colloquy at Providence Classical School.

Thrill, Son of Werva (a short story series), Part 8 of 10

By Dr. Lindsey Scholl, Logic School Academic Director

Links to previous installments:
Part 1: We meet Thrill the goblin. He is fascinated by the Declaration of Goblin Rights, which stands as a monument to goblin pride, though no one can read all the words carved into the high, dark cavern wall.
Part 2: Thrill admits to his co-worker, Sistig, that he reads books only reserved for the librarians. Before Sistig can work the situation to his advantage, the goblins are called out to attack some wealthy humans travelling through the woods.
Part 3: Thrill is caught in a very un-goblinlike activity by Sistig. He has been watching ducks on a pond while his fellow goblins are having a riotously successful time attacking humans. The incident convinces Thrill that he must leave the inside of the mountain, which means getting himself exiled.
Part 4: In an attempt to get himself exiled, Thrill offers to alphabetize the books in the goblin library. His activity creates quite a stir.
Part 5: Thrill finally finds himself on the outside, but Sistig is exiled, as well. His griping threatens to undo all of Thrill’s well-laid plans.
Part 6: Thrill and Sistig are arrested by the first humans they meet.
Part 7: Sistig is enraged to find out Thrill’s plan, but Thrill finds some unexpected allies.

Part 8:

The passing of goblin armies usually involved a fearful nighttime parade for the townspeople, but as the humans always made sure to have plenty of soldiers on hand, the goblins behaved themselves. The processions therefore caused no more damage than a lost business day—or night, rather.  No, these were not the goblins Thrill was interested in. He wanted his goblins. But now that he was out here, it seemed a ridiculous hope that he would be able to find them.

It would have been a simple affair to explain Thrill’s presence in the town by his pretending to be a military scout. It was a more complicated matter to have an explanation for why he was with the de Hubert kids, who had never before been seen in the company of goblins. Suggestions as to how to resolve this problem were varied and colorful.

“Are there such things as circus goblins?”

“We could have him as a pet.”

“Heloise, only you would claim a goblin as a pet.”

“He could be our prisoner.”

“Then why would we be showing him around town?”

“Are there goblin shopkeepers? Maybe he can be a merchant.”

“But everyone knows goblins don’t come out in the daylight. When would he sell stuff?”

“Then he has to be with Dad.”

“Yes, with Dad.”

“Absolutely.”

Thrill was mystified as to why being associated with their father would help, but they seemed convinced that it was the best route. When he asked for more information, they responded with pride.

“Our dad is a priest,” they said. “Of the old order.”

It is true that the de Huberts had had no associations with goblins. But as an old order priest, Raymond de Hubert was in the reconciliation business. He had interceded for all sorts of people and creatures. He had even once interceded successfully for the dwarves.

“If we say you are with him,” Fitz explained, “everyone will figure that he is interceding for the goblins, too.”

As if goblins needed intercession for anything, Thrill thought to himself. But the idea was sound.

“And since you are already sort of a weird goblin,” Heloise added, “it won’t matter much that you are out in the daylight.”

The plan having been at least half-baked, they decided to move forward with it. In the blink of an eye, Thrill, goblin-exile, became Thrill, thoughtful representative for goblin intercession. They stepped boldly out into the afternoon sun.

It was a small town, so word spread quickly. The de Huberts had a goblin staying with them! He was a different sort of a goblin: a thoughtful one. People were eager to talk to Raymond de Hubert’s new associate, so much so that the children began to feel guilty for spreading a lie. Yet it was effective: the townspeople were eager to answer just the sort of questions Thrill wanted to ask.

“Do I know of any other goblins ‘round here? On no, my leathery friend. Humans don’t really know goblins. But occasionally they march through.”

“Aye, I saw that vicious little creature dart out of town. Good riddance to him, I say. But you’re a different sort, aren’t you? You look like a thoughtful little fellow. Here, have one of my fresh-baked rolls. And mind you don’t harm those young people, or I’ll drive you out of town with a sharpened pitchfork.”

“Have I heard of what? A Declaration of Goblin Rights? Mercy, no! That sounds like a piece of fiction if ever there was one. Pardon, I forgot I was talking to one of your kind.”

And finally, “But of course I remember something about goblins in these parts. But they were not the marching ones. They were a different sort, who didn’t mix with us very much. Or at least that’s what my grandfather’s father said.”

Thrill’s ears had fanned with interest. Now they drooped again. “Your grandfather’s father? So they are not still here?”

“Of course not!” chuckled the old man. “That was many, many years ago. The goblins my grandfather’s father knew are long gone. And even they were descendants of other goblins. Different goblins, like you.”

Thrill thought back on the Declaration. How long had those words been etched in stone? Even if the original carvers had made a paper copy, it would probably have disintegrated by now. “And you, sir. Did you know any of these different goblins?”

The man shook his head. “Sadly, no. I think I was but a child when the last one of them died.”

Night-time was coming on, and Thrill was exhausted. He and the children trekked back to the house with many interesting but profitless commentaries ringing in their ears. It had not been all for naught, however. Thrill’s presence had won them all some interesting tours around local shops, some fresh baked bread, and a broken piece of colorful pottery. Thrill held this last item close. It was amazing to actually own a piece of color. Goblins had no colors like the bright blues, reds, and yellows on the little fragment. That was because they had no appreciation for the world of light that made such colors visible.

If Thrill had thought it would be difficult to spend an entire night indoors and asleep, he would have been wrong. The day had been long and wearying. His feet hurt, his skin stung, and his stomach was still sore from being strapped over his suitcase—an act of rudeness for which Fitz had apologized many times. Plus, he had never been in a bed so soft. Guy had let him take his bed and in the taking, Thrill had developed a profound new respect for human ingenuity. The bed was a wooden frame holding up a tight network of ropes, which created a comfortable, shallow sling. Over the sling was a large sack filled with dried corn husks. Thrill’s large nose could easily detect the scent, but his tired body felt as if it were resting on a cloud. He laid down, closed his eyes, and did not move for several hours.

Yet nocturnal habits are hard to break, no matter how tired the nocturnal creature may be. So it was that Thrill woke up a few hours before dawn, when the constellations were still high in the sky and the townspeople were asleep.

To be continued in Part 9, in which Thrill learns Guy’s secret and encounters some other goblins.