Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Opus 2012-74, Headlines: Bible and Constitution

Over a year ago I was listening to a pod-cast and heard E.J. Dionne quoted as saying that people tend to quote the Constitution as if it were holy scripture.  At this point I don’t remember the pod-cast or the source of the quote but it seems consistent with what he usually says.

Sounds logical to me.

People who believe the Bible believe in absolute truth.  They believe that words have meaning and the meaning is not what you want it to be but what it is.  Thus when the KJV says “Thou shalt not kill” it means what it says.  Of course, being people of truth who are not afraid of the truth, we look a little further and see that the real translation is “Thou shall not murder.”  That is not a minor nuance but a difference between truth and opinion.  The Bible means what it says.

These tend to be the same people who believe that the Constitution means what it says.  This is not because the Constitution is inerrantly inspired by God but because words have meaning.  Thus when the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law...” these people tend to believe that it means, “Congress shall make no law....”  To us it seems simple.  To judges it seems confusing.

Don’t be confused by the mention of Bible believers.  I did not say “Christians” or “church members.”  Just as there are many people who call themselves “American” who reject the clear declarations of the Constitution, there are people who call themselves “Christian” who reject the clear teaching of the Bible.  In both cases the clarity is not convenient so it is rejected.  Whether these people are really “Americans” or “Christians” is between them and God.  I will be on the same side of the eternal bar of justice that they are on so my opinion is not vital.

So, yes.  People who can’t understand what the Constitution says seem to be the same people who can’t understand what the Bible says.  It is not a total overlap but it is a major factor.

homo unius libri

Friday, March 30, 2012

Opus 2012-73, Are There Any Universal Truths?

I am visiting my children and staying in their homes.  It gives a feeling of accomplishment when you see your children maturing and taking on life.  My daughter was making sure that I had everything I needed and in the conversation she said, “Here is your towel.  I know you like the big thick ones...”

Doesn’t everyone?  Do you know anyone who likes to use a small, thin towel to dry off after a shower?  I will acknowledge there may be some who have never really thought about it.  Some may notice the towel is small and don’t get worked up, but is there anyone who really prefers a thin rag over a luxurious mini-rug?

I find that hard to believe.  But it brings up the question in my mind.  Are there actually people who prefer such a thing?  Have I come across one of the few universals in our world?  Is there hope for us as human beings finding any common ground?

Philosophy is the love of wisdom.  Common wisdom has to be generated somewhere.  It can start anywhere, even in the bathroom.

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-72, Setting an Example

In one sermon Alistair Begg, shared how he was very grateful to his parents for forcing him to go to church as a child when he did not want to go.  By being forced to go he learned the things he needed to learn and is the person he is today.  Parents might be encourage or corrected by that.  We are to supply them with what they need, not what they want.

It reminds me of an episode in my life.  The church we attended had an evening service.  We, of course, attended.  At one point my father decided he was going to stay home in the evening.  I don’t remember the reasons.  He worked six days a week in hard labor in spite of the fact that he had a bad limp from childhood polio.  Maybe he was just tired.  It didn’t matter.  My brothers and I saw this as an opportunity to pressure my mom into letting us stay home.  We wanted to watch TV.  We wanted to play.  Dad was staying home, why couldn’t we?

To his eternal credit he saw the example he was setting and started attending again in the evenings.  It certainly took the wind out of our sails.

Parents, live as examples.  Your children are watching you.  Other people’s children are watching you.  God is watching you.  It may not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth.

homo unius libri

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Opus 2012-71, Observations

Teachers, like many workers, are subject to evaluation.  As a permanent employee I am to be observed every two years by a qualified administrator.  There are forms to fill out, hoops to jump through and a dog-and-pony show to put on.  Although I kick and squirm, if you pin me down I will admit that the concept is not bad.

I just went through my observation.  It went well.  I had the assistant principal come to my best class, which isn’t saying much.  They were intimidated by her presence just enough to make it a great teaching time.  It was the kind of day that made people go into education and stay.  It is the kind of day that we rarely see anymore.  The difference between a day of teaching and a day of babysitting is sometimes a very subtle attitude shift in just a few of the students.  That little change makes them listen instead of tune out.  It makes them think before they speak which means the questions they ask actually have something to do with the topic.  It makes them hold back on questions they know are stupid.  It keeps them from shouting answers.

It would not take much to begin to turn education around.  All it would take is a little respect for authority and fear of consequences.  The change would not happen over night but it would begin and move in the right direction instead of consistent degeneration like we have now.

Is is not happening and with the current “self-esteem” culture in control of education it will not happen.  It is hidden behind words like “rigor” and “standards based” but in reality the major goal of education is to have kids feel good about themselves and educators to not be hassled.

How do we change it?  First, be willing to look beyond the jargon of the educator class.  Assume they are hiding something.  If you are wrong you lose nothing.  Second, understand that the best intentions of change and reform are stopped by the courts and liberal judges who agree with the educators.  Understand that those judges are appointed by politicians that are elected by you.  After you check out your own attitudes the next real step is to clean house because nothing will happen as long as we are paying people to pass laws that go against what we feel must be done.

Elections matter.  You may not have been thrilled with George W. Bush but think about how the country would be different if Al Gore had appointed three more liberal judges of the ilk that Obama has been able to dig out from under some rocks.

When in doubt, vote the suckers out.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Opus 2012-70, New Terms: BISS

Are you familiar with these “words”?


They are part of the texting culture.  It has a whole vocabulary of its own that is designed to shorten the number of keys the sender must hit.  It also reflects the truncated vocabulary of the younger generation.  Why learn real words when you can make up your own?

To this sub-culture I offer BISS.

I don’t remember ever seeing it used anywhere else but since I don’t text-message except in response to my children in special circumstances, I am not an authority.  It is possible that someone else has already claimed it or given it another meaning.

For me it means:  Because I Said So

If you have ever been an authority figure working with labor adverse populations you have used this without knowing it.  Parent/child, teacher/student, sergeant/recruit, the applications are almost unlimited.  It also puts you on a level playing field.  I was always frustrated when kids could get by with a one syllable “Why” and I was required to use at least two syllables with “Because.”  Now I do not need to put out more effort than the sloth.

On occasion a person will ask “Why” and really want to know.  I will leave it up to your discernment to respond at more length in those situations.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Opus 2012-69, Headlines: The Media Justice System Strikes Again

You have all heard about the shooting in Florida.  I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio but everyone I know is telling me all about it.  The “facts” fly fast and furious.  The source of the facts are a bunch of race-baiters in the news and the political class that are trying to stir up the country for their own gain.  The media wants to increase ratings and doesn’t care about the truth.  Think Haditha.  Think Duke University.  Think Afghanistan.  Think.  I put that last in to wake you up.

The political class wants to stir up class warfare and racial hatred so that they can have an issue in the next election.  I am sure that if we look back in history we can find other examples, but this is the government we have and it is ugly to watch in real life.

What do we really know?  A man was shot and killed.  Beyond that all is rumor and gossip.  It is time to step back, take a deep breath and let the justice system take its course.  We don’t need a media lynching.  We don’t need a media whitewash.  What we need is a careful investigation, due process and the belief that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Or did I miss something?

homo unius libri

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Opus 2012-68, Should-a-Beens: Sarah Palin and Russia

Here is another headline I would like to see,
“Talking Heads Admit Russia Is Close to Alaska”
Remember how Sarah Palin said, “I can see Russia from my front porch”?  Then you have an interesting memory because she did not say that.  It was Tina Fay on Saturday Night Live in a parody of Palin.  To be honest, it was funny on SNL.  I like Palin.  It was still funny.  Humor is good and poking fun at politicians is healthy.  What is sick is allowing the media to convince us that Palin said it.

It might be a good time to go back and read the entire interview, not just the edited version and see what she really said.  Then the L.A. Times and the networks could send a team of reporters up to Alaska armed with maps and atlases.  They might charter and airplane and fly out over the Bering Straits and discover what the governor of Alaska, and any middle school student who has been paying attention, knows:  Alaska is close to Russia.

When I see that headline, maybe I will be willing to get a subscription to the Times.

And maybe not.

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-67, Glory!

I just rose from my booth and went to refill my coffee.  As I approached the urn I found myself mumbling, “What a beautiful day.”  Then I realized that would sound crazy to someone listening.  You see, to the casual observer, it was not a beautiful day.  It was just a day.  It was overcast and dingy outside.  The background music was some monotonous techno stuff.  The people around me were neither beautiful or repulsive.  I was not depressed or on cloud nine.  It was just a day.

Why did I mumble something like that?  Because at that moment I had grabbed hold of the reality of the grace of God in my life.  Life was not the sum of all physical perceptions but the result of an awareness of the eternal.  The Holy Spirit can do that for us.  He did for me.

So refill your coffee cup.  Straighten your collar.  Make sure you didn’t forget to zip your pants.  Check to see if you turned off the lights in your car.  And listen to the voice of God.

It is almost like God takes on the role of Dirty Harry and says to us, “Go ahead.  Make my day.”

I think it makes His day to make our day.

homo unius libri

Friday, March 23, 2012

Opus 2012-66, Monday Pulpit: I Am an Older Son

I have been thinking about the older son, the one in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Our pastor has been dealing with the parable and Alistair Begg mentions it regularly.  I have a confession to make.  I really can’t relate to the younger son.  I have always been a goody-two-shoes.  I was the kind of guy that mothers would trust with their daughters.  And they were right.  People would call and get my parents out of bed to ask if I was home yet.  There children were with me.  If I was not home then they knew that all was well because I would not let them get into trouble.  Get the picture?

I still needed to come to face my sin.  Watching “The Passion of the Christ” reminded me of how dirty I was in the eyes of God.  Jesus went through that for me to be forgiven and I was one of the good ones.

So I take it personally when people rank on the older son.  He gets a lot of bad press based on theological systems that are not justified in the Bible.

Go back and read the interaction between the father and his sons.  Most people accept that the father represents God.  Most people can see the younger son as one who rebelled and came back to the father asking for forgiveness.  We see repentance and forgiveness.  So far, so good.  The problem comes when they get to the older son and spend their time calling him a Pharisee and a legalist.  It is always implied that he is a hypocrite who thinks he is saved by works and is really outside the kingdom.

Three things stand out to me.  If you don’t have a Bible handy, shame on you, but let me give you the key verse.
(Luke 15:31 KJV)  And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
First, he is addressed as “Son.”  Notice he is not called a “white washed wall” or a “serpent” or any of the other word pictures available.  He is a son.

Second, the father says that the older son is always with the father.  This does not sound like rejection or condemnation.  It sounds like a reminder.

Third, the father says that everything he has belongs to the older son.  Does Jesus ever say this about the Pharisees?  I don’t think so.

So we have a “son” who is “always with the father” who “owns everything the father has.”  I can live with that.

The lesson for us older sons is to get our attitudes in check and be willing to accept people back into the family when they repent.  It is to hope that they repent.  It is also to lighten up and enjoy all of the benefits of the kingdom.

If you are a younger son, welcome back.  Those of us who never left are glad to have you.  Now give me a plate and dish up some of that fatted calf that really belongs to me but the Father has decided to share with you.

homo unius libri

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Opus 2012-65, Should-a-Beens: Al Gore Returns Nobel Prize

I check out the headlines of the National Enquirer when I am in the grocery store.  They are good for a laugh.  I also keep hoping to see certain headlines.  This is one of them.
“Al Gore Returns Nobel Prize”
I don’t expect to see it.  The Nobel prize has become another version of Saturday Night Live.  It has a lot of humor masquerading as important viewpoints.  Think of Barak Obama getting a Nobel prize.  He was nominated before he was elected president.  What are his accomplishments?  He has written two auto-biographies.  Of course he did promise to stop the oceans from rising and since they were not rising I guess he succeeded.  Or how about Yasser Arafat getting the Peace Prize.  Really?  That is kind of like Rodney Dangerfield getting the Respect Prize.

I don’t live in hope, I live in fantasy.

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-64, Compliant Children

Years ago we were having dinner with a member of our city council.  He was a good man.  He and his wife were doing well as parents.  The subject of home schooling came up.  Our children had never attended any kind of organized school.  They were never on the government radar until they registered for college, my son at 15, my daughter at 13.  They continue to do well.

We were encouraging him to consider home schooling his children.  It is always a hard sell because people are so brainwashed about “socialization” and other mantras of public education.  He offered what he thought would be the ultimate response, “It works for you because your children are so compliant.”  We stared at him for a moment.  Then my children started laughing.  I don’t remember if my wife and I were able to control ourselves or whether we fell out of our chairs. 

Our children knew the truth.  We had the scars.  They were anything but compliant.  In fact I remember very clearly when my son, at 13 as tall as I am, reared himself up and told me that he wanted nothing to do with my God, with my beliefs or anything else I thought was important.  My wife once took him to the police station to have the police assure him that we did have the right to make him clean his room.  He wanted the telephone number of a lawyer so he could divorce the family.  Somewhere in my files I have a note I am saving for a day of need in which he signed over all of his toys to me.  Compliant?  No, I don’t think so.

It wasn’t that they were compliant, it was that we were consistent.  We did not lose sight of the knowledge that we were the adults and they were the children.  W did not forget that God was on the throne and we were serving Him, not the local school board. 

We are not finished.  I was going to write a book on how to raise children when they turned 30.  Now I realize that it would be arrogant for me to assume that I know anything even now.  They are still in process.  It is still by the grace of God. 

There is hope.  If your children seem to be totally resistant to what you believe, don’t give up.  As a teacher I often see kids that at 13 seem to have no hope and at 20 have begun to see the light.  Trust God.  Live by His standards.  Be consistent. 

My prayers go with you.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Opus 2012-63, Green Pieces: Cooking the Frog, Utilities Police

I know some people who have bought new homes.  Part of the baggage that came with the homes was the presence of the Utilities Police. 

It is presented as an opportunity to save money.  You are given a reduced rate if you agree to allow the utility company to cut back on energy during peak times.  Thus, they reserve the right to change the temperature you have set on your thermostat if the situation demands it.  So, in the middle of the summer you could find your house getting warmer than you want because they have changed your setting.

Once the previous owner has signed up it becomes very hard for the new owner to remove the control.  You can theoretically do so, but the remote control capability still exists.  How long will it be until the government steps in to make use of this technology.  In California the legislature has already tried to put this control in place.  You may not be aware of it but your gas company has the ability to read your meter without coming into your yard. 

Where do we draw the line?  I don’t think we will be asked.  We were not asked about our light bulbs.  We were not asked about nutrition labels on our food. 

The reason we are not asked is because the answer will be “No!”  The Communists learned this the hard way.  You remember the Communists, right.  They enslaved eastern Europe and China.  Right after World War II the Soviets were so enthralled with socialism that they though they would allow the people of Austria a chance to vote on it.  They were soundly rejected.  Like our politicians they learned their lesson.  Don’t give people a chance to have a free vote.  Have a pole and announce the results of your research.  That way you can have your cake and eat it too.  And the people can watch you eat it.  They are overweight anyway, but that is the subject of another post.

homo unius libri

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Opus 2012-62, New Terms: Internet Dementia

My mother in law has reached the time in her life when her mind is deserting her.  As I get older I have been thinking of how she is not able to remember.  I am having increased “senior moments.”  So far I am able to laugh and go on with life.  I am aware of what I have forgotten.  I am not yet forgetting that I knew.  At least I don’t think so, but then I would be the last to know. 

As I write I wonder about some of the posts I make.  Have I said this before and can’t remember?  Am I having an attack of  “Internet Dementia.”  Is that really a new term or did I read it somewhere?

I have been at this less than two years and already it is really hard to keep track of everything I have said. 

Maybe I should schedule this post to appear once a year so I know I have said it before.

homo unius libri

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Opus 2012-61, Jungle Music

Why do some people hate vegetables?  I understand about cooked turnips and Brussel sprouts, but spinach and broccoli are great foods.  A salad with sweet peppers, cucumbers, celery, tomato, radishes, carrots, broccoli and whatever else you want to throw in is a joy. 

Some people have taste buds that reject vegetables.  Conceded.  It is true.  You may have slept through that lesson in science but people actually do have distinctively different tastes for certain things.  That explains menudo, nouc mam and kimchi.  At the same time I believe many children grow up hating veggies because their parents hated them and never took the time to introduce them in a pleasant way.  Sometimes they were prepared in such a way that no one would like them. 

In the same way, many hate traditional music because they have never been taught anything about music and are living in the world of jungle music.  If all you know is the pounding of a drum then melody is a mystery and harmony is a distraction.  Like good coffee, some aspects of music grow on you.  What was once considered jarring dissonance has become enjoyable consonance in many cases. 

Why do teens hate good music?  They have never been civilized.  Often they are lazy.  Taking a couple of sticks and pounding on any available surface can be a lot of fun.  Learning to play a song written in five flats requires a lot of discipline.  Is it any mystery why half the kids at my school have a set of drum sticks but don’t know where middle C is located?

The best things in life may be free but even the enjoyment of the stars requires lifting up your eyes.  I think of another phrase that was blasted from a coffee advertisement of years ago,  “You get what you pay for.”  Too many people are unwilling to pay the price for the symphonies of life.  Even an infant can pound on the table with a spoon when they are hungry.

Take a lesson.  Read a book.  Argue a point.

homo unius libri

Friday, March 16, 2012

Opus 2012-60, Odor or Savor?

Why do people not respond to the gospel and the things of God?  To those of us who believe, this is an eternal question.  It is not a new question.  If you look at the Gospel of John you read of the resurrection of Lazarus.  It was a clear case of Jesus raising someone from the dead.  There was not question of it.  Some responded in belief but others took another path.  After discussing their follow up John writes this about their conclusions:
(John 11:53 KJV)  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
They saw the dead raised and they decided to kill the raiser.  Does this make sense to you?  It doesn’t to me but it tells me that miracles and wonders will not necessarily bring people into the kingdom.

People respond differently.  Sometimes it is how we are made.  I have tried menudo three times.  For those of you who live in culinary ignorance, menudo is a Mexican soup.  The main ingredient is intestines.  If you isolate a piece of the “meat” you can see the little villi that line the organ.   Every time I tried it I did not even need to get it into my mouth to know it was not worth eating.  There was something there that told me, “Stop!”  My nose tells me they did not clean out the intestine before they added it to the soup.  I have a similar reaction to liver, the very smell makes me want to vomit.

Some people love these foods.  They actually eat them when they are not coerced. 

People respond differently.  The foods actually taste different.  This is demonstrated in elementary science lessons.  The teacher had some chemical that we would taste.  To some it would taste sweet to others bitter.  The difference was in the taster, not the taste.

In the same way we are the smell of life and death to people and the gospel has that same aroma.
 (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 KJV)  Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.  For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:  To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
People do not respond because they sense before they get involved that this is not something they want to get involved in.  Some people just seem to know that God is going to demand repentance and submission and that is anathema to them.  They want nothing to do with God or His agenda.

So don’t get hostile.  They have their preferences.  There is nothing you can say to change their mind.  They can ignore you without much effort.  They cannot always ignore the Holy Spirit.  He can point out little things that will add up in the person’s heart and mind.  He can bring things to mind that they cannot block.  He can get past their defenses. 

Live in righteousness.  That does not mean “holier than thou,” it means servanthood.  It means,
(Philippians 2:3 NAS77)  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
It might actually make you “holier than thou.”  You will not notice it.  They will.  Sometimes it will still be the “savor of death.”  Other times it might be the beginning of aroma therapy.

homo unius libri

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Opus 2012-59, The Power of Dead Trees

Recently our pastor was urging us to write our elected officials about the attacks on religious freedom that are today targeting the Catholic church but will tomorrow come for us all.  He urged us to write our representatives even if they won’t listen to us.  That is not the point I want to share.

He also said something that I have heard other places but is worth repeating:  Write, don’t e-mail.  A personal letter, on paper, written by hand carries a lot of weight.  The elected official knows that you have written it yourself and taken the time to address an envelope and buy a stamp.  To steal the phrasing of the diamond cartels, “Nothing says 'I’m watching you' like snail mail and the products of dead trees.”

Other forms of communication are almost useless.  E-mails can be forwarded with the click of a mouse.  They can be faked and sent out from long mailing lists.  The same is true of cards and petitions that you get from organizations trying to alert you to a cause.  I guess they are better than nothing but a penny is better than nothing, too.  It just won’t buy you much.

Don’t rely on your e-mail.  Don’t use your word processor.  Feel free to make mistakes when you write.  It tells them there is a real, concerned human being on the other end of the line.

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-58, Discernment Watch: When Is Islam Islam?

There is an area of blindness in the PC Media that you need to be aware of, and yes, I know that blindness and PC Media is redundant.  If you are paying any attention you know that people who are involved in the MSM have tin ears in areas of religion.  One of the areas they are either ignorant or lying is in their use of the term “Islam.” 

Often when they talk about Islam they are really talking about the Nation of Islam.  The two have as much in common as Orthodox Christianity has with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They are also totally different.  Islam is a world religion that embraces people of all races and ethnic identifications.  The Nation of Islam is a racist organization that demonizes white people.  You can be any color and be a Muslim.  You must be black to be a member of the Nation of Islam.

When you read in the media about how a Muslim has done something or said something remember that the same media will label Mitt Romney a Christian.  He may be a fine fellow.  He may be a lot of nice and upright things but he is a Mormon, not a Christian. 

If the MSM will not be discerning and ask the questions, you should.

Happy thinking.

homo unius libri

Monday, March 12, 2012

Opus 2012-57, Monday Pulpit: To Those Who Have

(Matthew 13:11-12 KJV)  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

These verses were referred to in the sermon Sunday.  They are familiar verses but they were presented in a way that had not occurred to me although it might have been obvious to others.  Usually this comes up in the teaching on the talents.  Here it is about understanding the parables.

It seems that the disciples were told they would understand the parables and the multitudes would not.  Then Jesus talks about those who have, getting more. 

In order to understand the Bible you need to be a believer.  To believers things will make sense and fit together.  Greater understanding will come as a result.  If you are confused by what the Bible has to say, it is possible that you are not a believer.  To those who walk with Jesus, reading the Word is uplifting, edifying and encouraging.  It makes a difference.

Later the teaching of these truths is laid on those who believe, but that is another topic.

homo unius libri

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Opus 2012-56, Pumice Proverbs: IQ Test

I use this as an IQ test on students.  It is amazing which ones can tell me what it means.


                has no

                            ≪   or   II ,

        only    ▹.

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-55, Truth and Facts

Children do not like history.  There are exceptions.  I was one, but the majority find it a boring chore.  There are a number of reasons for this from boring teaching to that fact that history requires more mature thinking than any other subject.  In elementary math there is one answer and often one way to find the answer.  It is very clear if you are right or wrong.  People like that.  English is a skill you can often pick up by listening and there is a vast range of imagination that is allowed.  Science is taught as if there are clear answers and the kids get to play with objects while looking for the answers.  That may not be accurate but it is what they experience.

History, on the other hand, requires reading, thinking and evaluating.  Even such a simple thing as the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence brings up questions.  One of the big issues is the nature of truth in history as opposed to science.  Modern, western science became strong on experiments and gathering evidence.  You try something, write about it, have others try the same thing, compare results and keep trying until you come to what is accepted as fact.  It may be a long process, but it is doable.  It is called the Scientific Method.  For now we will ignore the evidence that modern science has abandoned this process to advance political positions.  The theory is sound even if the current practice is questionable.

In history you can’t go back and re-run the Battles of Lexington and Concord to find out who fired the first shot.  Obviously a first shot had to be fired, but there is no way to know who did it.  And the “who” makes a difference.  This is difficult for people who want simple answers.

Historical facts are different than scientific facts.  History is not as cut and dried as science.  Science demands that facts be observable, measurable and repeatable.  History can only ask for the most reasonable.  You experience this every day when you drive.  Consider the simple traffic light; red, yellow and green.  Traffic lights are useful not because they are infallible but because they are based on reasonable faith.  We assume people will not run the read light.  An occasional tragedy does not invalidate that assumption.

That is the best we can do for historical fact.  On the other hand take someone who drives through a red light because the statistics say that the odds are no one is coming through the other way.  They can go a long time without a problem.  They can also cause their death and the death of an innocent party. 

Can we know the true and complete answer to the motivations of the American and French Revolutions?  No.  Can we see differences in the causes and results?  Yes. 

Life is not simple.  Issues are complex.  Our information is limited and often biased.  That is why it is so important to look at the values of the source.  When two people give me different accounts of an event I must look at the whole picture.  One, the Christian, believes that God knows all and that liars are destined to an eternity in the fiery pits of Hell.  The other, a non-Christian or what the Bible calls a “so-called brother,” does not believe there is any consequence if he lies, even if he gets caught.  Which one has more motivation to tell the truth?  Which one will I chose to believe?  I would think it would be obvious.

To steal and adapt a line, “Thinking.  Don’t leave home without it.”  I guess we should not stay home without it either. 

homo unius libri

Friday, March 9, 2012

Opus 2012-54, Teaching Reading

You may get tired of hearing about Alistair Begg but I find his preaching to be a constant challenge.  I don’t always agree with him when he gets off on his Calvinism or expresses his total rejection of the Catholic church, but for the most part he takes the Bible and forces me to see its truth.  Often he says things that get my mind going on a tangent.  I am about half a year behind the current broadcast but that is the joy of I-Poding.  It is there when you are ready for it.

Recently Begg made a comment about being a child looking at comic books.  He shared how you could look at the pictures and even if you did not read the captions you could figure out what was going on.  You did not need to be able to read to figure it out.  This is a point that modern educators do not want to admit.  Comic books make it possible for students to reject reading.

And comic books have been promoted.  They are no longer comic books.  They are now “graphic novels.”  Our libraries are stocking them instead of the real thing.  The reasoning is that if we can get them reading anything then we might be able to trick them into reading.  I will grant that there will be an occasional success story with this theme, but it is not the norm.  How many children will pick up their own clothes if mommy will do it for them?  How many children, or adults for that matter, will scarf on vegetables when turned loose at the local buffet?  When I go to the Mongolian Barbeque I notice that it has a salad bar but I don’t waste my time there.

In the same way, you can’t get most people to read by letting them look at pictures.

People are different.  They respond differently.  When my son was seven he could not read a word.  We were not worried.  He was not ready.  Not forcing the issue was one of the reasons we home schooled.  A year later I found myself checking each night to make sure he was not reading under the covers with a flashlight. 

Some people take to reading like a duck to water or even like a fish.  You don’t need to worry about them.  They will get it.  Others take to reading like a cat to water, some like a rock to water.  A cat can swim and will swim, but just enough to get out of the water.  They can, but they refuse.  It brings them no joy.  Let people be cats.  They are ready to face life

The rock readers present a real problem.  This is where we should be putting our effort.  This is the challenge.  These are the people we are ignoring.  We need to take a long hard look at the problem.  Do they fail to read because they are incapable, because they are lazy or because they had a genuine disability? 

In modern education we assume it is a disability.  I would suggest that there are some people who do not have the orientation to read.  It is not a matter of being stupid, although it may look that way.  In theology we have the concept of spiritual gifts.  In education they have the idea of styles of learning.  I find it almost impossible to take a saw and cut a board straight and to the proper length.  I am not stupid.  I am not uncoordinated.  I am unable to the point where I avoid it as long as possible.  I am willing to accept that there are some people who are this way when it comes to reading.

They are not ducks.  They are not cats.  They are rocks.  We need to stop trying to change who they are and get on with the business of life.  If that means that they can only mow lawns then let them mow lawns.  Let them be the best lawn mowers in the world and the world will beat a path to their doors.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Opus 2012-53, Compromise: A Survival Trait of Freedom

Do you get tired of being in the minority?  Get used to it.  I live in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia.  I do not have one federal or state representative that agrees with me on anything important.  Locally I think there is one school board member who might have his head on straight.  I keep voting and speaking up but I am used to being ignored.

We who are believers are always going to be a minority.  In terms of salvation, Jesus said it this way,
(Matthew 7:14 NASB)  "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
I don’t believe the difficulty is actually in finding it.  I think that it is simply a matter of being willing to admit I am a sinner and in need of grace.  In our culture that is offensive.  It offends my self-worth and damages my self-esteem.

The principle of being the “few” applies to more than the Marines.  The political gate is also narrow and hard to find, for the same reasons.  People who believe in eternal values and God’s version of morality will always be in a minority.  If you don’t believe that, listen to “conservatives” talk about what they call “social issues.” 

Minorities have a need to work in coalitions.  I am afraid we are in a position which means we must always compromise and take half a loaf, not in our personal moral behavior but in our political demands.  Until the elites gained control and started trashing the Constitution with impunity, we lived in a form of government that had built in checks to keep the majority from tyrannizing the minorities.  The Founding Fathers were aware they were building such a system.  Maybe because the Founding Mothers told them to make it so.

The purpose of minorities is not to force others to adopt their ways but to maintain their freedom to believe as they believe, in spite of others and in the midst of others.  Therefore there is more diversity when you have minorities that are strong.

So don’t despair.  Don’t give up.  Don’t be a Gloomy Gus.  If you want to know how bad it can be, read the book of Revelation.  Don’t forget to read the final chapters and find out who wins.  You see at the end of the game it is not the team that had the best polls or the most fans that wins.  It is not even the team with the most yards gained or the best looking quarterback.  The winner is the one who has the most points on the scoreboard.

We don’t need everyone doing it our way.  We simply need enough power to keep them from forcing us to do it their way.

homo unius libri

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Opus 2012-52, Mixed Blessings of Technology

Modern technology and its advances are making us weaker on the personal level.  Years ago you needed to constantly maintain your horse or mode of transportation.  You needed to feed him every day, curry him, check his hooves, etc.  On your wagon you needed to constantly keep an eye on things.  In the early days of autos you had to adjust your breaks, set the points, etc.  All required constant maintenance.  Now we can buy a car and drive it until it drops.  Repairs require a highly trained expert with computer equipment. 

We have allowed that lack of daily maintenance to come over into our personal lives.  Instead of understanding the importance of daily spiritual attention we think that once a month or less will do it.  We have the experts in charge.  In the army we had PM.  That stood for Preventative Maintenance.  You cleaned your rifle to keep it from getting rusty, not to remove the rust.  If it got rusty you had already lost the battle.  To switch metaphors, it is easier to keep clothes from getting musty than to remove the smell later.

We need to turn the clock back.  We need to realize that technology will not replace the daily discipline that makes us better people.  Righteousness is not a one time trip to the smog control station, it is the daily habit of good habits.  I remember a world class violinist saying that if he failed to practice one day, he could tell the difference.  If he put it off a couple of days other musicians would notice.  There came a point, I can’t remember what limit he put on it, where everyone noticed.

How long has it been since you humbled yourself before almighty God?  How noticeable is it?

homo unius libri

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Opus 2012-51, Shoud-a-Beens: Big Parade, Not Big Tent

Is the church judgmental and harsh?  It is a common complaint.  Usually it comes from people who need someone to be judgmental and harsh with them.  But that isn’t my focus in this post.  I want to take such accusations and look at politics.  We see the same demands in politics.  We have all heard about the idea of “the big tent.”  The idea is that we need people of many different opinions working together to build strength.  There is a certain bit of truth to that but I think that too often the people who want to make the tent bigger end up pulling it apart at the seams.

We don’t need so much a big tent as a big campground.  I worked in Sequoia National Park one summer in my foolish, young days.  At the time you had a wide choice of accommodations.  You could stay in anything from a full service hotel to the extreme of backpacking into the wilderness.  There was a lot of variety but one thing was necessary.  You had to want to be in the mountains.  If your thing was surfing, you were in the wrong place.

We could also put it another way:  We don’t need a big float as much as a big parade.  Not everyone will fit on one float.  Not every float has the same design.  At the same time, certain things are necessary to be part of the parade:  Be there at the right time, at the right place, follow the same route.  There are limitations on the size of the floats and laws of the land, such as bans on nudity.  Within those parameters there is room for an incredible amount of “diversity.”  We need to know what is necessary within those bounds. 

So what makes a political party?  What is necessary to be a Republican or a Democrat?  What are the key issues?  It is a question people don’t want to answer and both parties are worse for it.  If you believe abortion is wrong, why are you registered as a Democrat?  If you believe that a woman has the right to choose to end the life within her, why are you a Republican?  (Guess where I stand.)  Each party has clear, agreed on, documented positions on key issues.  There are also many areas of diversity. 

So let’s have a grand re-alignment.  If you are in favor of traditional marriage, the right to bear arms, limited government then join the Republicans.  If you think abortion is always acceptable, that we are the world’s biggest bully, and that we need open borders, then switch to the Democratic Party.

There, that wasn’t so hard was it?

homo unius libri

Friday, March 2, 2012

Opus 2012-50, Tax Dollars at Work: Teacher Haters

For you teacher haters out there I thought I would try to enlighten you to some of the more worthy concerns of teachers.  Okay, it isn’t the teachers’ concern but the concern of the unions.  On our district we received an update from our union under a title of “Bargaining Matters.”  I am not sure if they are clever enough to actually mean that as a pun, but let’s hope for the best.

Their first concern is what I want to share with you.  The union is upset that our district is saying they no longer have funds to send teachers to “Unconscious Bias Training” at a time when they would be needed to be paid extra to attend.  They are still planning the training.  They are planning on doing it during the time that is already set aside for training.  They have money for that, but not as an extra time expense.  And it will cost money.  There will be some kind of printed material.  There will be consultants.  There may actually be money for substitutes as selected individuals are sent off to be trained.  They never tell us how much this costs, they just say they don’t have money for books, lay off janitors and close down the library.

I am sure that you will be glad to know that teachers are going to be trained to deal with their “unconscious bias.”  Some innocent soul said to me, “Isn’t it good for us to realize that we just don’t like some kids for no reason?”  I guess that would be okay but what does that have to do with “unconscious bias?”  I am sure that in the last 25 years there have been a few students who remind me “unconsciously” of someone else.  It happens.  Deal with it.  That is not what this is about.  This is about digging out the hate crimes in our hearts against homosexuals.  It is to weed out those people who hide the thought in their hearts that there might be truth and that Jesus might have actually been God.  It is designed to chop off the weeds that dare to let their heads rise above the well cut lawns of the Progressive movement.  It has been going on in industry for years under titles like “Diversity Training” and “Sensitivity Training.”  And it is coming to a school district near you.

George Orwell would have called it thought control.  The Founding Fathers would have called it tyranny.  The Church should be calling it anathema. 

I am a teacher.  I never vote for more money to be given to education.  We have more than enough but we waste it.  It is not for the children.  It is for the elites who want to control our thinking and our children.

Have a nice, unbiased day.  Pay your taxes.  Vote the suckers out.

homo unius libri

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Opus 2012-49, Key Scriptures: On Death

Death is on my mind today.  It has come at me in a couple of ways.  I find it serious but inspirational.  You see, I am a believing Christian and I take seriously what Paul had to say,
(1 Corinthians 15:55 KJV)  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I am working through the Confessions of Augustine.  It is slow going.  I have a free download on my Kindle and it is an old, cumbersome translation.  Today I was reading about the time in Augustine’s life when his mother died.  She was not worried about it.  He responded with eternity in mind.  He was very close to his mother, yet he was able to rejoice in the knowledge that she passed on knowing that he would follow her to an eternity with the Lord.

A second fact is that it has now been a year since my older brother died.  He was only 64, which is young by current standards.  He was the biggest, strongest and most robust of the siblings.  Blood cancer brought him down.  It was hard to stand by his bed as he breathed his last.  At the same time there was the joy of knowing that he was a believer who was simply going on to a better life. 

Death is serious.  So is life.  Separation and pain are real.  So is the assurance we have as believers.  We tend to get so focused on the daily grind that we forget the hope that is in us.  It makes a difference.

Do I worry about the Chinese becoming a major nuclear power?  As an American with children, yes.  As a believer, not particularly.  If they launch a missile at my home I will get to read about the follow through in the New Jerusalem Times.  Do I worry about terrorists blowing up an airplane I am on?  Not particularly.  It will simply mean I won’t need to empty the dishwasher when I get home. 

If you are going through a loss, I feel for you.  I am not untouched by our mortality.  I have lost both parents, some wonderful uncles, a brother and friends.  Most of them have died as believers.  I miss them but I try to look at it from their point of view.  For them the good times have begun and they wonder what is taking us so long.  For those who died unrepentant I can do nothing except try to share the hope that is in me with those who still remain.

Remember, from the world’s point of view, death is the end.  They fear it.  From our point of view it is the beginning. 

homo unius libri