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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Opus 2012-333, Ode to Old: Paperbacks

I find myself buying paper back books instead of hard bound.  Unless they are books that my children are interested in owning, it is a waste of money.  I won’t live long enough to get the full value out of them.  This is not a note of depression or despair, just a logical observation.

I am asking myself if I really need to buy that new pair of shoes.  I have a pair of boots I have had for at least 20 years.  My other shoes last for years.  How many pair will I wear out before I take the long walk?

I am much more selective of new technologies.  My kids got me a smart phone.  I am spending some time with it but the plethora of aps don’t get me too excited.  Why find six new ways to do something when the original way worked just fine?  I am not in love with the new just because it is new.  I appreciate the productive.  I put a new radio in my car.  It has an auxiliary plug-in and a USB port.  I am finding that I can do great things with my I-pod and with flash drives.  I don’t think I will try to find out the Blue-Tooth connection even though my new phone is capable of it.  Why bother?  I don’t like to talk on the phone.  Why would I try for another interruption of life.  One benefit of driving as opposed to mass transit is the sense of privacy.

I am sure that other adaptations will take place as I slowly accept the reality of getting old.  I am actually in better health than I was ten years ago thanks to losing a lot of weight.  I hope to keep learning and adapting to life as it comes to me.

I am ready to go but not planning on it.

Here is to many more December 31's

Happy New Year.

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Opus 2012-332, Healthy Insights: The Three Strikes Season

There is a phrase that was used of people trying to deal with their drunkenness.  When they would have a relapse and hit the bottle again they would say they had “fallen off the wagon.”  I don’t drink but I do eat and there are similarities to abuse of alcohol and abuse of food.

We have come through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  New Years day is still ahead.  This is like the three strikes and you’re out law.  It is a time when people struggling with weight issues throw up their hands and give up.

I made it through Thanksgiving just fine.  I overdid a little, but that is life.  On the whole, I was a good little boy. 

Then Christmas approached.  One of the things that my wife does it bake before and during Christmas.  She doesn’t just bake, she BAKES.  We have creations and concoctions that started out as good recipes and get tweaked into celestial realms.  They have become part of the bribery that is supposed to bring the kids home.  So they get placed around the house in mixed piles.  Cookies with caramel and white chocolate chips.  Cookies with all kinds of nuts.  Layered things that have multiple colors and flavors with sprinkles of goodness on top.  Pretzels dipped in chocolate and who knows what else.  She even goes so far as to put out boxes of See’s Candy.

I pigged out.  That is not the problem.  It happens.  The problem is that I almost allowed a momentary relapse to grab hold of me and take me back to my old habits.  I was this close to giving up.  (Show fingers a quarter of an inch apart.)

This is the danger moment.  I made it past.  I thank the Lord.  I pray that you will also make it past.  To be healthy in your eating is a pattern and an attitude.  It is not perfection, it is a lifestyle.  If you had a bad day, I am sorry to say that New Years is still coming.  Don’t worry about it.  Don’t let it defeat you. 

Pick yourself up.  Dust yourself off.  Get back on the wagon.  If you need one more cookie before you climb aboard, go for it but be honest with yourself and make it one.  It isn’t the one cookie that brings back the obesity and diabetes, it is the package that comes after it.

Blessings as you grow in life.

Happy New Year.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Opus 2012-331, “Inconsistency” in the Bible

As I was reading through the twenty-sixth chapter of Proverbs I was struck by how often Solomon was using the term “fool.”  It didn’t shock me.  I work in public education.  It is a fools paradise full of people who belong there.  The thing that came to my mind was a statement by Jesus,
(Matthew 5:22 KJV)  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
We have a problem here.  Jesus says don’t call people fool.  Solomon does it repeatedly.  This would seem to qualify as an inconsistency in scripture.

My point today is not to try to work out the inconsistency.  It has been done.  Maybe some other day.

My point today is to say that working seeming inconsistencies out is not compromise or backpedaling.  It is the heart of understanding what the Bible teaches.  There are three places you look to understand the place a verse of scripture has in teaching its truth.  You start with the verse itself.  What does it say and what does it mean?  Then you look at the immediate context.  How does the chapter and book explain what is being said.  Then you look to the total witness of scripture.  What does the whole Bible say? 

Take a simple example.  Look at the segment of the Ten Commandments,
(Exodus 20:13 KJV)  Thou shalt not kill.
That seems simple enough.  It is clear and concise.

But wait a minute.  What about,
(Exodus 21:12 KJV)  He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
This is the next chapter.  In one chapter we are told not to kill.  In the next we are told to kill.  What gives? 

A little research will show you that the proper word in the Ten Commandments is “murder” not “kill.”  With a little honesty and thought you can work this out to the satisfaction of everyone except those who are against capital punishment.

In the course of doing this you apply a little logic and the ability to think.  In most cases you can work out a solution to the inconsistency that satisfies most people.  There are probably exceptions but I figure the answer is still out there. 

Before you make a big deal of this, consider science and the scientific method.  It is just this attitude which drives the mind of research in the physical world.  A wobble in the planets did not work with the other known facts, leading to the discovery of Pluto.  Einstein struggled for years trying to find solutions to his theories.  Today the physicists still try to work out inconsistent results to data. 

Christians accept logic and reason in both areas.  The pagans and Xians reject it in theology but embrace it in science. 

Who is being inconsistent?

homo unius libri

Friday, December 28, 2012

Opus 2012-330: On Becoming a Squeaky Wheel

I love Christmas vacation, oh, excuse me Winter Break.  It gives me a little more time in the mornings to think, write, post, respond.  This morning I was at a sight called Sharp as a Marble and came across this quote,
“You don’t win elections or issues unless the populace agrees with your stance. You can’t change the way people think by changing their government, you change their government by changing the way they think.”
He then went on to give an example of how the thinking of the public has been changed on gun ownership.  Go ahead and read the entire post.

There is wisdom here.  We need to understand that many people only know what they are told to know.  They learn this by watching MSM or attending concerts put on by musicians who hate American values. 

We need to become the squeaky wheel.  For one the politicians will only respond if we are loud enough.  Also, the general public needs to realize that what they have always thought is not wrong, it is just not “cool.” 

Help people think by speaking out.

Your country and future generations will thank you.

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-329, Religion and Culture: Prophecy

How does religion effect the culture around it?  I continue to look at examples of that.

One of the elements of religion is revealed truth.  People believe that the divine, however they understand it, has left indications of how we should be living today and in the future.  I am calling this “prophecy.”  This can take many forms and have different effects but a belief in prophecy can effect a culture either overtly or subtly.

Lets take what I consider a silly example, but one which has consumed the world recently:  The Mayan Calendar Apocalypse.  I am sure you have heard all the doom sayers and read of the panic about how the world was coming to an end.  We are past that date and we are still here.  Oh, well.

For most of us this was entertainment on the level of a good zombie movie, if there is such a thing as a good zombie movie.  If I am to believe the headlines, millions of people around the world were in terror that the end was here.  I am still trying to figure out why they were stocking up on candles if the world was going to be destroyed, but I guess it is consistent.  If you are gullible to believe something that even the Maya didn’t believe, you are foolish enough to have extra candles on hand for use after the extinction of all life.

Lets look at another example that worked to destroy a civilization.  Again we are dealing with Meso-American culture, this time the Aztecs.  It seems that the Aztec legends had a type of prophecy that said their main god would return some day from the east.  The key elements of this prophecy for our purposes were:  Quatzequatel would have light skin, hair on his face, come on clouds, from the east. 

Shades of Cortez.  What I read says that Montezuma thought Cortez was Quatzequatel returning.  Since he was a god, doing what the prophecy said that god would do, he was greeted with gifts and celebration.  By the time the mistake was admitted, the Aztec were doomed. 

Most of the time believing what prophecy reveals has a leavening effect and does not destroy a culture.  The influence can be good or bad depending on the eye of the beholder.  It does makes a difference.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Opus 2012-328, Why This Election Was Epic

I hear a lot about how important this last election was.  I keep hearing about how the re-election of Barak Obama could lead to the end of America as we know it.  There is truth in that but not because of Barak Obama.  Our politics are not that simple.

One man cannot destroy this country, even someone as “brilliant” as our current president.  The men who put the system together were brighter than your leftist professors gave them credit for.  We are still a republic.  We still have elections.  We still have the impeachment process.  Our soldiers still take an oath to the Constitution, not the president.  We still have millions of individuals living lives of integrity and hard work.  Even Barak Obama cannot, by himself, sink the ship of state.  He may try but he can’t do it by himself.

The problem is he has a lot of help.  Some of that help is time tested and expected.  The media has always had strong opinions, a high self image, the public attention and no concern about the truth.  An obvious example because many have heard of it was the Yellow Journalism of the late 1800's.  The newspapers systematically ignored facts they didn’t like and kept pushing us toward the Spanish American war.  We saw the same with Obama.  He was packaged by the media.  His statement about rising energy costs was ignored.  His bloopers were buried.   His associations, whether they be druggies in college, anarchists in politics or racists in church were papered over. 

We have survived that kind of thing before.

We have large segments of the population that seem to be able to turn their thinking powers off and isolate compartments of their lives.  Look at the demographics segments that voted for him in the 90% range:  Blacks, Jews, teachers, Academia, media, single women, welfare recipients.  The polls are not yet in on the percentages of the dead, criminals and pets who voted for him.  But we have had that before, just not in the numbers that we had this time.

The thing that has changed and will destroy us is a population that was willing to re-elect him in spite of his record.  It was bad enough that he was elected.  What had he ever done beside write two autobiographies full of mush and drivel?  Had he ever held a real job?  Has he started a business?  Has he risked his life for his country? 

No.  He gave a speech.

In spite of this he won a majority.  He is our legally elected president.  He has four more years.  Then what happens?  Will he try for a third term?  I doubt it.  We heard the same frantic calls about Reagan and Clinton.  But the sheep will probably be ready for it if he does.  Sometimes it takes a Constitutional crisis to make the obvious clear.

Keep talking and writing.  Maybe people will wake up.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Opus 2012-327, Monday Pulpit: Diaper Changes

I don’t remember what the pastor said that started my mind down the path of changing diapers.  I think he was talking about sin.  The manger was in front of me and since it was the last Sunday before Christmas, it had a baby (doll) in it.  Babies cry a lot.  I often tell people that if they don’t believe in human depravity and original sin it is because they have never had children.

Picture an adult with the self-centeredness of a 6 month old baby.  My mind shudders at the thought.

Back to crying and babies.  As I was meditating on this truth I realized that there was a purpose in the noise.  How in the world would you know the baby was wet if it didn’t cry?  It isn’t going to climb out of its crib, stroll into the living room and say, “Do you think you might have a moment to change me.  I seem to have had a moment of incontinence.”  No, they cry.

Pain and discomfort have a purpose.  They let us know that something is wrong. 

As I get older, I realize that aches and pains are a part of the process.  I learn how to move differently or more slowly.  But there are others aches and pains that are a result of something being wrong.

It can be a physical wrong.  Pain can be a warning of the early stages of a real problem.  When we check it out, we save our lives.  Praise God for that kind of pain.

It can be a spiritual wrong.  We don’t like to admit this.  We don’t want to judge.  Fine.  Don’t judge others and tell them their pain is a sign of sin in their lives.  Tell yourself though.  It might not be, but check it out.  Think of the baby crying.  Generally there are three reasons:  Hunger, fatigue, diaper disorder.  It has been a long time for me but if I remember correctly the only way you can tell if the diaper is wet is to stick a finger down the diaper.  Or have your wife do it.

So be thankful for pain.  Take it seriously.

May your pain be temporary and minor, unless it is caused by sin and then I want it to rage until you repent.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Opus 2012-326, Are You Having a Merry Christmas?

Just as I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner because I can turn on the Christmas music after dessert, I dread Christmas night because I need to put away the carols and such.  I know it is just my own legalism but it makes the time more special.  I may fudge a little for next Sunday’s worship music because the pastor’s wife likes to continue a week, the decorations will still be up and there will be a “Christmasy” topic in the sermon.  Besides the Orthodox don’t celebrate Christmas until January 6.

Have you noticed how many people complain about Christmas?  I think it is a point of view and an understanding of what we celebrate.

Think of the elements of this season:  Music, decorations, gifts, gatherings and worship.

Music for the Christian focuses on the incarnation.  It reminds us of the Word made flesh.  It reminds us that the cure for sin is a reality.  It speaks of love and hope.  For the generic pagan and Xian the music focuses on the dreary love life of the latest pop star.  We hear all kinds of ditties, some clever, some boring, all pointless.  I love “White Christmas” but it doesn’t come close to “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”  No wonder they badmouth the season.

Decorations for Christians focus on the manger, angels, wise men and the Light who was the Life of men.  Awesome.  For cultural Christians it is Santa, snow flakes, snowmen, gingerbread and wrapping paper.  No wonder they miss the point. 

Gifts for believers are a chance to give and share.  It is a joy of seeing the face of another light up.  For too many it is about who got the most loot, greed and materialism, indeed.

For many Christmas is a time of family gatherings whether they are believers or not.  There are differences though.  Believers will read the Christmas story and rebuild the ties that bind.  The general population looks for another excuse to get drunk and practice gluttony.  It makes a difference.

And the ultimate gathering is worship.  This is only for believers.  Others may attend but it is not worship, it is ritual or habit.  We come together to celebrate the coming of the Messiah as He began His journey to the cross, the tomb, the resurrection, the ascension and some day the return.  What a time of hope.  What a glorious experience as we sing,
No more let sin nor sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
Merry Christmas!
and don’t forget,

homo unius libri

Monday, December 24, 2012

Opus 2012-325,  The Future Is Sneaking Up on Us

Have you heard about 3D Printing?  I talk regularly with a retired businessman who is fascinated with this procedure.  If you have never heard about it you might want to Google it and begin to be aware.

3D Printing is also called Additive Manufacturing.  It is like something out of Star Trek.  You pour the ingredients in one end and out the other comes a custom made product.  It puts the object together one layer at a time.  It is already being done on components of cars and airplanes.  The schools on our district already have some of the machines.  They don’t know what they are and let them sit unused but they are available.

Right now it seems the hold up is the cost of materials.  As you can imagine what you put in one end must be specially prepared.  That will be resolved in time.  The dreamers see every home having one of these machines and each day you can produce what you want or need.  Need new shoes?  Press a few buttons.  Need a pen?  Find it on the menu.  Christmas gifts can be produced at the last minute.  It bring new meaning to “The Night Before Christmas.”  All that is necessary are the raw materials and the programing. 

My concern is the same concern that conspiracy theorists have had about the alleged gasoline engine that gets 300 miles to the gallon.  You know the one.  It was designed and ready to go but the nasty oil companies kidnapped the inventor, disposed of his body and keep the design hidden because it would lower their profits.

I think this could bring about that scenario in reality. 

We have two coercive powers that will fear this machine and I am not talking about Santa Claus and his elves.  First, you have the unions.  If you can make anything you want in your living room, what happens to all the high paying jobs that used to produce these things?  They will want to stop or control this device.

The second is the government.  How do you tax something like this?  It could destroy the hold the government has on the economy. 

Check it out.  It is a fascinating advance.  The future is already with us.  I hope that the free market is allowed to develop this marvel.

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Opus 2012-324, The Trinity, a Healthy Schizophrenia?

Let’s talk about one of the most complex teachings of orthodox Christianity, the Trinity.  What I have to say could be considered heresy, theology, heretical theology or theological heresy.  Or it could just be nonsense.  That wasn’t a question.  You don’t need to answer.

The Trinity is hard to understand because it deals with two different teachings in the Bible that seem to conflict.  On one side we have the unquestioned statement that there is one God.
(Deuteronomy 6:4 KJV)  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
On the other side you have the equally clear teaching that Jesus is the eternal God.
(John 1:1 KJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
You can also show that the Holy Spirit is God. 

So you have these three as separate persons.  We see all three together in one place.
(Mark 1:9-11 KJV)  And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.  And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:  And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
One of the great discussions in the church is on how you can have one God and have three Persons. 

Might I suggest a kind of schizophrenia? 

Before you reject me totally and call out the Inquisition, listen a moment.  There are qualities that are sinful in man that are acceptable in God.  For instance, we are told that we are not to take vengeance.  That belongs to God.  We are told that God can punish iniquity but we are to let it go.  This doesn’t seem fair, but keep in mind the many differences.  Because we are at worst, totally in the control of sin and at best limited by our physical perceptions, vengeance is something that we are not qualified to administer.  God, being perfect, is qualified. 

God demands repentance before He will forgive.  We are expected to forgive as a matter of principle.  God can be jealous, we cannot.  God has reason to be proud, we do not.  God can live with the paradox of free will and foreknowledge, we get tied up in denominational wrangling.  God is free to judge, but we are told not to.  God can put together mercy and justice.  All we see is, it hurts.  God can have three persons in one essence and remain perfectly sane.  We would be put on medication or locked up.

Rejoice in the knowledge that we are made in the image of God but we are not God.  As that button/bumper sticker proclaims, “PBPGINFWMY.”  Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.  At least I hope not.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Opus 2012-323, True Diversity

Recently I heard it again.  I head someone say, tongue in cheek, “Couldn’t we just get along?”  I can’t remember where I heard it.  Shades of Rodney King.  One remembers his sad plea in front of the news cameras.

Evidently not.  We never have.  We never will.

Remember the famous statement by Rahm Emmanuel, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”  He happened to be a Democrat and those of us on the right are indignant but I am sure that we have had our moments too.

Keep in mind certain combinations of names from our history such as Hamilton and Jefferson or Lincoln and Douglas.  How about Brooks and Sumner?  You may have never heard of them.  They were elected leaders.  Brooks was in the House, Sumner in the Senate.  Brooks walked into the Senate chambers and proceeded to beat Sumner with a cane.  He beat him until his cane broke. 

Human beings are not innocent wonderful creatures that just need a few burrs rubbed off the edges.  We are inclined toward evil.  That is why we celebrate Christmas:  The world needed something, or Someone, who could deal with that tendency toward evil.

His name was Jesus.  He told us to turn the other cheek, to forgive, to go the extra mile.  His grace makes it possible.

Will we ever get along?  Probably not, at least not in the present world.  But I have hope that when the crisis gets bad enough and the politicians get evil enough people will turn to the Source that can make a difference.

Merry Christmas.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 21, 2012

Opus 2012-322, Christmas Begins at 1:30

As I look at Friday I am reminded again of how good we teachers have it.  First, I get to go home two hours early today.  Following going home I have two weeks that I do not need to set an alarm clock except for Sunday in case I don’t wake up like normal.  Did you get that?  Two weeks off.  Over Christmas and New Years. 

That is as much vacation as most working people get in an entire year. 

I am aware of that.  I don’t know if most teachers think about it.  I don’t feel guilty.  If people are too lazy to home school and too ________ to enroll in a private school, I will step into the gap.  I want to thank all of you who are working, paying taxes and providing for me and my family.  Really, thank you.  That is not offered as sarcasm.  I am truly grateful.

Teaching has its down sides.  Everyone wants more money.  That is part of human nature, but when you consider the pay, benefits and time off, it isn’t a bad gig.  One requirement is liking weird adolescents.  If you don’t like the age it is torture.

Having said that I again urge you to never vote for a tax increase for education.  There is so much waste in the system and so little accountability that we would be embarrassed if most of us were not in the pocket of the Democratic party.

There are a few of us who have common sense and an awareness of the values that built America.  We will continue to soldier on.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas.  I hope the season brings you joy and an awareness of the meaning of Emmanuel.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Opus 2012-321, On Pencils and Tissue

I have stopped buying tissue and picking up pencils.  It took me awhile to get the message.  I used to buy boxes of tissue and bring them to class for the children with runny noses.  I used to pick of pencils I saw on the ground, usually brand new, and keep them in class to give to students who did not have one.

No longer.

I finally realized that I was just enabling the students to be irresponsible and teaching them bad habits.  I was reinforcing their selfish, wasteful behavior.  The children of today are so self centered and so ill-trained that they take advantage of everything you do for them.

I noticed that the tissue was disappearing very quickly.  As I watched it became clear why.  When they were using it to blow their nose, they needed three or four tissues for one little snort.  I have a very big nose and can make do with one.  Then I noticed they were using my tissue as a towel.  They would run around on hot days and then come in and take several handfuls of tissue to wipe  the sweat from their brow.  Then they wonder why there is no tissue.

Pencils also became an issue.  When I would give them almost new pencils they played a game which, strangely enough, they called “Pencils.”  It involved two students with new pencils.  One would hold the ends in a horizontal direction while the other would flick it with his pencil to try and break it.  They would take turns and the winner still had a pencil.  Of course with all the violence the lead inside was shattered so it would not sharpen, but they could always get another one from the teacher, right?  Wrong.

I also noticed that they rarely returned the pencil they “borrowed.”  They would either walk out with it or leave it laying on the ground. 

So I don’t supply tissue or pencils in a direct way.  When I am sick I will bring a box of tissue and share it until it is gone.  I keep it hidden in my desk and dole them out one at a time.  For pencils I have a “magic cup” on my desk.  If it has a pencil in it, they can have it.  I don’t pick up pencils they leave on the floor any more.  What I do is kick them into corners where they are safe from the janitors.  Then I take the student on a hunt for a pencil.

Maybe they will learn to be dependent on themselves instead of parasites on society.  Then again, maybe they won’t.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Opus 2012-320: Silk Purses and Chicharrons

Why does some quinoa float and most sink?  Why does most popcorn pop but some doesn’t?  Why does the can opener work just fine on one can and chew up the next?  Why do you only cut yourself shaving when it is most inconvenient?  How come some pistachios open and others don’t?  I am sure there is some scientific reason but I think it is all a plot to mess with me.

Accept this truth:   Life will never be fair or dependable.

We will always face the unexpected and the unplanned.  It is a part of life.  We need to get this across to a few people.  One group that needs to learn this is the public schools.

When we talk about what is wrong with public schools we need to address the fact that the schools are full of nice people.  Nice people.  Yes, very nice people.  They want to help.  They want to make things right.  They are nice but not wise.

Public educators live in the fantasy world of “You can save them all.”  They refuse to accept the fact that if a child has decided they will not learn, they are not going to learn.  You might, with herculean effort trick them for a short period but they are not stupid.  The problem is that these children are putting their energy into avoiding education instead of gaining one.  It is an attitude that will not be overcome.

Like popcorn, some will not pop.  You can keep the heat up until they burn.  You can leave them in the educational microwave until the smoke comes out.  They will not pop.  And if you have ever tried to pop all the kernels using a microwave you will find that you destroy all the good stuff that has already responded. 

We need to separate the little nuts that refuse to crack.  I don’t say give up, I say separate.  Some will develop in their own time.  Some will respond when they find out the free ride is over.  Some will never get the message.  That is on them, not on society or the teachers.

Remember the old adage, “You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.”  I always like to add, “No, but you might make some great chicharrons.” 

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Opus 2012-319, Diverse Is Subverse

There are certain phrases that are guaranteed to set my bell ringing.  One of them is “cultural diversity.”  When I heard Alistair Begg use it recently, I could feel my blood pressure rising and my veins bulging.

He used it in all innocence.  He was talking about the hosts of heaven gathered before the throne.  He spoke of many races and cultures.  His point was that the gospel has been extended to all.
(Galatians 3:28 KJV)  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel is universal.  The church is all inclusive.

That is the point.

When it comes down to it, there is only one “culture”  that followers of Jesus belong to.  It is Christian culture.  We may have many nuances of that culture that are influenced by the neighborhoods and families we come from but they are all submerged in the culture of Christ.  We are not diverse.

Politically we have expressed it as “E pluribus unum.”  That phrase is on every coin and bit of paper money that you have.  It expresses who we are as a nation and it is a reflection of the Christian church.  “Out of many, one.”

So don’t fall for this diversity foolishness.  Don’t buy into multi-culturalism.  Don’t embrace the philosophy of division.  If you are a Christian, you are my brother or sister.  We have a common culture that trumps our heredity and environment.  We need to celebrate that.  We need to emphasize the things we have in common not cause division by glorifying the differences.

If you are an American accept the parallel truth.  It is one reason we feel that American has been a Christian nation.  We were created equal.  Let us celebrate the unity we have in the dream of liberty.  Only our foolishness can let them take that away from us.

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Opus 2012-318, Discernment Watch: What’s Wrong with Being Partisan?

One of the common complaints I hear is that the country is to divided.  We are so partisan.  We are falling apart.  We need to come together.  What brought this to the front of my mind today was a magazine cover on a desk at church.  It was a relatively current edition of World magazine.  Its had a picture of President Obama with a background of blue and red.  The cover comment was, “Divided We Stand.” 

I have news for you, we have always been divided.  Go back and read the debates as the Constitution was hammered out.  The large states and small states were at each others throats.  The free states and slave states could agree on nothing.  It was these differences that brought about the balanced form of government that has served us so well.

Pick a time in our history.  We have rarely agreed on anything as a nation, anything that is, except the basics of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Tariffs.  Immigration.  Sedition.  International relations.  Labor unions.  Pick a topic and you will find that we are divided.

I hope that we stay divided.  It is a sign of freedom of thought.  It is a symptom of a vigorous republic.  It means that we are continuing to think and to care about issues.  The only place in the world where everyone agrees is a graveyard or an absolute dictatorship.

What happens when we get united?  When the Democrats had both houses of congress and the presidency they spent like drunken sailors.  When the Republicans had the power they spent like drunken Democrats.  When there is unity we get things like Obamacare.

No thank you.  I will settle for being partisan.  I like cars and clothes in different styles.  I like the choice of tacos, pizza or burgers.  I think you should have the choice of tofu, bean sprouts and organic veggies.  Just don’t make me do it your way.

Vive la difference.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Opus 2012-317: Cornerstone Considerations: Intellectual Property, part 2

Today we are having problems with the idea of intellectual property.  Much of this goes unnoticed by the general public.  It just isn’t something we worry about.  Maybe we should.  How this issue goes determines the quality of life for every American.

First, how has the law changed?  The original 14 years is now up to the life of the author plus, and the plus keeps changing so that it is possible that current creations may never enter into the public domain.  The “limited times” of the original concept has become forever.  Second, you now have automatic copyright.  You don’t need to apply.  If you write it, it is yours.

This preserves the first concern of the Founding Fathers, that you profit from your efforts.  It stifles the second because it discourages continued development.  It does not “promote progress.” It is a lawyers dream.  All you need to do is claim that you wrote something first and you have a case in court. 

We need to get back to the original intent.  We need to stop bowing to the standards of the world.  Much of the change is because of international pressure.  We need to realize that the American experiment was an attempt to get away from the attitudes and values of Europe and create something new.  Europe is all about privileged classes and elites who know what is best for the peasants.  It was that way in 1789.  It is that way now.  Washington, D.C. is becoming that way.  Europe, then as now, is going in the wrong direction.  Our ways have produced abundance and opportunity.  Theirs have limited growth.  Why are we becoming followers?

These short sighted changes are also undermining the ethics of our culture.  People are increasingly ignoring the law because they see it as stilted and part of the problem.  Someone observed that every time the copyright on Micky Mouse starts to run out the time for copyrights is extended.  This is not free enterprise, this if crony capitalism.  This is politics over freedom.  Ultimately it will be want over plenty.

This is an area under the radar but just another example of how we need to get back to the original principles of the Founding Fathers as expressed in the Constitution.

The future is in the balance.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 14, 2012

Opus 2012-316: Cornerstone Considerations: Intellectual Property, part 1

As I was scanning through the Instapundit a few days ago, I came across a reference to the issue of intellectual property.  This is an area of concern that is usually overlooked by the general population.  It is also an area of concern to our Founding Fathers.

Intellectual property refers to copyrights, patents and trademarks.  Most people are vaguely aware that such things exist but ignore them because it is more convenient to be ignorant.  A little knowledge would force people to admit what they are doing is illegal.  It is against the law in most cases to make copies of music or print.

Your favorite album provides a simple example.  It is illegal for you to borrow a CD from a friend and make a copy for yourself.  With modern technology it is easy and simple.  Everyone does it.  It is still illegal.  You are stealing what belongs to someone else.  It is not necessarily illegal to make an archive copy for yourself of something you have paid for, but to make one for someone else is taking money out of the pocket of the people who produced it.

Our Founding Fathers saw the issue.  That is why we find they dealt with it.  In Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution you find specific powers listed for the Congress.  Among them you find this,
“To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”
The thinking goes like this:  In order to encourage people to come up with new ideas and products they need to be able to profit from those new innovations.  If you make your living writing books, then you deserve a fair compensation from your labor.  This means that you have the “exclusive right” to what you wrote.  You can sell it, give it away or lock it in a box.  It is yours.  It is part of the concern that the Founding Fathers had for personal property.  Most people can understand that.

The controversy that has emerged today is in the phrase “limited times.”  They did not say that your creativity was yours until the end of time, but for a limited time.  Originally you had the exclusive right to profit from your creation for 14 years.  After that it became public property.

This standard fulfilled two goals.  First, it rewarded you for your labor.  Would you keep producing if you did not have a chance to profit from your labor?  It encouraged people to be creative.  Second, by limiting the time you could control it, you were forced to continue producing.  Other people could then take your creation and use it or build on it.  It was a win for the producer and a win for the country.  It was to “promote the progress.”

We are no longer promoting progress.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Opus 2012-315, Religion and Culture: Sacred Cows and Golden Calves

What you believe effects what you do.  We all have heard about environment and heredity.  One wise man added our will and decisions.  Religion is also a powerful influence.  It molds us as people.  It also effects culture.  I already mentioned the sacred cows of India.  Since that time I was listening to a sermon by Alistair Begg and he mentioned the golden calves installed in the worship centers of the break-away Northern Kingdom of Israel.  I had either forgotten this or missed it totally.  Look at the reference.
(1 Kings 12:28-29 KJV)  Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.  And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
Most people when they think of the “golden calf” think of Aaron making one in the wilderness.  Moses came down from Mount Sinai, saw it, and smashed the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. 
(Exodus 32:3-4 KJV)  And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.  And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
So it would seem that the worship of cows was common in the ancient world.  It tried to make a place for itself in the worship of the Jews and succeeded in the Northern Kingdom.  Is it any wonder that the Jews of Jesus day had no place for the paganism of the Samaritans?

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Opus 2012-314, The Long Haul

Recently I was listening to a podcast from the Young Americans Foundation.  The speaker was Star Parker.  She was speaking before the election, not knowing how it would turn out.  She made a statement that I think bears repeating.  She said basically “It took us a long time to get into this situation, it will take us a long time to get out.”

That was on the condition that we won.  We lost.  That means it will take even longer, but the future is not sealed. 

One of the problems that even conservative Americans have is wanting it now.  We think we can solve any problem in a 30 minute sit-com or a 60 minute drama.  At most we need a three day made-for-TV special.  Life doesn’t work that way.

Think of the illustration of a giant ocean vessel.  It can’t stop, start or turn on a dime.  It takes planning, effort and time.  At first you don't see the change but a small change adds up over time.

So keep working on the ship of state.  That involves prayer, thinking, planning, debating, cooperation, and lastly, voting. 

Remember the words of John Paul Jones, “I have not yet begun to fight.”

America is worth saving.

homo unius libri

Monday, December 10, 2012

Opus 2012-313, New? Term: Projection

One of the first things I did after the election was to remove the Romney/Ryan sign out of my yard.  The second thing I did was pull the stickers off my cars.  This was not because I am ashamed.   I have not given up but I know the attitude of the left.  If I don’t remove them they will be torn down.  It was done twice before the election.  Left on the car, stickers are an invitation to vandalism.   That is how they are.  Although they always accuse the right of being violent and aggressive that is just projection. 

Projection is not really a new term but it is one that is forgotten and overlooked.  It is a term from the world of psychology.  It is the situation where you take your own feelings, and claim that other people have them.  You are projecting yourself and laying in on others.  Thus when I hear the Progressives (Liberal, Democrat, elitist, socialist) showing concern about voter fraud, they have been busy perpetuating it with all their might.

When they talk about racism, it is because they see everything in terms of race.  When they bring up the gender wars, it is because they are doing everything they can to perpetuate them.  The list goes on. 

I hear repeatedly about how full of hate conservative talk radio is.  Really?  Most of the bile, lies and distortion I hear come from the left, not the right. 

So when a Progressive (Liberal, Democrat, elitist, socialist) speaks, listen, turn it 180 degrees and you see who is truly guilty of whatever they are proclaiming.

Projection, coming to a conversation near you.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 7, 2012

Opus 2012-312, 12/7/41=9/11/01

How soon they forget.  Remember the motto of the Holocaust survivors?  “Never Forget.”  Remember how 9/11 was singed into our awareness?  No?  Then you probably are not remembering 12/7/41 either.

What is 12/7/41?  It used to be called Pearl Harbor Day.  This year it is simply called Friday.  Since our modern culture assumes that only white people (preferably male, Christian and conservative) can do or be evil, we have forgotten how the Japanese attacked the American forces in Hawaii with no notice.  In fact, the Japanese diplomats were meeting in Washington about working out misunderstandings. 

It was a really stupid thing to do.  If the Japanese had not attacked, Roosevelt would have had a hard time getting Americans to go to war.  Hitler would have not felt a need to declare war on us.  The entire agenda of the fascists, east and west, might have been realized.  For the sailors, soldiers and airmen of Hawaii it was a tragedy.  For the world it was a blessing in disguise.

The attack united our resistance to tyranny.  The commitment lasted until victory was assured.  How is that different from the response to 9/11? 

The initial response was the same:  Outrage and unity.  The Presidents responded the same.  The difference comes in the cast of supporting characters.

The Media is different.  The people involved in journalism in 1941 were Americans.  They loved this country and its institutions.  They believed in the American dream and American exceptionalism even if the word was not used.  We were unique and virtuous.  They kept secrets if it was necessary for the security of the country.  They supported the war against evil.  Not so today.  Take very sentence I just wrote and reverse the sentiment.  That is our media today.

The loyal opposition is different.  When Roosevelt called on Republican businessmen to help him get the country ready for the war that was coming they put aside their personal feelings and did what was best for the country.  The minority party worked to make the country stronger and move us toward victory.  Not so today.  The Democrats have been willing to sell the country down the drain to humiliate George Bush.  They will twist and distort anything for political gain.  They are currently willing to allow the economy to fall apart rather than have an honest discussion. 

Things are different.  We are still at war with terrorism.  They are out to get us.  They will keep trying.  My fear is that we will have another date to add to the headlines before we wake up and smell the gunpowder.

“Never forget.”  Or is it already too late?

homo unius libri

Opus 2012-311, John and Martin

I usually have a collection of books going at the same time.  One that I picked up at a used book sale was the personal journals of Pope John XXIII.  I am not a Roman Catholic.  I don’t see any way I would ever be a Catholic but that is not because I cast them out of the Christian family.  I don’t think I could ever be a Baptist either.  The family of God is much bigger than my personal opinions.

But it caught my eye.  One of the subjects I have taught on is the Protestant Reformation.  I firmly believe that if the popes of that day had not been so corrupt and secular then Luther would have found his answers inside the church and Lutherans would be a Catholic order like the Franciscans and Jesuits.  During my lifetime I feel the popes have been decent, godly men.  I know that is big of me.  It is just an observation, not an attempt to replace Arnold Toynbee.  They have been seeking to serve God through their understanding, rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition. 

So I am working through this book.  I don’t know if I will finish it.  I am skimming already.  One strange feeling I get is that Pope John XXIII and Martin Luther would have been soul mates.  The struggles that the pope is sharing sound like echoes of the inner turmoil that the reformer was dealing with.  One became pope; the other a rebel. 

Pope John XXIII, Journal of a Soul.  New York:  McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1965.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Opus 2012-310, Are Carpenters Required to Buy Their Own Nails?

My title is a real question.  I might expand it a little.  Are bus drivers required to fill the tank out of their own pocket?  Are you required to bring your own flatware and condiments when you eat out?  Okay, so you have to bring your own lunch when you fly, but you get the direction of the question.

So why do teachers need to buy their own paper.

I was given a case of paper at the beginning of the year.  I have already gone through it and I am barely a quarter of the way through the year.  “Where does it go?” you say.  If I give a quiz a week and fit it on half a piece of paper, with 200 students that is 100 sheets a week.  We have at least 38 weeks of school a week.  That is 3,800 sheets of paper.  A case of paper has ten reams of 500 sheets each.  My math says that is 5,000 sheets.  That leaves me with 1,200 sheets of paper for the rest of the year.  My syllabus, if I use a font large enough to read, takes two pieces of paper.  I have many other documents to send home.  I get past my one case and I have not even done anything for class yet. 

And I am told I get one case a year.

I have a choice to make.  I can pay for paper out of my pocket or I can find ways to use less paper.  I resist paying for it myself on general principle.  I see how our school has money to put up bulletin boards to list students with perfect attendance.  I receive large posters printed in complex colors about the Harvest of the Month.  We have money to buy anti-bullying curriculum.  The list could go on.  All I do by spending my money is subsidize the public welfare state.  I become an EBT card for my school.

The other choice keeps me from doing my job.  I can give fewer quizzes.  I can stop sending communication home to the parents.  I can make students copy off the screen as long as the bulb lasts in my projector.  I can do more oral work.  I can shortcut the education of my students.

How will I make it work?  I don’t know yet.  If push comes to shove, I will probably spend some money.  I know one solution that will not help:  More money for schools.  We don’t need more money.  We just need to spend what we have as if the supply is limited.  We need to make hard choices. 

We didn’t succeed in voting the suckers out. 

Maybe we should make bus drivers fill their own tanks.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Opus 2012-309, Cornerstone Considerations: D of I, Truths: Inalienable or Unalienable?

We hear a lot of talk about our rights.  The core rights are not to be taken away.  The Declaration of Independence says people in general and Americans in particular are
“endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,...”
If you are detail oriented you will notice a possible spelling problem.  Whether you start the word with “in” or “un” it means the same.  One is a Latin prefix, the other English.  Both words make it clear that certain rights are permanent.

The key concept is that the government does not have the right to take away what were considered the basic rights of human beings.  The list is not long but it is important. 

We believe, our Founders believed, in limited government.  The current leaders in our political wars need to be reminded of that.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Opus 2012-308, Decalogue or Debacle?

This morning I was drinking coffee out of a cup that listed the Ten Commandments.  As I looked at the last six I noticed that these are all broken in the average TV program of our day.  There is no sense looking at the first four because those are rejected out of hand.

5.  Honor your father and mother.  The very heart of modern comedy is that children are wise and adults are stupid. 

6.  Don’t murder.  Some comedies may avoid this but action shows justify all kinds of reasons for killing people.

7.  Don’t commit adultery.  Really?  How old school.  The modern standard is, “Do you love me?”  Even if it is only love that lasts long enough to order another round, it is justification for violating sacred vows.

8.  Don’t steal.  Why not?  If I can pirate software and CD’s why not take whatever I want?

9.  Don’t lie.  How can you have a TV program without non-stop lies?  If you did not have lies you might need to develop a plot or characters.  That would cut down on your audience.

10. Don’t covet.  Most people would need to look that up in a dictionary, if they have one. 

Maybe I am missing something.  How can you expect a younger generation to grow up to be honorable and worthy when all of their examples are 0 for 10?  How can you expect them to be law abiding when our culture is removing the Eternal Ten and replacing them with the Big Ten or the Top Ten?

homo unius libri

Monday, December 3, 2012

Opus 2012-307, Religion and Culture: Sacred Cows

Your religious beliefs effect your material situation.  Religious values shape a culture.  Ideas mold your world.  These should be obvious and non-controversial points but we continue to live in a culture that is rejecting the obvious and avoiding the truth. 

If you looked at an economic map of the world and compared it to a map showing religions you would see that prosperity and Christianity have a close correlation.  The only exceptions would be the current status of an oil rich country like Saudi Arabia.  Within Christendom the historically Protestant areas are more wealthy than those with Catholic traditions.  Obviously material wealth is not the final measure of what is good about life, but it says something.  As a wag once said, I would rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable. 

My point here is not the value of life styles but the effect of religions on culture.  Let’s look at a few examples.

Several cultures hold the cow in special relationship with their religion.  Thus we get the term “sacred cow.”  The example that is most obvious is Hinduism in India.  Cows are given a special status in India because of its Hindu foundations.  An interesting quote I found on Wikipedia comes from, of all people, Mahatma Gandhi himself.
"I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world," and that, "The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection."
The reference is cited, you can check it out if you want.

One of the reasons for the historical poverty and hunger in India is the numerous sacred cows.  If you had a garden that you planted to feed your family and a cow wandered in for lunch, you could not do anything about it.  You could be punished for bothering a sacred cow.  It is still illegal in some parts of India to slaughter and eat cows.  Beliefs make a difference.

homo unius libri