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, August 31, 2013

Opus 2013-285: Arminian Vent

Yesterday was a “rip out the radio and leave it by the side of the road” day.  Alistair Begg was preaching on eternal security.  If you are not into theology you might want to stop now and come back tomorrow.  If you are a Calvinist you might want to stop now and come back tomorrow.

I believe in spiritual security but not the Calvinist version.  Begg read part of the Westminister Confession that said it is impossible for the truly saved to ever end up in hell.  Properly understood I can accept that but it is not properly understood in the Calvinist tradition.  After reading a few verses about salvation Begg proceeded to read and refer to numerous passages that talk about “falling from grace” and “having once known” and tells you they don’t mean what they obviously mean.  At least once in the sermon he comments that this refers to people who were never saved.  If the people described were never saved then I submit that you may be secure but you won’t know until the resurrection because the witness of the Holy Spirit becomes an illusion that anyone can experience but means nothing.

He refers to the “apostate passages.”  Then he says they don’t really mean apostate.  Excuse me?  The meaning of apostate is not someone who was never saved.  It means someone who turns from the faith.  You can’t turn from something you didn’t have.  You cannot go apostate if you were never saved in the first place. 

I believe I am saved.  I have confessed my sins and trust in the blood of Jesus.  I believe in the resurrection and the hope of eternity.  I am very secure in that.  One of the things that makes me secure is the knowledge that I can turn and walk away.  God has enabled me to make the choice to believe, not to fool me into thinking I have a choice, but to allow me to show real love.

This is not a theological response.  This is an emotional one.  The damage that sermons like this cause is not in people like me.  The damage is in that person who is immature and hears that growing in grace is an option, that obedience doesn’t make any real difference in eternity, that righteousness is just a figure of speech.  That person may decide that sin is more fun and since they are secure, time to party.

Were they never really saved?  Possibly.  This kind of theology guarantees that they never will be.

Just before I posted this I read a post by A Well-Meaning Gentleman who is a Calvinist and presents the other view if you want it.  It never hurts to get both sides.  I would have left a comment on his site but his security screening is impossible for me to read.

homo unius libri

Friday, August 30, 2013

Opus 2013-284: Monday Pulpit: Progressive Language Arts

Recently our pastor made reference to the Tower of Babel.  As he went on to make his point my mind went on a tangent.  He quoted a passage that most of us have seen and passed over.
(Genesis 11:6-7 KJV)  And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
One of the reasons that God noted for the strength of these people was that they all spoke the same language.  That gave them the encouragement to defy God.  It doesn’t take much of a jump to understand that having a common language is a source of power in a nation.  The problem our leaders have is that it empowers us to defy Government. 

My mind moved to the push toward multi-culturalism and bilingual education.  The people in control of our country feel like we need to accommodate people who do not speak English.  There is a level where that can help people become integrated with the American system and values.  At that level it is a good thing.  When taken to the extremes that are being pursued it weakens and destroys the very fiber of the country. 

For instance, why do we need multi-lingual ballots.  One of the requirements of becoming a citizen is the ability to use the English language.  Or it used to be.  Maybe that has been removed.  If people are expected to be fluent why do we need to translate the ballot?  If a business wants to go bilingual, let the market decide if it is wise.  The government should not mandate.

The Bible is clear.  One language is a source of strength. 

I would submit that the resistance to a national language and a desire for a multilingual society are part of the hatred Progressives have for the United States and their desire to bring us down to third world status, with them in the driver’s seat, of course.

Multi-culturalism.  Diversity.  Wonderful thoughts.  Destructive thoughts.  E Pluribus Unum.  A whole different concept. 

homo unius libri

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Opus 2013-283: New Terms: The RWA’s

There is a new concept sweeping the country.  It is called Common Core Curriculum and it comes to you from the Progressive Movement.  They claim it is not a federal program but there is that old saying about walking like a duck.  I will be referring to this as they keep pushing it in the schools.  It is here.  It is being pushed.  It will make the kids even dumber.

I recently heard again one of the mantras of the people pushing the Common Core.  They say that we need to prepare kids for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  They say this like it is a new development in the 21st century instead of the way it has always been.  What is amazing is the arrogance of thinking that a new program will be able to do this.

Keep in mind it is educators that are claiming they will teach these skills.  These are the people who threw out phonics and brought you whole language.  These are the people who say that repetition is not a way to learn.  These are the people who call me to their room because they can’t get there computer to work and get a dumb look on their face when I ask if it is plugged in.  I kid you not.  These are the people that send kids to my room in the middle of class to see how I have my VCR connected because they can’t get theirs to work.  It is the same VCR they had last year, in the same room, with the same connections but it is a mystery to them.  These are the people who don’t know what I am talking about when I refer to “Big Brother.”  These are the people that are going to teach the skills necessary for jobs that don’t exist yet.

What do they do in the military and sports when things are not working and they don’t know what is going to be thrown at them?  They teach basics.  In football that means the basics of blocking and tackling.  It does not mean working on the Statue of Liberty play.  It does not mean perfecting a triple reverse.  It means learning to carry the ball so you don’t fumble and not going off sides.

We don’t need to worry about teaching skills we don’t have.  We need to get back to what worked for centuries and teach reading, writing and arithmetic.  If we need to be cool and trendy we can call them the RWA’s instead of the three R’s.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Opus 2013-282: Basic Beliefs: The Resurrection of Jesus, revisited

Some diluted versions of the Christian faith are totally acceptable to the world at large.  If you just stick to the second half of the Ten Commandments, rename it the Six Commandments, you are good to go.  Much of what Jesus taught is not offensive to people of good will.  Most of what Jesus taught was simply a repeat of the Old Testament and healthy rules of living that would have been approved by Dr. Phil as well as your local porn star.

What stops them cold are what the Bible teaches about His death and resurrection.  That they cannot abide because that goes along with the first four commandments and the full teaching of the Old Testament.  God is supreme.  Man is created.  We are to live in obedience according to His rules. 

With Jesus we add the resurrection.  I wrote about this before, but some things cannot be repeated often enough.  You can see a fuller discussion at Opus 211-325

It is the key difference between moral teaching and hope for eternity.  Living well is a benefit but it will not drive away the specter of death.  The resurrection is the center.  It is the center of the problem and the center of the solution.  It is not turning the other cheek, justice or anything else.  The problem of the world is with the resurrection of Jesus.  That is offered by the Bible as the key.  It is offered by the true church.

And it is offered to you.

The cross and the shed blood offer forgiveness of sins.  The empty tomb offers the hope of eternal life. 

homo unius libri

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Opus 2013-281: Headlines: When They Came for the Jews I Did Nothing Because I Was Not a Jew...

You my not have gotten too excited over the recent revelations about the IRS targeting conservative organizations and using the government’s power of coercion to bring them into line and stifle their voices.  After all, you aren’t a conservative, are you?  Why should you care what happens to them?  They probably deserved it.  If they didn’t, they will.

Now it is the veterans’ turn.  A headline on the Drudge Report takes you to an article in the Daily Caller about how the IRS is now laying the ground work to harass the American Legion and gather information about its members. 

This is the pattern for tyrannical governments and dictators.  You silence people by intimidation and over regulation.  You do everything you can to make life miserable for the under-classes.  In our society the under-class has come to mean everyone who is not aboard with the Obama administration and the Progressive movement. 

It doesn’t worry you?  It should.  Tyrants end up eating their own.  When they are finished with us they will come for you. 

Count on it.  Join anyone who wants to stop this abuse of government power.

You may be next.

homo unius libri

Monday, August 26, 2013

Opus 2013-280: Headlines: Stating the Obvious

I had to laugh on Saturday when I looked at the Drudge Report.  One of the headlines was “‘Duck Dynasty’ turns to God.”  Well, duh.  I wonder if the writer had ever watched the show.

Normally all I would know about Duck Dynasty is that they have a lot of logo merchandise for sale in all the stores I walk through.  Since I spent the summer doing family stuff , I watched TV that I would normally be able to avoid.  My wife was into Duck Dynasty which means I had to be into Duck Dynasty.  So I watched a fair number of episodes that my son had recorded for her.

The headline I read acted like the inclusion of God is some newfangled addition for ratings or something.  I hate to point out to you, every episode I have watched ends with the family around the table, ready to eat but waiting for the family patriarch to offer up a prayer of thanks.  Some of those prayers are simple thanks for the food.  Others mention Jesus and thank Him for salvation.  There is not hidden agenda here.  These people have God as an important part of their lives.  They don’t rub it in.  They don’t get nasty.  They don’t look down on others, but then real believers never have.

So watch and enjoy if you can handle it.  If your bigotry won’t allow you to watch and enjoy then you can join me in not watching.  My bigotry is against TV as a genre, not Duck Dynasty.  I have good reasons for my attitude, do you?

homo unius libri

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Opus 2013-279: Headlines: “What a Recovery” or “What, a Recovery?”

It always amazes me what stays on the Drudge Report and what disappears.  Friday I saw a headline about incomes going down during the recovery.  I was not in a place where I could write or post so I decided to look it up Saturday morning.  It was gone from Drudge.  I had to Google it.

The first listing was from a British newspaper, the Daily Mail.  The American Major Media pretty much ignored the significance of the data.  I did find a column in the New York Times but, as you would expect, it was presented as a class warfare peace rather than an announcement that the economy was in the tank.

The basic detail is that the average income of Americans went down during the “recovery” that we have heard so much about in the Obamapress.  According to the New York Times the rich did well.  According to the British press the only group that did better were those over 65.  This came from the same data base.  I know which version I believe.

Now consider this.  During the recession we made less money, adjusted for inflation.  During the recovery we made even less money, adjusted for inflation.  Is it just me, or would it seem that the recovery was only in the eyes of the chattering classes?  Anyone smell “media bias?”

If you missed it, follow the link above or Google it yourself.  That is if you can still afford internet.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-278: Headlines: Eating Your Seed Grain While You Kick the Can

Did I dream it or did I really hear it?  Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between my dream fantasies and the ideas put forward by the Progressives (Liberals, Leftists, Socialists, Communists, Democrats) who run the People’s Republik of Kalifornia.  Is the Gilded State really offering tax free bonds for sale to the public?  Is this the reason that they claim the economy is recovering and are promising the schools they will get more money?  I shudder if I was not dreaming. 

I think I heard it on the radio.  We were invited to invest in our future by buying California tax free bonds.  Traditionally municipalities and some utilities have been allowed to sell tax free bonds to generate income.  Usually they have low interest because in the past these were very safe and tax free.  It benefitted the cities and certain types of investors.  They offered security and the trade off was low return.  We are now seeing that investment strategy perverted.

California is trying to buy their way out by borrowing more.  The financial condition of the state is well known to anyone who is paying attention.  Works like “bankruptcy” and “default” have become the dominant verbs in discussing the condition of our finances.  If we were a local business we would have been shut down long ago.  If I were offering these bonds I would be arrested for fraud.  For California’s Progressives it is a Happy Meal.  Feel good and don’t worry about the long term nutrition.

The idea is that you eat your seed.  Back in the days of small farms you knew that no matter how hungry you got and how bad things were you did not eat your seed grain.  If you did you would have nothing to plant next year.  You found a way to avoid that disaster.  California is courting that same financial tsunami.  So you give up tax revenue in the long run to get cash in the short run.  This is not a solution to the a bad economy.  It only makes things worse.

In political terms we have heard it called kicking the can down the road.  Let someone else pick up the trash, I am too busy partying.

homo unius libri

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Opus 2013-277: On the Street: Pumice Economic Meter

Based on totally unscientific observations I can tell you that the economy is not getting better.  Ignore the White House.  Don’t bother listening to the talking heads of the media.  Go take a drive during the morning rush hour.  Pretend like you still have a job.  You will notice that the traffic is much lighter than it was last year at this time.  At least it is on the roads I have been driving.  My driving includes both the east and west coasts.  The economy is not recovering based on traffic patterns.

When we were back east the government put in place their furlough programs.  It was noticeable in the number of cars on the road.  The teachers on my district went through this two years ago.  We were going to work fewer days.  That reduces the number of cars.  Think about how many people work for the federal government, send them home a few days and watch it get easier to drive to work.

Then pay attention to a growing trend as the country adjusts to the threat of Obamacare.  Companies are cutting back on the number of hours people work to get below the magic number that the Federal program uses to mandate expensive options.  The number of jobs are being reduced to make up for the additional expense of meeting requirements for the rest.  If you read more than the front page, sports and headlines, you will find that this is not just the greedy businesses.  Cities and local governments are doing the same thing. 

I know it is not scientific.  I know it could be just coincidence.  I also know that I averaged about 60 mph coming to work today when I used to creep along at 20-25 mph.  I know that the drive home has been much quicker for the past week than it was last year.  There are two things that tend to slow down traffic.  Accidents shut down the freeways longer because there are fewer people responding.  Road construction shuts off lanes as the government frantically spends money to try to act like things are better.

I am blessed.  I still have a job.  I still have health insurance.  Check with me tomorrow.  That may change.

homo unius libri

Friday, August 23, 2013

Opus 2013-276: Retirement Tuesday

It was Retirement Tuesday again.  That is one reason I haven’t posted in a few days.  This is a bi-weekly event that takes place during the school year.  As far as I know it may effect only me.  It is a serious problem and I see no cure on the horizon.

What causes this?  The public schools.  On Retirement Tuesdays I am in despair over the future of public education.  I am ready to retire, quit, give up.  It isn’t the kids.  I am also used to the broken furniture.  I know how to make the pencil sharper work.  Parents have either done their damage or continue to build their children.  My health is fine.

The problem is that I have been sitting at the feet of school administrators.  On our district, every two weeks all the teachers are required to stay after school for about two hours after the students have left and listen to the latest wisdom from on high.  It is usually some combination of The King’s New Clothes and Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.

This week after being reminded that teachers are not even allowed to carry a cell phone without permission from their supervisor, being told that the definition of bullying as defined by our district includes any “perceived” feeling of emotional stress caused by someone else and being given forms to fill out setting meaningless goals for the year we had a resurrection of IB.

IB is the International Baccalaureate Programe.  We got into it years ago when our principle found out he could get a million dollar federal grant to start the program.  When the money ran out and the principle had a nice addition to his resume, he moved on.  It took several years for the program to die.  Bells and whistles are hard to get rid of.

Now they want to bring it back.  Educators never seem to learn from the past.  If you bring up something that used to work in educating children they claim this is a new day needing new methods and we can’t turn the clock back.  If it is one of their social engineering programs with federal grants attached they want to keep turning the clock back and trying the same things that did not work that last five times they have been tried. 

Maybe more money will help. 

I doubt it.  If they can’t read, write, add and subtract I doubt if they will ever be able to move on to higher thinking skills.  The educators certainly haven’t. 

homo unius libri

Monday, August 19, 2013

Opus 2013-275: Presuppositions

Why do people disagree on so many things?  How can people of good will follow such different paths?  Republicans and Democrats can both love America.  Baptists and Episcopalians can both love God.  Yet they take totally different approaches and seek widely varied solutions.  Francis Schaeffer was a Christian theologian and philosopher.  He claims that it all goes back to our presuppositions.
“People have presuppositions, and they live more consistently on the basis of those presuppositions than they themselves may realize.”  page 19
What is the key difference between a Republican and a Democrat?  One believes that the individual can make the best decisions, the other feels the government should be in the driver’s seat.  Everything else grows from those seeds.  Baptists and Episcopalians?  One believes in bottom up church government, the other in the power of the hierarchy.  In parenting styles people have different views of human nature.  Some believe the child should be free, others that they must be molded.

Why do you disagree with me?  It isn’t because you are stupid and I had to disillusion you but I am not stupid either.  Much of it comes back to presuppositions.  Is the nature of man evil or good?  Are we created by God or and product of natural selection?  Are men and women the same or different?  Are there absolutes in right or wrong or is everything relative?

Consider your presuppositions. 

Schaeffer, Francis A.  How Should We Then Live?  Old Tappan, New Jersey:  Fleming H. Revel Company, 1976.

homo unius libri

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Opus 2013-274: Conspiracy and Complacency

Most of us are aware of how incompetent the government is to do things.  We look at all the scandals and fraud.  We worry about conspiracies.  The problem is bigger than that.  I remember hearing from several sources over the years a statement something to the effect, “Don’t attribute to conspiracy what is probably just incompetence.”  You get the picture.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said something along the same lines.  Bonhoeffer was a Christian pastor who was arrested and martyred by Hitler’s Nazi regime.  His most famous book is The Cost of Discipleship.  In another book that is a collection of his letters he wrote about this topic.
“Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than malice.  You can protest against malice, you can unmask it or prevent it by force....  There is no defense against folly. is never amenable to reason....  Thus the fool, as compared with the scoundrel, is invariably self complacent....   We shall never again try to reason with the fool, for it is both useless and dangerous.”  p. 22
The people in the progressive movement are here to help us.  It is possible that Obama actually thinks his ideas are new, fresh and workable.  Teachers really want to help.  They are generally people of good will. Too often they are fools.

That doesn’t solve the problem and doesn’t make it any easier to live but it might help understand what we are fighting against.  On the freeway you can often spot the drunk far ahead and find a way to avoid them.  It is almost impossible to avoid the fool who suddenly feels a need to send a text message.

Deal with it.  One day at a time.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich.  Letters and Papers from Prison.  New York:  The Macmillan Company, 1953.

homo unius libri

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Opus 2013-273: Book Review: Agendas to the Right of Me, Agendas to the Left of Me...

I enjoy science fiction.  I usually dislike fantasy.  Sometimes I find an author that develops plots and characters enough to make me put up with the lapses into deus ex machina that are so common in fantasy.  One of those has been Raymond E. Feist.  Most of his books I have been able to finish.  I don’t know if I will finish his latest offering because he has either come out of the closet or he is ignorant of what he is presenting.

Many authors have agendas involving philosophies that they keep under wraps until they are successful enough to bring them out in the open.  Even then, some are able to tell a good enough story to keep people reading.  Common agendas are environmentalism, evolution, eastern religions, and atheism.  I have even seen incest as a hidden agenda. 

Feist, in his latest book Magician’s End, reveals that he is an advocate of eastern religion.  This is common in fantasy but he gets really blatant here.  Or let me say, he either is an advocate or ignorant of the world around him and thinks he is being original.  It could be that he is planning this to be the last in the series so he needs to lay it on thick.

I am reading Magician’s End.  At the beginning of this story the main character’s, who are well known from previous novels, meet up with someone who takes the name of “Guide.”  In the conversation Guide shares this.
“We exist in a realm of energy, we who serve the One.  We are forever in the Bliss, part of the One until we are needed, and we are then given form and substance, given an identity commensurate with our purpose; to ensure efficiency, all memories of previous service in that role are returned.  So, currently, I think of myself as ‘I,’ a single entity, but that will dissipate when I rejoin the One in the Bliss.” page 10
This is a clear presentation of the Hindu/Buddhist concept of Nirvana.

The story goes on.  The basic plot I enjoy but there are repeated interludes that have these characters, who are all magicians, involved in some ethereal realm where the author seeks to demonstrate the reaches of his imagination. 

The general plot holds together.  The interludes are like evangelism tracts for Hinduism.  Toward the end he sums it all up.
“‘Nothing dies,’ said Macros.  ‘What they are, who they were, return to Mind and will manifest itself somewhere else at some other time.’” page 394
I asked myself, “If I skipped these chapters on Hinduism would it effect my enjoyment of the story?”  I was paying attention because I had seen this pattern in other authors.  The answer was, “No.”  They were totally unnecessary except to get across the real message of the author.

I enjoyed the basic story.  I will read his next book and hope he does not get drawn even deeper into his religious screed.  There will come a point where it isn’t worth the time.

Beware what you read.  Know the purpose of the author.  Enjoy if you can.  Get your money back if you can’t.

Feist, Raymond E.  Magician’s End.  New York:  Harper Voyager, 2013.

homo unius libri

Friday, August 16, 2013

Opus 2013-272: Healthy Insights: A Word of Hope

I am diabetic.

Like anything else in life we are all different.  Nothing seems to work the same for everyone.  I want to encourage those on the diabetic road a little.  At the same time I understand that you may do everything right and your blood sugar still climbs.

I am diabetic.  At this point it is important to remember that.  Just as an alcoholic involved in Alcoholics Anonymous must continually confess that they are alcoholics even if they have not had a drink for years, we must remember what we are.  The ugly giant is there in the shadows, waiting to descend again.

But sometimes the attempts to control can make a real difference.  What woke me up and got me serious was an A1c of 10 and a referral to an endocrinologist.  I got serious enough to lose 100 pounds.  I stayed serious enough to keep it off for nine months now.  I don’t say that to brag or cast dispersions.  I may start chowing down tomorrow.  Or today.  I do say that to offer hope.

When I went to visit my kids this summer I was away from home for over a month.  I did not exercise as I should.  My diet was borderline at best.  I decided not to take my meter or test strips to check my blood.  When I got back my weight was the same and the two Sundays I checked my blood the cholesterol was at 94 and 87. 

If you have lost weight and it didn’t help, my heart goes out to you.  If you have never worked up the resolve to make it happen, let me encourage you.  It may be the decision that transforms your life.  You might be able to join me by throwing out all your medications and putting aside a lot of the worries.

The other shoe may drop tomorrow.  I understand that.  But for today, all is well.  Give it a try.  Encourage someone else to give it a try.  It isn’t easy.  It never goes away.

But remember, no medication needed is better than relying on the miracles of modern medicine.

homo unius libri

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Opus 2013-271: Cornerstone Considerations: Is Slavery Illegal?

One of the popular beliefs in the United States is that slavery is illegal.  For all practical purposes that is the case but it isn’t as clear as you might believe.  In referring to the end of slavery people refer to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  What they have not done is read it with their mind turned on.  Let me refresh your memory.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Does this make slavery illegal?  Do you need to read it again?  No, it does not.  It simply restricts the parameters.  Slavery could still be a punishment for crime.

I am not a lawyer.  I would assume that the courts have interpreted this to mean that slavery is illegal, but that is not what it says.  It would not take much of a stretch to re-authorize it as a punishment for crime.  The real problem comes when the political classes designate what crimes can lead to enslavement.  Think of all the special cases they could establish to silence their political opponents.

Elections matter.  Even in a matter like slavery.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Opus 2013-270: Exit Strategy

Death is always hard to deal with, even for people who believe in the resurrection and eternal life.  The separation, the sense of things left unsaid, the empty spot, all speak to our hearts.  When we are believers and the one who died is a believer, it is easier to deal with.  We have the hope.

We still feel the loss.

Sometimes it is hard to encourage someone who has lost a loved one.  They might ask, “Will I ever see them again?”  If the person who died was not a believer that is a hard one to answer because we don’t like the answer, “I hope not.  They are burning in hell.  Do you want to burn there too?”  That is honest, accurate and indelicate.  It is meant to help but will not be listened to with anything but horror.

I think maybe a good way to answer that is to turn it around.  We cannot deny the reality of heaven and hell, nor what it takes to get to either but maybe we can approach it a little differently.  Focus on the one who has died and probably loved you.  Don’t point out your feelings but highlight the feelings of the person who died.  How would their love be expressed to you?  Don’t ask, “Do you want to go where they are?”  but “Do they want you to join them if they really love you?”  I don’t think so.  Because they love you they want something better for you.

I lost an uncle in the last year who died defiant and rebellious.  He even made provision that there would be no funeral services because he was afraid that talk would mention Jesus and hope.  I regret his stance but it was pretty clear.  Most of my loses have been people who died in the faith.  I just got back from the hospital visiting a lady at least ten years younger than me that almost died from heart problems.  She is a believer and we could joke about it but she would have been a real loss.

I believe that the Bible teaches that those who die without a faith in Jesus will be separated from God for eternity and be most miserable, to say the least.  I believe that those who die in faith will spend an eternity in the presence of God and face unending challenge, variety and joy. 

Death is final.  Think about the alternatives and choices. 

homo unius libri

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Opus 2013-269: Sources of the Founders

Where did the Founding Fathers get their ideas for government.  There were many sources.  When Jefferson was in France during the writing of the Constitution he send books and notes from books for the consideration of those in congress.  As I was reading The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius I came across this which I can see a source of some of our ideals.
“...and from him I received the idea of a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed;...”, p. 195
This is coming from a Roman emperor, one of the most absolute of dictators.  Obviously he had different ideas about equal rights in regard to women and slaves but he is still laying the groundwork. 

Read and think.  Some of those dead white guys had some good ideas.  Of course I assume that some dead not-white not-guys also could have good ideas, so get off my back.

Aurelius, Marcus.  The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, from the Harvard Classics, Vol 2.  New York:  P.F. Collier & Son Corporation, 1937.

homo unius libri

Monday, August 12, 2013

Opus 2013-268: Motivation Makes a Difference

I believe that Alister Begg was speaking to a group of preachers.  He said something like “The ministry of the pulpit is not a ministry of innovation, but a ministry of reminder.”  I don’t have quotation marks around it in my notes so I don’t know if it is word for word accurate, but you get the idea. 

The point is that a preacher or teacher is not to be cute but to share truth.  Too often in the search for communication the speaker will get really bizarre.    He will do silly things or tell stupid jokes.  In time the desire to entertain or get approval can overcome the call to truth.

It strikes me that one of the temptations of blogging is to try to make ourselves so innovative as to be obnoxious and lose any purpose.  True, we need to find innovative ways to share.  We need to be creative and thoughtful, but we need to avoid just being silly to attract attention.

A good reminder for me, I hope it is for you.

homo unius libri

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Opus 2013-267: Student Saints

As a teacher, I get frustrated with the refusal to learn that I see in class.  I think of the opportunities that the students are missing.  It turns out that this is nothing new.  Here is what Saint Augustine had to say about himself as a young student.
“For what they, with whatever motive, would have me learn, I might afterwards have put to good use. For I disobeyed, not from a better choice, but from love of play,...” Highlight Loc. 228-29
So cheer up.  They may never be saints but they might actually wake up and learn something some day.

The Confessions of St. Augustine (Bishop of Hippo Saint Augustine), Downloaded to the Kindle from Project Gutenberg.

homo unius libri

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Opus 2013-266: Cornerstone Considerations: Pleading the Fourth, part 3 of 3

We have all heard reference to Thomas Jefferson’s quote about the blood of patriots and the tree of liberty.  It comes from a letter he wrote and people usually leave out much that is interesting.  Here is a longer sample from that letter.
“ And what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure.”  Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787
This is more powerful than just patriot’s blood. 

The date for this was November, 1787.  This was not written in defiance of the British Crown.  The fighting of the American Revolution had been over since 1981 and the treaty was signed in 1783.  This is the interlude between the end of the war and the ratifying of the Constitution.  The Constitutional Convention had finished its work in September and passed it to the states.  The Federalist Papers are being written and published in the nations newspapers.  The debate in on.  Jefferson is in France as an ambassador and is obviously frustrated because he has had little input.

This reflects the time when the states were trying to have the security of a national government without giving it any power.  The national government was totally powerless.  In this context Jefferson is writing about armed rebellion, against a government with no power.  He is writing as France is moving toward its bloody revolution.  How would he write today?

Will it come to violence here?  It already has.  Did you read about Shay’s Rebellion in school?  Does the Whiskey Rebellion come up?  Does the Civil War ring any bells?  Does Waco, Texas mean nothing to you?  Will we see things like this grow and spread? 

I hope not.  The thing that tyrants don’t understand is that you can push people too far.  We still have wiggle room.  We still have good will.  We still have patience.  We also still have pushy people trying to control how hot your shower is, how much water your toilet uses, how you define marriage and whether your 14 year old has the right to an abortion.

We have people who want to take away your freedom of movement.  We have people who want you arrested for protecting yourself against violent criminals in your own home.  We have people who want the government appointed social workers to tell you how to raise your children.  We have people who believe that a small fish needs water more than people do.  If you pay attention, I am sure you have you own list.

Some day this will be history.

Stay tuned as it unfolds.

homo unius libri

Friday, August 9, 2013

Opus 2013-265: Cornerstone Considerations: Pleading the Fourth, part 2 of 3

We elect people.  They sound good.  They know the right words.  Their lives have even demonstrated that they believe in the Constitution and the rule of law.  It doesn’t take long before they begin to feel they know what is best for others.  The Nanny State Mentality is like the flu virus.  It is easily spread, hard to cure and often deadly.  I have seen it with school board members.  I have seen it with presidents.

On the economic scene the gifted get power and consolidate it.  I am not worried about the rich getting richer if we have a true free market system.  I am worried about the rich, aligning with appointed government officials and developing a form of crony capitalism that uses government coercion to limit my chance to join them in the winner’s box.  They change the rules as they go to suit themselves.  Since I am not an insider, I lose.  So do you.

How can I maintain my freedom without trampling yours?  If you want to live as a parasite, live that way, but not on my blood.  If you feel guns are dangerous, then don’t buy one.  If you want the police to protect, you put 911 on autodial.  But don’t force me to follow your example.

What do we do if the ballot box doesn’t work?  Romney made his famous comment about the 47%.  Personally I think he guessed too low.  The social takers outnumber the social givers by a large margin.  They can elect and tax anyone they want.  Some day we will be driven to the hard answer.  The question is, “When?”

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Opus 2013-264: Cornerstone Considerations: Pleading the Fourth, part 1 of 3

Do you ever feel like your liberty is slowly slipping away?  Rapidly, you say?  We sing about the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”  Do you find yourself wondering if either is true any more?  In your cynical moments do you wonder if it was ever true.

Whistle blowers and security violations are in the news.  On the large scale we have people who have revealed the things our government is doing to invade our privacy.  On the local level we see a person who reveals that the prosecutor in the Zimmerman case, the representative of the people, was illegally withholding vital evidence.  That whistle blower is fired.  The lawyer makes the talk show circuit.  We see a judge who dumps an additional charge of manslaughter at the end of the case.  As far as I know she is still on the bench.  We have all run into cops or TSA agents who seem to enjoy being a blip on the radar of our life.  They will be there next time you come by.

What does it take to remain free?  My son and I were recently discussing this.  How can I, as an average citizen, expect to live without the agents of the government intruding into my home and my private papers without any kind of due process?  Let me quote an old document to you.  It is called the Constitution of the United States.  This is the Fourth Amendment to that Constitution.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”
I have just come through a TSA security checkpoint.  My person was violated.  My effects were violated.  Was there a warrant?  Did someone give an oath declaring that I was a risk to the nation?  What part of probable cause and due process have these people forgotten?  I would question if they ever knew about it. 

What is really scary is watching the sheeple be rayed and examined with not a whimper of protest.  I watch entire families ushering their children through, preparing them for the next step backwards.  How do we maintain freedom when so many want to take it away?

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Opus 2013-263: Sexual Harassment and Geeks

DEFCON is over for the year.  I may continue to throw in thoughts generated by the CON. 

I was at dinner with a group of DEFCON geeks.  In the crowd were a couple of the security detail.  They call themselves goons and wear red, labeled t-shirts to prove it.  We had one young lady in the group.  The topic of sexual harassment came up.

Someone thought to ask the lady’s perspective and she was willing to share.  She said most guys were fine but there always seemed to be a few that could not keep their hands to themselves or understand the meaning of the word “No.”  At this the security guys came unglued.  They told her to point these guys out to her and they would make sure it didn’t happen again.  Then if became clear she was talking about other conventions.  She made it clear that she had never had any trouble at DEFCON.  The geeks seem to be perfect gentlemen.

There seem to be two reasons for that.  One is that the security team will not put up with that foolishness.  The second reason that came out was that there were so few women that attend DEFCON that they are treasured and protected.  The geeks may be immature, rowdy and drunk but they value the ladies that will put up with them. 

So ladies, if you are looking for a target rich environment full of bashful nerds where it is very safe to hang out, plan on DEFCON next year.

I am married and a one-woman-man so I have no vested interest in this.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Opus 2013-262: On the Street: The Cheesecake Factory

DEFCON is officially over.  All that is left is checking out and getting home.  As I was walking for coffee this morning I once again noticed the advertisements for the Chippendale show.  If your farm is really far back in the woods you may think that Chippendale is a style of furniture and you would be right.  You might think it is a cartoon and you would be right.  But that is for previous generations.  Today, Chippendale is a cheesecake factory.  Not the restaurant but a Vegas Strip Joint.  It is a stage show that features men with big muscles taking off their clothes for a bunch of screaming women.

As I was looking at the huge portraits of buff, smiling dudes it occurred to me that in years of locker rooms and two years in an army barracks I had never seen anyone who looked like these guys.  That made me think about how women respond to the selling of sex with females of likewise unrealistic proportions.  How do I, as a man, feel when the tables are turned?

I look at these smiling ideals and feel a bit of sympathy tinged with humor.  I wonder if they can spell their names.  I wonder if they ever read a book.  I wonder if they wonder if girls are after them for their bodies.  They make me think of young women I have seen standing around the casino obviously uncomfortable, trying to look good.  In a way I feel sorry for them.

I also find it a bit funny.  Who in their right mind would want to spend the kind of time these guys spend lifting weights, avoiding bruises and hoping they don’t get a pimple?  In my world it isn’t how big your muscles are but whether you understand responsibility.  To me it is being a good father, husband and citizen.  Not that I would not like to look good and I understand that having big muscles doesn’t rule out personal worth, but really.

I find myself tempted to go see a show just out of curiosity.  I think though, “What if someone saw me?”  I also imagine what the tickets cost. 

Time to head home.

homo unius libri

Monday, August 5, 2013

Opus 2013-261: Healthy Insights: Traditional Cure for Hoarseness

One of the things that you would not expect to find while reading the journals of John Wesley is medical advice.  But he has a cure for hoarseness.  Read it as his advice, not mine.
“However, pounded garlick (sic), applied to the soles of my feet, took it away before morning.”  page 46
Wesley was famous for preaching in the open fields of England in the late 1700's.  He would preach in the rain.  He would preach several times a day starting at 5:00 A.M.  If anyone would know about going hoarse it was John Wesley. 

Try garlic.

Wesley, John.  The Works of John Wesley, Volume IV, Third Edition.  Kansas City:  Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1979.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-260: The Bass Boomers Replace the Baby Boomers

What will be the handle of the current generation?  I think it will be noise. 

Saturday night at DEFCON is party night.  They party till they drop and the booze flows freely.  Because they are children of the current culture that also requires loud music.  Usually I stay at an alternate hotel but this year I was in the convention hotel.  My room overlooked the area of the much anticipated “pool party.”  I was on the 23rd floor with closed windows and drawn curtains and I could hear the overtones of what they called music.  It was mainly the base and “singer.”  At midnight it was still going strong and was expected to continue until at least 2:00 A.M.  For at least five hours I listened to the same steady beat repeated again and again.  I asked my son if it was all one song and he said, no they had a variety.  If you strip away the trimmings it was all one repetitive beat.  I know the difference between 4/4, 3/4 and 6/8.  I can find the down beat.  I have rhythm.  It was BORING.  It was also loud.

The loud was the redeeming feature.  From what I have observed of modern music tastes, all can be forgiven if you are loud.  Off key?  What is that?  No sense of rhythm?  Can’t hear it if you are loud enough.  Forgot the words?  Do it loud.  Going deaf?  Simple science of cause and effect.

As I walk around Las Vegas, eat in restaurants, walk through casinos and stroll the Strip the universal common denominator is noise.  Noisy slot machines, blaring car stereos, headphones galore.  The people of today need an atmosphere that requires them to yell to be heard.

I wonder if it reflects a fear of solitude.  I wonder if there is a real lack of inner security.  I wonder if there is an emptiness inside. 

Or maybe it is just an addiction to noise.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

homo unius libri

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Opus 2013-259: Tax Dollars at Work: The Obamaphone

While browsing the Drudge report I noticed a title, “Reporter issued three free ‘Obamaphones’.”   When I clicked on the link it took me to an article called “Me and My Obamaphones.” 

The reporter shares how he received three free cell phones without lying or giving false information.  He says he is well paid and is not eligible for any government programs.  In spite of that he was able to sign up seven times and has received three phones to date.  He reminds us that the American Tax Payers, you and me, are paying for his phones.

Why is this happening? 
“The Federal Communications Commission oversees the so-called Lifeline program, created in 1984 to make sure impoverished Americans had telephone service available to call their moms, bosses, and 911. In 2008, the FCC expanded the program to offer subsidized cell-phone service, and since then, the expenses of running the program have soared. In 2012, the program’s costs had risen to $2.189 billion, up from $822 million before wireless carriers were included. As of June, there were 13.8 million active Lifeline subscriptions.”
Notice the dates.  This program was started during the Reagan administration.  It was expanded under George W. Bush.  Both were Republicans.  It was then taken by the Obama administration and really expanded.  These are the phones that Obama has promised the masses.  Once again we see him taking an existing program, started by the Republicans and expanding it for political capital.

So the persons texting in the cars in front of you may be having you pay for their phone calls.

Also, keep in mind that one of the problems in education today is students using their cell phones to text during class.  It is incredibly disruptive.  Since most of the kids at our school qualify for free lunches I have wondered how they could afford these phones that I did not want to pay for.  Now I find that a good portion of these probably came from government handouts.  I am paying for their phones.

This sounds like a good candidate for a budget cut.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-258: Firsts: K-Cups

While at DEFCON we are staying at a hotel that has a Keurig coffee maker, the kind that are designed for K-cups.  If you are not much into coffee, K-cups are the latest rage.  The coffee comes in little plastic containers with an individual portion of coffee measured out.  You put the little container in the machine and when you close the cover it punctures the cup and forces hot water through.  The concept is that you have a cup of fresh brewed coffee.  All the major coffee names are on board.  We bought an 18 cup package for about $12.00 of a brand I knew and liked. 
I have been wanting to try this but I am too cheap to buy the expensive machine, nor do I work at a place that has one.  This was my chance.  For the price of a pound of fresh roasted, quality coffee beans I was able to purchase 18 cups of perfectly mediocre brew.  I say mediocre because I am not a coffee snob.  I can tell the difference between a really bad cup of coffee and a really good cup but the nuances in between are lost on me.  This was definitely in between. 

My son talked to some friends and they suggested it might be the hotel water.  I bought some bottled water and tried again.  It was slightly better but still in the ho-hum class.  The cost of the bottled water, purchased in the hotel made the cup of average stuff about the same cost as a cup of Starbucks in a normal Starbuck’s location.

I may try again with another brand of coffee if I can do so without spending a fortune but for now I would recommend that you pass on the K-cup phenomenon.  If it is the only game in town, okay.  Some caffeine is better than no caffeine.  Good caffeine is better yet.

homo unius libri

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Opus 2013-257: Headlines: Smile! Part 3 of 3

I continue to respond to an article called “Your TV Might Be Watching You” originally sourced from the Drudge Report.  I encourage you to read to entire thing.

The government is listening in places you might not suspect.  I am a teacher.  Several years ago when they were spending millions on redoing the buildings they installed a PA system.  In every room I have visited a large speaker and clock sits right in the middle of the front of the room.  It keeps us from using screens and projectors.  The location is typical of the government.  The ones that had been installed years ago were on the side, over a door.  That worked, this doesn’t.  But that is another issue.

I was at the school when the installation was done.  I talked to the workmen.  I asked questions.  I was told that not only did the PA have a speaker but it also had a microphone which enabled the administration or anyone with the codes to listen to what goes on in the classroom.  In theory there is a warning sound that occurs when the microphone is turned on.  The purpose behind it is so that the office and the teacher can have a conversation.  Sounds legit.  Then why do the administrators all deny that there is a microphone in the system?

The technicians installing the device said it had a microphone.  The administrators say it doesn’t.  Who am I going to believe?

Why would this ability be a good idea?  There are legitimate uses.  As I said, it would enable a conversation but we already have a telephone for that function and rarely when the office calls would I want the students to hear what was being said.  It is possible that there was a deviant teacher and they wanted to listen for child abuse going on but that could be done with a warrant and a specialized bugging device.  It could come in handy if we had an intruder on campus.  There might be other legitimate uses.

Why would I not want it installed?  First, I don’t know if the required warning sound is activated.  Second there is the issue of the fourth amendment.  There are also a long list of situations that require a belief in confidentiality.  I am sure that parents don’t want unseen people listening to conferences with the teacher.  They could be sharing personal information that no one else needs to know.  We could be having a faculty meeting.  What about the ability to listen to private phone conversations.  How about when I child is confiding in a trusted teacher?

I am sure I could go on but Big Brother might be listening.  If he went to public school there is a good chance he won’t be reading.

Be aware.  Be proactive.  Let the government know where you stand.

Or be a sheep and smile at the wolf when he arrives at your door.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-256: Headlines: Smile! Part 2 of 3

I last wrote about possible cameras and microphones all around you.  It has already happened.  It is history.  The question is, “Will history repeat itself?”  We are reassured.

Again, this is from an article called “Your TV Might Be Watching You.”  I encourage you to read to entire thing.

We are reassured by the people who found the problem.
“Samsung quickly fixed the problem after security researchers at iSEC Partners informed the company about the bugs.”
Don’t you feel more secure now?  I know I do, but I don’t have one of their TVs.  I assume that the problem could not also be in mine but I have noticed that the little red power button seems to be always on.

At the DEFCON convention one of the repeated concerns you hear is that the big companies don’t want to hear about these problems.  Most hackers do their intrusions as recreation.  They are not really out to destroy anything.  All they want to do is play a game of “gotcha!”  If they ever get really angry at the nation they could shut most things down in a heartbeat.  That is one reason why the government is trying to get control of the internet through regulation, data mining and taxes.  The recent scandals are a result of this.  They often gather information they have no legal right to and no current need for and store it for access later.  They fear hackers who can blow the whistle on them.

Business and government should welcome the work of these hackers.  Some seem to be catching on.  From the article,
“Companies like Samsung pay hackers when they report security vulnerabilities like the ones iSEC found.”
This is a good thing.  Capitalism and free enterprise can provide answers to the failures of capitalism and free enterprise.  The profit motive is very powerful.  If the failures can be broadcast and the successes rewarded then we as citizens and consumers will be ahead of the game.  We can buy from companies that have the right attitude and policies and bankrupt the ones who don’t provide the right kind of service.  No government regulation is needed, just openness and a free market.

This is the silver lining.  But the intrusions show up in places you would not think about.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Friday, August 2, 2013

Opus 2013-255: Headlines: Smile! Part 1 of 3

While browsing through the Drudge report I came across a headline, “Flaw in new Samsung TV allows hackers to see viewer.”  Since I am attending DEFCON, a hacker convention, where even my geek son takes great precautions, this caught my attention.  The Title on the actual article was “Your TV Might Be Watching You.”

My first reaction was, “Well, duh.”  It always amazes me what people think is new news.  My son has been warning me about this for years.  He has told me to cover the camera lens on my laptop.  Since I am lazy, I have not done so, but I am aware of the problem.  He also has advised me to put a plug in the microphone connection because what they can do to the camera, they can do to the built in microphone. 

Here is how the article summarized the problem.
“The flaws in Samsung Smart TVs, which have now been patched, enabled hackers to remotely turn on the TVs' built-in cameras without leaving any trace of it on the screen. While you're watching TV, a hacker anywhere around the world could have been watching you. Hackers also could have easily rerouted an unsuspecting user to a malicious website to steal bank account information.”
Keep in mind that if the hackers can do it, so can the government.  This is real, people.  Think of all the electronic devices that you have in your home that could very easily have small, built in, unannounced microphones and cameras.  As Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said, “Let me count the ways...”  Start with your smart phones and don’t forget your dumb phones.  How about your radio and stereo setups.  Do you have an Ipod?  How about a microwave?  Remote controls of any kind?  Use a little imagination and you will find all kinds of potential ways that a concerned-for-your-safety government can plant inroads into your privacy.  Another big program pushed by the government is the “smart meter” on your utilities.

We have a problem.  Stay tuned.  Rest assured that the government is.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-254: The Question of Why?

Alton Brown is not known as a philosopher.  He is known for his cable cooking show.  Granted, he has a novel approach, but he is a food preparer.  In spite of that, as I was reading through one of his books I came across this.
“I know there are those who would say, ‘who cares?  As long as I know how, why bother with why?’  I can only offer that for me, until I deal with the why, I don’t really know the how...if you know what I mean.” page 7
The question of “why” is of great importance in a free society.  Just because we can doesn’t mean that we should.  We need people asking the reason behind the action.  It has to do with morals, ethics, goals and, yes, consequences.

Animals can be trained to push buttons and do simple tasks but they cannot be trained to think.  We need to teach people to understand the reasons why they are doing things.  In a crisis this will help them make decisions when there is no one to tell them what to do.  This is called growing up.

So ask “Why?”  Ask it in all areas of your life.  Drive people nuts.  Make them think.

Brown, Alton.  I’m Just Here for the Food.  New York:  Harry N. Abrams, 2006.

homo unius libri

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Opus 2013-253: Headlines: Red Herrings to the Right of Me...

When I went on the Drudge Report this morning one of the headlines Read “Gay Athletes Could Be Prosecuted at '14 Winter Olympics...”  If I Were a homosexual I would not be too worried. 

Why not be worried?  I am one of those right wing, red necked, bigoted people who believe that homosexuality is not normal.  Homosexual sexual activity is a sin.  If you ask me I will tell you.  The thing is, unless you ask me you will probably never know how I feel about this sin just as you will not know how I feel about other sins such as gossip, adultery, slander, theft, etc. 

To my knowledge this headline was written by, and distributed by, a group of journalists who are on board for the homosexual agenda.  The reason they are publishing stuff like this is to stir up hatred and division.  I don’t know of anyone in my circle who would come up with the idea of prosecuting or persecuting homosexual athletes at the Olympics.  I work with homosexuals.  It has never been an issue.  I had a tremendous waiter the other day who appeared to be as gay as the apparel in the Christmas Carol "Deck the Halls."  He did an excellent job. 

This is a red herring perpetuated by the haters in the media not by supposed haters in the Christian community.  If you read the article you will find that it is exclusively a Russian thing and is mainly noise by a local politician. 

Read with care.  Always think, consider the source and ask the motivation.

homo unius libri

homo unius libri