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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Opus 2014-50: Headlines: Censorship! Or Is It?

I am so tired of media hype.

What would you think if you read the title “Court orders removal of anti-Islamic film...” on the Drudge Report?  My blood begins to boil about the activist judges pushing their hatred for America.

I went to the article and found that the title of the article reflected just that.  “Google ordered to remove anti-Islamic film from YouTube.”  My anger mounted as I read the first paragraph.
“A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ordered Google Inc to remove from its YouTube video-sharing website an anti-Islamic film that had sparked protests across the Muslim world.”
To add fuel to the fire the next paragraph pointed out the ruling was issued by the most overturned court in America, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  The writing brought up the issue of “prior restraint.”  That means censorship.  They bring up the Benghazi massacre and the “turmoil” in the Islamic world.

We have a scandal brewing.

But wait.  Keep reading.  Turn on your brain.  Don’t trust the government but remember, don’t trust the media either.

After several paragraphs loaded with emotional verbiage you come across the first bit of substance.  It seems that an actress was suing because the filmmaker had used a clip she had done from another context and had illegally used it without her permission.

If you read the entire article you find that the issue was copyright law, not anti-Muslim content.  You really have to look hard, but it is there.  It is possible that the actress and the judges were politically motivated.  That accusation saturates the piece but no evidence is presented about that. 

This is another case of media distortion to generate readership.  Does it qualify as a hate crime?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Opus 2014-49: Bung Hole Hope

I had it wrong.  Mark Twain was more cynical than I thought.

I remembered something he said about locking children up in a barrel through their teen years.  I thought it was funny.  The actual quote is a bit stronger than I remembered.
“When a child turns 12, he should be kept in a barrel and fed through the bung hole, until he reaches 16…at which time you plug the bung hole.”
It sounds to me like he taught middle school at some point in his life but it was before his children grew up.  One of the things that offers me some hope with the kids I work with is to remember what my son was like at 13.  At that point I could have agreed with Twain.  Since then he has come out of it and grown into a responsible, informed adult.

So if you are struggling with your children and want to put them in a barrel, hang in there.  If you do your part and call on God to do His part, there is hope.

If you expect to send them to school to get the job done you may wish you had plugged the bung hole.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Opus 2014-48: OCD Economics

How can you tell if inflation is really happening?

It might be a good idea to start a file with a day’s worth of grocery ads on a certain day of the year.  Too many would be a sign of being OCD.  Once a year, say on your birthday, you could compare the prices and see how much things have increased over the past year.  When we are in the process we don’t always see it.  I know that it seems only a short time ago we were paying 99 cents for a gallon of gas but how long was it really?  I can’t even be sure what it was last week.

You can’t trust the government numbers.  They leave out key items which effect us average people the most but by leaving them out they can massage the message the way they want. 

Just a little something for you to do in your free time.

homo unius libri

Monday, February 24, 2014

Opus 2014-47: The Cause of Yardwork

I am reading a book of sermons by a man named Phillips Brooks.  The book was published in 1895 so I would not be surprised if you have never heard of him.  In one sermon he was talking about nature in regard to creation and the righteous state nature was in before the Fall.  That put me in tangent mode.  Before the fall Adam was given the world to subdue. 
(Gen 1:28 KJV)  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
This was while still in the Garden of Eden.  At that point could he tend the garden with verbal commands?  Could he say, “Stop growing” and have the weeds respond?  Was tending the garden an exercise in creativity and imagination instead of the sweat of his brow?  Could he change the color of the flowers based on his preference of the day?  This is obviously speculation.

Think about it.  Just as sin was caused by rebellion and disobedience, are plants now rebellious?  Is Bermuda grass an expression or original sin?  We know that sin saturated all of creation. 
(Rom 8:22 KJV)  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Consider how in Proverbs the oceans were ordered to stay in bounds.
(Pro 8:29 KJV)  When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
Did sin allow the waters to rebel?  Before sin abounded were the laws of nature different?  This might explain how when we have glorified bodies we might be able to do the things that Jesus did after His resurrection.

One of the possible things to look forward to in eternity is a lack of yardwork.  Unless, of course, you enjoy yardwork.  But would you go to heaven if you enjoy yardwork?

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Opus 2014-46: Cornerstone Considerations: D of I, Truths: A Fair Chance

One of the lessons that comes through to me every year I teach is the danger of judging on outward appearance and first impressions.

Outward appearance is a source of information.  It does tell us something about a person but it is only part of the story.  First impressions are often correct but you can’t take it to the bank.

I think of the girls in my class.  Some are stubby and will never even be considered attractive.  Some are attractive and seem to have a lot going for them.  There is no correlation between their looks and how they do in class.  I think of two that sit next to each other.  Both are very plain and overweight.  One is loud, obnoxious and failing.  The other quiet, focused and getting an “A.”  The same applies to the boys but with different adjectives. 

When you look at things like ethnic background, nation of origin, religion, address or clothing style it is easy to fall into stereotypes based on our past experience.  We cannot do that.  We must respond to people based on who they are as a person, not as a category. 

It is the Christian way.
(Gal 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.
It is the American Way.
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...”
No other country has that as a guiding principle.  It is up to us to make it a reality.  Daily.

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Opus 2014-45: Dissing vs Dessing

I recently noticed that I had misspelled the word “despise.”  I love spell check.  It saves me from a lot of embarrassment.   I think I spelled it wrong because I have been getting used to the ghetto word “dis” that is lowering the level of our national vocabulary.  To dis means to show disrespect.  The ghetto culture is concerned about being “dissed.”  More and more we are hearing it used by people who should know better.

I keep telling kids it is impossible to disrespect something I never respected in the first place.  I tell them that they may deserve courtesy but they do not deserve respect.  They do not need to respect me but I expect courtesy.  Respect is earned.  I have seen little in the ghetto culture that deserves respect.  Let me make that stronger.  I am aware of nothing in the ghetto culture that deserves respect.

Maybe they should be more concerned about being “dessed.”  Civilized people of good will tend to fight the tendency to despise rather than disrespect. 

Or perhaps we could understand dissing to be based on disgust.

You want courtesy, I am willing to give.  When I read the Biblical definition of love it is full of things like patience and kindness.  It does not say I must look up to sinners.  If you want respect, earn it.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Opus 2014-44: The Cost of Health Insurance

Why does our health insurance cost so much? 

Obviously there are many reasons.  Let me share you one that is overlooked and avoidable.  I am being required to reapply for my health insurance.  One of the things required is a copy of my marriage license if I want to cover my wife.  We have been married almost 39 years and she has been covered by the same provider for the past 26 years.  They still want me to jump through the hoops.

As I looked down the list of required documents I noticed that there was also a line for people who have domestic partners.  It mentions something called a “Declaration of Domestic Partnership.”  If you want your “partner” to be covered bring in the certificate.  Here we come to the source of expense.  There are numerous types of relationships that fall under this category.  Obviously homosexual couples would fit.  In fact, the designation is primarily driven by the homosexual community.  It also would apply to people who have “hooked up” for a time.  It would apply to wealthy men who find an attractive women with children and no insurance.  With the agreement to be a concubine the woman gets coverage for her and her children.

All of these relationships are full of situations that cause greater disease and health care costs.  None of them have made the life long commitment that is the basis of marriage.  Many of them are getting the advantage of insurance that is designed and paid for by people who have made those life long commitments.  They are reaping the rewards for other people’s planning and discipline. 

If it was one couple or a few people this would be no issue.  With more and more people living together in temporary arrangements the costs skyrocket.

One way to keep health care costs down is to demand higher payments from people based on the decisions they have made.  This could apply to smokers, the obese, homosexuals and race car drivers.  It makes sense to me.

Maybe that is why it will never happen.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Opus 2014-43: Break a Leg

Didn’t Shakespeare say something about the world being a stage?  Actually, yes.  Isn’t Google a dream? 

From As You Like It, Act II,     Scene VII,
“All the world’s a stage.”
I think that parents are some of the best actors in the world.  I am thinking about a parent conference we had recently.  The father was there.  He was dressed impeccably.  His shirt was clean and crisp.  His tie was in good taste.  He handed out business cards that showed he was an important executive in some company.  He was relaxed and articulate.  He had all the right answers and showed the correct facial expressions to exhibit his concern.  The others in the group assured me that he was very involved in his daughter’s life and would be on top of things.

The question I am never allowed to ask is, “Then why are we having this meeting?”

He promised to e-mail me so we could be in contact.  It took him a month.  We set up a second meeting and he did not show.  It took him a week to call and apologize.  We have not had another meeting.  Does he really care or is it just a role?  Obviously I do not know all the issues.  He might have an ex-wife that got a restraining order issued.  He may have had a stroke. 

He may also just be playing a role.  His costume was perfect.  His lines were flawless.  He didn’t show up for the second act.  He did nothing.  Have you ever seen actors up close or without their make-up?  It is scary.  So are parents who are playing a role.

The problem is that they are so busy playing a role that they never understand the roles parents are supposed to play.  Parents are not to be buddies and friends.  They are not supposed to be liked or cool.  They are supposed to be enforcers and adults.  They are to be strong and consistent.  They are to have rules and enforce those rules even if the rules make the child unhappy.  It means investing the time necessary to instill important values, priorities and disciplines.

It doesn’t just mean talking about eating healthy.  It means forcing them to eat their vegetables.  That means that you have to prepare the vegetables and sit down to eat them with the child.  It can take a long time to get a kid to eat a small portion of broccoli.  It can eat into your time to work out at the gym or go to happy hour with your friends.  It can reduce or eliminate the time you have to play golf or have your nails done. 

It is a hard role, but someone has to do it.  If you are a parent I must remind you that it is unlikely anyone else will step up and fill your shoes.  If you are not a parent you might think about it seriously before you become one.

If you do it right, they grow up to be a joy and inspiration.  If you don’t, the entire world will know what has gone on behind the curtain. 

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Opus 2014-42: Is It My Turn?

It may be my turn to lose my health insurance.

Our union has been negotiating over health benefits.  They reached an agreement.  Part of it is to move all of our providers under a new “insurance pool.”  I hope that isn’t jargon for “exchange.”  We are all being required to re-submit all of our information and provide a copy of our original marriage license if we want our spouse covered.  The plan that we had before is not being offered.  Some changes will be required. 

This sounds like the scenario in which so many people have been losing their coverage.  Among the interesting aspects is that we have about twenty days to complete the process and my wife tells me it takes 90 days to get a certified copy of a marriage license.  Hmmm.

I am not being overwhelmed by panic.  Not yet.  There will be plenty of time for that later.

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Opus 2014-41: Link: Time to Get Ticked Off

It is Saturday morning and I am looking at my links.  It is a way to keep from working.  I found an interesting post at “Mostly Cajun” that draws an interesting parallel between what ticks do to a healthy dog and what human parasites do to our society.

Here is a sample,
“Ticks don’t care. all they want is a lifetime of free meals so they can produce more little ticks. ticks are rather short-sighted. they don’t know or care that they’re robbing the host, eventually weakening it and killing it. They just keep eating and producing more little ticks.”
Go read the rest if you like that.

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-40: Justice, Grace and Mercy

One of the common mantras you hear in church involves justice, grace and mercy.  It proposes that justice is getting what you deserve, grace means getting something we don’t deserve and mercy is not getting something we deserve.  Cute, but it doesn’t work for me. 

First of all, justice is not always a bad thing.  I know the context of the statement has to do with trying to earn our salvation.  I know that we are all sinners and under the condemnation of God for our sins.  I know that we don’t want to get what we deserve.  Justice, however, is more than just a statement about salvation.  It involves how we live and how we relate to other people.  It involves making choices and setting priorities.  It is a rich term, not just part of a jingle.  We are expected to give justice not just focus on avoiding it.

Grace is also bigger than salvation.  It is any kind of favor or extension of God in our lives.  There are places where God extends His grace as a reward for something we have done.  There are times when His grace answers prayers.  Grace has the idea of gift built into the Greek word.  I always liked the definition of grace being God’s love in action.  We are expected to extend that grace to others. 

Mercy may not be deserved but that is just focusing on our inability to save ourselves.  God does not extend His mercy to everyone.  We are not to extend mercy to everyone.  There is a place for the sword that punishes evil.  There is a place for expulsion from the church.  There is a place for reproof and rebuke.  I also understand that sometimes harsh discipline is the best extension of mercy because it brings repentance and revival. 
(2Co 7:9 KJV)  Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
The mantra is useful.  I have quoted it.  Don’t stop with the cute.  Look deeper and bask in the complex truths of things like justice, grace and mercy.

homo unius libri

Friday, February 14, 2014

Opus 2014-39: What Is the Age of Accountability?

At what age do human beings become responsible for their actions?

What is the age of accountability?  How do we know?  Alistair Begg was talking about the Garden of Eden and how God came to Adam and Even in their nakedness.  After eating the apple and sinking into sin they suddenly became aware of their condition.  With awareness came shame.

That got me to thinking about how an awareness of their sin went with embarrassment of their nakedness.  Where do we see that parallel?  New born babies think naked is normal.  As children grow they are not very self conscious.  They might be shy.  They have personalities.  They are all different but none of them seem to care is they have their shirt on backwards or buttoned wrong.  That changes.  Eventually there comes a time when they begin to realize they are skinny or fat, gawky or clumsy.  They become aware of their bodies.  Perhaps that is an indication of the point where they have matured enough to be accountable for their sin.

So what is the age of accountability?  When you see the piece of candy that fell on the floor as dirty instead of desirable?  When mustard on your nose is a reason to stop and use a napkin?  When combing your hair becomes important?  When you stop hating taking a bath?  With awareness comes moral judgment.

Perhaps this could be used in the courts as a measure of when to put someone on trial as an adult.

Perhaps the rejection of the concept of sin is the reason the courts don’t want to hold people responsible for their actions.

homo unius libri

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Opus 2014-38: Poor Children

I never minded being called “poor.” 

I assumed my family was poor.  I didn’t look at it as an indictment of our character or a limit to our future.  It simply meant that we didn’t have as much money as some people.  Not so today.

One way to get a hostile reaction from a student is to say “you poor child.”  When I say it I am not referring to financial condition.  I am talking about something in the moment that points out a lack in their life.  It could be an attitude.  It could be a lack of experience.  It could be an ignorant statement.  It is a word of many applications.

Not to the children of today.  They take it very personally when called “poor.”  They have a very limited, concrete vocabulary.  Part of that is their mental maturity.  Young minds tend to be black/white oriented.  Seeing shades of grey develops with experience, information and wisdom.  Some will never move beyond that level.  In eighth grade it is not a crisis.  If they don’t go beyond that it will be a tragedy.

You might say they have a “poor” vocabulary.  Lack of money in itself is nothing to be ashamed of.  Most of us have been there.  Many are there now.  The noun is a statement of fact.  It becomes a problem when it becomes an adjective and modifies your vocabulary, prospects, education, work habits or honesty.  It is too frequent when we talk about bloggers writing skills.

Just be careful who you call poor.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Opus 2014-37: Headlines: Drive Defensively

Sunday morning my wife was watching the news.  She said that a drunk woman had entered the freeway going the wrong way and before she was done had killed seven people who were minding their own business.  This comes home to us because we were once in a car that was missed by inches and saw the car behind us nailed head on. 

How does someone kill seven people while driving drunk and survive?  And this is a daily occurrence.  I wonder if we will find that this lady has a history of DUI’s.  I wonder if she has killed before?  I wonder if marijuana or other drugs were also involved.  The answers to those questions will not make the news.

People scream about guns and we do little about DUI’s. 

Maybe we should register cars.  Maybe we should require people to have a license to drive.  How about a minimum age for driving?  Maybe we should require training before people drive.  Maybe we should require regular renewals of all the above.  Maybe we should require all kinds of safety equipment.  What’s that you say?  We do all that?  If it doesn’t stop the killers in cars how do they do-gooders expect it to stop gun violence. 

Drive defensively until a better solution comes up.

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Opus 2014-36: Plow and Crown: Protecting the People from Trans Fats

How does American history lead us to trans fats?

I teach American History.  In eight grade we cover the stretch from the first settlements to World War I.  Currently we are in the period between the Texas War of Independence and the Civil War.  I am constantly on the lookout for repeating themes that resonate today.  One of the issues that keeps coming up is the conflict between the expanding power of the central government and the liberty of the people.  It hides under various titles:  States rights, popular sovereignty, checks and balances and so forth. 

If you watch you see this conflict played out in the greatly expanded federal power in the ability to tax.  Bear in mind that until the early 20th century the government was funded mainly by tariffs.  Look at your pay stub and recognize that the deductions listed did not exist in 1900. 

Issues that have gone national are slavery, women’s suffrage, and the age of voters.  All of these have had constitutional amendments. 

Still in the courts and on the streets are abortion, marriage, drugs, guns, education and religion.  Most of these conflicts are being pushed by elite judges and leftist politicians who are putting a noose around the liberty of the people to make choices and set standards.

The latest power grab is in our foods.  Trans fats anyone?

We were established as a federal republic.  We are becoming a feudal oligarchy.  The change is slow and insidious.  I hope the general population wakes up before it becomes time to water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants and martyrs.  I didn’t make that up.  The credit belongs to Thomas Jefferson.

Remember they have the best of intentions.  They do it for your own good.  It is just coincidence that it gives them more power.

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Opus 2014-35: Why?

Why do I keep teaching?

The quick, flip answer is I need the health insurance.  That reason may go away any day.  Another quick response is that I can’t afford to retire.  Taxes may change that.  A third is that my wife freaks out at the idea of me being home all day.  That has validity.

But why do I keep at it? 

I guess there is a bit of the idealist in me.  I have accepted that I won’t see a lot of change in the students I serve.  Most would hide it if they were aware of it.  I take a longer view.  Most of us do not become what we are in a moment but in a series of moments.  If I can be one of those moments then somewhere down the road there may be a different outcome.  Perhaps discussing the rule of law as opposed to regal fiat will stick and emerge at a key time.  Perhaps cause and effect will dawn on them someday as they step into a voting booth.  Perhaps they will remember that the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are given by God not granted by a benevolent dictator in Washington. 

One can hope.  Meanwhile I buy ammo when it is available, check the locks before I go to bed, make sure that my gas tank is full and above all trust God as the author and finisher of all things.

homo unius libri

Friday, February 7, 2014

Opus 2014-34: Should-a-Beens: Off the list

She is off my list.

A young lady that works at a restaurant I frequent was on my list of women I would like to introduce my son to.  We are getting desperate to get him married.  This young lady seemed to be a really nice person.  She had a good attitude, worked hard and seemed to go the extra mile.  In my world of “should have been” I could see me introducing her to my son and a spark igniting.  A guy can dream, can’t he?

My dream was shattered the other day.  Why?  She got a tattoo.  I am not rejecting her as a person.  She still seems like a great human being.  She is still off my list.

Is she a different person now that she got a tattoo?  No.  She is the same person.  It is just that I see her more clearly now.  There is something in her personality that wants to conform to current fads enough that she is willing to permanently disfigure her body.  I understand that a tattoo doesn’t prove anything evil.  It could just be my personal hang-up.  Got it.

On the other hand how do I deal with this?.
(Lev 19:28 KJV)  Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
In the NASB the word “marks” is “tattoo.” 

I may have to live with nose rings, but tattoos send a message I can't ignore.

homo unius libri

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Opus 2014-33: Pumice Proverbs: Rights


should be an adjective,

not a noun.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Opus 2014-32: Cornerstone Considerations: Going First Class

Life just got more expensive.

My wife told me they just raised first class postage by three cents.  I was totally unaware.  It didn’t make the big headlines.  I guess health care and the Super Bowl are more on people’s minds.

This type of action usually brings out cries to do away with the Post Office and turn it over to private enterprise.  After all, private business could do a better job, just look at UPS and Fed Ex.  There is a problem with that solution.  The existence of the Post Office is one of the responsibilities given to congress by the Constitution.  It is short and sweet.

Article 1, Section 8 begins with the word, “The Congress shall have power...” and by my count the seventh power of the legislature is “To establish post offices and post roads;”

It doesn’t say how it is to be established or maintained but it is clear that the Founding Fathers felt that being able to communicate was something that should not be in the hands of the states or individuals. 

It would seem that there is also justification for federal highway funds also.

The existence of a Federal Postal System is constitutional.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Opus 2014-31: Headlines: How Goes the Battle?

As I was dressing Sunday morning my wife again had the TV on some news channel.  The topic was the coming Olympics and how things were not going well.  One reason was the failure of the ex-Workers’ Paradise to be able to do anything except military well.  What did you expect?

The other big issue was the difficulty of dealing with the terrorist threats.  The reporter talked about security measures and checkpoints.  It was obvious that the world of the Olympic had been transformed into some kind of military installation.  My reflection on this is that the terrorists are winning. 

The point of terrorism is not to win battles but to paralyze society by causing crippling fear.  If they can get us to change how we do things, they win.  If they can get us to constrict our freedom and always look fearfully over our shoulders, they win.  If they can transform us into a police state we might as well buy Korans and prayer rugs. 

They are instilling terror.  They are changing our way of doing things.

The only way we can continue to exist as a free people is to accept the risks of freedom.  Some will die.  Some will suffer.  If we make sure that the terrorists do not live to strike again, eventually we will come out on top.  If they see they cannot make us cower behind our doors, they will give up and go home. 

We need to replace the Department of Homeland Security with the Department of Burying Terrorists. 

Freedom beckons.  Do we want it enough to risk our lives?

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Opus 2014-30: Feeling Your Pain

Have you had your colonoscopy yet? 

This procedure has become a part of life for so many people.  The worst part for me has always been the preparation which involves drinking a large volume of disgusting liquid.  The rest has been a breeze because I have always had doctors who would “put me out” for the process.  I would be on my side listening to the team prepare.  The next thing I know I am on my back in the recovery room.  Easy, right?

I am beginning to wonder.  Does it mean I actually did not feel the discomfort or just that I can’t remember feeling the discomfort?  It makes a difference.  The thought of going through the discomfort that some describe and just not remembering it means that I was suffering but don’t know.  Was I in agony that I would avoid if I remembered or was I truly numb to the experience.

The same would go for things like surgery.  Is it relief or a trick of memory.  I have had indications of what it can feel like.  Once during an outpatient surgery the anesthesia began to wear off.  I have been in the dentist chair when the pain-killer began to get tired.  I know pain.  I don’t want to go through that even if I can’t remember it.

So many questions in life.

homo unius libri