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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Opus 2014-249: Headlines: A Perfect Example of Media Bias

If I didn’t know better, I would think this was news.

“Eric Holder Jr., the nation's first black U.S. attorney general, is preparing to announce his resignation Thursday after a tumultuous tenure marked by civil rights advances, national security threats, reforms to the criminal justice system and 5 1/2 years of fights with Republicans in Congress.”

Having a memory that extends beyond my last tweet, I recognize it for baloney, not news.  Consider the source, NPR News.

This is a perfect example of media bias.  When one of the worst Attorney General’s of all time is about to move on to the gravy machine of being a lobbyist, he is hailed as a paragon of virtue and integrity.  This is how the partisan hack and race baiter is lauded for his response to the recent police action against a violent, drugged suspected robber.

“Five years later, violence erupted between police and protesters in Ferguson, Mo., after a white policeman killed an unarmed black 18-year-old. And this time, the White House dispatched Holder to speak his piece, in effect jump-starting that conversation and helping to settle nerves in the frayed community.”

And in regard to his “civil rights advances” we read,

“Holder most wants to be remembered for his record on civil rights: refusing to defend a law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman; suing North Carolina and Texas over voting restrictions that disproportionately affect minorities and the elderly; launching 20 investigations of abuses by local police departments; and using his bully pulpit to lobby Congress to reduce prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. Many of those sentences disproportionately hurt minority communities.”

We don’t read about the repeated coverups and uses of his office to advance the Obama vision.  We don’t have a long description of Fast and Furious.  We are told he is noble, principled and the victim of those nasty Republicans.

Unfortunately this is not a humor magazine.  This is NPR, paid for by your tax money.

homo unius libri

Monday, September 29, 2014

Opus 2014-248: Mystery Religion?

Recently Alistair Begg was preaching about the incarnation and the two natures of Jesus that are not mixed or combined.  Jesus was both fully God and fully man.  Both are total.  This is mystery of the incarnation.  It is a mystery because it is true yet almost impossible for us human beings to understand.  How could Jesus be both fully God and fully man.  We can grab at it.  We can struggle with it and come to some understanding but in reality we will never understand it.  It is beyond us. 

There are other mysteries:  The trinity, free will and foreknowledge, and eternal God who cares about individual people, salvation itself.   That is okay.  We don’t need to understand everything now.  We will have eternity to work on it.

When Christians talk about mystery though, it does not mean the same as the pagan religions or elitist cults.  We are not talking about secret knowledge that is only revealed to a special few of the initiated.  We are not talking about nonsense that has nothing to do with anything but is still supposed to be of great importance to eternity.  This is not the wisdom and mystery of fantasy novels that is made up late at night after a bull session.  We are simply talking about things that are beyond us and may always be beyond us. 

Even when we are resurrected it may be that we will never be able to understand the trinity.  That’s okay because our view of God is that He is so far beyond us that we will never be able to totally comprehend Him.  That is part of being God.  That’s okay because it fits in with our understanding. 

Mystery does not let us off the hook.  It does not mean that we are not to seek knowledge or understanding, to grow in grace.  It does not allow us to turn off our minds and coast.  It tells us that while there are things beyond us, we can keep reaching and growing forever.  God is the total, not us.

homo unius libri

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Opus 2014-247: New Terms: LIV

They are everywhere.  The country is being run by Low Information Voters, LIV.

I have a young math teacher on my team.  I say young.  She was student at the school when I started teaching there.  I enjoy working with her.  She seems to have her head screwed on straight and has some standards.  She surprised me last year when she mentioned she had not read a book in years.  Any book.  Nada.

In a discussion this week she mentioned that she had been asked a question about the governor and had to confess that she did not even now who the governor of California was.  This is a college graduate who is teaching young people.  She is one of the better ones and she doesn’t read or know the governor of her state.

And she has one vote, just like me.

There are times when I wonder if our republic will survive.  There are times when I wonder if it should.

homo unius libri

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Opus 2014-246: Homework and salvation

I am constantly amazed at how I share things and people don’t hear.  A student asked what kind of books for a book report.  I waited and eventually another student piped up and answered correctly.  I turned around and asked, “How did you know that?”  She said, “I was listening.”  In all classes I have two types of students.  One type will keep asking how and what to do no matter how many times I explain it.  The other type will be halfway done by that time.  Within a few days I can tell which type of student most will be.  You could call it foreknowledge on my part but it is foreknowledge based on observing how they behave. 

Does God know ahead of time who will be saved?  If I can figure out how students will do with a fair degree of accuracy, God, with perfect knowledge, would obviously be able to do even better.  Is this predestination?  Maybe.  Is it free will?  Maybe. 

I don’t plan to take a chance on it.  Remember Pascal’s gamble.  If you bet on God being who the Bible claims He is and you are wrong you lose nothing.  If you bet on no God and you are wrong you gain nothing. 

Place your bets.  And don’t forget to hand in your homework.

homo unius libri

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Opus 2014-245: Ode to Old: Time Management

Where does the time go?

People think that when you get older you should have more time.  The kids are gone.  You are not working the second and third job like you did when you were at the bottom of the salary scale.  You have learned how to cut corners and take short cuts.

Where does the time go?

I am not yet retired but you would think that things should be getting easier.  The list of things I need to do keeps growing.  The ideas I have for posts keep piling up and I can’t even seem to put something out daily.  I have a gardener to mow the lawn.  I don’t wash or wax my car.  I wear permanent press clothes.  I use the microwave more than the stove.

Where does the time go?

Part of the problem is that the time vortexes change.  As you get older your health becomes an issue.  Doctors don’t run like a 7/11, they run like a government agency.  You are required to be on time but they can overbook all they want.  It takes time to keep track of your medications and do all the maintenance required for an aging machine.  The plumbing becomes unpredictable.  It takes longer to read the nutrition labels to find the fiber content. 

Then of course there is the joy of naps.  And think of all the conversations that need to be repeated because you can’t remember or couldn’t hear it in the first place.  How many times do you have to walk back across the house to remember what you were in the back room for?  You need to change clothes more often to get the latest food stain off your shirt.

Where does the time go?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Opus 2014-244: Rigor or mortis?

Our school district talks a lot about rigor.  We are told to have high expectations and hold the students accountable. 

You need to understand educational jargon.  At an assembly this week our eighth graders were told that the official policy of the school board was that they could fail two classes in their last semester and still walk in the promotion ceremonies.  That means that they can fail math and
English and still have the honor of walking across a stage as having met the requirements set forth for promotion to the ninth grade.

It is called rigor.  It is destroying an entire generation.

Don’t think this is an isolated incident.  Don’t think it is just on our district.  This disease of dumbing down is all across the country.

Ask questions.  Demand answers.  I know of at least one school board that needs to be voted out.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Opus 2014-243: Ben Carson for President?

I think the jury is still out.

At this point in time I would welcome Ben Carson to the fold for seeking the nomination.  I would like to hear more of what he has to say and where he stands on key issues.  He is the neurosurgeon that made remarks at the Prayer Breakfast attended by President Obama.  Some interpreted his comments as critical of the President.  If so, it was more the president’s thin skin than the doctor’s sharp tongue.

Dr. Carson wrote an article that I read in the Washington Time National Weekly.  You can find it on line at their website.

Most of what he had to say was good, in my opinion.  He spoke about the poor reporting done on the Ferguson situation.  He talked about the tension between liberty and law.  He gave the statistics of black on black crime.  He addressed the lack of fathers in the home and the breakdown of society.  Good stuff that puts him on my short list for president, if he decides to run.

What makes me pause is a later paragraph where he is writing about solutions to one of the problems:  unwed mothers and single parent homes. 
“Once we get the most powerful economic engine the world has ever seen back on track with sensible economic policies, we should devote some of the tax revenues generated to child care facilities, which will allow many of those unwed mothers to get their General Education Development or higher degree and become self-supporting. There are also a number of programs across the nation that offer free classes...”
I am troubled by his suggestion that the answer involves better government programs.  Since I have heard enough of his story to know he comes out of poverty and learned about hard work and personal responsibility, I am willing to keep listening. 

We need to listen carefully to different candidates or potential candidates.  We need to hear what they have to say and not assume.  We have important elections coming up and we can’t sit them out.

So check out Dr. Ben Carson.  Put him on your radar.  See what you think.

homo unius libri

Monday, September 22, 2014

Opus 2014-242: DEFCON: Conflicting Messages, part 2 of 2

Which is most important, liberty or security.  DEFCON seems to be making the choice in favor of security.

But the two tracks are still there.  One presentation this year was from a group that had a three pronged approach to what they were doing.  They called it body, mind and soul.  The body prong was concerned about security and human life.  The mind dealt with freedom of research.  The soul had to do with civil liberties and freedom.  That was last year.  They had come back and decided they were going to concentrate on the first, security and human life.  Why did they make that decision?  Because it is a topic that appeals to everyone.  Security is the warm fuzzies, liberty is considered an option.

Most people have heard some version of a quotation attributed to Benjamin Franklin about the futility of giving up liberty for security. 

You can’t have both and I am afraid that the hacker community will end up going down the one that neutralizes them as a force for good change.

One speaker spoke of how the attitude of DEFCON used to be curiosity but now it is cynicism.  I would disagree.  I think it used to be freedom and now it is fear.

This shows the advance of the pagan world view.  For Christians, life is not everything.  There are higher values.  For the pagan, life is everything.  Safety becomes paramount, liberty takes a back seat.

At least two sessions trumpeted a quest for diversity.  This is at the acme of current politically correct speech.  I heard numerous speakers call for government action.  The changes have been worming their way into the conference for years.  It is getting more pronounced.

The rebels are becoming the establishment.

homo unius libri

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Opus 2014-241: DEFCON: Conflicting Messages, part 1 of 2

DEFCON has been over for almost a month as I write.  I want to offer a final comment before I forget DEFCON for the year.

There were three major messages being advanced at DEFCON this year.  The first, and most obvious, is “Hack everything.”  This is the technology angle that is always important to these events so that they can be written off as a tax deduction.  You hear a lot about codes and back-doors, viruses and malware.  You hear a lot of acronyms that are like the jargon of any group.

It is the other two tracks that concern me.  These are the tracks that explore the tension between security and liberty.  It is a tension we are feeling as organizations like the FBI, CIA, NSA and DHS claim to be trying to protect us while trampling on our liberty as Americans.  It is one of the hot topics of our culture.  Both have traditionally been a part of the hacker community and were conflicting with each other at DEFCON. 

First there is the issue of security.

“Hacker” is ultimately another name for computer security expert.  These guys get paid the big bucks to try to keep the computers and internet presence of major companies and consumers secure.  They work to protect your personal information and privacy.  While they are doing that they like to stray off the reservation and see what they can break into. 

That brings us to the issue of liberty.

Trying to break into other people’s computers is one way they find vulnerabilities that can then be fixed.  It is an important aspect of computer security.  Unfortunately, it is also often illegal.  Hackers want the liberty to do their own thing.  They have a tendency to believe that the rules don’t apply to them, only the government.  Most would even agree that it is only proper when they are doing no harm.  They want to be the good guys and for the most part they are.

Hackers have also seen themselves as rebels.  They felt like one of the last lines of defense against an invasive government and omnipresent corporations.  They cheer Snowden and Wiki Leaks.  They are indignant when the government tries to pry into their lives but feel they have the right to invade the private information of others.  They worked to break down the natural alliance between government and business which produces the modern fascism we are seeing emerge in our culture today.  We have relabeled it “crony capitalism” but it is still fascism. 

Notice the tenses.  Security is discussed in the present; liberty, in the past.  There is a reason for that.  The atmosphere at DEFCON is changing.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Opus 2014-240: On the Street: Me and the Times

On Thursday I acquired a copy of the L.A. Times.  Don’t worry, I didn’t pay for it.  I didn’t steal it either.  Someone left it on the table where I stop for breakfast.  I could tell that it had been left by a liberal for several reasons. 

First, no conservative would buy the L.A. Times unless it was for a project in media bias.

Second, the person who left the rag did not clean up after himself.  At Panera they have a place for you to take your trash.  You are invited to police your own table but it is not required.  In return you usually don’t leave a tip.  Most liberals fall into two groups.  The first are Romney’s 47%.  They don’t pay any taxes.  Many live on a combination of EBT cards and the cash economy.  They are used to other people paying the bills and doing the work.  They tend to trash the places they have been.  I see it every day in school.  The second group are the elites.  They tend to be wealthy people who have housekeepers.  Sure, the housekeepers are illegal but laws are only made for the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.  They expect their minions, those of us who work for a living, to pick up after them.

The third reason I assume it was a liberal reader was that they did not get past the first page.  Buying the Times was part of a daily ritual.  It is kind of like all the people who bought the books that Barak Obama wrote.  They put them in conspicuous places but few people read them.  In regard to the Times, they already knew what it would say so why read it, but if they didn’t buy it they would need to surrender their man cards. 

After 24 hours I have not opened it.  I may trash it unperused if the front page is any indication of what it contained.  The lead article was about a woman driven to a new mission in life by the drought.  The second largest spread dealt with sexual misconduct in the University of California.  That probably involves a professor who believed in monogamy and was being faithful to his wife.  Also headlined was a sports article and one showing concern about who would get the Ebola vaccine.  I assume this means after the politicians and Sierra Club.  There was a narrow column that mentioned arming the Syrian rebels.

It is almost as if the military budget of China, the invasion of Ukraine and the warlords of Africa were just figments of someone’s imagination.

If I find anything important in this edition I will share it with you. 

Don’t hold your breath.

homo unius libri

Friday, September 19, 2014

Opus 2014-239: Balance Is Extreme

As I have shared, when I was forced to admit I was diabetic, I lost over 100 pounds and in my case the symptoms went away.  Praise God.  I realize we are all different and this was my blessing.  Now comes the hard part, keeping it off.

One of the things I noticed is that I do a much better job of food control when I am going solo than when I am in a social environment.  Thus, I lost most of my weight in a year when my wife was out of town a lot.  The next year she was only gone a little, my weight ticked up.  The next time period she was home and the trend continued.  I have not given up.  I am still working on controlling my appetite. 

A lot of it is attitude.  I find that if I set a certain level of calories it helps me keep control of what I eat, but attitude takes over.  I start looking at that magic number as a target.  I find that I have tried to get as close as I can without going over.  I can feel good about that but it is the wrong attitude. 

I have begun to realize that my attitude should not be “see how close I can come,” but “see how far away I can stay.” 

Spiritually it is the difference between legalism and holiness.  In the Christian life there is a continuum of responses to the relationship between sin and righteousness.  There are three responses to temptation and sin:  Legalism - Holiness - Antinomianism

Legalism says, “How close can I come.”  Antinomianism, the rejection of any law, says, “It doesn’t matter what I do.”  Holiness is in the middle.  It matters how you stand in regard to right and wrong but the attitude is different.  It is not how close you can come but how far away you can stay.  It is a matter of willing obedience in the quest for the right balance.

Is it the heart of the law.  I seek to stay on that middle ground even though I keep sliding one way or the other.

homo unius libri

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Opus 2014-238: Chips for Clips

The day is coming when the government will be able to find your money clip.

I was reading an article linked on the Druge Report about how Americans are hoarding their money.  That means hiding it under the bed, not putting it in banks.  They were saying that inflation has not been as bad as it might be because people are setting their cash aside for a rainy day.  This was presented as a bad thing.  It sounds to me like another danger that the government will try to protect us from.  FDR dealt with it in the depression by putting a special tax on savings.  BHO has been following FDR’s playbook so it might still be in our future, by executive order, of course.

How will they do that if the money is under the bed?

Think about the new bills being printed.  To see if it is genuine they hold it up to the light.  How long will it take for the government to put a tiny little chip in that strip so that they can find your cash hord if they want to?  Who is to say they have not already installed the chip?

You know the smart meters they are installing for utilities.  They can just drive down the street and gather the data.  They might even be able to sit in their office and gather it.  It is possible that the smart meter installed to measure your gas also has a sensor to monitor your cash.  The first you will know about it is when you get a tax bill based on the money you have been hiding.

Isn’t technology wonderful?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Opus 2014-237: Principles Versus Rules

“People who want to ignore the principles can focus on the rules.”

I don’t know if I heard that, word for word, or came up with it myself.  It is true either way. 

Principles require mental engagement.  Life is not simple.  Conditions change.  Serendipity is more than just a word from the 60's.  “Drive safely” is a principle.  “Speed limit of 55" is a rule.  It is possible that in the rain and wind that 55 is not safe.  The legalist will insist on driving 55 plus the 5 mph grace.  The engaged driver will slow down.

We find this in politics.  We find it in business.  We find it in the church.

Take for instance the ban on murder.  If you are quoting the King James Bible, like people tend to do even when they don’t know it, it comes out like this.
(Exodus 20:13 KJV)  Thou shalt not kill.
That sounds like a simple rule.  The problem is that it would outlaw all war, capital punishment, self defense, and in extreme applications, a good steak.  For you that might not be a problem.  It is still not accurate.

Engage your mind.  Does that make sense?  Now dig a little deeper.  What the modern translations say is different.
(Exodus 20:13 NAS77)  "You shall not murder.
Now we scratch our head and say, “That is a horse of another color.”  In the Hebrew definition of this word it uses words like premeditated, murder and assassinate.

The law, the Bible in which many of our legal principles originate, and common sense have their rules but they are to be understood by the principles under them.

It is hard to be a thinking citizen.  It is hard to be a real follower of Christ.  It is easy to be a robot.

Happy thinking.

homo unius libri

Monday, September 15, 2014

Opus 2014-236: Ode to Old: The Indispensable?

I once asked my Sunday School class of young people what would happen to the church if everyone over 30 would suddenly disappear.  They seemed a little shook up over the prospect.

Maybe we should ask that about society as a whole.  We once had a generation who said, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.”  Now I wonder how things would change if those generations were to disappear.  Churches would fall apart.  We would soon starve to death.  Most independent retailers would close down, only big box stores would be left. 

There are young people who are responsible.  There are older people who are shiftless.  People are individuals.  But if we did not have the solid performance of people over thirty life as we know it would come screeching to a halt.

The world does not belong to the young.  They are usually coasting on the investment and effort of those who are not longer flexible and frisky.

homo unius libri

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Opus 2014-235: The Ayes of Texas Are Upon Us

Recently my wife opened the mail and came across a statement that our sewer charges were going to go up and threw it at me for consideration.  After looking at it I had to agree with her ability to read:  It said that sewer charges were going up.  Actually it said there would be hearings and they valued our input but I had the feeling our input at the hearings would be treated much like our input in the sewers.

Recently we were in Texas.  We were struck by the different attitudes.  I am sure that rates for things like water are going up in Texas also but that is only part of a long term plan to meet the need and keep progress in motion.  In Texas when they are short of water they do more than raise water rates.  Texans begin trying to find ways to more get water.  In California we do more also.  We talk.  We talk about cutting back, limiting our use, changing our life style.  In a word:  Diminish the quality of life.  What a difference.  California takes the liberal socialist mantra, Texas the free market quest for progress.  It is no wonder that people and businesses are moving to Texas.  It is no wonder that part of the liberal agenda is to bring Texas to its knees.  You have noticed that the Obama administration has orchestrated an indictment of the governor of Texas?

I also notice the hypocrisy of the left on this issue.  They don’t seem to be making a big deal about reducing what we put in the sewers.  They do want to reduce the amount of water used but I have not heard anything about limiting body waste.  I guess there is an acceptance that some things cannot be reduced.

homo unius libri

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Opus 2014-234: Book Review: Not Banned, Just Returned

I lost another author today.  I had read and enjoyed several of his books.  I figured I was in for a good read but he must feel he is successful enough to start pushing the politically correct social agenda of the left.

One of the main characters was giving us the rundown on her great-aunt who was an awesome nansurgeon, a committed scientist, a survivor and an all round wonderful person.  Then I came to this,
“She lives with her spouse, Dorothy,...” page 19
Okay.  I paused a moment and decided I would read further.  It was going to be a good story and I can deal with a little nonsense.  If he had left it at that he could have made his statement, be accepted by the GLBTQ community and went on to develop his plot and characters.  It was not to be.

A few pages later the young lady was admiring a young man who was not responding to her charms and had to explain that he was not “gay.”  Then the social engineering gets going.
    “Great-grandpa Jim once told me that he remembered a time when a lot of people hid their homosexuality,....  And in school we learned that before that it was actually illegal most places.
    “  The things you learn in history class, huh?
    “But who would hide it now?  Who cares?...”  p. 33
In between we learn that modesty is out the window too.
“And maybe I shouldn’t add, but will, that our family is easy about nudity.”  page 32
I could go on to universal role reversals and environmental nonsense, but you get the point.

There comes a point where the static gets so strong it describes a world that I know would not work near as well as described. 

There are times I am glad I checked the book out from the library rather than bought it.  If you like a world in which anything seems to go, where the men are short and cooks, the women are tall and math majors, where there are no private vehicles and all people live in peace, then by all means check it out and enjoy.

Varley, John.  Dark Lightning.  New York:  Ace Books, 2014.

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-233: Discernment Watch: Elements of the Good Life, part 2 of 2

It isn’t enough to be smart or have a good imagination.

Did the Chinese invent the compass, gunpowder, paper, printing, etc.?  Yes.  But consider.  They did not use the compass for navigation.  They used it to orient their buildings in a way that was right for their religious beliefs.  Did they invent gunpowder?  Yes, but consider.  They did not make the transition to firearms.  They used them mainly for fireworks.  It wasn’t printing that rocked the world it was movable type.  I even read once that the an archeologist found a sample of aluminum in a Chinese grave but the discovery died with the discoverer. 

There are many reasons why Western culture ended up conquering the world.  We have come up with a lot of inventions.  We have been creative.  So have others.  What has made us dominant is a social system that has encouraged application of new ideas, a recognition of personal property and the rule of law.  We have had an economic system that has allowed profit to stimulate the distribution of the good things of life.  It was the version of capitalism based on a free market and free enterprise.  What we have morphing today is a form a socialism called fascism that depends on the partnership of big business and government.  We call it crony capitalism and it is beginning to choke the economic machine that made American the land of fulfilled dreams.

Part of that dream still exists.  It is stronger than anywhere else in the world.  That is why people are still trying to sneak into our country.  They want a piece of the pie.  Or they come from cultures and religions that hate us because we are moving forward.  They want to fix our clock, by breaking it.

Don’t let the Progressives (Socialists, communists, liberals, elitests, Rhinos) break our system.  Don’t let the Muslims destroy our system.  Don’t let sloth make it rust.

You may live long enough to feel the pain.

homo unius libri

Friday, September 12, 2014

Opus 2014-232: Discernment Watch: Elements of the Good Life, part 1 of 2

Are you tired of hearing about how the Chinese invented everything?

I have also heard that the Russians claim that they invented everything and the greedy capitalists stole all their ideas.

It doesn’t really matter.  It is not the insight into the invention that matters but the creativity of application and the economic system that allows production, distribution and profit.  Powerful cultures are not necessarily powerful because they come up with new ideas.  They dominate because they find ways to develop the ideas of others.  They decline because they don’t see the potential in what they have.

This developed in my mind when I was writing a post on my devotional blog and referred to a verse in the Old Testament.
(1 Samuel 17:20 KJV)  And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.
This verse refers to the army of Israel fortifying their campground.  It specifically mentions trenches.  The culture that is famous for this is the Romans.  Every night a Roman legion on the move would build a strong fortress to defend them from attack.  Part of each soldiers load was a stake that would go into the wall.  Obviously this idea was not original with them, they just developed it to the point of conquering the known world.

The Romans are also known for their use of the arch and concrete.  Neither one of these was original to the Romans.  They just took an idea, developed it and made application.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Opus 2014-231: Tax Dollars at Work: We Are All Leaders Now

We had our bi-weekly faculty meeting on Monday and I am again ready to retire.  Give me a few hours with the students and I am ready to go again but two hours with politically correct ignorance is about all I can take.

We are getting another new mantra.  Common Core Curriculum is not enough.  There is a book out that we are going to be reading at these Monday meetings that has a title of The Leader in Me.  I know because the principal copied the first chapter and passed it out for us to read.  I assume that was illegal but we are educators so it must be okay.  She says she is going to buy the books for us.

Cool.  The only problem is that after reading the first chapter I know it is just another rehash of a failed concept:  We are all wonderful and we are all capable of greatness.  In fact I think those words were actually used about us all being capable of greatness.

On reflection the premise of the book is so foolish that we are afraid to point it out.  What could be more obvious than the reality that we all cannot be leaders and we are all not destined for greatness.  Can most of us improve?  Yes.  Will we?  That is the big maybe.

So now in addition to trying to figure out what the jargon of Common Core Curriculum means and trying to get my job of teaching done in spite of it, I will be expected to find ways to allow the students to be leaders.  What this seems to mean is that they need to feel good about themselves.

The high point of foolishness for me sums up the atmosphere in education.  One teacher was sharing about a student who suddenly exclaimed, “At last.  I understand math.”  That seemed a great moment but the teacher continued, “She doesn’t, but she thinks she does.”  Everyone was happy that she was happy and ignored the endorsement of ignorance.

Someday you may be forbidden from firing that student because of laws enforcing social justice.

It is getting harder to distinguish the inmates from the therapists.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Opus 2014-230: Let Me Repeat

Why do things need to be repeated so often?  Because we often don’t listen and we usually forget.

This forced its way into my consciousness because as I work through the book of Proverbs in the Bible I see things being repeated over and over again.  There are repeated warnings about sloth, lies, adultery, priorities, etc.  If you accept that the Bible is God’s word then there is a reason for that.  Because we don’t listen and we forget.

Advertising reflects the same understanding.  Rarely do people hear about a product once and go out and buy it.  You need to recognize the color scheme, hum the tune and see it in your sleep.  Then you buy.  You may get angry.  You may hate what you hear.  You may be insulted.  The proof is in the bottom line.  If enough people buy, it worked.

Education seems to have missed the point.  Education has abandoned repetition and rote learning.  You see the evidence of this in the growing ignorance of the population and the declining skills available in the work place.  The truth is that students don’t listen.  If they remember it is short term memory.  Repetition seats the knowledge or skill.  Lack of repetition leaves it in the dust.

Did you once play an instrument but haven’t touched it in years?  Pick it up and see how that is working for you.  Did you once have the Gettysburg address memorized?  Recite it for me.  I don’t even know my own cell phone number.  Why bother, I never call myself.

So remember, if I repeat myself on this blog it is because you were not listening.  Or I forgot.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Opus 2014-229: Rule of Law

The point of the rule of law is that the rules are the same for everyone.  There are no kings who can ignore the law.  Even some ancient cultures recognized this.

Our modern thinking is making a joke of this.  One example, the graduated income tax.

The Bible has a simple tithe required and gifts beyond that.

The reason the rule of law breaks down is because most people are willing to make exceptions to the rules for themselves.  Any rules.  This is what tyranny is all about.  It is why history is full of autocracy and oligarchy.  It is why history is full of poor people exploiting poor people.  It is why we have crony capitalism.  The Friedmans put it well.
“We rail against ‘special interests’ except when the ‘special interest’ happens to be our own.” page 38
If we ever achieve the rule of law it will be because we get serious about the Biblical mandate to do that which is better for the other person rather than what benefits us.
(Philippians 2:3-5 NAS77)  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,...”
Until that day, watch your back, balance your checking account and change your passwords.

Friedman, Milton and Rose.  Free to Choose.  New York:  Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1980.

homo unius libri

Monday, September 8, 2014

Opus 2014-228: Healthy Insights: Stoma Saga, 7 of 7, Extra Credit

A few thoughts that occurred to me as I was thinking about this in the shower.

There is no need to feel guilty about the need for this operation.  We often wonder what we did wrong and why this is happening to us.  From my listening and reading my feeling is that the need to remove the colon has little to do with your life style.  I guess you might make it happen earlier or something but not enough to feel any guilt.  That is not a professional opinion based on rigorous scientific research but I think it is true.

The second thing you will find true is that the professionals don’t know as much as they think they do.  I don’t know how many times we shared things we had learned and we had a doctor or nurse say, “Of course.  I knew that.”  I wanted to scream at them, “Then why didn’t you tell us and save us from all the misery?”  They do the best they can but they are as human as we are.  They are committed, trained and very dedicated.  They are not gods.  Do not disengage your brain in the process.

I hope this helps.  Blessings.

homo unius libri

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Opus 2014-227: Turning the Cheek and Bearing the Sword

Last year I was reading a book called Blindsided and it made me wonder how we can give a rational response to the challenge of Islam.  What we are seeing in the headlines today just reinforces my concern.

As a Christian, my standards of behavior are molded by the words of the Bible.  In my personal relationships I am guided by the words of Jesus which can be summed up with,
(Matthew 5:39 KJV)  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
As a general principle of life this is very important.  The concept of forgiveness and patience is built into the American philosophy.  The problem is the perpetual, misguided and possibly insane bully that looks on forgiveness and patience as a sign of weakness.  That bully, personal or national, ramps up the violence in the face of Christian virtue.

That is why we need to balance a partial teaching of the Bible with a more extensive examination and use our God given ability to reason as we look for solutions.  The Bible also tells us,
(Romans 13:4 KJV)  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
You don’t need to read that many times to see that one of the functions of government is to use the sword to deal with evil.  The sword has to be carried by someone.  They can, if motivated and guided properly, be doing God’s work.

We are faced with a great evil.  We have a large group of bullies who are using their big muscles, lack of good will and repeating rifles to extend, expand and execute evil.  They say it is in the name of God.  If they were Christians making this claim I could refute them with our holy book, the Bible.  Since it is Muslims and their holy book is the Koran, I cannot do that.  Neither can other Muslims because the teaching of the Koran allows this kind of behavior and if they speak out against it they are tortured and murdered.

The problem is not going to just go away while the president takes vacations, plays golf and takes advantage of photo ops.

My fear is that maybe a rational response is impossible.  It may be the only way we can fight this evil is to get people so stoked up that they lash out at those who want to destroy us.  A reasoned response isn’t in the cards.  You don’t fight bullying with reason, you fight it with force.

I continue to hope for either another answer or a waking up to the danger.

Youssef, Michael, Blindsided, No City:  Kobri, 2012.

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-226: Healthy Insights: Stoma Saga, 6 of 7, Our Solution

Our solution was suggested by accident by a visiting nurse when our regular nurse could not make it.  His theory didn’t work any better than anyone else’s but we were able to take it and develop it. We had to take what he did, think about it and figure it out for ourselves. 

We realized that what we needed to do was cut the hole in the barrier/wafer smaller and slide it on from the side so that the flat surface would move under the point of the stoma.  When we got done the up side of the stoma looked like the pictures but the down looked like we have pushed it 1/4 inch into the stoma itself.  In reality we had simply put it under the lip.  Once we did this the barrier was strong enough to keep the tip from burrowing in and the waste began to slide down into the bag instead of under the barrier onto the skin.

We began to see improvement at once.  Keep in mind that the improvement is slow.  It takes time for the skin to heal but we were on our way.

Weeks later, when the skin was healed and the bags were lasting the recommended 3 to 5 days we got a little too excited and started pushing the edge up too hard and caused a tear in the under side of the stoma but the stoma nurse said that was not unusual and no problem.

That is what helped us.  I remember reading the cries of a woman who had posted years ago.  I wish I could turn the clock back and share with her because what she described was what we were going through.

I realize this is a nitch thing but I hope it helps someone.

This is the focal point of the series but since I am on a role,  I will continue.

To be concluded...

homo unius libri 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Opus 2014-225: Healthy Insights: Stoma Saga, 5 of 7, Our Problem

Now for the reason for these posts.

For the first three weeks nothing seemed to work for us.  The seals would never hold.  The bags would always leak.  We could watch the progress of brown material through the barrier.  The pain kept up constantly as the skin around the stoma was attacked by the acid. 

If the seal is not good the material, scientifically called poop, pumping out of the stoma comes in constant contact with your skin.  If you have ever had heart burn and felt the way it seems to be eating away at your throat and mouth, picture that on the skin of your abdomen.  The skin gets red.  It gets redder and begins to bleed.  You keep changing the bag and it just gets worse.  You consult the professionals and they come up with all kinds of solutions but nothing works.

Finally, no thanks to the professionals, we began to figure it out. 

Most stomas in the videos stand at attention or at least pretend to do so.  Ours acted like a short snake that was trying to burrow back into the ground.  You had to get real close with a bright flashlight and move the stoma around to discover this.  What we thought was a large stoma that was leaking from the side was actually a stoma of normal dimensions that was bent over.  The stoma is a muscle.  It flexes.  Our stoma had a kink and every time it flexed it put downward pressure as it would emit the acidic contents.  It did not take long for it to work its way down under the barrier, disrupt the seal, eat away the adhesive and begin to attack the skin.

If you are having problems or know someone who is having problems, get down real close with a bright light.  Don’t be afraid to touch the stoma.  Lift it gently.  Move it from side to side.  See if it is bent over.  If not, then I can’t help you.  If it is I can tell you what worked for us.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Friday, September 5, 2014

Opus 2014-224: Healthy Insights: Stoma Saga, 4 of 7, The Making of a Stoma

When the colon is removed it is still necessary to get rid of body waste.  This is done through constructing a stoma.

The stoma is the end of the small intestine that is extended through the muscle and skin and sutured in place.  It becomes a combination rectum and anus but without the sphincter muscles that allow control.  It puts out feces whenever it feels like it and there is nothing you can do about it.  Modern medicine has developed technology, commonly called bags, to contain and control the output.

The stoma is a short section of the small intestine which, in the ideal circumstances that are used in the teaching videos, protrudes from 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch through the wall of your lower abdomen near your belly button.  The exact placement on right our left depends on the type of surgery.  Picture a jumbo hot dog that has been peeled sticking out of your side and you get the picture.  It is red, glistening and rough, just like the tip of a hot dog would look without the skin.

The bag consists of a barrier, sometimes called a wafer, that sticks to your skin and a bag to contain the waste.  They come in two piece and one piece.  They come in different shapes sizes and materials.  The difficult part is finding what works best for you and learning how to apply it.

In a perfect world you come home and are able to do the whole process of applying and changing the bags yourself.  Life goes on.

We were not in a perfect world and from my reading on-line, neither are others.

To be continued...

homo unius libri 

Opus 2014-223: The Morning Dig Out

I am sure you have all been there.

Every normal morning starts the same for me.  I get out of bed and shuffle to the kitchen, start the coffee, visit the water closet for the first session, stumble to my Lazy-Boy and read a chapter in Proverbs.  By that time I am awake enough to realize where my day is going.  On week days that means the ritual of the working class:  Wash, dress, fix, drive. 

Today I became awake enough half way on my journey to realize that I was one car among millions, all jockeying for position.  I was one of the washed masses.  I was a spear carrier in the play of life.  I was a loose wire in the cosmic computer.  I was one Republican vote in California.  We are talking insignificant here.

As I started the feel sorry for myself God had pity on me.  He tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that I had a job and the car showed no indication of breaking down.  Sure I was acting as a full time nurse always on call but I was one of those who had insurance that seemed to be doing its job.  I am healthy enough to help instead of needing help. 

Best of all, as a Christian, I have an assurance of eternal life.  I am reminded:

(Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV)  It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The compassion of the Lord has been made new again.  It is morning.  He is here.

homo unius libri

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Opus 2014-222: Healthy Insights: Stoma Saga, 3 of 7, An Anatomy Lesson

First, a description of the digestive system.  This is important because it is the body system we are dealing with and you probably did not listen in high school.  Now you need the information and wish you had paid attention.  This is anatomy 101.  If you listened then you can skip it now.

Your digestive system is a long tube that starts at your lips and ends at your anus.  Not a very pretty picture but simple and clear.  Food enters the mouth, descends through the esophagus and passes through the stomach, small intestine and large intestine to exit through the anus.

The mouth starts the digestive process by chewing and mixing with saliva.  It breaks down the large units of food into smaller pieces so that digestion will proceed more efficiently.  Think of how much easier a powder dissolves than a pill.  This is why we are told to chew our food well.  The saliva begins to chemically break down the food.

The esophagus simply pushes the food down into the stomach.  What you eat and drink does not fall by gravity but is forced down by muscle action.  This will be true from this point on.

At the top and bottom of the stomach are sphincter muscles (circular like a camera iris) to keep food in the stomach while the muscles of the stomach churn the food for digestion.  The lining of the stomach excretes acid and mucus to make a smooth paste that will pass on into the small intestine.  Contrary to popular belief, your stomach is not located behind your belly button.  It is high up, under your rib cage.  The lower part of your body houses your intestines.  Think of your stomach as a balloon that stretches and contracts as needed to contain varying amounts of food.

When the mixture is right the stomach relaxes the lower sphincter muscle and pushes the ooze into the small intestine.  The small intestine is about the width of a polish sausage and about 20 feet long.  Muscle contractions squeeze the food down the tube.  This muscle action is like you trying to get tooth paste out of a tube.  As it move along the small intestine extracts the substances needed to keep you alive and functioning:  Carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, salts. 

By the time the remains reach the large intestine there is little but waste and water.  The job of the large intestine is simply to remove water.  As the waste moves through it thickens until it comes out the anus.  Too little water removed causes diarrhea.  Too much result in constipation.

Wasn’t that exciting?

To be continued...

homo unius libri 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Opus 2014-221: Healthy Insights: Stoma Saga, 2 of 7, The Quest Begins

Are you still with me? 

We received lots of well meaning DVD’s about how to care for the stoma.  There were You Tube videos offering advice.  They were interesting in general principles but our problem was that everyone in the DVD’s and on the internet had a trim body and a normal stoma.  Think about it.  If you had rolls of fat on your stomach you would not want to make a video to show the world.  In our case we have layers of fat that denied us a firm foundation for attachment.  We had a stoma that had a mind of its own.  Where most stomas stand tall and firm, ours layed over on its side and kept trying to dig its way back into the body.

I remember going to discussion chatrooms and reading people who were totally frustrated.  No one seemed to offer them any hope except “hang in there.”  Maybe I didn’t look far enough but I found no answers.  We eventually put it together.  We learned by failure and were motivated by pain. 

I will try to share what we learned.

To be continued...

homo unius libri 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Opus 2014-220: Healthy Insights: Stoma Saga, 1 of 7, Stoma? What’s a Stoma?

Do you know what a stoma is? 

If not, count your blessings.  You may also want to skip this series of posts. 

If you do know, are you slender, with little extra body fat?  Is your stoma standing straight and at attention?  Then most of what I am going to say will not be necessary for your happiness and comfort.

If you are having trouble with your stoma or know someone who is, I offer this in hopes that our journey may give you some insights on your own rough road.  The stoma I will be addressing is the result of the removal of the colon.  People with a stoma are on a bag.  It is technically called a “ileostomy” since your small intestine is labeled the ileum.  You can read about it on Wikipedia is you want.

We have moved to the second stage of our journey which produced a new type of stoma.  We are going through struggles on how to work with this one because it is totally different.  This made me think of the lessons we learned by trial and error on the first stoma and my attempts to get help in dealing with it.  Looking back I find that I either ran across answers for standard, low maintenance stomas or frustration with struggles with difficult stomas.  The first I didn’t need.  The second was a matter of sharing pain, not results.

The journey begins.

To be continued...

homo unius libri 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Opus 2014-219: On the Street: Spoon Feeding

The modern family is interesting to watch. 

I am sitting at breakfast in the local Panera.  As I get up to get more coffee I notice a lady and her teen age daughter.  What a study.  The daughter is working her smart phone.  The mother is eating from a plate between them.  Suddenly the mother forks a bite and raises it to put it in the mouth of the girl.  The mouth opens and the girl chews.  Her eyes never leave the phone.

Is it any surprise that when the baby chick was fed that they left and did not clean up after themselves. 

In a few years the girl will be old enough to vote.  There are two of them.  I am already outnumbered.

homo unius libri