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.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Opus 2014-270: Intellectual Depth or Silly Sophistry?

I read a book called Scaling the Secular City, A Defense of Christianity by J.P. Moreland.  It left me scratching my head.  I would get it when I read it but could not put it all together.  For instance he wrote about the difference in mathematics between the definitions of potential and actual infinities.  When you start thinking you are pretty smart you read something that makes you say, “What?”  I read it.  I kind of understood it, but I don’t get what it all means.

I was able to dress myself and do my job in spite of the confusion.

Every once in awhile it does us good to read something that sits on the verge of understanding but refuses to cross the line.  It stretches us.  But be careful.  Just because you don’t understand does not mean it is deeper than you are.  Much of what masquerades for intellectual depth is really silly sophistry.  I run into stuff that liberals want me to read.  When I give it a try I realize after a few pages that it is nothing but phoney charades.  It is nonsense.  It is based on smoke and mirrors. 

Keep in mind that much that is written is not just beyond your grasp, it was beyond the author’s grasp first.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Opus 2014-269: Death Rides a Pale White Bag

The timing is perfect.  The results are already coming in.  The disaster is waiting in the wings.

I refer to the new law passed in California banning the use of plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail outlets.  In the interest of saving something we are threatening the health of the population, of which I am one.

The timing for the removal of plastic bags is perfect.  Perfect if you want to spread death and disease.  We are on the verge of a plague.  Ebola has arrived.  People are getting sick.  Our response to the spread of the virus is, “Bring their own bags into the grocery store.  Put them on the counter.  Let’s play Moonbeam Roulette.” 


There have already be studies demonstrating that using your own bags causes an increase in illness.  It is also perfectly logical.  We ignore it because we are worried about landfills.  So at the grocery store that has graciously provided you with sanitary wipes as you come in the door you are asked to bring the bag you have had on the floor of your car.

Democrats and health.  It sounds like a deadly combination.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Opus 2014-268: Litmus Has a Place

Litmus tests have their uses.  Don’t throw them out just because the word is used to intimidate you.

Litmus tests are filters not proofs.  They are used in the world of science to indicate the pH factor in a substance.  Is it acidic or base?  It is excellent for that purpose but has little use beyond that.  If a chemical reaction depends on the pH factor, it could be vital information.  It could also be a waste of time.  If an acid pH would ruin the product then the test is vital.  If the pH factor is irrelevant, then you are wasting your time. 

In politics the same is true.  Certain positions mean a definite “no” vote, but don’t guarantee a “yes” vote.  If a politician believes it is okay to kill a baby in the womb, he is removed from my list of eligible candidates.  That marks him as unworthy.  But just because he is pro-life does not make him an automatic winner.

Conservatives are not that shallow.

There are many qualities we are looking for in a leader.  No one person will be perfect.  We can settle for the imperfect candidate.  We know that, but some beliefs are non-negotiable.  Where you stand on certain issues tell me what your world view is and what kind of a person you are.  It tells me if you have the ability to think or if you are just reacting to the polls.

The elections are coming.  Put your thinking caps on and get out your litmus paper.

homo unius libri

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Opus 2014-267: Discernment Watch: NRA Insurance

Lifetime NRA membership is cheap insurance.

My wife was watching a news program and she shared that some liberal politician, in a frantic attempt to run to the right for next week’s election, claimed that he was a life-time member of the National Rifle Association.

Any liberal can buy the card for insurance and pull it out like they are doing now.  You can support President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg for your term of office minus a month and pull out your card at the finish if you need it.  Like I said, it is cheap insurance.

Even Harry Reid has a high NRA rating.  He may even be an avid hunter.  I don’t know.  It is, however, part of the profile of elitists (Progressives, liberals, Democrats, Rinos, socialists, Communists). Liberals reserve large areas of life for their own use while denying the privilege to others.  Thus Diane Feinstein is reported to have a license to carry but wants to deny it to others.  The Sierra Club wants to keep you out of the forest so they can enjoy it undistracted by the dirty masses.  Al Gore wants you to have a small carbon footprint so he can take big strides.

Conservatives and people who believe in liberty, which are usually the same, believe that the good things of life should be available to anyone who wants to work for them.  Not for everyone, that is welfare.  Not for the few, that is liberalism.  For anyone who wants to work and plan.

That is one reason I am a conservative. 

So let them join the NRA.  The money will be well used.  But keep an eye on them.  They can’t be trusted with our future.

homo unius libri

Friday, October 24, 2014

Opus 2014-266: Hope and Fun, or Is it Fun and Change?

We just had an election at our school and the major theme would make the Democrats proud.

It is all about fun.  The big promise of everyone was that if they were elected they would make this a fun year.  One candidate for sixth grade representative promised field trips to Florida and Hawaii.  It reminded me of the election of 2008 where the winning slogan was “Hope and Change.”

The children are being prepared.  I didn’t really expect them to come up with a speech on health care or the federal deficit.  I did hope for something a little more concrete than “fun dances.” 

I need to remember that most of their parents voted for Barak Obama, twice.  Some might have even voted more than twice.  I need to also remember that the school leaders seem to think that the main goal of the year is to have fun.

I guess we need to remember that Winston Churchill was kicked out by the people of England as soon as the war was won.  I guess he wasn’t enough fun.

homo unius libri

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Opus 2014-265: Vanishing Cultural Skills

The dumbing down of America takes a lot of hidden steps.

Skills that were once so common we didn’t think about it are disappearing.  Some are just possible cultural changes and are a part of progress.  Others are signs of deterioration and a weaker culture.

One that came up recently in class is the ability to read and write cursive.  I had put something on the screen and used a script-like font.  I wanted the effect of looking hand written.  I succeeded better than I expected.  Many of the students could not read it because it was too close to cursive.  Is this the end of the world?  Probably not.

Other skills are quietly going away.  Many people cannot read analog time.  If it isn’t digital it is just a strange decoration.  Did you ever learn touch typing?  It is no longer necessary in this day of the mouse and function keys.  Most people hunt and peck.  More cut and paste.  Some software makes it possible to just talk to the screen.

Do these changes signal the end of the world?  Probably not.

Other skills are more vital.  You have heard the concerns about reading.  You might be confused because everyone seems to be able to read.  The problem is in comprehension, not pronunciation.  They can read the words but when you ask them what it means you get blank stares.  It is hard to see but insidious.  How can we be a nation of law if people can’t understand simple sentences?

Do you know how to use a dictionary?  Do you know how to look up a word that you don’t know how to spell?  I do.  Young people don’t.  And worse, they don’t care.  Communication is impossible if you cannot agree on what words mean.  It is a greater threat to liberty to be ignorant of dictionaries than not knowing how to text.

Young people are losing the ability to drive.  At a recent Sunday School class I had six young people ranging from 16 to 28 years old.  Not one of them had a driver’s licence or any plans of getting one.  They are being groomed for government control by bus schedule.  Buses eat up your time and put you at the mercy of a faceless bureaucrat. 

That brings up map reading.  With GPS and Google maps, no one needs to be able to read a map any more.  The device will talk you through the steps of getting where you are going.  It will take you the way it is programmed to go, even if it is much further.  One of the big dangers is that unless the controllers of the media program in where you want to go, it doesn’t exist. 

I am sure the list is longer but you get the idea. 

I shudder for the future of the masses.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Opus 2014-264: Blame the Teacher

One of the mantras I keep hearing is about the terrible teachers that are the cause of the ill prepared graduates of our institutions.  I hear a lot about these terrible teachers when people are upset with the results of education.  I am not sure I have met any of them at school.  I would accept that there are people who should not be in the classroom.  I would accept that there are some for whom it is only a job.  I know that many are not bright enough or wise enough to contribute much.

In other words, we are just like the rest of the population.  Millions of people play golf.  Many of those I have seen should never be allowed on the course.  I am so bad I don’t even dream of breaking par.  For me an incredible day would be to break 100.  I can still help someone who is brand new and wants to learn.  I will never be a Tiger Woods, but then he may never be Tiger Woods again and as great as he was I would not want him near my daughter after what he has done.

We blame the teachers.  We blame the parents.  We blame the system.  The one thing that we refuse to blame is the key element in the entire process:  The student.  I have students that will learn and achieve no matter what I do.  I have others that learn nothing no matter what accommodations and adaptions I make.  I like what one teacher said years ago when looking at student test results.  One student has shown awesome gains over the previous year.  He said, “I am not that good of a teacher.”  Another student, in the same class, had taken a nose dive in his test scores.  The teacher said, “I am not that bad a teacher.”

Honestly, I don’t even look at the test scores from the yearly standardized tests unless I am forced to do so in faculty meetings.  Standardized tests are useful if written properly, administered correctly and taken seriously.  None of those conditions apply in public education.  I have seen tests that asked questions the students could not answer because they used different vocabulary than our text books and ask questions about areas of history that we were not supposed to cover.  I have seen questions that ask about a map that was not on the page.  I have seen questions that clearly reflect the political bias of the writer.  I have seen questions with more than one correct answer.

In spite of all these flaws in education, students still learn.  Some come out with the knowledge and skills that are necessary to be successful in life.  Why?  Because the student wanted it that way.  While some graduates of college have no problem finding productive and rewarding work others flip hamburgers.  Of course one chose a hard major and worked their tail off while the other majored in something with “Studies” in the title and partied for many years.  One wanted an education.  One wanted a good time.  Both got what they wanted.

In spite of the school.

In spite of the teachers.

In spite of their parents.

I have said it before, and I will probably say it again, you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, but you might make some great chicharones. 

homo unius libri

Monday, October 20, 2014

Opus 2014-263: We Need More Truthers

“What is truth?”  Pontius Pilate, John 18:38

If you would capitalize “Truth” then as a Christian I have an answer.  As a Christian I believe there are absolutes and they are found in Jesus who said,
(John 14:6 KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
If you are dealing with the wider philosophical question of truth, it gets murky.

This comes to mind because as I age and the people around me age I am seeing frequent examples of incongruity or what psychology calls cognitive dissonance.  People relate events that we have in common and what I am hearing does not correspond with what my memory tells me.  An example would be conversations with my wife which lead me to tell my children that either one or both of us is losing it.  But she is not alone.  I would imagine that others feel the same way around me.

So, what is the nature of truth? 

We are all familiar with the chant of the those with Bushpobia, “Bush lied; people died.”  That statement in itself is a lie that led to deaths.  Bush may have been wrong.  He might have been misinformed.  I guess he might have even been living in delusion.  The one option not open was calling him a liar.  He spoke what he believed to be true.  He repeated what he had been told and what even his political opponents endorsed at the time.  That is not lying.

Is it a lie if your best information and memory lead you to say something that does not correspond to the facts?  I would say, “No.”  It might not be true, but it is not lying.  It might even be a lie but the act was not lying.  Lying requires volition.  It requires intent.  Any other definition means that most of us lie frequently every day.

Perhaps that is why the Bible states it the way it does.

(Exodus 20:16 KJV)  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

It does not say be “wrong”.  It says to be “false”.

Our tendency is to label our opponents liars and stand up for our allies when they act the same way.  That in itself can be a form of lying. 

People of good will should accept that we are all human.  We should condemn the politicians and news reporters who deliberately spin, exaggerate, doctor and edit what they say with a deliberate goal of deception.  We should expose and forgive honest mistakes and ignorance.

What we need are more people of good will who want to know the truth.

homo unius libri

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Opus 2014-262: Headlines: Smarter Than the Average Deer

I was reading an interesting article on the problems that coyotes are causing in our suburban neighborhoods.  I am talking about the four footed kind, not those dealing with smuggling illegal aliens.  It is found in the October 6, 2014 edition of The Washington Times, National Weekly, page 14.  The title was “Suburban Americans fear coyotes preying on their pets.”  I could not find free access to it on-line.

It seems that we have a growing problem of coyotes eating people’s dog and cats.  They are afraid their children will be next.  Most of the examples quoted tended to be in trendy communities that I am sure have lots of environmentalist sympathies.  It seems that the ban on hunting coyotes is paying logical dividends. 

The solution seems obvious to me:  Start shooting coyotes.  I would even go so far as to say we need to allow people to carry weapons to defend themselves against all kinds of predators.  Of course they had someone from a group called “Project Coyote” that claimed killing the killers would not work.  The claim is that the dead animal would be replaced by another one.  My solution to that is shoot the replacement.  Eventually the replacement pool would dry up.

Actually, you probably wouldn’t need to shoot too many coyotes to stop the problem.  Coyotes can’t be any dumber than the average criminal.  We know that when law abiding citizens are armed, the criminals go somewhere else.  We would see the same thing with the coyotes.  I am not a hunter but I have been told that even deer, not known for their intelligence, can tell when the guns come out.  I have heard that the day before hunting season opens the deer are everywhere and fearless.  The next day they disappear.  If deer can figure that out, I think a coyote would get the message. 

To bad that our politicians are not as smart as the deer.

homo unius libri

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Opus 2014-261: The Anti-Christmas Is Upon Us

You may have noticed that Halloween is coming.

Everywhere I look I see people hanging out effigies of ghosts and caricatures of decay.  Some are as simple as white sheets with eye-holes cut in them.  Others are expensive reproductions from horror movies.  I don’t see people decorating their homes with cute little figures of cowboys and Mickey Mouse.  I do see Freddy Krueger and the Walking Dead. 

I celebrated Halloween as a kid.  I favored things like a musketeer or a continental soldier.  It was a fun time of getting free candy.  Even then the seeds of evil were already planted.  Even then we were worried about adulterated candy and fruit.  Even then we were warned about going into homes.  Even then strange things were going on. 

Today the balance continues to swing away from fun and toward evil.

Think about it.  Most of the decorations involve death, torture and fear.  Skulls, blood, rotten flesh, demons, zombies, and knives are spread around.  Cob webs and chains are considered ambiance.  If you think this is the stuff of innocent fun, you have a strange sense of innocence.  What kind of holiday is it that makes you check the front yard the next morning to see if anything has been destroyed or defaced, that makes you lock your pets up?

Do I want a law banning Halloween?  No.  I am a conservative.  I don’t want the government involved in anything not mentioned in the Constitution.  What I want are for responsible people to show their values and priorities by how they live their lives.  Maybe that is what we are seeing.

Think about it.  You may still chose to celebrate.  I won’t come to your house and demonstrate.  I won’t refuse to talk to you.  I might be careful about turning my back toward you, after all, even I have seen a zombie movie.  One was enough.

Happy All Saints Day Eve

homo unius libri

Friday, October 17, 2014

Opus 2014-260: Spam Back at Work

I had gone several days without posting.  When I got back on line I put out my offering and then checked the stats.  I was awestruck at the number of hits I had received.  I was beginning to think that I was finally getting what I deserved.  When I checked my spam I realized that I was probably right.  I had become a spam magnet.

I can go for days with no spam to delete.  My other blog is spam free.  This time when I check after few days I had 59 pieces of nonsense to get rid of.  It became clear that for some reason the spambots were being attracted to two of my old posts.  It was like flies on my pastry.  There were so many that I didn’t have time to scan them to see if there might be some gold among the dross.

Is it just my turn or have the people who need to get a life been hitting everyone lately?

homo unius libri

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Opus 2014-259: Beheading

The Muslim PR campaign to instill fear and disgust in the Western world features beheadings. 

Classy.  My wife came to me with the claim that she had read about beheadings in the Bible. She wanted me to explain in to her.  My first question was, “Where did you read that?”  Like most people who claim the Bible says something, her only answer was a vague “somewhere.”  After repeated requests she narrowed it down to I Samuel but could not get any more specific.  She could not find it but claimed she had read about “beheading” in her NASB.

Let me walk you through this in case you have questions about what the Bible might really say.

First, does the Bible use the word “beheading” or “beheadings”?  I did a word search for the words in both the NASB and KJV and found nothing.  That would tell me that the actual word was not used in the Bible but would not rule out the concept.  So I searched for “head” assuming that if beheading is cutting off a head that would give me a reference.  I came up with hundreds of hits, 364 in the KJV and 370 in the NAS77.  TMI.  So I did a search and looked at the usage in I and II Samuel.  That gave me a small enough sample to give me a feel.

Are heads removed in the Bible?  Yes.  The most obvious example is where David cuts off Goliath’s head and shows it to the Philistines (I Samuel 7:51).  This was not the normal way to do things. 

How do we know that beheading was not normal or expected.  Let’s look at the example of some men who killed a rival to the throne, thinking they would be rewarded by David.
(2 Samuel 4:7-8 KJV)  For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through the plain all night.  And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the LORD hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed.
If there is anyplace you would find confirmation of this procedure, this is it.  We find just the opposite.  Notice how David responds.
(2 Samuel 4:12 KJV)  And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.
Notice that he did not cut off their heads and he returned the head of the slain to its rightful place.

I found no reference to beheading used as a means of execution.  Generally the heads were cut off after death to either prove they were dead or to prove identity of the dead person after the fact.  Remember they did not have brain scanners or photography.  Think of beheading as an ancient high tech medical procedure or identification process.

A clear example of this is shown when King Saul was killed by the Philistines.  They could not show it on You Tube or Facebook.  They needed the real thing.
(1 Samuel 31:9 KJV)  And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.
If you have his head to show, no one can claim he is still alive.

So does the Bible mention beheading?  Yes.  Does the Bible endorse beheading?  Obviously not.  Does the Bible command beheading?  No.  Beheading a subdued and bound captive for the purposes of showing the glory of God is barbaric, not Biblical.  Is it endorsed in the Koran?  I don’t have the tools to search the Koran the way I do the Bible, so I can’t say.  I do know that killing infidels is endorsed.

Keep in mind that this is a study based in I and II Samuel, but I think you would find the same pattern throughout the entire Bible.

homo unius libri

Friday, October 10, 2014

Opus 2014-258: Idea for a New Blog?

I make it a habit to check the spam filter on my blog and delete the spam that has been pulled out.  I do a quick scan to make sure that nothing worthwhile got targeted because it was politically incorrect.  I am amazed at how good a job the filter is doing.

One phrase caught my attention as I was going down the page.  It started, uncapitalized, with “indication of posterior problems.”  I am not sure what I have written that might have attracted such a comment.  At first I thought it might be a serious comment on my political opinions but a further scan made it clear it was computer generated nonsense.

Still, it might be a good title for a new blog on the Progressive thought process if I had the time to start one.

Feel free to use it.

homo unius libri

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Opus 2014-257: Monday Pulpit: Communion

Last Sunday was World Wide Communion Sunday.  It is a day that is set aside for believers in all denominations to join together remembering the last supper and crucifixion.  Some churches take communion daily, some weekly, others at different intervals.  The idea is that all would join together on this day.

I remember Jesus every morning when I literally “break bread.”  This morning I had a thought, based on the passage in I Corinthians.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-24 NAS77)  For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
Jesus gave thanks before He taught us to remember Him with communion.  He gave thanks  knowing what was ahead of Him.  He was thankful facing the cross.

We have a lot of issues and difficult moments but I don’t think any of them come close to what Jesus faced.  He gave thanks knowing.  We should give thanks not knowing what is ahead of us.

We should give thanks for the same reason He did, all of life and all of eternity are in God, the Father’s, hands.  We can trust Him with the responsibility.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Opus 2014-256: Headlines: Immigration, Soviet Style

We are not the only one with immigration problems.

I don’t know if it will be of any comfort to you, but Russia is having many of the same problems we are facing with immigration.  I came across this in The Washington Times, National Weekly, September 22, 2014, page 23.  A version of the article can be found online

I noticed a lot of parallels with what we are experiencing here in the United States.  The general issue is the same.
“The United Nations estimates that 11 million immigrants are in Russia, the vast majority of whom are in keen search of ‘opportunity.’ Indeed, only the United States is home to larger numbers of immigrants.”
The people come from the poorer countries along Russia’s southern border.  At least 3 million are in the country illegally.  They are sending large amounts of money back to their families at home.  They are providing cheap labor.  They don’t speak Russian well.  The similarities go on.

Welcome to the world.  We tend to think that we are the only ones having these issues.

Another similarity:  Putin doesn’t think it is a problem for Russia just as Obama feels  immigration is no problem for America.

Great socialist minds think alike.

homo unius libri

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Opus 2014-255: Diversity in Pathological

I was reading a post explaining the relationship between pathological liars and our pathological in chief at Well-Meaning Gentleman and had a thought based on his next to last sentence.
“And the amazing thing is that, regardless of the evidence, there are plenty of people who will always believe the liars.”
I found myself wondering if there should be a group of people called “pathological believers.”  I don’t care enough to Google it.  Maybe you can on your watch.

I think that is more dramatic than “naive” or “simple.”

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-254: The Staples of Life

I am having a real problem with petty theft at school.  You have heard it said that some people will steal anything that is not nailed down.  My students are stealing the nails.

In education the nails are called staples.  Every day I am forced to walk around the room to replace the staples that have disappeared.  It is not a case of disintegration, it is theft.

Why do they steal the staples?  Because they can and, believe it or not, I see them putting the contraband in their mouths.  Maybe they have an iron deficiency.  Because they know it is a way of messing with the Man and even if they are caught there will be no significant consequence. 

Will this commit them to a life of crime?  No, it will be other things, but it is an indication of how self centered they are.

Is this a big issue?  Bigger than you might imagine.  Last time I asked the front office for a box of staples they gave me four of the little strings of staples that come in the box.  It seems that we were being rationed on staples.

So pay your taxes.  Your local school needs the money for staples.  Maybe if we can get enough staples we can get our librarians back.

homo unius libri

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Opus 2014-253: Headlines: Scared Yet?

It is hard to tell if we are stepping into a new Black Death or just trying to sell air-time.

You can’t go to a news source without seeing headlines about Ebola or a mystery virus.  People are sick.  People are dying.  It is spreading.  Is it serious?  Yes.  Is it a crisis?  I am not panicked.  I am not extremely worried.  I am aware and concerned. 

The main concern I have is the lack of good reporting and the dearth of facts.  All the articles seem to be doing is recycling the same boilerplate as the competition.  Some of this is because the reporters are lazy and incompetent.  Some of this is because the agencies are lying, deflecting and hiding. 

“If it bleeds, it leads.”  If it doesn’t bleed, make the people think it will make them bleed.  Take the endless articles about the mysterious viruses killing people all over the country.  It isn’t a mystery virus.  It is a known quantity.  People have died.  Lately they are talking about a couple of adults.  What I am not reading is if these are the weak, already sick people, who would die if they caught a strong case of flu.  It is still a death and a personal tragedy for the families involved, but it isn’t a threat to life as we know it.

Remember the swine flu?  It was supposed to bring civilization to an end.  It turns out that the people who died from it were already close to the grave before it hit them.  Remember how HIV was supposed to rage through our neighborhoods bringing death and destruction?  It turns out that it is largely confined to the homosexual community.  Have you had people try to get you to be vaccinated for hepatitis B?  If you catch it you will think you have a cold or flu and move on.  Have you heard about the new disease being spread by mosquitos?  It produces a mild sickness in most people.  All real.  All hyped. 

The death rate is high in Africa from Ebola.  So far it isn’t coming close to the deaths by HIV and simple malaria.  Malaria killed an estimated 627,000 people last year as the World Health Organization reports and they add,
“People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to malaria. In 2012, 90% of all malaria deaths occurred in the WHO African Region, mostly among children under 5 years of age.”
With HIV you are required to do the math yourself at the WHO sight.  It claims 1.6 million deaths from HIV in 2012 and says that 73% were in sub-Sahara Africa.  That comes out to 1,168,000 deaths in Africa from HIV.  How many of those dying from ebola also had HIV?  No one is talking.  I am not sure anyone is asking.

We are not Africa.  But Nigeria is and they seem to have a handle on it.  If you are panicking then check out this article from NPR.  Of course it is from NPR, so I don’t know how believable it is, but read it anyway.  The key seems to be that there was a quick and organized response.  In our country there is denial and heads in the sand.

Will be survive this latest example of Obama Administration incompetence?  Will we survive the criminal reporting by the news media?  The jury is still out.

homo unius libri

Friday, October 3, 2014

Opus 2014-252:  The Parable of the Pencil Sharpener, Aka The Parable of the Pencil

“@#$% pencil”

“^&*☹ sharpener”

So begins the attempt of a student to sharpen a pencil in my classroom.  When I have the time and am feeling ornery I will go back to the pencil sharpener, take the pencil from the child, put it in the hole and sharpen the pencil in about two seconds.  They look at me in awe.  I then repeat my mantra, “Same pencil, same sharpener.  What is the difference?”

Years of experience, a thoughtful mind and determination make it possible for me to sharpen a pencil in what is an impossible situation.

Why do I say impossible?  Because the pencils are usually cheap and poorly made.  The lead is out of center.  The wood is gnarly and poor quality.  In addition to that the sharpener is getting dull and out of whack.  Can I still sharpen a pencil?  Usually, but to be honest, sometimes it is even beyond me.

How is this a parable?  It speaks to me of public education.  Anyone can sharpen a quality pencil in a good sharpener.  Well, almost anybody.  You can take a good pencil and usually get a point in a poor sharpener.  You can take a poor pencil and get results with a precision machine.  Public education continues to claim that you can take uncaring, unprepared students and put them in an overcrowded, trashy room, give them books written to amaze educators instead of interest young people and put an illiterate facilitator in front of them and turn out geniuses.

It doesn’t work that way. 

I often question if the gurus of education really want to produce informed, responsible citizens.  The reason I question this is that if we produced those kind of people, the gurus would all be fired.

Get the point?

homo unius libri

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Opus 2014-251: Culture of Conformity

Recently a young lady at my church asked me about a tattoo.  My simple answer?  “No.”

She had already mentioned it to her mother.  Mom tried to side step the issue by saying it needed to be small and spiritual.  Since even that was not what the girl wanted to hear she went looking for other opinions.  Since she is over 21 she doesn’t actually need anyone’s permission.  Since she is insecure she wants approval.  She didn’t get it from me but I expect her to get marked anyway.  The main thing holding her back is that she doesn’t have a job.  I think she will find the money somewhere.

I do not understand tattoos.  They are in a category with sagging pants and tongue piercings to me.  How should we respond.  Why do I respond with a “no”?

Although it is not the most important reason, I must confess my personal taste screams, “Never!”  I don’t find them attractive on others, why should I think they would work for me?  I have yet to see a tattoo that I thought made anyone look better and I have seen quite a few on bloated bodies that just draw attention to what is best ignored.

An even more import question is, “What does the Bible say?”  Often this is totally ignored if we have our mind made up.  I found one verse that seems to speak to the issue.
(Leviticus 19:28 NAS77)  'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.
That is the NASB.  The KJV says it in a more general way that is more comprehensive.
(Leviticus 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.
This seems pretty clear. 

Then there is the matter of general appearance.  Why spend a lot of time on make-up and dressing to impress and then go out and mark up your body with designs that will not go away?  The make-up is to cover flaws and the clothes are often chosen for the same reason.  Styles change.  Hair, colors, eyebrows and all in flux.  Why do something that cannot be adjusted?

Only one reason that I can think of:  Cultural conformity.  People do it because others are doing it.  That may be fine for pagans but followers of Christ are called to a different standard.  Paul put it this way,
(Romans 12:2 NAS77)  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
So my answer will remain, “No”. 

Sometimes negative is the right answer.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Opus 2014-250: More Rigor Than I Can Handle

We continue our intellectual piracy at our faculty meetings.

For the second meeting in a row we have a portion of a book duplicated for our use.  I still have not seen the volumes that are going to be purchased for us.  But, since we are educators, I assume that we are above the law.  We are certainly above common sense.

More samo-samo.  We were laying the groundwork for future insights by looking at the purpose of the book.  The author had been informally quizzing “parents leaders” about what they wanted to see in a school.  Here is the desire of their hearts,
“They wanted to grow up to be responsible, caring, and compassionate human beings who respected diversity and who knew how to do the right thing when faced with difficult decisions.” p. 20
I am sure that is heart warming to you.  But it goes farther.  Not only are they telling you what parents want in school, we also hear what is not important to them.
“What was interesting was that not once did we hear in all of our interviews and focus groups, ‘We want the best academics.’”  p. 20
So there you have it.  The parents are to blame for the dumbing down of our schools.

The things that the parents want are the things that the parents are supposed to be teaching at home.  This lets them off the hook and allows them to blame educators for not turning sows’ ears into silk purses.

Of course the schools don’t have to be such willing partners in the scheme.

I would give you a bibliography but the title page information was not in the copied sections of The Leader in Me.

homo unius libri