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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Opus 2014-325: The Biggest Problem in Education

I am sure I have mentioned it before but recently it has been beating me in the face.  The hardest thing for me to take as a teacher is the drop-of-the-hat dishonesty of the students I work with.  You would think it might be violence or administrative foolishness.  In reality, I have never felt any fear on campus and I have learned to work around administrators. 

No, what stops my roller coaster is the way a student will look at you with total innocense and say, “I don’t have any gum in my mouth.”  This could be technically the truth.  It might be a spit wad they are working on.  This could be a manufactured truth.  They might have quickly swallowed the gum.  It could be a conditional truth.  They may have slipped the gum into their hand.  Since they know what I am talking about, it is still a lie.

They lie to protect a piece of chewing gum.  It can even be hanging out their mouth and they will lie.  It does not bother them.

This is just a low hanging fruit.  It could be that I asked them if they turned some homework in.  They will usually say, “Yes.”  Only when I go to check will they change their story.  When sent by an administrator or another teacher to see if they can be out of class that day, they invariably say, “Mr. Admin says you are supposed to send me to their room.”  Use your imagination.  If you can imagine it, they will lie about it.

To be honest they learned this from the adults in their lives.  It starts with their parents.  Just on what I see and hear in parent meetings gives me a clue to what happens at home.  Then they get to school and soon begin to realize that they can’t really believe what the school tells them either.  It could be something as blatant as denying a promise that was made.  It is prevalent in the announcements made about policy and the law and then totally disregarding the statement.  It can be giving the idea that everyone needs algebra in the eighth grade. 

They see it in their entertainment.  It has been a long time since I have watched TV but I would guess that the main characters are still regularly telling lies and the laugh track is reminding you it is supposed to be funny.

They see it in their politicians.

Lies are destructive.  That is why God chose honesty as one of the final ten rules.
(Exodus 20:16 KJV)  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Short and sweet.  Worthy to repeat.

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-324: A New Flavor of Spam

I had an interesting piece of spam today.  There was only one and it started like it was a genuine post.  I keep thinking that a legitimate comment might get shuffled over.  I was again disappointed.

The robot told me that some of my pictures were not loading well and suggested that he might have a solution for me at his web site.  The big problem with this is that I have not yet tried to put pictures on my blog.  I am thinking about it but life is too short to learn new skills.

So if you do have pictures, be aware that all helpful comments are not helpful comments.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Opus 2014-323: Who Is Mr. Brown?

In Atlas Shrugged we keep hearing about John Galt.  Our news media has a different hero.

I keep reading about Mr. Brown.  It seems that he was a jolly young man who was brutally murdered while minding his own business by a thug policeman just because Mr. Brown was black.  Interesting, since I have met “Mr. Brown,” many times.

The Mr. Brown that I have met does not always match the stereotypes I keep reading.  He is not always a man.  He is only jolly when he is getting his own way.  He comes in many racial types.  He is rarely minding his own business. 

Mr. Brown is the product of our schools.  I have had him in my class, of and on, for years.  He tends to come to class late and do no work while he is present.  He is self centered and disrespectful to everyone.  He disrupts the environment and makes it impossible for others to learn.  If you kick him out he swaggers in the next day and you start again.  He is taught by the school administration that there are no consequences for his behavior and he can get away with anything.  That is fine until he meets someone who is not impressed with him.  Then we read about him in the newspapers.

Mr. Brown is the product of a home.  Everyone thought his behavior was cute the first few years but eventually it started getting obnoxious.  Some people think a two year old swaggering, cussing and giving you the finger is darling.  They don’t feel that way when he turns 21.  It is almost a sure thing that his father does not live with his mother.  Usually they were never married.  Often no one is even sure who his father is.  His mother cries a lot at meetings but never does anything to teach the child self control.  She has a nice phone, lots of gold and a fine stereo at home.  What she does not have is the time to train Mr. Brown to be a responsible adult.  That is fine until he meets someone who is not impressed with him.  Then we read about him in the newspapers.

Mr. Brown is the product of our culture.  We live in a world of double standards.  Justice means different things depending on the color of your skin.  The law is interpreted based on your genetic make up.  Equality is as Animal Farm described it, “Some are just more equal than others.”  Discrimination is evil tied to Jim Crow but blessed under the title of affirmative action.  We have a generation that discards facts and reality and declares that the world is supposed to bend to their desires.  That is fine until Mr. Brown meets someone who is not impressed with him.  Then we read about him in the newspapers.

Who is John Galt?  Who is Mr. Brown?  One is a sign of responsible liberty.  The other is the result of self-destructive narcissism. 

You will see more of both.

homo unius libri

Monday, December 29, 2014

Opus 2014-322: Changing Christmas Traditions, part 9 of 9: Removing the Tree

The wrapping paper went out in the trash the next day.  The celebration goodies are being consumed.  The gifts are put away or being used.  Now comes the big question:  When do we take the tree down and what do we do with it?

The “when” is easy.  We take the tree down whenever my wife says to do so.  It is a tradition that keeps morphing.  Some years we take it down on December 26.  Some years we make it into the new year.

The “what” has become easy.  We simply haul the tree out to the curb.  Eventually the trash people pick it up.  I assume they have some kind of program that takes the trees and makes them into mulch, but it disappears.

Then comes the task of getting all the pine needles out of the carpet and we are on to another year.

Happy New Year.  I hope you had a merry and blessed Christmas.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Opus 2014-321: Rigor and High Standards = Smoke and Mirrors

Whenever you hear educators talk about the high standards they have and the rigorous approach to education they take you need to get out your baloney meter.

Let me relate an example.  For purposes of protecting the innocent and calming the guilty I will call the teacher Mr. Smith and the student John.

We have a “holiday” program like most schools.  Kids are pulled out of class to practice and prepare.  The school made a clear statement outlining the standards that would be expected to be able to participate.  The one the relates to this post is that the student could not participate if they had any “U’s” in citizenship.  That means unsatisfactory, in case you were wondering.

We give grades four times each semester.  It is easy to see who has unsatisfactory citizenship.  You do a data printout and there it is.  It would seem easy to determine who is not eligible.  That should end the process of qualifying.  Not so in public education.  I was first harassed by John to sign a paper saying he no longer had a “U”.  He promised to change and do better.  I said “No.  You have been tardy consistently all year.  Live with the responsibility of your actions.”  Next, Mr. Smith came to me with a list of students who wanted to participate but were banned by their behavior.  Generally these were students who had multiple “U’s”, not just one. 

So I went through the list with Mr. Smith and agreed to change the ones that appeared to be one time grades.  Some students had been fine for two grading periods and only had a problem with the last.  I can be reasonable.  John had been consistent all year.  John came pleading again.  I again said “No.”

Then Mr. Smith told me that the principle and assistant principle would be talking to me about John and seeing if something could be worked out.  While this was going on John continued to be tardy two and three times a week.  I never heard another word.  Two days before the performance I asked Mr. Smith if John would participate.  He said yes.  The powers that be had decided to allow him to do his thing.

One issue here for me was that none of the others on my list were given the same exemption.  Only one parent came and made an issue.  Only one student was exempted.  Since parents make an issue we abandon the myth of standards.  It is easier to talk standards than uphold standards

The biggest issue for me is that this child has been taught, again, that he will never need to be responsible and that the rules do not apply to him.  He has learned that he will always be given a waiver.  If this were a one time thing I could live with it but it is an ongoing pattern.

We are destroying a generation.  You wonder why the young man in Ferguson thought he could attack the cop?  You wonder why the young man in Florida thought he could beat up a member o neighborhood watch?  You wonder why so many young people think that the rules don’t apply to them?  One big reason is that their education has taught them that.

Keep in mind that you elected the school board.  You elected the politicians that appointed the judges.  In most states, you reelected the judges. 

I wonder who is to be blamed.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 26, 2014

Opus 2014-320: Headlines: We All Need Connections

Liberty is slipping away.  The Progressive fascists in government (aka liberals, moderates, Rinos, socialists, communists) are working overtime to protect us from ourselves.  This ranges from taking away our ability to defend ourselves, limiting our movement, and forcing us to the doctor of their choice.  It also includes protecting us from information that might upset us and even make us think.  In extreme cases it might make us vote the suckers out.  Remember, they care and want us to be happy.

Another important statement to this effect was made by Tammy Bruce in The Washington Times, National Weekly, November 24, 2014, p. 30.  You can find a slightly different version at the on-line link
“This is why the political establishment hates the Internet — it allows regular people, individuals, to change the world. This in itself presents a danger to tyrannical regimes everywhere, and to American administrations that rely on keeping you in the dark.”
You may notice the headlines that have congress trying to “make the internet available to everyone.”  To do that they need to limit access and control costs.  You may have missed that the control of granting domain names has moved from American control.  The United Nations wants to do for information what they have done for economic growth:  Tax, control and limit.

So stay alert.  This is another litmus test.  Anyone who wants to put the government in control of the internet needs to be voted out.  It is a good question to put to presidential wannabees.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Opus 2014-319: Help the Robots

As I was deleting spam I had a thought.

Why don’t the spam robots just try sending out a “Merry Christmas!” with no invitation to check out their blog?  I think it might draw in a whole slew of victims who are not impressed by their attempts to tell us how good our blogs are or sell us Viagra. 

Of course they might be attacked by the anti-Christmas spam robots.

Merry Christmas.

I am not a robot, but then you would expect me to say that, wouldn’t you?

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-318: Changing Christmas Traditions, part 8 of ?: The Year We Lost Jesus

One of our Christmas traditions is to have an empty creche under the tree as we approach Christmas morning.  Then when the kids would get up they would find the baby, wrapped in an old (clean) diaper.  It worked well for years.

Then one year I went to the closet to get the doll and it wasn’t there.  Everyone else was asleep.  What was I to do.  We couldn’t have Christmas morning without the baby Jesus.  Finally I took one of the stuffed Teddy bears we decorated with and wrapped it up.  It caused a few raised eyebrows but was accepted with grace.

Why couldn’t I find the baby Jesus?  Because I had not been using it on a regular basis.  I have the same problem with the instructions to my car radio when I need to reset the time twice a year.  When we don’t use things they get lost.

I am sure you see where this is going.  If you only bring Jesus out of the closet at Christmas then you won’t be able to find Him when you need Him.  Think about that on December 26.  Think about it on January 1.  Better yet, become a 24/7/365 believer and make Jesus part of every day.

Merry Christmas.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Opus 2014-317: Changing Christmas Traditions, part 7 of ?: The Opening of the Gifts.

Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?

That is one of the big divides of our culture.  My father always said, “If you are going to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, you might as well open them on Thanksgiving.”  His children agreed with that but not the way he meant it.  Since my father ruled the roost, we waited until Christmas morning.  Also, everyone needed to be up and at least presentable.

My wife came from a pagan culture that opened gifts on Christmas Eve.  I am not sure of the reasoning but that tradition has a lot of followers in our fallen world.  Since we used to have a lot of family gatherings, she was able to get the camel’s nose under the tent. 

At this point we compromise and open some both times.  We read the Christmas story from Luke on Christmas Eve.  It is written from Mary’s point of view and focuses on the shepherds, angels and birth.  It shows that Jesus came for the poor of the entire world.  On Christmas morning we read the account from Matthew which is from Joseph’s perspective and emphasizes the “wise men” and the priority of Israel.

Since my parents are both dead and the next generation is procreating we don’t have the large family gatherings any more but we often think about grandma and grandpa during our smaller time together.  So far my children are still coming home, so it is a very special time.

If you open you gifts before Christmas morning, I forgive you.  You are probably one of those people who sneak in and try to figure out what is in them anyway.

Merry Christmas.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-316: Headlines: Sony and Kim

Should I get my sox in a knot over Sony?

I really don’t know.  On the one hand, anytime the forces of chaos bring disruption it effects all of us.  If criminals can do this to a corporate giant with all the money to have good security, what is to keep them from doing it to the rest of us?  I am for the rule of law so I am in favor of the perpetrators being caught and prosecuted. 

On the other hand I have not heard anything that damages national security or our basic liberties, at least nothing worse than the government does on a regular basis.  I will concede I have not been reading all the stories, just the headlines.  I have heard a lot about left wing corporate and entertainment moguls being revealed as bigots and hypocrites.  This is news?  I have heard that the personal details of celebrities has been turned over to the public.  This is worse than National Enquirer?   Am I supposed to care more about the private life of Sony executives than I do about Kim Kardashian?

Does this effect the real world as much as Diane Feinstein turning over secret information that endangers the lives of American embassy staff overseas?  Does it put American tourists and workers around the world at risk as much as President Obama making deals with terrorists and releasing known jihad killers?  I know I am getting older and starting to slip, but what am I missing?

For now I am treating it like celebrity news or media ratings revelations and to be honest, I would rather read a book.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Opus 2014-315: Changing Traditions, part 6 of ?: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

SPOILER ALERT:  If Santa Claus is coming to your house you might not want to continue reading.

One tradition that we can’t let go of is the hanging and filling of the stockings.

Flash back 60 years:  As a child I always looked forward to Christmas morning because we were free to get up and go through our stocking.  One thing I remember was that each of us found a huge naval orange as part of the picture.  I am sure my childish memory exaggerates, but I have not seen oranges that large in years.  I think we ship them all to Japan now or I just don’t shop at the high priced organic stores.  It was a sign of our poverty that an orange was a high point of Christmas.

Flash back 55 years:  One year I decided it was payback time.  I bought my dad a pair of sox, a small toy car for him and a set of jacks for my mom, and assorted useful items and stuffed the sox for my parents.  I left them laying outside their bedroom door and began a new part of the tradition for us.

Santa Claus is not a part of our Christmas.  We have banished his image from our house.  It is not a fanatical crusade, just an observation of how he seems to be more and more a sign of the secular spirit of Christmas.  Instead, we have the Wise Men come to our house.  Historically, that is also a common tradition around the world.  I don’t know when we made the transition so I can’t give you a flash back number but it was when the children were very small.

The concept of the wise men has become more true as the years go by and I end up doing more of the stocking stuffing.  I think last year I almost had to fill my own but managed to get my daughter up before any one else was around. 

A ruse to keep the children quiet has become a long drawn out routine.  In my family the children could go through their stocking when they got up.  This allowed the parents a few hours extra of sleep.  My wife’s family did it different.  They would wait until everyone was up and then one at a time go through each stocking.  It was a major production.  I won’t even ask you to guess which way we do now.

Stockings have gotten bigger but they are still a big mystery on Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Monday, December 22, 2014

Opus 2014-314: Headlines: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

I keep hearing it from pundits, “The American people are not stupid.”  The latest was in a commentary piece by Tammy Bruce in The Washington Times, National Weekly, November 24, 2014, p. 30.  You can find a slightly different version of the article at the on-line link.  She says,
“The American people aren’t stupid, but the mainstream media work very hard at keeping us ignorant.”
I have a real problem with that.  Keep in mind that the American people elected this president two times.  Remember that large sections of the American people are in love with Bubba and his power seeking wife, Hillary.  Remember that a large slice of Americans still repeat the mantra that Islam is a religion of peace.

Maybe ignorant is a better word than stupid but it is an ignorance based in choice or sloth.  I remember the candidate Obama making the promise that if he were elected he would put the coal business out of business and raise our electricity rates.  That was in public view and was ignored.  I remember the president promising universal, Cadillac health care or everyone at a reduced cost.  No one can claim ignorance on that one, only stupidity will do.  I keep hearing that his approval rating are down at 39%.  What is it that the 39% approve of?

Will the American people wake up?  Past experience does not bode well but we can always hope.  Maybe that makes me the stupid one.

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Opus 2014-313: Wonderful Counselor

Over the long holiday season I usually fall further behind on listening to Alistair Begg.  Early this year I was listening to a Christmas sermon and the subject was the prophecy in Isaiah about the child in Isaiah 9:6.  One of His titles was Wonderful Counselor.  The only problem is that we don’t read and understand that correctly.

Compare two translations:
(Isa 9:6 KJV)  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

(Isa 9:6 NAS77)  For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Begg points out something that had slipped by me.  He says that in the Hebrew the “wonderful” is not an adjective.  If you look at the KJV it comes through.  If you look at the NASB it doesn’t.  I went through the collection of fifteen translations I have on my software and the pattern was consistent.  The older translations bring through the sense of the Hebrew.  The newer translations muddle it.

According to the definition “wonderful” is a noun.  That does not mean that it cannot modify counselor but it can stand alone also. 

Another familiar use of the verse is in Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.  If you think back over the presentation, the word “wonderful” is presented in such a way that it shows Handel understood it to be a separate characteristic.  Begg calls it an “abstract.” 

So take it either way.  The coming Messiah was to be a “wonderful Counselor.”  He was also to be Wonderful.  You can have your cake and eat it too.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Opus 2014-312: Changing Traditions, part 5 of ?: Christmas Bugs

Food at Christmas is always an adventure.

Flash back 50 years:  I was a teenager and we were going to my grandmother’s on Christmas Eve.  It was an annual event with all her family in the area.  I don’t remember enjoying it much but is was a command performance.  One year my brother and I came across a section of a store that had some exotic Christmas candies.  They specialized in chocolate covered insects of different types.  Since we wanted to expand the horizons of our aunts, uncles and cousins, we bought a selection and when we had gone over the river and through the woods, made our contribution to the dessert table.  The only part we left out was telling people what they were eating.  That came later and a good time was had by all, or at least by my brother and I.  In all fairness, we had tried them ourselves.

Flash back 20 years:  I had the passing of the torch:  My children had been listening to the folly of my youth.  About that time they discovered an on line site that specialized in candied insects.  The pattern was repeated.  They have an aunt who always finds an excuse not to eat if they are in the area.

Maybe there is a reason my children are not invited to Christmas parties.

Oh, well.  Our children today still bring variety to the table.  Part of their tradition is to go out and sample cheeses and buy a selection for our Christmas and New Year’s dinners.  They get cheese, fruit, crackers and the food that has become a centerpiece.  No, not insects, pecans.  It is amazing how pecans enhance the flavor if an unusual cheese.  Try it if you never have.

I wait with anticipation to see what exotic morsels will grace the table this year.

Merry Christmas.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Friday, December 19, 2014

Opus 2014-311: Monday Pulpit: A Myth Buster Moment

On Sunday our pastor mentioned one of the big “truths” of our culture, the “fact” that suicide rates are highest during Christmas time.  I had always accepted the statement and the logic.  It seems that years ago he was researching this and the people at the Suicide Prevention Center told him that was not true.  He then called three hospitals and got the same report.


I did a quick Google search and came up with an article on Wikipedia.  I recognize that Wikipedia is not the best source for anything controversial but they backed up this statement.  It seems that suicides are highest during the summer and spring, not at Christmas.

Why would a myth like this be so popular?  I am sure that a big part of it is the desire to tear down the Christian holiday and claim that people feel rejected and alone during that time.  That would mean that all this Christmas joy is just a charade by churches. 

It turns out that the Christmas spirit does effect our society, in a positive way.

So Merry Christmas.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Opus 2014-310: On the Street: Freedom and Christmas

I like a variety of Christmas music.  As I write the secular song, “Caroling, Caroling” is being sung by Nat King Cole.  I have Reba doing things country style.  I have a capella songs loaded with theology.  I even like “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” which seems to be panned by so many self appointed music critics.  I call listening to “Percy the Puny Poinsettia” my contribution to diversity. 

What I don’t like is the way in which it is being watered down.  On a trip to the airport in a shuttle van I was locked in the back seat for almost two hours.  The driver had on a station that was playing all Christmas music, even before Thanksgiving.  At first I enjoyed it but I began to notice a pattern in the music.  Until I was getting out at the airport and “Little Drummer Boy” came on there was not one song that got to the real reason we have the season.  The station manager had taken it upon himself to make sure that those pesky Christians didn’t get too much air time.

They have that right.  It is a free country.

They also need to understand that I have an I-Pod and a car stereo that will play music from a flash drive.  I don’t need to listen to their freedom.  So far I can exercise my own.

I don’t go to Target because they have banned the Salvation Army.  They have the right.  It is a free country.  This week when I went to Walmart they not only had the bucket and bell ringer but a brass combo playing Christmas music.  I plan to exercise my economic freedom to benefit those who support my values. 

Keep your eyes open and vote with your dollars.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Opus 2014-309: Changing Christmas Traditions, part 4 of ?: Did You Check the Water?

What is the difference between a Christmas tree and a car?  On a car you check the oil and water, on a tree, just the water.

This becomes an irritating necessity.  Someone has to do it.  It becomes a matter of standing in the family.  We used to tell the kids to do it.  Now I do it.  What does that say about who is in charge?

This year we have an added worry.  The tree is not drinking water.  I think it is because it is fresh and still moist, a good sign.  My wife thinks it is a bad sign.  Why worry.  The tree is dead either way.  The only issue is when it realizes it.

Maybe the cat is adding water each night just to mess with our minds.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Opus 2014-308: Headlines: If Only Policemen Had Guns...

I am sure you have heard about the terrorist activity in Australia.  It would not have happened that way in Texas.

As I read the initial account, a Muslim cleric, self-styled they say, walked into a small eating place, pulled out a shotgun and took the entire crowd hostage.  This led to a standoff and finally a police attack that left the Muslim terrorist dead and also at least one hostage.

Maybe they should have had a sign on the door, “This is a gun free zone.”  Actually they don’t need the sign because Australia has made itself a gun free zone.  Only the police are allowed to be armed.  Oh, and terrorists and criminals.  I think the law gives them a pass too.  Or it could be they just don’t care.

The same thing could happen at any school in our country.  It could happen in most places in Los Angeles County.  These are “gun free zones.”  It would probably not happen in Texas outside of Austin, Houston and San Antonio.  If a guy walked into a restaurant in Texas and began pulling out a shotgun it would probably be the last thing he did.  And no hostages would die.

Of course the news goes out of its way to portray the terrorist as having a screw loose and not being a part of the mainstream Muslim community.  How nice. 

The original second amendment was designed for terrorists in the government.  It should also apply to any person who has a screw loose enough to think they can kill people for their religion.  In this day an age that seems to fall in the Mulsim camp.

homo unius libri

Monday, December 15, 2014

Opus 2014-307: Firsts: Cloven Oatmeal

I thought it was cinnamon.  I was wrong. 

I was in a hurry and not paying attention.  After I made my oatmeal and added sweetener I reached for the cinnamon.  There are several containers on the shelf.  The first one I pulled out was mixed with sugar so I replaced it and pulled out another.  As I opened it and sprinkled it on the smell seemed a little strange but I wasn’t paying attention.  The first bite made my taste buds stand up and take notice.  I checked the bottle and it said “ground cloves.” 

Actually it wasn’t bad.  I may try it again and mix it with cinnamon.  Out of such accidents are great discoveries made.

Gag or wonder where I have been all my life.  It was a first for me.

homo unius libri

Opus 2014-306: Changing Christmas Traditions, part 3 of ?: Trimming the Tree

For those who are literal you need to understand that “trimming” means “decorating.”  I think the term comes from the way in which people who used to cut their tree in the forest would then trim the branches to achieve what we consider the “Christmas tree” shape.

Flash back:  This used to be a simple step.  I could sit in a chair drinking hot chocolate while the children did all the work.  The hardest part was recognizing when they had enough on the tree.  When they were young they thought this was fun.  One year they woke up and rebellion arose in the ranks.  “Why do we have to do all the work?”  Those were the good days.

Now:  I did it all.  Let my clarify that.  I did not make any decisions.  I just did all the moving.  I put the big ones where I was told and then moved them to where I should have known they went.

It is done.  The tree is up and lit.

Good job.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Opus 2014-305: Headlines: Beware the Religious Zealots

Get ready for the riots.  The fundamentalists will be burning, beheading and rampaging soon.

The desecration is so terrible that I would not even try to make the picture appear on my website.  You thought Mohamed with a bomb on his head was bad.  You thought Buddha with earphones was evil.  Now we have a crucifix made of golden penises.  You can read the details at Harper’s Bazaar.  Drudge still had the picture on Saturday.

The headline calls it a “charm necklace.”  I guess romance has changed since I was a young man.

So lock your doors.  Huddle in fear.  Whoever Tom Ford is I am sure he is hiring body guards and going into hiding.  The Christians are coming. 

Or not.  I think most of us will be at church celebrating Advent.

Merry Christmas.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Opus 2014-304: Fear Not, the Republicans Are Coming

This is a word of encouragement to all you Democrats out there.

Last time the Republicans were in charge of the legislature they acted like kids loose in a candy store.  They abandoned all of the principles they espoused and began to spend like drunken sailors.  In short they acted just like Democrats.  We are already starting to see that.  The leadership in the House has decided to join hands with the President and give him all the money he wants to open the borders and fund Obamacare.  It is his dream come true. 

Way to go guys.  Last time we had frantic passage of bills was when the Republicans were going to take over the House and the Democrats pushed through Obamacare without reading the bill.  Now the Republicans have done what the Democrats could not get done and funded it.

I would like to say that this will change when the new crop of Republicans change the mix in January, but don’t count on it.  Democrats should never have any fear of a Republican takeover.  Why?  Because Republicans believe what they read in the left wing press and have a deep desire to be loved.  I can go back to the days of Ronald Reagan and the cooperation he gave to the Democrats.  They lied.  They lied to both George Bush’s and they are lying today.  And the Republicans keep believing them.

I keep hoping that those who were elected this time will make a difference but I am not sure there are enough of them.  The leadership still wants to be loved and will join the Democrats to thwart the will of the people.  They will make the people so mad that in two years the Dems will be back. 

The battle continues.  Start thinking about it now for 2016:  Vote the suckers out.  When in doubt it means that they have not been clear enough.  Vote “No.”

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Opus 2014-303: Is Santa a Cheap Rolex?

Santa Claus is the closest that most people will get to the concept of God. 

One of the omnipresent symbols of Christmas is Santa Claus.  There is a reason why he is so popular.  He falls into the same category as those diets that claim you can eat all you want, never be hungry and lose weight.  He is something that gives us all the rewards with none of the responsibility. 

He is a God replacement.  He is a fat free food.  He is a benevolent being that is able to hit every home in one evening, omnipresent.  A list of naughty and nice shows omniscience.  He answers any wish so he is omnipotent.  We also find grace because in their hearts most people know they have been generally naughty and yet get gifts anyway.  If we could just transfer that over to the God of the universe life would be wonderful.

Or we can keep pretending.  A $25.00 Rolex sold on the corner may look real, but it isn’t.  You may be able to fool people.  You may even forget yourself.  It still isn’t a Rolex.  It still isn’t under warranty.  It may not even keep accurate time.

Don’t believe the posters that say, “If you can dream it, you can be it.”  As an adult I know those posters are a lie.  I probably knew when I was a kid.  In my heart I knew I never really had a chance of being a Mousketeer.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Opus 2014-302:  Ode to Old:  Is This the One?

I have a pain in the neck and, no, I don’t mean my students at school.

I have a pain in my gut.

I am dropping things more often.

I am stumbling more often.

Each time something happens I ask myself, “Is this the one?”  I mean of course, is this the beginning of a physical problem that could bring me down?  The first notice some people have of heart attacks is a pain in the left arm.  The whisper of cancer can be indigestion.  Minor disorientation can be a stroke.  Shortness of breath can be clogged arteries.  Craving pickles can be a sign of pregnancy. 

Maybe I got carried away on that last one.

When you get to my age you can get concerned about a lot of things.  The body is wearing out.  The warranties are not renewable.  I am aware of that and okay with it.

You see, I am ready to go.  I am almost to my allotted three score and ten.  My children are grown and independent.  My wife will have my retirement.  I have trusted in Christ and have an assurance of eternal life.  I am not worried about any library books I may have checked out or whether I remembered to start the dish washer.

So bring it on.  Life is good and after life will be better.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Opus 2014-301: Changing Christmas Traditions, part 2 of ?: It Cost How Much?

Flash back 35 years.  We had no children yet.  We also had no money.  We would go to the Christmas tree lots and look for the clearance section.  I remember one year we got a tree that only had one side.  It didn’t matter really, you never look at the back side anyway.  We called these Charlie Brown trees.  They were pathetic but lovable, at least when looked at through the eyes of our budget.

Flashback 20 years.  For some reason we spent Christmas in a time share exchange.  We arrived the day before Christmas and set out to look for a tree.  By the time we got to a town that sold them the lots were closed and people had gone home to be with their families.  It was dark and cold.  So we picked one out, loaded it on our car and headed back to the condo.  We did put money in an envelope and slide it under the door but we were not sure if the police would understand.  It was the year we “stole” our tree.

Today.  I didn’t even ask how much the tree cost.  My wife has developed a habit of saying, “Life’s too short” when I get too nosey and things are too expensive.

So now we have a paid-for tree.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Opus 2014-300: Changing Christmas Traditions, part 1 of ?: Which Tree?

O, how the Christmas traditions change.

We are in the process of putting up the Christmas tree.  This is a procedure that has radically changed over the years, but it always starts with procuring the tree.

Flash back 30 years.  We would begin by loading the children and the dog into our station wagon and head out to a “cut your own” lot.  When we arrived at the lot we would troupe all over looking for just the right tree.  One of the big issues was who got to carry the saw.  After much walking, looking and haggling we would settle on a tree.  The next big issue was, “Who gets down on the ground and cuts the tree.”  It was a great day when I was able to pass that to my son.  For years he kept trying to pass it to his sister.  I can’t remember if he was ever successful.  Then the kids really paid off.  They had the task of carrying the tree back to the entrance.  We would then tie the tree on and head home, after paying, of course. 

Today.  My wife goes out and comes back with a tree on the roof of our SUV with the stand already secured to the trunk.  Cool.  The kids are still out of state.  We graduated to buying a pre-cut tree soon after they left.  Now I don’t even have to go along to hold them up and twirl them for inspection.  It saves a lot of time and my opinion was not important anyway.  My job was to get it off the top of the tree and into the house.  I still got to twirl it but again my opinion was not important.  It is just not important in even lesser ways.  I was told to get it into the house without leaving any pine needles on the ground.  Right.  Then I was told to clean up the pine needles on the ground.  That is a tradition that has never changed.

Next step is the Paying for the Tree.

To be continued, (I hope)....

homo unius libri

Friday, December 5, 2014

Opus 2014-299: On the Street: Trash Call

While preparing to leave the restaurant I knocked a piece of trash on the floor.  As I bent to pick up after myself I was reminded of a young lady in class who was throwing her trash on the floor.  I watched as she tore little pieces of paper off the sheet and casually brushed them off her desk.  She didn’t think anything about it.  This was not an unusual occurrence.  It is too common in the youth of our country.  It is too common in the adults of our community.  It is why our streets are full of trash.  It is why people with traffic tickets get to wear those orange vests on Sunday mornings and walk along the side of the freeway with a big bag.

It all comes down to philosophy of life and there is a real correlation between life philosophy and political philosophy. 

Liberals teach people that the government will do it for them.  Conservatives are taught to be responsible for their own behavior.  These “truths” are at the core of what the left and right teach.

You want an example from real life?  Google for a picture of an area that the Occupy Wall Street crowd has had a demonstration.  It looks like a town hit by a tornado.  This is the liberal philosophy at work.  If you want someone else to pay your bills, why not have someone else pick up your trash?  Now Google a picture of a place that the Tea Party has had a rally.  I have heard that they usually leave it cleaner than they found it.  Conservatives understand that mommy is not following them around picking up their sox and candy wrappers.  They try to keep the world clean for themselves and for others.

Are there conscientious liberals?  I would assume so.  Are there trashy conservatives?  Indeed.  I am talking about generalities not stereotypes.  If you don’t understand the difference, it is because you probably had a Democrat for a history teacher.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Opus 2014-298: Firsts: Onward to Omelets

It may be old hat to you but it was a journey into potential disaster for me.

Until last week I had never tried to make an omelet.  It seemed like a mystery that is reserved for the ages but I was ready for a new adventure.  After all, what could go wrong?  It’s only eggs, right?  Eggs are cheap, right?

Forward.  My son had the book learning and I had his kitchen to mess up. 


My first act of courage that awed him was breaking the eggs into a common bowl instead of each one alone.  He seemed to be worried about getting pieces of egg shell in his omelet.  I reassured him about my competence.  I have been cracking eggs for years.  It was the omelet part I needed his opinion on.


I put a generous dollop of butter in the pan.  He asked if it was necessary since it was a non-stick surface.  It amaze me the confidence that the younger generation has in technology.  I assured him that if nothing else, it would make it taste better.


The egg were cracked and beaten to the point of abuse.  The pan was ready.  Now came the moment of truth.  I boldly poured the eggs into the pan.  There were no explosions or secret police emerging from the closets.  So far, so good.


We added cheese and waited for bubbles.  At what seemed like the proper moment I got the mixture turned over.  I did not have the boldness to toss it like the guys on TV, but I got it over and mostly in one piece.  After a few moments I folded it, waited a short time and served it up.

I am here to report success. 

The next experiment involved a cholesterol-free mix from a carton and chopped things but that is an experience for another day.  Just remember, you are never too old to cook your first omelet.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Opus 2014-297: Packing Up Christmas

Last January Alistair Begg mentioned in a sermon how our faith is like the Christmas lights we pack up and put away.  We take it all, label it Christmas and put it away until next year.  We know where it is.  We know what is in it.  We plan on pulling it out when we need it again but we can’t be sure if everything will work.

What an expression of our spiritual lives, family life and marriages.  We know what is needed and where it is, but we ignore it. 

Christmas is coming.  Soon we will be taking definite steps to get ready for the celebration.  Everything we do and say will be changed.  Then on December 26 it all begins to be boxed up again.  The attitudes and behaviors that make this month different are also packed away.  How would it change our world if we applied those attitudes all year long.

How about if you took the Sermon on the Mount and the Love Chapter and applied them every day of the year?  How would our culture be changed if Christians would actually live their faith on a daily basis instead of putting it into a compartment for Sundays and emergencies.

Christmas is coming.  Enjoy.  Get out the decorations.  Put on the music.  Allow yourself to be infused with the Christmas spirit.  Then get sneaky.  Don’t put the attitude away with the decorations.  Let them hang on your day like those outside lights that you are to lazy to take down.  Plug them in.  Turn them on. 

Christmas is a day.  Advent is a season.  Righteousness is a way of life.

Merry Christmas.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Opus 2014-296: On the Street: A Rude Awakening

I was forced back on the freeways after a week away.  It was a rude awakening.

After not having to face rush hour in Southern California for a week I had lost the habit of patience.  I don’t think of myself as patient by nature but I acknowledge it as a part of the fruit of the spirit.  Fruit grows and needs to be cultivated.
(Galatians 5:22-23 NASB)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
It is time to remind myself that there are drivers who should have never been let out of their cage.  There are others who are just having a bad day. 

I need to make sure that I do not join them.  I do that by reminding myself every morning that I am going out among the “huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” and who feel like narcissistic driving is listed in the First Amendment.

Keep your eyes open and your reflexes in overdrive.

homo unius libri

Monday, December 1, 2014

Opus 2014-295: Firsts: A Week without Fiction

I brought them, but I did not read them.

I try not to go anywhere without something to read.  I don’t want to be driven to reading the magazines in a doctor’s office or the posters on the post office walls.  I try to have at least one book or my Kindle.  When I go on a trip that goes doubly true.  This week away from work I brought a selection of fiction to read.

I didn’t even crack one open.

Part was because I began an old classical work on my Kindle.  Part was because I was with family members and they kept me busy.  For whatever reason, I realized as I was packing to head home that I had read no fiction from books this week.  I am not counting the news reports I read.

That is a first for me.  I think it is a healthy first.  May it be repeated.  There are so many important things to read from the old classics to the current issues.  There is no way to keep up but it is worth the effort.

homo unius libri