Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Opus 2015-28: Where Is Lilly Tomlin When You Need Her?

According to the internet, it was Chico Marx in Duck Soup who came up with the line, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”  This has been improved to, “Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

It is a joke that has become reality.

I continue to marvel at how the foundations of this declaration are constantly being laid in my classroom.  I am sure I have said it before:  The hardest thing for me to accept and adjust to is the casual and consistent ease with which students lie to me on a regular basis.  If I were not a Christian and acknowledge the sinful nature I would be surprised.  I am still constantly disappointed.  A young man or woman with all the appearances of being a wonderful human being will be chewing gum.  It is clearly visible as a yellow, green or blue mass, sometimes hanging out their mouth.  I ask them to get rid of it.  They look at me with Oscar winning sincerity and say, “I don’t have any gum.”

It starts here.  It continues on through life.  At some time in our life we have all been taken in by a smooth sales technique.  We hear constant commercials that make claims that have been cleared by the legal department but are designed to deceive.  We have people running for political office that rival the sincerity of my gum chewing students. 

The battle continues.  Honesty, integrity, truth and all of the results of such standards are being flushed down the toilet of our culture.  I can’t change the entire culture.  You don’t have much more power.  What I can do is clean up my back yard and encourage others around me to do the same.  I can also remind people who call themselves Christians that the Ten Commandments tell us,
(Exodus 20:16 KJV)  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
If that doesn’t do it for you then let me remind you,
(Revelation 21:8 KJV)  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
We all agree that Hitler is burning in Hell.  We have others we condemn to that fate, but notice what is tagged on at the end of the list:  liars.

Church, take it seriously.  God does.  World, you will also be held accountable, not by me but by whatever you will acknowledge was the Prime Mover of the Big Bang.

As Lilly Tomlin would say, “And that’s the truth.”

homo unius libri

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Opus 2015-27: Change Agents

How many people are there that bring change my way?

The most frequent change agents at this time in my life are my children.  They keep forcing new technology my way.  The latest is a blue tooth speaker that works with no wires and runs for hours on one battery charge.  I am just beginning to explore the possibilities.  They also run up against the trends in the wider working world.  It gives a lot of topics for discussion and thought.  Since I trained them I know their depth and integrity so when they question me it is an automatic time to stop and consider.

Then you have the students at school.  Granted, most of their ideas are nothing to record in your diary, who really cares what “the bomb” means this week to a middle school student?  It will change next week.  I can’t keep up with the hair styles because my hair doesn’t grow fast enough to keep changing that often.  At the same time they do drop things in front of me that, if I am reluctant to pick them up, can at least be examined for possibilities.  You have to run fast to get ahead of them, stay out of their way and sidestep their foolishness.  It keeps you young, if you survive. 

Then there is my friendly neighborhood philanthropist.  He is older than me if you can accept that and keeps bringing new ideas to the table.  Okay, so a lot of them are old and worn out.  But some are cutting edge.  He introduced me to 3D printing.  He has been talking about something called “energy harvesting.”  He is the one who got me to read Atlas Shrugged. 

Who jump starts your thinking?  The key is not having contributions.  Ideas are all around you.  The challenge is the same one that my middle school students have:  Listening.  One of the reasons that the United States has been a world leader is that we have always been diverse.  This is not a new idea thought up by the multi-cultural crowd, although they are striving to own it while they redefine it to mean anti-American.  There is a cross pollination that comes about when people from different worlds can share and stimulate thinking.  The possibilities are endless.  It is what America has always been about and the liberals are trying to stomp out.  

Are you a change agent in someone else’s life?  Are you open to change in your life?  Not all change is good but you never know until you consider it.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 26, 2015

Opus 2015-26: The Latest Should Be Reserved for the News

One of the common put-downs that we hear is produced by someone with a new idea who wants to belittle someone else who doesn’t want to change.  They will say, “Get with it.  This is the 21st century.” 

We hear it all the time.  A few years ago it was, “But this is the 20th century.”  It is like the 21st century is something really different, as if everything is really new.  I have news for you.  A good steak to Caesar Augustus would be recognized as a good steak today.  Plato boiled eggs the same way and at the same temperature as you do today.  Some recipes have been handed down hundreds of years and are still excellent. 

Much has endured through the ages.  You still inhale and exhale.  Blood still follows its course in your veins, and if you can believe it, in the same direction.  Don’t get caught up on it being the 21st century.  Solomon had a comment.
(Proverbs 24:21 NAS77)  My son, fear the LORD and the king; Do not associate with those who are given to change;
The concern is not change itself but change for the purpose of change. 

How does this work out in practice?  Let’s take a simple example that we all deal with, clothing styles.  Styles change.  It is a fact of life.  No one wants to be out of style.  The person addicted to change is always out with a compulsive desire to have the latest.  These are the people who keep all those clothing and shoe stores open in the mall.  The person who is balanced will replace items that wear out and not refuse to go with the new style.  You can get used to almost anything.  The difference is the reason and the compulsion. 

So no, I don’t need the latest health food plan.  I don’t care about the latest dance craze or music style.  I don’t need a new text book written to teach algebra.  I don’t need a new curriculum at school.  I don’t need a new government plan to end poverty.  I don’t need a new I-Phone.  The latest version of Windows probably won’t work.

Some things endure if allowed to.  The Bible is eternal.  The Constitution is a step down from that but still a solid document.  The definition of marriage has worked for thousands of years.  Salt, milk, eggs, and meat have kept generations alive. 

Get a grip.  Keep a balance.  The 22nd century is just around the corner.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Opus 2015-25: Headlines: Today Foie Gras, Tomorrow School Lunches

First, let me be clear:  I don’t have a horse in this race.

Or you could say I don’t have a dog in this fight.

Either way, I have never had foie gras in my stomach.  The very thought makes me want to vomit.  However, as much as I disagree with your taste buds, I will fight to the death your right to exercise them.  Really?  No, not really.

Evidently foie gras is legal again in California.  I don’t think it is worth your while to read it but I got a lot of hits when I looked for in at the on line edition of the Washington Times.  To the media this is a big story.  It was covered by the the L.A. Times, Huffington Post and even Fox.  I had to go to the second page to find the listing for the Washington Times.  I hope you appreciate my diligence. 

For you Philistines out there, foie gras is a fancy name for goose liver pate.  It is a rich man’s liverwurst.  Evidently the animal rights people were concerned that the geese were being force fed to fatten their livers.  The legislature in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia passed a law making it illegal to sell in the Republik.  There was no mention of how this effected the sale of Peking Duck.

My favorite paragraph was
“The law went into effect in 2012 after legal challenges failed, but it was habitually undermined by restauranteurs who continued to serve foie gras, saying they were not selling it but giving it away as a gift, which is not prohibited under the law.”
Not easily deterred, the Republik’s Attorney General is being urged to appeal the ruling.

If the real issue was being force fed then maybe these patriotic and civic minded citizens would want to take up the issue of Michelle Obama trying to force federally mandated lunches down the throats of America’s children.

The Komedy of Kalifornia Kontinues.

homo unius libri

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Opus 2015-24: Gun Totting Teachers?

I would not carry a weapon at school even if I could, but I think the campus would be safer if I were allowed to do so.

I don’t think I am alert enough or physically coordinated enough to carry a gun in a crazy environment like a school.  The kids get away with too many things I don’t see as it is.  I am not sure that one of them could not sneak the gun away from me and do something stupid.  I know my limitations. 

I would feel safer if I were allowed to keep something in my car.  I would feel safer if I were allowed to have a gun safe in my room.  I am not really worried that I would ever need either one but I think it would make things even safer.  Ignorant thugs who shoot up schools and malls do so with the assumption that no one will shoot back.  As soon as someone shoots back they tend to lose their focus.  I have noticed that these kinds of massacres do not happen at shooting ranges or in gun stores.

But what do I know?  I am only a history teacher who observes the past and has a feel for cause and effect.

homo unius libri

Friday, January 23, 2015

Opus 2015-23: We Need a Tsunami

William Wilberforce has come up in my life several time this week.  He is one of the great men of history.

If you are not familiar with the name it is because you went to a modern public school.  He used to be a regular part of the curriculum until the Progressives (aka, liberals, Democrats, socialists, Communists, Rinos) in education got fixated on removing the roots of western culture from our teaching.  Wilberforce, more than any other man, was responsible for ending slavery in the world.  He was contemporary with the founding of our country.  He was a member of the British parliament and battled to end slavery for 30 years before the slave trade was banned in the British Empire.  Shortly after he died slavery itself was made illegal.

Where are the Wilberforce’s today?  Where are the men and women who are motivated to bring righteousness to the streets, businesses, legislatures and living rooms of our nation?  Are they out there in the wings, working quietly and making a difference?  Have they been stifled and stigmatized out of existence?  Where are the people who can have a glorious cause, invest their lives in it and not sell out?

They are not coming from Hollywood.  They are not coming from the DNC or RNC.  I don’t see them in academia.  If they are in the church they have been muzzled.

What motivated Wilberforce?  He was a member of the gentry.  He was part of the privileged class that lived like spoiled, pampered children in a decedent age.  He was known at one point for the parties he through.  What focused his life?  Jesus.  Yes, he had a “come to Jesus moment.”  It transformed the playboy into a history changer.  It set him free from sin and as a result set millions free from slavery.  He was mocked and belittled for his faith and his mission.  He reached down into something deeper than himself and kept his eye on the prize.

He transformed the world as we know it.

We need a wave of righteous leaders, a tsunami of righteousness if you will. 

homo unius libri

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Opus 2015-22: Speed Dull

Are knives dulled more quickly by plastic cutting boards?

As I fight my diabetes-nurturing weight I am learning to do more than make baloney sandwiches.  One of the big parts of my diet is salad.  I do a lot of cutting, pealing and chopping.  I have come to appreciate good knives.  I have learned to try to keep them sharp.  A dull knife is a dangerous knife.

Keeping them sharp involves a sharpener, obviously, but even more.  There is an intermediate step of honing.  It looks like a steel rod.  It has a handle on one end and a rough surface.  You strop the knife on a regular basis and it keeps it sharp longer.  Simple and effective.

I have been noticing something and I am wondering if it is my imagination.  I use different types of cutting boards.  At one point my wife was getting fussy about the wooden boards so I started using some made of plastic.  It seems to me that the knives get dull faster using the plastic than they do with wood.

Fact or fiction?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Opus 2015-21: Headlines: In the Hood

A blog that was recommended by James Zachary at The Next Chapter is called “Julie on Politics.”  She does not publish every day but I am finding she has some interesting things to say.  Recently she posted a piece about Oklahoma considering a law involving a $500 fine on people hiding their face with a hoodie.  I battle these things every day in class, along with knit caps and backward baseball hats.  Teaching social norms is hard when you deal with people who feel like the only norm is to look like a thug or a fool.

However, I think it is a bit too far to start demanding conformity on the streets.  Historically the elite classes kept people in place with sumptuary laws.  You could tell someone’s place in society by how they dressed.  You had penalties for stepping out of bounds in material, color and style.  I have no trouble with laws dealing with nudity and such.  I have no problem with dress codes at school and work.  Telling me I can’t wear my hood up to hide my face on the street is 1984 in the making.  I hate hoods.  I would hate even more being forced to wear one in sympathy for those who think their identity is draped in them.

Oklahoma laws on dress codes are not high on my list of things to research but such a law would be a step in the wrong direction.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 19, 2015

Opus 2015-20: Economic Indicators: Calendars

Where have all the calendars gone?

There are plenty for sale but I am not seeing the free ones given out by businesses for the purpose of advertising.

In the past I have had as many as four calendars around my room at school.  Now I have none.  I am too cheap to buy them and it seems that the businesses I frequent are too poor to give them away.  I take this as evidence that the economy is not doing as well as the media is trying to hype.

But then, who are you going to believe, the Socialist news media or your own lying eyes? 

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Opus 2015-19: Headlines: Gun Control, European Style, part 2 of 2

Europe has been disarmed and is well on the way to being overrun by barbarians.  Again, this is from an article in The Washington Free Beacon.

Jewish leaders also don’t get it.
“Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that while guns could help Jews defend themselves against an individual attack, only authorities can protect them against a mass attack like those carried out in France.

‘As to personally being armed, such a move could help when a Jewish person is threatened by thugs, but won’t help if G-d forbid, Charlie-type terror attacks are launched,’ Cooper said.

‘Bottom line: Only the Police and intelligence can protect France’s Jews from terrorism,’ Cooper said, noting that it is expected French authorities will continue boosting defenses. ‘If the government doesn’t, then there is no long range future for Jews there.’”
Have you heard that kind of foolishness before?  “Only authorities can protect” didn’t work out too well for the people of Paris when the chips were down.  Remember that saying, “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”  To that I would add, “If you get a chance to call.”  I want the police to do more than put up yellow tape and send a representative to my funeral.  Unfortunately, even when they do their best, that is about all they can do.

Gun Free Zones anyone?  Notice that if the terrorists had obeyed the European gun laws they would have killed no one.  If the Jews had been ignoring the European gun laws they might have not been killed.  If we have a massacre here like took place in Paris, it will happen in one of the places that America has followed Europe’s lead and banned firearms. 

Whoops.  I guess that is the way it has been happening here, isn’t it?  The ultimate irony was the Fort Hood Massacre (aka as workplace violence).  Soldiers, on an army post, mowed down with their families because they were not allowed to carry weapons.

Don’t let the Progressives (aka, socialists, Democrats, Rinos, liberals) bring Europe style helplessness to America.

homo unius libri

Opus 2015-18: Headlines: Gun Control, European Style, part 1 of 2

The Drudge Report had an interesting headline that linked to an article in The Washington Free Beacon about something that many Americans would consider so obvious it doesn’t deserve comment:  Jews in Europe should start carrying guns.  This is like saying you should lock your car when you leave it in the mall parking lot.

An early comment in the article was,
“The European Jewish Association (EJA), which represents Jewish communities across Europe, says that gun license laws must be altered following a string of deadly attacks on Jews in France and other European countries, where anti-Semitism has been growing at an alarming rate.”
Not to take a cheap shot, but my understanding is that one of the first steps that Hitler took before the final solution was to disarm the population.  It is a common step in tyrants and political bullies.  The article further brings to light that the people of Europe have been disarmed.
“The EU, which has enacted very stringent gun control laws, should empower and train Jews to be proficient with guns in order to maintain their safety, ....”
If you take away the ability to defend yourself then it is easier to take away your right to speak, worship, assembly and publish.  What they seem to miss is that the purpose of “stringent gun control laws” is to keep people from being empowered and trained.  They are to keep you subservient to the ruling class.  It also makes you victims of the jackals of society.  These type of socialists believe the trade off is worth it.  Of course they have their own personal security forces.

Europeans don’t seem to understand the tension between liberty and despotism.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Opus 2015-17: Green Pieces: Charlie Brown’s Globe Is Warming

Where is Charles Schultz when we need him?

Remember the classic series of cartoons with Lucy repeatedly talking Charlie Brown into kicking the football?  He kept falling for it in spite of the clear evidence that Lucy lied.  And lied.  And lied.  And lied.

Remember that when you read the headlines about 2014 being the hottest year and how the world is getting hotter.  They lie.  And lie.  And lie.  And lie.  And lie.

The best summary I have read is at Powerline.  It is relatively short and has clear charts.  It names names and give details.  If you are having a Charlie Brown Moment and are tempted to believe the Lucy will hold the ball this time, read the article.

And remember:  They lie.  And lie.  And lie.  And lie....

homo unius libri

Friday, January 16, 2015

Opus 2015-16: Should-a-Beens: Obama to Paris?

At first I was glad that the President didn’t go to Paris.  Keep in mind that if anything had happened to him Joe Biden would have taken over.  That was a scary thought.

Let’s face it, losing the chief executive of France or Germany would be a tragedy but it would not cause near the problems that the terrorist murder of the President of the United States would create.  My first reaction was along those lines.  Send Joe Biden.  That is part of his job and he is high enough in government we would save face.  Since this was an invitation to disaster, don’t send the president.

Then I saw that Netanyahu and Abbas were there.  Maybe he should have gone.  If they can survive, so can he.

As the story unfolded I learned that Netanyahu and Abbas were asked not to come.  The French declared that this was not about Israel and Islam.  It was about expressing solidarity with France.  Let me see now, the attacks were against Jews in France.  The attackers were Muslim trained terrorists.  I had hopes that this would wake France up to the danger but I should have realized that if the riots of the last few years did not give them the message why should the murder of a few Jews make a difference to them.

What I thought was simple gets more and more clouded.

If the terrorists had scored a hit with our chief executive in Paris it would mean Joe Biden for president instead of Barak Obama.  Six years ago that would have been a no-brainer, pun intended.  Now I am not sure that it wouldn’t really be an improvement.

homo unius libri

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Opus 2015-15: Happy About Holes in the Floor

Pergo is all the rage.  It looks pretty good, I guess.  At least it makes my wife happy.  The problem is that like most artificial veneers it gets damaged and can’t be repaired. 

Hard wood floors get marred and it adds character.  Pergo just starts to look cheap. 

I am glad that there are holes in the floor.  I am glad that I did not cause most of them.  That means two things.  First, I don’t get yelled at.  Second, we stop worrying about every hard object we drop.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Opus 2015-14: Prude!

I am a prude and happy in that condition.

“Prude” is the personal form of “prudence.”  My computer defines “prudence” as “acting with or showing care and thought for the future.”  I can live with that, but our society can’t.

Our culture is the culture of instant gratification.  We believe that if it feels good we should do it.  It is kind of a moral, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”  We refuse to take the long term view on anything.  One of the reasons that many of the nations children don’t care about school is that they don’t have the vision to see the need.  One reason they are allowed to continue in that attitude is because the leaders in education don’t see the long term effects of making them feel good rather than doing well.

Why are STD’s (VD for us old timers) so common?  Because the media teaches us casual sex with no complications.  Why do so many have HIV?  Same reason.  Why are so many children born outside of marriage?  Same reason.  Why do so many marriages end in divorce? 

Now take that attitude of “I want, I want” and apply it to credit cards, auto loans, home purchases, vacation plans and you see the problems in our economy.  Use it to decide how much to eat and you see the obesity and diabetes stampede.  I guess there I am meddling. 

So call me a prude.  I will be faithful to my wife.  I will live within my means.  I will try to watch what I eat.  And I will probably have a long, happy life.

Join me.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Opus 2015-13: Healthy Insights: Simple Math

Why is it so hard to lose weight?  Because it demands self control and self limitation.  All of the diet advertisements I hear deny that.  They use words like “easy”.  They tell you that denying yourself is not necessary.  They say you can eat the foods you like and never feel hungry. 

They lie. 

Weight loss is a matter of physics and mathematics.  What you put in the hopper has calories.  Your daily activities require calories.  If you put in more than you require, guess what?  You gain weight.  I you put in less than you require, guess what?  You lose weight.  I am sure there are some people with exotic glandular conditions for whom this does not work but I hate to break it to you:  You are not one of them.

There are some phrases that ruin attempts at weight control.  One is “It won’t matter.”  Another is, “Just this once.”  Another is, “It is only a taste.”  It does matter.  It won’t be just once.  Even a taste has calories and they add up.

Why is it so hard to keep weight off?  Because it demands following long term principles rather than short term gratification.

I lost a lot of weight.  It has been creeping up again.  The reason is, drum roll please, I am eating more than I should.  I begin to estimate instead of measure.  I begin to say, “It’s a special day.”  Whatever the reason, I am creeping up in weight because I am creeping down in honest discipline.  That is the bad news.  The good news is that I have not given up.  I am still committed to the battle. 

I am determined to win this one.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 12, 2015

Opus 2015-12: Did You Really Ask That?

People always ask the wrong questions.

The other day a student asked me, “Why don’t you chew gum?”  I then gave a long list of reasons.  The student was not impressed.

The real question should be, “Why do you chew gum?”

I think of other questions I am asked.

“Why don’t you watch TV?”

“Why do you tuck your shirt in?”

“Why do you drive an old car?”

“Why are you a Republican?”

Okay, on that last one, I ask myself the same question.  The answer is usually along the line that the other choices are so bad, the Republicans are the last man standing.  After all, what could make me vote for Mitt Romney?  Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton.

I wish we could start asking the right questions. 

“Why do we tax the industrious to give money to the lazy?”

“Why should people who pay no taxes vote on whether to raise taxes?”

“Why should we require children to go to school if everything they know screams ‘No!’?”

“Why is a college degree necessary to teach simple arithmetic?”

Keep asking.  I am sure you have your own questions.  Maybe someday someone will come along with answers.  If they do, vote for them.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Opus 2015-11: Headlines: Facing Truth and Restraining Hatred

It is hard to miss the iceberg that France it being forced to acknowledge.  Of course the iceberg is the desire of Islam to conquer the West and it’s willingness to kill and destroy to bring us to our knees.  Some people refuse to see reality until it is too painful to ignore.  France may have reached that point.  I doubt it, but I can hope.  Will the rest of the world learn from the pain in Paris or stand around with their fingers in their ears singing “Kumbaya”?

It is hard to admit uncomfortable truth that demands action.

It is even harder to find a reasonable, rational, retrained response that does not destroy our culture as fast as the sword of the enemy.  There is more than one way to kill a culture just as there is more than one way to kill a hostage.

We in the West, who have a heritage of Christian values, need to respond.  We need to respond with strength and determination.  That will involve violence and focus that we normally avoid.  It must be measured, though.  It must not be a seeking of vengeance and reprisal to try to wash away the pain caused by the purveyors of terror.

If we want to remain free and moving forward we must not loose our reason for response.

There is a reason why the Bible says,
(Romans 12:19 KJV)  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Revenge tends to be a cycle that destroys the avenger.  It escalates into a never ending round of murder and destruction.

But that does not mean we go to turning the other cheek as a society.  It means that the governments step up and do what Paul tells us is their responsibility in the next chapter of Romans.
(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.
The government has the responsibility to act against evil.  You may be a part of the response if you are in the military.  As an individual you are to turn the other cheek.  As a culture we are to response with violence.  That is what a sword is for, violence.  That is what evil demands, violence.

Notice another point in this verse.  Violence is to be against “him that doeth evil.”  As much as Christians may disagree with Muslims, we do not have a divine mandate to kill people because they are Muslims.  We may consider them “evil” in the sense of being anti-God but they are not doing evil.  The Muslim terrorists may think it is okay to kill everyone who disagrees with them.  That is one of the differences between us and them.  It is an important difference that must not be abandoned out of pain or anger.

The West needs to wake up.  It needs to respond.  It will require violence.  It must be restrained.  It must focus on the evil doers not the entire Middle East.

Hard?  Yes.  But that is the demand of truth and righteousness.  No one ever said it would be easy.

homo unius libri.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Opus 2015-10: Thanksgiving Daily

One of the habits I try to get into on a normal morning is to look at my breakfast as a time of Communion.  Technically Communion is a Christian sacrament that is almost universal across the spectrum of Christianity.  It is also called The Lord Supper and the Eucharist.  It is the center of every Roman Catholic act of worship from Sunday morning to weddings.  It involves unleavened bread and a cup of wine or grape juice.  Since my breakfast usually consists of bread and coffee ,it goes well with the idea of bread and the cup.  Sure, the bread isn’t unleavened and coffee isn’t made from grapes but, it is a focus.

As Paul starts to teach on the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11 he points out that Jesus began by giving thanks.
(1 Corinthians 11:24 KJV)  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
I will take the bread I am going to eat in my hand and spend a few moments in thanks to God.  My mind wanders into the many areas of blessings in my life.  Today I looked at what I held and was impressed by the numerous people and processes that brought a simple piece of bread to my hand.  You had the original farmers who cleared the land and prepared it.  You have the people who developed the wheat and provided the seed.  How about the people who mined the ore that was processed to make the farm machinery.  You see where I was going on this.  Just a simple piece of bread with thousands of highly skilled and hard working people that placed it in my hand.

Truly miraculous.  Truly a blessing.  Truly an object of thanks.  Whom do you thank?  I thank God for His bounty.

And then we get to the cup and coffee.

It isn’t November but we have ample reason to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving Day.

homo unius libri

Friday, January 9, 2015

Opus 2015-9: Green Piece: The Paperless Office

Remember the paperless office?  Neither do I, but I remember the promise.

One of the selling points of computers is that we can get away from using so much paper.  If you work you know it hasn’t happened that way.  At school we used to take role on scan trons and turn them in.  A lot of paper but it was quick.  Once through and we were done.  We had a secretary who put them through the machine as a minor part of her day.

Now they want us to do everything on the computer.  We are to take role, keep records of student work and figure our grades.  Sounds great but the computer has a strange way of making information disappear.  I am not good with that.  Maybe it is just a lack of trust.  So now I have to print my own role sheets if I want a record I can count on.  When they printed the role sheets they were able to make two sheets of paper work for a 19 week semester.  I require at least 24. 

The computer also makes a lot more work because the bureaucrats can make mindless demands.  One demand is that we have attendance in the computer in the first 10 minutes of class.  To someone who sits in an office with a secretary, that may sound reasonable but, with a steady stream of students coming in tardy it means repeated trips to the computer.  Oh, and they have it set up to bump you out of the attendance program if you wait too long.  That means more time entering passwords and such.  Then they print out the weekly attendance for all classes, send them to the teachers and require us to review it to verify the accuracy of the computer.  Not only does it require much more time from the teacher but requires almost a full time employee to track.

I would say that we are using much more paper now that we are “paperless.”

homo unius libri

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Opus 2015-8: School Starts

Winter break is over for teachers.  Next time you hear a teacher complain about the low pay and lack of respect, remind them that they just had a two week vacation, some three weeks, which is as much as most people get for the entire year.

When teachers come back many districts are setting the first day aside, giving the students another day off and having what they call an in-service, a professional development day, staff training, or some other title. 

One of the presentations I went to dealt with emotionally disturbed and autistic children.  Over all it was an interesting presentation and there were a few ideas I felt like might be of value.  Where I run into a wall is when the basic difference in philosophy comes through in a clear, uncompromising, sneaky voice. 

We were listing to a clip on autism and at the end the speaker snuck in the comment “All students always do their best.”  There are times when I wonder what planet these people come from and if they are dealing with human beings or creatures from Sim City.  If all students always did their best we would have no failures, no suspensions, and no need for an small army of social workers dealing with truancy.  Understand, no teacher fails a student who is trying.  It just doesn’t happen.  Every teacher has built into their system ways to allow students to pass if they are at least trying half the time.

This is a problem of philosophy and world view.  It is the difference between the Christian view of human nature and the pagan education view of human nature.  Christians believe that the problem in society is personal.  There is something broken inside us.  We call it sin.  Only God can fix it.  New Age, post modern pagans believe that the problems are systemic.  If we can just get society right then everything will go swimmingly.  Only the chosen elite can fix what is wrong.

So welcome back, if you were gone.  For the working classes it is just another day, samo, samo.

Oh, and thank you again for paying your taxes.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Opus 2015-7: Major League Sports Are Coming to Your Town

We are going to need to expand the NFL, NBA, NL, AL and MLS.

This is the result of an unscientific, random poll of middle school students who do not think they need an education.  They are all going to be professional athletes of some brand.  The world will bow down at their feet and call them All Star.

At least that is what they tell me.

The poll goes something like this:

“Get to work.”

“I don’t need an education.”

“Get out your book.”

“I don’t need an education.”

“You are going to fail.”

“I don’t need an education.”

“What makes you think you don’t need an education?”

“I am going to be a professional ________________.”  

With this many 13 year olds who are already ready to replace the current stars, my suggestion is that we expand all the leagues to make room for their talent.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 5, 2015

Opus 2015-6: Election 2016: Jeb on Education, part 3 of 3

We hear a lot of talk about standards.  Everyone likes to have standards but what do they mean?  In history we have gone to many meetings to write standards.  The results?  We took the old standards and listed them by priority.  Instead of having a list of weekly expectations we divided the year up into quarters and had general material to cover.  Smoke and Mirrors.

The priorities we already had.  I have the standards listed as A, B, C and *.  I have had that for years.  The quarter approach is the one that we threw out fifteen years ago in the last attempt at “reform.”   As far as rigor goes, you be the judge.  I have my students write a 5-10 page term paper.  I teach research techniques, note taking, outlining and the final product.  I have them give an oral report.  The new standards want me to have them do travel brochures.  Which do you think is designed to challenge and which is designed to dumb down?  So far I have been able to ignore the lower expectations.

States already have standards.  We have scope and sequence.  We have been doing it for years.  When I started teaching I was handed an inch thick document that had everything I needed to know in order to teach the subject.  They had them for every subject.  The problem is not the written standards.  The problem is the lack of applied standards.  Educators talk about rigor and raising the bar.  At an assembly early in the year our students were told that the official school board policy for middle school would be that a student could fail two out of their four core subjects in the last semester and still be eligible for promotion and all the activities.  This is their idea of rigor. 

Talk is cheap.  I am a history teacher.  I know that after the Civil War, freed slaves flocked to classrooms to learn and get ahead.  It didn’t matter if the class met under a tree.  They learned to read.  They learned to write.  They did it with lots of talk from the Federal government and no financial help.  In the one room school house days children learned to read and write in small rooms with little equipment.  They did it without long lists of standards and Project Based Learning.  The problem is not that we don’t have standards, the problem is we keep making excuses and refusing to enforce those standards.

So in regard to education, Jeb Bush is on the liberal plantation.  On other issues?  Time will tell.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Opus 2015-5: Election 2016: Jeb on Education, part 2 of 3

Jeb Bush likes merit pay.  He is also a diehard supporter of Common Core Curriculum (CCC).  The Washington Times examines this in its weekend, print version, November 24, 2014, page 3.  It is also on-line.  They have different titles.  The print versions is, “Jeb Bush maintains support for Common Core.”  The on-line proclaims “Jeb Bush doubles down on Common Core, risking conservative ire.”  They are different, but you get the point.

As a public school teacher who has been to the indoctrination and meetings, read some of the material and listened to other teachers, I can tell you that Jeb Bush does not know what he is talking about.  He speaks as someone who listens to the gurus and consultants in education and shelters himself from the people in the trenches.

He is quoted as saying,
“...they are vital to improving the quality of education and, by extension, improving children’s chances to succeed in today’s economy.”
The biggest problem I see with the Common Core Standards is that they are nothing new.  They are simply a repackaging of the goal that public education has had for years.  I saw it when I started in 1987.  I have seen it repeatedly brought back with new smoke, mirrors and jargon.  Since most people ignore history and don’t look at the big picture they always think it is new and shiny.  Ultimately it is the battle to move from content to process.  The big quote you always hear is about rote learning, memorization and repetition not helping people to think.  The gurus of education keep up the mantra that it is more important to be able to think than to know the facts. 

The article shares a half truth.
“The standards do not constitute a national curriculum; instead, they lay out basic facts and principles that students are expected to master by the end of each grade level.”
The half truth is that the entire thrust is on the principles, not the facts.  The statement acts like they get equal billing but that is not true.  Homework becomes group projects in class.  Spelling is unimportant.  They are developing software so computers can grade the students writing.  Most of what I have seen emphasizes group work.  If you are a group of high paid professionals, group work might have a use.  I emphasize “might”.  Even there it does not always work.  For young people it is just a way to pool your ignorance and try to get someone else to get the work.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Opus 2015-4: Election 2016: Jeb on Education, part 1 of 3

The 2016 election is already in the news.  Certain moderate Republicans are being pushed by the media.  You hear them constantly referring to Mitt Romney, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush.  While I would concede that any of them will be better than Hillary they have areas that make them “hold your nose and vote” candidates for me.

Today I want to look at Jeb Bush in light of his commitment to education.  Florida under his watch was one of the few states to see improved test scores.  I will give him that.  He supported some types of school choice and was in favor of raising standards.  I am on board that ship.

We parted company on the issue of merit pay for teachers.  He is in favor of merit pay.  I think it would be a disaster.  This is from memory, so it may not be exact but Jeb Bush has been a long time advocate of merit pay in education.  It is one of those ideas which seems good but when you look at the entire picture it falls apart.  The big issue is, how do you decide a teacher is doing a good job?  Do you let the students decide?  They tend to like the teachers that give them parties and lots of fun.  Administrators?  They are on the upward career path and want teachers that will do what they are told and make them look good. 

Some people come down to testing as a means of determining how good a job a teacher is doing.  Again, it sounds good, but doesn’t work.  How do you measure improvement and compare students and classes?  I have five classes.  All are different.  Most of my failing students are in one class.  I have another class in which most are getting “A’s”.  When I give a quiz, the class of failing students have large numbers of students who either miss every question or leave the paper totally blank.  Is it the teacher’s fault that a student walks in the first day with no ability to read and write and no interest in learning?  How do you measure the “improvement” of that class with a group that have their eyes on college?  In large schools the better students tend to be given to certain teachers.  Of course they look well.

Merit pay does not work.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Friday, January 2, 2015

Opus 2015-3: Links: Scary Info on Taxes

Most people who read my posts have already read what Gorges has to say.  Just in case you have not and are concerned about taxes, check out what he has posted.  He links it from a Facebook page and since I avoid Facebook I will just give you his.

Scary stuff.

homo unius libri

Opus 2015-2: A Dirty Story

I have never been overly bothered by dirt.  My wife calls me a “messy”.  She stole the term from a book she read.  It seems to fit.

A good example comes from school.  I arrived early, entered my room, sat down at my desk and got to work.  Later another teacher came in and the first words out of his mouth were, “What happened to your wall?”  I was mystified so I walked across to see what he was talking about. 

The janitors used my room to park an electrical cart and charge it over night.  That usually was no problem but it seems that last night someone’s foot got stuck on the accelerator and the cart had bounced of the side wall, rushed across the room and hit on the other side.  Whoever was driving did not clean up the mess.  The two holes were matched by piles of rubble on the floor.  I had stepped across one as I came through the door.  I had no clue.  When they were pointed out, they were obvious.  I had not noticed them.  Why the custodians had not cleaned them up, I have no idea.

You see my problem.

I am also beginning to wonder if part of my problem with dirt is that I can’t see it.  I have always worn glasses and am a bit color blind.  Today I suddenly noticed what looked like spots on the clock by my chair.  It was a trick of lighting that made them stand out.  When I brought the clock within range I noticed that it was a mess.  I dug out my lens cleaning materials and made it shine.  It had obviously been a long time since it had been tended to.  I look at it many times a day and saw nothing.

My wife gripes about mold in the shower.  I have found that if I look before I shower I can see spots to scrub at.  If I wait until I take off my glasses and get in, I see no problem.  Even when I know it is there I have a hard time seeing it. 

As I get older and my wife gets less inclined to clean up after me I am getting more involved with the problem.  I am not sure which is more a problem, caring or seeing.  I am part of that group of men who ask, “Why make the bed, I am just going to get in again tonight.”  Or, “Why fold my underwear, I am just going to use it again.” 

Pray for my wife.  She is a neatnik.

homo unius libri

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Opus 2015-1: Switching from Santa Claus to Father Time

Father Time is a kind of Santa Claus for New Years.  Instead of giving him a list of presents desired, we make a list of resolutions targeted.

As I was reading in Proverbs a few days ago, I came across a passage that I want to be my theme for the year.
(Proverbs 30:7-9 NAS77)  Two things I asked of Thee, Do not refuse me before I die:  Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, Lest I be full and deny Thee and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.
The Bible teaches balance in so many areas of life.  Here is it summed up in “Give me neither poverty nor riches.”

It is so easy to live in extremes.  That is why I think it is easier to be a recovering alcoholic than to be a recovering glutton.  You can live without alcohol.  You cannot live without food.  With alcohol it is total.  You always say “No.”  With food it is a matter of knowing when to stop.  In politics it is easy to take an extreme stand.  On occasion that is warranted.  Often it is not. 

So my goal for the year is to be extreme in my obedience to the Living God and use that obedience to give me balance in other areas.

Have a happy, blessed and balanced New Year.

homo unius libri