Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

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

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Opus 2017-033: Headlines: You’re Fired!

I expect to see this everywhere.  I want to see this everywhere.  Possibly the most famous words of Donald Trump from his TV show and now we hear them in real time.  I wish I had a meter to see how many times this phrase will be posted in the next few days.

Too bad he can’t say the same thing to a nosey ex-president who won’t go away.  So much for the dignity of the office.

homo unius libri

Opus 2017-032: Just Around the Corner

Racist History Month is coming.  Many of you call it February.  Racists.  Privilegests.  

I am being reminded of this on a regular basis every day.  “Are we going to study Black History in Black History Month?”  I have had students ask me that question right after we watched a video about Harriet Tubman.  How can this be?  Because they are not interested in learning about the history of black people in the United States.  What they want is to get out of work that involves learning something new and go back to the three or four things they know.  For the average student of any color today Black History is confined to Martin Luther King, Jr, Rosa Parks and slavery.  If you get beyond that you are off the reservation. 

These kids think the only slaves that have ever existed were black people who were kidnaped from Africa by white people.  They are ignorant of the reality of slavery in every culture through history.  They deny that black people sold their ancestors to the white traders.  They refuse to listen when you tell them that there were black people in Louisiana who owned plantations and black slaves.  In a nutshell it isn’t about learning history.  It is about sticking in a thumb, pulling out a plumb and saying, “Oh, what a good boy am I.”

It fascinates me that we need a month to “celebrate” black history when we can cover the Irish with St. Patrick’s Day, the Mexicans with Cinco de Mayo and have nothing to remember the French, Germans, Croatians, Serbians, Persians, etc.

It all starts in your public schools on February 1.  I am waiting for someone to complain that they picked the shortest month.  It must be racist.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 30, 2017

Opus 2017-031: Headlines: Mystery Killings

One of the things I do as I am waking up is check the weather for the day on my smart phone.  I then scroll down to see what kind of headlines they have decided I am interested in.  One of the leading bits of news was a shooting at a mosque in the French part of Canada.  A couple of observations that reflect on the unrepentant behavior of the media.

Although two people have been arrested there is not word on who they were, what they looked like or what their motive was.  That tells us that it was not white males from the local Baptist church.  I wonder who it could be.  Any suggestions?

They also tried to blame Donald Trump for the killing.  After all, if he had not blocked the easy access of more terrorists then this would not have happened, right?  I am assuming that the terrorists who hit San Bernardino and Paris had the gift of seeing the future.  That must be why they were angry.

To their credit article did note that much of the time this kind of violence is between Sunni and Shia Muslims and they did indicate that it might have been a terrorist act but those comments were many paragraphs down in the article.

It is a shame that six people died from violence.  It is a bigger shame that the media use the tragedy to try to score political points.  It used to be called being a liberal or leftists.  Now it is called being Progressive.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Opus 2017-030: Headlines: Leaky Weeks

On the Powerline Blog the subject was the leaked tapes of the supposedly secret meeting of the GOP last week.  What struck me was that this person infiltrated a supposedly secure location with false ID.  She passed all the hurdles that were put up to keep things secure.  The political aspect is business as usual.  There is no integrity when it comes to gathering news.  We should be used to that by now. 

What about the security angle?  If it is this easy to infiltrate a meeting with very exclusive membership what does it say about national security.  This woman had the credentials.  She went through all the hoops.  She still got in and it never occurred to anyone when she was “escorted” out that she might have recording she was not supposed to have?

What if she had been a terrorists instead of a reporter? 

homo unius libri

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Opus 2017-029: Headlines: Awards

As I was reading about some of the protests against President Trump I wondered what they were complaining about.  I wasn’t reading about any of his actual actions.  I was reading about all of the fear mongering that is so popular.  I was reading how he was going to put women in jail who had abortions and how he was going to deport the parents of my students.  All nonsense but very loud nonsense.

It struck me that there was a similarity between Trump and Obama.  Each was being rewarded for things they had not done.  We have the Hitler Award to Trump for atrocities he has not committed.  We have the Nobel Peace Prize for Obama before he is even in office.  His big accomplishments were writing two autobiographies about a life that showed no accomplishments. 

Neither one has done anything to deserve the awards.  It is like me being awarded the Miss America crown.

homo unius libri

Opus 2017-028: Headlines: What Is Your Favorite Baloney?

As I took a quick look at the headlines today I saw the usual divide in headlines:  Hysteria on the left and balance on the right.  I concede that at this point I only looked at two headlines but I think it is safe to assume that the pattern will hold.  Since I am taking the Drudge Report with a grain of salt I was not surprised to see that their lead story was headlined, “Refugees Blocked from USA” and that it linked me to the New York Times.  The picture was a lonely woman sitting in a very American dining room dressed in very American clothes waiting for her husband who is detained in New York.  It focused on all the wonderful people and organizations that were being discriminated against by this executive order “enacted with the stroke of a pen”.  No comment on whether the flood of potential terrorists was initiated by the stroke of a pen.

Then I went to the Washington Times where the headline read, “Trump hits pause button on refugees, puts immigration from terror regions on hold”.  That is a slightly different picture.  The Times points out “But the policy signed Friday does not single out a religion, instead going after programs that Mr. Trump says have loopholes that terrorists could exploit.”

I have a feeling that in spite of the gnashing of teeth on the left this will only serve to raise Trump’s approval ratings.  Will some people be inconvenienced?  Of course.  Will it make all of us safer?  Probably.  Will it be administered with compassion?  We are Americans.  If we do anything to extreme it is mercy.  Will it take away or liberty as Americans?  That is the big question.  I am not so worried about people trying to get to freedom as making sure that they have some freedom to come to.

Stay tuned.  Don’t rely on the media, which means consider the sources and keep your baloney detectors in extreme mode.

homo unius libri

Friday, January 27, 2017

Opus 2017-027: A Supreme Court Perspective

What kind of changes will Donald Trump bring about in how we do business in Washington.  We tend to live in today and lose the perspective of history.  We think big changes have never been done before.  I came across the plan of Thomas Jefferson while reading a book about John Marshall.  Jefferson is the father of the Democratic party.  The current party is the direct descendant of the group he brought together.  It was originally the Democrat-Republican party and later dropped the Republican but in this quote when you read Republican understand that it is talking about the historic Democratic party. 

See what Jefferson had planned for the Supreme Court.
“‘The Federalists,’ wrote Jefferson, ‘have retired into the judiciary as a stronghold ... and from that battery all the works of republicanism are to be beaten down and erased.’  Therefore that stronghold must be taken. Never was a military plan more carefully devised than was the Republican method of capturing it. Jefferson would forthwith remove all Federalist United States marshals and attorneys; he would get rid of the National judges whom Adams had appointed under the Judiciary Act of 1801.  If this did not make those who remained on the National Bench sufficiently tractable, the sword of impeachment would be held over their obstinate heads until terror of removal and disgrace should render them pliable to the dominant political will. Thus by progressive stages the Supreme Court would be brought beneath the blade of the executioner and the obnoxious Marshall decapitated or compelled to submit.”
This is playing hardball.  I have heard nothing to compare with it in my lifetime.  There is little that Trump could do that would even come close to the precedent established by Thomas Jefferson.  Later he will try to railroad a Federalist justice with impeachment.

We live in boring times.  Grab hold and hang on for the ride.

Albert J. Beveridge.  The Life of John Marshall (Volume 3 of 4) Kindle Location
      555-563, from Gutenberg Project download.

homo unius libri

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Opus 2017-026: Sloth as a Second Language

At our faculty meeting we were presented with a list of students ready to move to full English.  There were a lot of acronyms and jargon.  During that I tried to meditate on world peace.  It didn’t work.  We were given their grades in English class and the range went from A to F.  I have many of these kids on a daily basis.  Many of them you could talk to all day and not realize they were supposed to be limited in their English.

What struck me was the reason I see for the difference between an A and an F.  It was not language skill.  Most spoke well.  Some who struggled had the highest grades.  It was not intelligence.  None of them were dummies.  The big difference was work habits.  The ones who had high grades came to class with their books and supplies.  When it was time to work they would open their books and get busy.  They did not spend their time talking to their friends, doing their nails, cleaning out their back pack or counting the leaves on the trees outside the window.  They got to work.

We don’t teach work habits any more.  We make excuses.  One of the definitions I have heard for people that need special education help is someone who is not performing up to the level of their ability.  Of course it is never a matter of laziness or entitlement mentality.  It is always something that requires lots of forms and high paid experts to work with them.

Not really.  It is a matter of sloth.  You think the snowflakes marching in the streets to the tune of “love trumps hate” are out of contact with reality, just wait until the next generation is pushed out of the public schools.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Opus 2017-025: Get the New Broom into Action

I came across another verse in Proverbs that might help President Trump decide how he should be leading.
(Proverbs 25:5 KJV)  Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
I make no assumptions about whether Donald Trump would recognize the wicked but he needs to know that God has given him permission to get rid of anyone who is on the side of evil.  I could make up my own list of prospects.  It would include just about everyone in the top levels of the State Department but I don’t want to be presumptuous.

We have had a time of voting the suckers out.  We now need to wait two more years for the next batch.  In the meantime the new president should take his new broom and start sweeping.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Opus 2017-024: Foundations of Transition

The left was calling for insurrection.  They were openly hoping for the assassination of Donald Trump.  Students in my classes still openly talk about killing the president.  The media called rioting and looting “demonstrations”.  The violent left was on the move.  In spite of that the inauguration went proceeded and there were no major issues.  Why are we able to have such peaceful transitions?

Those of us on the right are used to the childish nonsense but I, for one, live in an awareness that all it will take is one progressive leader to declare a state of emergency and try to stay in power.  Every time a Democrat president has come to the end of his reign I have heard the speculation.  We keep hearing about how certain presidents are going to create a crisis and refuse to leave.  It hasn’t happened yet.  We still have certain traditions in our culture that make it unlikely for a few more years.

As Americans we don’t endorse the concept of a king.  If we had a king then we might have a revolution.  Would you really have put up with King Obama for the rest of your life?  Would the left have put up with King Ronald or George II.  I doubt it.  Instead we say we can wait four years for a change and go back to work organizing.  The snowflakes in the street are wanting a king but that is because they think he will take care of them.

Democratic forms of government are based on the mature attitude of delayed gratification.  That is based on the Christian balance of respect for authority and trust in God.  This is eroding as the influence of Christian values are driven out of the square.  How long will the old traditions continue if the people do not embrace the source of that tradition?

Our military swears to uphold and protect the Constitution not the president.  In order for a president to sidestep the 22nd Amendment he would need to get a sizable portion of the military to ignore the clear words of “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice”.  So far there have been no rumblings of that.

We still have the Second Amendment.  This had a reason and it wasn’t so people could go hunting.
"During the early years of the Republic, the internal military threat against which a citizen army was supposed to stand guard was a military coup against constitutional government."  Russel F. Weigley, History of the United States Army.  Macmillan, 1967, p. xii.
The Democrats are doing everything they can to gut this part of the Constitution.  They keep chipping away at it.  So far it is still in force.  How long depends on whether we keep voting in people who believe in limited government.

So we seem to have made it through another transition.  I hope to see many more.  That will depend on whether we keep deserving the government we deserve.

homo unius libri

Opus 2017-023: Thanks Thoughts: Let It Rain

Rain, rain and more rain has been for formula for the last week or so.  It really poured down on Sunday and I was able to sit inside, drink coffee and listen to the rhythm.  I am thankful. 

On Monday I was forced to go to work.  I was able to drive in nice warm car and then sit in a nice warm restaurant as the rain came down.  I am grateful.

I think of all the people who ride buses either by choice or because government regulations have made them too expensive.  I think of people who walk to work.  I am truly blessed.

Simple comforts that we take for granted and are extreme luxury in the context of history or the world today.

I am thankful.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 23, 2017

Opus 2017-022: Cleaning House, and the Senate, and the State Department, and....

One of the hopes that we have about Donald Trump is that the government will not be going around business as usual.  We have heard the term “drain the swamp”.  I embrace that concept.  It is not a new concept.  It is advocated in the book of Proverbs as I was reading chapter 20 on January 20.

I like this picture.
(Proverbs 20:8 KJV)  A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
One of the roles of a leader is to drive evil away.  That means that all of the human garbage that has been infesting the halls of power needs to be sent to the dump.  How do we define evil?  When you have people that deliberately stifle truth and twist facts they are evil.  This applies whether you work for the New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Department of Justice, The State Department or the local church.  Tell the truth about them and let them scatter like cockroaches when a light is turned on.

It gets even stronger as you continue to read Proverbs 20.
(Proverbs 20:26 KJV)  A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
We have a possible combined image here.  It might be as simple as bringing in the harvest.  You cast the grain up in the air and separate the wheat from the chaff.  Then you thresh it to break the hulls and get rid of the useless outer layer.  It could also be a mixed metaphor.  The second could refer to a chariot driving over the fallen enemy.

Either way we need strong action to clean house.  I hope that Donald Trump has the focus to stay on target and get something done.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Opus 2017-021: Observations on Inauguration

I have been reading articles about the “protesters” in Washington D.C.  The media made the mistake of showing a picture of one.  He/she was clothed entirely in black including a hood and face mask.  He was so committed to reforming our system that he did not want anyone to know who he/she was.  In his hand he held a small pickaxe like you would expect a mountain climber or geologist to have to do their work.  It’s purpose was to break and destroy.

I submit that these are not protestors.  They are rioters at best and insurrectionists in fact.  They came to destroy and anything is their target.  I struggle to understand what smashing the windows of a Starbucks has to do with protesting Trump’s election.  The obvious answer is nothing.  It is the kind of activity that should be slapped down with no mercy.  It is pure anti-American violence.  The point is to destabilize our society and bring chaos.

I later came across a post on Powerline that gives more details along the lines I was thinking.

The sources of news that we get are polluted and corrupt.  There doesn’t seem to be anything they say that we can count on.  Make sure that your brain and baloney detectors are always turned on.

homo unius libri

Friday, January 20, 2017

Opus 2017-020: Isms

As I rose from my table and turned to head to the powder room my eyes ran across a group of five people gathered around another table.  I recognized one or two as pastors who frequent this Panera in the morning for meetings, counseling and discipling.  This looked like a meeting.  What struck me was that it included four men and one women.  My first reaction was that she was an intern or a children’s pastor.  Then I realized she was probably their token.

You may have noticed this going on around you.  You certainly see it on TV and movies.  I am seeing it in books that I read.  One of the recent science fiction stories I read had the most diverse crew that I have ever seen.  I think that every sub-group was represented.  I guess it makes it a crew of tokens. 

How does it feel to be the token in a group?  How does it feel to wonder if you are being included because of the need for a politically correct appearance or if they really think you know what you are doing? 

All around us we see the scourge of racism, sexism, ageism and every other ism you can think of.  It isn’t in exclusion so much any more but the inclusion of the incompetent.  How many doctors will be allowing people to die because they should have been nurses?  How many teeth will be lost because the dentist should have been a hygienist?  How many planes will crash because the pilot should have been serving drinks in the cabin?  How many people will not be really accepted because the suspicion is that they are just filling a quota? 

“All men are created equal” does not mean equal ability it means equal treatment before the law.

Down with “isms”.

homo unius libri

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Opus 2017-019: National Day of Good Thoughts

If I could call the nation to anything today it would be a National Day of Good Thoughts.  You might think of it as a day of prayer but I want to include all the PC Church attenders and pagans of good will.  You have all been in meetings where it is announced that someone is in a bad way and we are told to think good thoughts toward them.

Can’t hurt.  Probably won’t help, but it can’t hurt.

The focus of my call for good thoughts is the safety of our president-elect, Donald Trump.  The anger and violence being displayed by the warm-hearted, kind and compassionate snowflakes of the country is frightening.  What is more frightening is that Trump is taking on the CIA, FBI and NSA.  Those puppies play for keeps.  I never got into the conspiracy theories of the JFK assassination but remember the rumors that the CIA had a hand in it.

All it takes is one nut case getting lucky and one Secret Service member looking the wrong way.

Pray for a safe transition.  It will be to much to ask for a peaceful one because the left is not interested in peace but lets hope that their desire for violence is still born.

One more day.  How much more damage can Obama do in 24 hours?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Opus 2017-018: Presidential Transitions in History

My generation is used to dramatic swings in administrations and the change being peaceful.  When we went from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan we had no revolutions.  When we elected Bill Clinton the right did not rise.  When it swung back to George Bush there were rumblings that still continue but the transition was generally smooth.  When Obama replaced Bush we did not see a lot of people yelling about him not being their president and the conservatives certainly did not riot in the streets.

Now we are worried.  The left seems to have done more than drink the Kool Aide.  They seem to have it injected directly into their veins.  Take heart.  Look a back a little at history.  Read the following.  I believe it had to do with the transition from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson.
“The drums of civil war were beating. Between Washington and Richmond ‘a chain of expresses’ was established, the messengers riding ‘day and night.’  In Maryland and elsewhere, armed men, wrought up to the point of bloodshed, made ready to march on the rude Capital, sprawling among the Potomac hills and thickets. Threats were openly made that any man appointed President by act of Congress, pursuant to Marshall's reputed opinion, would be instantly assassinated. The Governor of Pennsylvania prepared to lead the militia into Washington by the 3d of March.”
Albert J. Beveridge.  The Life of John Marshall (Volume 2 of 4), Kindle Location
        8938-8942, from a Project Gutenberg download.

So when you hear about demonstrations it is just childish temper tantrums.  When you hear about terrorist type attacks planned by the left understand that historically we have had some very rocky transitions. 

Take heart.  We survived the coming of Jefferson.  We will survive the leaving of Obama.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Opus 2017-017: I Am Zorro

If I were a student in school today my lifelong goal and expectation would to dash around southern California on a black stallion, wearing a black cape and mask.  I would correct all manner of evil and role play a simpering rich boy on my time off.  I would have a Zorro Complex.  I had a Zorro fantasy but I knew the difference between reality and my imagination.

When I tell a rotund, uncoordinated child that he needs an education in case he does not make it in the NBA he will often chastise me for being negative and trying to limit his dreams.  I am a villain.  Education tells him if he can dream it, he can be it.  Anyone who says otherwise is a curmudgeon.  Just call me Mr. C.

By those standards I am the missing Mouseketeer.  I am the last Legionnaire in the fort.  I am the fifth musketeer.  I am Zorro. 

The joys of fantasy are many but they cannot be a foundation for life.  In America the paths to success are varied and open but they are not achieved by a dream and a desire.  They are achieved by hard work and perseverance.  Those two concepts are not found in modern education.  Go out and interview the snowflakes on the street who can’t get a job.  First, they probably don’t really want one.  Second, they spent many years pursuing a degree in Women’s Studies, Art As a Lifestyle, Communications, Theater and a whole bunch of similar, fun ego trips. 

Hard work and perseverance.  Mark those concepts.  You might want to check them out in a dictionary if you are under 20.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 16, 2017

Opus 2017-016: Manana Mediation

We will not be guilty of procrastination in the next life.

Manana is a Spanish word for “tomorrow”.  It means that I will get to it later.  The reason that works in this life is that often when we procrastinate the unpleasant duty will go away.  If nothing else we will die before we are required to get it done.

That won’t work in eternity.  There will always be a tomorrow or, if there is no tomorrow, today will extend forever.  You will be forced to do it eventually.  Putting it off will not make it go away.  As a result we will learn to go ahead and get it done. 

I don’t know if that is encouraging or depressing.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Opus 2017-015: Ode to Old: Pre-obituary

It occurred to me this morning that some day the world may wake up and see no new post from Pumice.  At first that may not seem unusual, everyone has a bad day, like yesterday.  But as the days go by and you hear no more you will begin to realize that Pumice is no more.  I will have gone to that great website in the sky.

So let me declare right now that the idea holds no fear.  As a Christian I believe that “death” is just another step in “life”.  As the person who has moved on I will not be lonely.  I will be in the presence of the saints and Jesus Himself.  I am not even sure if I will miss you all because at that point I expect to have a better understanding of all the mysteries that were beyond me.

Hope to see you there.

homo unius libri

Friday, January 13, 2017

Opus 2017-014: On the Street: Weak Gods

When I go to the airport it seems like I have entered another world.  I am not talking about the people.  They are strange enough.  I am talking about the kiosks that advertise to the travelers.  I was startled today to learn that the earth needs a lawyer.  It I remember correctly the approach was “Because the earth needs a good lawyer”.  The group was called Earth Justice.  I am guessing it is a wing of the Green party or the Sierra Club.  They want you to donate so that they can sue people who dare to disturb the pristine condition of the earth.

What strikes me is the ignorance and arrogance.  These people believe that the earth is alive.  They have named the earth goddess.  The name I am most familiar with is Gaia.  Then we get to the arrogance.  They maintain that the earth goddess, Gaia, needs a lawyer.  Have they not heard about earthquakes, tornados and lightening?  What could a lawyer add to that?

If you need to give send your bucks to the Salvation Army or Feed the Children.  Let the earth pay for its own lawyers.

homo unius libri

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Opus 2017-013: Finding Joy in Your Password

What is the purpose of a password?

I did not ever use a password on my computer until I needed to keep an inquisitive savant out of my business.  I found passwords irritating and until his nose inserted itself where it did not belong, I didn’t need one on my computer.

Security becomes more of a problem on a daily basis.  For those that are aware it cuts into our comfortable lives in an ever increasing way.  When I was a kid we never locked our back door.  I never had a key to the house.  Part of that was because we did not own anything worth stealing but it was also part of the culture.  We did not really need to worry.  When I visited my relatives who lived in a small town in Iowa, they never even took the keys out of their car.  We went to the grocery store one day and my uncle left his keys in the ignition.  I could not believe it.

When kids ask me my birthday I don’t tell them.  Why?  Phishing.  That is what it is called when people are calling you trying to get personal information.  In order to steal someone’s identity you don’t really need a whole lot.  Social security number, mother’s maiden name, birthday, city of your birth, your middle name, even your favorite color are keys to unlocking your bank accounts and personal information.  You are about four questions away from paying off a credit card you didn’t even meet.

Do you wonder why you get so much spam in your e-mail and ads in your mailbox?  Did you ever wonder why you get phone calls from people and companies you have never contacted?  Because most of the people that have you give them information sell it to other people who use it to try to sell you something. 

Passwords are like the key to your front door.  They are really only designed to keep the honest citizens honest.  Locking your door won’t keep anyone out who is determined to get in.  I have had doors ripped out of their frames in testimony to that.  They are just common sense steps to decrease the likelihood that someone will invade your world with hostile intent.  Keep in mind that people are lazy.  They are like water in a garden.  They will take the path of least resistance.

Make it your joy to make their lives difficult.  Lock your doors.  Use your passwords.  And don’t tell people your birthday.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Opus 2017-012: Content or Process?

When you fall into a routine you get to know some of the people you pass on a daily basis.  It starts with eye contact, proceeds to a nod and finally to words and conversations.  One of the people I trade a few words with is a guy who runs an auto repair business. 

One day I was feeling the pain of a faculty meeting where we spent our time “group building” and pumping up self-esteem.  One of the ideas being recycled is the conflict in education between content and process.  Both are important.  If you don’t have any content the process is meaningless.  Picture tossing a salad with no ingredients.  Or watch a kid play “air guitar”.  On the other hand if you don’t know how to work the potatoes, you come out with glue instead of mashed as I found out on Thanksgiving.  Educators are setting up a false priority by emphasizing process at the expense of content.

I pointed this out to the mechanics.  I pointed out that it didn’t really matter how good your customer relations and office ambiance were if you could not fix the car.  You would not stay in business long enough to pay your first utility bills.  Education does not understand this.  They think that software and chrome books will make up for lack of vocabulary and the ability to add and subtract.  A young friend of mine taking Algebra II shared how his final was made up of multiple choice questions.  That was bad enough but he said there were only a choice of two answers.  This sounds like Common Core at its best.

Let us hope that Donald Trump and Betsy Devos can understand the issues.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Opus 2017-011: I Have Met the Enemies

As I look at the coming year I am determined to make progress in my physical well being.  I can’t do much about the threat of nuclear war and I am not worried about global warming or cooling but I can work on my health.  My major enemies are calories, appetite and sloth.

About five or six years ago I got serious about my diabetes and lost a lot of weight.  Since I was too heavy to weigh on any normal scale it is hard to tell how much I lost.  It could have been as high as 150 pounds.  That really doesn’t matter.  What matters is as my weight went down I moved from diabetic to pre-diabetic to “If I had to evaluate you now, I would say you are not diabetic.”  I lost enough to dodge a bullet.  It worked for me but everyone is different.

The problem is that the bullet is still out there and will always need to be dodged.  So I have not given up.  I am still fighting the battle but the bullet keeps getting closer and closer.  My weight keeps creeping up.  Why?  I feel like I am still watching what I eat yet the numbers refuse to stay down.  One reason is I am getting older.  The sad part of the issue is that my metabolism is not burning energy as well as it did.  There is nothing I can do about that.  The alternative is to not get older.

Enter the enemies.

Calories have a way of not getting counted.  You know the old lie, “One bite won’t hurt.”  No, it won’t hurt, but it will still count.  One extra Life Saver a day adds up to a pound a year.  Then there was the clerk at the See’s Candy store that said, “Our candy doesn’t have any calories”.  We both knew she was joking but too many times we act like it is true.  As I move along I also start counting calories by eye rather than honest measure.  Is the apple, small, medium or large?  How much is one bite of ice cream?  I fool myself into thinking I am consuming less calories than I really did.  Calories are like physics:  They do not lie.  Gravity will not go away.  Neither will the 3,500 calories that make up a pound.

Appetite tends to rule.  Honestly, was I really hungry?  I am not sure I know what real hunger is.  I am good at fooling myself but again the proof is in the pudding when the pudding is in the belly.  I think I consume almost half my calories in the evening.  Is it because I am in need of sustenance or seeking solace? 

Finally there is sloth.  I need to get out and exercise.  As a middle school teacher who does not sit in class and read the paper, I am pretty active during the day.  I got one of those gizmos that keep track of your steps and quickly realized I was meeting my quota.  That is not the same as getting out and walking for a half hour straight.  And what am I going to do when I retire? 

The battle continues.  I have lost ground.  That is the bad news.  The good news is I have not given up the fight.  You all know those times when you go on a diet and lose some weight and reach the nadir.  You can almost feel when you set the discipline aside and pick up the excuses.  I have not reached that point and with God’s help will never reach it.

I need a donut.  Just kidding.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 9, 2017

Opus 2017-010: Thanks Thoughts: Blessed Irritations

On any given day I am constantly blitzed by people driving like bats out of.  It can be irritating and frightening.  It seems like they run in packs and the packs are getting more frequent.  I don’t know how many people I have seen ignoring red lights this week.

I find myself being thankful for these self-centered twits.  I am finding they are a constant reminder of who I am and whom I follow.  I am finding the same thought process when I am forced to listen to radio commercials.  I realize they have no appeal because my priorities are based on a different reality.

I am learning to take the lemons of life and add the sugar of eternity.  They cause me to review why I drive with courtesy and why I don’t rush out to buy the latest gadget.  They make me thankful.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Opus 2017-009: Legacy

Barak Obama is going to be successful beyond his wildest dreams.  He wanted to fundamentally remake America and his legacy is secure.  It doesn’t matter to him that he is dismantling the dreams of millions, he is an elitist.  He knows what is best for us.  We must obviously not be dreaming the right things.  He sees himself as the parent to our child, telling us, “You will understand when you are older”.  That is the source of his hubris.  It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, he has changed America.

He has humbled the United States of America.  We are now a second rate country in the eyes of the world.  Those who were our friends have been betrayed and ignored.  Those who hate us have been pandered to.  At present the world knows it cannot look to us for much of anything.  Even Americans are looking to Russia for common sense leadership.

We are divided in ways that we could have never imagined.  He has damaged the expectations of every tribal group in America.  You may have seen the headline that middle class men are dying at higher rates.  We have seen what should be a simple statement of fact, black lives matter, become a chant of hate that means “only black lives matter”.  E pluribus unum is becoming race baiting.  The division will continue.  It is moving beyond Latino vs Anglo.  Now you have Guatemalan vs Mexican and African American vs Islander. 

Barak Obama is a man of the world and he has brought the hate of the world to America.

That is a legacy.

homo unius libri

Friday, January 6, 2017

Opus 2017-008: Gyroscope Grace

Caution:  Theology ahead.

In theology there is a constant tension between grace and works.  There are two teachings that seem to repel the other. 

On one side we have the truth that we are saved by grace. 
(Ephesians 2:8 KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
All Christians believe that salvation is a gift of God.  It is not something that we can earn by a certain number of good works or sacramental rituals.  God chooses to save.  He cannot be coerced or forced.  It is a gift not a paycheck.

At the other end is the demand for obedience to the commands of God.
(Matthew 16:27 KJV)  For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
You cannot live in rebellion and disobedience and expect to have eternal life.

This seems to create a tension for some people.  In my mind one does not rule out the other.

Use a bicycle to illustrate this tension.

I was hard for me to learn to ride a bicycle because I could not wrap my head around the concept of a gyroscope.  I thought that everything depended on my ability to balance.  Not so.  The thing that keeps you upright is the spinning wheels, not your sense of balance. The spinning wheel gives stability.  It is a gift that keeps on giving.

Leaning, however, is up to us.  Leaning gives direction, not turning the handles.  That was another lesson that was hard for me to learn.  A little bit of leaning can make a lot of change in direction.  While the spinning wheels kept me upright through some miracle of physics the direction I threw my hips could change the direction of the spin.

If not moving it is impossible to stay up.  If not obeying it is impossible to be saved.  The two go together.  Also once you learn it you never forget.  That offers some kind of eternal security, I guess. 

Like all analogies it only goes so far and has gaping holes.  That is okay.  I am not trying to be infallible, just grabbing at little bits of understanding.

homo unius libri

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Opus 2017-007: On the Street: The Dental Beat

I spent a total of three hours at the dentist recently.  I am so thankful for pain blocking drugs.  The romance of bygone eras is revealed as hollow by a dentists chair.  In my first session, a cleaning, I suddenly realized that there was music on.  It was so boring that I hadn’t even noticed.  I asked the hygienist if she knew the song.  She pled ignorance.  It was one of those songs that are so common today,  They have nothing distinctive about them.  They are not painful, just boring. 

Later on when I was being drilled on I noticed that the entire office was joining Smokey Robinson as he sang “My Girl”.  I bet even you started going over that in your head.  “I... guess... you’d...say, What can make me feel this way?.....”  Then more boring stuff.  Then everyone hummed along with the Beatles.  I was struck by the contrast and frustrated by the balance of mediocre.  There is so much really good stuff out there.  I keep wondering why we have to listen to all the filler.  This is true on the radio, in church, or anywhere else you go that music is played.

Are you old enough to remember the game show, Name That Tune.  It was awesome how little it took for some to recognize a melody.  This stuff I was listening to you could not identify after half the song being played. 

It could just be my taste in music but have you ever met anyone who didn’t like “My Girl”?  How about the Platters and “Great Pretender”?  Peter, Paul and Mary and “Puff the Magic Dragon”?  It could also be that some people could not recognize a beat if someone was pounding on their head or a melody if they were playing it themselves.

I vote for great music.  Until they start playing it I will listen to talk radio.

homo unius libri

Opus 2017-006: Tax Dollars at Work: Winter Break

The I-want-everything-that-I-think-someone-else-is-paying-for masses of the People’s Repubilik of Kalifornia just passed two initiatives to give more money to education.  One was a $9 Billion borrowing spree that the big print said would cost $500 million a year for 35 years to pay off.  Since most of them don’t pay taxes and everyone knows education needs more money, it passed.

I just want to stop and thank all of you working regular jobs for paying your taxes so that I can be a teacher.  I realize how hard it is to pay the bills.  I want to remind you that while you are working, I am at home writing blog posts.  Remember when you had to work all day on December 22?  I got to go home early and got the 23rd off.  Now, on January 5,  I am still off and will not go back to work until next Monday.  I get as much time off for “Winter Break” as most of you get all year.  If you are self employed you don’t even get two weeks with pay.

Please, next time you hear someone talking about more money for education remember my Winter Break.  I will take all that you give me.  I am not crazy.  At the same time I always vote “no” on money for education because I am also not immoral.

Seriously.  Thank you.  Just as seriously, stop throwing good money after bad.

Happy New Year.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Opus 2017-005: Snowflakes in Historical Context

The unhappy campers who are marching and protesting are a bit unsettling to the rest of us but we need to understand that it is nothing new.  Read your history and relax.  Most of these events are in the back of your mind from a class you took in high school.

Bacon’s Rebellion was an early example.  They drove out the governor and had to be suppressed by English soldiers.

The Sons of Liberty and the Boston Tea Party were an example of unhappy campers.

The early years of the Republic had many cases of protest.  Look up Shay’s Rebellion or the Whiskey Rebellion.  Both were serious enough to call out the militia.  Both shook up the country.

You had the draft riots during the civil war.x

I am sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you go to world history you will find the same types of things going on.  Life is not simple or easy.  People will always be unhappy.  Our job is to listen to complaints that are reasonable, ignore the ones that are not and get on with life.

Who knows, maybe next time it will be you or me in the streets. 

homo unius libri

Opus 2017-004: Headlines: Dabbing Is the New Snuff

One of the big issues of the morning was Paul Ryan’s son trying to dab on national television.  Everyone acted like it was a childish attempt at a dance move.  As a middle school teacher I will admit that it is the latest cool thing that kids are doing.  At least it was before the Christmas break. 

Like so many things in the youth culture it is not as innocent as you might think.  The move is from a pattern by drug users to sniff an illegal substance from the elbow.  It can be placed there and avoid detection.  From there is was introduced into some dance move and now everyone is doing it.  Picture the way cool people used to take snuff. 

We need to be thoughtful in adopting the ways of the degenerate segment of society.  Wearing your pants hanging to show your underwear got its start in prison culture where belts were not allowed.  A pimp is a guy who runs a string of prostitutes.  “Dis” is not a word. 

Let’s grow up and think about what we do and what we let our children do.  Is that asking too much?  Maybe.

homo unius libri

Monday, January 2, 2017

Opus 2017-003: Melt, Snowflakes, Melt

I have a certain sympathy for the snowflakes as they dissolve into tears and futility.  I have been there.  I was there as the Republican field narrowed and the many people that I thought could do a good job dropped out.  I went through my Trump denial along with millions of other voters.  Eventually I had to grow up, look at reality and decide to support Trump in spite of my doubts.  I am still leery but beginning to have a bit of hope.

Maybe it is time for you to do the same thing.  Maybe it is time to take a deep breath, grow up and admit that if you are a citizen of the United States of America, Donald Trump is am much your president as Barak Obama was my president eight years ago.  I don’t care which of the three you do first but I would suggest that the other two will be easier if you start by growing up.

But of course many of you are not voters.  You didn’t bother, or you are not a citizen.  If you didn’t bother then stop complaining.  If you are not a citizen then I understand that he is not your president, but honestly, who cares.

So get off the street.  Tell your mommy you are going to get a job.  Get a job.  When you do those things you will find it easier to take a deep breath and that you have already started down the road to growing up.

A democratic republic is not a place where you always get your way.  The only people who get their way are the top dogs who can have everyone else shot and the sheep who are satisfied with bread and ciruses.  Liberty is about disagreeing, partisanship and compromise.  It is about getting half a loaf and not being jealous about the half the other guy got.

homo unius libri

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Opus 2017-002: New Eternity’s Day

What will eternity be like.  It is beyond our understanding but so is a comparatively simple thing like a computer chip.  We still think about it and wonder.  One of the questions that I have heard is, “How can I find joy in eternity knowing that people I love are in Hell?”  A good question and I don’t know that I have a definitive answer.  I trust that God will supply it when I need it.

There is another question that troubles me.  It is a question that I might be able to do something about.  The trial of eternity will not be forgetting the pain and suffering but the ways in which I failed God. 

Have you had a time when you let down one of your children?  Did you ever disappoint your parents?  It can really eat at you and you can’t go back and redo it.  Now think about all the blessings and opportunities that God has given you, and ask yourself how you have repaid Him.  Obviously we cannot repay Him for the gift of salvation.  Obviously we are fallible.  Just as obvious is the realization that we could have done better.  I am not talking about rejection but a desire to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Now is the time to consider.  We will have an eternity to regret.

homo unius libri

Opus 2017-001: I Missed the 12:01

Happy New Year to those with a western European Background.  If you come from a different tradition you celebrate a different beginning date.  You have Chinese New Year and Jewish New Year.  Down through history it has even moved around in the western tradition.  It is kind of like the magnetic north pole.

I want you to know that I don’t believe in New Years Day like I do the resurrection which we celebrate on a date calculated by the lunar calendar.  I lump it in with Valentines Day and Mothers’ Day.  It is just a date picked to push a commercial agenda.  It meshes well with my habit of washing my sheets on Saturday morning.

In spite of that I acknowledge it and go along with the festivities.  Fortunately my wife does not expect expensive candy on New Years.  A bottle of Martinelli’s, a summer sausage from Hickory Farms and a pizza from a local deli make the day work.  As we get older I don’t even need to stay up until midnight.

So in case you stayed up to watch the nonsense on TV, I hope you had a good 12:01. 

Happy New Year.

homo unius libri