Wednesday, January 30, 2008
During my teen and college years, my friend Brook and I would regularly blow every dime we had on the latest music. Our collections were vast. I would often grab a CD and say, "Hmmm... this looks good" and add it to the stack I was purchasing.
Nowadays, my disposable income can be counted in coins so it is rare that I splurge on CDs.
I rolled the dice on a new CD and am experiencing much happiness. The CD is Alpacas Orgling. It is primarily the work of an Artist named Bleu. I saw him when he opened for Switchfoot in Detroit a few years back. I was blown away by his concert. I rarely like a show if I don't know the songs, but I was into this show from start to finish. I picked up his CD, Redhead, that night and LOVED it. Thank God for the Internet. I have been trying to track him down for awhile and will now be slowly filling my Bleu collection.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Charter School Properties III, whose investors include current state Rep. Mike Morley, R-Spanish Fork, and former Utah County Republican legislators Jim Ferrin and Glenn Way, never was willing to reveal to Bishop how much it cost to build the three-year-old structure with a roof that has always leaked.
Reagan Academy, a charter school in Springville, purchased its building from Charter School Properties #4, which includes the same trio as investors. The school paid $700,000 over appraised market value. Noah Webster Academy in Orem paid $600,000 over its appraisal to Noah Webster Properties owned by Ferrin and Morley.
The private companies developing and financing charter schools in Utah stand to make enormous profit in a booming industry with little oversight and minimal competition. Without legal representation or construction expertise, some starry-eyed school founders may not be in the best position to protect their schools' interests, parents say. They make mistakes that could cost the schools and taxpayers money.
"I wish the state could find a way to not put us at the mercy of the charter developers," said Stephanie Colson, a founder of The Ranches Academy, a charter school in Eagle Mountain.
Each year, charter schools' funding and future are in the Legislature's hands. Ferrin was among lawmakers who championed legislation aiding charter school growth.
Ms. Colson may not understand that the legislature she wants to oversee and protect was the one who set this up in the first place.
Many like minded legislators are setting educational policy at the capital this week!
How do Utah legislators who behave this way remain in office session after session? They know the right words to say to get their voters salivating. The voucher result last fall may be an indication that the spell over Utah's populace is breaking. We will see in November.
Here is a site worthy to add to the blogroll : Faith House Manhattan
LEARN FROM THE OTHER.
DEEPEN YOUR LIFE.
HEAL THE WORLD.
OUR Quite a mission statement. I am sure it is challenging to put into practice considering the exclusive nature of our many faiths.
: We want to start a new kind of community in which we can discover The Other (individuals or groups other than those we belong to), deepen our personal and corporate journeys, and together participate in repairing the world. In this endeavor we will honor and learn from teachings, practices, and suffering of people from religions, philosophies, and worldviews, different from our own. Instead of isolating ourselves into like-minded groups or melting together into a single-minded organization, we will learn to live together with our differences and in a way that contributes to the wellbeing, peace, joy, and justice in the world. In this endeavor we will always be a courageous, hospitable and learning community. MISSION
Give a listen to two great talks with their founder Samir Selmanovic.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Rather than listening to their constituents, the legislature will attempt to dictate to local school districts how they will run. Never mind that we have a state school board who already has that job.
Central to all misnomers that many anti-school people hold is that the teacher and the school are responsible for the education of a child. This is simply not the case. It is like pushing a rope. The school can provide it, what you do with it is up to you.
Still, most fixes for the public schools tend to focus on the teacher and the school. No Child Left Behind puts the success or failure of a student completely with the school. It is almost as if the child doesn't exist.
I wrote the following in the comments section in a Salt Lake Tribune story that dealt with schools.
“Jim, Henry, Craig, Sam, and Cam all began violin lessons at the same time.
Jim loved violin and he took to it eagerly. His parents never needed to monitor his practicing.
Henry didn’t care much for violin, but he liked to be successful in all that he put his hand to do. He focused in class and practiced nightly.
Craig was not much for practice or paying attention, but he knew he had to achieve good marks or there would be no football this season.
Sam didn’t care much for violin and would always “forget” to practice. His attention in class was up and down. His parents, however, were diligent in making sure that he practiced nightly.
Cam didn’t care much for the violin and his parents didn’t care much either. He never picked up his instrument outside of class. His presence in class was a hindrance to the other four due to his endless misbehavior.
Over the first two years Jim and Henry made great strides. Craig and Sam were average, while Cam made little progress at all.
Things changed over the following two years. Jim and Henry were markedly ahead of everyone else. Sam’s parents had gotten lax as he got older and were no longer following up with him. He began to hang out with Cam’s crowd and rarely picked up his instrument outside class. Craig, kept his ability just high enough to stay on the football team, but could not be called proficient.
The end result of four years of instruction were two excellent students, one very average, and two who were little better than when they started.”
We could take away teacher’s unions, implement vouchers, give merit pay, etc… We could spend all of our time attacking this issue at the teacher level and I believe, in the end, it would have little effect. The teacher is there to provide a service. The level to which a student avails his or herself to that service rests with the student and the parents.
I have seen, in seventeen years of teaching, more and more “Sam and Cams” coming to school. Many classrooms have seen the “Sam and Cam” number swing from 1-3 to nearly half the class or more in the past 20 years. This factor WILL bring scores down. It hurts the education of the rest.
Until we deal with this issue... everything else is just empty rhetoric.
I have always stated that schools do not drive culture, they reflect it. The school that sits in the local neighborhood is, for the most part, a reflection of that neighborhood. That is not to say that there are not those who are unhappy with the school. However, I believe they are not the majority. If they were, the school would change.
C.S. Lewis said, "All get what they want... they do not always like it."
We have a society of consumers, yet we want our children to be producers. We want to do what we want when we want, yet we expect our children to have discipline and self control. They reflect what they see.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The article covers his book "Blue Like Jazz" which I enjoyed (so many people rail about the confessional booth, but I thought it was hilarious and spot on), but I also highly recommend "Searching for God Knows What". I appreciate his point that when we lost our relationship with God, we lost the voice that tells us who we are and that we matter. Since then, people stress each other out by demanding that others tell us these things.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
1 - One book that changed your life
Impossible. This cannot be limited to one. Do not all books stir us and move us? Still, let us give it a try. Here are a few:
ROMANS- A few months after converting to Christianity at 15 I started to memorize the book of Romans through Bible Quizzing. This was, and in many ways still is, the foundation of my theology. Particularly chapters 2 and 14 (the mind your own business chapters).
The Great Divorce by CS Lewis - This book helped me humanize a lot of doctrine. I have read this book no less than 15 times. His view of Hell and who goes there helped loosen me from the Hell, Fire, and Brimstone doctrines I grew up on.
Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hahn - There is NO greater book on the simple teaching of Love. This was the first book that showed me that I could learn deeply from Masters who were not of my faith (I know some of you are thinking "well duh!", but for me that was a big step).
A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren - In this book, Brian articulated much of what I had been thinking for years. There were only a few souls I shared these thoughts with... I was pretty sure I was a heretic. Now I am comfortable with my heresy. :)
I read LOTS of books more than once. Books, like movies, need to be gone back to over and over. Most Lewis books I have read many, many times. Recently, I have re-read If Grace is True... by Phillip Gulley.
3 - One book you’d want on a desert island
For music, that would be easy (Violet Burning-Strength). How do I limit books to ONE? It may seem cliche' but I may have to go with the Bible on this one. That way I get many voices.
4 - Two books that made you laugh
Any Star Trek novel written by Peter David. He is one of the few authors who will make me laugh out loud while reading.
5 - One book that made you cry
I don't know that I actually cried when Fred Weasley died, but I was moved. There were a few times during the last HP book that I had to just set it down and have a quiet moment.
6 - One book that you wish had been written
A follow up to the book of Job... I have real problems with that book; it doesn't seem to fit. I hate how it portrays God.
7 - One book that you wish had never been written
Anything written by a televangelist (I was surprised to find out they were literate).
8 - Two books you’re currently reading
The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman - It has been a while since I have enjoyed a fiction series this much. Wonderful!
The Wit and Wisdom of Gandhi - This is just a book of quotes I have been working through. I finally stopped highlighting, because the entire book was glowing.
I have a never ending list. Here is what is probably up and coming in the next few months (my reading will really pick up during summer vacation).
God and Empire - Dominic Crossan
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent - Elaine Pagels
The Prophets - Abraham J. Heschel
How to Expand Love - Dalai Lama
& a small stack of Walter Brueggemann
I tag two friends who share my love of hanging out in a bookstore with a good book and a hot cup of coffee. Brook and Carrie.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
But the survey of ''unchurched'' Americans by LifeWay Research also found that some 78 percent said they would be willing to listen to someone who wanted to tell them about his or her Christian beliefs. Researchers, affiliated with the Southern Baptists' LifeWay Christian Resources, defined ''unchurched'' as Christians who haven't attended church in six months as well as non-Christians such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists.
The findings echoed a previous study by The Barna Group that found the vast majority of young non-Christians view Christianity as anti-gay, judgmental and hypocritical.
The study was based on an overall sample of 1,402 adults who were interviewed by phone in 2007, including 900 ages 18-29 and 502 age 30 and older. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. - Religion News Service
Christians that get defensive over an article like this would point to scriptures that would demonstrate that this is a normal response from "the world". If anything, this would buttress the view of their correctness.
Jesus, in contrast, was always the favorite of the unchurched. It was around him that they felt most accepted and comfortable. At least, that's the way I read it.
In some sense, I think the reason for the inconsistency is that the title of Christian is so broad. Jerry Falwell, Mother Teresa, Rob Bell, Ann Coulter, Kenneth Copeland, George Bush, Desmond Tutu, Marcus Borg, the guy working the soup kitchen, and the dude yellin at people on the street corner all lay claim to the title Christian. Depending on your personal experience with Christians, it may be Mother Teresa who springs to mind when the topic of Christendom is brought up or it may be Ann Coulter.
Unfortunately, as the sour view of the survey shows, it is our most negative voices who have the floor.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I don't think I have plugged retail items on my blog, so this may be the first time. My kids got this thing called Cosmic Catch (Nerf) for Christmas from their aunt and uncle and it is pretty nifty. It definitely plays to the geek in me. It is a Nerf ball and six hand bands. The band allows the ball to know who has it and who has caught it. It announces this through its built in speaker. You can play four different games with it. Basically, it is an intelligent hot potato. In the basic game the ball calls out what color it wants to be thrown to next. You have to pass it quickly or it will "explode". The ball keeps track of longest consecutive passes without error. It announces at the end of each game whether you have beat the all time score. So far, as a family, we have done 25. If you have kids, this is one of the more worthwhile toys out there.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Joe has written a blog response to "and I am the liar!?" where he takes me to task. I am going to paste it here and put my responses within in red (and italics for Brook). Perhaps we simply work out our math in different bases; perhaps there is more to it than that. You decide. :)
So I never knew that disagreeing with someone was the cardinal sin. Well, that's not true, I did. I just didn't expect it from this guy. You may remember the Santa Claus discussion. Well, apparently because we didn't agree with Mr. Hackman's Musings we're uptight enough that a "piece of coal up our butt would lead to a diamond in two weeks." I think he's calling me a liar, too because I didn't agree with him. He says,
"What always amazes me about these kind of folks is THIS is the kind of issue they focus? It's friggin Santa for cryin out loud. Not world hunger or inner city gang violence! To me, it so petty. Not that they do not want to do Santa, but that they want to argue about it!" I am not sure where I call him a liar here, but I guess it is fair to say that I do that overall.
Now, is that an honest representation of this blog? 522 blog posts last year and one on Santa. But I'm focusing on "THIS." That's intellectual dishonesty at its finest. I don't think I ever implied that I was commenting on previous postings on his blog. I think it was clear that I was focusing on this topic and that my statement referred to anyone who made Santa a big issue (in fact I feel a little silly that I am still in an argument about Santa Claus) Nothing shows his true colors more than this:
Next, I am being accused of lying to my daughter and holding back from her the true meaning of Christmas... blah, blah, blah. (Emphasis Mine)
I asked him how he would deal with my five year old's question. What is dishonest here? I answered your daughter's question, but that was not good enough for you. You came back with :"There's an obvious difference between the Fiction and actively telling your kids an untruth. I agree that it's not my job to tell your kids or anyone else for that matter. My problem is that you are purposely hiding part of the Christmas story from your children in that you are telling them that Santa--not God-- has provided for them." In addition, I provided the entire discussion for context. I think my "true colors" there was completely fair.
Then he gives this beauty:
I've got to say I think that is a lie there. I never cared if he saw it my way. I never cared if he could "prove" his way to me, I was asking questions about his way and I thought he could ask questions about my way. Evidently, unless we all agree with Mr. Hackman we're just wrong. Unless we're all in with him, then we're all out with anything that is right in the world. Unless, I agree that Santa is A-OK for my kids too, then I can't be doing anything about world hunger or anything else. Perhaps this is an example of speaking different math, but I do not see any point in the conversation that I am implying that he NEEDS to do Santa with his kids. However, he and others kept coming back in the conversation trying to get me to see all of the problems with the way I do Christmas with my kids (eg. you are purposely hiding... etc)
Mike- As I look back over the conversation, and some of their subsequent comments, I realize some of the core problem. They were not content to see it their way, while I saw it mine. They wanted me to talk them into my way of thinking, confident that I could not. That was never my point, I did not want them to see it my way; I wanted them to see that "I" saw it my way.
What I appreciate most about this exchange with Mr. Hackman and the subsequent post at his site where he questions my honesty proves that fighten' fundy mind set is on both sides of all issues. Unless, I saw this issue his way, I was attacking him and his views. I was being dishonest and wanting to punch sinners in the nose. I don't feel that the way I used that phrase was saying you want to punch sinners in the nose. I was making a comparison to your apparent vacillation between wanting to put-down what someone practices and calling them a liar, while couching it in polite and gracious sounding phrases. To me that is "like" someone who uses the hate the sin but love the sinner phrase. You are not saying what you feel. I think you are doing it in this response. I was guilty of double speak. All I needed to do was agree with him and I would be absolved of all these sins. Again, I in NO WAY thinks he needs to give up his no Santa stance. Perhaps someone can show me otherwise, but this seems to be the focus of his contention, yet I don't feel I ever did it. I stated in a later comment that I was fine with a no-Santa policy, I just couldn't understand a need to argue the point.
So here it is: Mr. Hackman, you can feel free to tell your children that Santa, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Ferry, and any other fictitious character is real. I honestly do not care. (I disagree, and you may not concur, but I think you do care. I think you care a fair amount about this issue.) I have real life friends that I respect that do all of that. I cannot agree with all of your conclusions but I do respect your right to hold them. If you find that to be double speak, I'm sorry about that. I really am. If your children and my children were ever to meet I would instruct my children to not mention Santa being fake. I am sorry that you believe that because I do not have a love for Santa that I do love poetry, music, or daydreams. I do love warm cocoa and a blazing fire and snuggling. (Where do I make this implication?)
I would ask the next time you call me a liar, at least have the decency to tell me you're saying that about me. (I think it is fair to say that I should have let you know about the post, and for that I apologize.)
And, I would suggest that you check your whole analogy as it seems you've made some pretty broad assumptions about my wife and me based on the fact that we don't agree with you about Santa. I think there are people who are overall digital or analog. But you are right, a more complete analogy would be to say that people may be issue specific as well. There may be areas of your life where you are analog, but on this one you are digital. I understand that. I just don't believe you are as ok with me having a Santa as I am with you not having a Santa. You have said that I feel you are wrong because you do not believe in accordance with my stance. I don't think I ever said any such thing. My contention has been how you respond to people who do not share your stance. You should have just told me that you didn't want to discuss it, that all you wanted was someone to say, "Well Gee, Andrew OK. Thanks." There are some people that email me or respond to things here and that is all I say. I thought you wanted to be part of a discussion. A discussion doesn't mean we agree, it just means we don't attack each other over disagreeing. We don't write blog posts where we call each other "those people."
Yes, I'll be sending this in an email to you as well.
Happy New Year.
See, this is what going off on a rant can bring ya. I now know not to discuss religion, politics,.... and Santa Claus! :)