Friday, December 31, 2010

So Long, 2010!

2010 was a year filled with joy, but there was a lot of sadness as well. So I look on it with smiles but also some relief that it is over. In any case, I am excited to be entering into 2011.

No big trips this year, but lots of fun little ones. That is the nice thing about living in Utah... you are never far away from a vacation spot. We have been in Utah for just over 6 years now. It is incredible to me, looking back, that we made the move from Michigan... however, I never hesitate to think that this was the best move for our family.

One of the greatest treasures we discovered in moving out here was becoming involved with the South Jordan Community Theater. Kathryn led the way, and we have come to love the people in this community like family. We have participated, in some capacity, in 5 shows during 2010. Each one was tons of fun. My parents have even jumped into the fray when they visit.

Our neighborhood in South Jordan is an excellent place to be. Jacob is involved with Boy Scouts.  Kathryn is busy with middle school. She will be a teenager in 2011.... sigh..... I only got to do one movie in the park behind our house this summer; I am determined to do a better run this year.

2010 was definitely a year of spiritual transitions for us. I think we did a lot of clarifying of who we are not. Perhaps in 2011, we will determine who we are.

Thanks to all of you who read and chime in on this blog!  I hope you have a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I Hate/Love my Ipad

I got an Ipad a few months ago for free. It sat unopened for a day as I debated selling it and using the money to buy a future Google tablet. However, I am weak and ended up opening it despite my reservations.

My reluctance was born from my experience with an Ipod a few years back. Unlike my other MP3 players, the Ipod had a very specific way in which music had to be transferred to it and organized. The interaction of Itunes and my Ipod seemed completely counter-intuitive and cumbersome to me. Although my Ipod could hold 10x more music than anything I had previously, I found myself leaving it on the shelf for more nimble alternatives.

That experience caused me to approach the Ipad suspiciously. For the most part, those fears have been proved justified. I have developed a love/hate relationship with my Ipad. It "should" do so much, yet has been needlessly hobbled.

First, what I love about it. It is a great ebook reader. Because of apps, I get access to some of the best ereader software out there.  Ipad's long battery life means I can go for hours uninterrupted.

Speaking of apps, there are a gizzillion of them. Many are free or of inconsequential price.... and yes, there IS an app for that.

Also, touch browsing, or touch anything concerning the screen is just easy and pleasant. Zooming in and zooming out are a breeze.

Now I will move on to the things... I... Just... Can't.... Stand!

Let me say up front that I am aware that there are things a tablet is just not designed to do. For example, I would never attempt to type this blog, or any long response, on my Ipad. A touch keyboard can only take you so far.... but it is a natural limitation of the device. What I refer to now are the limitations that are completely self-imposed.

No flash for web browsing? Not only annoying, but I can't tell you how many times I have had to put down the Ipad and go over to a computer to finish buying this or reading that. I never realized how much Flash and Shockwave are used on the web.

Even with the latest OS update, the Ipad still can't multitask.  The point of being technical IS multitasking.  Very tedious!

Print????  forgetaboutit!

Skype??  Nada.

Attach a file to my email?  Nope, nope, & nope.

Ok, here is the biggie. Let's say I decide to clean the bedroom and want to listen to a recent lecture I downloaded downstairs. Do I reach for the netbook or the Ipad? Using the Netbook, I would hop on to my home network, scroll over to the downstairs computer, and double click the file... this would take me seconds to accomplish. If I want to use the Ipad, I would need to take it downstairs, hook it to the computer, open Itunes, move the file over to Itunes, sync....sync.... still syncing..., whew! By this time, I have completely lost the motivation to clean the bedroom...

This example threads out and highlights the main weakness of the Ipad. I have Terrabytes of movies, books, documents, music, recordings, photos, comics, etc. on my network. Every computer in my house is only a click or two from accessing all of it it.... except for my Ipad, which may be the most expensive piece of tech I own.

This trait renders many of the most worthwhile apps pointless. You can listen to music on the Ipad, watch movies on the Ipad, read comics on the Ipad.... but I rarely do any of these things. These files take up a lot of room and are a hassle to transfer. I would be transferring and deleting all the time. It is just easier to grab the netbook which has instant access to anything.

Do I use the Ipad?  Yes.  Would I pay 500+ for it?

Heh!   Um, no.  Not unless that amount of cash were incidental.

I could buy a netbook that can do more than twice as much with entertainment and productivity, at half the price.

My friends who are devoted to Apple will tell me I just don't understand how Apple works. To them, all of these limitations are normal - a given. They have learned to live with the limitations and are happy.

This just strikes me as funny because the ground-breaking ad of the 80s was the powerful Apple woman coming in to smash the screen of the totalitarian computer leader and free the users.

The old saying is true - you become that which you hate.  Now it is the Apple users on the benches.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas Bruce!

Many of you who read here also read Bruce G. at Restless Wanderings and N.W. Ohio Skeptics. He hung up his blogging and Facebook cap to spend more time focusing on his health and family. I was sad with his decision to quit writing; his history makes him uniquely qualified to speak to many issues on life, politics, and religion - which he did masterfully. Still, I support his decision and have wished him the best.

So, I was extremely pleased to hear that someone spotted a letter to the editor that he wrote to his local paper. It was good to "hear" his voice!

It seems local theocrats are determined to convince us that America was founded as a Christian nation and continues to a Christian nation to this day. No amount of history and reason will convince them that their viewpoint cannot be sustained historically, theologically or politically.

Never mind that the founding fathers spoke of a generic God and rarely, if ever, mentioned the Christian God, Jesus Christ. Never mind that the Constitution commands a strict separation of church and state. Never mind that the deism of the founding fathers is not the same as evangelical Christianity.

Let's grant the theocrats their position for a moment. Every president in my lifetime has professed to be a Christian. Virtually every member of Congress professes faith in Jesus Christ. Even at the state and local level Christianity is the de facto religious faith.

We are a nation dominated by the Christian religion. That's why it is so amusing to listen to evangelicals complain about the "war on Christmas." There is no war on Christmas, any cursory reading of a newspaper will show. Jesus is everywhere this time of year. Evangelicals continue to wage the culture war, out to stop every action they deem sinful. Fear the gay. Fear the atheist. Fear the liberal. Fear the socialist. You get the picture -- fear, fear, fear.

Christianity is the God of American culture. Every community has multiple Christian churches. Ohio state government and local government in northwest Ohio is dominated by the Republican Party, and we all know that GOP stands for "God's Only Party." The truth is that Christians own this country, lock, stock and barrel.

Since it is quite evident that Christianity is the dominant religion in America, and since most of our governmental leaders are card-carrying Christians, it is right for us to ask exactly what has Christianity given us as a nation?

War, torture, homophobia, amoral capitalism, economic collapse, the destruction of the working class and punitive political policies that punish and hurt the poor.

I could go on but space is limited. It is quite clear that the Christianity of this Christian nation of ours is quite antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible was much more like a socialist than a capitalist. Jesus loved the poor and disenfranchised. If Jesus were alive today I suspect he would have a lot to say about this modern, bastardized Christianity that permeates America.

Bruce G

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chasing Francis: A Book Review

Chasing Francis is a story about a successful mega-church pastor who finds himself feeling empty after having accomplished all of his ministry goals. The book is written in a similar style to Brian Mclaren's "New Kind of Christian" series - i.e. using a narrative to make theological points.

The Pastor, Chase, says near the beginning of the book, "I have this sneaking suspicion that I've been reading from a theological script that someone else wrote. Is this my faith, or one that I bought into as a kid without really thinking about it?" This is a common perspective hitting many religious believers today. In the past, it was easier for one to have a "simple" faith; most people had only one theological input. However, due to the explosion of information in this age, contrary opinions are but a click away.

This is where Pastor Chase finds himself. As the questions began to nestle in his head, anyone giving pat answers became a source of annoyance. He comments at one point that Evangelical responses started to produce a "gag reflex" within him. This attitude begins to disturb his predominately evangelical congregation.

Chase finally comes to a Crisis of Faith moment... unfortunately, it happens during a Sunday morning sermon. His congregation, unwilling to deal with his broken soul, shows him the door. They put him on sabbatical and tell him to get it together or get another job.

In his despondency, Chase calls his eccentric uncle, who is a Franciscan Monk in Italy. His Uncle invites him to come to Italy to meet St. Francis of Assisi. Together, the two of them start a pilgrimage, following the path of St. Francis.

Chase's Uncle feels that Francis is a good model for this generation's spiritually homeless. Francis lived in a time when Christendom was leaving the ancient world for the modern world. The struggles he navigated in his time can serve as an example as Christianity now moves from a modern world to a post-modern world. While in Italy, Chase discovers that Christianity is much deeper than the teaspoon he had known. Francis demonstrates how to live in such a way that you tell a different story than the culture at large.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It meanders at times, and occasionally reminded me of reading a Stephen King novel - the author would do a lot of weaving and winding before he got to his point. However, the point tends to be so satisfying that you quickly forgive the roundabout journey it took to get there. It was a little sentimental at times for my tastes, but it serves as a great introduction to St. Francis. I knew very little of Francis prior to reading this book; so if the author's hope was to encourage readers to pursue this saint further - in my case he succeeded.

A friend of mine who enjoyed this book also did a review and had a chance to meet the author. You can read Bob's thoughts here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Love is the Truth

God is Love

You've heard it before. It says it in 1 John 4:8.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Could you imagine what Christianity would look like if "Love" were the marker of someone who is close to God? Rather than someone who clings to a certain set of postulates?

Instead, most of Christianity chooses to reference John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This verse is usually used to set up an exclusivism - God is for Christians only. The fact that this interpretation runs contrary to the life and ministry of Jesus is relegated to a footnote.

A few years ago I heard Bart Campolo re-quote 1 Corinthians 13 based on 1 John 4:8. Since God IS love - not something God chooses or decides - he swapped out love and put GOD in the text. So it read like this:

God always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.... God never fails.

So, in the fashion of Brother Bart, I would like to take that approach to John 14:8 -

Love is the Way, Love is Truth, Love is Life. No one comes to God... except through Love.

Heresy you say?

Heh! I got a million of em'! ;)

Happy Winter Solstice!

I want to wish everyone happiness on this day that has been celebrated by a variety of cultures throughout time. In many ways, it is the start of a new year.

If you have ever wondered what makes a solstice a solstice, allow me to explain. Most people understand that Earth rotates on it's axis once every "24" hours and revolves around the sun once in "365" days. But many are not aware of a third relative motion: The Earth's axis tilts forward about 23 degrees for the Northern Hemisphere's summer and 23 degrees back for its winter. It is this tilt that causes the seasons. When the Northern Hemisphere is tilting forward, it gets the most direct sunlight for the longest time and produces summer. As we move toward Winter Solstice we get less direct sunlight and less time in the sun.

The line at which the Northern Hemisphere tilts its furthest distance forward is called the Tropic of Cancer. The line at which the Northern Hemisphere tilts furthest back is called the Tropic of Capricorn. The Equator is directly between these two lines. When the sun sits directly over the equator, we are having either our Spring or Autumnal Equinox.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So Far, So Good

Today my wife and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. I have a show to do this evening, and Mary Lee will be taking Kathryn to her winter recital; such is the pace of our life that special days have to sometimes make way for routine. Mary Lee and I will have to toast ourselves once the day's demands are done. :)

Nevertheless, I will celebrate here on this blog my 15 years married to Mary Lee. Lots of grins and some tears. A couple of times we almost hit the eject button, but chose to let the wounds heal. Adventures neither of us could have anticipated; and we presently reside in a pretty happy place with great friends, wonderful children, and a peaceful life.

I love you Mary Lee! Here's to the next 15!

I think this song by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell) is kind of an anthem for all those folks choosing to have their marriages go the distance.


Who would have believed we would make it so far
would have thought we would last so long
Truster in fairy tale ends that you are
Me with my slightly worn out rebel song

Sometimes I look in your eyes
I see the pain in the corner
little betrayls and lies
and a part of us dies
Yeah, but call off the mourners

We're here so far
Still holding tight
Through one more storm we can weather
We get it wrong
We set it right
Beat up but warm
like my old guitar
Still playing sweet so far

I still remember a girl with gold hair
and a little catch in her voice
We knew we made an improbable pair
But our hearts didn't leave us much choice

It seems to little to say
just to repeat "I still love you"
and if not quite the same way
as I did that first day
We know life changes the tune

And still so far
from where we've been
We walk that long road together
We don't give out, we don't give in
Battered and strong
like a kid's first car
We're cruisin on so far

I see new lines on your face
Some of them I know I put there
Innocence we can't replace
Still, we're winning the race
somehow foot after foot there

We've come so far
We've got it made
We might just go on forever
And this I know
I would not trade
A single blow that we have withstood
Even if we could
So long
and so far
so good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beyond Exclusivism

Is there a step above religious exclusivism? Is there anything more drastic than saying "only those that do it our way" are acceptable?

At one time, exclusivists were concerned for your soul; if you didn't get on the right team fast, you might burn for eternity.  Now though, it has gone a step further. It is no longer about your soul. This is about their offense at your not viewing life their way. Anger builds within them when you do not put their god as supreme, and by association, their view as supreme.

Take for example the perspective of Donald Douglas on the parting words of Elizabeth Edwards, who died recently after a long battle with cancer. She had stated:

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces -- my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope,"

These last words gave no small amount of frustration to Mr. Douglas who commented:

"Clearly Elizabeth Edwards wants to put her faith in something, be it hope or strength or anything. But not God. I wonder if it's just bitterness, that's she's been forsaken by more than just her estranged husband --- that's she's been forsaken by Him. And imagine if she'd have become First Lady. Americans generally expect outward expressions of faith in our presidents, Christian faith especially, and thus in our First Ladies as well. The Democratic base obviously doesn't care, as we can see in the "wow factor" expressed by the author at the American Prospect. Being anti-religion is cool, so Edwards' non-theological theology gets props from the neo-communists. Still, at her death bed and giving what most folks are calling a final goodbye, Elizabeth Edwards couldn't find it somewhere down deep to ask for His blessings as she prepares for the hereafter? I guess that nihilism I've been discussing reaches up higher into the hard-left precincts than I thought."

My mind reels at the self-centered navel-gazing of this man's religious views. He is offended that Ms. Edwards did not, on her death-bed, give preference to his religious perspective. The fact that there are a myriad of religious views she also did not mention seems to be lost on Mr. Douglas. He missed this obvious point for one simple reason...

He is a bully.

This brand of religious bully-ism is on the rise in America.  As our country becomes more pluralistic, people like Mr. Douglas feel more and more threatened.  In their frustration, their verbal violence is becoming increasingly bitter.

Jesus had to endure religious bullies in his time too.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  He had this to say to them:

“Woe to you; you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. You give a tenth of your spices, but you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

HT: Find and Ye shall Seek

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Them To Stay

I was listening to the radio last week and the commentator was talking about the "bad teachers" in inner-city schools.  He had recently seen "Waiting for Superman" (which I haven't seen). He went on and on about teacher's unions protecting all the clock-punching bad teachers infesting our poorest performing schools.

I teach at an inner-city school.  I am sure it is nothing quite as rough as a Chicago, DC, or Detroit; but we have our issues.  From my experience, let me offer a  picture.

I am in my seventh year here (after teaching 13 years in wealthier areas) and there are now only two teachers in my building who have been here longer than I have.  In my previous building, after 11 years, I was only about mid-way up the seniority ladder.  Around here, I am one of the old-timers!  Since starting here, I have had 6 different teaching partners.

When I ask my students how many of them have been here since kindergarten, less than a third raise their hands. For those students who have been here from the beginning, few of their former teachers are still teaching here.  During the six  years that the students have moved up the ranks, the staff has almost completely turned over - twice.

It seems to me that getting rid of bad teachers is not our core problem.  The tricky part is getting ANY teacher to stay!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Break the Sabbath

In the tradition of George Carlin, I think it is time to update a scriptural notion; this whole idea of resting on the sabbath. I think it was premised in a good motive; people of that time were primarily physical laborers, mostly in agriculture. They WORKED a lot. It made sense to have a day when you did no work.

Now admittedly, most cultures pay this injunction no mind, but there are plenty of places that still do. Here in Utah it is very big. However, like I said, I don't want to stop it - I just want to update it. To do so, rather than being a day of rest, it needs to be a day of recreation (notice, I am sticking with an R word). The reality is that most of us really don't do that much physical labor anymore - not in comparison to the ancients. In fact, odds are in America, the less physical work your job requires the more money you are making. Most of America's top earners are eating donuts during meetings or talking on the phone. The last thing in the world they need is a day dedicated to being sedentary!

So go recreate! Get a sweat going! Go enjoy the company of your fellow human beings! People like me (30 lbs overweight) don't need a day off, we need a day ON!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dropbox Love

What?  You haven't heard of Dropbox?

Well, install this nifty little program on all of your computers, then you will have a common folder between all of those computers (and some phones too).  Save a file to your Dropbox folder, and that file becomes available in your Dropbox folder on every computer you have.

For me, Dropbox has replaced my having to email files to myself at work, or using a USB drive. In fact, I am more and more getting into the habit of using it as my main document folder, so everything is always available to me. I can also send links to people so they can get at specific files in my dropbox.  This is nice for sending big files to friends and family.

Your Dropbox is also on the web, so you can access your files from any computer.

So what is the catch?  You only get two gig for free.  Beyond that is a monthly subscription plan.

You can also get some extra free storage space when you refer people.  This is where you come in.  If after checking it out, if you like what you find, could you sign up through this link?  Every addition gives me another 250 mg.

It really is a great program.  I originally heard of it because it is one of the few ways you can get files to an Ipad wirelessly.  Once I started using it, I realized how practical it was to have it on all of my machines.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Born Racist?

"This whole thing is so ugly. Have you any idea what it's like to live with all this? People look at us and only see bigots and racists. Hatred isn't something you're born with. It gets taught. At school, they said segregation what's said in the Bible... Genesis 9, Verse 27. At 7 years of age, you get told it enough times, you believe it. You believe the hatred. You live it... you breathe it. You marry it." ~ Mrs. Pell from the movie Mississippi Burning.

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

I stared at the picture to the right for quite a while this morning. It captures so much. It challenges me as a parent.

I have written before about how I do not want to indoctrinate my children. However, as much as I try to present views outside my own, my kids reflect me in many ways.  They will learn my good, but they will learn my bad as well. The catch is, we do not tend to see our own bad traits.

Racists do not know that they are racists. Bigots do not know that they are bigots. I know a few; they say a lot of racist things, but would get offended if they were called a racist.

Kids parrot the phrases and statements made by their parents. The students who went into their high school a few weeks ago wearing shirts stating that homosexuals are "an abomination and shall surely be put to DEATH!" were not speaking their minds, they were reflecting their parents and the circles in which they travel. The boy in the picture did not come up with the idea that the president is a monkey, he is expressing the view of his parents.

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

These little girls do not hate homosexuals... they don't really even "get" sexuality yet; but they are being taught to despise. They hear a regular mantra about homosexuals with agendas to destroy the family, tear-down Christianity, corrupt our schools....

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

I grieve for these kids who will go into adulthood and have to spend years undoing the bad messages that have been drilled into their heads. I grieve more for those who will never question the messages and will pass them on to the next generation.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What is Truth?

The following story is not TRUE. It never happened. The author is rumored to be a backslidden, atheist wanna-be who hates puppies. There is no point in reading this untrue tale.

Jesus looked over the crowd and concluded his story by saying “The Father’s love for both of his children was beyond their imagination, but their need to be privileged kept them from seeing it.” He paused to allow his words to penetrate the multitudes.

A man toward the front was raising his hand. “You in the sheepskin,” Jesus called out, “Do you have a question?”

The man stood and brushed the dust from his cloak. “Yes, I am wondering if that story is true.”

Is it true?” Jesus responded quizzically.

Yeah,” the man continued, “Did it really happen?”

Well,” Jesus countered, “that really wasn’t the point I…

Jesus was cut off by two men who leaped to their feet angrily, “Of course it is true!!” the bigger of the two shouted, “Do you think Jesus would LIE to us!? What kind of follower are you!?

Jesus tried to step in, “Folks, you are missing the point! I want you to understand that …

Again, Jesus was interrupted, this time by a woman shouting from the side of the crowd, “I want some clarification! You keep talking about the rich landowner, but that area has barren since the time of our forefathers. Are you making this story up?!!!

Jesus tried to get a word in, but the crowd was out of control now. Arguments flew back and forth between those who thought everything Jesus said could be proven as true, and those who abandoned his words as worthless. Jesus and his disciples watched as the crowd began to angrily separate themselves according to the opposing views.

As the volume increased, Peter approached Jesus. “Don’t get discouraged Master. I thought it was a great story!

Yeah,” John added, “It had never occurred to me to envision God as a Father.”

Jesus nodded and smiled at his disciples. Then he looked out over crowd, which was nearly coming to blows.

Well boys,” Jesus said, “We might as well head back to Jerusalem. Something tells me that argument is going to go on for a while.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We Love Questions, but.....

And we break
And we burn
And we turn it inside out
To take it back
To the start
And through the rise

and falling apart
We discover who we are


I think for questions to truly be questions, they have to be open-ended. They must have the freedom to lead to any conclusion.

However, in most religious circles, freedom is the last thing we want people to have in regard to their questions. Questions are fine.... as long as the arrival to a particular answer is guaranteed. One toe may be dipped in the water, but the other foot must be firmly planted on shore.

Often, the only time religions want deep, meaningful questions asked is when they are being directed at other religions. I read a local Evangelical blog whose writers are dedicated to converting Mormons out of Mormonism. They continually challenge Mormons to question their most cherished beliefs, to look at rational arguments, and to "consider" the evidence. In short, they ask Mormons to do with a sincere effort that which they would never truly do themselves.

It is common among the religiously minded to assume they have dealt with the questions, because they have read their apologist's responses. A Christian reading Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ does not qualify as having dealt with the questions. :)

Unfortunately, much religious questioning has all the sincerity and depth of the following comment, which was made to me by someone who is concerned about the direction my life is taking:

"I do not believe it is wrong to have questions - as long as those questions do not let you stray from your beliefs."

That about says it all.....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Age Instead of Readiness

The following RSA video is excellent!  Particularly because the speaker touches on a drum I have been banging for years, but no one else seems to care about.

In our public schools, we teach children according to their age rather than what skill they are prepared to acquire next. This is something that negatively impacts schools in poor areas more so than in wealthy areas. When I previously taught in a wealthy area, I might have 3 to 7 kids who were not on "grade-level". So in an affluent area, putting kids in classes according to age works more often than it doesn't. For those who are below grade level, there are usually resources made available to that 20% who are struggling.

In poorer areas, it is not uncommon to go into a classroom where few, if any, children are on grade level. In my case, children who are reading and operating at a "3rd grade level" are given 6th grade texts, 6th grade assessments, and 6th grade instruction. When those "3rd grade level" students fail at 6th grade level assessments, the public and politicians demand higher "standards" and the firing of bad teachers.

What this has translated to is an insistence that, even more, we teach what is required at our grade level.... whether the child is ready or not. For example, according to my pacing map for the year, I need to presently be teaching the addition and subtraction of mixed numbers and improper fractions.  Now if you can remember how that works, there are about a dozen pre-requisite skills that need to be in place in order to be able to learn and practice this skill. The vast majority of my students have less than half of those pre-requisite skills in place. I believe even the casual observer would recognize that there is no point in going ahead with this instruction for most of my students; yet I do. I am required to.  It would take weeks, perhaps months, of backtracking (assuming the students were willing) to fill in the gaps that exist in order to get my students ready to learn the addition and subtraction of mixed numbers and improper fractions. This is time I will not get. We will plug along... and then I will carry the blame in the public eye when most of my students fail at this skill on their exit test.

Research shows that there is a narrow learning curve just ahead of where a student presently resides. For example, out of 100 words of text, most students need to understand at least 95 to maintain interest and comprehension. To go much further out than that will take most students to a "frustration level"; at which point they will disengage from the learning process. Larger and larger portions of our children are being taught at a frustration level rather than an instructional level because of our insistence on placing children according to age.

So why do we continue on this road? I think change is hard, and it costs money. For the most part, America seems more inclined to pay for clean-up at the end rather than prevention at the beginning.  I also believe that our win/lose mentality hobbles us. We tend to think of education as a completely linear event; it is a race to be completed. So we begin to use competitive words like ahead and behind. To be "behind" others is bad, and to be "ahead" is good. What the student actually "needs" becomes secondary.

This leads to mindsets that do not want to address things as they are. I was at a meeting to discuss why Title-One schools like mine are behind. When I raised the issues I have addressed here, the presenter looked at me and said "So, you want to put poor kids on a track that will leave them behind?!" Ultimately, the presenter is content to have a student spend years in academic frustration, so that no child is left "behind".

The reality is that 12 year old children have vast differences in ability and readiness that occur for many reasons. Some are innate. Children are different. Some students will gravitate toward the abstract, while others long for the concrete. One enjoys the symmetry of numbers, while another prefers the lilt of poetry. Those inclinations affect their engagement and commitment to a subject.

Beyond that is the item no one seems to want to talk about - what is going on at home? It is a simple fact that, on average, a child who is read to and reads from his earliest ages is going to be ready to advance earlier and faster than a child who does not pick up a book until his first day of kindergarten. The students of parents who go over homework and are aware of what is happening in their child's education are going to be more successful overall than students left to their own devices.

Amid the mass variety of circumstance, desire, and inclination - we stick them all in the same classroom because of how old they are.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Soularize in a Box 2

I occasionally have done some book reviews for the message boards over on  Basically, I get a free book, they get a review from me.  I don't know if I will do anymore though because the past few books I felt were more like critiques, and I have found I don't much care for critiquing someone's writing.

However, with this last run I did get something I felt I could "promote".  The Ooze sponsored a conference a few years back and have made the audio and video available.  There are a total of 20 talks in all under Soularize in a Box 2.  What I like about the way they have packaged it is that you get a DVD with all of the MP3s and then a dvd full of the same talks in a portable media player format (youtube quality).  Usually when I get the CDs or DVDs from a conference, I have to rip everything so I can take it with me.  Tedious.  These fine folks have already done all that work.

Here are the seminars:

N.T. Wright - The Kingdom of God, Paul's Engagement of the Hellenistic World, Salvation
Rita Brock  - Paradise: A Historical Perspective, Saving Paradise, The Story of God's Garden
Brennen Manning - Abba Father, We are Called to the Healing Ministry
Richard Rohr - Christian Transformation, Non-Dualistic Thinking, The Practice of Meditation (2 Parts)
Frank Viola - Narrative Ecclesiology
Michael Dowd - Thank God for Evolution
Jim Palmer - Divine Nobodies
Mark Scandrette - Living in the Ways of the Kingdom
Garth Higgins - Spirituality in Film
Spencer Burke - Retail Christianity or Wholesale Love?
Plus two round table discussions.

I guess they usually sell it for 40, but I was sent a coupon code to offer "vb50" which will take it down to $20.

For me, the talks by Richard Rohr alone make it worth it.  Plus I love N.T. Wright, I discovered I liked a lot of what Frank Viola has to say, the talk on evolution was eye opening, and I enjoyed the discussion of spirituality and film.  I am still working through the rest of it.

The coupon is supposedly good until the end of the year, so if you are into any of these speakers, I think it is a pretty good deal.  You can purchase it at :

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bookshelf Part 2

Following up on last week's Bookshelf post (now with clearer pictures) -

I had the day off today, so I went down to the annual Salt Lake City Library book sale.  The bad news was that this was one of the last days of sale (everything has already been picked over), the good news was that I got everything even cheaper.  I think I still managed to get some decent books because the majority of the population around here (that might buy Christian theology) are either Mormon or VERY conservative evangelical.... neither of which would typically grab the books that would be of interest to me.

It is a bit like an Easter Egg hunt - digging through the piles of stuff I don't recognize - hoping to spot a name or a title I want.  Glancing through a few unknowns that sound interesting.  The emotions ranging from "Meh... I'll try that for a quarter" ... to uttering "No $***" in the religion isle because I found a like-new Marcus Borg.

At one point, a gentleman was drifting into my isle and I felt myself get a little territorial.    I clutched my books tighter and gave him the evil eye.  In his arms he had books by Joyce Meyer and Tim Lahaye.  Whew!  No danger there.  Then he looks up and down my stack of books and shakes his head.  I could see he was debating whether to give me a lecture, which would most likely be dripping in Christianese.  Fortunately for me, his economic sense won out and he went back to his searching; I was in no mood to be evangelized with cliche's and single syllable words.

Before leaving, I drifted through the LDS section, just in case there was any Robert Millet in there. Nope.  But wedged in between some copies of "The Work and the Glory" was a book co-authored by Borg and Crossan.  My ecumenical nature had struck pay-dirt!

So what did I get?

Total Surrender - Mother Teresa
Words to Love By - Mother Teresa
Beyond Theology - Alan Watts
Who Killed Jesus? - Dominic Crossan
The First Christmas - Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg
The God We Never Knew - Marcus Borg
Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time - Marcus Borg
Resurrection - John Shelby Spong
Why Christianity Must Change or Die - John Shelby Spong
The Power Of Now - Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle
Reading Judas - Elaine Pagels
The Sign of Jonas - Thomas Merton
Soul Survivor - Philip Yancey
The Road Less Traveled and Beyond - M. Scott Peck
Traveling Mercies - Anne Lamott
Religious Literacy - Stephen Prothero
Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire - Deepak Chopra
Letter to a Christian Nation - Sam Harris
The Death and Life of Michael Servetus -Roland Bainton
Failing America's Faithful - Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Freedom in Exile - The Dalai Lama
How then shall we live? - Wayne Muller
The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom

All of these are spread out in front of me, and it feels like Christmas morning.

Total spent: $9

Adding to my library: Priceless

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Parents - Be Careful With Your Words

I am a parent of two. I have also been working with kids for 20+ years. I even spent a lot of my early years as a kid myself.

Here is my observation: Teens and children often reflect the rhetoric they hear at home in an exaggerated way. Kids reflect their parents' views. However, because of their youth, the usage of their parents' views tend to be represented in very stark terms.  Often without realization, a child can become a bully. They do not think of themselves as a bully, they are simply executing what they perceive the home attitude to be. Convinced of the rightness of their home view, any opposing view can be put-down and mistreated. The bully at school is being empowered by the attitudes and words of the parents.

So parents - are your words gracious or judgmental? Excluding or embracing? Tolerant or snide? How do you feel about other Religions? Ethnicity? Social status? Your attitudes will be reflected and amplified in your children.

Kids are killing themselves over the things being said and done to them by their peers.  If it is going to stop, parents have to start taking a look at what kind of foundations they are laying at home.

The offhanded, gay-disparaging comment you make becomes a weapon in your child's hands.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Homosexuality and The Church

What is one to make of what is going on in religious circles concerning homosexuality? In many ways, what is occurring is culture shock. In the past, churches were simply able to state their position and everyone capitulated.  It was a smaller world then.

But as many within the Catholic church began to discover a few years back while dealing with reports of pedophiles in the priesthood, the public is no longer just accepting the word of religious institutions. The public wants reasons, justifications, and explanations. Why should we believe you?  Why should we trust you? Why should we care what your book or  your leaders say?


Like a poorly prepared parent, religious institutions and their adherents often come back with a frustrated, "Because we said so!!!"

The time when such a flimsy response was adequate has passed.

I understand when religious people feel an injunction by God not to be homosexual - i.e. they believe the bible says not to, and so they may not. I once held that position myself. That is fine for a personal choice and perhaps as a constraint within one's religion; but why should anyone else be forced or pressured into abiding by the moral constraints of a religion they don't adhere to, when the violations of those moral constraints do no harm to others? Hassidic Jews may feel bound to obey Kosher laws, but it would be inappropriate for them to insist on legislation requiring it of others. I often hear Christians who fear that "Sharia Law" might be pushed into America by Islam, but I fail to see how Christians pushing the particulars of their book into our laws is any different.

I have heard many times in the past week (this is a big issue here in Utah at the moment) that those opposing homosexuality are just adhering to their morals. I would like to make a distinction here. Objecting to homosexuality, I believe, cannot be a universal moral. It is a religious conviction. I think for something to be considered a universal moral, and not merely a religious position, it has to be amenable to all faiths... and those without a faith. The bible says murder is wrong (although it acts it out more as a guideline than a rule) but I could also make a non-religious arguement as to why it is good for humanity to follow that position. On the contrary, I have yet to hear a valid argument against homosexuality that did not come back to a religious point and/or that individual's personal "ick" factor with homosexuality.

I have no sympathy for people using religious arguments to mask their own distaste and abhorrence for homosexuality. They are no different than the folks 50 years ago who used the bible to try to justify making people of color into second class citizens.

However, I do have some sympathy for folks who feel they have no alternatives due to their interpretation of their religious texts. Fine, you can choose to remain heterosexual or deny your homosexuality as needed; but please, do not feel you can step into the space of another and dictate their life according to your desires.

Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's on Your Bookshelf?

My wife has noted my tendency to go immediately to the bookshelf any time I enter a new friend's home. I maintain that you can tell a lot about a person by what they read.

The idea of this blog was inspired by my blogging friend Eruesso over at A God-Sized Puzzle.

I presently have three books out from the library. I just finished Losing My Religion (excellent), am in the middle of Me of little Faith, and I hope to get to the Dali Lama before my time runs out.

I am enjoying Me of Little Faith immensely. I love hearing Black's commentary on Faith.  I have been drawn lately to hear what people have to say about God when they do not feel bound by their religious group to give the "right" answer.

The various pics of my bookshelves cover most of what I have.  Some of those shelves are two deep, and I wasn't motivated to pull all the books down... the pics give a good flavor.

What isn't depicted, for the most part, is fiction (usually science fiction). I got rid of much of my collection when I moved to Utah from Michigan. We downsized on the house, so we needed to trim down. However, the theology and comics stayed.

The authors who have influenced my life most in the past couple of years have been Brian Mclaren, Richard Rohr, Thich Nhat Hanh, Philip Gulley, and Marcus Borg.  Brian because he gave space for me to address how I saw Christ and God, Hanh for challenging me on the path of love, Rohr for helping me see the third way, Borg for giving me permission to take the Bible seriously but not literally, and Gulley for expanding my idea of God and officially converting me to Universalism.

So I highly recommend:

A Generous Orthodoxy - Brian Mclaren
Everything Belongs - Richard Rohr
Teachings on Love - Thich Nhat Hanh
If Grace is True - Phillip Gulley
Reading the Bible Again for the First Time - Marcus Borg

I also have to mention No Greater Love by Mother Teresa. My wife and I did this book as a small group with our church a number of years ago. It had a profound effect on how we view the world and each other.

I will probably think of books later that escape me at the moment; but how about you?

What are you reading?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pew Religion Poll

The results of the Pew Research Poll on religious knowledge has been all over the webosphere. Christians did not fare too well compared to Jews, Atheists, and Mormons.  In fact, I think Christianity did worse than the study indicates. By dividing Christians into subgroups (which they did not do for anyone else), they allowed a few Christian groups to float closer to the top.  Taken as a total average, the numbers are even lower.

It actually does not surprise me that Christians score low.  This was a religious test.... not a Christianity test.  In my experience, most Christians are not only disinterested in what goes on with other religions... they often feel that such knowledge could taint them. Usually, anything they learn about another religion comes from a Christian.

Before my family moved out to Utah six years ago, a number of fellow Christians offered us books about Mormons.  None of these were actually written by a Mormon.

So, if Christians generally see other religions as a threat or of no value, and the only reason to learn about them is for protection or proselytizing; and any education received is from a (probably) biased or inaccurate source .... is it any wonder that Christians would score low?

Unfortunately, according to the articles and blogs I am reading, most Christians are interpreting this study as:

We need to read our Bibles more.

I disagree.... you just need to get out more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


"Dad, can you take me to the library?"

I don't know if my son can imagine, at his age, how much joy that question brings me.  Clutching a small stack, he told me that he was finished with all of his books from our last run, and needed more.

So off to the library we went.  I made my usual side turn just inside the door to see if there were any worthy books for sale.  I often find at least one the library is cutting loose, but today was not the day.  I then went to find Jake, who already had three books tucked under his arm and was busily searching for more.

I debated just shadowing him.  I knew if I headed over to the religion/philosophy isle, I would bring something home.  I already have two from the library and barely have time for those.... why grab anymore?

"I'll just look," I tell myself.

Through the rows I see many old friends, a few I am beginning to know, and some I would like to meet.  Marcus Borg, Karen Armstrong, the latest by David Dark.... I am always amazed at what a good selection they have.... Hitchens, been enjoying his Vanity Fair articles, I need to read something by him.... skip past the televangelist stuff to other faiths.... the Dali Lama.... what? no Thich Nhat Hahn? ... must be all checked out...

A tug at my elbow...

"Dad, are you ready?"

Jake is a young reader.... very task oriented.... he has his books and is ready to go.

That's ok.... he is just beginning.... someday he will savor these isles, pause at the pages, lose himself in their presence .....

His stack has grown to eight and we head to the check out.  We place the nine books on the conveyor (did anyone think I could resist?) and grab our receipt.  Outside a gentle rain is falling.  Jake is bent over as he walks.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

"I have to protect the books," he says without looking up.

How did I get so blessed?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Interesting Facebook Conversation

Chad - I just heard that 2 friends children brought home permission slips so they could watch the President's speech. What is happening in this world or is it just Texas and Utah?

14 September at 12:26 ·  · 

    • Gideon-  well the permission slip probably says "Barack Obama's stupidity is contagious. We need permission from the parent/guardian of _______ so they can watch it. Thank you."
      14 September at 12:37 ·  ·  1 person

    • Kim - I think there are two things at work here: 1) People are so afraid of their kids being taught something they don't agree with that they want to know what is being taught. 2) The education system is no longer just about teaching kids to think and learn, but it IS, to some degree, being involved in political indoctrination.
      14 September at 12:46 · 

    • Chuck  What's the big deal? I don't remember being allowed to watch political addresses of anyone from either party when I was a student.
      14 September at 13:05 · 

    • D - Too much to say, so I'll just say this. All you "Tom Jones' " that think you or your children will be ruined for life just because you heard President Obama speak make me sick. You all probably still think you could catch koodies from touching a girl/boy, too. Get over yourselves.
      14 September at 16:02 ·  ·  1 person

    • Brooke- couldn't have said it better. Thank u!
      14 September at 16:35 · 

    • Rose- SERIOUSLY!! Hummm interesting!
      14 September at 16:52 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      I have been teaching for 20 years. The vast liberal education conspiracy is driven by 2 things. 1. Money - Many Christian ministries thrive on bad news. If they can find that a homosexual has spoken to a class somewhere and report on it, that translates to many, many support checks (It doesn't matter if that Homosexual was speaking alongside Newt, Beck, and Limbaugh... it is still a liberal bias). Nobody writes a check faster than a Christian who thinks the "World" is out to get them.

      The second bounces off that last sentence, nothing makes those same folks feel closer to God than if they are persecuted. 95% of the persecutions they list are exaggerated, misinterpreted, or just patently false.... but don't take the fun out of it by making them see reality. Being persecuted is so much more exciting.

      I've been at this for 20 years.... I have never encountered the "horrors" I see sent to me monthly by Focus on the Family ... but again, those stories are how they get checks sent.

      My daughter hears a lot of fright-wing nonsense from one of her teachers who does not seem to understand that the classroom is not a place for her to grind her axe.... but so what? I have trained my daughter in critical thinking... she can weigh things. Most Christians fear what their child might hear at school because they have indoctrinated their children. They have not learned critical thinking skills, so it is actually very easy for the child to jump ship... they have been taught to do as they were told. The fear Christians have of other thoughts should be a red warning light as to the practices by which they teach their children.
      14 September at 17:15 ·  ·  1 person · 

    • Chad-
      I took a display to the high school the other day as the high school loves what we are doing with the youth. Right in the center of the display, clearly seen was the word "Jesus". This was in the cafeteria of a public school. I displayed this during 2 different days and at an orientation. Funny thing is, if I'd listened to the fear mongers I would've left the display at the office and lots of people love coming up to the display as their are lots of different kids from the community shown in the pictures so I'm able to let them know about our programs. Point is, I think there are people who scares us so bad that they scare us into passivity. The President's message is about Education and the importance of it. It's not a political manuever, it's our leader delivering a message to our young, the opposition is the political manuever.
      14 September at 18:29 ·  ·  2 people

    • Chuck - Andrew, is a great example of the closed mindedness and prejudiced thinking that divides and destroys people rather than create understanding. Critical thinking does not lead to broad stroke depictions of people regardless of which side of the political spectrum they fall.
      14 September at 18:31 · 

    • Andrew Hackman Got a "for instance" there Chuck?
      14 September at 18:33 ·  · 

    • Chuck - Andrew's entire rant.
      14 September at 18:47 · 

    • Chuck - Go Chad! Thank you for your courage to reach out to others with a positive message of acceptance for all.
      14 September at 19:33 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      Hmmm... I think I qualify rather frequently rather than broad stroke - e.g. many Christian, than a Christian who, the same folks, etc... Rather than lump Christians into one group, I deal with a certain subset.

      As I said, I would love to address a specific concern you have Chuck, but when you broad stroke my whole argument it kinda leaves me with nothing to discuss.
      14 September at 19:38 ·  · 

    • Chuck -
      Andrew, I think you said it all pretty clearly. "No one writes a check more quickly than a Christian...","...most Christians fear...","...the fear Christians have..." Each of these statements is an example of unqualified overstatement.

      What validated research do you reference about 95 percent of some christian organizations' exaggerated claims? Who complained and what platform was shared by the likes of Newt, Beck, Limbaugh and a representative of the homosexual perspective? None of these statements exhibit critical thinking but unsubstantiated and speculative polemic.

      It is the Chads of the world that bring people together and promote critical thinking, understanding, tolerance and hope for our children's future.
      14 September at 20:47 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      I did not mean the Limbaugh comment literally. It was a joke :)

      Do you watch the 700 club, do you get Focus on the Family mailings, do you listen to the Colson "warnings"? Again, I don't put all Christians in this category, but that faction has a very strong voice and accounts for much of the rhetoric of the Christian community.... do you think that is not the case?

      "Many" Christians exaggerate all the time to their children. Then the kid goes off to college and "falls away". The parents blame the liberal institutions, when in fact, many times the kid has a knee-jerk reaction to finding out half the stuff their Christian parents told them wasn't true. And in many cases, it is merely the parent regurgitating what they heard from the Christian ministry.

      I experience this constantly... I go to a new bible study and in time folks find out I am a public school teacher.

      "It must be very difficult," they say, "being a Christian in a "Public" school. Boy, you must have some stories to tell."

      "What do you mean?" I ask; trying to be patient, but knowing where this is going.

      "Well, just all the Godlessness and Homosexual agendas "they" are pushing. It is horrible what they are teaching in these schools now. You have probably seen....." and then they go on to tell about the latest thing that Focus has let them know about.... what the schools are plotting.

      The look of disappointment on their faces, when I have no tales to tell and no "inside" info, would be priceless were it not so pitiful. I just took all the fun out of it. Either that, or I from then on become suspect... I have obviously been affected by such long term exposure to public schools.

      From your rebuttal, I still don't understand your basic disagreement with what I am saying (You say I am broad brushing, I disagree) ... I get the impression that you simply don't like that I am saying it.
      14 September at 21:33 ·  ·  1 person · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      And just to clarify - My "no one writes a check more quickly" is totally valid... it does not apply to every Christian, it applies to Christians who think the "World" is out to get them. I don't believe the world is out to get me, so when I get the latest scare mail from ministry X, I feel no compulsion to write them a check. There are plenty of Christians who also do not fall prey to such tactics. Such ministries prey on the ideologically fearful in the same way that the Tiltons and Hinns prey on the poor and the sick....
      14 September at 21:44 ·  · 

    • Chuck -
      You sure can make a lot of assumptions. Now you assume the reason I respond to your posting is because I don't like the fact that you are saying it? Quite the contrary, I appreciate interacting with a broad range of people with differing perspectives from my own. I'm sorry your experiences have left you unable to see christians as more than followers of some more visible and outspoken christian subgroups. If you examine your statements I quoted, I think you will find you are narrowly and unfairly judging millions of people worldwide.

      I have to go to bed now but I would be more than happy to interact with you later.
      14 September at 22:15 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      Some of this is translation difficulties... I say "I get the impression that", but you translate that as "you assume". My statement is open-ended, but you translate it in a closed way... you seem to have done that with a few of my statements.

      Another example - "your experiences have left you unable" I don't think anything I have said would indicate that I have trouble discerning varying layers of Christianity or that I think it to be monolithic.

      I don't think I am unfairly judging millions.... I think I am describing a subset and critiquing their approach...
      14 September at 22:32 ·  · 

    • Chuck - Examine your statements. You have not recognized the fact that these are broad sweeping and unlimited statements of an entire group of people. Yes, to get an impression that I don't like that you say something simply because I express disagreement is unfounded based on your own assumptions, not something I have said. If I didn't like that you say something I would probably try to categorize you and attempt to minimize your credibility by making broad generalizations about your beliefs.
      Wednesday at 06:00 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      You are correct, I don't recognize that at all. When I state that Christians who fear the world is out to get them are more apt to write checks, then I am setting them apart from Christians who do not feel the world is out to get them... this simply does not qualify as "unlimited". It is a subset... not an entire group. There are many Christians who would take no issue with anything I have defined. Have I poked your subgroup? If so, are you assuming that your subgroup is the proper view of Christianity and that is why you keep referencing our conversation as if I am speaking of all of Christianity (even after I have stated that I am not) ?
      You overstate and speak in very broad strokes... then accuse me of doing so in areas in which I have set boundaries.
      Wednesday at 07:18 via Email reply ·  · 

    • Chuck - You have not read your own original statements carefully.
      Wednesday at 07:52 · 

    • D -
      Then be specific, Chuck. You paint Andrew into your own corner. He can obviously differentiate between the gradients of "Christianity." And there are gradients, by the way. He claims, himself, to be Christian, but doesn't jump to write checks every time a third party tells him his own moral fiber is being threatened. He bases his text on his own experience. Are you debating HIS personal experiences, or do you presume to know so much better than him that you feel he is interpreting, wrongly, what he experiences? Poor Andrew. You can't even decide, for yourself, how you feel.
      As for you Chad... I, for one, can't believe you took a display with the word "Jesus" into a public school. The nerve. I'm surprised there weren't mass sacrifices and blood atonements. It seems to me (see that Chuck - this is simply my uneducated opinion) that there must not have been any radicals from the liberal left on watch those days. The fact is, most people are reasonable. We are all on this 'screwball of a planet that some deity shook out the bottom of his pant leg' together. Be sensitive to others, but don't be so sensitive yourself. We are going to have different opinions of how things should be done. Let's work it out together and move on.
      Wednesday at 14:15 · 

    • Chuck -
      I have no judgements to make about anyone's experiences. My first and only concern is that originally blanket statements were made about a group of people who are actually quite diverse. Apparently Andrew's experiences have not been with a very diverse sampling. Subsequently he has described some of his experiences and denied that his statements were as broad as they appeared.

      Most Christians don't even live in the US and don't know or care who are Newt, Beck, Limbaugh, Colson, Tilton, Hinn or the organizations they represent. I personally don't pay much attention to them either and don't have any axes to grind. The fastest way to get me to write a check is to present me with a needy child or family.
      Wednesday at 14:53 ·  ·  1 person

    • Chad - Let's take this to a deeper level, we have 2 opposing sides. Let's see if we can do what most people can't. Keep talking as I'm sure both sides of the argument don't fully understand each other yet. In our little corner of the world let's end this knowing that each side fully understand each other. I have the advantage of knowing all of you yet I know none of you know each other, with that in mind that is why I'd love for you to not give up you communication on this.
      Wednesday at 15:43 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      Hmmm.... It is hard to know where to take this conversation. In honesty Chuck, I have trouble following your line of reasoning. On the one hand, I am broad stroke painting all Christians (which no amount of clarification on my part seems to change your opinion), but then in your latest comment I am only addressing a thin slice of Christianity and this is suddenly a problem. Soooooo.... which is it??

      As D Shane has noted, you never actually address any of my issues. Your main contention seems to be that I present some/all (?) Christians in a not so complimentary light .... and... this..... shouldn't be said... I guess. :S

      Beyond that, you pretty consistently project words and motivations to me that I haven't said or don't feel. I say X, but by the time it goes through your filters, it becomes Z. You want me to address Z, but since I never said it, I don't even know where to begin.
      Wednesday at 16:18 ·  · 

    • Chuck - I quoted your words verbatim. There is really nothing more I can say.
      Wednesday at 16:27 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      Chuck.... Here is a verbatim quote of your verbatim quote " "No one writes a check more quickly than a Christian..." "

      Now going by that quote, one would think that I think there is no one who writes a check faster than a Christian.... as in, all Christians.

      But of course, my quote was "Nobody writes a check faster than a Christian who thinks the "World" is out to get them."

      The "who thinks" is huge for context. It is pointing out that there are Christians who live in a state of fear and paranoia of many, if not all, non-Christians. My contention is that there are ministries who prey on these folks and fan these flames of fear for sake of financial gain.

      I am still unclear as to whether you think that position is inaccurate, or unfair?
      Wednesday at 16:43 ·  · 

    • D -
      What were we talking about? Oh, yes... We are idiots; therefore, our children are idiots. We musn't allow our children to hear any opinion other than our own so that we can ensure that they remain idiots. To those of you with differing opinions than me, you are wrong and I am better than you. We WILL take back America from all of you other patriotic Americans who think you know better than us. Idiots! AND, just in case you don't believe everything I say, just because I said it, I believe in God more and/or better than you. You simply can't argue with me now!
      Anyone want to talk about mandatory health care and the Constitutionality of it?
      Wednesday at 18:02 · 

    • Chuck -
      I used ellipsis rather than type every word on my Blackberry. The statement that no one writes a check faster than someone else is impossible to prove and is followed by an unverifiable claim that 95 percent of certain claims are unreliable. The closing comments state that MOST christians fear what their child might hear in school and refers to the fears CHRISTIANS have of thoughts. These are overly broad generalizations that simply characterize MOST christians in a certain way. It is not possible to accurately describe any group whether christian, muslim, or atheist in such a limited manner. Promoting such stereotypes creates barriers to understanding while we desperately need bridges today more than ever.

      I have spent most of my adult life attempting to break down racial, social, national and religious barriers. From personal experience I assert emphatically that accurate and helpful statements can rarely be coupled with the word "most" or a description of a large people group.
      Wednesday at 18:17 · 

    • Andrew Hackman So which adjective becomes acceptable by which to have a conversation?: some, multiple, two?.... again you don't address anything I point out, you just nitpick adjectives... first it is that I am broad painting all, then most may be too much.... and subset? too vague? .... pick your flavor, and then address the point.
      Wednesday at 18:24 ·  · 

    • Chuck - I think I said it pretty clearly. Seek to bring people together not pigeon hole them with impossible to measure characterizations.
      Wednesday at 18:47 · 

    • Andrew Hackman i am suspicious of that Chuck.... if it were all about the word selection, it seems your opening salvo would have been something more like "Hi Andrew... would you consider that adjective X might be a better descriptor..etc," Instead you come in guns blazing...seeming a bit offended.... much different approach then the bridge builder you keep declaring yourself to be.
      Wednesday at 19:05 ·  · 

    • Chuck - I'm sorry you have such a hard time with your suspicions. I don't think I have deviated from my original point that it is inaccurate to make broad sweeping generalizations of christians or any large group of people.
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