Ends Justifying the Means & Dereliction of Duty : “You can’t have one without the other”

“Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

First:  A Dereliction of Dignity

“Justice Kennedy and Dignity”

Prior to the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage:  “He [Justice Kennedy] explained that “by authorizing same-sex unions and same-sex marriages, New York sought to give further protection and dignity to that bond.” “…”Justice Kennedy can be remembered as the decisive vote for creating same-sex marriage or as the man who gave same-sex couples the opportunity to argue for the dignity of their relationships. It is unlikely that he can be remembered as both.”

Justice Kennedy please take some notes.

[Justice Clarence] Thomas wrote in his dissent that there is no “dignity” clause in the US Constitution — and that, even if there was, the government could not bestow it upon a person or take it away.

 

Second:  A Dereliction of Duty

Marriage: It’s an institute you must not disparage. Yet, the Supreme Court and State Attorneys General (AGs) have disparaged natural marriage. Many state AGs have not done their due diligence for the people they serve. The following video describes their disgrace.

The video does contain a bit of legalese but it is absolutely necessary for Christians to understand what is taking place in the world around them. This video will inform you of the failure of those whom we trusted.

BTW: I don’t have to tell you that the Left preaches tolerance but the Left is the most intolerant group on earth. The Left depends on bullying to get its way.

Dereliction of Duty: State Attorneys General Failing to Defend Marriage Laws in Court

Quoth the Paradise: Nevermore!

Quoth the Paradise:  Nevermore!

 Please!  No more tattoos.  Cover up your butterfly, your Mayan symbol of fertility, your undulating butt cheeks covered with spider webs.  Cover up your magic marker body.  I do not want to see it.

 Please! No more women talking endlessly on cell phones while driving an SUV or a mini-van.  They are multi-tasking my patience. 

 Please, no more skinny jeans.  If I wanted to look at a blue toothpick then I will go puncture a Smurf. 

 Please, no more make-your-skin-crawl women: Rachel Maddcow, Ellen, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. 

 Please, no more city mayors telling us we can’t drink a biggie size drink or carry a gun or have a Chic-fil-A restaurant in our district.

 And please.  No more government!

When you voted for Obama you voted to make your life harder. I know I know. You thought life would be better but you were deceived by the “social justice” propaganda.

 Voting for tax and spend Democrats (Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi) means that you spend less time with your family and more time working to pay your bills.  Sure Barrack and Michelle will continue to get Hawaiian vacations and Barrack will continue to play hundreds of hours of golf but your family will have to put off vacations because of … 1) rising Federal and State taxes, 2) because of government regulations affecting your workplace which affects your pay and 3) because of rising consumer prices due to corporation taxes. And, tax rate increases for the wealthy do not occur in a vacuum.  Increasing the tax rates for the wealthy affects everyone negatively.

 With Democrats you are placed in what I call a Moronic Squeeze:  government through taxation (including the newly tax-mandated Obamacare) demands more of your money.  So now you will have to work more hours in order to take care of your family.  Then because you are both working so much you can’t spend time with your kids, time the kids desperately need.  Instead,  a public school takes over your children.  Then the public school system demands more money to teach your children and then government will come back for more tax money from you.  Phew! You and your children are put in an ever tightening vise by government.

 More devastating, government creates fiscal and moral poverty; “social justice” is the scam that is used to take money from your pocket and put it where it best serves a politician and his reelection needs.

 When both parents are working who’s with the kids?  Are you letting the public school inculcate its “diversity” values into your children because you don’t have the time to spend with them, because you work so many hours to pay government for the first five months of the year?

 Social justice, better simply, “justice”,  is learned at home.  Invest your money there and not in government:  spend time with your children, teach them what is good.  The returns will be great.  Government gives you pennies on the dollar return on your tax payments.

 When you keep more of your own money you have more options and more time to spend with family.  Voting for more government – more Democrats – does not give you more time with your precious family.  Instead you must work all the harder to meet government’s demands.  Obamacare is only one of the huge financial demands now placed on the middle class.

 2014 & 2016:  Think about your family before you vote for more government (and less take home pay) in the form of a Democrat candidate.

Added Dec 31st, 2012:  The Best Bumper Stickers of 2012 – the Legal Insurrection edition. Here’s one example:

Bumper-Sticker-Gypsum-CO-Forward

I have to ask:atlanta-Freedom

Afternoon Aliens

Any exhaustive research into my childhood would reveal several close encounters with aliens.

 You would learn that these encounters occurred primarily on Sunday afternoons but also sometimes on Saturday nights.  You would read that the aliens would slowly pull up in front of my parent’s home and then park right smack in the center of our view, a view framed by our front room picture window. (I wanted to say “frontroom” because it’s the Chicago way.)

 For our family Sunday mornings meant going to church – the hell-fire-and-brimstone-preaching-shouted-from-revved up lungs-quivering jowls-and-leaps and-bounds-of-a-Baptist-minister-kind of church.  Such a fire-breathing monster would let us know in no uncertain terms that redemption came only by turning from our sins and by walking down the aisle or raising our hand. I did wonder why he didn’t sell exercise videos out in the foyer – “Pilate Your Way Out of Purgatory:  Fit and Fundamental Workouts.”

 Now my mom and dad are God-fearing people who have always been very hospitable. Often, after a Sunday morning service or an evening service, my folks would invite friends, speakers, missionaries or relatives over for a meal.  As I said, this happened a lot.

 There were also a few Sundays when my parents decided to have an afternoon home alone with the kids. On those days we would come home from church to the salivating smell of pot roast.  The roast would cook while we sat in church pondering our short comings and our eternities.  The record will show that I had aromatic visions of pot roast as I turned from sin, walked down the aisle and raised my hand. 

 Back at home my mother would take the pot roast out of the oven and cover it with aluminum foil. Apparently the fat needed to rejoin the roast in a final cattle roundup. Mom and dad would then prepare the sides – all kid friendly: corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls.  And, upon occasion my mother would make butterscotch pudding for dessert.  As a devotee of such fine cuisine I sat in the basement far out-of-the-way of the chefs. Down there I watched Warner Oland play Charlie Chan on our B & W TV:  “So sorry.”

 Besides being wafted to Kid Heaven by the smells I knew that my parents were not just making a scrumptious Sunday meal.  They were not going to take any chances with me going far from the straight and narrow.  They knew that the way to tether a kid’s soul and keep him close to home was with pot roast and butterscotch pudding.

 Well, on one of those blissful Sundays when my tummy was ballooned to its fullest pot roast-iest extent I lay on the floor rolling and reading the funny papers.  Nancy and Sluggo. Dick Tracy and Flattop. Brenda Starr and…my brother. 

 Daryl ever the antagonist always wanted to read the same few square inches of the comics that I was reading. I swear.  He would daily invent ways to aggravate me.  That day his pointed elbow to my side almost burst me.  In retaliation I poked him back and then he poked back harder.  This went on for ten minutes until my father said, “You two cut it out or no butterscotch pudding for you.” That settled things for the next five minutes. The thought of Butterscotch pudding had a calming effect on me. An added dollop of whipped cream would also keep me in check – for at least a half-hour.

 It was within the cautious serenity of those five minutes that I saw my father suddenly leap up out of his swivel rocker.  The Chicago Tribune fell to the floor splayed open.  My dad turned to my mother who was sitting on the couch half asleep.  With a look of petrified horror he said, “The Gephardts are here!” That was the day I would have my first sighting of aliens in our own front yard.

 Absolutely beside himself, my dad thought for a moment:  perhaps we could make it look like we weren’t at home.  But then he saw the visitors looking at him through the picture window.  The alien father on the front lawn was yelling “Hi Bob.”   My dad then looked down at his two young children, children who just came home from re-dedicating their lives to Jesus and to pot roast looking up at him.   Instantly changing his mind my dad scrambled in two directions at once.  In the same step he first bolted toward the kitchen but then turned and flew to the back of the house.  Things were put away, hidden from view.  Rooms were “straightened.” Food stowed deep in the refrigerator. Our Schnauzer Bobbie took the cue and hid under my bed whimpering. My brother and I hid all of our toys.  The quiet afternoon had morphed into the afternoon of the living Gephardts.

 Now the Gephardts were good people my folks said, “They’re just a little different.” Yeah, as different as earth and mars I would soon find out.

 After greeting the family of five, my dad said he had to get “some things” at the grocery store.  An hour later my mother looked concerned, abandoned concerned, angry concerned.  As the time crept, my mother sat patiently listening to Mrs. G. wonder out loud if her little “Ronnie was really over the chicken pox.” (I kid, (scratch, scratch) you not.)

My brother and I stood across from the three alien kids, two boys and a girl, and wondered what to do. Mom suggested that we go to a nearby field and play baseball until the FBI had located our father. So off we went.

 I can not recall whether it was my brother or whether it was me who was hit in the head with a baseball bat by a Gephardt boy. It must have been me who received the carom because great a swath of my memory has been forever displaced. The oldest kid swung right though an imaginary fast ball which was in fact my head.  Let the record show that silly remained intact though.  (I have had three concussions in my life:  one from a right-handed batter on sugar, one from a concrete wall that halted my fifty yard dash at 55 yards and one as an adult when a humongous lead pipe-carrying truck used my car as a brake – my head bounced around like a pin ball in a Dukes of Hazzard pinball game. Three concussions may explain my David Lynch-like persona, my dream-state reality and my stuttering posts.)

 At some point my dad came back from the store with a pie, a cherry pie and a can of whipped cream.  He offered to heat it, slice it and even remake it -anything so as to not have to talk to Mr. G who I now know was dead ringer for Randy Quaid.  Mr. G sat in our front room – greasy tee shirt, flys buzzing and all.  The three G kids all could have walked off a page of the Addam’s Family comic strip.  It’s all a blur.  On purpose.

 Mr. G was a junk collector by trade.  He collected “fine” items no longer of use to their owners. He resold his JIT inventory on Maxwell Street. Did we have anything that we didn’t want any more?  I imagined that my father wanted to say “Yes, you here.”  But my dad, a generous and good man, kept to his busy ways and went looking for a ‘fine item” that would spur Mr. G into immediate sales activity.   My dad “sacrificially” retreated to the basement where after a half hour of searching everywhere including a Walter Cronkite newscast he found a lamp on its last light bulb and handed it to Mr. G. who was pleased with his salable good but continued to eye my mom’s china cabinet.  My mother seeing Mr. G’s honed gaze locked onto the china cabinet stood up between Mr. G and the cabinet as she continued to talk to Mrs. G.  The “over-my-dead-body” look must have told Mr. G all he needed to know.  He backed down.

 After some warmed cherry pie and coffee and a shake down of each the kids to see if they had taken anything from our rooms we said goodbye to the G’s and to the afternoon. It was now evening.  Exhausted we all fell back into the couch to watch a “really big shew.”  We had seen the Outer Limits.

 Over time the Gs would show up again and again unannounced.  Somehow we were ever on their radar though my parents only slightly knew them as neighbors at a previous address in Chicago. But finally these afternoon aliens did stop showing up.

 I suspect they stopped coming when our house looked eerily uninhabited:  with all the curtains pulled my dad started taking long Sunday afternoon naps on the couch in the dark, cool basement of our house.  My mom who loved our dad took us three (by now) perturbing kids for a long drive in the country – all of us far from afternoon aliens.

(Any truth in this account, real or perceived, is totally up to you.)

© Sally Paradise, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Unwrapping Up

This past year has been an incredibly agonizing one for me due to unexpected family events and the subsequent heartrending trauma that accompanies such a trajectory.  At the same time, though, I’ve become increasingly aware of a fundamental shift going on in my own nature – the shedding of my flimsy oft pretentious human nature to reveal Substantial Reality.  The nexus between these two versions of my person has been continued prayer for others and a regular partaking of the Eucharist.

 The whole divestment process has not been easy. In fact, it has been acutely painful, its unpleasantness much like what Eustace described to Edmund in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawntreader.  Here Eustace relates his dragon skin being torn off by Aslan.

 “The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. but the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don’t know if he said any words out loud or not.

I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, however many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

The very first tear he made was do deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there I was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. You’d think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they’ve no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian’s, but I was so glad to see them.

After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me – (with his paws?) – Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes – the same I’ve got on now, as a matter of fact. and then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.”

Here’s what is being peeled away from me (not for the queasy!):

 – A sentimentality of the kind that keeps my soul inbred, subservient to its self-rationalizing self-pity.

 – The desire to control a situation or someone to obtain a pleasant outcome, to soften reality’s blow and effectively deny its painful truth. 

 – Pretense.

 – The need to look good so as to impress others with my abilities, the need to compete for another’s attention hoping to gain the pride of place.

 – The impulse to take action when waiting would be the most prudent – not easy, but prudent.

– The lack of acceptance at face-value of knowledge presented as feminine – intuitive, passive, receptive.

 – The lack of acceptance of wisdom as a gift from God and therefore not derived as a human accomplishment.

The list, the shedding, goes on…

 As this painful process continues I am beginning to see my Real self emerging. This in turn has invoked in me a need to return to my baptismal vows and to those baptismal waters that I at one time had thought only help serve to moisten and seal the earnest of one’s inheritance in Christ.  Little attention did I pay to my rapidly developing dragon skin. 

 Today, by fire and trial and Aslan’s claws, I am being freed of the hardened outer layer of self-protection and I am submersing myself in the waters of my baptism.  In doing so, I, the vulnerable suppliant I, has become alive to the REAL – the “perfectly delicious” Real.

 This peeling away is all about knowing Christ and the fellowship of His sufferings. That is True Reality.

The Tree of Life Envisioned

Recently I viewed Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life. It would be difficult for me to adequately describe the effect this movie had on me, the emotion and reflection evoked from me as a Christian parent who has lost a child.  This movie operates, more than any I have ever seen, on an intimate meaning-of-life level while the breadth of its vision enables us to direct our eyes away from ourselves and out into the vast cosmos. And in doing so, synchronicity with creation is summoned.

 Life’s deepest and most pressing questions, the universal “whys” behind all of life are posed using the simple narrative of the lives of the O’Brien family of five. Underlying the film’s basic premises of wonder and questioning is the ancient wisdom book of Job, for me the touchstone of the film.  I believe that each viewer’s prior contemplation of life’s deepest questions would certainly individualize the film’s impression on the viewer.  Without individuation, though, the movie is just an amalgam of exceptional pictures and music – a mood piece. I see The Tree of Life as being a spiritual movie and not a religious documentary and therefore I believe it will affect each viewer differently.

 Without going into too much of the narrative detail, detail which may deprive you of the movie’s impact, here is my initial impression of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life:

 Though I was ready for the usual exceptional visual imagery – Stanley Kubrick’s movies come to mind – that is part and parcel of Malick’s cinematic talent (see also his Days of Heaven) I was blown away by the large scope of the movie:  creation, the meaning of life, the existence of suffering, nature and grace and the Creator. 

One of the visual and emotional pleasures of this movie is that the images are offered to us in prolonged time frames – there are no frenetic montages matched to every blink of the eye. The absence of the modern movie restlessness allows us to contemplate the force of those images. We are then able to react with deeply held authentic feelings and at the same time not feel the need to immediately dispose of those feelings so as to be ready for the next emotional roller coaster ride of images. In this way the movie parallels life:  creation and real life takes place over time.  I believe the movie honors the fact that God takes time to accomplish His purposes – in the universe and in the saga of our lives. And, as the movie depicts, we do not understand God’s ways but, as I have seen, God, who is outside of time, uses time to reveal His Nature and His Grace to us.

 Malick rolls out before us a grand sweeping chromatic scroll of the universe. The visual imagery, often shown in natural lighting is enhanced with beautifully evocative musical selections including works by Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Smetana’s The Moldau River, Preisner’s Lacrimosa, Cassidy’s The Funeral March and Górecki’s Sorrowful Songs Symphony. Such music invokes us to come present to the spiritual within our souls.

 The awe-inspiring and overwhelming dynamic universe centers around and is grounded by a tree in the backyard of a family’s home in Waco Texas, circa 1950s. Using a minimalist script this family of five provides creation’s human narrative: father (emblematic of nature), mother (emblematic of grace) and their three young sons.  The father, the mother and Jack O’brien, the eldest son and main character give us our viewpoints. Later on in the movie Jack’s character is played as an adult by Sean Penn. The adult Jack becomes an architect who creates buildings derivative of his own hard-edged “nature”.

 Within this family life narrative we see birth, growth, maturation, anger, relational distance, death, sorrow, loss, envy, survival, strife and sin. Along the way the ever pressing questions of life are whispered to our ears using voiceovers.

 As I mentioned the display of the immensity and dynamism of the created universe provides the backdrop for these most important issues of life, questions that this family of five and certainly any sane person on earth ponders at some point in their life:  Where is God?; Does God see what is happening?; Does God care? Are we left on our own? What about evil? What about the loss of a child? Why is there suffering?

 After the death of her son Mrs. O’Brien asks, “He was in God’s hands the whole time, wasn’t he?” “If God is good and cares about us, why does he make us suffer?”  Throughout the movie we are engaged to ponder these hard questions and to once again look through a glass darkly for the answers.

 Watching this film I was also reminded of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and the philosophical lessons Smerdyakov learned from Ivan, regarding the impossibility of evil in a world without a God.

 In depicting some of the range of God’s creation we see vast spatial distances which hold myriad galaxies and we also see, looking through other end of the telescope, intricate microcosmic details.  We are reminded that the Creator God is ever beyond our finite comprehension. For this reason I am thankful that Malick chose to countenance theism and not a Woody Allen-type nihilism that turns its back on God and mocks Him every time.

 The movie begins by referencing the oldest piece of wisdom literature in the world, the book of Job. The stage is set with God responding to Job who had cursed the day he was born after being overwhelmed with trouble, suffering and loss.  From Job 38:4, 7:

 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation … while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

 Throughout the movie there are other paraphrased Scripture references including Job 13:15, “I will be true to you whatever comes.”

 I believe I also heard a paraphrased reference to Paul’s letter to the Roman church during a scene where Jack is praying: “I know what I want to do but I can’t do it.”  Also, there is an oblique reference to Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church regarding the character of love:

  “There are two ways through life:  the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. The nuns taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.” Mrs. O’Brien, The Tree of Life

 Beyond the infusions of Scripture, I saw revealed man’s unconscious need to bump up against someone bigger and stronger than life itself. And though we are infinitesimally small compared to the enormous universe we matter to God.  In another wisdom book of the Bible, the Psalms, the shepherd boy David speaks in awe of God’s intimate knowledge of His creatures,

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

  The film doesn’t seek to answer the questions of life but only poses them offering up grace as the consummate reconciler. As a believer in Jesus Christ I am transformed daily by God’s grace.  Just as important, I am forgiven and reconciled with God because Jesus Christ was nailed to another tree – the cross. His resurrection now provides me access to the Tree of Eternal Life. I know the One Who is the Answer.

A tree of life was planted in the garden long ago…

  “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”…

 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 

While we ask God “Where are You in all of this?”, God is asking us “Where are you?”

The Boy in the Tent

Last night I found myself in a van, my ex driving us to a familiar campground in the next state.  We wanted to get there as fast as we could.  We urgently wanted to get to our seven year-old son.

 We drove through the darkness panting and leaning forward in our seats. Just before sunrise we entered the campground.  We drove over to the campsite where we had camped many times before. There in the middle of a grassy opening surrounded by oak trees was a lone pup tent.

 I jumped out of the van and ran over to the tent. Down on my knees I lifted the tent flap and looked into the dimly lit tent.  My son was sitting in the middle of the otherwise empty tent.  He was facing the other way.

 There was nothing in front of him. He sat dead still.

 I crawled over to him.  As I did so he turned his head to look at me. He then got up, jumped into my arms and hugged me tightly.

 After a while we released our hug and I put him down.  He returned to sit in the same place in the tent. He sat down facing away from me.

 I went out of the tent.  My ex had been yelling from the car that we had to leave.

 I called back to my son and told him that we were going, that he must come along. There was no reply.

 ****

 I opened my eyes and winced them shut again.  The pit of my stomach felt as if it had been carved out of me while I slept.  When the silent sobbing began I tried to cover the wound.

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved

Logocentrism

Below are some excerpts from a brief article about education, books vs. TV, imagination, home schooling and preserving what’s good in a civilization.  The article provides a great prescription for a child’s education.   Two of my children were home schooled for several years, so I know from experience the author’s point of view.

The article begins with the author asking “Are you ever afraid that home schooling your kids will make them, um, oddballs?” As parents we asked ourselves the same question and we found the answer to be a resounding “No.”

 I have heard people tell me that children who are home schooled lack social interaction. That is absolute nonsense. What you do as a home schooler is to find other parents who are doing the same thing and then just let the kids relate. You go on field trips and do a lot of fun learning activities which include science, music, sports and drama.  And, there is plenty of support out there for anyone who wants to home school their child.

 From Touchstone Magazine:

 

Education Normal

Mark T. Mitchell on the Oddity of Giving Children a Moral Imagination

 

Will your kids be raised primarily on books or on television? To put it another way: Will your children be educated in a logocentric environment, where the written and spoken word is the primary conveyer of meaning, or will they ingest most of their information through electronically generated images?

Now, of course, emphasizing books over television is not the entire story, for books vary in quality and there are plenty of books that cultivate misshapen virtues and a cynical view of life. But I think it is safe to say that parents who make the effort to emphasize books as a way of life will generally be those who have been powerfully moved by books themselves. They have experienced the wonder and joy and goodness of certain books and will introduce these to their children even as one introduces a family member to a much-loved friend.

But setting the content of the books aside (for only a moment), those whose minds are shaped by an ongoing encounter with language will develop mental habits that include patience, perseverance, the ability to think abstractly, and an imagination that does not require the constant stimulation of external images. The imagination of the reader (guided by the author) creates the images, whereas the child raised on television merely imbibes what has already been fully rendered by the camera.

 More than Rules

There are two facets to educating a child well. The first is to recognize that education is not merely the accumulation of facts, but that it has an unavoidably moral aspect. A suitable education must do more, therefore, than simply teach facts, even moral facts. Education must seek to cultivate the moral imagination of the child, for reducing moral education to a list of rules is bound to fail…

But if our children are raised primarily on visual images, if they do not cultivate the mental disciplines necessary to access truth via language, then the Holy Scriptures will remain opaque, the creeds and confessions of faith will be meaningless recitations, and hymn lyrics will be merely pleasant-sounding rhymes to accompany occasionally pleasant-sounding music.

While the ultimate aim of education is to cultivate the souls of children toward godly virtue, a secondary but related end is the preservation of civilization

stewards of our civilization must possess well-cultivated language faculties capable of grasping complex and abstract ideas and concepts.

 Normal Children Needed

If a proper education is to accomplish or at least to seek to accomplish these tasks, then a normal child is one whose moral imagination is well formed, whose soul is oriented toward a love of logos and the Logos, and who knows and loves the best of his own civilization. Such a child will, perhaps unwittingly, become a steward of the good, the true, and the beautiful. In a world where normal is considered odd, such children are desperately needed.

Mark T. Mitchell teaches political theory at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. He is the co-founder of Front Porch Republic.
Read more: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=22-07-014-v#ixzz1ZpTpK4sP

Heaven’s Home

At 3:38 am this morning I awoke melancholy from a very sad dream. Without giving you the details, the dream replayed my grief and loss from a divorce, especially the fact that my children and my family are no longer with me everyday. As I write this I am still reeling from the effect of this dream.

The end of this dream is mystifying, as dreams tend to be. I saw myself enter a business meeting with a woman friend of mine. We both sat down at a conference table across from our clients. I whispered to my friend that I wanted to borrow her engagement ring for the meeting. She handed me her diamond under the table and I put it on my ring finger. Then I awoke almost crying.

****

If you have ever seen Terrence Malik’s movie Days Of Heaven and the scene of the singular house on the hill then you may have some idea of what I am about to describe.

Since childhood, my recurrent dream of heaven is a specific image: I see a small one room cottage sitting on the crest of a rolling hill. It is almost midday. Effusive 11:00 o’clock sunshine gilds the opulent scene. The light infuses everything including me. I am of it.

The cottage stands alone, nested in a bright sea of yellow flowers. I see the flowers move in waves as cool breezes wash my face with the freshest of air. The sun warms my cheeks. I face home. I know that this is my forever home. “Delight” is the only earthly word I can affix to my emotions.

The dream always has me looking at the cottage from a short distance. I have never been inside but I always sense that I will love living there. And though I am alone in the dream I do not feel alone. Rather, I know that Jesus comes to my home. My family comes and my parents come and those who have died come to this place. They are all bathed in the same golden light in this never-ending day.

There are imaginings of sumptuous feasts, of raucous laughter, of child’s play and of a complete collapse into the arms of the One Who’s hands are forever scarred.

What has been lost has now been regained seven-fold. Heaven.

Life Lessons I Will Pass On to My Kids

Don’t hold grudges. I’ve known several people, mostly women, who’ve held a grudge against someone for years. They never relinquish their anger, they never forgive, they never reconcile. They just hold on to their anger because it feels safe and powerful to be angry. But, if you have ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer then you are asking to be forgiven in the same way that you have forgiven (or not forgiven) others. Don’t hold grudges because grudges hold you hostage and they keep others out of your ever shrinking world.

Learn to say, “I’m sorry.” Admit you were wrong. “I’m sorry. Forgive me. I was wrong.” Don’t ever apologize with a blaming apology: “I’m sorry but I did it because you…” I don’t know how many times someone has done this to me. I realize that it is not a true apology but the person’s pride which is speaking. A true apology requires humility. Don’t blame others in your apology. Make your apology by stating what you did wrong. Ask for forgiveness and then shut up.

Face your fears. What’s bugging you? What’s gnawing at your insides causing you to bite your fingernails, drink excessively, spend compulsively and complain incessantly? What are you afraid of? Spell it out on paper. Tell yourself the worst that could happen and prepare for that. Then, get on with your life knowing that the worst that can happen will be dealt with at that time. Keeping your fears alive might make you feel alive but your body, your wife and your friends will bear the brunt of your worry. Face your fears and decide what you will do proactively to address them.

Learn to adapt. Life is hard. Life will throw curve balls at you. Find ways to adapt to change. Expect change and see it as a challenge given to you by God to grow thereby. Sometimes you need new soil to make growth happen. Don’t be afraid. Get on with your life, welcome the opportunity and grow. Change makes goals and desires all the more defined and dearer. I’ve learned, duh, that God knows the beginning from the end. He is already where I am going. He knows my desires. He knows what I want without saying a word. He’s making things happen for my benefit.

Be open-minded. The fact that you are only human should be enough notice to you that you don’t have all the facts. You are not omniscient. Be ready to receive new information, ask questions and listen to others. This will help you discern whether you believe in only half-truths. You want the whole truth. You should be seeking the whole truth in every situation and not something which only fits your politic. Be teachable.  Jesus said The meek shall inherit the earth.

Don’t complain. I know someone who has worked for a company for over twenty years. This guy complains about his boss and how his boss handles things. This guy believes that he knows better than his boss how to run things. Every night he comes home to his wife angry and spiteful. He complains to her and to every one he’s in a relationship with. He’s miserable and he wants every one to feel his misery. My guess is that everyone around him is sick and tired of his whining. They wish that he would quit that job and do something with his life other than complain. But, he likes to recycle his misery. It gives him some measure of pleasure. So, his complaining continues. Don’t complain – just shut up.

Be thankful. You don’t deserve anything except to be physically and emotionally safe from harm. Be grateful and not full of grating discontent.

Be courteous.  These days more and more people are becoming uncaring, thoughtless and just plain rude.  The “rights” revolution is the effect of people becoming  more self-absorbed.  It has given people a sense that they can do whatever they want whenever they want.  Don’t be like them.  Be responsible and kind. Be aware of people around you.  Turn off the cell phone and the loud music.  Be polite and gracious.  Be a light in the darkened wasteland of self.

Choose good friends. I don’t have to tell you that bad friends will bring you down. Good friends will be there when things change for the worse or for the better. You don’t need Job’s friends so it might be better to be alone than to have bad friends. I am a lone and waiting for good friends. Mark Twain said, “Be good and you will be lonesome.” Sad, but often true!

Get married when you are young.  Marriage is good.  For a woman, having children and being a wife and a homemaker is much more fulfilling than having a career. Don’t waste your time trying to become something in the business world.  This kind of nonsense is just rotten leftovers from the feminist movement.  Many people including parents have bought into this notion. This movement thought that if you were equal with men in the workplace and careers you would be complete as a woman and be a success  Well, your body, your heart and your soul know differently. If you have a high school sweetheart and you are both in love and committed to having sex only after marriage I say then,  marry right after high school.  If you wait and marry someone at, say, 28 or 30 by then habits, mainly bad ones from living a single lifestyle, are already ingrained and are very, very difficult to work with. Marry early and grow together. Each of you will change over time and become different people.  This is a fact of life. But this won’t matter if you choose love and commitment over self-interest, if you choose adaption and not abortion of your love.

Love is learned.  Love doesn’t just happen. Love takes a lot of trial and error and lot’s of hard work.  Love is kind, gentle and patient. The hottest fires of passion happen when you have acted in love toward your wife or husband.  Love offers itself without asking for anything in return. Love does what is best for the other person.  It is not selfish. It doesn’t seek its own way. This is the opposite of what the world tells you.  Be aware of this.

Sex is good. Sexual relations between a man and a woman in a committed relationship is wonderful. Outside of this boundary sex becomes an animal reflex and diminishes your sense of self, your humanity. It becomes a cheap thrill.

Give.  Give freely.  Don’t hold back.  This pleases your Father in heaven.

God is not going to do what you can do already. You can ask God for wisdom but if God has given you wisdom already then don’t ask again hoping to get a different answer. You can ask for courage to do what you know. God will bring you through circumstances that will either produce courage/character in our lives or it will produce a stubborn rebellion. It’s your choice. Just know that God has given you liberty to decide what response you will have. Be ready to accept the consequences of your bad response.

Life is short, choose wisdom. Your body, your bank account and your buddies will be thankful you did.

We are family, blood, and we take care of each other. ‘nuf said.

Ask dad. In any situation, when you don’t know which way to go, ask your father. He’s come a long way and he knows the territory.

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (often attributed to Mark Twain)

“It is a wise child that knows its own father, and an unusual one that unreservedly approves of him.” Mark Twain

Trust God with all your heart. He knew you before you were born.

Pray. Let your every breath and every heartbeat become a prayer.

Dad

Dad,
Masquerading man –
Provider, Decider, Chronicler,
Motivator and Love’s unlikely dance Partner,
A mischievous Mirth-er who’s my mother’s lover
(Confused by Eve but not alone),
A baseball phenom:
Always at bat for me;
Always fielding my bloopers;
Always never keeping score,
A figurine in flannel wearing
Camouflaged feelings in the blind
Savior of children’s happiness with
Strength born of recycled weakness –
Dad,
A Giver given.

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved