Archive for the ‘Family’ Category
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
I recently ran into two items concerning drug use. (As an aside, I am a conservative with fairly libertarian tendencies concerning things like drug laws. This means that I worry that our societal cure for drugs–locking up addicts and fighting a war that spurs on drug cartels in places like Juarez is not sane. Also, if all drugs were classified as legal for use…my behavior would not change at all. I don’t use illegal drugs because in my experience their use is inversely correlated with happiness.) But you have to love this bit from Wendell Berry on what drives drug addiction:
People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other. – Wendell Berry
I read this around the time that the yearly story on drug use at Manheim Township High School came out in the papers. Here is the story and bar graph:
Story: Report: Drug, alcohol use up among Manheim Township students
Bar graph: Report: Drug, alcohol use up among Manheim Township students
The story (like all stories on this sort of stuff) misses the point. The point is not about drug use. It is about hopelessness. In the case of Manheim Township students, I should say hopelessness rooted in what should be the most hopeful place. Why are kids in the most uniformly prosperous township in the happiest place in America just down the road from the coolest small town in the world turning to fairly regular drug use? Parents are missing this, but Berry isn’t. We have lost each others. We have become lonely people in the midst of crowds. We have no reason to be. We see this best in the young…they are most honest, I fear. Here are the stats if you can bear them:
- 3 in 10 students at Township have been binge drinking (is that fun?) in the last month.
- Half of the students have been drinking in the last month.
- 1 in 4 has smoked pot in the last month.
There are worse things than drug use–despair is one of them. We need to take note of what is happening with our children. Are we providing for them a vision of themselves and the future that would give them hope. If not, why not stop and take stock of things?
The saddest part of the story is a quote from the Assistant Principal, John Loose, who says:
“I don’t have the answers, other than to say we’ll continue with education at school and continue to educate parents on what to look for.”
Education is not going to solve this problems. We need to provide hope. Education can only do this if it proclaims purpose and affirms dignity. Two things that our educational systems have a tougher time doing. Our kids are crying out for it.
Monday, April 1st, 2013
I caught this article a few weeks back and wanted to pass it along:
Kindergarteners Subject to Mandatory Attendance Laws
I guess that we are becoming numb to this, but the overreaching nature of things like this should be questioned. The thought that someone would be punished if they had the audacity to go on a vacation during the school year with their child. It seems that the school imagines that it needs to protect children from their parents. Again, don’t get me wrong. There are parents that are such bad parents that children need to be protected from them. I would prefer that this protection mainly takes under the authority of the church or the police. Laws like this one take the worst case scenarios and create laws that are applied then to all people. That we are cowed by this is frightening to me.
At Veritas, if you want to go on vacation or a mission trip or college visits, we work to support your family. There have been times when students have been gone so much (usually for illness) that we have to tell people that the students are going to have to go to tutoring to get caught up. The point is though that for all normal circumstances we look to serve the parents and support what they are trying to do. Because of this our students get to take advantage of some extraordinary opportunities. One student just got back from a trip to India with her father where they worked to with a Bible publishing organization to get Bibles and aid into remote regions.
Friday, March 29th, 2013
I have been on a little hiatus because of a beast called Influenza A, the backlog of work caused by the destructive powers of said beast, and a sort of Lenten fast from blogging. I know that it is Good Friday now, but I read a few things today that were so catastrophic that I could not keep my mouth shut. Easter joy is breaking out early here.
If you need a little comedy, try this story out from the Lancaster papers today:
Manheim Township limits student-parent lunches
That’s right! School security concerns have led to the banning of parents coming in to eat lunch with their children. The parents, you see, are a danger. Let this sink in… We are protecting the children in general from the parents in general by banning each parent from having lunch with their specific child.
I read this story and sort of exploded. By this principle, students should also be banned from having lunch with other students (or with lunch ladies or teachers). So, here is the deal, the public schools take (by law) our tax dollars and then will not let parents eat with their children. Just a few thoughts:
1. Any parent who stands for this is crazy. This should cause a shut down or a mass protest. If you will not fight at this level of absurdity when will you ever be fed up?
2. School security is a real concern (keeps people like me up at night), but banning everything that everyone because someone could be dangerous is pernicious and must be more closely examined. On average would children be less or more likely to be harmed if there were more parents in the lunch room. On average, I would think that the presence of adults diminishes rather than causes violence. If so, this is not about keeping kids safe. Also, even if parents were dangerous why not set up a room for parents to eat with their children and put up “Dine at your own risk signs” (I am giggling while writing this, but it would be better than what is happening).
3. The audacity of people receiving tax dollars is breath-taking here. This is why, as crazy as it sounds, the only way forward for public education is to renounce its main funding source (tax revenue). This “fake” support keeps them from actually listening to their customers, being prudent, and correcting mistakes.
4. Finally, I guess Conestoga Valley should get a little kudo. They actually have a “Parent Student Lunch Coordinator.” All I can say is that the bar is getting very low if this gets you a kudo.
Ok, depending on how you reacted to the first part of this post, I have either a warning or a inducement. If you are angry now, just stop here and move on. If you are shocked by the first part, get ready for more. If you can not stop laughing, lets move forward together. My favorite part of the article was not about the ban of parents from lunch. It was a throw away aside about the food allowed at lunch if you are allowed to come and eat with your child. Here is the note:
“Food brought to schools by visitors is restricted to control nutrition and protect against allergens –– and jealousy.”
I read this line to my wife and she thought that I added in the “and jealousy” part. The levelers have taken the lunchroom. Instead of requiring kids to deal with the fact that someone might have food that they would want the same school officials who have banned parents also have created a “jealousy free zone” in the cafeteria. We can only wonder where this will go next. No grades could help with academic jealousy. Weights could make people jump the same height on the basketball court. Cute kids would have to be disguised. Everyone could be happy. To quote a good movie: “When everyone is incredible…then no one is incredible.” Guess this goes for lunch too.
Anyway, this stuff is so hilarious that I could not wait until Monday.
Remember, Jesus conquered death and that means that good is going to conquer evil…and that everything, at its root, is pretty funny.
Tuesday, January 1st, 2013
Maryland started performing marriage ceremonies for homosexual couples yesterday. Here is the story:
Maryland Begins Performing Same Sex Marriage Ceremonies
This is a sad time culturally. We, as a culture, have been become blind to things that have never really been an issue. Even in culture’s where homosexuality was tolerated and even celebrated (like ancient Greece). It was never associated with marriage which was always connected with (gasp) procreation (which tends to happen when men and women have sex).
There is a deeper issue. It is the recurring American issue of both ends against the middle. The ends of country–roughly the states that touch the Atlantic Ocean (and are North of Virginia) and all those touching the Pacific Ocean–are in a very subtle war with the states in the middle. The ends are in the process of embracing a view of life that does not fit with reality. It is a charade. It happens in a number of areas. It is happening when states like New York and California go deeper and deeper into debt with the implicit promise that the other states will bail them out. It is also happening now in marriage. When Maryland decides that marriage is available for homosexual people, this seems like an issue that might not involve Pennsylvania. What happens, however, when people move from Maryland to PA?
The middle must become aware of this game. They must steal themselves to refuse to write checks for states that are shooting off cultural cliffs and asking the middle to write the checks. The middle must refuse to write the checks and it must refuse to recognize marriages performed in Maryland.
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Recently, the Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia was taking questions from a group of students at Princeton. Some of the students had read Scalia’s writing (which would typically be a good thing for students to do). These students, however, read in order to find reasons for offense. They found them and then questioned Scalia in a manner that left him having to defend himself against be an offensive person. Why? Because he believes (as we all do) that the law does speak to all sorts for behavior–even sexual behavior. Here is the article:
Scalia Quizzed at Princeton on Gay Issue
Note, the tactic, however. Learning is a tool to find reasons for being offended. People, looking to avoid being the “offensive” person, compromise their position or make it wishy-washy. We need to get comfortable therefore with being offensive or for being intolerant of people who use offense as a tool. The method is really insidious. It uses a good Christian sensibility: the desire to not harm people; against the person making the argument.
Here is a start to our therapy. We need to be comfortable with this proposition: We believe that there are rights and wrongs in sexual behavior. You can not read the Bible and think otherwise. We also must recognize that everyone–even the person acting offended at our biblical ethics–thinks that some things are right and others wrong.
This is why a classical education is so necessary if we want to fight effectively for truth. We need to see what other people are doing. We need to see the traps and avoid them.
Friday, December 7th, 2012
So, if you were wondering about the election and its meaning, a story in the paper might have been a smack in the face. Here comes Obamacare:
Local Business Sues over Birth Control
Interesting, isn’t it that this collective approach to health care makes an end run around Christian objections to abortion, abortive birth control, or birth control in general. Christians end up paying for the very things that they object to. When people accuse me of wanting to impose my morality on them, I am tempted to answer “absolutely, but I do not need you to pay for it.” Really, all I want is the right to try to persuade you (and the majority and everyone else). I don’t want any force in this that would make you (aside from your convictions) believe anything or pay for what you don’t believe.
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
This story greeted this morning:
Female Military Members Sue to Serve in Combat
This article is both dread and it makes perfect sense. Our nation, say some, is not a Christian nation. I would tend to agree if we are talking about present commitments, but historically this article points out the fact that we have been led by Christian principles as a nation (and that we are now–like drunken sailors–chucking them into the sea). We can’t seem to see the obvious bad things that are going to happen.
There is, of course, no rational reason that women can not serve as combat soldiers. Some women are stronger than some men (although admittedly most men are physically stronger than most women). We as a country with no national religious commitments accept to whatever PC wind happens to be stirred on the given day wonder why women don’t have the chance to be maimed and blown to bits. They have not had this duty in the past because of the influence of Jesus and His teaching. Husband are to love their wives (and lay down their lives for them) just as Jesus did for His Bride–the Church. Men in general during times of war are to protect women and children in general. All of human history and biblical religion testifies to this. We can not see it. Here are some things that might well be right around the corner if this lawsuits opens the doors:
- Women will be captured during combat. They will be mistreated (terribly). We, as a nation, will get very angry and unleash our military might. It will be our fault that the situation happens. We are playing both sides of the bet.
- Women will not have the choice to be in combat. They will have to be. The military then should be a place that Christian should be unwilling to serve.
- In combat, a female soldier will do something wrong. (Male soldiers do this all the time.) We will not tell the truth about it because we will need to perpetuate the lie.
- The first female soldier that does something extraordinary will be decorated like Sargent York, and the hearts of our little girls will long to be a soldier that will be harmful to them.
- The beauty of the diversity of the sexes (which is the main part of sexual glory) will be diminished.
In this, I am all for strong girls. The point is not whether or not they could fight. The point is summed up in this question: As a culture what do we have left to protect?
Students of classical education know that Plato in his famous work The Republic called for the training of women for war. This part of the work, however, was allegorized and not taken seriously (until now). What happens when rationality devours good sense?
Friday, November 23rd, 2012
I still hope to read a few more books this summer, but I think I might have found the most impacting: Denis de Roguemont’s Love In the Western World.
Saturday, October 13th, 2012
Public schools here are only going to be able to increase their budget by 2% next year (without applying for special permission from the state). Here is the story:
State limits schools to 2% tax increase
This puts them in a bind because we (as communities who pay taxes and make contracts with public school teachers through school boards) have made promises to aging teachers concerns pension and benefits that we cannot keep without some radical changes AND we are unwilling to come clean about this. As an aside, I have contemplated this situation because 1) it involves all of us who pay taxes, 2) I think it is important to keep your promises (people are counting on them!), and 3) I think that honest is a good and necessary prerequisite to peace. Right now, reality is knocking on the door and we (conveniently) are not answering. The knocking is getting louder. Some now say that this problem was caused by the recession, but it was not. People (like me) were talking about it many years before the housing bubble burst.
I have two thoughts….
First, I think that school boards and the teachers unions need to come to some compromise. When I assign the blame fo this mess, I usually start with the school boards. They made promises that, in the end, we cannot keep. I do not fault the teachers for trying to negotiate the best deal possible. The school boards acted imprudently, but they also could not have know the future. The main problem is the skyrocketing cost of benefits (especially medical benefits) for retired teachers. This reality has to be the starting point for compromise. Teacher’s unions have to recognize that the benefits that they negotiated are much more costly than could be imaged in the past. Teachers need to bend on this and move the the defined cost plans that will stand a better chance of helping communities and the state avoid fiscal ruin. If the teachers’ unions are unwilling to do this. The school boards MUST stand their ground–even if it is very painful. We need to move toward reality. If they do not, they are not guarding the public interest and should replaced (because we can not arrest them!).
Second, in lieu of a grand compromise, there are good and bad ways to balance the budget and keep taxes low (maybe even reduce them) now. First, you need to start the cuts in areas that are painful, but not essential to the core of education. Start with sports. Cut the whole thing… sever it from the public schools and invite all living within a district to participate. Charge participation fees that cover the expense and that pay the public schools for the rental of their properties. Folks love sports and they will pay to participate.
The worst way (but the most painless in one sense) is to make the classroom size larger (mainly by letting people retire and not filling their spots with new teachers. This is the worst possible solution and the one that is being tried most. This discourages good teachers, punishes students, waters down the education, and allows students to disengage.
Education is an act of love. It should be mercenary. The Greeks thought that educators should not be paid (Socrates criticized his enemies because they were PAID teachers). I am not advocating this, but we have to trim our sails. We are poor and we need to start acting like it. To fail to do this is to reject the maturity that is necessary for freedom.
Monday, October 1st, 2012
You might have missed this because of amount of information whipping by, but California just made it illegal to counsel a homosexual minor in a way that encourages them that they can change. Here is the story from the paper:
Californian Bans Gay Teen Conversion Therapy
I do not know enough about the facts of the law to say too much, but it is telling that in the last 30 years we have gone, as a culture, from almost complete uniformity that would encourage this sort of change to a culture that now calls this sort of counsel harmful and damaging. The change is accelerating at a phenomenal rate.
Here are some other concerns: What if you are a teen in California and you want to try to “convert”? Do you have the choice?Also, if sexual choices are not changeable then how can we condemn so many other choices and punish them with jail time?
Note also that when “tolerance” has gone to seed it begins to look a lot like its opposite!