Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Younger one wanted to see the ducks, actually they were around a hundred geese munching on the 1st and 10th tee boxes. We walked over until the geese started honking and walking away. We stood and watched them from a distance until grandson decided to growl at them and they flew off about a hundred yards. I walked them over to the pond by the clubhouse and they could see the actual ducks floating.
The sun was shining, but the wind was a little brisk. We didn't stay out long, but they had fun.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
First snow of the season for us down in the valley. It's so nice now I'm retired not to have to worry about getting out in the mess. Wife was off today so she didn't have to brave the idiot drivers first thing in the morning. We spent the morning watching the last eight episodes of season 3 of Star Trek Voyager. It's nice to have stuff like that to cuddle under a blanket and relax.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
While I was busy adding 3,000 words to my story yesterday wife and daughter-in-law did some shopping. The tree is now fully complimented with presents.
I have wife's present hidden. Can't find time to wrap it and put it under the tree when she's not there. Maybe tomorrow.
Saw where Iran is upset because our Navy's official designation for the body of water separating them from Arabia is "The Arabian Sea" instead of the "Persian Gulf." The navy naturally apologized. Can anything get any stupider? Arabian Sea is used so the Saudi's don't get upset, and by the way, they are our allies while Iran is anything but friendly towards us. Even governments need to get a life.
Krugman had a great quote today. Concerning how AEI and the Cato Institute keep rewriting their history to change unpopular names: As Brad DeLong says: "I'll stop calling these people Orwellian when they stop using Nineteen Eighty Four as an operations manual."
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Remember Gomer Pyle USMC? His signature phrase: SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!
By SAM DILLON
How useful are the views of public school students about their teachers?
Quite useful, according to preliminary results released on Friday from a $45 million research project that is intended to find new ways of distinguishing good teachers from bad.
Teachers whose students described them as skillful at maintaining classroom order, at focusing their instruction and at helping their charges learn from their mistakes are often the same teachers whose students learn the most in the course of a year, as measured by gains on standardized test scores, according to a progress report on the research.
Financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the two-year project involves scores of social scientists and some 3,000 teachers and their students in Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Denver; Hillsborough County, Fla., which includes Tampa; Memphis; New York; and Pittsburgh.
The research is part of the $335 million Gates Foundation effort to overhaul the personnel systems in those districts.
Statisticians began the effort last year by ranking all the teachers using a statistical method known as value-added modeling, which calculates how much each teacher has helped students learn based on changes in test scores from year to year.
Now researchers are looking for correlations between the value-added rankings and other measures of teacher effectiveness.
Research centering on surveys of students’ perceptions has produced some clear early results.
Thousands of students have filled out confidential questionnaires about the learning environment that their teachers create. After comparing the students’ ratings with teachers’ value-added scores, researchers have concluded that there is quite a bit of agreement.
Classrooms where a majority of students said they agreed with the statement, “Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time,” tended to be led by teachers with high value-added scores, the report said.
The same was true for teachers whose students agreed with the statements, “In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes,” and, “My teacher has several good ways to explain each topic that we cover in this class.”
The questionnaires were developed by Ronald Ferguson, a Harvard researcher who has been refining student surveys for more than a decade.
Few of the nation’s 15,000 public school districts systematically question students about their classroom experiences, in contrast to American colleges, many of which collect annual student evaluations to improve instruction, Dr. Ferguson said.
“Kids know effective teaching when they experience it,” he said.
“As a nation, we’ve wasted what students know about their own classroom experiences instead of using that knowledge to inform school reform efforts.”
Until recently, teacher evaluations were little more than a formality in most school systems, with the vast majority of instructors getting top ratings, often based on a principal’s superficial impressions.
But now some 20 states are overhauling their evaluation systems, and many policymakers involved in those efforts have been asking the Gates Foundation for suggestions on what measures of teacher effectiveness to use, said Vicki L. Phillips, a director of education at the foundation.
One notable early finding, Ms. Phillips said, is that teachers who incessantly drill their students to prepare for standardized tests tend to have lower value-added learning gains than those who simply work their way methodically through the key concepts of literacy and mathematics.
Teachers whose students agreed with the statement, “We spend a lot of time in this class practicing for the state test,” tended to make smaller gains on those exams than other teachers.
“Teaching to the test makes your students do worse on the tests,” Ms. Phillips said. “It turns out all that ‘drill and kill’ isn’t helpful.”
Friday, December 10, 2010
Took yesterday off to relax and recharge batteries.
Good thing I did. Today wife is off and she's been running me ragged. I need the weekend to recuperate.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
- The story's gelling. Still a lot of research and writing to go. No word from the publisher on HS.
- I've said my piece about the tax deal over at the Captain.
- Looking forward to eldest grandson coming in for a visit. We have plans doing the river of lights and other things while he's here. Wish we had more time with him.
- Due respect to fellow New Mexican Don Meredith. He was QB of the Cowboys when I first started watching pro football. The Icebowl game is etched forever in my memory. He kept MNF lively for many years. I never met him, but have on occasion run into Don Perkins from those teams. He will be missed.
- Due respect for Elizabeth Edwards. Too bad she didn't have a husband that would stand by his woman.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Decreasing the surplus population.
From NY Times today
By GAIL COLLINS
Let us revisit the matter of pulling the plug on grandma.
You may remember the historic day in 2009 when Senator Chuck Grassley brought the issue to the fore at a town meeting in Iowa. “We should not have a government plan that will pull the plug on grandma,” he said to loud cheers...
Then all hell broke loose and the Republicans kept ranting about how “Obamacare” would put the federal government between you and your doctor and try to save money by prohibiting said doctor from using the best treatments and procedures.
All this came to mind when I was talking to Flor Felix, whose husband, Francisco, a 32-year-old truck driver with four kids, was denied a liver transplant because the Arizona Legislature had yanked funds for it out of a state Medicaid program.
As Marc Lacey reported in The Times this week, Francisco had been prepped for surgery after a friend whose wife was dying asked that he be given her liver.
“It was good news when we heard the liver matched,” Flor said. “The doctor said: ‘Everything’s going well. We’re going to proceed with the surgery.’ ”
But Francisco, who has hepatitis C, had lost his health insurance when he had to stop working and had gotten coverage under the state Medicaid program. And Gov. Jan Brewer had signed a law eliminating Medicaid coverage of certain kinds of transplants as a cost-cutting measure. Flor said the next words she got from the doctor were: “You need to bring $200,000 as a deposit for the hospital.”
Francisco was summarily discharged. The Arizona state government, which is totally controlled by Republicans, got between him and his doctor.
“The state only has so much money and we can only provide so many optional kinds of care. Those were one of the options that we had taken liberty to discard,” said Governor Brewer,
Felix was one of 98 people in the transplant pipeline when the law went into effect. Arizona claims cutting them off will save $4.5 million this year. Advocates have called on Governor Brewer to use some of the state’s $185 million in federal stimulus funds to restart the procedures. Brewer, who opposed the stimulus, says all the money is gravely needed for other projects. Which she will not name.
The best possible spin to put on all this is that it was a terrible mistake. The chairman of the Arizona House Appropriations Committee, John Kavanagh, says that the lawmakers got bad information from the state Medicaid experts, who said that the transplants weren’t effective. “Based on the information I’ve received, it looks like most of them should be reinstated and we hope to do that in January,” he said.
Ironically, trying to answer questions like this is one of the great goals of the Obama health care law. “What it promises to do is attack the vast reservoirs of ignorance about relative benefits of different ways of treating different diseases to see which is most effective,” said Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution. Although, as Aaron carefully pointed out, the law steers clear of any mention of cost effectiveness. This is because Republicans in the House and Senate kept howling about death panels and plug-pulling.
But try to imagine what the Republicans would have said if someone in the Obama administration proposed cutting off liver transplants for Medicare recipients. We heard a lot from John McCain during the health care debate about how reform would restrict Medicare services. We have not heard a word yet on how McCain feels about the Arizona transplant issue. His office did not respond to inquiries about whether he approves his state’s pulling the plug on a 32-year-old father.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Our country is truly become the Tin Man. If we only had a heart.
Over 40,000 people have died this year (and it's not over yet) due to lack of health coverage. You've got yours Tea Party to hell with the little people.
Where's Jeb Bush? He spent millions in legal fees and medical costs professing the sanctity of life for a woman in a constant vegitative state. He held emergency legislative meetings to pass laws for keep her heart beating. Where's his sanctity of life for the others who had a chance at a meaningful life but were a dollar or two short?
Did all those seniors who lobbied against extending medicare for everyone (single payer system) not understand that when these 40,000 die, they stop working and don't pay anymore into the social security fund you're living on?
We are all connected here, no on is an island anymore. When people have their houses foreclosed on and lose their jobs it effects 99% of the population's standard of living. When this many people were dying from automobile accidents legislation was passed to make cars safer. Laws were passed to punish drunk drivers. Automobile accident victims had value. Why don't these 40,000? As the lady said in RZ's blog, they don't get mentioned on the news. Die in a car crash they have pictures of you car on the ten o'clock news. Die from an infected tooth because you couldn't afford to see a dentist, who cares.
Ebeneezer Scrooge is now in charge of all political parties. "Let them die and decrease the surplus population."
It's good to be out of the house and all its distrations. I'm getting thousands of words added every day. Still no word from the publisher I've sent the other novel to, so I might have to start looking for another one. I won't be using Publish America unless I absolutely have to.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Wife and I are planning to see the Harry Potter movie sometime this weekend. The kids are going to see it while we watch the grandkids. Other than that we're staying away from the crazies battling for goods that will be half the price in a few weeks.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
5. Amazing Grace
4. Are You Lonesome Tonight - Elvis
3. Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter - Herman's Hermits
2. Do You Hear The People Sing? - From Les Miserables
1. Oobla Dee Oobla Da - The Beatles This one drives me crazy!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
The theory behind the premise is that people usually make up their minds quickly no matter how objective they claim to be, and that once a person has made up his/her mind concerning guilt or non-guilt it becomes very difficult to change their minds.
This was preamble as a way to explain why the general public seems to be so gullible on certain issues and why control of the main stream media is so important to dupe the general public into starting wars and voting against their economic interests. When the truth comes out it doesn't matter for the general population their minds are made up, don't confuse them with facts.
Children grow up in religous schools being told that evolution is a hoax and the world was created in six, twenty-four hour days. It becomes very hard to change their minds on the subject after that. The media declares climate change to be a hoax and the rubes eat it up no matter how much evidence to the contrary.
Thought control doesn't take brute force, just quick lies told as truth. How else do you explain the demogogues that have our governments by the throat.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
There's this great scene where boss Thomson has given money and a job to a widow, whose husband he had killed, and she asks him what he wants in return. He looks at her and says, "I want you to vote Republican."
As evil and corrupt as bossism was it was based on a quid pro quo. The boss found people jobs, places to live, health care, etc. It was chump change compared to the money they got from the kick backs and bribes their guaranteed votes garnered. The secret ballot helped end most of the excesses of bossism. The New Deal's social safety net took a lot of what the bosses doled out in favors to benefit everyone. But when all was said and done the people who sold their vote to the boss got something in return. Maybe it wasn't much, but it was better than nothing.
Today bosses don't have to help the people. They deceive them by advertising. They don't have to mingle with the little people, buy up all the media outlets, get your message out and make a fortune in campaign spending from both sides at the same time.
As horrible as it was for the Supremes to open the cash drawers of corporations on political spending, the real democratic disaster was when the FCC dropped restrictions on who could own more than a small percentage of radio and TV stations. We no longer have local Boss Thompsons. King Rupert Murdock rules America, lock stock and entertainment.
Hats off to Russ Sype for working tirelessly for Martin Heinrich the past two elections as a volunteer on the technical side.
Jimmy Carter in his interview with Bill Maher last week said he thought if the Republicans take control of House they'd have to start being responsible. I thing he's been a great former president a wonderful humanitarian, but is a lousy politician and even worse historian. Since 1994 the last thing the Reptilians have been is responsible. They have made an art of blaming everyone else for their mess and this election is another prime example. As Paul Krugman says, "It's always heads they win, tails you lose."
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
- I've been down with a cold for the last four days; hate the fever/chill thing. Finally feeling human.
- This fall is a total bust favorite teamwise. Cowboys and Broncos are awful, Lobos not only can't win they lose by thirty or more points a game, and it looks like the Rangers are on the ropes in the World Series.
- The last is kind of unusual. With the Dukes and now Isotopes being the AAA team of the Dodgers that's my usual MLB team, but the lone summer I lived in Fort Worth and was a security guard on the night shift listening to Ranger games helped make the night pass quicker. All I can hope for now is that they win tonight's game and send it back to SF.
- Bush 41 was looking rather feeble when Jr. threw out the opening pitch yesterday. I don't think he's up to sky diving on his birthday anymore. Interesting that they sat behind the dugout to watch the game with the proletariate instead of rubbing shoulders with the hoi paloi in a luxury box.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Excerpts from School Law:
Teachers have no First Amendment free-speech protection for curricular decisions they make in the classroom, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.
A little known fact is that the Bill of Rights only applies to the government's criminal power. Employers are not bound by them. Still when the government is the employer courts used to have a tendency to favor applying them to employees. It seems that is a thing of the past. Free speech is a part of a blanket right teachers are trying to keep known as Academic Freedom. The courts have put the last nail in the coffin on that.
The decision came in the case of an Ohio teacher whose contract was not renewed in 2002 after community controversy over reading selections she assigned to her high school English classes. These included Siddhartha , by Herman Hesse, and a unit on book censorship in which the teacher allowed students to pick books from a list of frequently challenged works, and some students chose Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman.
What is not disputed is that these books were a part of the state adopted curriculum. The fact that parents were upset with what was assigned and the student's choices, why is their beef with the teacher and not the state curriculum committee?
"When a teacher teaches, the school system does not regulate that speech as much as it hires that speech," Sutton wrote, borrowing language from a 7th Circuit decision in a similar case. "Expression is a teacher's stock in trade, the commodity she sells to her employer in exchange for a salary. And if it is the school board that hires that speech, it can surely regulate the content of what is or is not expressed, what is expressed in other words on its behalf."
Ok judge, got the message, teach the curriculum we give you, but if parents complain you're on your own. School boards have the right to throw a teacher under the bus. Nice to make it sound better in legalese.
Is anyone in their right mind wanting to enter this profession anymore? How are we going to educate our children when the politicians, courts, parents and students have all the power and the ones with all the responsibility are treated like trash?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Splendor in the Grass, West Side Story, This Property is Condemned, Gypsy, Love With a Perfect Stranger.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
My heart went pitter patter for Diane Keaton in the movie Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Sexy, beautiful, smart, funny, loved working with deaf kids; too bad she liked picking up one night stands. The movie had a great cast: Richard Gere, Brian Denehy, Tuesday Weld, Richard Kiley, Levar Burton. It's not the type of movie grinnygranny appreciates because of the nudity. After I saw the movie I wanted to marry a woman just like Diane Keaton.
I know she got an oscar that year for Annie Hall, but would anyone be so pathetic that they'd want to watch Woody Allen whine non stop a second time?
I'm glad she's kept on with her career and has lately made some excellent movies; First Wive's Club, Something's Gotta Give, and others. I still find her very sexy.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Last Monday I dropped wifey at work and went to play with the gaggle. I turned off Academy onto San Mateo and the sky was full of balloon looking close enough that if they were apples I could reach out and pick them. Quit a sight. As I drove on Paseo to Paradise Hills a bunch of balloons were in a vacant lot inflating for one of their competitions. When I got to the golf course a couple flew over while we were getting ready to tee off.
Saturday we had our own little fiesta behind the house. The wind pattern we northeast pushing them southwest. Right over our house. Normally we get the balloon companies that sell rides taking off from Rio Rancho that come over and land on the mesa behind us not the ones from the fiesta. We recognized some of the balloons that had been on TV taking off landing behind us. There must have been a dozen of them. I took three rolls of film and am having them developed. I'll have some of them posted in a few days.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Point 2: Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered in New York City in 1969 while around 40 of her neighbors stood at their windows and watched and did nothing, not even phoning the police. Psychologists now have a name for this: it's calle by-stander syndrome. In effect everyone thinks the other guy is going to call or do something and at the same time morbid curiosity and voyeurism take over.
Point 3: A house burned down with the fire department refusing to do their job because the family had not paid their $75.00 fee. The talking heads on the news instead of castigating and being upset over this are actually defending the fire fighters. For video and other links on this clicke here.
Questions that come to mind:
A. How corrupt have we become that this could happen and it would be defended on national news outlets and those who speak for one of the two major political parties?
B. Could this be the wake up call that those who are choosing to throw their vote away (by not voting) finally get what's happening and vote even if they don't like their choice?
C. Have we as a people and a nation become so cold and callous that the Mafia mindset is now the prevailing philosophy? Mario Puzo's explanation for all the murder and mayhem in The Godfather: "It's just business."
Isn't deregulation fun?
Friday, October 01, 2010
No nation in the world—certainly not Finland—has improved its education system by belittling and firing teachers and principals.
People who know nothing about education and whose ideas have no basis in research or practice are calling the shots. Left to their own devices, they will destroy public education. They have already demoralized our nation's teachers. Eventually, their bad ideas will fail, because they are wrong.Diane Ravitch is a historian of education and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (Basic Books, 2010).
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Not surprising coming from a man who had Michael Servetus burned at the stake for disagreeing with him and set up a theological police state in Geneva he thought to be heaven on Earth.
The biggest problem with the Moral Mafia is that Calvin's Commentaries are how they interpret the Bible. Earlier versions of Calvinist's hanged and burned those who disagreed with them right here in the New World. Puritans were Calvinists, and their oppressive and repugnant behavior in the 1600 and 1700's led to the first amendment's two clauses prohibiting a state sponsored church and restrictions on worship.
The chosen frozen inserted this version of Calvin's doctrine into the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Statement: Section XVIII The Family
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation. Bold face mine, used for emphasis.
At least in this day and age the Moral Mafia recognize equality of salvation, just not equality in marriage.
Charles Dickens had a take on this thought in his book Oliver Twist. When the orphanage director was told that he could go to jail for the theft of a locket his wife had taken, because he was by law to control his wife. The man replies: "Then the law is a bachelor."
The passive/aggressive response is: If Momma's not happy, nobody's happy.
There are only a couple of ways that Calvin's and the 2000 BFM view of a marriage can become a reality:
1. The man becomes a tyrant. There are many ways a spouse, as women can play this game too, exerts control over the other person: refusing to let the wife work outside the home, learning to drive, keeping her pregnant and raising numerous children, breaking all ties with family and friends, being jealous if she so much as looks at another person, constantly putting her down as ugly, stupid, incompetent and lastly sexual and physical abuse. If you follow Calvin and The BFM to its logical conclusion women are to be treated like children and kept dependent all their lives either by their father or husband. In essence they are property. Not all men use religion to justify being tyrants, but I don't believe God approves of this behavior because it deprives the woman of the one thing God has instilled in all humans: Free Will.
2. Brainwashing. Ever seen at the blank stare of the women taken out of polygamous cults? Homeschool young men and women to believe this is God's will, cocoon them from the rest of society and they won't know there is another way.
The Bible does have one word that describes marriage better than the dictates of Calvin. That word is "helpmeet." The couple, as single sex couples would apply here too, help meet each others needs. It's not top down in structure it's team work. Anyone who's been a parent and worked as a team with three o'clock feedings and changing diapers understands this. Someone in a marriage of men's work/women's work cannot understand first the joy of those feedings and bonding with the child while they are helpless and the love and respect a woman feels for the man helping her. If all the man's job is to bring home the bacon and her job is to take care of the kids; the love and respect is gone as she's just a servant and he's only a walking wallet.
Living with another person for forty or fifty years is bloody hard work. Making those years mostly happy and fulfilling instead of pure torture works if: The woman truly admires and respects her husband. The problem here is that this is not a "God given responsibility" it has to be earned, not demanded or taken. The only way in a long term relationship that a woman will admire and respect her husband is if he admires and respects her. It's reciprocal. Its equality not dominant/submissive or divinely imposed. They willingly meet each other's needs
Friday, September 24, 2010
I have a guilty secret to confess. I've started watching Ally McBeal. When it was on the network I never bothered with it. Some of the episodes are rather blah or only have one good laugh, but the one with Barry Manilow had me laughing the whole show. Another episode was a three hanky tear jerker. It's nice that they're still around to be seen.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
It's nice that Wade Burleson is back to blogging, though it does get him into trouble. His post here is the best explanation I've encountered that deals with Paul's statement about women being silent in the church.
It's greatly appreciated that Michael Manning has his computer back and is posting comments again. It's nice to have someone respond to what I say. He posted an interview with David M. Bailey that is interesting and heart wrenching. Our prayers go with him.
Visited Steve (attorney I work for) in the hospital yesterday, he had hip repair surgery and is going home today. All seems to be going well.
I've started my new story, it's really raw right now, but I'm back into my imagination and it feels great.
Monday, September 13, 2010
One of the activity books in the booth is about dinosaurs. The author decided to write a children's book about dinosaurs that was scientifically acurate. Not one person was interested as we were surrounded by children all day.
Maybe we're the dinosaurs. Books have become quaint reminders of a bygone era. Today all people do is twitter in abbreviations.
Dave coordinated the booth for three days the other nine authors were there one day, but all of our books were displayed. I didn't make a sale. What I salvaged was trading one of my books and a plastic canvas notepad that Grinnygranny makes for one of theirs.
Lisa has a picture book about Spiderwoman based on the Navajo legend. Daniel my grandson should like it.
Lee has a cookbook. He's developed a mild chile seasoning and the book comes with two 3oz tins of the spice. The recipe that caught my interest was green chile chicken lasagna. When I brought it home wife, daughter and daughter-in-law looked all through it and I think they're planning on trying some of them out.
I'd already bought the anthology that Dave has a short story in, but he sells a number of fantasy anthologies for his publisher so I got another one of those books. Auntypesty is reading it and will give it to her brother when she's done.
Right after Optimus was published I had a book signing at the Fair Plaza Hastings. A gentleman came in who bought a copy way back when. It was nice chatting with someone who has read the book, still remembers it three years later and enjoyed it. He has a manuscript and I told him to e-mail it to me. I'd do a peer review for him. I hope he does.
I gave a copy of my next novel to last month's speaker at W2W and I hope tonight if she's there she'll have kind words about it.
I watched a program about Yellowstone and what would happen if it erupted, which is does about every six hundred thousand years. It's been six hundred and fourty thousand years since the last eruption. You never know what crazy thing you come across that is the seed of inspiration. While watching the show a story came to me, and I'm planning starting on it. Tentative title: After It Hits The Fan.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Saturday, September 04, 2010
On a sadder note. Today was Don Watley's funeral, president of Albuquerque Teachers Federation for many years. He and Mom butted heads quite often when she was president of the secretaries union, but they worked together for many years trying to get decent wages and working conditions for APS employees. Seems fitting that it would be during Labor Day weekend.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Sharon L. Baker has an interesting article at the Huffpo today. On the question of hell, she's actually plugging her book on the subject. It's an interesting topic. In all of Christian theology this is one of the focal points and perhaps the most difficult to reconcile with Jesus focus on forgiveness and love.
This is Dr. Baker's summation:
I wonder how many other pastors pounding pulpits across the world have their parishioners running scared out of their wits and into the kingdom of God, taking out fire insurance as a precaution against the threat of hell. "Who cares?" you might say. "As long as they purchase their policy in time, who cares why they buy?" God might. God may desire to save us from the flames in order to spend eternity in loving communion, not by scaring us to death but by luring us with divine compassion, urging us gently with a caring hand, forgiving, reconciling, and calling us to do the same.
Okay, everyone who's read Dante's Inferno raise your hand. Don't be shy. Surely you had to read part of it in your World Literature class in college. Oops, no one ever actually reads what they're assigned they use Cliff Notes. I'm one of the few who I've ever encountered that's actually read all three of Dante's Divine Comedy.
Here's an even more obscure attempt of describing Hell:
A science-fiction writer drinks too much, showing off for fans at a convention, and falls out an eighth-floor window. He wakes up in a brass bottle in the vestibule of Hell, and Inferno details his adventures trying to work his way out. A lot of Dante is recalled, but these authors have more fun with the damned than Dante, and invent a few newer sins to bring the tale up-to-date, including such things as a book collector who kept hoarding beyond the capabilities of his storage, and lost priceless books to mildew, rats, and insects — a hoarder and a waster at the same time.
The one quote I remember from this book where it asks: "Who can take seriously a god who keeps his own private torture chamber?"
After I came home from Seminary and was going through a divorce I started reading everything Sci Fi. I'd read Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein in high school, but during college and grad school other than watching reruns of Star Trek this genre took a back seat. I discovered Harlan Ellison, Anne McCaffery and many other great writers. The afore mentioned book caught my eye after reading their "Earth's too fragile a basket to place all of man's eggs in." Lucifer's Hammer.
Enough preamble. My take on the theology of eternal punishment.
Christianity falls in the catagory of Ethical Religions. That's a religion with a system of rewards and punishments. The Norse concept of hell (the germanic word used for the Greek Hades and Hebrew Gehenna) was a place of eternal cold, which is why Dante has Satan encased up to his waist in ice. Understandable since the harshest environment they encounter is winter. The Hebrews being from a desert environment found the heat the worst environment imaginable so it's understandable that a place of eternal heat would be their concept of eternal punishment. Gehenna was actually the town dump of Jerusalem outside the dung gate. Since all the trash was thrown there along with the animal waste which caused high concentrations of methane gas it was a place of continual fires. When Jesus refers to the afterlife for non-believers he refers to Gehenna which could be interpreted as a place of eternal fire or being thrown out of with the trash. The concept between those two interpretations is huge: literal or symbolic?
Is hell a place of eternal fire and torment, or is it being separated from God? Evangelists find selling "get out of hell free cards" easier than the promise of heaven. The Catholic Church even sells them (Indulgences) or makes you do penance. This is what makes Christianity different from other ethical religions. The others have a clearer concept of justice. Those who lived bad lives are punished, those who lived good lives are rewarded depending on what the culture's concept of good and evil. Jesus changed the rules from good and evil to believer or non-believer. No matter how bad you were, if you are saved before death you're in. Those who lived good lives, but worship differently are punished. Where's the justice in that?
Christianity is not about Justice, it's about forgiveness. It's about mercy. It's about Love. If it was about justice everyone would go to hell, no matter how good a life they lived. Christ's main point of the sermon on the mount where he compares being angry with murder, lust with adultery.
As Hamlet says: "If everyone were given what they deserve, who would escape whipping?"
Here's more rhetorical questions: If after death we have spiritual bodies, what damage could physical flames do? Wouldn't the flames also be spiritutal? Does separation from God need to be physical torture or can it be mental anguish? Does faith have to be only concrete? Isn't there room for abstract thinking too?
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
I finally watched Bill Maher’s Religious. I wasn’t surprised. He’s a comedian and makes his living ridiculing whatever he sets his sights on. So does Rush Limbaugh, and most of the mouths that roar on radio or teevee. It seems poking fun at other people is what passes for legitimate debate today.
It was painful as someone of faith to watch the way he painted an entire belief system with the brush of fundamentalism or institutionalized religion. Believe it or not there are many believers that have not assassinated their intelligence to someone who rants and raves from a pulpit or considers themselves God’s elected mouthpiece and they enjoy a meaningful personal relationship with God.
It’s easy to make fun of fundies and the orthodox because they’ve taken reason out of their faith and delivered it into the hands of someone who does their thinking for them.
The mechanism used by charlatans to fleece the flock of all their money and gain political power is literalism. The Bible has to be interpreted literally, and only literally.
Today I’m coining the phrase “Costello Christians” to describe literalists. They are a laugh riot, just like Abbot and Costello’s routine Who’s On First. If you’re not familiar with this comedy classic you can google it. There are about a dozen or more U-tube versions of it.
Lou Costello tries and tries every way he can to find out who’s on first, but never makes the connection that the first baseman’s name is Who. He stays stuck in his literal understanding of the word and can’t make the leap from literal to symbolic. It’s funny because the audience knows the difference and enjoys listening or seeing someone who is that stupid.
Here’s my example of a Costello Christian:
Anyone who wants to argue or defend the idea that Jonah was swallowed by a large fish or whale. Bill Maher devotes quite a bit of his movie on the issue and both he and those he’s arguing with miss the point. The book is not about a fish anymore than Gulliver’s Travels is about Lilliputians or Yahoos. They’re allegories.
Jonah represents the Jews and
The main points of Jonah are:
- The Jews are commanded to proclaim God to the whole world.
- They at first refuse and are punished until they consent.
- The World is spared destruction because of their belief.
- The Jews are upset and pout because they’ve lost their monopoly on God.
The central message of Jonah is:
God and Heaven are for everyone, not just a chosen few.
The Costello Christians want to make it about a fish and give fuel to the fire of skeptics and comedians who rightfully point out how stupid it is to interpret something written as allegory literally.
This is my interpretation of Jonah. I don’t claim it to be the official or only way to read the book. I don’t think anyone who understands it differently needs to be kicked out of the church or burned at the stake.
I wrote a post some time ago entitled “I’ve Been Fooled.” It’s still one of the most viewed posts I’ve ever written. It’s about an allegorical book and movie: The Princess Bride. I admit that while reading the book the author had me actually believing there were countries named Gilder and
Friday, August 20, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
While waiting in the emergency room a few weeks ago I bought this book and started reading it to Mom. We had hours between times they'd do something. When Mom was finally admitted she read on it and finished it at home. Then I started reading it. It was nice having something to read while she was in the emergency room again and I was stuck out in the waiting room at a different hospital with different rules. I finished it today.
Mom wasn't too sure about it at first. She said it was slow getting into it, but turned into a fairly decent story.
I agree with her. After you wade through about a hundred pages of obscure descriptions the story becomes compelling.
The story revolves around those who are from the Otherworld, and can go between the two worlds through certain gates, but the gates can only be opened by Lawrence, the gatekeeper, and he refuses to open them because if he did an uspeakable evil would destroy everyone. Sounds like a simple premise, but the story is rather complicated which is why it takes so long for the story to get going. There is quite a bit of setting the stage so the reader can understand what's going to happen. I rate it *** out of *****.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Click here and here for other Tributes to Bill Chase.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 09, 2010
Everything they do is coming up negative, but she's still having chest pains.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Guess I'm back to being retired again. Watch out golf courses, here I come.
I'm sending son and his family over today so they can get her some groceries while wife and I go to church.
The attorney I work for gave me a book, Trying Cases to Win: Voir Dire and Opening Arguments by Herbert J. Stern, and he's paying me five hours to read it. The one good thing of spending those days with Mom was it gave me time to read. It's five hundred pages so I guess he figured a hundred pages an hour. It was so full of legaleze that some parts I had to read two or three times to figure out what he was saying. By and large though since it's for the opening and summation that he's hired me to help him it's what I needed to read.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
She was planning on taking a trip to visit friends in Farmington this weekend, but the doctor squashed that idea. I'll be spending time with her for a few days until she gets her strength back and regulated on her blood thinner medication. Other than that things should return back to normal.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
She was alert and moving around yesterday and will be a handful if she has to stay there for many more days.
There's a really good possibility that the case I'm working on will end this week. The ADA has finally looked at the evidence and is realizing that he doesn't have a case. He was given the case right about the time my firm took it over and will most likely drop the charges.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
We thought they'd release her in the morning. I needed to go in to work on the case so daughter went to be with her. The heart doctor they brought in found a blood clot in one of her lungs. She was fighting with them about her medications and I think they needed to keep her still for the blood thinners to work so they sedated her. She called late evening and we talked. She called me this morning and didn't remember that we'd talked last night. I'm leaving in a few minutes to check on her.
Wife e-mailed her condition on the convention prayer list and we appreciate the concern and prayers offered on Mom's behalf.