Showing posts with label blogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogs. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The content of our character

Martin Luther King Jr., lived for the proposition that "all men were created equal," for the vision "that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

He also died for that proposition, that vision, that dream.

And it is for that "last full measure of devotion," to quote Abraham Lincoln, another great American who died because of a noble vision, that we honor Rev. King this time every year. To again borrow from our 16th president, King called us to heed "the better angels of our nature."

This trait in national leaders today is so rare that we are obligated to celebrate those who called us to transcend our fallen human nature all the more. It's important that we acknowledge that spark of the divine within us during an age when so much of the world seems to have gone to the devil.

Sadly, because we humans are a sad, sinful and petty lot overall, King's dream has yet to be fulfilled. Things are better, yes, than when an assassin cut down the civil-rights leader, but they're not good enough. Far too often, we judge one another by the color of our skin, not the content of our character.

That recently has been brought home right here . . . at home, in Omaha, Neb.

ENTER A small-time local Republican politician, Pat McPherson, recently elected to the state education board. McPherson seems to be one of those politicians who just can't help himself, or stay out of trouble. The content of the man's character seems to be, well, questionable.

More than a decade ago, there were allegations of groping a teenage girl dressed as the Red Robin mascot at a chain hamburger joint. McPherson, after a criminal trial, got out of that scrape, though not before he was pressured to resign as Douglas County election commissioner.

Now, after being elected to the Nebraska State Board of Education in November, McPherson is in trouble over his blog, The Objective Conservative. Several posts -- and McPherson has denied authorship or knowledge of the screeds . . . on his own blog -- refer to President Obama as "a half-breed," the latest coupling that derogatory reference with one to "our great Black Leader."
Obama was described as a “half breed” in five separate postings on McPherson’s Objective Conservative blog — postings that McPherson said he did not author and that he disavowed after critics drew attention to them.

McPherson, a Republican, said they were posted by a contributor he would not name.

Three of the postings are written as if they reflect the opinion of the blog itself, which McPherson founded and said he co-edits. The three postings are listed as posted by Objective Conservative and are written with the pronoun “we.”

The three postings begin, “Frankly, we’ve had enough ...,” “We think Ted Nugent is cool ...” and “We are tired ...”

In one posting, the author jokes that the article may be their last because “we suspect the NSA has forwarded it to (Attorney General) Eric Holder for potential prosecution under hate-crime laws.”

The postings date back to May 11, 2011. McPherson said he deleted them from the site Tuesday. He declined to identify who wrote the blog posts, but he said he has expressed his disappointment to that person.

The chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party said Tuesday that Ricketts “just flunked his first test as governor as he failed to ask for McPherson’s resignation.”

“How will Mr. Ricketts explain to schoolchildren and teachers why it’s OK with the governor for a State Board of Education member to have a racist blog?” Vince Powers asked.

Powers said McPherson either wrote the posts or is covering for the person who did.

He described the posts as “garbage.”

McPherson said Tuesday that he will “absolutely not” resign. He said he plans to shut down the blog and has blocked any new postings.

McPherson is a former Republican Party chairman in Douglas County who served as director of administrative services under former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub. He ran for the State Education Board on a conservative platform.

The blog, which claims to present a conservative view, is a hodge-podge of photos, articles and opinion. Much of the content needles Obama, Democrats and their policies.
ONE REFERS to an animal as a "half-breed." One does not respectfully refer to a human being that way. That, you could presume, goes double when the subject of your remarks is the president of the United States.

The term is biracial, one that could describe any number of McPherson's own constituents.

The temptation here is to launch into a grand dissertation about the wrongness of McPherson's views, the brazenness of his bile-spewing (and, seriously, no one really takes McPherson's disavowal of the contents of his own blog seriously) and how tragic it is that we Americans no longer can disagree with our fellow Americans without resorting to branding them as The Other. That ought to be bloody well self-evident.

The extent to which the obvious no longer is in this society is a direct indicator of how untenable it has become. Translation: We well may be on our last legs.

What else is self-evident -- or should be self-evident -- as this King Day winds down in Omaha is that Omaha-area voters messed up badly in electing not only a racist to public office but a man who didn't even have the decency to be a hypocrite about it on the Internet. A man whose public past ought to have given the electorate a pretty good idea about his public future.

Sadly, American voters oftentimes are just as foolish as those they put into office. Or bigoted, as the case may be.

FINALLY, it is self-evident that Pat McPherson is just another boil on the buttocks of American democracy. Worse, he is a cancer on the administration of Nebraska elementary and secondary education. It is a pity -- a tragedy, really -- that public disorders like McPherson are too often tougher to excise from the body politic than they are from the human body.

Martin Luther King's dream lives. But his work remains unfinished, thanks to human frailty, hearts of darkness and the politicians who exploit both.

In the name of King's dream and our future, we cannot afford to be content with characters like Pat McPherson. Either their day is done . . . or ours will be soon enough.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The red dawn of a new day? Oy veh.

We Americans think "the social gospel" is just fine.

Just so long as it stays where it belongs -- between 30 and 33 A.D. The Bible talks about things from long ago in the Holy Land, allowing us plenty of time and distance to reframe both message and Messenger a bit more to our liking.

We can deal with that. Things were simpler then -- it was before Obamacare.

But if you really want to see the fit hit the shan, start preaching and teaching -- and, Dow Jones forbid, living -- "the social gospel" today . . . which is to say living "the gospel" today, because Christianity isn't an à la carte deal, it's a combination plate. That combination plate gave "orthodox" Judaism gas in 33 A.D., it gave the Romans gas for 280 years, give or take, and it gives everybody gas today.

Particularly, Pope Francis' renewed emphasis on "the social gospel" -- you know, "blessed are the poor" and "the meek shall inherit the land" -- has a whole lot of "orthodox" Catholics in a toot. The latest blow-up comes in the wake of a couple of American speeches given by one of Francis' trusted advisers, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras.

There was, for one, writer and editor John Zmirak on Rod Dreher's American Conservative blog:
Cardinal Maradiaga’s vision of the future of the Catholic Church is really a yellowed snapshot of the past—of the recent past of the Anglican church, which has buried the clear and consistent doctrines of Christianity, in favor of social activism on behalf of foolish and counterproductive policies. The result was predictable; it became spiritually irrelevant, a decorative tassel hanging from the left wing of public opinion, while its most fervent believers split off to found new churches that actually taught the Gospel, or decamped for Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy. If the Catholic Church follows its lead, to the point where it throws infallibility into question, the same thing will happen. Expect a torrent of converts to the Orthodox Church—made up of the most active, fervent, believing, Catholics.

As a North American who is grateful for the relative religious and economic freedom that produced a successful country, I reject the Marxian bromides being offered by men whose countries have never known such freedom. Amidst all Maradiaga’s rhetoric about Gospel solidarity with the poor, I smell more than whiff of brimstone, of a national and regional envy that has no clue how to lift up the impoverished, but would happily settle for tearing down the prosperous.
WHAT WAS the pope just saying about the dangers of ideology? And what exactly prompted such a furious reaction?

Stuff like this: 
The Church is not the hierarchy, but the people of God. “The People of God” is, for the Council, the all-encompassing reality of the Church that goes back to the basic and the common stuff of our ecclesial condition; namely, our condition as believers. And that is a condition shared by us all. The hierarchy has no purpose in itself and for itself, but only in reference and subordination to the community. The function of the hierarchy is redefined in reference to Jesus as Suffering Servant, not as “Pantocrator” (lord and emperor of this world); only from the perspective of someone crucified by the powers of this world it is possible to found, and to explain, the authority of the Church. The hierarchy is a ministry (diakonia = service) that requires lowering ourselves to the condition of servants. To take that place (the place of weakness and poverty) is her own, her very own responsibility.
ME, I was thinking "About damned time!" 

I also was thinking "This model either would have made the Scandals a lot less likely, or it would have enabled lay Catholics to deal with them a lot more effectively -- through less clericalism and more ass kicking." But that's just me. I'm a Bad Catholic who can digest clericalism and humorless scolds on the religious right no better than I can soulless Marty Haugen ditties during Mass or cheap-gracers on the liturgical left.

If I were just smarter and holier, I would have been able to discern the Red Menace lurking beneath the surface of passages like this from the cardinal's Dallas address:
There is no possible reform of the Church without a return to Jesus. The Church only has a future and can only consider herself great by humbly trying to follow Jesus. To discern what constitutes abuse or infidelity within the Church we have no other measure but the Gospel. Many of the traditions established in the Church could lead her to a veritable self-imprisonment. The truth will set us free, humility will give us wings and will open new horizons for us.
If the Church seeks to follow Jesus, all she has to do is to continue telling the world what happened to Jesus, proclaiming His teachings and His life. Jesus was not a sovereign of this world, He was not rich, but instead He lived as a poor villager, He proclaimed his program – the Kingdom of God—and the great of this world (Roman Empire and Synagogue together) persecuted and eliminated Him. His sentence to die on the cross, outside the city, is the clearest evidence yet that He did not want to ingratiate himself with the powers of this world. Shattered by their power, He is the Suffering Servant, an image of innumerable other servants, defeated by the ones who rule and call themselves “lords;” but it was He, poor, silenced, and humiliated, who was designated by his Father as His Beloved Child and whom God Himself resurrected on the third day.
THE MAN even referenced that noted pinko, Blessed John Paul II:
In contemporary pontifical magisterium, we have two significant benchmarks: John Paul II’s 1990 Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, and the apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, from the same pontiff, in 2001. “In Redemptoris Missio, the Pope teaches us that the Church is a mission. It is not that she has a mission, like she has other traits; she is herself a mission. Everything in the Church should be weighted and measured in regard to the mission of converting the world.” 
And in Novo Millennio Ineunte, Blessed John Paul II challenges the Church at the end of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, to leave behind the shallow waters of maintaining the institution and travel to the deep waters of evangelization. That is what Jesus tells his disciples in Chapter 12 of Luke, adding: “Duc in altum, put out into the deep.” [Luke 5: 4] This means that the Church will convert the world not by argument, but by example. There is no doubt that doctrinal argument is important, but people will be attracted by the humanity of Christians, those who live by the faith, who live in a human way, who irradiate the joy of living, the consistency in their behavior.
FOR WHAT it's worth, my wife and I are converts to the Catholic faith. No one argued us into the church; a number of people loved us into it.

Meantime, the Rev. Dwight Longenecker worries that the gospel will get lost in a sea of "social work." Because, obviously, all you need isn't love. Or something like that.
I am not so much worried about what Cardinal Maradiaga said, but what he left unsaid.
And there the Church, in humble company, helps making life intelligible and dignified, making it a community of equals, without castes or classes; without rich or poor; without impositions or anathemas. Her foremost goal is to care for the penultimate (hunger, housing, clothing, shoes, health, education…) to be then able to care for the ultimate, those problems that rob us of sleep after work (our finiteness, our solitude before death, the meaning of life, pain, and evil…). The answer the Church gives to the “penultimate” will entitle her to speak about the “ultimate.” For that reason, the Church must show herself as a Samaritan on earth – so she can some day partake of the eternal goods.
Really? The Church’s foremost goal is to provide housing, shoes, health and education? Surely the church’s foremost goal is the salvation of souls. To be sure we must be engaged in feeding the poor, but in his talk on the New Evangelization the Cardinal does not mention the salvation of souls or the spiritual work of the church or the sacraments at all. Is he simply a social worker dressed in red, and does the red indicate more of his political opinion than his status as a cardinal?

REALLY? What part of "the answer the Church gives to the 'penultimate' will entitle her to speak about the 'ultimate'" is unclear?

Again, I am a convert. I was "penultimated" into the Catholic Church. After all, God meets you where you are, not where He thinks you need to be. Where you need to be is a process -- one lasting a lifetime.

By the way, I only can assume that the good father's cheap shot about Maradiaga being a "social worker dressed in red" or maybe just a Red, period, was for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. I've seen stranger things done -- in all sincerity -- for the sake of kingdom come.

Ideology takes the invitation that is the Christian gospel and makes it into a hammer. Ideology takes suffering souls and turns them into nails -- into the proverbial Them.

Ideology say: Us, we so holy.

I'M NOT sure how much the cardinal's American trip told us about what direction the Catholic Church is headed. I fear the collective cerebral hemorrhage we're seeing so early in Francis' pontificate tells us a lot about the Catholic right.

"Cafeteria Catholicism," alas, is a bipartisan thing. And the cafeteria is getting crowded.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When metaphor presents itself

When metaphor presents itself in the Gret Stet uh Loosiana, sometimes it takes a Brooklynite to line it up in the viewfinder and press the shutter release.

In other words, "Oh, frabjous joy! There's a new post on Colleen Kane's Abandoned Baton Rouge blog!"

In fact, Kane -- who more than a year ago moved back to New York after a couple of years in Baton Rouge -- made a special trip back for this post, a follow-up on the decrepit and abandoned Bellemont Motor Hotel, among the more prominent of my hometown's faded glories. You see, nature had slowly been reclaiming the Bellemont for years, but now humans have decided to give the mold, vines and trees a hand with a formal demolition.

THIS TIME, she actually got to go inside the ruins. As if shooting through the windows in previous years weren't depressing enough.

When, however, you can get a shot of a convention and visitors bureau brochure holder saying "Baton Rouge. The Flavour of Louisiana" amid the filth, the trash and the ruins . . . well, you gotta do what you gotta do. My homeland, unfortunately, is a lot better at tearing stuff up than it is at building stuff up.

All I wish is that Abandoned Baton Rouge could take the pictures of whole swaths of Baton Rouge that reside in my mind's eye and contrast them with pictures of those same areas today.

That's what I wish.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We can't handle the truth

At the tender age of 30, suburban Philadelphia English teacher Natalie Munroe found herself at the heart of the fall of Rome.

It was right there before her in her Central Bucks East High School classroom.

"My students are out of control," Munroe wrote in her blog Oct. 27, 2009. "They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying."

Then the entry got good . . . or bad, depending on whether you're reading it or living it:
In the past week alone, I've written up 4 separate students--one for dropping the f-bomb in class, one for repeatedly saying "s***tin'," one for crafting a pencil topper made from paper clips into the shape of a man and woman having sex, and one for being disrespectful to me (Me: Stop tapping. Him: (ignores and keeps on tapping. Another student tells him to stop but he still doesn't, indicating that if he didn't stop when I told him to, he wouldn't stop for this kid either. Another student then kicked the back of the first student's chair. Me: "I DID tell you to stop that already!" Him: "Yeah, you were ignored." Me: Do you want me to write you up?" Him: "Go ahead." Me: "Done!")

Then there's the kid in the other class who wasn't happy with the score he earned on his test. (Nevermind that I told kids what to study in preparation for this test, or that I offered to move the test to Wednesday instead of Tuesday to give them more time to study but they voted to keep it on Tuesday.) So this kid earned a 54% on the test, having lost 2 points for not following directions, 7.5 points for being unable to match the names of characters and settings with the story names (which is the easiest section on the whole test if you've simply read the stories for lan's sake!), another 10 or so on another section asking him to match definitions to terms... really, the kid just didn't study enough.

The issue was, though, that his test grade brought his overall grade down significantly (because he had an A, he had farther to fall), from an A to a B. He approached me last Wednesday when I handed back the tests and wanted to know if we did second-chance learning. No, I told him. He wanted to know if he could do some extra credit. No, the English department doesn't offer extra credit, I told him. On Thursday he approached me to find out how many more points are on the marking period because he wants to be able to pull his grade up by then. I told him the assignments I know I'll be grading prior to that time. On Friday he emailed me and explained that he was unhappy with his score and again asked for extra credit or a chance to make up his test, citing that he must have been having a bad day and was very upset that his grade dropped so much. He then approached me the same day in class and wanted to discuss the email. I explained again that the test is done and he needs to move forward, just working as hard as he can before the marking period ends to recoup points, but that he could not do other work to make up the grade. On Monday there was an email waiting for me from his mom weighing in on the no extra credit/no retakes policy and intimating that the test was unfairly weighted as it brought her son's grade down from an A to a B. I responded to that email sharing the information about where he lost points on his test (indicating that he should have studied harder), explaining how it's unfair to kids prepared the first time around to have an opportunity to make up the points somehow, defending the weight of my test which was 67 points and was the culmination of 3 weeks worth of work, and giving her the heads-up that college courses often base their grades on 2 tests and a paper. Today this boy visited guidance during my class. I'm not positive that it was about this grade issue, but I suspect it may have been. I did not, however, receive any emails from guidance trying to get me to modify my stance, so perhaps it was simply a coincidence. Frankly, I really want the issue to drop because it's rather annoying me that I've had to have the same conversation about this issue as many times as I have. What it comes down to is this: you did poorly on your test for whatever reason; you may end up with a B because of it; move on and try harder next marking period. It really isn't the end of the world. Maybe the next time I announce a test and give insight into what should be studied, I will be taken more seriously.

Or not.
OBVIOUSLY, there's a problem here. Unfortunately, what's so obviously problematic isn't that "(k)ids today are out of control." It isn't that "teenagers are complete asses." It isn't even that "(t)here's no respect for adults, for authority, for teachers," or that "(p)arents won't allow anyone but themselves to discipline their kids, but THEY don't do any disciplining either."

No, the problem is that young high school English teacher in affluent Bucks County, Pa., said so. In her anonymous blog.

NOW MUNROE has been suspended with pay, escorted out of the building by the principal and a security guard, and just might lose her job. For being honest.

It would seem we can put up with a society of spoiled louts and incompetents --
Hey, Rome managed it . . . until it couldn't -- but what we can't handle is the truth.

And the truth, folks, is that a lot of your kids are a-holes and cheats. Ignorant ones at that.

If you doubt what I say -- or, more importantly, what Munroe wrote -- the comments on her most "notorious" post, left after some Central Bucks East students somehow came across the blog, serve as a rather bracing quod erat demonstrandum moment.

READ ON and be educated:
dontcare said...

Jokes on you because this link is being cycled throughout the students of
CB East via facebook. Have fun applying for unemployment.


"cooperative in class."

brett said...

haha shes leaving due to being knocked up... she probably found a piece of toilet paper in the trash that a guy cleaned up after himself with and impregnated herself; i can think of no other way this homely ass c*** could get f*****

cbeast123 said...

Well..good luck getting a job as a teacher anywhere else.

If you're in a school district as prestigious as CB East, you should act like it and stop blubbering to people who couldn't care less about your life.

Just because you hate your job, doesn't make it okay to whine about it on the internet.

And I can guarantee that at least 50% of the students you just spent making fun of will become a lot more successful than you.

How sad is it that you're way too busy blogging about your students that you have no time to actually leave a mark/make a difference on their lives. I can't imagine that you do not aspire to be that one teacher that changes someone's life, and if you do not..why are you a teacher?

If you hate kids, your own intellect would tell you to choose a career avoiding them.

ConcernedStudent said...

Why would you waste your time blogging about how we are belligerent f*** (you spelled belligerent wrong dumbass)? You should be spending your time helping out students instead of insulting them on here. You have cheated, screwed, and under-cut every single one of your students this year. And i speak for everyone when i say you were a douche to all of your students in class and made no effort to help any of us achieve our academic goals. Maybe you should learn to teach and be compassionate with your students. Respect goes a long way, and the only way people will respect you is if you respect them (too late). Have a nice life. Good luck with the inner-city s***hole they call a school in philly.

grapist said...

Students suck almost as much as teachers who think they're god and spend more time trying (and failing) to control their class than actually teaching. I feel bad for her and all the other bad teachers who just don't get that.

jcs002 said...

Dear... you,

Hey, I remember you. This is Jeff Shoolbraid talking, just so you know I'm not hiding behind a computer screen and just randomly bashing you. I'm not sure if you remember me, but you were by far the worst teacher I've ever had because you were simply a c***. Turns out my assumption was correct. Though, if I just sit here and call you names and such it really doesn't prove any points and makes me essentially as unintelligent as you. It also doesn't really solve too much, but now that it's out of the way, here are my just as pointless two cents: Students can be a pain, but it's your job to deal with them. So this means it's your job to deal with the a**holes, weird kids, drama queens, quiet kids, and so on. The students, on the other hand, don't really owe you anything. You see, as a teacher, the world should not revolve around you. You should revolve around the students' lives. Sure, maybe kids treat you like s***, or don't give a s*** in general as far as the class goes, but you have to remember the demographic here. You're teaching high school kids. These are the rebellious/self involved/self discovering times in there lives. They are transitioning from being kids to adults. So sorry if they don't exactly know how to go about being interested in a high school English class. You need to give them a reason to give a f***, and this starts with showing respect to them, which involves a little bit of extra work on your part. Though, if you're not willing to do that, I don't blame you. I for one don't know what it's like from a teacher's prospective like yours, and I'd believe you if you said it was tough. Maybe teaching isn't cut out for you though. It doesn't give you the right to virtually abuse your class via an internet blog, which is just tacky by the way. It also doesn't give you the right to rob you students of a solid high school education. It's not a students' job to please you, it's your job to get a student an A to the best of your ability in a reasonable fashion. So sure, some students may still not give a s***. If so, give them an F. Some students might still be a**holes, but I had a pretty good relationship with Silverfox and all the principles at the school (not in a bad way) and I know they're all more than capable with dealing with those kids. And sure, some kids still might be drama queens (and kings, lets keep it pc) but hell, that's life. I also heard that this little stunt is getting your fired, and to all the students and parents that you've pissed off over the years, I'm going to take this opportunity to say good riddance!

Jeff Shoolbraid

PS. Presidents have something to do with politics, I hope you've learned this by now.

matt said...

wow ur future as a teacher is pretty muched f***ed at this point. i dont even go to east

style&music said...

Real Classy Ms. Munroe. I just have to say that I am very disappointed by this. I originally didn't completely loath you like the rest of the junior class, but my feelings have now changed. I don't appreciate how in a previous post you stated that describing teachers and administrators with four letter words was inappropriate, is describing your own students with these same words acceptable? How's that for a rhetorical question?

Also, how could you not have even thought to delete this? The worst of the posts are from a year ago, why didn't you delete them? It's understandable to want to talk about your day at work, but the internet, seriously? By the way, what is my "cooperative in class" comment mean?

"A complete and utter jerk in all ways. Although academically ok, your child has no other redeeming qualities." well I don't believe an hour and a half a day for half a year can really lead you to a point where you can see a person's full character, you can't make those types of assumptions.

"Asked too many questions and took too long to ask them. The bell means it's time to leave!" FYI your job is to teach.

and the classiest "Rude, beligerent, argumentative f***." you tried to throw in a few "big words" but the final four letter word makes up for it.

I am not going to call make up some "comment" to describe your teaching skills, personality, or character because I only spent an hour and a half each day for a semester with you. Just a small part of my day, and an even smaller part of my life. I can't judge you from just that... But your blog(this post alone) gives me a better and full picture.

P.S. How was my use of ethos, pathos and logos?

WhatThe.... said...

Hit the screenshot button so many times, it's borderline rape.

Laura said...

Why in gods name would you become a teacher if you have so many problems with all your students. This is insane, I'm a senior at cb east right now and I'm almost positive you're leaving this school with me after this year.. sad thing is, I'm actually going to do something with my life.. you just ruined your chances. It's really sad that a 17 year old girl like myself can be more mature than a grown freaking woman like you. I'm just glad i had Hendrickson and Rosini my first couple years at East, I couldn't stand the thought of someone like you secretly bashing me and my classmates. Shame on you.

HELL HATH no fury like a teenager whose self-esteem has been assaulted. Especially those who have been raised by wolves.

I will, however, award a couple of points to the commenter who upbraided Munroe's condemnation of problematic students in her blog with some of the same profanity she found objectionable in the classroom. That would be at least a middling command of logos, while I found this aggrieved student's attempts at pathos and ethos less compelling.

Then again, my wife and I were volunteers in Catholic youth ministry before Munroe even was in high school herself. We've seen it all -- and that was at church. I can only imagine. . . .

Then again, I don't have to. We have the cache of a beleaguered educator's blog from the front lines of American decline. The date: Dec. 2, 2009. It sounds about right to me:
That brings us to today. There were myriad problems with today's class proceedings; so many, in fact, that I won't even bother to circumscribe them here. For the sake of relevance, I will note only those bits that concern this lad. First, when I was checking vocabulary and another boy didn't have his, I mentioned to the unprepared kid that this is the 3rd week in a row he didn't do his work. He asked if it would hurt his grade. I told him it would, a great deal. Then the other kid chimed in and said, "Yeah! She ruined my grade last marking period." I said, "I'm sorry... I ruined your grade?" "Yeah." "No. YOU ruined your grade. It was your actions or inactions which earned you your grade. I think it's time for you to stop trying to pass the buck to other people all the time, and start taking responsibility for your own actions. All you ever do it blame others for what happens to you. You need to own it." He told me I sounded like his mom and should stop saying things like his mom would say. Then, he had his head down for most of the block. When he did finally raise it, he took out paper and--surprise!--wrote another note. After my lesson, when walking past his desk, I confiscated the letter. He tried to hold the page down. I sternly told him that he'd better let it go because I was, indeed, taking it. He tried to tell me that I had no right--that it was his letter. I said, "Actually, it's MY letter. This is MY time in MY class, and this is now MY letter." I took it and put it on my desk. I didn't even look at it. Moments later, he came up to my desk and picked it up as though to take it. I said, "You'd better put that letter back on my desk and walk away." We had a reprise of the "It's my property" conversation, but I said, "I suggest you put it down now because if you leave here with that letter you are most definitely getting written up for it." He said, "I was just going to rip it up and throw it out." I told him that I would take care of it. He then followed me to the door saying, "I'm waiting to see you rip it up. I'm watching.... Rip it." The bell rang. I fixed him with a stare and said, "This is now my letter. I will do with it what I want. The discussion is closed. Get out of my room." By this time, he was in the hall and the girl was coming over from across the hall. He said something to her like, "Yeah. I don't have the letter--" I interrupted and said, "--I have it. Now go." Then SHE started in, trying to get it from me. She goes, "Can I have my note?" I said, "No. It's my note. Goodbye." She said, looking annoyed, "But it's mine. Can't I just have it?" Me, getting more and more pissed off, "The note is mine. He wrote it in my class on my time. You two are always writing notes back and forth and texting through class. It's going to stop. You aren't getting this letter." He sort of pulled her away and said something to her. I can only assume he'd indicated the contents of the note to her because she came back, told me that she'd asked him to write it, and some other bunk. I interrupted a final time, a nanosecond from writing this chick up, too, for arguing with me, and said, "I don't know what the note says. I didn't read it and don't really care what's in it. I won't even read it. But neither of you are getting it back and I'm not going to discuss it with you further." The boy latched onto that, saying, "You didn't read it? Good. Because you'd cry. But ok, if you don't read it, good. Deal!" and pulled the girl away with him.
WHAT CAN one say? Apart, of course, from "We welcome our new Chinese overlords!"

Perhaps when they take over what's left of America, it will be safe for Natalie Munroe to teach once again.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

My daily post about posting daily

WordPress, known on this blogging platform as Brand X, is challenging its users to do a post a day.

To that end, it's posting helpful daily suggestions to get the ol' creative juices flowing. Like, for instance, avoiding pathetic clichés like "get the ol' creative juices flowing."

Or, for another instance, avoiding overused ironic devices like inserting a blatant cliché into one's post, then making fun of that fact. It's to literature what eating a can of Van Camp's and farting "Dixie" is to the natural-gas industry.

ANYWAY, yesterday's helpful topic from Brand X was this:

Share something that makes you smile. (Can be a photo, an idea, a memory – anything that comes to mind).

If this suggestion doesn’t fit your blog’s general topic (e.g. Your blog is about the air speed velocity of unladen hyperactive swallows), that’s ok. Simply apply the question to your topic, by adding or changing some words.

(Reminder: Do not answer this in the comments. That would be very silly. You should grab this topic and write a post about it on your blog).

FRANKLY, I don't see how anyone can apply this idea to blogs about the air speed velocity of unladen hyperactive swallows unless we have some concrete indication of whether the referenced swallows are of the European or African variety.

THEY'RE such a bunch of booger eaters over at Brand X.

That kind of makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Internet Monk, R.I.P.

Michael Spencer, known on the Web as the Internet Monk, died Monday night at his home in Kentucky.

What a terrible disease -- cancer -- stole from the Baptist minister's family, friends, students and readers, it has given back to Him who is the source of all blessings. And the work and life of the Internet Monk was a blessing, indeed.

HERE IS a snippet of the kind of wisdom and fearless cultural criticism we have lost with the passing of the Internet Monk. It's from a 2006 post of his on what he learned from the Chinese exchange students at the Baptist boarding school where he taught and ministered:
It’s impossible to know and talk with these Chinese students without catching their conviction in the superiority of their communist culture. As something of a student of Asian history, I understand how our Chinese students differ from other Asians in their cultural interactions with others. They do have a historical conviction of the superiority of their culture, and they see little need to demonstrate that to outsiders. To the Chinese, there is little doubt that their culture will be proven to be superior to all others.

Further, it is impossible to know these students without seeing that the Chinese communist revolution -- with all its many, many failures and evils -- is producing a generation of young people who have remarkable values, ethics, loyalty and devotion to their culture. I see little evidence in these students of much for a resistance movement to work with.

All of these students are atheists, and none are familiar with Christianity, but when we do talk about the area of core beliefs, they are quick to witness to the influence of their families and their country. They want to return to China and live for the benefit of their families and country. They are endlessly grateful to their country and, unlike some internationals, have no reluctance to say where they want to return and live.

I’ve concluded that Mao may have been a poor communist, but he was a brilliant Confucian. Our Chinese students demonstrate so many of the virtues of Confucius, and are clearly bemused at what they see in our American culture. No longer are they in awe of the capitalism of our country. Our students come from strongly capitalistic areas. (I took one student to a sub shop, and he said the sandwich was good, but far too expensive.) They want to make major contributions to their society and to find materialistic success, but they are not enamored with the vices and immaturities of their peers in the declining youth culture of America.

In many ways, these Chinese students are a revelation of American decline and a preview of future Chinese cultural success. China may not be our military equal, and their government may be repressive, but the products of a culture are an indication of where things are going. These 8 Chinese students will not go to college and run up credit cards, wreck the car, stay drunk, fail classes and waste their time. They will soon be engineers, pilots, doctors and scientists; leaders in their field.

And I doubt, very seriously, that they will be Christians. Not because I haven’t tried to live, teach and preach the Gospel. I have, and will continue to do so as will all of the Christians on our campus.

I doubt they will become Christians because they are seeing American Christianity, and it’s far more American than Christian. They’ve helped me to see my own cultural religion, and it’s been a disturbing revelation.

When they attend chapel, they frequently hear moralistic preaching. Their own Confucian and Maoist culture gives them morals and moralism, and produces a far more moral person than their typical American peer. They hear sermons on being a good person, staying off drugs, not having sex and staying in school. They were doing all this when they came here and will do it when they leave.

They see American Christians without a Bible most of the time. We have few spiritual disciplines and are hungry and thirsty for the things our culture values more than the gifts and callings of Christ. They hear us talk about Jesus, but the Jesus we talk about is not compelling enough to cause us to live truly sacrificial or revolutionary lives. I’ve noticed this with other Asians as well. When they hear us talking about our religion, they expect to see the same holiness and devotion they see in Buddhist monks, but in American Christians they simply see another American, with a slightly different set of consumer interests. Same American. Different t-shirt slogan. Our spirituality is clearly inferior.
MICHAEL SPENCER loved God, and he loved the truth much more than he feared tipping sacred cows. Actually, I think he kind of reveled in sacred-cow tipping.

That's a good thing.

And now, as my own church, the Catholic Church, sinks once more into the fever swamps of sex and lies -- weighted down by the millstones of its many clerical malefactors -- I find myself wishing for someone,
anyone with the simple faith and deep-seated integrity of an iconoclastic Baptist preacher in the hills of Kentucky to step up and say "Enough! In the name of God, enough!"

I find myself grieving that it no longer will be
that iconoclastic Baptist preacher in the Kentucky hills writing insightful pieces challenging his branch of Christianity and mine, too, to cast aside the pride and the prejudices standing between us and the risen Savior who beckons all.

Too often, we who claim to be followers of Jesus are instead worshipers of false gods. Followers of idols made in our own image. Devotees of spiritual fads proportionate in stupidity to that of the fools who birthed them.

And it is our grievous loss that the Internet Monk no longer will be there to call us on it. To hold us accountable for what we've done with the unfathomable, unmerited grace so hard won on our behalf one terrible day at Calvary.

Requiescat in pace, Michael.

UPDATE: Michael Spencer's obituary is here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Terrible news in the blogosphere

The Internet Monk always has been a blog I greatly admire.

Its proprietor, Michael Spencer, possesses the great gift of being able to write gracefully while making great sense.

TUESDAY, however, brought terrible news about this brother in Christ, who has been struggling with cancer. His wife, Denise, writes:
It is with a heavy heart that I bring my latest update on Michael. We have learned that his cancer is too advanced and too aggressive to expect any sort of remission. Our oncologist estimates that with continued treatment Michael most likely has somewhere between six months and a year to live. This is not really a surprise to us, though it is certainly horrible news. From the very beginning, both of us have suspected that this would prove to be an extremely bad situation. I don’t know why; perhaps God was preparing us for the worst all along by giving us that intuition.

The combination of the cancer and the chemotherapy is keeping Michael in a very weakened state. He is in bed all day, getting up once or twice only to eat a “meal.” His meals consist mostly of Ensure, with occasional mugs of soup, dishes of ice cream and milkshakes. He’s still taking fluids well, currently preferring Sprite and ginger ale. His tastes do change slightly from time to time, and I try to be ready to jump in whatever direction they seem to be moving. He is in no pain at all, for which I am unspeakably grateful.
NEWS LIKE THIS always renders me with no good words with which to petition the Lord. I literally am reduced, without fail, to "Lord, have mercy."

Upon further reflection, it seems to me this isn't a bad prayer at all. God has His reasons for what he does and does not permit to befall any of us -- when he will and won't directly intervene in this fallen world's fallen workings.

We cannot understand the mind of God. As Flannery O'Connor once wrote:
Whatever you do anyway, remember that these things are mysteries and that if they were such that we could understand them, they wouldn’t be worth understanding. A God you understood would be less than yourself.
WHICH LEAVES ME with but my simple prayer for Michael Spencer and the rest of us, too.

Lord, have mercy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Low-tech 'tapeworm' rips off blogger

Here's how newspapers roll in the twilight time of their market-enforced dotage.

Because their labor is worth something, editors and publishers make a lot of noise about how they're going to crack down on "misappropriation" of their content on the Internet and start charging readers to access their electronic offerings. Then they proceed to steal the work of bloggers and say they have every right to do so.

Yet folks like William Dean Singleton -- the self-styled Sir Galahad who aspires to slay the monster Google and conquer the lawless Internets -- wonder why they weren't named Class Favorite.

HERE'S A little something from the Los Angeles Times earlier this month:

"The reality is that unless a lot of people who produce news act in unison to start charging for content, then individually they will fail," said Alan D. Mutter, a former newspaper columnist and editor and consultant on new media ventures.

News Corp.'s solution is the latest proposal to publishers seeking to wring money from Internet readers to offset double-digit drops in print and online revenue.


The notion of charging for digital access to news, either online or on devices, has been gaining momentum ever since the Associated Press' annual meeting in San Diego in April. William Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP and chief executive of MediaNews Group Inc., railed against the "misappropriation" of news on the Internet -- a reference widely interpreted as a swipe at search giant Google Inc.

"We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories," he said. "We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it anymore."

Wall Street Journal Editor Robert Thomson added to the invective, saying Google and other news aggregators who believe that content should be free are "parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the Internet."

TAPEWORM, heal thyself.

HAT TIP: The News Chick and Bloggasm.