Friday, October 30, 2009

Public Education in the USA: A Call to Dunkirk

“From kingergarten to 12th grade, children spend about 14,000 seat hours in school. Whoever controls those 14,000 hours, controls our children’s worldview” - Voddie Bauchman, Jr., D.Min

Public education is frequently discussed in our family and especially so over the past month as our county faced another bond vote in order to consolidate 4 of our county’s 6 public high schools. We’ve faced these issues time and again in Fayette County and it’s always a topic of heated debate at the Board of Education public meetings. As it turned out, the $49 million bond failed by a margin of more than 3 to 1. To me, passing the bond would have meant placing a golden window in a dilapidated building.

We have friends who either teach, work in administration or attend public schools and after listening to them and gaining a deeper understanding of the inner workings of our government-run system, I have come to the conclusion that our public schools are beyond being reformed. My hat is off to the dedicated teachers and principals who strive against a system that increasingly engulfs them in a sea of red tape, taking away their instructional hours in the classroom as well as limiting their disciplinary actions and harnessing them with responsibilities that belong to the parents.

With curriculum that cannot compete globally *, increasing “political correctness”, the indoctrination of secular humanism and more students who know all about sex and nothing about the US Constitution - or much history in general - it’s no wonder we now have over 1 million students in the USA being homeschooled * and roughly 4 million attending private christian schools. What else is a christian family to do amidst the destruction of our moral and academic fabric in America?

As I was reading some articles on homeschooling, I came across Exodus Mandate, and their bold proclamation for christian families to remove their children from government schools immediately:

“The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

*source: The World Bank; World Development Indicators, 2009 national sources

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Fun Theory

This was just too delightful not to pass on. The idea behind this Volkswagon initiative is that human behaviour may be changed by simply adding an element of fun.. .=-)

Check out more entries - or submit your own! - to this international contest at The Fun

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thoughts on Prayer

As I recently spoke to a church group on the topic of prayer, I thought I’d share some highlights here:

* Prayer is “raising up the heart and mind to God” - St. John of Damascus

* Prayer is an encounter and a relationship - by nature, a relationship implies mutual freedom. Archbishop Anthony Bloom’s book, Beginning to Pray, was most valuable in sharing why it is that we sense God’s absence at times. Even though God never abandons us, we do feel at times as though He is far away.

“If we could mechanically draw Him into an encounter, force Him to meet us, simply because we have chosen this moment to meet Him, there would be no relationship and no encounter. ...We complain that He does not make Himself present to us for the few minutes we reserve for Him, but what about the twenty-three and a half hours during which God may be knocking at our door and we answer , ‘I am too busy, I am sorry’ or when we do not answer at all because we do not even hear the knock at the door of our heart, of our minds, of our conscience, of our life.” -Anthony Bloom

* We discussed approaching prayer and the example given to us of the publican and the pharisee from St. Luke 18:9

* I encouraged the group to develop a Prayer Rule, or habit, by which they might be encouraged to pray even when they don’t FEEL like it, as oftentimes, the action begets the feeling.

* And, probably what I consider the most essential element in prayer is HUMILITY. The most profitable advice I ever received regarding prayer is humility. Of my many sins, I struggle with anger the most and have found it very difficult to pray during these times... wise counsel instructed me to immediately turn from my wrath, go to my prayer corner, make the sign of the cross and worship Almighty God with prostrations. This I did, while saying the Jesus Prayer and to my joy, God blessed me with that peace that passes all understanding. If nothing else I can share, it is that St. Anthony’s words ring true throughout the ages:

“I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, “What can get through from such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, “humility” “.

P.S. ...I just love it when my internet searches lead me toward profitable discoveries. The beautiful watercolor is by Mirja Clement and titled, "Praying for the Bird". What a lovely surprise to see that she also writes byzantine icons.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Ancient Faith Radio Podcast

I was pleased to read at Fr. Andrew's blog this morning that his current lecture series is being recorded for podcasting on Ancient Faith Radio! The title is Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy and the first lecture is "Understanding the Terms"

In his matter-of-fact way, he addresses the current cultural attitude toward God that states, 'whatever God means to you' when we should be asking 'who is God?' and why theology matters in your spiritual life.

Cheers to Ancient Faith Radio for including Fr. Andrew's lectures in their podcast program.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nazanin Afshin-Jam: A Woman of Inner Beauty & Strength

While reading on the VOM website recently, serendipity led me to a video about the former Miss World Canada (2003), Miss Nazanin Afshin-Jam. As an Iranian born Canadian, Nazanin is passionate about working for human rights in her home country. The video posted below tells a little of her story and how she was able to aid a young Iranian couple who had been imprisoned and tortured because of their conversion from Islam to Christianity:

When sycophantic Columbia University extended an invitation to the dictator, Ahmadinejad, it was Nazanin’s voice among others who countered his words; and in September last year, she organized “Ahmadinejad’s Wall of Shame” rally in New York as Ahmadinejad was addressing the UN General Assembly. Listen to her strong words here:

Hats off to you, Miss Nazanin Afshin-Jam. You are a woman of strength, integrity and conviction... may God continue to bless your life and the challenging work you are doing.

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