Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Christian "Right?"

The common political discourse today in America demands the rights of every citizen. The lines begin to blur when we start elevating other's rights above some. Should law abiding citizens be allowed to carry guns? Should criminals? Let it be said now that I am thinking out loud in this blog and am open to correction.

What are our rights, then? Some might look to the Bill of Rights, and that is a good and proper thing for an American to do. We should know our heritage. It is important to remember, though, that America was not founded on strict Christian principles. Yes, there were many Christians who led the War for Independence against Britain, and there were many good Christians who signed the Declaration of Independence and even drafted the Bill of Rights. But, just because Christian men were involved in creating these documents, it does not follow that these documents are uniquely Christian. Many of our founding fathers were Deists - they believed in an immutable Creator, but unlike the Trinitarian Christian God Jehovah, this creator does not take much of an interest in our personal lives. The Deist god is the great Unmoved Mover that Aristotle taught.

Before my Christian friends get mad at me I'm going to explain myself. America is a wonderful nation and I'm thankful to have been born and raised here. But, the founding of America is the result of Christians and Deists working together. This is why there are many great Christian principles found in our founding documents, and also why there is a lot of Enlightenment influence as well.

So, back to my main point - what are our rights? As Christians, we should always consult what the Bible has to say about our rights. Strangely enough, from my studies in the the Good Book, we see that God does not give people rights the way we have defined rights in America. The Bible does not speak in this language. Our things, money, and time all belong to God. We do not have rights; instead, we have responsibilities to God and to each other.

How does this play out? Do I have a biblical right to own, keep, and bear arms?  I do not think so. Instead, I have a God given responsibility to defend my family. Therefore, in order to fulfill this responsibility, I should own a weapon. Here's a hot topic right now - marriage equality. I do not have the right to marry whomever I am in love with. No, but to the woman God has called for me, He has given me a responsibility to marry, love, and defend her. God has called us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to the responsibility to love our neighbor as ourself. If Christians started thinking in these categories, imagine what would happen.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 Things I Learned as a First Year Teacher

Th following list is a few of my thoughts and insights I had over this past school year. In no particular order:

1. High School girls are stuck in a perpetual state of Disney Princess Fantasy (DPF). I’m not talking about the good theme of “kill the dragon, save the princess.” That’s the Christian theme; it’s what Jesus does for His church. I’m talking about the love for everything Disney. If you suffer from Disney Princess Fantasy your symptoms may include singing Disney songs, creating lists of which Disney princesses would fare better in a given situation, singing Disney songs, drawing your favorite princess, singing more Disney songs, and dressing up like your favorite Disney princess. This is a phenomena I have noticed in the majority of the female population. I’m not saying that DPF is a bad thing, it’s just strange.

2. When Second grade girls put on a ring pop, they begin fantasizing about marriage. When Second grade boys put on a ring pop, it just becomes a weapon to punch the other boys. Are you seeing a theme about girls developing? From a young age they want to be that princess I mentioned above. Boys don’t care much for royalty though, they just want to wrestle. Which leads me to my next point.

3. Playing catch with a group of first graders is a great study in original sin. Girls fall into this category too, but mostly boys. Everything is a competition to a boy. Throw sin into the mix and you can end up with some bloody noses and hurt feelings in no time.

4. I’m selfish. Moving on...

5. Children have a way of capturing your heart. My favorite grades to teach are first and second grades. I realized this past week that with the school year coming to a close I may never see some of those children ever again. I'm really going to miss those kids.

Well there it is - five things I learned while teaching my first year. They paid me to teach. I received so much more.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Raising Worshippers, Part 2 of a Series on Education

In my first blog I argued for movement toward a liturgical education, an education based on worship, because God desires worshippers. I'd like to submit a few ideas on why and how we can incorporate worshipping opportunities in an education. I'd like to thank James Jordan for an essay he wrote that inspired some of these thoughts.

First, our bodies are musical instruments. When I talk I make percussive sounds using my lips and tongue, my vocal folds are strings in my throat, and no sound will come out if I don't exhale wind. A musical education ought to train these parts of our bodies for worship to God.

Second, music education is trinitarian. The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is the Music of God. What does the Holy Spirit do? He glorifies the Son, the Word (logos) of God. Therefore, music is the glorification of language. I can speak to you in my normal voice or I can sing/chant to you. The latter is going to help you remember what I said; I'm glorifying my speech. 

Ok, so how can we create worshippers? It's not hard if we make time for worship every day. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we start our day with at least a 30 minute worship service where we sing Psalms and psalm like hymns, read Proverbs, and pray? If we follow this consistently a child can have all 150 Psalms memorized by the time he's a teenager, and probably the book of Proverbs, too.

But, we don't stop there because the Bible tells us to praise him with instruments (Psalm 150). A good music teacher can teach young kids a variety of instruments. Let's enroll our kids in violin and piano lessons and guitar and drum lessons. We do this so they can be better worshippers, not because it will help them achieve better math scores - though it will.

Every teenager should be in choir all four years of high school, just as they should study the great Christian writers like Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, and Jane Austen all four years. They should be in a good choir, a choir that will introduce them to the works of the great Christian composers. Our teenagers should be saturated with the counterpoint of Bach and the beauty of Handel and understand the old plainsong melodies of the Medieval period.

This is our foundation on which to build. This can be done right along your current curriculum. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I'm Coming Out Straight!

I can understand why it used to be considered courageous to come out of the closet and claim homosexuality. A person could be thoroughly persecuted for their sexual choice. In today's world, however, that no longer applies. In fact, it seems that our culture hopes that everyone will be gay. This view does not bode well for the perpetuation of humanity.

I’m coming out straight! I'm still straight and plan on remaining straight forever. Being straight is the truly courageous choice. I plan to marry one woman, love and serve her until we die, protect her, and fight off any other temptresses that would want to draw me away from her. Eventually, we will have children which requires a whole new level of courage. I will have to feed them and protect them, train them and disciple them. And, as their father, God will hold me responsible for how they turn out.

So, which is the truly courageous choice, coming out of the closet or reaffirming my heterosexuality? The choice is clear. I’m coming out straight!