Teaching Turkey

I just read an interesting and somewhat challenging article by Edward Lorkovic who is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Humanities at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His teaching and research focus on moral and political issues in ancient and late modern philosophy.  The article appeared at www.crisismagazine.com as: The Thanksgiving Turkey Theory of Education. What really got my attention about it is that I found myself comparing Professor Lorkovic’s turkey metaphor with the common conservative belief that today’s students are being hijacked by an ultra progressive educational establishment controlled by the National Education Association bent more on indoctrinating students in leftist ideology than in teaching them to think critically.  I believe you know what I mean.  Whether you agree or not it is certainly worth considering what impact current educational practices and trends are having on our society.  I confess to being concerned when the School Board where I reside, Fairfax County, Virginia, recently approved policies in their Family Life Education Curriculum which are counter to scientific fact regarding sexuality and tend to, in my view, promote gender confusion.  for example, they teach that sex is merely  “assigned” at birth as opposed to the fact that a person is born with a particular biological sex. Whatever the case, it seems only wise for parents to be aware of what is being taught and to take an active interest in what students are being exposed to and taught in school.  

My grandson, Mayo, spent 10 days with us recently while his parents were on vacation.  Mayo is home schooled and I was greatly impressed with the quality of the materials he was studying and the system which his mother uses to observe his progress.  Home schooling may not be right for every student but for Mayo, who is self-disciplined and motivated to receive a quality education, it seems well-suited.  Anyway, here is the Edvard Lorkovic article.  RMF

The Thanksgiving Turkey Theory of Education

Edvard Lorkovic

I’m a teacher of some apparent merit and a philosopher of very little. I am decidedly not an educationist. I don’t know, let alone employ, novel theories of education or tricks of the modern pedagogical trade. I read philosophical books with students, talk to them about those books, ask them questions, and attempt to answer their questions. This method appears to have the desired effect of promoting the students’ learning, sharpening their thinking, and improving their ability to read and speak well. I periodically judge, perhaps too harshly, students’ writing and their recollection of the things I teach. I don’t use presentation software or alternate delivery methods; I don’t flip classrooms; and I’ve never gamified anything in my life. Frankly, I’m not sure I know what any of that really means, though I’ve heard plenty about it. Continue reading

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Getting Deadly Serious

The men’s group I attend at Panera Bread recently completed a study of Ecclesiastes.  It was a wonderful study and gave us  an opportunity to put things into perspective as Ecclesiastes deals with the really important aspects of life and the fleeting time we have in this existence.  During the study I was reminded of a poem that was used during the initiation ceremony for my Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity (Beta Theta Chapter) at the University of Missouri.  The poem was titled The Skull and an actual skull was elevated before the guys as the poem was recited during the ceremony.  Here are the words:

The Skull

‘Behold this ruin “Twas a skull
Once of ethereal spirit full
This narrow cell was Life’s retreat
This space was thought’s mysterious seat
What beauteous visions filled this spot!
What dreams of pleasure long forgot!
Nor hope, nor joy, nor love, nor fear
Has left one trace of record here.

‘Beneath this mouldering canopy
Once shone the bright and busy eye:
But start not at the dismal void….
If social love that eye employed,
If with no flawless fire it gleamed,
But through the dews of kindness beamed
That eye shall be forever bright
When stars and sun are sunk in night.

Within this hollow cavern hung
The ready, swift, and tuneful tongue:
If Falsehood’s honey it disdained
And when it could not praise was chained,
If bold in Virtue’s cause it spoke,
Yet gentle concord never broke
This silent tongue shall plead for thee
When time unveils eternity.

Say did these fingers delve the mine,
Or with the envied rubies shine?
To hew the rock, or wear a gem
Can little now avail to them;
But if the page of Truth they sought
Or comfort to the mourner brought
These hands a richer mead shall claim
Than all that wait on Wealth and Fame.

Avails it, whether base or shod
These feet the Paths of duty trod
If from the bowers of ease they fled
To seek Afflictions humble shed
If Grandeur’s guilty bribe they spurned
And home to Virtue’s cot returned
These feet with angel wings shall vie
And tread the palace of the sky’.

[A copy of the poem along with a neat script version can be found at: www.Henry Livingston.com.]

I was reminded of the above when I came upon the following article by Brett and Kate McKay. The McKays and their staff of writers publish The Art of Manliness, the “largest independent men’s interest magazine on the web.” The article appeared at: Art of Manliness  as: Memento Mori: Art to Help You Meditate on Death and Become a Better Man.  If you’re interested in the many issues facing men, including how to be a better husband and father, I recommend you check out their site.  RMF

Brett & Kate McKay

A Man’s Life
Memento Mori: Art to Help You Meditate on Death and Become a Better Man

By Brett & Kate McKay

To This Favour by William Michael Harnett, 1879

In case you’ve forgotten, Halloween is this Wednesday. With all the ghosts and goblins decorating homes these days, I figured it’s a great time to talk about one of my favorite genres of art: memento moriContinue reading

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The Prophetic Voice of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The following is the English Language translation of the Commencement Address of Nobel laureat Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at Harvard University—8 June 1978.  The speech is titled A World Split Apart and can be viewed at: Click HERE.  It is possible to seriously question whether this speech could be given today and it is certain if the speech were to be allowed there would be protests by people who would limit speech to those with whom they agree.  I believe you’ll agree that the speech is just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago and was prophetic in that it addresses todays most pressing social issues.   RMF

A World Split Apart

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I am sincerely happy to be here on the occasion of the 327th commencement of this old and most prestigious university. My congratulations and very best wishes to all of today’s graduates.

Harvard’s motto is “VERITAS.” Many of you have already found out, and others will find out in the course of their lives, that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate our attention totally on it’s pursuit. But even while it eludes us, the illusion of knowing it still lingers and leads to many misunderstandings. Also, truth seldom is pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter. There is some bitterness in my today’s speech too, but I want to stress that it comes not from an adversary, but from a friend.

Three years ago in the United States I said certain things which at that time appeared unacceptable. Today, however, many people agree with what I then said.

The split in today’s world is perceptible even to a hasty glance. Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them already capable of entirely destroying the other. However, understanding of the split often is limited to this political conception: that danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces. The truth is that the split is a much [more] profound [one] and a more alienating one, that the rifts are more than one can see at first glance. This deep manifold split bears the danger of manifold disaster for all of us, in accordance with the ancient truth that a kingdom — in this case, our Earth — divided against itself cannot stand.

There is the concept of “Third World”: thus, we already have three worlds. Undoubtedly, however, the number is even greater; we are just too far away to see. Any ancient and deeply rooted, autonomous culture, especially if it is spread on a wide part of the earth’s surface, constitutes an autonomous world, full of riddles and surprises to Western thinking. As a minimum, we must include in this category China, India, the Muslim world, and Africa, if indeed we accept the approximation of viewing the latter two as compact units.   Continue reading

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The Gruffalo, David and God’s Grace

Are you familiar with the kid’s book (also a video) The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson?  If not, I suggest you get a copy or check it out online, e.g., Click HERE, for a link to the story at Storytime With Ms. Becky.  Or for a neat version narrated by Pad click HERE.  So, why am I interested in The Gruffalo?  Well, when I initially became acquainted with The Gruffalo it was through a reference to it by one of the writers I follow (I can’t recall which) who used it as an illustration for something (which I also do not recall).  Anyway, I had never heard of The Gruffalo so decided to check into it and found it to be a thoroughly charming little story which intrigued me because of the cleverness of the main character, a mouse, as he avoided becoming lunch for a fox, an owl, and a snake.  I was so taken by the story that I recommended it to my granddaughter, Stephanie, as something she might like to amuse her children (my great-grandchildren). I also thought my son, Pat, would enjoy it so I sent him a link also.  I was surprised when Pat responded with the comment that the story was ok as long as I didn’t have an objection to the fact that the mouse “made up stuff” and lied about it, which was factually true.  But, for some reason the story still seemed ok to me because it did show ingenuity on the mouse’s part and the lie seemed somewhat excusable to me in that it prevented the mouse from being devoured.  Still, I could not get past the moral dilemma faced by the mouse , i.e., lie or get eaten, and my admiration for his quick-thinking and creativity.  I pondered the situation for weeks and finally today happened upon an article that helps me come to a satisfactory resolution for my instinctual moral compromise.  The following is an article by Clint Archer of The Cripplegate Blog which provides a somewhat satisfying Biblical example of  a situation similar to the mouse’s — a case of David using deception in a clever way to avoid eminent peril.   You can read about David’s mouse-like dramatic escape from King Achish  in 1 Samuel 21.  I can only speculate that the wee mouse in The Gruffalo must have praised God for His provision and grace much as David did in Psalm 34.  Whatever the case, the following is a worship inspiring  article on God’s wondrous grace.  Pastor Archer’s article appeared at: The Cripplegate as: Taste Test: Experiencing God in trials.   RMF

The Gruffalo
By Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson

Taste Test: Experiencing God in trials
by Clint Archer

Pastor Clint Archer

There are important pros and cons to weigh up when deciding whether or not to include in your diet at least some consumption of chocolate.

One pro is that recent studies suggest that cocoa possesses a significant antioxidant action, protecting against LDL oxidation and other studies observed a modest reduction in blood pressure and flow-mediated dilation after consuming dark chocolate daily. Studies suggest certain chocolate may delay brain function decline as people age, and that chocolate may alleviate persistent coughing.

One of the cons though is that several population studies have observed an increase in the risk of certain cancers among people who frequently consume sweet ‘junk’ foods such as chocolate. And another significant con is that chocolate has one of the higher concentrations of lead, which has a poisoning effect on the body.

I have now informed you sufficiently about some pros and cons of eating chocolate. But I feel like I’ve neglected to mention a factor that may sway you—chocolate tastes really good!   Continue reading

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Standing Against Sexual Sin

The following is an ever-timely article, actually a warning,  by Randy Alcorn of Eternal Perspective Ministries.  The article appeared as: Sexual Sin Isn’t Only Wrong, It’s Just Plain Stupid. RMF

Sexual Sin Isn’t Only Wrong, It’s Just Plain Stupid
By Randy Alcorn

After hearing about several recent cases of sexual immorality involving Christian leaders, I’ve been rereading Proverbs. Solomon warns his son not to lust after an immoral woman, then asks two rhetorical questions:

Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched?
(Proverbs 6:27-28)

The obvious answer is no. Regardless of how much we rationalize that we can get away with sin, its consequences are inescapable.

In case the point of his illustrations was missed, Solomon brings it home:

So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;
no one who touches her will go unpunished.
(Proverbs 6:29)  Continue reading

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Children of the heavenly Father

My sister wrote the following.  I’m so happy to fall into the Beloved Son category.  Where do you fit in?  RMF

Image from Unsplash

The Beloved Sons and Daughters and the Orphan Child
By Darla Givan

All people fall into one of two categories. Father God loves them all but their relationship with Him makes a huge difference. Those who recognize and who have accepted the gift of God’s love recognize Him as their heavenly Father. They are His beloved children. Those who have no relationship with Father God; those who have never heard of or who have rejected the gift of His Fatherhood are like orphan children. Here is how you can recognize them:

The sons and daughters have a loving father; the orphan has his own wits.

The sons and daughters feel blessed; the orphan abandoned.

The sons and daughters are victorious; the orphan feels victimized.

The sons and daughters feel free; the orphan trapped

The sons and daughters enjoy an abundant feast; the orphan competes for scraps.

The sons and daughters thrive; the orphan merely survives.

The sons and daughters are joyful and friendly; the orphan is sad and lonely.

The sons and daughters are peaceful and at rest; the orphan is guarded and stressed.

The sons and daughters know they are protected and cared for; the orphan lives in fear and dread.

The sons and daughters give freely of all they have; the orphan hoards away.

The sons and daughters thrill the Father’s heart; the orphan breaks the Father’s heart.

The sons and daughters search for the orphan to introduce him to the Father; the orphan hides and yet hopes someone will come.

Help me, Gracious Father, to seek and find Your lost children, and tell them they have a loving Father who is looking for them!

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Mr. Rogers Says

Here is a compilation of quotes from Mr. Rogers which appeared on Mental Floss.com. What do you think of them? Are there any which are particularly meaningful to you?  RMF

20 Gentle Quotations from Mister Rogers

Many of these quotations are collected in the posthumous volume The World According to Mister Rogers, though they come from various sources, including his many television appearances.

1. On Heroes Without Capes
“When I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 501-503).

2. On Sharing Responsibility
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
Spoken in 1994, quoted in his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

3. From a PSA Following September 11, 2001
“If you grew up with our Neighborhood, you may remember how we sometimes talked about difficult things. There were days … even beautiful days … that weren’t happy. In fact, there were some that were really sad.
Well, we’ve had a lot of days like that in our whole world. We’ve seen what some people do when they don’t know anything else to do with their anger.
I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings–ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else–we’re helping to make our world a safer, better place.
I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are.
And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods.”
Also, regarding the anniversary of the attacks:
“[Children] don’t understand what an anniversary is, and if they see the tragedy replayed on television, they might think it’s happening at that moment.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 596-606) and as quoted in his obituary.

4. On What We Do
“What matters isn’t how a person’s inner life finally puts together the alphabet and numbers of his outer life. What really matters is whether he uses the alphabet for the declaration of a war or the description of a sunrise–his numbers for the final count at Buchenwald or the specifics of a brand-new bridge.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 621-623).

5. On Looking for the Helpers
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 645-647).

6. On Helping
“I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said ‘yes,’ when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 390-391).

7. On Pain
“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 389).

8. On Accepting Our Feelings
“There’s no ‘should’ or ‘should not’ when it comes to having feelings. They’re part of who we are and their origins are beyond our control. When we can believe that, we may find it easier to make constructive choices about what to do with those feelings.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 131-133).

9. On “Disabilities”
“Part of the problem with the word disabilities is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 142-146).

10. On Facing Sadness and Anger
“Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 111-114).

11. On Love
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 214).

12. On Humanity’s Intrinsic Value
“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has–or ever will have–something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 463-465).

13. On People We Love
“It always helps to have people we love beside us when we have to do difficult things in life.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (p. 45).

14. On American History
“A high school student wrote to ask, ‘What was the greatest event in American history?’ I can’t say. However, I suspect that like so many ‘great’ events, it was something very simple and very quiet with little or no fanfare (such as someone forgiving someone else for a deep hurt that eventually changed the course of history). The really important ‘great’ things are never center stage of life’s dramas; they’re always ‘in the wings.’ That’s why it’s so essential for us to be mindful of the humble and the deep rather than the flashy and the superficial.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 496-500).

15. On Life Not Being Cheap
In February of 1999, Fred Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. This is an excerpt from his speech (emphasis added):
“Fame is a four-letter word; and like tape or zoom or face or pain or life or love, what ultimately matters is what we do with it.
I feel that those of us in television are chosen to be servants. It doesn’t matter what our particular job, we are chosen to help meet the deeper needs of those who watch and listen–day and night!
The conductor of the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl grew up in a family that had little interest in music, but he often tells people he found his early inspiration from the fine musicians on television.
Last month a thirteen-year-old boy abducted an eight-year-old girl; and when people asked him why, he said he learned about it on TV. ‘Something different to try,’ he said. ‘Life’s cheap; what does it matter?’
Well, life isn’t cheap. It’s the greatest mystery of any millennium, and television needs to do all it can to broadcast that … to show and tell what the good in life is all about.
But how do we make goodness attractive? By doing whatever we can do to bring courage to those whose lives move near our own–by treating our ‘neighbor’ at least as well as we treat ourselves and allowing that to inform everything that we produce.
Who in your life has been such a servant to you … who has helped you love the good that grows within you? Let’s just take ten seconds to think of some of those people who have loved us and wanted what was best for us in life–those who have encouraged us to become who we are tonight–just ten seconds of silence.
[Ten seconds elapse.]
No matter where they are–either here or in heaven–imagine how pleased those people must be to know that you thought of them right now.
We all have only one life to live on earth. And through television, we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 540-558).

16. On Peace
“Peace means far more than the opposite of war!”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 613).

17. On Solitude
“Solitude is different from loneliness, and it doesn’t have to be a lonely kind of thing.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 158).

18. On Strength
“Most of us, I believe, admire strength. It’s something we tend to respect in others, desire for ourselves, and wish for our children. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we confuse strength and other words–like aggression and even violence. Real strength is neither male nor female; but is, quite simply, one of the finest characteristics that any human being can possess.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 161).

19. On Generations
“One of the greatest dignities of humankind is that each successive generation is invested in the welfare of each new generation.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 586-587).

20. On Forgiveness
“Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 296).

More from Mister Rogers
There’s a lot of wisdom packed into the book The World According to Mister Rogers. You also should look at Mister Rogers Humbly Accepts a Lifetime Achievement Emmy (warning: it may very well make you cry) and 15 Reasons Mister Rogers Was the Best Neighbor Ever. You can also watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood online.

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