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On Sunday, December 2, Christians from traditional denominations — Catholic and Protestant — begin a new Church year.

The Church year begins with Advent: anticipating the Lord’s coming to His people. Whatever readings one hears in public worship from the Old and New Testaments, they address prophecy and fulfilment.

Reflecting on Advent readings can be somewhat metaphysical, for lack of a better term. The theme of waiting runs through each one, from the Lord’s people waiting in the Old Testament for the prophesied Messiah to our waiting for His coming again one day. Think of all the millions of people who lived and died without seeing Jesus Christ in the flesh. Yet, the Old Testament faithful believed that He would come to earth, just as Christians believe that He will come again a second time, signalling Judgment Day and the end of the world. All of us reading this may very well go to our rest before that fateful day.

Throughout this whole period, however — indeed from the beginning of time — Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has always been and always will be.  What follows are the first ten verses from John 1, normally read on Christmas Day:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

From there, we think of all the waiting periods which ensued in the New Testament. Mary and Joseph, awestruck and apprehensive, awaited His birth. Jesus awaited His own arrest, scourging and crucifixion. He asked His apostles to pray and wait with him on Maundy Thursday; they fell asleep. Later after His resurrection, He told them He would send them the Holy Spirit, which would enable them to teach and preach the Good News. They waited ten days for that divine gift from His Ascension into heaven until that first Pentecost. With that first Pentecost the period of what we call the Last Days began. They continue to this day. The Last Days are Christianity’s long waiting period until His return to earth. None of us knows when that will be — only God the Father (Matthew 24:36). As such, faithful Christians prepare themselves for it. Most, if not all, of us are likely to die before His return, so, we live our lives as best we can in preparation for our death — our closest equivalent. As with our Lord’s return, we know not the day nor the hour of our expiry from this mortal coil.

Therefore, Advent is a thought-provoking time — one of profound reflection during Sunday worship and of joy when we share in the uplifting special services centred on carols or children.

Those returning to Christianity might well have two questions at this point as they reflect on what they remember from their earlier Bible studies long ago: why the Apocalypse and why John the Baptist?

To answer these, a Calvin Theological Seminary page explains both.

The Apocalypse

Traditionally the Church has begun the Advent Season with a look at one of Jesus’ apocalyptic sayings, which in the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke come very near the end of his ministry and just prior to his arrest and crucifixion. Advent begins by looking to the end of all things as well as to the ongoing travails of history that ultimately bring us to the end.

  • Why? Because if Jesus is not coming again, then there is very little to celebrate in his having arrived here on earth in the first place. If a future judgment on sin is not possible, then the birth of Jesus is reduced to quaint sentimentality and is restricted to being an event long ago and far away. The first advent of the Christ is drained of meaning if the second advent is bracketed or denied.

John the Baptist

If you look at the average crèche or manger scene that people display, sometimes you find surprising figures there. The Wise Men or Magi are often included, even though it appears they visited Jesus well after his birth (and so did not rub shoulders with the shepherds). Here and there even a Santa Claus makes a manger-side appearance! But the one figure you never see in such displays-and the one figure who appears on no Christmas cards or ornaments or other decorations-is John the Baptist. Yet the Church has traditionally said that John the Baptist is the necessary Advent forerunner for Jesus.

  • Why? Because Jesus came to die for our sins. We need to acknowledge that we have sins in the first place to be ready gladly to welcome Jesus’ arrival …
  • John gets us ready for Jesus by showing us our sins so that when Jesus arrives on the scene, we will seize on him as the only one who can help us. We cannot have Advent or a proper Christmas without John’s blazing message that calls us to repentance.

More to follow this month as we approach Christmas Day.

Incidentally, I have updated the Lutheran and Reformed Church links in my 2009 post, ‘Advent Resources for Catholics and Protestants’.

Part of me died when I read that Hostess Brands — including Wonder Bread — filed for liquidation in mid-November.

Factors cited throughout 2012 were moves towards healthy eating, the high cost of sugar and increased labour costs. Those are/were union labour costs, by the way.

Hostess products were a big part of my childhood and young adulthood. The first Hostess product I ever tried — at the age of five or six — were the delicious SuzyQs: two layers of unfrosted devils food cake with a generous slathering of sweet vanilla cream between them. Bliss — my favourite! And for many years, the only coconut I ate was that on top of those delightful Sno Balls. Underneath an unctuous white marshmallow coating topped with said coconut was chocolate cake with a creamy centre. Ahh! Finally, I used to enjoy the chocolate cupcakes before the cream filling got too skimpy for what was a relatively dry cake.

I never cared much for their other sweet offerings. HoHos and Ding Dongs had too much icing. The Twinkie cake tasted terrible. And the fruit pies were certainly nothing like homemade, especially with the outer glaze. However, my friends liked these and many other Hostess offerings. Their mothers also bought Wonder Bread.

My maternal grandparents used to buy Butternut bread and iced cinnamon rolls when they entertained my cousins and me. I remember that Butternut used some of the Peanuts characters, especially Snoopy, on their packaging. My cousin used to see the wrappers and say, ‘Yay! Snoopy dog!’

Hostess has been an integral — and happy — part of childhood for two generations — yes, over 50 years. (However, they were in business long before that, having started in 1930, based in Irving, Texas.)

Hundreds of millions of Americans will always have fond memories of Hostess Brands. Incredibly, probably every American alive today (with the exception of tiny babies) has eaten at least one of their products. In fact, I would reckon that each of them has probably made dozens if not hundreds of Hostess Brands purchases — including Dolly Madison (sweet treats ‘fit for the White House’, Dolly having been First Lady as Mrs James Madison) and regionally in the Northeast, Drake’s.

When I grew out of the sweet offerings, I moved to Hostess’s breads with a particular fondness for Beefsteak Hearty Rye and Home Pride. Delicious and fresh.

Although Hostess management undertook some poor decisions in recent years, they did keep their employees informed of lay-offs, which is more than I can say for some of the companies I’ve worked for. The union employees were unwilling to accept another pay cut and went on strike. Nearly 18,000 are or will be out of work after Hostess filed for immediate liquidation on Friday, November 16, 2012.

Their statement reads in part:

  • Hostess has requested a hearing on the motion for Monday, November 19, 2012;
  • If the motion is granted at this hearing, Hostess Brands will begin to close all of its operations as early as Tuesday, November 20.  The closures will include the termination of all employees except small, temporary crews to clean, secure and prepare facilities and other assets for sale.

Not all Hostess employees were happy with the action the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) undertook in going on strike. You can read a variety of comments at The Wall Street Journal. One woman said she was overjoyed when her husband landed a job as a Hostess delivery driver seven weeks ago. After a long period of unemployment, he was over the moon and proud to work for one of America’s most famous companies. Another woman said that she would now need to find another part time job whilst her husband — ex-Hostess — put his efforts into finding work. Meanwhile, union employees are still angry at management.

I feel a mix of sadness and disgust at the BCTGM workers. At a time when jobs are scarce, why would a militant group insist on having their way when the majority of Hostess employees were willing to accept a temporary pay cut until the economy and company profits improved?

Furthermore, to deprive the American public of some of the most iconic bakery products ever mass produced is, to my mind, unconscionable.

For this reason, I’ve gone off unions now — completely. Thanks a bunch, guys and gals — I was looking forward to rediscovering SuzyQs on my next trip to the US. Now you’ve scuppered that happy moment — for good. Hope you’re also happy with putting tens of thousands of your colleagues out of work, too.

As WSJ readers pointed out, much of what the unions fought for a century ago in terms of working conditions and safe practice have long since been enshrined in law. So what purpose do unions serve today?

On November 16, the WSJ reported (emphases mine):

Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce,” said CEO Gregory F. Rayburn in the statement, “and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

In a letter posted on a new site set up to communicate with employees and suppliers through the liquidation process, Mr. Rayburn pinned the blame on its striking union:

Despite everyone’s considerable efforts to move Hostess out of its restructuring, when we began implementing the Company’s last, best and final offer, the Bakers Union chose to stage a crippling strike. This affected Hostess’ ability to continue to make products and service its customers’ needs and pushed Hostess into a Wind Down scenario. As a result, we are forced to proceed with an orderly wind down and sale of our operations and assets. We deeply regret taking this action. But we simply cannot continue to operate without the ability to produce or deliver our products.

There’s no way to soften the fact that this will hurt every Hostess Brands employee. All Hostess Brands employees will eventually lose their jobs – some sooner than others. Unfortunately, because we are in bankruptcy, there are severe limits on the assistance the Company can offer you at this time.

And for suppliers, the situation is also dire, wrote Rob Kissick, the company’s senior vice president for purchasing:

Any orders in process are cancelled immediately. Any product in transit will be or has been returned to the shipper. We have retained a Wind Down Team that will continue on to assure that the business shuts down in an orderly fashion. It is unknown at this time what will happen to unpaid vendor invoices or whether sufficient funds will be ultimately made available for payment.

Right, so the union members can also carry the weight of suppliers being out of pocket and the realistic possibility that those companies will also have to lay off staff as a result. Hostess was a huge nationwide business. I wonder if it was the largest contract most of their suppliers had. If so, those companies will probably also close their doors. Which begs the question — what about the peripheral businesses alongside them: short-order restaurants, taverns, small grocery stores and so on?

The union calls the management greedy. I call the union employees greedy. The potential knock-on effect of this is tremendous and terrible. What a sad day.

The irony is that a Mexican baking company, Bimbo, is well placed to buy Hostess Brands assets and recipes. Bimbo is huge in Latin America. However, I doubt they’d go the way of making their factories unionised in the US. They’ll probably hire people who will do the job for much less and make a stonking profit. Imagine Dolly Madison cakes made by a Mexican company. This would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.

As an homage to Hostess, I spent an enjoyable half hour looking up their old adverts on YouTube. Some I remember, some I do not.

This is my tribute — along with my heartfelt gratitudeto Hostess Brands for many, many fond memories over the years:

1/ An overview of Hostess products in a tongue-in-cheek private video:

2/ 1950s – adverts for Twinkies (on Howdy Doody) and Wonder Bread, which built strong bodies 8 ways (it went up to 12 in the 1960s):

3/ 1970sTwinkies – ‘Space Kids’, Ding Dongs – ‘King Ding Dong’ (1971),

HoHos (1970) — note the emphasis on ‘good nutrition they need’:

Hostess snack cakes – actress Ann Blyth knows when to allow her children to eat them:

‘Hostess and kids go together’ (1976) — reminds me of my own childhood and Hostess treats:

4/ 1980sFruit Pies – ‘Fruit Pie the Magician’, Hostess Breakfast donuts and crumb cakes, Hostess Snack Cakes featuring mother, Hostess Pudding Pie (1985),

‘Freshness never tasted so good’ (1980) — when mums still looked like mums:

5/ 1990s – Hostess Cupcakes – ‘Now that’s the stuff’

6/ More recently – Sno Balls (But have they skimped on the cream filling? We do not see that delightful centre.)

With regard to Obamacare, I just ran across this by chance from Dancing Czars (emphases in the original):

Obamacare has more chinks in its armor than a turtle without a shell. As a result, state governors and legislators can inflict great damage. The following amazing chink was discussed by a Goldwater Institute attorney during a Tennessee-based webinar on Monday [November 12] (at which I was a panelist). It’s only 10 lines long in the 950-page version of the law:

“No individual, company, business, nonprofit entity, or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall be required to participate in any Federal health insurance program created under this Act (or any amendments made by this Act), or in any Federal health insurance program expanded by this Act (or any such amendment), and there shall be no penalty or fine imposed upon any such issuer for choosing not to participate in such programs.”

Let that sink in. No one is required to participate.

Hmm. The wording is on page 362 (starting at line 17) of the Affordable Health Care Act. Is this a get-out clause? If any of you can shed light on this I would be most grateful.

If those ten lines are a joke on the part of legislators, it’s a diabolical one. At the same time, it could prove to be great news for Americans.

Since the November 6, 2012, election, a petition has been up on the (ahem) White House site for citizens interested in seceding from that ‘more perfect Union’.

I’ve not included the site as I read four years ago that once you click on an Obama administration website, you’re easily traced. I would be very wary, therefore, that the White House has the average American’s best interests in mind by putting up such a petition. That said, it has a few thousand signatures from all 50 states. Obama, I’m sure, will be waiting for the other seven to sign up. (For readers outside of the US, that’s a joke, by the way. In 2008, he famously mentioned ’57 states’ of America in a television interview. Oddly, the only 57 somewhat united states in the world all ascribe to Islam. This year, in the first or second debate, I heard him say ’56 states’. Who is this man?)

Anyway, the gist of the secession petition is that it not only puts signatories at personal risk from Obama’s Army — Americorps — or local authorities, but now the Democrats have seized the high ground of patriotism. They plumb new depths every week.

A new petition — again on the White House website — reads as follows:

“Mr. President, please sign an executive order such that each American citizen who signed a petition from any state to secede from the USA shall have their citizenship stripped and be peacefully deported,” the full petition reads. 

The title of the petition is, “WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Strip the Citizenship from Everyone who Signed a Petition to Secede and Exile Them.”

Note — ‘sign an executive order’ — not ‘persuade Congress to raise legislation’.

Secession has always been intended to be peaceful. Indeed, those who have signed up are doing so in a peaceful and orderly fashion. They just want to be left alone in a small-government, minimal handout environment and be gainfully employed so that they can have financial security and raise a family.

In another development, Obama is suddenly concerned about the plight of the middle class, a worry which will no doubt be short-lived. In essence, he wishes to retain George W Bush’s across the board tax cuts. Yet, the way he is framing the rhetoric, it seems as if he wants Americans to consider those cuts as his own.

Recently, The Ulsterman Report has gained a Republican Insider (RI) who laments this turn of events — and rightly so. RI has this to say and asks all conservatives to please spread the word that these were Bush 43’s cuts, not Obama’s (emphasis in the original):

When he goes out there and starts telling America how  concerned he is about a potential tax hike on the middle class, Republicans need to come right back and say they will be happy to negotiate the extension of the Bush middle class tax cuts with the Democrats.

Repeat that line phrase over and over again.  THE BUSH MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS.

That is what the president is trying to do.  Extend the Bush era middle class tax cuts.  We did a study months ago and found that about 70% of respondents indicated President Bush gave the rich a tax break and actually raised taxes on the middle class and the poor. That is totally false of course.  Just the opposite.  Bush lowered taxes for EVERYONE.  So much in fact that about half of Americans now pay no federal income tax after deductions.

So if you could help get this out there, and hopefully all of your readers can help out as well.  Tell everyone they know that Barack Obama wants to extend the Bush middle class tax cuts, because the truth is that is exactly what he is trying to do.  Just a little thing like this can make a huge difference in public perception.  Barack Obama and the Democrats got a lot of mileage out of calling it the Bush tax cuts for the rich.  Now they are trying to get even more mileage by saying they want to prevent a tax hike on the middle class.  And I have heard it repeated many times that the White House is all in on the “holding the middle class hostage” theme for as long as they can get away with it.  It’s up to this new media to try and prevent them from doing that.

This blog, as a libertarian, small-government, low-tax advocate, has done its bit.

Would you kindly consider following suit — if not on your own site, then, in conversation with family and friends? Thank you!

A brief post to advise that General Petraeus’s resignation because of an extramarital affair has, from what I have been reading, to do with a smokescreen over what happened in Benghazi (Libya) on September 11, 2012, where one ambassador and two Navy SEALs met with horrifying deaths.

The longer the General’s ‘sex scandal’ stays in the forefront of the mainstream media, the less chance the real Benghazi story has of coming out into the open. The scandal is likely to be a cover up for something much broader and deeper at the heart of Washington, DC, and some Islamic nations.

Please pray that this story is revealed in full and that everyone required to give testimony is kept safe from harm.

Stay tuned to ex-CIA employee Larry Johnson’s posts at No Quarter. The Ulsterman Report is also helpful, particularly from the Republican Insider’s perspective.

On November 13, Johnson wrote (emphases mine — and much more at the link):

What most of the media have missed (not Fox) is the so-called CIA annex. Consider this. What if the activities at that site contained both CIA and a separate entity, foreign owned, that was being used to move weapons to Syrian rebels. Why use a foreign group? If the operation involved a U.S. organization or U.S. personnel, then Barack Obama would have had to sign off on a Presidential Finding authorizing the covert activity.

But what if the Saudis were funneling money for weapons to a foreign entity in Libya that was under the control and direction of the White House? That is called political dynamite.

We already know that the United States via the CIA was helping arm the Syrian rebels. According to the New York Times in a 14 October 2012 article:

Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats. . . .

Note the date. By October 14, more than a month after the attack at the so-called “Annex,” the Administration was putting out the word that it was perplexed and puzzled by the weapons falling into the hands of jihadists.

Guess what? U.S. concern was heightened after its operation based in Libya to help the Saudis funnel weapons to the rebels was destroyed.

Dave Petraeus was right in the middle of this. He went to Turkey on 2 September 2012

Ambassador Chris Stevens was meeting in Benghazi, just prior to the attack, with a Turkish Ambassador

It is no coincidence that Stevens is meeting in Benghazi with a diplomat from Turkey while Petraeus was doing the same in Turkey. They were delivering a message to the Turks that more control over the weapons being funneled out of Libya had to be in place.

Did Congress get a Presidential Finding authorizing the movement of weapons? The answer on that front is probably no. That’s what Obama and his team are desperate to cover up.

Ulsterman’s Republican Insider said on November 14:

Won’t waste time going over the talking points garbage that Barack Obama is so good at delivering.  Only two real Benghazi/Petraeus questions that the president spun.  He knows the issue isn’t going away quite yet.  I can confirm for you there are Republicans saying it’s time to “go long” on this issue.  But they really want someone affiliated with the administration to back up an investigation and I have no idea if they have that or not … 

Now you know why this did not come out before the election. Most Americans, even some of the low-info voters, would have been shocked.

How this will unfold with the Electoral College meeting within a couple of weeks is unclear. It could be the reason why the sex scandal is being pushed to the media right now instead of the truth behind Benghazi.

You might find that American stuffing for turkey and other poultry differs from that of other countries as it is made from croutons.

With food prices the way they are today, there is no reason not to make your own rather than buying the prepackaged mix, widely available in the United States.

(On the left is a picture of me — flour-covered — taken by Dr Gregory Jackson of Ichabod fame.  Thanks, Dr Jackson!)

American-style stuffing

(Prep/cooking time: 45 minutes; yield: 6 – 8 servings)

Ingredients –

12 oz. croutons (see recipe at link)

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 – 4 sticks of celery — stringy outer strands removed — cut or chopped into fine pieces

1 – 2 cloves crushed garlic (optional, but good for flavour)

2 oz (60g) of fresh, sliced mushrooms (or equivalent in tinned, strained — keep the canning liquid for later)

6 – 8 oz (200 – 250g) butter

3/4 to 1 cup (225 ml) of stock (or hot water with bouillon cube)

3 – 4 tbsp fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, sage) or 3 tbsp mixed dried herbs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Chopped giblets and heart from turkey, chicken or goose (optional)

OR

2 – 3 oz (50 – 60 g) chopped bacon, ham or pancetta (also optional)

Method –

1/ Place half the butter and the salt, garlic salt and pepper in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat to melt.

2/ Add the chopped onion and celery. The previously added salt will help these vegetables break down and cook quicker. Cover with a lid and cook for five to ten minutes. Check halfway through. When they are translucent and tender, turn down the heat.

3/ Add the garlic, herbs and, if desired, bacon and/or giblet pieces. Stir through and leave to cook for another five minutes, until meat is done.

4/ Add the remainder of the butter and melt through. Adjust salt, pepper and herbs to taste.

5/ Pour in most — but not all — of the stock or bouillon. If you used tinned mushrooms, you can substitute the packing juice for some of the stock or bouillon. You might not need all of the liquid, but keep some in reserve, just in case. Bring liquid and the vegetable mix up to a gentle boil.

6/ When the liquid and vegetables are gently boiling, add all the croutons, stir everything well and cover. Turn off the heat and leave the bread to absorb the liquid for about five or ten minutes, checking halfway through.

7/ The stuffing should taste moist and buttery. If you find you need more stock or butter, add a bit at a time and gently stir over low heat.

8/ When done, add half to two-thirds to your turkey or goose. Keep the rest in the pan or transfer to a small baking dish to reheat before serving your bird of choice.

9/ When you are ready to serve your poultry, always make sure to spoon out all the stuffing from inside the cavity — an essential hygiene precaution. If you like, you can mix the reserve stuffing with that from the bird, place it in a baking dish, cover with aluminium foil and keep on a low heat in the oven whilst the bird rests and during carving.

10/ Store any remaining stuffing in an airtight container and refrigerate. Eat within three to four days. Warm through in a slow oven for 10 or 15 minutes; alternatively, reheat in the microwave at blasts of 90 seconds, two or three times.

Continuing with a study of the passages from St Mark’s Gospel which are not found in the Lectionary for public worship, we come to the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree.

As this story has been excluded from the Lectionary, it becomes part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to an understanding of Scripture.

Today’s verses are from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Mark 11:12-14

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

———————————————————————-

This episode in Jesus’s life occurred after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, when His Passion Week began.

Jesus and the Twelve Apostles were in Jerusalem by day and nearby Bethany at night. Recall that the day before Palm Sunday, Jesus raised His good friend Lazarus — brother of Mary and Martha — from the dead (John 11:1-45). (This is known as Lazarus Saturday in the Orthodox churches.) Lazarus and his sisters lived together in Bethany. They were hosts to Jesus and the Apostles.

As He and the Twelve left Bethany for Jerusalem, Jesus, hungry, approached one of the ubiquitous fig trees in the Holy Land (verse 12). John MacArthur says that fig trees bear fruit first, then their leaves. Although the fruits in springtime — when this takes place (Passover Week) — are small, they are perfectly edible (verse 13). (They mature by late summer into early autumn.)

Jesus became angry and cursed the tree from bearing any fruit in future (verse 14). It’s understandable that casual readers or listeners of Scripture would find this puzzling: Jesus’s ire at one tree among hundreds that He could probably see. Why not just go to another and gather fruit from it?

Yet, after this occurs, Jesus reaches Jerusalem and His anger reaches fever pitch in clearing out the temple stalls where animals and money were being traded for the necessary sacrifices. It was a bazaar within the temple grounds and one which was corrupt to its core. Furthermore, the Jewish leaders who had so soundly rejected Jesus allowed this corruption to carry on unabated.

If, by now, you’re drawing an analogy between the dud fig tree and the temple in Jerusalem, you’ve understood the metaphor.

St Matthew’s version of the story expands on the curse of the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22, emphases mine):

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

 18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

 20When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21And Jesus answered them,  “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Matthew’s passage holds a message for us about the power of faith. Some offline friends of mine consider my advice to pray frequently an empty platitude. Yet, this is what our Lord advised then and now. Sincere, deep faith brings about profound changes in our lives through His grace, enabling us to make better choices and overcome adversity.

Going back to Jesus’s cursing of the fig tree, however, and the analogy to the destruction of the Temple, it’s as if Jesus were saying, ‘I came expressly for you and you rejected Me — now your condemnation has come’.

Matthew Henry analysed Jesus’s curse as follows:

Christ was willing to make an example of it, not to the trees, but to the men, of that generation, and therefore cursed it with that curse which is the reverse of the first blessing, Be fruitful; he said unto it, Never let any man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever, v. 14. Sweetness and good fruit are, in Jotham’s parable, the honour of the fig-tree (Jdg. 9:11), and its serviceableness therein to man, preferable to the preferment of being promoted over the trees; now to be deprived of that, was a grievous curse. This was intended to be a type and figure of the doom passed upon the Jewish church, to which he came, seeking fruit, but found none (Lu. 13:6, 7); and though it was not, according to the doom in the parable, immediately cut down, yet, according to this in the history, blindness and hardness befel them (Rom. 11:8, 25), so that they were from henceforth good for nothing. The disciples heard what sentence Christ passed on this tree, and took notice of it. Woes from Christ’s mouth are to be observed and kept in mind, as well as blessings.

Indeed, in 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the temple. However, earlier, after Jesus breathed His last on the Cross (Good Friday), the curtain separating the inner temple from the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem was rent in two — another warning of the destruction to come several decades later.

John MacArthur tells us that the Temple Jesus was in was the third temple. He relates the history of the temples:

Genesis 22. Abraham is told by God to go to a very specific place, Mount Moriah, and there to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice. When he gets there, both his father and son dutifully follow through on what God commands, but God spares Isaac, provides a lamb and a lamb is sacrificed on Mount Moriah. That is a very special place where that symbolic sacrifice was made because 900 years later, around 988 B.C., David purchased Mount Moriah from Ornan; that is recorded in 1 Chronicles 21, David buys this piece of land that juts out and is the peak on the east side of the great city of Jerusalem.

Six years later, his son, Solomon, begins to build the temple there, the place where sacrifices such as the one God provided in Genesis 22 will continue to be made. Solomon builds this great unparalleled building called the Temple. Its description is found, of course, back in 1 Chronicles and 1 Kings. It is a monumental feat of construction, overlaid with gold and all kinds of precious things in tribute to God.

Three hundred years later, plus 350, Babylon destroys that temple, levels it to the ground and plunders everything that’s valuable. Why? Because God uses Babylon to bring divine judgment on false religion. Israel is apostate. The Judaism is corrupt. The people are corrupt. The leaders are corrupt. The priests are corrupt. Jeremiah says the shepherds are corrupt. The prophets are corrupt. The nation is therefore corrupt and because of idolatry, sin and unbelief, the great massive first temple is destroyed.

Seventy years later, the people come back from captivity. The want a temple. They are enabled by Zerubbabel to build a very modest temple, nothing like Solomon’s temple. And in 515 B.C., that second temple, as it is called, is finished, according to Ezra 6:15.

A few hundred years pass. Antiochus, pagan ruler, warrior, desecrates the temple. He does it by putting a statue of the god Jupiter inside the temple, thus paganizing it and by doing something he knew would infuriate the Jews, he slaughters pigs on the altar. That second temple is thus desecrated. There’s a modest revival of temple worship three years later under a man named Judas Maccabees, but the religion continues to apostatize. No more idols since the destruction of the first temple, but apostasy, false religion, hypocrisy, superficiality, false worship continued to prevail in that second temple.

Twenty B.C. comes along, a great king by the name of Herod, an Idumaean king decides that he will be the man who will build the temple. And so we get the third temple which was really a kind of overhaul, an expansion of the second temple. From 20 B.C., to 64 A.D., about 84 years, he builds that temple. Seventy A.D., six years after it’s finished, the Romans come and smash it to the ground, leaving not one stone left on top of another and plunder it again as it had been plundered in the past. The stories of the temple is the story of Israel’s repeated cycle of apostasy. He built the temple to worship God. You dedicate the temple, you dedicate yourself, you fall in to false religion, hypocrisy, superficiality, pretense and God brings judgment and the judgment comes at the point at the heart of Israel at the temple. The nation falls, but the temple is crushed. Once by the Babylonians, again it is for all intents and purposes, desecrated by Antiochus and again by Titus Vespasian, the great Roman general in 70 A.D. And as you well know, there has never been a temple in Jerusalem since.

MacArthur adds:

The direct application of the curse is to the temple, but it expands to the temple leadership and the temple participants and thus to the nation and becomes very personal…very personal. Paul says they had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. They made a fatal flaw. They didn’t worship idols, that wasn’t what they did, that’s what caused the destruction of the first temple. And an idol caused the destruction of the second temple. The destruction of this temple is not about idols, it’s about thinking you can establish your own righteousness, Romans 10.

So, you see the curse portrayed and previewed in analogy. Secondly, the curse portrayed and previewed in action. “Then they came to Jerusalem and He entered the temple.” Matthew adds, “The temple of God…the temple of God,” to give a clear contrast between the ungodly activity that was going on there. He was not going to attack Rome. He was not going to elevate Israel, like the populace would have wanted Him to do to fulfill their messianic expectations. Rather He set to assault Israel and to assault Israel right at its heart where the judgment of God seemed always to fall when it came in cataclysmic form on the temple and from the temple reverberates to the nation.

One cannot help but think of the Church today — our many apostate and compromising clergymen who play to the world instead of the soul. Congregations worldwide then descend into weakened faith and moral dereliction. Churches empty. Yet, when lax Christians see and hear a good shepherd of the flock, they immediately gravitate towards him. The problem is that there are not enough good shepherds on the ground. We have many reivers — men who wish to pilfer the flock and lead them into false teaching and heresy. Today, generally speaking, our faith is compromised.

It is time for more of us to return to the Bible, to prayer, to faith. We can see that our apostasy — again, generally speaking — is spreading to our nations and governments, allowing evil to gain a foothold. What did Jesus and the authors of the Epistles say? Repent, repent, repent. All is not lost, however, we must mend our ways starting today.

A corrupt Church means a corrupt nation.

Yes, Christ’s bride the Church will ultimately prevail, but it is time to reread Revelation 2 and 3, namely, His letters to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

It’s odd, isn’t it, that not one of those letters is in the Lectionary. Not a single one.

Yet, they have so many lessons to teach us. Only Philadelphia, after which the American city is named, receives His praise.

In closing, this is what MacArthur has to say about the social gospel with regard to Jesus’s earthly ministry:

Our Lord walks through the world and was absolutely aware of everything. To what degree He exercised His omniscience, we don’t know. He put some restrictions on it occasionally. On other occasions it was clear that He knew things that couldn’t be known if He wasn’t God. But I’ll promise you this, He could make an assessment of His day.

And a deeper one than anybody else could have made. Do you think He found disturbing realities in His life? Do you think He found in the town that He grew up in and in the nation that He lived in and among the people that He interacted with every day inequities, injustices? Of course. Nothing escaped Him. He saw every disturbing reality. He saw every successful criminal campaign among the tax collectors, who were basically stealing money from the people under sheer threat of life and limb. He saw that inequity. He saw the abuse of the poor who were deemed in the theological system to be under the curse of God and therefore to be left that way. He saw the terrible plight of the sick and the infirm who also were deemed to be under divine judgment and to be left that way as if they were Hindus and saying this is their karma. He saw all that.

And I’m sure there were many things that called for social reform and many things that called for political action. They needed reformers to take care of those things. They needed soldiers to protect people from criminal conduct. But He never addressed any of that, none of it. He didn’t talk about societal reformation, didn’t talk about political changes. He didn’t talk about changing the situation for poor people and for ill people, sick people. Was He disturbed by it? Sure, everything that wasn’t righteous disturbed Him. But He never deviated from a true and dominating issue that occupied His entire life and that was worship…that was worship. A man’s relationship to God was the issue with Him and nothing else ultimately could ever be corrected until that was corrected. Worship was always the issue.

And so, He went to the temple at the beginning. He went to the temple at the end. And He confronted the corruption of Israel’s religion all three years in between. When the temple is corrupt, it’s because the leaders are corrupt. When the leaders are corrupt, the people are corrupt. When the people are corrupt, the nation is corrupt. If it’s bad in the temple, it’s bad everywhere. And I say to you in a general sense, the measure of any society is its worship. You cannot judge a people by their economic status. You cannot judge a nation by its economics. God doesn’t. You can’t judge a nation by its social equity. You can’t judge a nation by its concern for protection of people from harm. That’s superficial. You judge a nation by its worship. That’s how God judges. And it’s worship that determines eternal destiny.

The Lord always goes to the temple, to the heart of worship … Judgment always begins with the house of God.

Next week’s post will address Mark’s revisiting of the withered fig tree; the verses are similar to those in Matthew 20:21-22.

Next week: Mark 11:20-25

Friday’s post featured excerpts from Invisible Serfs Collar, authored by an attorney named Robin who is busy exploring the education establishment in the Anglo-Saxon world with a particular concentration on the United States.

The education programmes Robin explores are designed to help the United Nations implement their desired inculcation of young people in the West, no doubt for a successful implementation of Agenda 21.

Although this education system appears to be new, it goes back in America to John Dewey, the developer of the Dewey Decimal System used in libraries. Dewey also had socialist ideas about the role of education which he took from Prussian schools in the 19th century. However, that is another topic for another post.

Although our grandparents and great-grandparents learned much more than most of us have since the Second World War, there is still some way to go before education becomes fully dumbed down and completely values-based in order to enable a new collectivist society.

When a parent hears the terms outcome-based, Common Core, digital-based learning, Cambridge Education, Amplify and so on — all these have their part to play in helping to achieve UNESCO’s aims for the 21st century.

Robin gives us a bit of modern history regarding the education system in the United States (emphases mine):

UNESCO really does now seem to serve as the repository for schemes in the West against capitalism, individualism, and rational, logical, academic knowledge. But during the Cold War, much of that same aim came from the NEA, especially its ASCD subsidiary. In March 1978, Educational Leadership published a special issue called “Education of Judgment and Action: Personal and Civic.” It appears to be the launch of the formal push to make Values Education an integral part of US education going forward. The listed rationale was:

“the cultivation of decision making particularly as it relates to political virtues that are appropriate to constitutional self-government and that are required to achieve a society that stands for justice, equality, and freedom in the modern world.”

And that’s how the War commenced to permanently change the behavior of future voters via the schools by changing the underlying Values. To cultivate that herd instinct that can cause any nation so much grief. And if you actually read the 1978 essay “The Status of Education of Judgment” by … John R Meyer, you would learn that the value of freedom to be fostered is not the traditional American belief that it is a natural right existing prior to any compact with government. No, the essay rejects that definition of Freedom in favor of the John Dewey definition then being pushed hard again (1977) by Columbia Teachers College.

“Freedom is a social benefit conferred by the collective intelligence of society.”

‘Gosh,’ you say, ‘that could mean anything.’ Indeed. That is the point. This is part of the reason why the TEA Party, fellow conservatives and libertarians receive so much opprobrium from the Left, especially adults under the age of 30.

All this can be traced back to the Soviets, including sustainability and Gaia, as Robin points out:

The government power to tax and coerce and reward cronies with special benefits has always been a danger to the average person. And really that’s all the socio-cultural perspective and the Belmont Challenge and Future Earth really are when you boil them down to their essence. They are power grabs. Schemes to put the average person in an assigned place, dictate their permitted behavior, and gain financial benefits from that ability to assign and dictate.

That was what the Soviet nomenklatura wanted from socio-cultural psychological research into creating the perfect new citizen. It appears to be what the bureaucrats now have in mind for Common Core when they target the human personality in the classroom and proclaim it to be “malleable” and capable of change. Yes they did say that and yes I made copies.

In fact the updated version of the Soviet socio-cultural perspective is called the Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory. It was created in 1979 to target social programs and practices in Western countries. I became familiar with it because it is the learning theory used to justify the Transformational Outcomes Based Education practices in Australia and New Zealand … BEST is all about the process of interactions among people as the measure of learning. Here’s a brief link to an explanation and graphic showing why it is such a perfect theory and education model for government bureaucrats wanting to restructure an economy around sustainability. http://virtual.yosemite.cc.ca.us/childdevelopment/Cheryl/Sp10/EcologicalHandout.pdf

As you can see it’s all encompassing: mind, people, climate, community, Planet Earth. And it is an honest theory. It does not pretend to be factually true. It acknowledges it was created to justify desired political policies. Except many of us do not desire them. Certainly not in our schools. Using our children as social guinea pigs.

I am going to close with an explanation for all this maneuvering that is tucked into that Good Work book we talked about in the previous post. It develops the idea of memes“units of information that, once mastered, condition–indeed constitute!–the way we think and that can be passed along from person to person.” The book then goes on to say in that chapter on reshaping minds that “memes can then be mobilized to favor, annihilate, or refashion genes.”

That’s the aspiration. Written by prominent professors whose work has been pushed and adopted all over the West through education “reforms.” The definition of Global Competence comes from this group. This is what transformational education change is all about. It turns out the Common Core to be accessed is deeply embedded.

In another post, Robin outlines the core values schoolchildren are being forced to adopt. These come from CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. SEL stands for the last three words:

I am going to give CASEL’s descriptions verbatim but before I do that, please remember that this will be in elementary school classrooms where we refuse to teach reading phonetically because that would introduce students to an abstract symbol system and thus nurture abstract thought. I have seen the Common Core literacy progressions and they amount to doling out the words and concepts students are to be allowed to encounter and become familiar with. Years to learn words that most kids could be ready for by second grade if taught properly. And I am not guessing on the reasons either even if the classroom teacher has no idea. Finally, Common Core distinguishes between oral and print and formal and informal in a way that appears tragic. And I really was not happy to read this week that those distinctions tracked back to Mikhail Bakhtin and his war against individualism. So here, please appreciate the planned manipulation already in place:

Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.

Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

Whatever you expect from your area schools or need in future employees, Race to the Top and Common Core are premised upon the classroom being accessible to ALL students. Repeated references are made to a levelling purpose for public education. I have seen what the accreditors envision and it fits with those Five SEL Competencies and virtually no transmission of knowledge beyond basic, politically useful concepts.

The systems theorists have plans for radical transformation … As a result their goal of education in the 21st century is an “individually and socially competent citizen.” Not much knowledge there, but remember these same schemers plan to redesign the economy. To fit the education qualifications they are willing to provide.

You can read about the late Mikhail Bakhtin here; it seems that details of his life and work, some of which he promoted himself, turned out to be false.

One of Robin’s commenters adds that, as well as values, all races must now be disciplined in equal measure. That doesn’t mean a uniform punishment for an infraction, but a race-based quota system of punished students. This is to move black students away from being statistically the most frequent offenders in schools. Therefore, trumped-up accusations and sanctions against other races, whether students are guilty or not, will be instituted:

“What this means is that whites and Asians will get suspended for things that blacks don’t get suspended for,” because school officials will try to level punishments despite groups’ different infraction rates, predicted Hans Bader, a counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Bader is a former official in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, and has sued and represented school districts and colleges in civil-rights cases …

The [Maryland] state’s board of education established a policy demanding that each racial or ethnic group receive roughly proportional level of school penalties, regardless of the behavior by members of each group.

Chilling.

In addition to all this — and every bit as bad as the cessation of phonics-based teaching — is the withdrawal of written work. Robin notes that digital tools are also intended to substitute for part of the child’s brain:

Symbolic cultural tools identified by Soviet psychologists Vygotsky and Luria as strengthening individual mental capacity like written language must be weakened. Tools with the innate capacity, like the computer, to weaken mental function by becoming a substitute for it, must be pushed. It is desired cultural evolution where we are under attack to STOP “our nature-transcendent innovation as a species” … Here’s the political vision being pushed by our ed schools and the accreditation agencies all over the world. It is the essence of what CCSSI is seeking and why Arne Duncan wants all curriculum to be digitized by 2017 at the latest. 

All of this partly explains why many conservatives lament the lack of thought processes on the part of young leftists. We stand aghast at their practical and factual ignorance.  This is the reason why. They do not know their history. They have difficulty writing a sentence, let alone an informed argument.  They can only attack their opponent using the most vicious rhetoric and vocabulary.

If today’s Left reminds you of Bolsheviks, this is why.

In closing, I do not know Robin of Invisible Serfs Collar, however, s/he invites concerned parents and guardians to write in with any questions and concerns they might have about education today:

If your school or district is already there, please comment or drop me a line. I will help you get more info to try to prevent your child from being a victim of utopian newmindedness.

Robin’s enquiry page is here.

Invisible Serf’s Collar, written by a lawyer investigating the American education system, analyses new teaching methods spreading around the Western world.

Many of these are in use in English-speaking countries and play on UN-approved as well as current cultural themes — communitarianism and zombie attacks, respectively.

Robin, the author of Invisible Serf’s Collar, rightly traces such techniques further back in history to John Dewey. Whilst he was the inventor of the indispensable Dewey Decimal System for coding library books by category, he also had a socialist vision for education a century ago (emphases mine below):

The crash through the barrier moment goes back to the reason for making the student the focus of the classroom. It is not a better way to learn knowledge and skills. It is unquestionably the fulfillment of John Dewey’s announced dream to use the school to change the student. And the reason he wanted to change the student and keep facts to a minimum was he wanted to use schools and education to transform the US socially, politically, and economically. A shift away from the traditional autonomy of the individual to a collectivist focus.

Many of these education programmes and assessments have fancy acronyms. Others, however, have more straightforward names, e.g. Cambridge Education and Amplify. Teachers and principals promoting these agendas describe themselves as ‘change agents’.

Over the past few years, libertarian bloggers in the UK have been calling their readers’ attention to the gradual erosion of personal property rights. Discarding a sacrosanct notion of such rights is paramount to implementing the United Nations’ Agenda 21. As the name implies, this is the UN’s goal for mankind in the 21st century.

Indeed, for it to be a success, schools will need to play their part in socialising young minds whilst parents are busy at work. (The only upside of high unemployment is that at least one parent will be at home and can help to counteract the effects of school. Parents can take the time to teach their children practical skills, history and — gasp! — facts which will enable them to thrive in the world.)

Although it appears that Robin, an American, does not believe the collectivist educationalists will ultimately succeed, s/he does warn:

When the Constitution was written, property was not just something you could touch or hold, like real estate or your horse. To quote the actual architect, James Madison, a man also has “a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.”  He has “equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.” In other words, what John Dewey was targeting and what Cambridge [Education] is attacking and what these principals and supers and accreditors seek to monitor and change is constitutionally protected Property.

For those wishing to learn more about Cambridge Education, Robin says:

Pearson’s [Pearson Education, part of Pearson PLC] Chief Education Advisor, Michael Barber, was responsible for bringing Cambridge Education to the US to spread the UN’s contentless visionAs Tony Blair’s former ed advisor, he is widely credited with being the reason the UK is considered to be an exemplar of UNESCO’s vision for education. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of how often his name just keeps popping up. The business cards should perhaps say Global Change Agent Extraordinaire.

Robin’s alarm bells began to ring:

So I already knew quite a lot about Cambridge when the new high school principal proudly proclaimed in a meeting with parents that he was “a constructivist”. Thereby immersing himself thoroughly (but unknowingly I hope) in practices and beliefs that actually track back to the Soviets and how they used education to try to control their own citizens. I gulped. He then excitedly went on to announce that the high school’s Quality Review report was back. He said he had told the faculty there was too much emphasis on teachers teaching and students listening and learning. I know. What a shockingly inappropriate thing for teachers to be doing. I smelled a … report designed to change the emphasis of the school away from the transmission of knowledge. I had an advantage. I knew that “learning” was yet another redefined term. It actually now means changing a student’s beliefs, values, feelings, or behaviors. And bringing in a 3rd party to proclaim that facts were no longer to be the primary staple of the classroom and to bemoan the school’s “climate in which academic achievement is valued above all else” was very useful to me.

Robin goes on to cite another example of collectivist learning (emphases in the original in this citation), the:

Capturing Kid’s Heart emotional intelligence program in conjunction with their all-digital classroom. How would you feel as a taxpayer and parent to know content is largely gone. That researchers are aware that all that digital and visual stimulus makes the chances of ever developing a linear mind, an Axemakers Mind, slim without home intervention. And then the school announces that:

“They also use a behavior management program and develop a behavior management contract that students build with teachers that constitutes a culture of caring and an agreement on how they will treat each other. [Superintendent Mark] Edwards said, ‘It is so important to be intentional about building school culture.”

Amplify is another company with its own education products for K-12 pupils and students.  On the face of it, the firm uses digitally-oriented teaching methods. However, Robin posits that digital learning ‘products’ are actually ‘processes’ which tie in with the Common Core globalist curriculum and Marxist ideology (emphases in bold mine):

Education reform now is heavily “influenced by the writings of Vico, Spinoza, and Hegel, Marx, and Engels [who] developed a theory of society now described as historical or dialectical materialism” … the Skill Dominant Initiative and the Digital Learning Mandates and the No Transmission of Knowledge are ALL driven by political ideology ...

Collectivist, Remake Minds and Values Ideology. No ifs, ands, or buts about it even if a particular pushing administrator or Principal is unaware of the tainted past and Horrific Intentions of what they are implementing. That’s the beauty of Government Coercive Power. Do it or find another job …

Will the individual be free and have real personal autonomy? Or do politicians get to use operant conditioning techniques in K-12 education to change values and make curriculum choices to limit permissable knowledge? Is a student merely a lump of clay to be molded by the state to fit its needs and especially the needs of those employed by or seeking revenue from the government? That’s what the real CCSSI implementation assumes. That’s what Digital Literacy and Mandated Sight Reading Methods are all about.

Robin explains the fusion of Common Core curriculum in the United States (also used elsewhere, perhaps under another name) and digital teaching aids by summarising an American report, Education for Life and Work [very Deweyesque] by the National Research Council:

It rejected the traditional view of cognition as “too narrowly focused on individual thinking and learning” and thereby proved why you really do not want unaccountable federal officials with all that money and power and lobbyists wanting a portion of it establishing local education policy.

The report, called Education for Life and Work and published by the National Research Council, rejected the cognitive perspective that has all the confirming research supporting how and why it worked. Instead it embraced the socio-cultural perspective of learning because it was a theory that met its goal of applying equally to all students. Wow! Here’s precisely what they said:

“In the socio-cultural perspective, learning takes place as individuals participate in the practices of a community, using the tools, language, and other cultural artifacts of the community.”

Just in case you were wondering precisely how online computer gaming had become classified as “learning,” there you go. And the push for IPads or SMART phones in class? Interacting with the everyday technology and each other is now the kind of tool use and community practices that are to constitute Common Core learning for the 21st century. If you, like me, are struck by the fact that it would be difficult to come up with a better strategy for creating mindless drones, don’t worry. There is still the NEA’s Purple America values curriculum and all that Positive School Climate moral and character curriculum to create a sense of well-being that we have been talking about.

Let’s return to Amplify and one of the methods / products it is promoting: Zombie Based Learning, or ZBL, devised by tattooed teacher David Hunter.  This is a lesson in a hypothetical situation involving a zombie invasion and the necessity for citizens to escape and settle in a new region. To my mind, this promotes the expectation of violence and death in life — as well as inevitable resettlement — all of which are dangerous and horrifying concepts, no matter how they are portrayed or how many students the lesson is designed to reach.

Mr Hunter discusses his comic-based concept here:

Of this, Robin writes:

I find the vision of graphic novels centered around a pretend Zombie Apocalypse for middle schoolers to be horrid … Amplify sees it as an innovation to be touted on its website and celebrates that ZBL “appeals to kids the same way a videogame does.” Yes, at an emotional, visual, non-rational level.

Let’s end with what its creator says he intends the students to be learning from ZBL: It is supposed to be a framework for teaching middle school geography (in a way most of us would associate with Cultural Anthropology and Sociology).

“The story has several parts: Students prepare for the impending outbreak, then they have to survive the chaos, find a new settlement, build a new community, and plan for the future of their new home. Instead of just studying existing maps, for example, they have to design their own to track the spread of the zombies. In the end, students have to use higher-order thinking to solve real-world problems, or almost real world that is.”

So students are being taught virtually nothing about the world where they actually dwell and must ultimately get by in. They are immersed in imaginary scenarios that encourage them to trash the world as it exists and aspire to a different future.

Only in a sector of the economy used to living off OPM, Other People’s Money, could such ludicrous ideas as remaking education to fit Marxian political theory gain widespread currency. And I am afraid it will be up to those of us without the magical Education Indoctrination degrees to put a stop to it.

It now becomes clearer why many of us believe Western society — the champion of free markets, individualism and liberty — is dying for now. It appears as if we are in a late-autumn/early winter period with regard to centuries-old values which have withstood the test of time and for which mankind has fought many wars.

The solution is for parents to reclaim useful communication with their children at home, especially at the dinner table. Transmit history, traditional values and lessons about the failure of Communist and collectivist societies. Ensure that children understand world history so that they can better read the portents of the future.

Tomorrow: Robin’s warnings about values that today’s schoolchildren are taught to  embrace

Greetings to my American readers for a very happy Thanksgiving wherever they might be in the world on Thursday, November 22, 2012.

Blessings as you gather together to give thanks with friends and family.

A HillBuzz reader, Bob Loblaw, recently offered these thoughts, excerpted below:

[Mitt Romney’s running mate] Paul Ryan [said] that America is not just a place, it’s an idea. The idea, the values, the ideals, the vision that the Founders had when constructing this nation is still alive within at least half of its citizens … We know that the self-evident truths upon which this country was built still hold true for us today because they are eternal.

This nation has withstood the greatest army in the world (twice), its own civil war, two global wars, too many assassinations of leaders, and the repeated downfalls of corrupt presidents. With God’s help we will endure th[ese next four years] and come out victorious.

I am going to spend the next few days seriously taking stock of what my priorities are for my family, my relationship with my Creator, and what my purpose is on this earth. Then I’m gonna dust myself off and get busy. As a very wise person once wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I know that with his help we will all come through this stronger and be a blessing to others …

God bless and keep the United States. May He continue to shed His grace on us, and may we be ever thankful for His rich and abundant blessings.

Amen!

Enjoy a safe and happy weekend.

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