Archive for November, 2011

Do you have conversations like this? With a 5 year old?

Emma has been regularly asking questions about God, and Jesus, and the cross. These questions usually arise on trips she takes with me, and some of them have almost caused traffic accidents. Recently, she asked “Dad?” (I am beginning to tense up when I hear that half-curious, half-plaintive tone) “Why do we need a god?”

Last week’s conversation went something like this:

(That tone again. Brief prayer. Something on the order of a slightly panicky, “Lord, what this time? Let me get it right, or at least semi-right. You didn’t give any instructions on explaining to a 5 year old.” I am sure I hear faint, divine snickers at this point.)

“Yes, Emma.”

“Did Jesus like dying for us?”

After a couple questions that are supposed to fool her into thinking I am trying to clarify her question, but in actuality are just playing for time…and more prayer, I dive into explaining that to a 5 year old.

Whereupon, I hear her comment, “Okay. That checks out.”

“That checks out!?!?!” thinks I, spluttering like Jim Mora being asked about the playoffs. But before I can process that … affirmation?, confirmation??, approval??? she asks once again, “Dad?”

‘Ohdearohdearohdear. What now? What have I done to deserve this? What former student(s) have been praying for this very event?’ Deeeeeeeep breath. Exhale. Another cleansing breath. Gasp/squeak/moan, “Yes, Emma?”

“If Jesus is God, how could God turn His back on Jesus?”

‘ohstinkohstinkohstink. How do you explain the Trinity to a kindergartener? Someone help me. Please. Pretty please.’ Another deeeeep breath, and I dive into the explanation.

And once again I hear her matter-of-fact comment, “Okay. That checks out.”

Reduced to stammering, gibbering speechlessness, I implore God that she never sit on my ordination council.

“Okay. That checks out”



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FREEDOM by Father Denis Edward O’Brien, USMC

It is the soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us the freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us Freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate

It is the soldier, who serves beneath the Flag,
Who salutes the Flag,

Whose coffin is draped by the Flag,
Who allows the protestor to burn the Flag,

It is the soldier, not the politician,
Who has given his blood, his body, his life,
Who has given us these freedoms!

Thank you, veterans, for your investment in our country. May you reap greater dividends than you have allowed us to enjoy.

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Should these be JECA bumper stickers?

Why do we memorize so much stuff? What’s the point of it all?

I have been impressed recently thinking about the incredible value that memorization has in education. For the past century modern instructors have stressed understanding for young children and downplayed rote memorization. However, their emphasis has proven to be inadequate to the task of proper education. By contrast, classical educations emphasizes rote memorization, especially in the grammar years.

Memorization is valuable because is develops a ‘muscle’ that otherwise would  remain quite flabby. Have you noticed how few phone numbers you can now remember, in contrast to how many you knew before you had a cell phone? Just as a highly accomplished athlete still benefits from basic drills, so our brains benefit from regular memorization.

Memorization is also valuable because it provides the foundation for understanding. A simple example will suffice for now: As the students work on their recitations, they do not, indeed they cannot begin to properly express the thoughts of the work until they have it fully in their minds. Discussions in other classes bear this out as well. The better students know the information, the better they are able to develop an understanding of the topic.

Interestingly, the Bible indicates that knowledge and understanding work hand-in-hand and bolster one another. “Knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.” (Pr 14:6b) The better one knows something, the easier it is to understand it. Understanding also contributes to knowledge, for the better one understands a verse, for instance, the easier it is to memorize.

Whether memorizing facts-names, dates, and events-or literature for recitation, our students benefit tremendously from this basic, yet critical skill.

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