Jun 16, 2009

Religious Interpretation of a Stop Sign


• A postmodernist deconstructs the sign by knocking it over with his car, ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

• A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the stop sign apart from interpretive community and their tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn’t take it too seriously, he doesn’t feel obligated to take it too seriously either.

• An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever) doesn’t bother to read the sign but he’ll stop if the car in front of him does.

• A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.

• An Orthodox Jew does one of two things:

1. Take another route to work that doesn’t have a stop sign so that he doesn’t run the risk of disobeying the Law.

2. Stop at the stop sign, say, “Blessed art thou”, wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed.

• A Pharisee does the same thing as an Orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal.

• A scholar from the Jesus Seminar concludes that the passage “STOP” undoubtedly was never uttered by Jesus himself but belongs entirely to stage 3 of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.

• A “prophetic” preacher notices that the square root of the sum of the numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (sigma-tau-omicron-pi in the Greek alphabet), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), and divided by four (the number of the world - north, south, east, and west), equals 666. Therefore, he concludes that stop signs are the dreaded “mark of the beast,” a harbinger of divine judgment upon the world, and must be avoided at all costs.


Jun 3, 2009

An 'Inverse' Relationship


Big Government and Religion
By Chuck Colson

An 'Inverse' Relationship

Could the rise in government spending—from economic stimulus to health care reform to education spending—endanger the vitality of religion in America? That’s a question University of Virginia Professor W. Bradford Wilcox discussed recently in the Wall Street Journal.

Wilcox zeroed in on a fascinating study entitled “State Welfare Spending and Religiosity.” The study’s authors, Anthony Gill and Erik Lundsgaarde, found an “inverse relationship between religious observance and welfare spending.” Put more simply, the more a government spends on welfare, the fewer people go to church.

This is why it is that church attendance is so low in welfare states such as Denmark and Sweden compared to countries like the U.S. and the Philippines—where government doesn’t provide cradle-to-grave assistance.

Anthony Gill hits the nail on the head. “For many centuries,” he writes, “average citizens and local communities have often relied upon the support of religious organizations to meet their various social needs, including assistance for the poor, counseling in times of crisis, and education for the young.”

But as the government grows, it elbows out the church and other voluntary associations. So Gill writes, “Many people have found that they can get the same services from the government without having to give a time commitment to the local church.”

Now, we would like to think that most people don’t stay in church just because they get can get help in times of trouble. But the truth is that many people first encounter the Church when they are in need: at a crisis pregnancy center, a soup kitchen, or in counseling for drug abuse or alcoholism. So as Wilcox writes in the Wall Street Journal, “Many of those who initially turn to religious organizations for mutual aid end up developing a faith that is as supernatural as it is material.”

Now, as Wilcox points out, there are other factors behind declining church attendance in America. But the recent turning of the body politic toward government as the answer to all our problems does not bode well for the Church.

Nor does it bode well for the future of American democracy.

In his classic book, Democracy in America, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at how Americans could accomplish almost anything through voluntary associations—especially churches. They built schools, hospitals, sent missionaries all over the world. He wrote, “I frequently admired the boundless skill of Americans in setting large numbers of people a common goal and inducing them to strive toward that goal voluntarily.”

De Tocqueville doubted that government could ever accomplish all that American citizens could do through their associations. But he also warned that if government should supplant the good work of these associations, the American people would ultimately end up dependent upon government. And this, he said, would imperil not only American democracy, but “civilization itself.”

In times of trouble, it’s natural to echo the question of the Psalmist: Whence cometh my help?

Sadly, it seems that more and more Americans these days would answer, “It cometh from Uncle Sam.”


Jun 1, 2009

Public Charter Schools

Imagine education without bureaucrats. You may envision American Indian Public Charter and its’ two sister schools in Oakland California. American Indian Public Charter and American Indian Public Charter II are both middle schools with American Indian Public High School filling the demand for 9th thru 12th grade.

Charter schools are independent public schools that receive public funds but operate autonomous of day-to-day district supervision.

All California schools are measured by The Academic Performance Index (API) a scale ranging from 0 – 1000. The states target is 800. The state average for middle and high schools is below 750 while schools in which low-income students make up the majority of the enrollment the average API is around 650.

American Indian Public Charter School has an API of 967 and the two sister schools are not far behind on the index. What is most interesting is that among the thousands of public schools in California only four middle schools and three high schools score higher. However none of them serve children from low-income families to the extent that American Indian Public Charter schools do.

These and many other public charter schools are modern success stories in education, which are modeled on fundamental educational best practices implemented at the school without the bureaucracy of district level administrators.

Source article: Spitting in the eye of mainstream education


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