WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

East Asia trounces most of Europe, U.S., in country-by-country education rankings; Sweden nosedives

Student test assessments for reading, math, and science tumble for a country compared to other countries in the world. People in that country - especially politicians - start pointing fingers at each other. Sound familiar? But we're talking about the colonizer of Delaware - Sweden. Swedes are beyond themselves. Heck, their country even fell behind the United States!

Not getting very much attention in popular U.S. media, but the nation-by-nation, triennial student survey is out from the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD). East Asian countries trounced most other countries, with Finland being the only European country to make it into the top five nations in ANY of the rankings, scoring fifth in science. (But it's important to note the rankings from China come only from Shanghai; that might be the equivalent of the Charter School of Wilmington - itself with a far higher Asian-American student population - representing Delaware or the United States!) The United States ranked 36th overall, with average scores for reading and science among the ranked countries, and below average for mathematics.

Among European nations, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and The Netherlands -- all affluent countries -- were ranked among the top ten best-performing education systems.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the national debate over education has intensified. Do the lower scores reflect that country's growing inequality? More immigration from poorer countries compared to Sweden's neighbors?

If you want to know why U.S. politicians keep trying to impose new educational standards, new tests, etc., whether then-Governor Carper with his three-tiered, diplomas, since repealed; President Bush's "No Child Left Behind", President Obama's "Race to the Top", CORE and all the rest, it comes back to such nation-by-nation rankings and fears about the United States' competitive position. But I continue to believe an anti-intellectual popular culture is the single biggest drag on U.S. academic achievement. That, and not making teaching a lucrative profession.

Indeed, the deputy principal at the Tsinghua University High School in Beijing - Jiang Xueqin - told CNN Shanghai's educational system invests in teaching staff by offering training and high salaries. Also, "Shanghai's success is a product of a culture that prioritizes academic achievement over other pursuits..."

From FRANCE 24 International news:


A critique of the methodology employed in these country-by-country comparisons appeared in The WASHINGTON POST even before the latest results were released...


Posted at 7:51am on December 4, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 4, 2013 8:15am
Allan said, ". But I continue to believe an anti-intellectual popular culture is the single biggest drag on U.S. academic achievement."

I too would agree. It's not cool to do well in school.

In order for teaching to be a more lucrative profession things like tenure would have to go. Being held accountable for results, as is done in the industrial professions, would be the first step towards teaching being elevated to a higher status requiring better salary. Working year round would also help change the image of teachers.

The other issue with this is teacher salaries are paid by the state/school districts and where does that money come from? Tax payers who are not happy with their schools now, and don't see any value in raising their property tax in order to still have failing schools [flusing more money down the toilet], so these same tax payers are not going to want their state income tax raised in order to pay teachers more when the tax payer sees a lack of quality for what they're being paid already.

You don't get raises in industry without performing at your current salary, so why should it be different for teachers?

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 8:28am
Oh, boy.. you missed the memo that states not to take this PISA test seriously, because of the methodology used to get its results...

Obviously one cannot test everyone in the world. So how one picks the schools in each nation is paramount in making any comparison. For example, China itself picks the schools PISA will publish... PISA does internal tests for the Chinese and they have inside (non-public at Chinese insistence) knowledge of the rural areas of China, which surprisingly as they have let slip, is average and near the U.S., but not at the atmospheric levels of their touted schools in Shanghai...

These comparisons would be the equivalent as stating Delaware is the top state in education, and upon investigating, discover we only used the Newark Charter School to make the entire assessment of Delaware.... Were that done, Delaware would indeed rank higher than other states which counted people of all income levels...

Bottom-line is that education and income levels and poverty are completely intertwined. Therefore one can play with the numbers by choosing the poverty levels of which country one wishes to test....

Some have looked at the U.S. and stated that it was predominantly poverty schools which were PISA contributors, thereby pushing our totals down...

As you may have already heard, unlike usual, where the results are leaked to educational journalists, and allowed to be disclosed to experts beforehand to get the proper take on each scores meaning, this time, they were first divulged only to educational reform toot-blowers. The same group that makes Common Core. It is sickening how it was handled.

So expect the first press to be of how terrible the U.S. is, and later, the back-fill comes in when no one is looking that hard at it...

Bottom line, these test results show that despite a major recession and with a heavy influence of U.S.'s poverty schools in the mix... The U.S. held even... We were doing something right long before Common Core came into being.

Furthermore, all those nations that consistently stand higher, mostly Asian, do not use Common Core accountability methods. They do exactly the opposite, similiar to what was done in the 50's, 60's, 70's... They use whole person growth as the model for their success... They also allocate far more resources in their poverty schools than in their affluent ones. For example, Japan which was a high achiever... has a 10-to-1 student teacher ratio in their poverty schools, and a 13-to-1 student teacher ratio in their affluent ones... Compare that to Delaware which until recently, had every district waiver to go beyone 22 students per teacher in both their poverty and affluent areas...

America is doing poorer than other nations because we are not spending enough money in classrooms. We are spending it on tests, and I know this is one of Allan's pet peeves... on football...

Allan Loudell
Wed, Dec 4, 2013 8:31am
And we are also the only nation in the world stupid enough to hold school referenda...

What a back-assed way (pardon me) to finance public education!

Yes, kavips, the U.S. basically held its own, and some European countries dropped, although some, such as Germany & Poland, showed improvement...

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 8:51am
MikeFromDelaware starts out saying he agrees the problem is an "anti-intellectual culture" and then starts bashing teachers. Typical! MikeFromDelaware resents anyone he thinks has a better deal at work than he; from workers on auto assembly lines to teachers in classrooms.

MikeFromDelaware avoided higher education (despite having access to generous veterans' education benefits) but thinks he knows more than people who have actually studied how young people learn (or don't learn). This brings us to one of the big problems teachers face: Constantly having to deal with (and face interference from) parents like him.

Teachers can only teach the students assigned to them. Now the subject here starts to parallel the one on urban violence and urban decay. Smart, successful, accomplished people seek out good schools for their kids, so the kids can be smart, successful and accomplished, too. Most places, they move to districts with good schools. In N.C.C., thanks to the pizza-slice school districts, they have to opt for private schools. Either way, public school teachers end up with the dregs. These kids are not taught at home (by either precept or example) to value learning and achievement and by the time they get to school, those "lessons" have taken hold. Yet, those same parents don't want to admit they have bred and raised dummies. So they, and the politicians who pander to them, blame teachers. You can only play the hand you're dealt.

Sweden: Colonizer of Delaware? Hardly? There weren't many of them. They weren't around long. They didn't do much with it. And they left hardly a trace. Actually, the Dutch came first (and later booted the Swedes). You can find more evidence of Swedish heritage in Minnesota and Dutch heritage in Western Michigan. The Brits colonized Delaware. The Swedes had about as much impact on Delaware's development as the Vikings did on Newfoundland. Seems like Allan Loudell is really stretching for a local angle, as if test scores won't get people worked up.

In addition to anti-intellectual culture, the other element here is this is all about test scores, not actual achievement. Even more, it's about "our" test scores, compared to "their" test scores and the US mania to shout "we're number one." Well, people are realizing - finally - the U.S. is NOT number one any more. I'm surprised Allan Loudell missed this...

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 9:22am
Most here would probably agree that almost all good teachers are underpaid for the jobs they do...they are "molding" our future leaders and citizens. We live in a country that pays BILLIONS for entertainment/entertainers and raise to idol status actors/musicians/athletes and treat teachers/cops/military/firemen(and women) like second-class citizens...sounds very "back-assed" logic to me.

Entertainment is our "bread and circus" so the "fools" are kept happy/dumb...and don't pay attention to what's happening to our country/our neighborhoods.

Sweden also (like our country) faces the immigration problem...and yes language/culture makes a huge impact on education.

One more common thread between Delaware and Sweden is that both have sold their failed auto manufacturing to China...China now owns Volvo and China also now owns Fisker.
As Sweden goes, so goes Delaware?

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 9:30am
Mike, you seem to have been fed a bunch of myths on teachers salaries... since probably a lot of other people are as well, let me take them one by one... If I miss something, bring it up and I'll explain that as well.

1) You say tenure would have to go. Tenure is an American trait. You go into a cafe and someone over 40 waits on you, they are there at the privilege of their boss on the account of tenure. Someone over 40 comes to work on your washing machine. They are there at the privilege of tenure. Respect for old people is the basis of tenure. IF you don't respect anyone over 40, then get rid of them. For no one over 40 is as competitent as someone who is 30. Experienced? Yes, Competitent? No. Then it even gets worse as one goes upwards of 50, 60, 70 it gets much, much worse... No one here on this thread has their job except for an unspoken tenure that their boss feels towards them.. "He's doing ok. Yeah, a young kid could do it more faster, I don't want to cut the old man loose." Teachers deserve the same. If you, after 30 years can still do your job, why can't a teacher?

The problem that makes them different.. is that most old people have good bosses. Teachers however, are in a much more political arena. Listen to Mike's words above... How can anyone even if very good, keep a job with untrue attitudes constantly being thrown at them such as you just threw at teachers? Constant negativity takes its toll.

Right now, every poll among teachers overwhelmingly says their incentive is not making more money. They became teachers to teach. They do it for love, and if you want to reward them, spend money on their class instead of stripping it away.

I don't think in the radio business, that if you get a doctors degree, you get paid more. I certainly don't think that most corporate Americans have a doctors degree in what they do. But if they truly did, their bosses should reward them for it, don't you think? Would it be fair to take financial advantage of that expertise, yet pay them the same as someone without it, who could only do perhaps half? Most teachers do have a higher degree. So are you saying that someone with a higher degree, who definitely knows more about teaching than say.... some elementary gym teacher who was inexplicably elevated to Delaware's Secretary of Education by going through the Rodel Foundation, a foundation whose stated goal is to boost certain corporate profits through the taking of innovative educational tests?

I know this is news for a lot of you. It is really old for most of us involved in the fight over Common Core.

Your other qualm was over funding. With the deletion of the middle class and the creation of a new class that pays no taxes, the 1%, a lot of money that used to be available for schools is now out of reach. A school tax of 2% needs to be levied on all those who make over $1,000,000 which is about 300,000 Americans. That 2% would double the amount currently collected from all the property taxes in the US... What better investment could possibly be made for our nation's future?

The issue is not with teachers. Currently the issue as you agree here on everything else, is with too much money being sucked out of the economy by the 1%... If they only would reinvest it back, it really becomes a non-issue. But they don't. That money disappears out of the working economy and for all intents and purposes... is gone.

If one is serious about raising scores, the 1% first needs to pay their fair share into the treasury, and some of that money can then be split off to education. Once the money is acquired, using it to lower teacher to student ratios in schools where the poverty level is over 50%, which in New Castle County, I believe I saw was 85% of our schools, would give us the biggest bang for our buck... and actually teach children what they need to know, which is not as is done now, how to pass the year end test......

Finally: being held accountable... How were you, and how is Allan held accountable as a news radio personality? Is it by what you do? What you say? Is it by how many people listen? What makes the job you do so well, well?

Now let us flip that to teachers... If the teacher gets each child to learn something, a lot, more from when they came in, wouldn't you say that was being held accountable?

Well they are. Now let us say we will make both you and Allan Loudell (theoretically, Mike I know you are retired but lets assume for argument that you are not..) accountable for how much of the evening news your listeners remember... Let us hire a firm that calls people during dinner, and asks them to answer news stories that you just covered on the air... Here is an example from yesterday... Where were the bullet wounds located on the two women who were shot in Wilmington yesterday... ( my son said it was repeated 4 times in an hour)... answer: one in the butt; one in the back.

Your target was that 50% of those called should know the answer... Sorry.. Mike, you got 49%.. Goodbye...

That is how Markell and Murphy and Rodel want to hold teachers accountable... That is what is behind getting rid of tenure, and using this arbitrary method, to do so...

There is no problem with the principle.. Just like both you and Allan would have no problem being held accountable against being on time, getting all your spots done by deadline, keeping listeners tuned in, etc.. But to have someone call up listeners and ask them questions and get rated by their answers? Really?

And did you know.. that in Delaware, when administrators used the Department of Education's rubric to rate all of their teachers, 99% were effective? Did you know that Rhode Island, and I believe Virginia, both did the same? Using the higher standards given to them, 99% of their teachers were effective? Where is the crises?

When you teach, you can do everything wonderfully, just like you did on radio news.. but if they choose not to learn, just like listeners choose not to listen, then when you ask them questions... and they don' know, you fire them? Really?

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 9:37am
If we are going to hold teachers "accountable" for their "results," maybe MikeFromDelaware will post the names of his teachers, so we can hold them accountable for the stuff he posts.
Maybe we should do that for all the tea-baggers.

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 4, 2013 10:37am
Billsmith: Just because someone has a higher-degree doesn't make that person smart, intelligent, well read, or able to make common-sense statements as your posts quite often demonstrate.

I think we might be able to agree that there are good teachers and lousy teachers. Problem with tenure is once achieved, the lousy teachers cannot be fired unless they say something racist, religious, or have sex with a student... essentially guaranteed employment.

Kavips: I'm in my 40th year with my employer. NO senority system exists where I work. I don't get perference due to my age or years of service. If I don't perform, I'm out the door, just as a new employee would be dismissed. I'm paid to do my job, period. The day I can no longer do that, I'd be unemployed. Maybe union workers have such a program as you described, but I don't, so don't go making blanket statements that are not true.

Teachers should be judged by results. Too many excuses. The public schools get the dregs - yep, that's true - yet there have been teachers, the "Stand By Me" movie is one example and there are others, that tells a true story of a school in N.J. in a bad neighborhood where standards were enforced and those students did great.

So YES, poor kids from ghetto neighborhoods CAN learn and achieve. Those kids aren't stupid, but they need to be expected to achieve with teachers that will not accept anything less, rather than a bunch of nonsense that says, they come from poor homes and are just too disadvantaged to learn. Heaven forbid we'd require standards like that N.J. public school did for OUR public school students. It's far easier just to say we can't do any better; from where I sit, that's malarkey.

When the schools change and show the taxpayer real progress, THEN they'll have no problem getting folks to vote for referendums, etc. Why pay more and get the same result? That's poor stewardship.

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 11:42am
"Just because someone has a higher degree doesn't make them smart, intelligent, well read, or able to make common sense statements as your posts quite often demonstrate."

MikeFromDelaware: No, it pretty much does. What you describe are what graduate degree candidates have to demonstrate. You want to believe education means nothing, nor offers nothing. You keep repeating that urban legend about high school graduates who can't read their diplomas. You keep talking about bad teachers and how they are protected by tenure (at least you've stopped calling it "ten year"). You say you have to perform but you seem to spend a lot of time during working hours posting on message boards and listening to talk radio. For all your talk of being a "Christian," you seem to like the idea of management being able to treat its employees as Kleenex, of employees having no job security or protection.

What exactly is a "bad teacher?" As you have pointed out, teachers guilty of criminal, offensive or egregious behavior can be disciplined or dismissed. Politicians seem to define "bad teachers" as those whose students get lousy test scores. I say teachers can be no better than the students they work with, and those students can be no better than their environments and families allow them to be (rare exceptions noted).

So tell me exactly what are the attributes of a "bad teacher" - observable, measurable attributes for which they should be fired?

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 3:41pm
Thank you Mike. You proved my point. You work for an employer for 40 years. Why should he keep you? Your benefits are high! Your salary after those 40 years is higher than what he could pull off out of today's economy. What exactly do you do differently than someone who begins at the bottom, and knows everything you do because he/she were fully trained, and probably does not have the bad habits you've picked up across that expanse of time?

You are there not because of your performance. You are there because you are unofficially tenured. Face it. They are comfortable with you and losing you would make them uncomfortable. That is what tenure is... Do bad teachers get tenure? Duh, no. Only those who are so good, you don't want them to leave, get tenure....

Just like you....

So when you say teachers aren't doing their jobs, and have absolutely no proof, you cause us to ask what proof do you have that you are good at your job? That no one can do it better than you? Probably very little. You have feelings, but no real proof... Don't feel bad. None of us do. We are all in our positions because of an unmentioned tenure....

Thank you for helping me prove that to all readers here...

So .... why shouldn't teachers get the same benefit as you do?

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 3:46pm
Mike... A child from a ghetto neighborhood enters kindergarten with a vocabulary of 5,000 words. Most children at kindergarten level have well over 25,000 words they know. How can you get the same results from the first group as you do the second?

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 4, 2013 5:53pm
Kavips: that is a good point about the amount of words a ghetto kid knows by age 5 vs. other kids. Isn't that what Head Start was supposed to fix?

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 4, 2013 6:12pm
Billsmith & Kavips: Yep, you guys are correct, with 40 years experience that includes numerous college courses taken over the years (both offered by my employer & that I've taken on my own), I couldn't possibly offer anything of value to my employer. I'm just taking up space, wasting precious oxygen breathing. I'm just not as smart as you fellas who have one of them thar degrees. Yep, that's me, a total dunce. Well, no sense in me trying to match wits with such intellectuals, so I guess you fellas win the discussion.

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 6:35pm
Bill: I think most of Mike's teachers are probably dead now, as are mine, but having also grown up in the 60's and 70's I can testify that it was a different world back then.

Wed, Dec 4, 2013 7:09pm
Pizza: For whatever it's worth, the best teacher I ever had died several years ago - in prison, doing life for murder. But the district where he worked last was able to fire him.

MikeFromDelaware: You religious-right types keep talking about the importance of family. Are you saying you think a limited amount of time in a pre-school program can "fix" all the damage done in a dysfunctional family and make up for all a disadvantaged kid did not get?

You still have not defined a "bad teacher" and how you would decide who should be fired. I figured you couldn't.

Why should kids pay attention to teachers when parents like you have such obvious contempt for them?

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 4, 2013 8:15pm
Billsmith: Head Start is no substitute for loving parents (no matter their faith or beliefs) who would take the time to work with their child preparing them for school, but if the child doesn't have a parent/ guardian/ grandparent/ sibling, etc., to rely on, then Head Start is better than no help.

A mediocre teacher who shouldn't be given tenure is one who leaves right after the buses leave in the afternoon (every night) rather than being available for phone conversations with parents (remember they can't talk to you during their 6-hour school day & they don't give out their home phone or cell; so if they're not available for some period of time either before or after school, it makes it very difficult to talk to them about some issue).

Another mediocre teacher who should not be given tenure is the teacher who gives the kids some new type of math that your child is having problems with. And you finally get that teacher on the phone after spending several days trying. The parent says he/she is willing to help the child learn this new concept in the evenings. But as I've not seen this sort of math before, would the teacher please photocopy some examples out of the teacher's book so I could review it so I understand the work? Then, I'd be able to help my child; I'd gladly pay for the paper & photocopy costs. The teachers says no, I can't do that. No explanation. I explained again I'd be willing to try to help my child, but I need to see the example problems so I can understand the concept. The teacher says, I'm not willing to do that. Then I said, then I don't want to hear teachers saying parents won't get involved with their child's schoolwork, because it's not reasonable to expect parents to help. if they themselves don't understand what you're trying to teach.

I realize you'll side with the teacher, because if I had a college degree, I'd know how to do this new style of middle-school math that wasn't around when I was in junior high (they now call middle school); or would know how whole language works rather than the Phonics I was taught when learning to read & write in the 1950's.

There's all sorts of things that make a teacher mediocre in my book, but chances are your standard will be different.

I don't hold any teachers in contempt, just believe the ones who are roadblocks to assisting the parents in helping their child to learn should not be given tenure. That list of teachers would probably be different for each parent, but any administrator worth his/her 6-figure salary should know who the dead wood are.

Just to be fair, my kids had many great teachers, but they also had a few lousy teachers too. It's that lousy/ mediocre bunch of teachers that should not get tenure.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 4:10am
MikeFromDelaware: I can appreciate your frustration with the experiences you describe but I think your blame is misdirected. The problem is administrators and people who design the curricula. Teachers, like you, have to do what the bosses tell them.

If teachers should be available for phone consultations with parents (and I'd agree they should), this should be spelled out in district policies and job requirements. I don't think it's unreasonable for teachers to set "office hours" when they would be available by phone to parents. I don't agree they should have to be "on demand" any time some parent has a problem, or just has the urge to call and complain. They get to have a life, too (just like you).

The other part of the problem you describe is in the way math (and other subjects) are taught. Teachers are required to teach "new math." Many of them don't like it either. Their classes are regularly monitored and observed and if they don't follow curricula, they can be fired (even with tenure). And for various reasons (including all the emphasis on test prep, which once again, comes from administrations) teachers are not able to spend time in class letting students practice what's been taught and helping them get past any rough spots. An approach being tried in some schools has "homework" being done in school and "schoolwork" done at home. Students use programmed learning, new media, or other materials to be exposed to new concepts (instead of listening to a teacher lecturing at a chalk board) and then they practice applying what they learned in class with any help from their teacher (instead of their parents, who don't understand it any better than the kids, and who often resent having to do it).

And again, you have not described what "dead wood" is beyond expecting teachers to stay in school waiting for you to call. If you leave it up to administrators knowing who they are, you end up with administrators able to fire people they don't like.

Instead of wanting to fire teachers, maybe you should be focusing on the people who made the decision to impose pedagogical fads on kids that have done more harm than good. And you should save some of that "golden rule" for teachers who may have things to do after work, just like you.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 7:25am
Mike you err on one thing. Bill and I are not stupid enough to believe your mea culpa. Everyone has worth and has a reason for being. You seem to be taking the criticism the wrong way. It was not even remotely intended to demean your existence. Instead, it used you as an example to show all that teachers are not treated fairly, and should, if their union had more backbone, actually get the rights that everyone else is extended automatically.....

Onto a different topic, thank you for defining bad teachers. It should come to you as no shock, that based on the descriptions you describe, we would agree with you...

But that is a made-up generalization that does not reflect the quality of teachers that actually exist. Just like categorizing one person from the seventies who has babies to get more food stamps, as the caricature of all those today working part-time at two jobs, and who still can't afford to eat...

Those made-up, or single-case incidents being used to blanket sweep the rights away of large classes of people to whom they don't apply, is the single contention as to why many here call you out....

So, yes. Bad teachers should go... But as mentioned above, bad teachers are not the problem. There are only 1% of them who are deemed as ineffective... Not even McDonald's has a quality rating of 99%. And McDonald's has a system for everything... So saying teachers are bad, and even wanting to do one single thing to make their lives more miserable, flies in the face of every single piece of evidence which all point to the contrary.....

Our teachers are the best teachers ever.

That's the truth. So when one tries not to tell the truth, the rest of us smell a rat... as is the case with Mark Murphy. What he said, was the equivalent of blasphemy.

His reponse, as well as those "chiefs" from other states: "Well, we have to teach the principals to be more of a dick."

Principally, that is what was said. Our problem is not that teachers are bad; our problem is we have bad people who are calling teachers "bad" to distract attention away from their own malfeasance...

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 5, 2013 9:01am
Billsmith, I never said teachers should sit around waiting for my call; most times I was trying to return their call. They had called me about some problem with my child and I was away in a meeting. Tried to call back and naturally they were in class, so that leaves the only time to get them being before or after school. So given the fact that the school day is 6 hours long, and most of us work 8 hours, it doesn't seem unreasonable for them to stay, say 30 minutes after the buses leave [they go and keep eye on the kids for safety reasons], so parents have a window where they can have an actual chance of getting them on the phone.

Of course, today we do have e-mail [we didn't then], so now at least you can make contact with them via an e-mail, assuming they give out an e-mail address for such a purpose.

As I said, most of the teachers my kids had were good teachers, but there were some mediocre teachers too who needed to be working in a field other than teaching.

I never resented helping my kids with their homework, but it's very frustrating to not be able to help them, because you have no idea of the concept that's being taught, and then having to hear teachers complain that they wish more parents would be involved in their child's education, yet would not offer any help to parents willing to be involved. They can't have it both ways.

It isn't always the parents who are wrong. Granted the administrators probably are a big part of the problem, but like politicians, they've got teflon on them, so good luck fixing that problem.

Kavips said, "Mike you err on one thing. Bill and I are not stupid enough to believe your mea culpa. Everyone has worth and has a reason for being."

I wasn't offering a mea culpa [through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault, while beating my chest each time of saying this in the Catholic Mass -- We don't say this in the Lutheran Mass in either ELCA or LCMS churches].

I was being sarcastic. Your comments came across to me that I'm being given tenure due to my age and years service. We don't have a seniority system here. My employer keeps me employed for one reason only; I DO bring something of value to the table, and am very good at my work, or my employer surely would replace me with some young turk. I have to produce each day. It's not look at what you've done for 40 years, but what are you going to do for us today? That was my point. From where I sit, you were belittling my abilities, and essentially saying I am a charity case, which is an insult and not true.

Tenure causes folks to have such an attitude; they can rest on their laurels and not have to produce each day. THAT's why I'm against tenure. Our kids' education is too important to allow some burned-out teacher to destroy. I'm not anti-teacher, but anti-deadwood teacher. The good teachers need better pay, but the deadwoods need to be sorted out first.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 9:14am
There are still good teachers out there...and amazing kids who are more than eager to learn.

I saw this interesting story about a teacher working in Highland Park...Detroit, MI. Highland Park is an area of Detroit that I know pretty well as that's where my wife and I have worked/volunteered in that community for many, many years.


Thu, Dec 5, 2013 10:14am
"As I said, most of the teachers my kids had were good teachers, but there were some mediocre teachers too who needed to be working in a field other than teaching."

MikeFromDelaware: I'm still trying to understand what was the "difference that made a difference" between those "good teachers" and those "mediocre teachers."

"I never resented helping my kids with their homework."

Sociologists have observed that a significant difference between working-class parents and middle-class parents is working-class parents help their kids with their homework, and middle-class parents do not. They noted that working-class people generally work under direct supervision (as hourly workers) and middle-class people generally work on their own (as managers or professionals) and this is reflected on whether their kids do homework under supervision, or learn to work on their own. They also concluded that working-class kids learn to look to someone to tell them how to do it or give them the answer, and middle-class kids learn to figure things out for themselves. Helping kids with their homework does not seem to promote upward mobility. And teachers often have to correct what parents tell kids, and kids have to "unlearn" what their parents tell them.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 5, 2013 11:27am
Yep, Billsmith, us "working class" morons hurt our children by trying to be there for them, to assist them, when they get stuck doing homework. Understand, I never did their homework; I'd try to help them understand what they were not understanding so they could do their homework; there's a big difference.

But yep, those ivy-towered folks always know best, and dumb bells like me should just have told our kids, figure it out for yourselves... I'm busy watching "Wheel of Fortune" on the TV [essentially treating my kids as too many ghetto parents do, not caring if they learn].

Sure, some kids can thrive by having to figure everything out for themselves, and others will flounder and fail. The key is knowing your child well enough to know which approach is needed. So one size doesn't fit all, but don't take my word for it, because I'm not capable of any real deep thought, because I didn't get a sheepskin.

Funny, all my kids have fulltime employment with benefits, including health-care via their employer [so they don't need Obamacare, Welfare, nor Food Stamps], and are all happy living the American Dream. Not bad for a dummy who doesn't have a sheepskin hanging on his wall.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 12:01pm
Well stated Mike...a "sheepskin" alone does not necessarily make one brilliant or employable ;)

Too many Millennials (and many others) are learning the hard way that their hard-earned degree (and the student debt to go with it) don't guarantee a job. But that's OK, thanks to ACA they can live in their parent's basement till their mid-twenties.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 2:01pm
MikeFromDelaware: It's funny how you were able to "help" your kids understand something you acknowledge you didn't understand yourself.

I also detect a trace of "sour grapes" in your comments, and Earl's. This is all part of the "anti-intellectual culture" mentioned earlier. Did you two put one of those "my kid can beat up your honor roll student" bumper stickers on your cars?

It's funny how you all think it's about having what you all refer to as a "sheepskin." No, it's about what you have to be and do to get the "sheepskin." This sounds like the "scarecrow fallacy" (having the diploma makes you smart).

The "ivory tower folks" don't tell you how to do anything. They just observe and describe what they observe. Telling people how to live their lives is what tea baggers do.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 5, 2013 3:25pm
Bill who-jumps-to-conclusions Smith: Those two items were things I could not help my kids with, because I didn't know anything about them, and was unable to get help to learn, but most other things I could help my kids when they had a problem. Just because I didn't go get a sheepskin doesn't mean I was a poor student. You jump to so many conclusions that quite often are not correct.

What I hear in your words is that you were one of the kids who got beat up on the playground by some "working-class" kids. You were the nerdy or geeky guy. So now you view anyone who doesn't have that sheepskin as a "knuckle dragger" who is anti-intellectual, and dumber than dirt. Again more jumping to conclusions.

Yes, I've observed, from our many months of "dialog" here, what you are and do; and if that's what one has to be and do to get the "sheepskin" then I say, you can keep it, no thank you. I'd rather be a dummy who is willing to learn and grow as he journeys through this life, than be some intellectual snob who thinks the sun rises and falls on their "wisdom".

We come from different "worlds". We have no common ground; try to view our dialogs here by viewing a wedge of Swiss cheese. The side of the wedge you're viewing has 7 holes; the side of the wedge I am viewing has 4 holes. We see the world from different perspectives. The major difference between us is I'm willing to rotate the plate around so I can see your side of the cheese wedge and gain new perspective, thus giving me a broader view. You, on the other hand, closes your eyes when the plate is rotated, because you ONLY want to see what you've been taught by the Ivy Tower brain trust. You accuse me and others who follow Christ as being led around by "authority figures", but then you bash me because I've spend time exploring many Christian churches to learn about their beliefs in following Christ, because I don't just take their word for what's correct, but ask questions, and study, reading books and the Bible, etc.

It seems to me that you are the one whose hung up on following YOUR authority figures from the "brain trust at college." Those liberal/anti-God folks taught you well and you'll never open your eyes when the plate is rotated to see that not ALL Christians fit your hate-filled stereotype, any more than all Gay/Lesbians fit stereotypes that straight folks have about them.

So that's why I've repeatedly said discussing stuff with you is a waste of time, because you refuse to look at the other side of the wedge of cheese and broaden your view.

So let's just agree to disagree. Stay in your comfort zone and see those 7 holes on your side of the wedge of cheese. It's what you do best.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 5:11pm
MikeFromDelaware: Talk about jumping to conclusions! You seem to assume that the views you present - political or theological - are new to me. I have heard opinions like your's before, considered them and rejected them. You also seem to think that because I don't "convert" to your way of thinking, I am unwilling to consider it. What's ironic is you seem "locked in" to your viewpoints - political and theological. You also have made it clear you believe you are right, so you have no need to consider other options.

There are many things I don't know. I played an instrument for a couple of years in elementary school. I didn't bother to pursue it then. I recognize I missed out on something and I admire accomplished musicians. And I love music. You decided not pursue those areas sometimes called "academics" - the liberal arts, sciences, mathematical-logical reasoning. And you resent those who did. You tell yourself and others that those things don't matter, aren't important. And that your opinions are just as good as anybody's anyway. Like the fox who couldn't reach the grapes. What you're doing is the root of the anti-intellectual culture AllanLoudell mentioned before.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 5, 2013 6:05pm
Billsmith: Just because I didn't get a degree doesn't mean I'm anti-learning, study, thinking, etc. I just took a different path to do it. I don't hate or despise those who did get the sheepskin. I too have heard many of your views before and considered them; I've read books by intellectuals, liberals, etc., and like you, have with many of my views, rejected them. So don't assume all you say here is new to me. Granted some of it is, but unlike you, I'll give you the opportunity to express your thoughts & views without the insulting belittling snide comments you tend to make when I don't see it your way. So as you've considered what I have to say & rejected it, and I have done the same towards what you have to say, makes my point that you & me trying to discuss a topic is an excercise in futility.

It is my hope you'd reconsider Christ & it is your hope that I'd come to see that there is no god. You are as strong in your hatred of Christ & his church as I am in being a follower of the Risen Christ. It simply is what it is.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 6:41pm
"It is my hope you'd reconsider Christ & it is your hope that I'd come to see that there is no god. You are as strong in your hatred of Christ & his church as I am in being a follower of the Risen Christ. It simply is what it is."

Oh, my! MikeFromDelaware: Speaking of assumptions. (1) You assume that I am an atheist. In your world there are only two choices: Christianity and atheism. (2) You assume I want you to become an atheist. Your belief system is built on proselytizing, so you assume mine must be. (3) You assume I hate Jesus. No, I hate self-righteous hypocrites. Jesus didn't like them either.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 5, 2013 7:05pm
Billsmith: Not an assumption; you've said here a few times that you have no belief. So just for the record, if you have beliefs what are they?

Jesus did say to go & make disciples of the world, so he expected us to share with others his Good News. I'm not saying that I or anyone else in the church are doing things perfectly, we aren't. ( I can't really speak for the others; I know I've disappointed the Lord all too often). But even with our faults, we are still commanded to go share God's holy word with others.

I've stopped trying to share with you, because I realize you're not interested. And I've tried to respect your right to have a different belief... sure wish you could give me the same respect in return.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 7:18pm
MikeFromDelaware: A belief is an assertion that something is true without evidence or proof. Socrates said wisdom is not knowing.
"Tho' a man may be in doubt of what he knows, very quickly he will fight, he'll fight, to prove that what he does not know is so." Oscar Hammerstein II

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 10:25pm
Condoms used to be made of "sheepskin." Maybe that is why the old timers are so fond of "sheepskin" and equate it with high school.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013 10:31pm
Ok. I was joking but now I'm confused... Why does one hang condoms on their walls.. (sheepskin on wall reference)... and why would hanging a condom on your wall, make you see different number of holes in your swiss cheese...

You all need a vacation.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 8:03am
"I've stopped trying to share with you, because I realize you're not interested. And I've tried to respect your right to have a different belief... sure wish you could give me the same respect in return."

MikeFromDelaware: The basis of the Christian "belief system" is you're right, everybody else is wrong. Therefore, Christians don't need to - in fact, should not - respect "false beliefs." So you all feel entitled to knock on people's doors or - going to the far extreme - exterminate non-believers or heretics.

You seem to think I operate from the same assumptions you do: Belief. Faith. Truth. Right-wrong. And the need to "save" people. I don't.

I wouldn't mind you people so much if you weren't always trying to impose your standards of morality and behavior on the rest of us. And if you preachers weren't always pushing right-wing politicians and views and claiming they are doing it with the authority of God. It's not your "beliefs" I mind ("all religions look ridiculous from the outside"); it's the authoritarian cult that claims them.

Kavips: Actually, they used sheep intestines for condoms, which is a major turn-off. But they've been "rubbers" since before the Civil War. They haven't used parchment on diplomas for almost as long. Notice only people who don't have diplomas call them "sheepskins." And condoms were illegal in much of the country until about 50 years ago thanks to political pressure from .... THE CHURCH. No, not just Catholics. Protestants, too. Good Christians were going after Planned Parenthood right from the beginning when they focused on teaching women about birth control.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Dec 6, 2013 8:55am
Billsmith: I certainly am not in a position to force my beliefs on you. I've simply shared my beliefs with you and the others here. This isn't Colonial times where attendance at the Church of England was required [as was the case in old Williamsburg, VA and other parts of the colonies].

You freely express your views. The issue seems to be that you and others of your ilk [the non-religious, extreme liberal, so called intelligencia] want to make a society where we can't express our beliefs in public, but you'd be free to express yours [the Bill Maher attitude]. So freedom for you, but not for me.

I've said here many times, but you ignore it each time I've posted it, that I may not share your views and acceptance of the GLBT lifestyle as being in God's perfect plan, etc, based on my understanding of what God's Word says, but I have also said [the part you ignore] that what a GLBT person does in their bedroom is between them and God. You don't need my approval, but for some reason want that approval [or want me to be forced to voice approval]. You consider me to be a hateful person, because I can't say I agree with you. Yet I've also said [another part you ignore] that if the state wants to allow Gay/Lesbian marriage, that's up to them as they aren't about seeking God's will, etc, and any church that wants to allow Gay/Lesbian marriage should be free to do so also, BUT where I draw the line is if the church is forced by the state or law suits, etc, to have allow Gay/Lesbian marriage.

Many of my fellow Christian friends, who are far more conservative than I [they consider me to be a bleeding heart liberal] wouldn't agree with my position, which is why I've said many times, you can't judge all Christians and lump into a single pile [here on this blog my guess is Mrpizza won't agree with my position on this issue, not sure about EarlGrey's view]. Yet, because I don't totally agree with your view on this issue, that makes me a homophobe, a hater, etc. So from where I sit, you are the one who's intolerant and given to making steroptypes of folks and their values and beliefs.

So it would appear, from where I'm sitting, that I am more willing to give folks the freedom of THEIR choice, and you are not.

So the point is, yes I have my beliefs, but all I can do is share them. I can not and wouldn't try to force anyone, even you, to have to obey them. THAT isn't what Jesus did. He simply shared what he stood for, then said follow me and walked on to the next town. If you followed him you were one of his followers, if you didn't then you weren't. Nowhere in the Bible do I see Jesus putting anyone in a stranglehold and saying repent heathen.

I've said here numerous times [another part you seem to ignore] that the church shouldn't be trying to legislate morality. If someone comes to Christ, then God will do whatever changing God desires of that person from within. It's not my job or the churches job to force people to change, that's God's department, done in his time, and his his will.

But you can't seem to accept that notion, you prefer to see any and all Christians as the Inquistion 21st Century Version. So that's why I've stopped sharing my faith with you, and frankly don't want to have a discussion with you on the topic, because you truly aren't interested and seem to prefer keeping the stereotype image you have rather than seeing each Christian as an individual.

No doubt probably all Christians are flawed sinful folks [I know I am], who are hopefully striving to follow Christ in their life. But we are not God nor Jesus, just his followers and as the Apostles got it wrong many times [ I so relate to Peter] that we need correction from Jesus on a daily basis. I've never said I'm a model Christian and all should emulate my walk with Christ. All I can do is strive each day to try to hear God's voice and obey. Somedays I do this better than others. They'd never make me a Pope, Bishop, and definitely won't be cannonizing me as a "Saint". I'm just a follower of Christ. When I do things right, its has more to do with him than with me. So that's why I say, we'll just have to agree to disagree, because I know you can't see any of this, so I respect your right to see all of this very differently.

So I guess another way to say it is, You Win the debate or discussion as your mind is made up and no matter what I say won't change that.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 9:26am
MikeFromDelaware: I never said you were not free to share your views. But I am also free to share my views of your views.

You say I don't want you to be free to express your views in public. If that means prayers at public or government meetings or other secular events, then yes, I object to what Roger Williams called "spiritual rape" - a close kin to mandatory church attendants in which people are coerced by social pressure to participate in your prayers. Besides, it was Jesus who said to pray in secret.

And what is your source for your claim that church attendance was required in colonial Virginia. The Anglican Church was established and therefore tax-supported. People were required to close their business and not engage in other activities prohibited under "blue laws." But I see no basis for your claim everyone was required to attend what you probably would call the "Anglican mass."

It's not the church's job to force people to change? Really? Except for gays. Look at all the things in recent times opposed by organized Christianity: Gay marriage. Repeal of anti-sodomy laws. Repeal of anti-miscegenation laws. No censorship of radio, TV, film and books. Repeal of drug laws; legalization of marijuana. (You think it's unfair to mention Christianity's past sins, so I'll leave out Prohibition.) Abortion. Morning-after pills.

OK, all Christians are flawed and sinful. Who isn't? I see no evidence that Christianity makes one a better person. More often, the opposite. Christianity teaches it's hopeless to be a good person (so why bother trying?). And besides you all have your "get out of hell free" card. (Those who are into the prosperity gospel think their cards say "get out of hell free; pass go and collect $200.00.")

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 9:45am
bill: As I said earlier...maybe you know tea-baggers but you don't know Tea Party people. BTW, I have a couple of those "esteemed" diplomas hanging on my wall but after earning them have realized how meaningless they truly are compared to so many more important/real-life experiences.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Dec 6, 2013 10:24am
Billsmith: Again you ignore past posts and rehash the same ole same old no matter what I've said, for instance I've stated here numerous times that I'm NOT FOR PRAYER IN SCHOOL OR PUBLIC MEETINGS, BUT PREFER THE MOMENT OF SLIENCE so if you wish to pray to the rabbit god, mother earth, John Lennon, Budda, or not pray at all you're free to do it. What part of that statement don't you get? How many times do I have to repeat it before you quit saying it when discussing this stuff with me?

Take a trip to Williamsburg Va and visit the church there, the lady giving the tour will tell you about how if you missed Sunday Service more than once in a month you'd be put in the stocks on the town square. That seems like required attendance to me, but I'm not a college grad, so I may not have understood the deep concept of her dialog.

Seems like the Puritans had similar rules, but I don't have time to go hunting for all that.

The Lutheran Denomination before the ELCA was created the has a book, I borrowed from the ELCA church library while attending there, that tells how in the early 20th century due to the strong influence of Fundamentalist churches in the mid west the Lutheran Churches got rid of their crucifixes and statues and calling the service a Mass [this still is popular in the midwest Lutheran churches to this day]. So that kind of implies that prior to that time that most Lutheran groups in the US did have those "Catholic" things. So the Lutheran world you grew up in was part of that. Apparently the Lutheran Church LCMS is reaccepting those things as Luther didn't want to break away from the Catholic Church, but to refore it. So the things he didn't disagree with the Catholics about shouldn't be forbidden. So yes its OK to call the Lutheran Service a Lutheran Mass. Yep that's a change of attitude from your time in the Lutheran Church, but it is what's happening now.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 11:21am
MikeFromDelaware: I find the "minute of silence" to be pushing it. If you want to pray before a school board meeting, you can do it in your car in the parking lot.

Why are you getting your shorts in a knot? I asked you to back up your statement about mandatory church attendance and you did. I've seen you ask people to back up statements before. I would not be surprised if Puritans (aka UCC or United Church of Christ) had it, too.

I was raised in the Missouri Synod. And they definitely did not have those "Catholic things" (not even in the Apostle's Creed). I once got chewed out in Sunday School for wishing another kid a happy St. Patrick's Day. And nobody ever, ever said "mass." I just checked "Luther's Small Catechism" and the word "mass" does not appear. I've heard high church Episcopalians call the communion service a "mass" but you are the only Lutheran (if you are still a Lutheran).

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 11:29am
Earl: It's curious that some of you keep focusing on diplomas ("sheepskins") and not what they represent or what one needs to do to get one. I don't consider diplomas a life experience. I skipped three graduations (BA, BS and MA). The life experience came in the months and years before that. The life experience is not what you learn but what you have to learn in order to learn it.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 12:49pm
bill: I get your point but don't agree...I have the diplomas and thought that I would feel differently after finally completing all the work and having the degree(s)...sorry but I have learned and gained more real knowledge from my time spent working with homeless people, orphans in other countries, my own kids and my wonderful wife. The paper diplomas can burn for all I care...I'm glad that I earned them ,if for no other reason, to prove to myself that I could do it, but that's not where I put my identity.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 12:56pm
Earl: So, you got nothing from the four years (or whatever) before you received a diploma? You didn't feel differently after you left school than you did before you started? A diploma isn't a magic pill.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Dec 6, 2013 1:30pm
Billsmith: That's the difference between us, I try to find ways to make it work for all, you seem to want it your way. So where a moment of silence [usually a minute] seems like a way to accomplish that so that you don't have to hear anyone praying and sit silently for 60 seconds, and I don't have to listen to someone pray to mother earth or John Lennon, but can silently ask the Lord for his blessing on this meeting, is not good enough for you, you want none, thus forcing your agenda on all of us. Thus we have to agree to disagree.

I got my knickers in a knot, because you've not offered that reply ever before, you just ignore and keep repeating it.

Obviously I'm not an expert in Lutheranism, but I can only report what I read, this book was written in 1968, well before several smaller Lutheran bodies came together and became the ELCA.

The LCMS still does not use the word "catholic" in the Apostles Creed, the ELCA does with it showing in the hymnal with an * showing that the word catholic with a small c means universal.

My wife and I along with another couple will become offical members of the our local Lutheran church this Sunday. So yes, I'm still a Lutheran.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 2:41pm
MikeFromDelaware: Silently or not, it's still a public show of religion with the implicit assumption that people SHOULD pray, and that public affairs require some sort of supernatural guidance. It's just a sneaky way for holier than thou types to flaunt their piety and, at the same time, skirt the constitution. Nice try.
PS: "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." Matt 6:1
It amazes me how you Jesus freaks cherry pick scripture to find what suits you and ignore the rest. Jesus specifically says not to do public, ceremonial prayer and clearly disapproves of people who do and Christians consistently ignore that. But you all can find some obscure verse that says gays should be executed. You all claim the law is fulfilled (although Jesus says the opposite) and you can go ahead and eat bacon but the part condemning gays still stands.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Dec 6, 2013 3:31pm
Billsmith: I said I try to find a way to make something work for all folks, personally I don't need their moment of silence as I'll pray anyhow; even when in a restaurant to give thanks for my food. If you were sitting next to me, you'd never know it, but that's just me. For others they seem to need permission to offer a short prayer in a public setting, so it hurts no one to have a moment of silence.

Your favorite scripture obviously is Matt 6:1 as you quote it the most. Since you don't believe the Bible is God's holy word, see it as a book of fairy tales, etc, why does someone silently praying bother you "Homofreaks" so much? See I can use unkind names too. Why when you and I don't agree do you have to resort to name calling like Bible Banger, Jesus Freak, etc? I've never, until just now, called you some negative name reflecting you as a gay person, but did so now to make my point. This is just another reason I see no point in trying to discuss this stuff with you. I never ends up being an uplifting conversation and just ends up with you bashing me personally, my faith, my God, etc, and frankly who needs it.

I know of no Christian [not even the nut jobs at Westboro Baptist have advocated that] who believes Gay/Lesbians should be stoned yet this is one of your favorites to use in a discussion, as all Christians I've ever known rest on those words of Jesus with the woman caught in sin, where he said, I don't condemn you, go and sin no more. Sorry can't agree that practicing homosexual sex is part of God's plan and desire, but I've never said you and the others of the GLBT community should be stoned, etc. I've discussed this with you before too, and as usual you ignore it, because it doesn't fit your agenda.

I offered you a radio show, a number of weeks ago, where an LCMS pastor on Lutheran Public Radio discussed why Jesus didn't preach against homosexuality, you didn't bother to listen and essentially ignored the topic, because it doesn't fit your agenda. So why should I bother trying to have a discussion with you on these topics.

It's always the same, so I'll conclude once again by saying, I hear what you say, and as usual we'll just have to agree to disagree. It is what it is.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 4:30pm
MikeFromDelaware: It's your Bible. I quote it to point out how Christians are selective about what parts they choose to follow.

If you had read my posts, I am not gay. I never said I was. Again, your black and white world only allows two choices in anything. Religion. Sexuality. Politics.
And your Bible does say gays should be stoned (strangely enough not lesbians). Me, I agree with Bob Dylan: "But I would not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned."

And, as I told you at the time, I did check the link you provided. If there had been text, I would have read it. I wasn't willing to listen to an hour-long audio recording. And I even did a search on the website to see if I could find a script or an article on the topic this preacher had written. No, just audio. Audio is very inflexible and a very inefficient way to present information.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Dec 6, 2013 6:11pm
Billsmith: I understand about the audio thing, it definitely faster to read than listen, there just wasn't any other way for you to get the guy's point. As I recall, I did try to give you the basic idea of what he was saying, but that didn't matter, we still didn't end up having much of a discussion on that topic. In any case, as you said, it's my Bible, not yours so even though I think that pastor made an excellent point you'd not accept that, so what's the point of discussing it? None really.

Yes, I remember you said you go both ways, so sometimes you are gay other times heterosexual (AC/DC). My point was just because we don't agree doesn't mean the name calling should start.

It gets old trying to have a civil, intelligent dialog with someone who, when we disagree, starts saying inflammatory insults.

OK, I think we've beat this dead horse to a pulp, & as usual the conversation didn't really make any difference in either of us growing or learning something new of value.

As you have, I think you posted here that you have 3 degrees, & I have nothing none (& one thing I've learned, no matter how many college courses you've taken, if it doesn't make a degree & get you a paper or sheepskin diploma for the effort, it's like you never went to college) meaning what I have to say is of little importance worthy of being seriously considered, I see no point in getting into any real dialog with you. I end up feeling like some bumpkin who learned to play chess from a buddy & then has challenged a world class chess master to a game. The chess master doesn't take him seriously, because the chess master views him as an unworthy opponent. So it seems pointless for to try to engage you in any sort of discussion , because my lack of a diploma seems to put me in your view not on the same level as you. So why should I keep bashing my head on a brick wall? To you I'm a bumpkin who doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain, so for me these dialogs are not as fun as they could be, so why should I bother?

You think I don't respect your education, you're wrong. I work with PhD's, master degree folks, & folks with four degrees. The difference between them & you is they respect the knowledge & experience I do bring to the table as my work is different than theirs requiring a different set of skills to perform than theirs. I respect what they bring to the table as well. They don't look down on me & consider themselves better or even smarter than me , we have different abilities. It is what it is.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013 6:46pm
MikeFromDelaware: Sometimes it seems there are several conversations going on at once. There's what I say. And there's what you say I said. Not always the same.

For the record, I think there are many things better learned outside the academic setting. And you and others keep bring this back to "sheepskins." I keep talking about what one acquires in the process of gaining an education (however that education is gained). One thing a liberal arts education is supposed to teach one is how to evaluate information and how to draw logically valid conclusions. When you operate from information that is not factual and draw illogical conclusions, and then act like it doesn't matter because your opinions are as good as anybody else's, I will jump on that. Sometimes you sound off with complete certainty and you don't know what you're talking about and I will jump on that. As Dr. Moynihan (a Harvard professor) said: Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Dec 6, 2013 7:08pm
I hear you loud & clear.

Mike from Delaware
Sat, Dec 7, 2013 9:42am
Billsmith: One final thought on this, if I may. I agree with what Dr. Moynihan said that everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but not to his/her own facts. That's another reason why it's pointless to try to discuss this sort of issue with you. You do not consider the Bible to be God's Word, so you do not consider it to be a credible source as to presenting facts. For me, as a follower of the Living Risen Christ, it is. I, unlike some of my Fundamentalist brother and sisters in Christ, realize that all parts of the Bible are not to be taken literally, Psalms, for example presents words to Jewish praise music, so is poetry, thus has symbolic language, unlike the Book of Acts that is a history that is intended to be taken literally, not figuratively.

The various places where Jewish Law is presented is literal, so yes the old Law prescribes stoning for the sin of being a practicing homosexual. However, the part you over look repeatedly is Christ came and offered a better way, forgiveness of our sins, not death. The turn the other cheek thing instead of an eye for an eye. So while Jesus, not speaking out in favor of homosexuality, probably because he was not in disagreement with the law instead offers forgiveness to all sinners including homosexuals. That's why I say the church's proper response to the sin of homosexuality is: We [as a church and as followers of Christ] do not condemn you, go and sin no more. That should be the treatment for all who sin, not just homosexuals, it should be the same for all, because that's what Jesus himself did, and he's our standard.

Now I realize you won't agree with this, but it is what I believe and as you've said believe, like faith, is accepting something you can not prove. But based on my understanding of God's Word, it is the conclusion I have arrived at.

I realize being of lesser thinking and analytical skills than you [since I didn't get the diploma and thus didn't learn, by going through the process you did to earn your degrees, all that critical thinking stuff you mentioned earlier that I have no idea what that is much less know how to do] we really can't have a meaningful discussion on this. So I've presented you my thoughts or as you'd say my opinion that's not based on facts other than what is presented in the Bible.

You like to debate, as if this blog is a college debating club. Only the facts, like legal or scientific data only, ma'am. I've got to prove everything I utter. With spiritual things, the facts come from a book of faith: for Jews the Torah, Muslims the Koran, and for Christians the Bible. So any discussion of faith is less of a black and white issue, thus the reason our discussions on this topic are fruitless. We are coming from different directions and approaches. I can not give you "scientific" facts to back the Bible, as I've said a bunch of time the Bible is not a Science book, but a book [actually a library of 66 books] on faith and God's plan for mankind through his Son Jesus Christ. So we end up being at cross purposes which makes for a frustrating dialog. I'm sorry I can not explain it any better than that. It is what it is.

Sat, Dec 7, 2013 12:16pm
MikeFromDelaware: If I recall my lessons from my Missouri Synod parochial school, when Luther was asked to recant his criticisms of the Catholic Church, Dr. Luther said only if he could be shown he was wrong by "reason or the Bible." Apparently, Luther gave equal weight to both.

It's one thing for you to consider the Bible "the word of God." But the Bible is open to interpretation. That's why Christianity has so many divisions (often going at each other). If you consider the Bible "fact," than all those interpretations (including the one's you hold) are opinion.

I mention the Bible because you hold it as the authority, usually to show how Christians ignore some part of it or outright don't follow it.

You say homosexual sex is not part of god's plan. Go to the zoo sometime (especially the primate house). Besides, if something exists in a world created by an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient god, it must be part of god's plan. Just as it's not part of god's plan for pigs to fly. So, they don't.

Mike from Delaware
Sat, Dec 7, 2013 2:48pm
Billsmith: Here is the entire quote of Martin Luther from his testimony at the Diet of Worms:

"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen

Sounds like the Word of God got the most weight in Luther's decision.

In the Garden of Eden, where no sin had been yet committed, no weeds, no sickness, no birth defects, no physical death, etc. After the fall all that changed, so then abnormal issues in DNA and genetics happened due to the fall, thus the reason I say human homosexuality is not part of God's plan. Maybe monkeys didn't have gay sex then in the Garden of Eden either and now do, because of the fall like there wasn't weeds and illness, but in any case monkeys aren't humans. We've been down this road before, and we won't agree.

Sat, Dec 7, 2013 3:29pm
MikeFromDelaware: Doesn't sound like reason gets much weight with you.

Now you are claiming monkeys inherited original sin? St. Augustine must be spinning over that one.

No weeds before "the fall?" I guess you haven't had much experience with farming. A weed is any plant you don't want. When farmers rotate their crops, what a farmer planted last year shows up with this year's crop. And seeds blow in the from the next farm and they show up, too. Farmers apply weed killer (herbicide) to get rid of them. So you are saying that god changed the laws of agriculture and plant genetics because of original sin?

For the record, none of what you just said about no weeds and original sin and monkeys is in the Bible. It's all interpretation or supposition. But I suppose you could argue there was no homosexuality in the Garden of Eden because there was only one person of each sex.

I also note that you have said in the past you don't consider Genesis a book of science but it seems now you are back to taking it literally. Have you become a creationist now? World created in 4004BC, in six 24 hour days in October. I suppose god hid all those fossils for us to find and fooled with radio-carbon dating as a - what - "test of faith."

You have rejected the teaching authority of the church and replaced it with the Bible but the Bible is a product of the teaching authority of the church. The church decided which books to include and exclude. It edited the books it included and selected from conflicting older documents. The church approved translations. And Luther went back and selected which books to include and exclude on his own and did some editing, too. The Torah (Pentateuch) is a cut and paste job (around 400 BC) using texts from at least five different sources/authors - who contradict each other repeatedly. "God's word" passed through (fallible) human redactors.

Many Christians consider the Bible "the word of god" but they don't take it literally or regard it as inerrant. These are doctrines and practices introduced later. Again, interpretation. You have one particular interpretation and not all Christians share it. But you are convinced you are right and they are wrong; your's is the only way. This is why Christians have a history of killing each other.

Mike from Delaware
Sat, Dec 7, 2013 4:20pm
Billsmith: yes, I'm offering an interpretation. We won't know those sorts of details until we're with Christ. You're correct that only Adam & Eve were there in the Garden, so homosexual sex would be rather difficult, good point.

If creation was perfect that's why I said no sickness, weeds, birth defects,etc. After the fall when they were kicked out of the Garden then all that bad stuff started including having to struggle to work the land , women suffering more severe pain in child birth (see Genesis 3).

No I still believe the 7 day Creation account in Genesis 1 is not literal, so not 7 twenty-four hour days, but One Billion year or whatever it is days. God put it into terms they could understand. Bottom line is God did the creating.

Sat, Dec 7, 2013 4:51pm
Some Biblical scholars have noted that Genesis sometimes mentions one person when apparently it is referring to a group ostensibly headed by that person. So maybe there were more than two people in that garden.

Saw an interesting documentary several years ago about the Garden of Eden. We know the source of two of the rivers mentioned in Genesis as the location of the garden. There is a large valley in that area with a mild micro-climate, lots of water and very fertile soil. Outside it is your standard hot, dry Middle-Eastern desert. So, if somebody was living in that valley and then exiled, it would be a lot like the expulsion from Eden, especially as the story was passed down over generations.

Mike from Delaware
Sat, Dec 7, 2013 7:06pm
Interesting point.

Sun, Dec 8, 2013 12:43am
Ohhhhhhh. The sheepskins were diplomas.... So that is what Mike was talking about...

Sun, Dec 8, 2013 11:47am
Actually we know 3 rivers (the Nile flows from Cush) and it and the Tigris and Euphrates do not have the same source.

Which probably means it is a metaphor.

3 of the rivers at the time of writing were the centers of civilization. What the author is implying is that before man filtered down towards civilization he lived in an idyllic form, one in which he was at one with nature and therefore God.... Pretty much a description of primitive people around the globe....

Essentially the author is implying that in a primitive state, as are animals themselves, one lives hand in hand with God. There is no question of obedience. But when one gains knowledge, and interacts with other men in what we deem as civilized ways, that one begins to exert his own will, and that exertion of one's own will, is what divides or splits man's way apart from God's way....

We then try to get back that connection the rest of our lives, and civilization's existence...

It is no secret that communicating to God is far easier when one is not around other people.. Hence Moses sabbatical. Jesus's as well..

This fits hand in glove with Jesus's admonition that for one to return back to God, one has to take up his cross, and essentially kill (crucify) the part of himself that exerts his own will. Once you have killed off that part of you, (it's a rational decision), you are then receptive to returning back to what God originally wanted you to do....

So the Garden is probably a metaphor.. but even with that said, there is a nice place in Northern Iran that would indeed, make a great Eden...

Sun, Dec 8, 2013 12:55pm
Kavips: Interesting, although it does not seem the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is quite a idyllic as you describe. Or as easy.

The Eden account is from "J" and was influenced by older Levantine sources. It describes an anthropomorphic god who walks in the garden in the cool of the evening (apparently experiencing discomfort in the heat) and does not know where Adam and Eve are.

Mon, Dec 9, 2013 6:40pm
But within the parameters of warm climate, abundance of natural food, no predators, and particularly no diseases without already natural built-in immunities, it could be rather close to idyllic. About as good a life as my dog and cat have here..

Furthermore, since early Judiasm evolved out of Sumar, one should not be surprise over a lot of parallels between the two. Especially in the pre-Abraham part of Genesis.

Mon, Dec 9, 2013 6:57pm
"But within the parameters of warm climate, abundance of natural food, no predators, and particularly no diseases without already natural built-in immunities, it could be rather close to idyllic."

Kavips: And where does that happen? Ecological impossibility.

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