politics, Uncategorized

Trump: Trolling America



Time flies and so we find ourselves in the middle of a cool Florida winter here at the Van Kleeck Academy. Basketball season has just ended for us and it was great, filled with learning experiences and new formed friendships. Being part of a team is an amazing experience. Striving together through adversity to reach a common goal and building up those around us even in times of physical and emotional stress are powerful life lessons to learn. Taking my kids to practices and games and watching them interact with the players and coaches has been wonderful and I will miss our daily gym time together.

Besides watching, playing or coaching basketball, we took time to watch a few of the Republican Debates and I must say I’m a bit skeptical about this Donald Trump guy. He says things like, “I’ve got a plan, it’s a good plan, people like my plan.” And then people cheer. It doesn’t matter what topic he’s discussing, immigration, taxes, China, he’s got a plan, it’s good and people like it, next question. And I’m watching the screen and Donald is scowling and there are all these cheers and I’m thinking, “That better be canned applause, because I’m struggling to wrap my mind around the idea of a large group of educated adults cheering for this tripe.”


He sounds like that teenaged boy who obviously has not done the book report but throws something together the night before all that summer reading is due. “This book was amazing! I have never read anything like it. It is so amazing that I cannot even describe to you how amazing this book is. The plot, the characters, the setting…amazing! Thank-you.”

And then I look up and there are these “polls” that tell me that he is the guy. The “no homework kid” is winning. And the audience cheers.

I have to admit, I watched the Republican debates for the antics almost as much as to see who could legitimately run things around here. Between Chris “Fred Flinstone” Christie and Donald Trump’s bombastic, pseudo-answers  it was chuckle time here at the Van Kleeck Academy.

Seriously, if I would have played and won the Power Ball there would have been a large sum of money at the ready for Governor Christie if he would have just condensed his opening remarks in any debate to a resounding “Yabba Dabba Doo!” Money well spent, my friends. Probably would have helped his campaign too. “He’s fun,” the pundits would say. “He tells it like it is,” say his constituents.

Look, I kind of get Donald Trump’s popularity. He’s rich. People like money. Direct correlation there. He’s had success, America needs more success. Let’s get the successful guy. But Donald Trump does not even seem to be a moral person. Being a Christ follower is light years away from what I’m talking about, I’m talking about just being ethically aware. I don’t see it.

There are better choices out there. Let’s not get caught up in who is the brashest or the orangest. Let’s at least agree on someone with some moral fiber, someone whose ideas are not entirely, logistically impossible(deportation of every illegal in the country). That’s not too much to ask, is it America?


Gears: Spinning Life Away

I used to be a gear. I worked in a machine. My particular machine was called Education. My job was to produce well-rounded, productive gears who would go out into their own machines and become great turners of other gears while at the same time enjoying some feeling of value. I spun and the other gears around me spun and our machine ran as smoothly as machines can. That is to say, there were most assuredly breakdowns. Replacement parts were installed when an old gear wore out or when there was an upgrade of one kind or another. Sometimes when a big gear was replaced at the top the once useful gears at the bottom just did not seem to fit anymore and needed to be moved, modified or discarded.

When I was a gear I was very concentrated on turning, that is, doing my part for myself and the machine. I turned merrily and well, for the most part. The big gears at the top would turn slowly and smile or frown down at the furiously spinning smaller gears near the bottom and every once in a while a small gear would be refitted into a big gear and reinstalled at the top and then it was his turn to smile or frown down.

As productive as we were, big and small, we all needed something to keep us from grinding, something to make things smoother for us as we turned. We needed to feel valued. Now, the industry standard used to communicate personal value in America is money. Insurance, PTO, company cars, company credit cards, free lunches, the new espresso machine, that kickin’ Christmas party, they all boil down to dollars invested. When the value level gets low gears start to grind and if something is not done they break or fall off and then, often, you need a brand new machine or at least a lot of new gears who don’t need as much “lubrication” as the old ones.

I spun along until one day I learned that one of my own little gears didn’t spin quite the same as the rest of his product line. He did not seem to fit where he was supposed to fit. I figured that, perhaps, he was being installed in the wrong machine. So I pulled him out and in the process I fell out of the machine. I stopped spinning. I was a gear without a machine and some would say without value. After all, I did not have any of the “industry standard” ($$$) coming my way to validate my value.

And then I realized something. Something profound and simple. I was wrong. I am not a gear. None of us are.

When we are focused on spinning, when we are driven by our paychecks, social status, investments, how much we have in retirement, and where we are going to spend our next vacation it blinds us to what is really going on in our world. When we are all so concerned about how we are perceived and what culture tells us we need to buy in order to be happy we don’t have time to think about the needs of others. Its called being selfish, self-centered. This is how things like abortion can be largely forgotten until a video series is released reminding everyone of its inhuman brutality. This is how we stop caring for the poor. This is how we become petty, miserable and hateful as individuals and as a people.

Our value is not measured in dollars or accolades or promotions or even our own sense of self worth. Those things can, and often do, change in a moment. Our value comes from God. He values us so much He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die in our place.

We are not gears. Culture will try to convince us that our value is derived from what we can do, what we can buy, how fast we spin, how big we are, how well we fit. We must not listen. We must look outside of ourselves and love our neighbors, love our enemies, help the poor and most importantly find our value, our meaning, in Christ.


Can We Stop Rationalizing Now?

I titled one of my recent posts “Tipping Point America”. I chose this title because of the in-your-face nature of the videos that were released by the Center for Medical Progress. I believe that if we, as a people, can look at these videos and rationalize away the killing of babies, the selling of their organs and limbs, if we can do that then there is nothing–nothing–that we cannot rationalize and explain away. If enough people agree on it and enough powerful people and brilliant minds give it credence anything is up for grabs. I used to think 1984 was a brilliant, if depressing, work of fiction but it looks increasingly visionary as our culture declines.

Abortion, sadly, is legal in America. So was slavery. So was the government sanctioned slaughter of the Native American Peoples. I’m tired of hearing the legal arguments for dehumanizing and killing people. When I hear people say that unborn babies aren’t really people I immediately think that that is what we used to say about Africans and Native Americans. America’s historical track record of deciding what constitutes a person is abysmal. Why is anyone hanging their hat on a legal argument now? Or are these the same kind of people who stood up for slavery and genocide in the name of their rights. Maybe that shoe fits.

You know what the slave owners used to say? “You can’t free my slave, because that slave is my property! No one can tell me what to do with my own property except me!” Only “property” in this case was an autonomous person, an individual life with eternal value. Does that sound familiar to you? It should.

I will never carry or birth a child. But I understand that my son and my daughter are not my wife. She carried them. She nurtured them, fed them, provided for their every need. That is an amazing and wonderful thing to me. But my kids are autonomous people. They are lives with eternal value. They have been that way since conception.They are not property. They are not fingernails to be trimmed, hair to be cut or cysts to be removed. They are not and never have been “parasites”.

I will never know what is like to carry a child, especially one that is unplanned. I will never know the fear and the doubt and worry that can come with such a situation, the incredible (and legitimate) emotions raging inside. But I do understand what being a parent is like. I have experienced the unexplainable, boundless love I have had for my children since before I knew their names or saw their faces. I do understand the remarkable ways that my children have changed me for the better, the countless ways they have learned from me and I have learned from them. I do understand that all the work that goes into raising my children is incomparable to the joy that they bring to my life. I do understand that if my wife would have chosen abortion at any time during her pregnancies I would know none of these things.

Can we stop rationalizing? Can we stop trying to explain the virtues of killing babies? Let us take a stand here, now. Let us stand in love for the unborn. Let us stand in love for those women who feel trapped, alone and afraid. If we cannot make our voices known now, at such a time as this, when will we?


Curriculum and Me: Why ACE?

Will studying

I used ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) curriculum for the majority of last school year and I intend to use it again for the upcoming school year. Why? Because it works for me. And that is the most important aspect of any curriculum. If the teacher can’t make it work, if the teacher isn’t comfortable with it, the children (and the teacher) are going to be miserable and frustrated. There is no perfect curriculum but a good curriculum should enhance the instructor’s strengths while minimizing the effects of his or her weaknesses. ACE does this for me.

I grew up in an ACE school so I was already very familiar with the system and layout of the PACEs (the booklets in which the children work). I am not the most structured person when it comes to learning. The PACEs really help me in that area. I know the prescribed pages per day. I know that there will be regular quizzes (called “check ups”) that I do not have to prepare and that there will be a test review (self test) at the end of each PACE so that my children and I can go over the subject matter and shore up any area of misunderstanding.

ACE does not leave room for a lot of creativity within the structure. The PACEs are what they are and if you are vested in the curriculum it dictates your pacing and scheduling. But again, creativity is not something that I generally struggle with, while structure is something that is built into the PACEs. It’s one less thing I have to worry about so I can continue being creative. In my case, it’s a happy marriage.

I have two students so for me there’s no need for all of the ACE learning center paraphernalia like flags or privilege cards or desks with dividers. We do use the star charts (we make our own) because they’re visual and fun and maybe when my kids are older and more educationally independent we will dust off some goal cards. Also, I have found score keys completely unnecessary for my elementary aged kids. You most likely will too.

William is currently set to work in eight subjects: Math, English, Social Studies, Science, Word Building, Creative Writing and Literature, Animal Science and Bible. Science and Animal Science may seem redundant but William loves animals so I thought it might be something he would enjoy. My daughter, Olivia, is doing all of the above subjects except for Creative Writing and Literature which is not offered in 1st grade.

Right now we are planning to alternate our schedule with the four core subjects on Monday and Wednesday and the others on Tuesday and Thursday with Friday still being an outside the classroom learning/field trip day.

My wife got me a basketball hoop for my birthday so our PE unit is set for a while with our “electives” being Music and Art.

If you are a new homeschooler and if, like me, you want your structure and pacing built into your curriculum, then ACE may be for you. The built in checks and guides are helpful and if you don’t like it you can always try something else. That’s the beauty of running your own school!

I know that many of you have already started your school year so here’s to a safe and productive year, a year of learning and wonder for both the students and the teachers.


American gods

“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:4-5

“I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.”

-Mary Elizabeth Williams

I recently read the article “So What if Abortion Ends Life” http://www.salon.com/2013/01/23/so_what_if_abortion_ends_life/ by Mary Elizabeth Williams. It is the quintessential example of the megalomaniacal rhetoric that is the natural byproduct of self-deification.

When you are your own god you can kill your own offspring in the womb, accept the fact that you unquestioningly ended your child’s life, and go merrily on your way secure in the idea that when it comes to you and the human life inside your body, you unequivocally come first. Why? Because you are the god of you, you define good and evil for you, and gods don’t answer to anyone but themselves.

The big secret to becoming your own god is being one over your own life. As long as no one interferes with your personal sphere of deity and self-worship then you will not interfere with the self-worship and deity of another. That’s the deal. Sometimes we call this “tolerance” but in reality it is indifference. The truth is, we are too busy exercising our personal deity to give a flying care about anyone else as long as they keep their godhood to themselves.

The fact is, humans make terrible gods. The worst. We are petty. We are hateful. We kill our own progeny. We damn those who do not look or act or think like us. Our little worlds break apart easily and when they do we turn to anything or anyone we can get our hands on that we think might help us regain the fleeting feeling of control that, from the beginning, was only an illusion. In the end we get angry and curse God because we fail so miserably at trying to be Him.

It is a good thing that the actual God of the universe sent his Son, Jesus, to die for us so that we don’t have to pretend to be gods anymore. We can give God all the responsibility of being God and leave the masquerade of power and control behind. It is the most freeing thing we can ever do.

God is really good at being Himself and if we do what He asks we will discover many precious things. One of these is called empathy. It is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. It is the very opposite of self-worship and it allows us to help others in the way that they need to be helped. Jesus called it loving your neighbor as yourself.

Now we all have a choice to make. Do we speak out for justice for the innocent? Do we speak out for love and healing? Or, are we content in our fabricated godhood, trying desperately to fill our fragile, little worlds with enough distractions to keep reality at bay?


Remember, America

Remember those horrific days of America’s past. They are stains of innocent blood on the tapestry of our nation. It was a time when millions of men and women were considered less than human merely because they looked different. Atrocities were committed that can hardly be thought to be real. But they were real. A war was fought, in part, to defend those who had no defense, to liberate the voiceless, the brutalized, those that had been dehumanized, murdered, in name of progress and convenience.

Remember yesterday and the day before, those horrific days of America’s past. They are the stains of innocent blood on the tapestry of our nation. It is a time when millions of unborn men and women are considered less than human merely because they look different. Atrocities are committed everyday that can hardly be thought to be real. But they are real. Who will defend those little ones that have no defense? Who will cry out for the voiceless, the brutalized, the dehumanized, murdered, in the name of progress and convenience?

When will we wake up, America? Was slavery not horrible enough? Was the near annihilation of the Native American peoples not enough? Are we determined to walk down this bloody path again? To sanction the death of innocent, unborn children in the name of progress, for the sake of convenience? In twenty or fifty or a hundred years will we look back in shame, shaking our heads and swearing that such atrocities would never happen again. Would we dare?

Who will stand against this latest atrocity? Who will speak for those who cannot? Who will fight for the rights of those who have been dehumanized? Would you have turned your head to the blood stained whipping post, to the auction block where families were destroyed never to be made whole? Would you have covered your ears at the cries of a mother as her children were torn from her arms, as her husband was beaten into the dirt?

Will you turn away now?


Tipping Point America

“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”  -Jesus

There are many important issues that we have to deal with in our world. This being (mostly) a school blog, the majority of the articles are about homeschooling or my kids or education in general. But, in light of recent events I think that my focus needs to change.

I’ve been reading comments on popular blogs where unborn babies are referred to as parasites that need to be removed. I’ve watched as an executive at Planned Parenthood discusses the murder and dissection of helpless children while calmly sipping wine and munching salad.

It is time for us as a nation to decide who we really are, what we really stand for.

Are we a people that murder their infants in the womb and sell their body parts? Are we a people that refer to their unborn children as parasites?

It is time for the American people to decide who they are, what they are. This is not a time for timidity. This is not a time for fear. This is a time to rise up and be heard. This is a time for change. This is a time to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves, to be a voice for the voiceless.

There is no middle ground, there really never was. Silence is seen as assent. The question is where do we stand in America in 2015? Where do you stand? Are the lives of millions of unborn children important to you? Will you make your voice heard to our government, to your friends, to your community?

Because our lives are full of distractions it is easy to forget what is going on in our nation. It is easy to pull the covers of entertainment and career and family over our heads, to try to block out the silent cries of those who are being murdered and butchered.

Is this who we are? Is this who I am? Would I look out over a sea of yellow stars and frightened faces and say nothing as the doors to the railroad cars slammed shut?

Home of the Brave.
With Liberty and Justice for All.
One Nation Under God.

Stand up and defend the defenseless.