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Christmas 2018

20 Dec

Have you  been out shopping lately, or are you doing the purchases online, like many Americans?  The stores are crazy-busy and the children are wailing up a storm, “I want thaaaaaaaat.”  The other day, I saw a new mom with her two-week old infant in her arms.  She was trying to shop while tending to the little one.  It seemed the world around me ceased to exist.  What is it about babies that just seems to captivate us?

Babies have a way of finding ways into the alcoves of our souls, the very places where things are known only to God.  They crawl right up into those hidden areas and something quite miraculous happens. Those little ones open us wide to the world, while teaching us a little more each day about God.   Think about it. Who can touch us more deeply than a newborn baby?

One baby in a room of adults reduces most of us to mere functional illiterates–and by choice!  We become entranced by the bald-headed, toothless, drooling squirmers, and quite mesmerized by their attempts to make sense of the insensible.

I remember talking to my own children: “You wan Dada to bwing your baba or bankie?”

I won’t go into all the baby talk, or nicknames my wife and I had for our children.  Some of them are hilarious, to be sure.  If you are as we are, you might still find the urge to pop open one of these phrases from time-to-time, just for the sake of reaction.  There aren’t too many of us that are able to hold back baby-talk when face-to-face with a little life in our presence.  It is almost expected.

I often wonder if grown adults talk to the aged the same way.  After all, both ends of life’s continuum quite resemble each other.  However, that discussion is for another time.  In the presence of babies, we sing and tell stories.  For some, these practices begin while the baby is in utero.  We talk to them, and we pray for them.  After they are born, we teach them nursery rhymes and, as they grow into toddlers, tell them stories of our childhood (and maybe just a bit embellished), and instruct them in right and wrong, as well as share in affection and closing prayers at bedtime.

Remember those fun days?  I am referring to the fun days before they sat on the sides of their beds and cried for no reasons at all, or got quiet when they realize as teenagers that they are held accountable.  Recall the moments when we asked them, “What’s wrong,” only to hear in return, “Nothin”?  I surely remember them!  In fact, there are times I’d like to sit on the side of my own bed and cry a little for myself, these days.  It is sometimes a good thing to feel sorry for ourselves, as adults, at least for fifteen minutes, before someone asks for money, or the cell phone rings.

However, I am left to wonder: Why is it that babies bring out the best in us?  I remember their giggles, tiny dimples, gummy smiles, flailing hands and stubby toes, their splashing arms and legs during baths–capped off by their pudgy, solid, yet wrinkly feet.  All of this serves to remind us of life’s simplicities and basic human needs.  Babies also remind us of the necessity of the protection they need, their fragile states, and complete dependency.  The trust they place in adults is astounding.  However, they learn quickly.  Once they figure out that we are not perfect, all things begin to change.  If you are like I am, you are torn by those early years, sometimes longing for them again–but happy also not to have to repeat those long nights, illnesses, doctors’ visits, and the like.

Have you ever wished for your children to stay little forever.  Have you ever spoken that desire?  Nah!  There are grandchildren for those reasons.  Right?  Babies are signals of life.  Life must moves onward.  Babies are reminders that the future is already in the “present”–and the word-play is intended.  I think you know to which “present” I refer.  Babies comprise the past through one’s DNA and heritage.  They consume the present and they embody the future.  Babies are the miracles that are united from one sperm and one egg–gestating over time–to become the “other” us. With each birth of our children, we are reminded that “WE” are with us. We are connected and that’s that.

Here in this supposedly sophisticated twenty-first century, we tend to place things, such as child birth—which have the sense of the miraculous—onto the realm of the ordinary.  But that is pedestrian.  Each conception brings into existence a unique entity, a person of the most distinct, individual “being.”  The truth is we are all unique and the mold is broken with each one of us. However, we have this little nature thing, with which to contend. Moreover, therein lays the problem!

Imagine for a moment that your teenage daughter comes home one day and tells you that she is impressed in her spirit about something incredibly unique.  What if she tells you that an angel of God had told her that she was specially favored among all other young teenagers of the day? Assume, then, that sometime later she informs you that she is pregnant, yet maintains that she was still a virgin–untouched by any man sexually.

To make matters more concerning, imagine your single, teenage daughter had been engaged to a man more than twice her age–and that the engagement was going to be broken by the man, once he discovers your daughter is pregnant. I know, I know . . . I can imagine your faces now. Yet, I do think you know where I am going with this.

Philosopher Paul C. Vitz asks us to “Consider that Mary was pregnant with Jesus today.” I also ask us to do the same.  What are the chances that some of the parents of this pregnant teenage girl would shuffle her off to the local Planned Parenthood clinic?  What would her friends and contemporaries say?  Speaking as one who was conceived prior to marriage, I rather identify with that last statement, in terms of its implications.  Know what I mean?

No, I am not claiming divinity, personally–but divinity as a delicacy, now that stuff is freakin’ awesome! (It is approaching Christmas, after all)  The prophet Isaiah (ca 800 BC) stated: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) A miracle baby son, a virgin, and the name translated to mean “God with us” (Immanuel) Hmmmm. Most interesting.

The disciple Matthew Levi (1st century AD), the tax gatherer wrote: “And Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place that which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet shall be fulfilled . . .” (Matthew 1:19-24)

The Christmas holiday (derived from “holy-day”) is about the advent of Jesus, the baby, and the beginning of His earthly pilgrimage.  The birth occurred more than likely during the summer months and there was no snow.  That reminds me, what happens in Australia and Africa, during December in the Southern Hemisphere?  I hope Santa’s varicosities aren’t too apparent with those pasty legs of his, filling out those speedo-like shorts.

John 1 speaks also to this illustrious Christmas event: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1: 1, 14).

This baby Jesus is the gift that keeps on reminding us of our flesh and mortality. The baby reminds us of our beginning and the blessings we are to others.  However, why do we keep Him in a manger?  Why is Christmas about Jesus as a baby only?  Is it because there is no room in the “inn of our hearts?”  Maybe it reflects the reality that babies are no threat.  Babies do not challenge the way we live.  Babies are the miracle gifts in-and-of-themselves. Nevertheless, babies do grow up into young adults and then enter mature adulthood.  Baby Jesus becomes a challenge to people’s supposed sovereignty.

Apparently King Herod also had serious concerns about the baby Jesus, for he had all male children slaughtered, age-two and under.  This infanticide occurred in Bethlehem and its surrounding environs (Matthew 2:16).  Herod feared all of this talk about the birth of a king, a Messiah, would diminish his sovereignty over the land.  As a result, the child Jesus and His parents went to Egypt until King Herod had died.  Afterwards, they returned to their homeland. One interesting piece of trivia from the Hebrew language is quite telling. The name “Beth-lehem,” can actually be interpreted “House of Bread.”  Now I am singing, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” . . .

Later Jesus was given the title “Bread of life,” and communion would be taken at “the Last Supper,” to symbolize His crucified and broken body.

Part of the communion remembrance today using crackers or bread illustrates the “broken bread” of life.  Who would have ever thought that the bread of life would have been born in a house of bread?  All of this is derived from the Christmas story?  Yes indeed!  Another point of interest was that when the wise men came to visit Jesus, He was already a toddler.  The Magi were the ones who tipped off Herod, and this was the reason for the age-2 on down slaughter of the innocents.

Therefore, yes we celebrate the baby Jesus.  Nevertheless, we really should be celebrating the toddler, at least in my mind.  But no toddler I know would stay in a crib, let alone a feeding trough for animals.  I know my own kids did not. As far as my kids were concerned, they kept jumping out, falling on their heads, or something along those lines. That might explain a few things.  Now my father’s statements to me in my youth ring more clearly.  He would ask rhetorically, “What is the matter with you? Did you play too many football games without a helmet?” I never figured out “how many” was too many.  But back to Jesus.

Some 2,000 years after the birth of Jesus, his infancy still influences the world. While some wanted to make Him an Earthly Excellency, believers see Him as their All-Sufficiency, beginning with infancy. The commemoration of Jesus’ birth is the real reason we celebrate the giving of “gifts” to each other.  Jesus is the ultimate gift to the world.  The reason for the season is ultimately for His pleasin’.

A second gift was given to us by the resurrected Jesus, just prior to His ascension. Luke, the physician, records in Acts 1:3: “. . . He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things to come . . . He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised . . . ” Jesus told His followers: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:15-16). The Holy Spirit is the gift that keeps on giving.

During this festive season of holidays, may we Christians celebrate like never before.  May we live and love like never before. The baby has grown, lived, and He has changed the world through his death, resurrection and ascension. Don’t you think it is time to be Christ-like in ways that show we also have left our own “Christian cribs?” My apologies to the hip-hop community.

Dear friend, let us celebrate the holiday as He is NOW in our lives. May we look back to the past, while living in the present–knowing that we have a future with Him.  May our baby-talk, and baby-walk grow into a mature, contagious conversation, coupled with a powerful Christian walk.  May this walk evidence movement in the right direction, prompted by the Spirit and evidence by the fruit of the Spirit.

No, I did not imply fruitcake. Unlike “divinity,” THAT stuff is so nasty, and is the evil twin doorstop with the yule log.

Thank you for reading!  I thought I would share a little reminder about why this time of year is extra-special for me and many others.

OK, where’s my egg-nog?

Happy 2018 all!

A Few Thoughts for Parents and Teachers about Generation Z

14 Aug
By Ernie Zarra, Ph.D.
August 17, 2017
Generation Z is in a great spot. Emerging generations always seems to have so much going for them and, in this respect, the current generation of young people is no different. If you are a parent of a Gen Z student, have you considered what it would be like to be young, again: Really, really, young again—and be thrust directly in the midst of those raging hormones and unpredictable Gen Z emotions? I am learning to stay away from mirrors these days. However, I do wonder whether
George Bernard Shaw is correct when he writes, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” This is an interesting concept to consider.
One of the things that Generation Z has going for it is an intrinsic motivation to play. And play they do, which brings consequences on many levels. Gen Y is making every effort to stay in the game, as well. The average student in Gen Z will spend hundreds-to-thousands of hours online by the time they are eighteen years of age, just playing and playing some more. Interestingly enough, Gen Z works daily on typing skills, literary interpretations, and drawing rapid conclusions, expressed in a video or a “deeply provocative” 140 characters. I know. This is not really funny.
Seriously, essential to understanding Gen Z is to understand how serious they are about remaining in touch with friends throughout their days, often interrupting other classes, so as not to miss the latest emoji, Instagram, or Snapchat. While in classes, all educators just have to understand that students are immediately compelled to send photos, messages, or provide their friends the answers to quizzes or tests. Friends are in need and, after all, they were all taught to work in pairs and groups to solve problems, from Kindergarten through high school.
Text messaging has done away with the need for handwriting and passing notes to fellow students. Stealth recordings are made wherever the Gen Z student chooses, whether at home or on school campuses, and hardly anyone one can stop these recordings from being immediately shared on the Internet. Any student that needs to talk to one of their parents, or any parents that want to get a message to their Gen Z child, is just seconds away. What educator wants to step in an interrupt the “It’s my mom, I have to take this phone call?”
In fact, becoming a viral sensation is easy as an excuse to go to the restroom and then a student can make all the phone calls desired with no one around. While in the restroom, if there are other students present, one could also test out the phone’s camera and video to see if its pixels are adequate for immediately uploading to Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook accounts. Additional play-action occurs with faces changed with apps that add dog faces or circus-mirror-like distortions to photos. Yes, Gen Z loves to play.
These supposed skills may be wonderful for social media and friends, but writing skills are plummeting to dire levels. That being said, maybe Gen Z parents might want to press their children into thinking about a career in research and rehabilitation of arthritis of the thumbs, or vertebrae subluxation of the neck.
Long gone are the days of pagers, typewriters, Gigapets, Tomagatchies, Furbies, Transformers, Beanie Babies, Care Bears, Pokemon cards, and other dated machines and toys. Changes in technology always bring about new choices. How many veteran educators remember the duplicating spirits of the mimeograph machines, or the horrendous chalk dust, and overhead projector blue hand syndrome? Now, all we do is squeak along with whiteboard marker, delirious from their fumes.
Times have changed and they have changed for parents as well as for educators. They have not changed for students of Gen Z. Like precious generations before them, all they know is what they know in their present, and their brief generational history. Parents realize what educators realize. The main reason times have changed is because culture has changed.
One of the major cultural changes, of course, is in the explosion of educational and personal technologies and the impacts these have on the developing brains of Gen Z children—and this where education is seriously impacted.
Parents today have extreme pressures placed upon them, with routines of work, school, extra-curricular activities, church—you name it! When a child of a previous generation needed to be disciplined, the child was sent to his or her room. There was little to occupy the boredom. There are some differences with today’s children, however.
Getting “grounded” today may not equate to such a detriment to one’s behavior. For example, Gen Z children sent to their rooms for discipline might realize an open invitation for an awesome time. Parents today have to contend with smart phones, Wi-Fi, hotspots, computers, instant messaging, cable-television, iPads, DVD players and video games. Gen Z students are often affected by family concerns. For example, if they have to split their time between two parents in different homes, their sense of discipline can often be skewed. Therefore, one home’s discipline may be another home’s joyride. Inconsistent values that are communicated often confuse even the resilient of students.
This shows up in both large and small ways. For example, in high school and college, plagiarism is rampant. Students copy and paste documents together from the Internet, including sharing files, hacking into social media accounts, or creating pages to poke fun at faculty and staff. Technology has made it easier to cheat, and this cheating is not relegated only to students. The popular MTV cable program “Catfish” is a good example of the extent some would go to use the Internet to deceive. Then, of course, there is the newer moniker of “fake news,” that has led to classes on Internet literacy. One student’s sketchy work ethic can now be classified as another person’s innovation and fun.
Schools should take some of the blame for Gen Z’s weaknesses in the areas just mentioned. The “think, pair, share,” of classroom collaboration did little for the unmotivated students. But just think! If parents all became young again, we could work together in groups and turn in assignments derived from collaborative efforts, all sharing in the fruits of the reward. Everyone gets an “A,” and that one overachiever can be our equalizer.
Being young again would also mean being “normcore” stylish. Or, we could just wear our hats and hoodies in classes, claiming our heads are cold, while budded and listening to our favorite tunes. If we were young again and our parents allowed us to have smart phones and iPads, what is so wrong with using them whenever we would so desire? We would just be entitled to them.
Bernard Shaw concluded that “Youth is wasted on the young.” While it is true we can never go back, make no mistake about it. As things go today, parents are often megabytes in a terabyte world—while many Gen Z kids’ heads are in the iCloud.

Who Is Actually Winning?

16 Jun
       I am just wondering about something, and I offer no apologies to Charlie Sheen. But who is actually winning online with personal attacks and daily negativity. Most of what happens in the headlines anymore, it seems, has some connection to social media, or is fanned by the same. So, this has me thinking. As the author of several books, all of which discuss some relevance of social media to generations and American culture in general, I am concerned how we might back away from our online presence and face the real world.
       Do many of us respond to personal attacks in our daily lives, face-to-face, as we do online–especially from political foes? The ad hominem (against the person) attacks have to end because they keep our emotional states heightened. I bet, if you are like the average Internet social media addict, you have had more than one occasion when you simply could not close out your page, or “x-out” of your browser, without just one more post. This compulsion has consequences for us all. One of these consequences is our interpersonal relationships with flesh and bone humans.
       How many of us have lost friendships in the real world, over politics? Now compare this to our online presence. The latter is the cause of many an “unfriending,” or even familiar disputes unlike those we would dare bring to the table each night.
       I wonder just how many of us would have the temerity to go toe-to-toe with an adversary in real-life, as we do on our social media pages. For example, Twitter is a wasteland of insults and negativity. People relish the ability to craft a well-posted 140 characters.
However, if we stop and think about our post prior to “tweeting,” we might reconsider.
Are we intent to insult and correct people as we would in 140 characters offline and elsewhere? Do we really think that because we do not know people that others we do know are not seeing anything we write?
I am totally aware many of us do not want to give what we view as “hypocrites and double-standard practitioners” a leg-up with what is posted. We are told to fight back! We cannot let those liberals or conservative win.
       But how would we handle this in real-life? My hunch is most of us are not as aggressive with others in real life. Therefore, if we would avoid that kind of conflict in real-life, yet undertake the conflict on social media, then isn’t that also hypocritical and a double-standard in-and-of-itself. I think it amazes people to see that we accuse others of doing, is often the foundation of our own shortcomings.
       Far too many of us we have discovered the ease of giving in to a new temptation–the temptation to incite, foist, fester, and even drop F-bombs, as we attempt to even the score. But what is the reason we give in? It cannot be anonymity, because there truly is non online. it cannot be because we are always right in what we write or how we come across. I think we give in because we do not have to read much at-length. We simply have to respond with the first thoughts that come into our heads. If emotions are also involved, it is even easier to respond. No one I know would stick around a place where they were not “liked,” for days, weeks, and even years.
       Admit it. We really like being “liked,” on social media–especially by people whom we have never met. On some level, we find more than a modicum of importance–the temptation to think our input is greater than even the clock-looking website onto which we post.
       OK, bottom line questions: Who actually is winning the online back-and-forth? And who cares? Is the soul of America being made great again by our actions? What about the children that are watching us? Are they learning all the wrong tactics when there is disagreement?
       If we expect the next generation, Gen Z, to use the Internet wisely and appropriately, then should we not be about the business of exemplars?
       OK, lecture from Dr. Z. to be continued . . . Are you taking notes? **wink**
       Your thoughts?
Image

Coming June 1, 2017

16 Apr

The Entitled Generation 2017

Teaching and Reaching Generation Z

20 Feb

Group of young people

Youth is Served

Generation Z is in a great spot.  Emerging generations always seems to have so much going for them and, in this respect, the current generation of young people is no different.  As parents, have you ever wondered what it would be like to be young, again: really, really, young again—and be thrust directly in the midst of those raging hormones and unpredictable emotions?  I am learning to stay away from mirrors these days.  However, I do wonder whether George Bernard Shaw is correct when he writes, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  This is an interesting concept to consider.

One of the things that Generation Z has going for it is the intrinsic motivation to play.  And play they do, which brings consequences on many levels.  Some of these consequences are addressed in the pages of my upcoming book on parenting:  Helping Parents Understand the Minds and Hearts of Generation Z.  I will be referring both to this book, and its companion volume, throughout this blog piece.

Likewise, parents and teachers have many similarities, and some of these are addressed in both this book and my companion work The Entitled Generation:  Helping Teachers Teach and Reach the Hearts and Minds of Generation Z.  For parents, the growth of their children is front and center, brimming with drama and often accompanied by challenges of sibling rivalry.  As teachers, although we can never really go back in time, teaching the same age group and grade levels every year somehow perceptively circumvents the reality that we are getting older.  Parents understand aging, but teachers live with a perception that the time clock is somehow in neutral and that, year-in-and-year-out, relevance and vibrancy still exist. z

Sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, but today’s young people seem to have it made.  Youth is served.  But “didn’t every generation of young people have it made?”  Indeed, there is a point to be made for each emerging generation apparently being better off than previous generations.  Before the reader draws the wrong conclusions, a bit of a sarcastic foray is in order—the likes of which both parents and teachers will identify.

The average person in Gen Z will spend hundreds-to-thousands of hours online by the time they are eighteen years of age, just playing and playing some more.  Gen Z works daily on typing skills, literary interpretations, and drawing rapid conclusions, expressed in a video or a deep 140 characters.  An essential to Gen Z is to remain in touch with friends throughout their days, often interrupting other classes, so as not to miss the latest “LOL.”  At school, teachers just have to understand that students are immediately compelled to send photos, messages or answers to quizzes or tests.  Friends are in need, after all!

Text messaging has done away with the need for writing and passing notes to fellow students.  Stealth recordings are made wherever the Gen Z student chooses, whether at home or on school campuses, and hardly anyone one can stop these recordings from being immediately shared on the Internet.  Any student that needs to talk to one of their parents, or any parents that want to get a message to their Gen Z child, is just seconds away.  “If it is my mom, I have to take this call!”

mom-calls-son

While in class, all anyone needs is an excuse to go to the restroom and then a student can make all the phone calls desired with no one around.  Gen Z have to check in with their boss, or swim coach, to be certain not to leave a very important voicemail unheard.  While in the restroom, if there are other students present, one could also test out the phone’s camera and video to see if its pixels are adequate for immediately uploading to a Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook account.  Faces can always be changed with apps that allow dog faces or circus-mirror-like distortions.  Yes, Gen Z loves to play.

These supposed skills may be wonderful for social media and friends, but writing skills are plummeting to dire levels.  Gen Z parents might want to press their children into thinking about a career in research and rehabilitation of arthritis of the thumbs.

thumbs

Changes in Technology Bring New Choices

Long gone are the days of pagers, typewriters, gigapets, Tomagatchies, Furbies and other machines and toys.  Parents remember those.  How many veteran teachers remember the duplicating spirits of the mimeograph machine, or the horrendous chalk dust, and overhead projector blue hand syndrome?  Now, teachers just deal with whiteboard marker fumes all day.

Times have changed and they have changed for parents as well as for teachers.  They have not changed for students of Gen Z.  Like precious generations before them, all they know is what they know in the present.  Parents realize what teachers realize:  the main reason times have changed is because culture has changed.  One of the major cultural changes, of course, is in the explosion of educational and personal technologies and the impacts these have on the developing brains of Gen Z children.  Parents can read all about this in chapters three and four of my book titled, Helping Parents Understand the Minds and Hearts of Generation Z.

Parents today have extreme pressures placed upon them, with routines of work, school, extra-curricular activities, church—you name it!  When a child of a previous generation needed to be disciplined, the child was sent to his or her room.  There was little to occupy the boredom.  There are some differences with today’s children, however.  Getting “grounded” today may not equate to such a detriment.  In fact, Gen Z children sent to their rooms for discipline might realize an open invitation for an awesome time.  Parents today have to contend with smart phones, computers, instant messaging, cable-television, iPads, DVD players and video games.  The matter is exacerbated if Gen Z children have to split their time between two parents, in different homes.  One home’s discipline may be another home’s panacea.  If these equate to grounding, we all should shudder to see full flight!  Changes in technology bring new choices to parenting.

Another wonderful thing about being young is that parents and teachers are virtually clueless when students copy and paste documents together from the Internet, including sharing files and pirated music.  The “think, pair, share,” of classroom collaboration did little for the unmotivated students.  But just think!  If parents all became young again, we would be taught to work together in groups and turn in assignments derived from collaborative efforts, all sharing in the fruits of the reward.  Everyone gets an “A.”

Being young again would also mean being “normcore” stylish.  Or, we could just wear our hats and hoodies in classes, claiming our heads are cold, while budded and listening to our favorite tunes.  If we were young again and our parents allowed us to have smart phones and iPads, what is so wrong with using them whenever we would so desire?  We would just be entitled to them.

Shaw concluded that “Youth is wasted on the young.”  Couple that with another of his famous sayings, “I want to be all used up when I die,” and Gen Z might begin to realize its role in the lives of parents and teachers.  Make no mistake about it: parents are gigabytes in a terabyte world—while their Gen Z kids’ heads are in the Cloud.

How About Some Manners?

Assemble a large group of people together in one location and watch the displays of manners.  At times when my awareness is heightened, I ask myself, are things really as bad as they seem on social media?  Are people, young and old, really this rude—and must we tolerate these behaviors in our schools and at home?  The first question parents should ask any of their Gen Z children’s teachers is “How is my child’s behavior in class?”  The chances are that children willing to practice rudeness and lack of control at school, are probably not much better at home.  Respect is first and foremost about obedience to people and rules.  Gen Z has grown into respecting self over others, seen gloriously in the identity movements encouraged by culture, including the promotion of the same at some schools.

I am curious as to when things changed enough to tolerate the wearing of baseball-type caps inside buildings, such as restaurants, churches, and in school classrooms?  Also, would someone tell me why T-shirts and bare feet are allowed on golf courses? What is this Gen Z world coming to, these days?  Where are they learning all of these practices?

oversized-ball-cap

Some younger Gen Z children scream in stores and are allowed to roam freely, touching most everything in sight.  Are we teaching our young people to think of anyone but themselves?  Don’t look now, but we are all somewhat part of the culture affecting Gen Z.  Are families so stressed out that precious little time is spent actually drawing contrasts in culture for children?  Has anyone else noticed that a smaller amount of people actually hold doors open for others?  What about the phrases, “Excuse me,” “Thank you” and, “You are welcome?” Apparently, these phrases are becoming parliamentary dinosaurs, in favor of the phrase, “No problem.”  Also, few people return lost items to those whom they know, let alone to strangers.

How will Gen Z learn honesty if no one shows them how to be honest?  If they do return an item at all, most people feel entitled to lift anything of value, because of their “good deed” according to some self-oriented “finders-keepers, losers-weepers” notion.  Gen Z will, however post all of these good deeds online, drawing attention to themselves, so the world can see how splendid their actions appear.

Do parents really want their young people filling their minds with abusive talk about women, especially preached by today’s entertainment industry?  Are these neo-American cultural norms for Gen Z?  Take heart!  The independent spirit demonstrated by Gen Z children can be harnessed for good.  Chapter five of my book suggests partnering strategies and methods to assist parents in understanding the minds and hearts of today’s children.

The biblical Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us,” seems to have changed meanings today. The current meaning reads more like “Do unto others before they do unto you.”  This shift would make the late Anton Szandor LaVey smile, for this is the humanist tenet he boldly proclaimed in The Satanic Bible, in founding the Church of Satan in 1969, at Daly City, California.  Talk about cultural contrasts!

satanic-bible

Ralph Waldo Emerson noted: “Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” I think Emerson was onto something.  If parents, teachers, coaches and other adults do not model acceptable, positive manners, where can we expect the younger generation to learn them? Seriously, what is lost by wearing a belt, pulling up one’s sagging pants, or speaking without profanity?  Social media allows culture to impact Gen Z immediately and also allows them to share in the culture, almost as quickly.

Accepting the Challenge

Now where do we place the blame for what many see as a breach of manners in our culture today?  We would all like to pin it on one group or another, and maybe some of that might be justified. However, there is no discounting the reality that there just seems to be a spirit of rudeness that stretches across our culture.  The world saw this in the recent presidential election and our nation sees it in the form of protest on college campuses.  Technology is right in the middle lending to this incivility.  Participation in social media assists in chipping away some of the moral fabric that even the best of families practice.

So here’s the challenge.  Manners, like character and morality, are best discussed at times when openness and peace exist. There is a greater acceptance and understanding in times of peace.  These are what educators call “teachable moments” and they exist for us all.  Teachable moments must begin at early ages and be practiced consistently and from within the fabric of the family.  But difficulty exists there, too, when standards of behavior on weekends differ from weekday standards.  Holding Gen Z accountable may be difficult, but it is critical for the present and for the future of America.

Where can we look for help?  Is it the media?  Schools? The entertainment industry?  Given the changes in the political landscape in 2017, we are left to wonder about the future shifts of education in America.  Maybe, we should all retreat to the Internet for 12-hour sessions of online video gaming to occupy our time until it is all figured out.  After all, who needs an imagination, when one can use a programmer’s imagination for guidance?

In terms of the problems, certainly, we all can continue to blame the traditional whipping posts. There are no easy pinpoints on this one.  But we can begin to shape the world one person at a time.  Gen Z is worth the effort.  Answers do lie in the possibilities of all of our cultural agencies working together—including faith organizations.  But we must ask a serious question:  Is it likely that the cultural wealth of America’s past can once again become valuable over the present fractures in culture, resulting in selfishness, identity politics, and material wealth?  That remains to be seen.

In Gen Z, we have made America young again.  The advice in this book will be helpful toward understanding these wonderful youth.  Parents might even feel a bit younger, themselves, after reading this book.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Regardless, there are some solutions to the issues parents face today.  All things considered, while the nation discordantly adjusts to Making America Great Again, let us not forget Generation Z and the previous generations of Americans which made America great in their own rights.  Here’s to Generation Z and to the greatness that comes next!

This original blog has been inspired from my upcoming books on Generation Z.  These books can be found at https://rowman.com/Action/Search/_/zarra/?term=zarra, on Amazon, and ordered online and at any brick and mortar store.  Both are due to be released on June 1, 2o17

Some Complaints from Teachers

21 Sep

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Has anyone ever checked to see how many bureaucrats and politicians have their children in public schools in their districts?   If they are going to tell their constituents what to do in education, and truly want to be representative of them, then maybe they should be required to place their kids in their local public schools.  Most teachers are sensible creatures.  Most are obedient and tow-the-line.  However, schools are at breaking points.

One of the more serious complaints I am hearing from teachers–especially from those here in California–is that special education students are now mainstreamed and taking so much time away from other students. What this has done to the classrooms is this: Mainstreaming has taken teachers away from doing their jobs effectively, and in some states teachers are being evaluated by the job they do. Did anyone consider the rigors of Common Core, teacher evaluations, and special education students when they made this change in law and policy?

Some of the other complaints and concerns that have come in from colleagues are found in the following:

The premise is that over 80% of special education students can perform at the same levels as all other students, if teachers modify instruction for them, make workload accommodations, and deal with their disciplinary behavioral issues uniquely. That sure sounds like many special education students cannot perform at the same levels as other students in the class.

There are so many concerns with this type of policy, especially in CA. It is prevalent in high schools, as well, given that a prime motivator is to graduate students at any cost. Without special education modifications, many special education students would not make it to graduation.

First, teachers are not special education experts.

Second, students are not competing at the same levels when modifications and special accommodations are made in regular classrooms.

Third, in some California districts, one cannot grade a special education student any grade lower than a C-. Even with this, the students fall farther and farther behind.

Honestly, given the lack of challenge teachers now provide some special education students, if I was a parent of a special education student–and knowing the stress of deadlines and regular assessments–I think it would do more harm than good for my child to be in a classroom both without modification and with it. In classes around the nation, nearly one-third of each class roster contains special education students.

Fourth, regular classroom teachers are not trained in special education strategies, disciplinary methods for challenging behavioral issues and violence, or spending large amounts of tutorial time one-on-one with special education students. Teachers that have to do so, do so at the detriment of the other students in their classes.

Fifth, most special education students need “special” education, not “regular” education. What happens is that classrooms dumb-down the learning, so as not to lose everyone by either the pace or the requirements.

Our public school classrooms are flooded with students who would be better served in their own focused programs. Students in regular classrooms are being shortchanged by the time spent on students which need special attention, special accommodation, conferences regularly, and the students themselves are given so many accommodations that they are actually learning that they can do whatever they want and the system must comply. Essentially, our public schools are a mess and we are reinforcing and enabling.

In closing, teachers that are speaking out apparently have a lot to say. Is it any wonder then, that teachers are leaving the profession in large numbers nationally? This trend is terribly disturbing for the so-called “profession” that I love.

Ramp up the rigors and show grit. Learn how to change mindsets and bring down those with anxiety and rebellious temper flare-ups.

Do so while modifying your classroom rigors, not stressing out the students, and modifying expectations and work output.

Sounds like two ships passing in the night.

Continue to speak out teachers . . . In the meantime . . .

Just call me Dr. Common Sense. 🙂

 

The state seeks to include students with disabilities in funding for high-needs students.
EDSOURCE.ORG

The Number of Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships Keeps Rising, and So Do Arrests: Professional Development Needed!

18 Sep

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Head’s up to all public school districts, and private schools.

When it comes to establishing relationships–including the proper use of communications technology and social media between students, teachers, coaches, and administrators–and even with parents, there is a terrific blurring of personal and professional boundaries.

My book Teacher-Student Relationships:  Crossing into the Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Realms is a guide to reduce the problems, by enhancing the boundaries and calling into account the higher calling of teachers, coaches, and administrators.  The book details the problems associated with inappropriate relationships and offers solutions to make education a much safer place for all.

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I am available to assist faculty and students to discern where the boundaries are at this time of confusion on many fronts, between teachers and the pupils and athletes they are charged to teach, protect, and mentor in their classes, or on the fields.

Feel free to email me at erniezarraphd@aol.com, or post a comment here.  I will return messages.

Please click the following link, to read about the serious abuse issue occurring in the nation, but particularly Texas.  My work is quoted and I am referred to repeatedly, in the piece.

http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2016/09/13/texas-teacher-sexual-misconduct-cases-hit-time-high/

Education Recommendations for Federal and State Agencies

7 May

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FEDERAL AND STATE AGENCIES*
The following list of fifteen recommendations is not exhaustive, but rather a starting point for federal and state level governments.  This list is provided to these bureaucracies as they consider future development and implementation of education programs that come packaged with national implications.
Recommendation #1: Transparency. Transparency would have provided the necessary debate and open sharing of costs, benefits, and public concerns.  Changing programs from one thing to something else should never been undertaken without open discussions. Understand that government does not know best, but that an honest and open government that lifts up people to the changes they view as best is a government of the people. Such a government works best.
Recommendation #2: Remain Politically Neutral. Remove the political aspects of agenda from partisanship and political maneuvering. Validate Americans, and not political parties.
Recommendation #3: Focus on Students First. Focus efforts to change education upon students and families, and not the types of jobs required for future corporate employers.
Recommendation #4: Consider the Arts, Music, and Trades. Consider how all the areas not included in Common Core standards can be incorporated.  After all, students in America are not students in Europe or Asia.
Recommendation #5: Place Less Emphasis on International Assessments.  Be wary of utilizing international assessments for the basis of changing entire systems of education in the United States.
Recommendation #6: Avoid a National Curriculum. Steer completely clear of any discussion of a nationalized curriculum, or a one-size-fits-all area of content. The United States is not Europe, and many foreign nations that have national curricula have lower academic performance than America.
Recommendation #7: Develop More Accurate Domestic Assessments.  Understand that assessments are not the picture of whole persons; they are snapshots and moments in time. Reliance on imperfect assessments does not tell the whole story about American education. Continue development of more and better domestic assessments.
Recommendation #8: Empower States to Step Up. Enable states to compete for federal grants to establish exciting and different programs that include trades, technology, and innovative careers geared toward the future.  Empower entrepreneurialism, beginning in elementary school.
Recommendation #9: Do Not Force All Students into a College Mold.  Understand not all students are college bound and that forcing students into a federal blueprint for education is perceived as control and not as freedom to choose.
Recommendation #10: Allow States to Structure Teacher Accountability.  Allow states to hold their own teachers accountable for education. Allow universities and colleges of education to ramp up their requirements to enter programs of teacher training. There should be no federal punishment for teachers struggling to finds ways to educate the masses in inner cities.
Recommendation #11: Provide Block Grants for Trade and Tech School Startups.  Support states with block grants, so high schools can partner with businesses and create jobs for those who wish to work in high school, as they train for a trade, or experiment with business start-ups online.
Recommendation #12: Attract the Best and Brightest to Teaching.  Mount a campaign to attract the best and brightest to colleges and universities to train to become teachers.  Focus on demand, not just supply. Find those called to teach and invest in their lives.
Recommendation #13: Cease Partisan Argumentation. Cease the side-taking and partisan bickering over the direction of education. Allow more local control of decisions on education. Enable states to work together to create regional hubs of excellence, so that regional certification can be added to state certification. In the process, focus attention on impoverished areas and bring communities and families together to brainstorm ways to move forward.
Recommendation #14: Be Proud of Our American Heritage.  No nation is perfect.  Do not be ashamed of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, as it provides a mooring to our purpose as a nation.  Students need a sense of purpose for their existence.  Not everything in American education should be about individuality. Common good should also be in the equation.
Recommendation #15: Recognize School Choice. Recognize that there are models of schools that meet the needs of families throughout the nation.  Support these families for their choices. Whether public schools, private schools, private religious schools, or homeschools, support all of them and encourage all models that parents deem best for their children.

 

*Excerpted from Ernest J. Zarra, III, The Wrong Direction for Today’s Schools:  The Impact of Common Core on American Education.  Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, pp. 260-262.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

24 Mar

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With each new historical account that is published about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the result is yet another attempt at discrediting history.  In a sense, every skeptical generation’s “fresh look” at these events this may suffice as unintended evidence of historical reliability and documentation accuracy throughout the years.  It is either reliability or, as skeptics maintain, the grandest collusion and hoax ever perpetuated upon mankind.  However, what are the chances of such collusion stretching across at least twenty centuries?  That said, whether doubt by skeptics or reaffirmation by advocates, when it comes to addressing the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ, there is truly nothing new under the sun.  I shall elaborate.

An example of this is the two-thousand years of discussion and supposed refutation of the literal resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Despite a new generation of scholars, or recent attempts to gain personal notoriety, it all comes down to denials of the historicity of the event. In fact, there are only so many ways to deny history. Yet, skeptics continue and with each attempt, another debunking occurs. With each new attempt to invalidate the resurrection, we must “be ready to give to every man an answer for the reason of the hope that lies within . . .” (1 Peter 3:15)

But what is at stake in all of this? It is simple, really. The moment the resurrection is falsified, the entire Christian faith collapses. Christianity is founded on Jesus, and is validated in His life, death, and resurrection. Simply put. Show Jesus to be a liar and it’s over. Demonstrate that someone other than the biblical Jesus lived and died, or that history is incorrect, and all of Christianity and truth come tumbling down.

Dr. Bruce Chilton, in a 2013 cable television interview with John McLaughlin was addressing his book Mary Magdalene, but stated the following: The body of Jesus is still here on the earth and that he only resurrected in a spiritual sense, much like an angelic form.” Chilton also argues that disciples later formed the argument that Jesus’s body rose from the dead. This is nothing new, as the reader with see.

Dr. Murray Harris (1990), in his book From Grave To Glory, says something very close to this. He maintains that the body that entered the tomb was not the literal body that exited the tomb. So, in both Chilton’s and Harris’s cases, there is little explanation as to what happened to Jesus’s literal body if it did not exit the tomb literally.

Religious groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, do not believe Jesus was God, and therefore, His resurrection is an event with which He had little to do. Again, they maintain Jesus was resurrected as a spirit, and the body vaporized in the process. The Mormons also believe in something similar. Both believe Jesus is not God, as orthodoxy would maintain via the canons. Chilton believes Jesus was God in the flesh, but not “God enough” to raise Himself from the dead in His literal body.

Dr. Norman Geisler sees this entire Battle for the Resurrection as satanic. He writes: “Satan’s strategy does not change. He begins by casting doubt on God’s Word . . . Then, if Satan is successful in casting doubt on God’s Word, he will find new ways to ‘spiritualize’ away it’s literal truth. That is, if he cannot get people to doubt that the Bible is God’s Word, he will get them to question how it is to be interpreted. The first strategy worked with the theological liberals. The second strategy is aimed at evangelicals.” (p. 21)

Whether derived from satanic deception, the human mind, or both, the challenges remain. “Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead in the body in which he died?” If He did not, how then could a resurrection be proclaimed?

I am approaching the topic of “The Resurrection” from seven aspects, which include: (1) The Foundation of the Christian Faith, (2) The Early Church, (3) Defense at Corinth, (4) Questioning Our Existence, (5) If Jesus Rose, (6) Attacks upon Christianity that Focus on the Resurrection, and (7) Considerations and Implications.

ONE: THE FOUNDATION FOR THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

The foundation for the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This doctrine is verified by even the most ardent of adversaries. In fact, all antagonists have done the church a favor over the years by stating quite clearly the beliefs of the early church. They then proceed to assault these beliefs. Arianism is just one example.

The church councils over the years, including Nicaea and Constantinople met to codify the Church’s beliefs and stand against heresy. A few great reads on these topics, should the reader desire further information, include: The History of the Christian Church (Philip Schaaf); Heresies Exposed (Louis Talbot); Evidence that Demands a Verdict, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict, The Resurrection (all by Josh McDowell), In Defense of the Resurrection (Norman Geisler), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Aldred Edersheim), and Testimony of the Evangelists (Simon Greenleaf).

The historicity of the view of Jesus’s literal, bodily resurrection is the capstone Christian event. Throughout the ages, the resurrection has been a major unifying doctrine of all Christendom. Without the Resurrection, there is no uniqueness to Christ and Christianity.

TWO: THE EARLY CHURCH

An event such as the Resurrection is sure to elicit skepticism, even among supporters, whether in the early church or in today’s pews. As humans, we struggle with assurance and security issues, particularly when we are not certain that history and scholarship are on our side. However, much of the doubt occurs today because of laziness in scholarship on the part of the average Christian, and a malaise toward truth, especially when cultural and personal beliefs get in the way.

Despite being just a few years removed from the literal event, some the early church believers struggled with the event. There is similarity today in this struggle. The more immorality and unchecked sin found in the church, the less the adherence to doctrinal truth.  Slippage of truth muddies all truth, especially if the slippage occurs with a foundational truth, such as the Resurrection, or deity of Jesus, for example. This is where the Church at Corinth struggled. They allowed culture and acceptable behaviors of culture to dictate doctrinal positions. There is nothing new here.

Whether accepting divorce as a norm, homosexual marriage are part of God’s plan, or any other sinful practice, once the church acquiesces to cultural practices doctrinal slippage is right behind. This plagued the early church at Corinth and it plagues us today.  Sinful practices that are corrected means the church is active in dealing with its ills.  Practices unchecked and tolerated lead to abounding errors.

Observe the Apostle Paul’s words to the Church, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

THREE: DEFENSE AT CORINTH

Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) The apostle rested his entire argument on the bodily resurrection of Jesus. In fact, either Jesus did rise, making it the most glorious event in the history of the world, or he did not rise, and we are all deceived. Such a deception would prove Jesus a liar, and therefore not God. So, we see Paul rested his entire case for the faith on the Resurrection. As a Jew, and former persecutor of the followers of Jesus, this was monumental.

FOUR: QUESTIONING OUR EXISTENCE

Some serious considerations emerge from discussions on the Resurrection. Namely, (1) Where have we come from? (2) Why are we here? (3) What is our destiny? (Paul Little, Know What and Why You Believe series)

If Jesus is God, and proved this through His Life, death, and Resurrection, then He is trustworthy. When He validates the Scriptures, we must listen. For in them, we learn more about ourselves and our purposes for existence. Without the Resurrection, we can have little-to-no-trust in all other things attributed to Jesus. With the Resurrection, there is truth about our existence, both here and after death.

FIVE: IF JESUS ROSE

If Jesus rose from the dead, then we can be certain that God exists. We can also be certain that He cares about us as people, individually and personally, and that the expansive universe has meaning and purpose. Therefore, we can trust God that what He says about life and death are true, making our current experience in this world just as important as those who have gone before us. Since death is a universal experience, none of us will escape this world alive. This is exactly the point of the Resurrection. Only God could escape the plight that plagues all humans.

But Who raised Jesus? The Bible is clear that the following is true:

(1) God the Father raised Jesus. Observe John 5:21, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” Also observe Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33-34, 37. (NASB)

(2) The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. We see this in Romans 8:11. “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (NASB)

(3) The Son raised Himself from the dead. We see this in Romans 1:4, “Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord . . . and John 10:17-18, The Son Himself lays down His life and takes it up again.” (NASB)

It is clear that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. Still, asks the doubter, “Who raised Jesus from the dead?” The only complete answer is that God did. It is apparent that the trinity was involved in the Resurrection. Romans 10:9-10 demonstrates this truth: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (NIV)

SIX: ATTACKS UPON CHRISTIANITY THAT FOCUS ON THE RESURRECTION

There are just three reasons for all attacks upon the Resurrection. First, the event is attacked because it is foundational and center to the Faith. If the foundation goes, then so too goes all upon which it is built. Second, the event is attacked so as to make every effort to discredit the Savior. If the event did not happen, then we do not have a Savior. Third, if the Bible is incorrect and contains the record of a false messiah, and inaccurate accounts of the Resurrection, then it is open to being challenged on all other moral fronts. Every culture has dealt with these considerations and implications, as they pertain to the Christian faith.

SEVEN: CONSIDERATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

Here are three things to consider when answering the question “Did Jesus rise from the dead?”

1. First, we must consider the historical fact of the Christian Church worldwide. The church has a historical beginning and emergence. It is true that other religions have historical beginnings. However, no other religion is based on such a profound event as the Resurrection.

The history of the Church traces to AD 32, in Palestine. The Book of Acts chronicles stories about entire communities that were affected by the message of the Resurrection. Unlike other religions, there was no secret message given behind closed doors, or through curtains, or theology derived from one man’s words and writings. The message of the Resurrection was wide open, spread openly, and tested by communities and scholars of the day. The same is true for today.

Believers in Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch. In Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul’s preaching persuaded some of the Jews and Greeks, as well as women, to believe in Jesus and the Resurrection message. Unlike religions of the day, and some even today, women were included in the Faith from the very beginning. The message of the Resurrection turned the world upside down. We read this in Acts 17:6, “When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have upset the world have come here also’ . . .”

Throughout the ages, believers referred to the Resurrection as the basis for their teaching, preaching, living, and eventually dying. Evidence of the latter is Acts 6:11-14, where Stephen is the first record martyr in the Bible. One must question whether a person is willing to both live for a lie, and die for the same lie.

The Bereans were noble people, in that they studied and did their own research before they believed in Jesus and His resurrection. We see this in Acts 17:11, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

2. Second, the fact that Sunday is the day of worship for Christians means that shifting the worship calendar from the Sabbath, the 7th day of the week, to Sunday, the 1st day of the week was enormous. Acts 20:7 provides evidence that believers gathered together to commemorate the Resurrection event “on the first day of the week.” This is quite remarkable, in that many numbered in the first believers were Jews.

3. Third, there is the fact of the recorded New Testament. There are vast numbers of independent testimonies to the historicity of the resurrection. From Josephus to the modern historians, the records are clear. The New Testament includes eyewitnesses in John, Peter, and Matthew. Saul of Tarsus has an encounter with the risen Jesus, and accepted the resurrection without question (Acts 9:1, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:8). Thomas believed in the Resurrection after touching the literal, physical body of the risen Savior. His proclamation of “My Lord, and my God,” stands as a believer’s skepticism turned affirmation (John 20:28).

There is no evidence to indicate that the Resurrection did not occur. There are several theories propagated as attempts to explain away the event, but no evidence exists to the contrary. In fact, the empty tomb and the post-resurrection appearances are events discussed by believers and non-believers alike. The fact remains, that Jesus is not in a tomb. There is no body and no one can claim that there is a body. I will revisit this point in a later section.

All other deceased religious and political leaders of the past remain dead and in their graves and tombs. The challenge remains today as it has always remained. Prove that Jesus did not rise from dead as He said, and the entire Christian faith collapses as a house of cards.

WHAT ABOUT THE EMPTY TOMB?

First, the earliest explanation of the empty tomb was the claim that the disciples came and stole the body of Jesus. This is recorded in Matthew 28:11-15. The Jewish religious leaders gave out money to the soldiers and told them to claim that the disciples came at night while they were asleep, and stole the body. This can be discounted by the fact that any Roman soldier asleep on duty was sure to face punishment, and even death.

Each of the disciples of Jesus faced torture and, all but the Apostle John, were martyred for believing in Jesus, His deity and His resurrection. We must consider whether people are willing and able to die for lies, or whether they die for beliefs which they “think” to be true. There is a stark difference for believing in something they believe to be true and dying for it, versus believing in something they know to be false, yet dying for it. There is also a major difference is dying for something true, regardless our beliefs. The disciples died knowing and believing, actually having contact with the resurrected Truth, Himself.

If Jesus truly remained dead, and His disciples had stolen His corpse, then how does one explain the appearances of Jesus alive? The record indicates He appeared to many, after His resurrection. Here are some examples of His appearances.
~Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)
~Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
~The Eleven (minus Thomas) (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25)
~Thomas (John 20:19-20; 24-31)
~Seven Disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21: 1-23)
~James (1 Corinthians 15:7)
~Group of Women (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10)
~Cleopas (Luke 24:13-35)
~The Eleven (John 20:26-29)
~Disciples; Large Gathering mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:6)
~Ascension (Luke 24:49-53; Acts 1:3-11)

There is an interesting statement in Gospel of Matthew, which historians have somehow left alone. There is a reference that the tombs were opened and many dead appeared directly after the death and resurrection of Jesus. This was no small event interpreted by a small sect of faithful believers. His death and resurrection had profound effects upon the world.

Observe Matthew 28:50-53: “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom, and the earth shook, and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.”

He did not die so that subsequent cultures worldwide could invalidate His teachings on marriage, relationships, love, or to somehow allow non-Christian validation to beliefs and practices contrary to what He and the Apostles taught on, pertaining to the same. Jesus certainly did not resurrect to bring fresh, new cultural perspectives based on sexual attraction and orientations. He conquered sin, with which all of us have to contend, and all of us “used to practice.” It is timely that the Supreme Court is hearing a case on California’s same-sex marriage law. Where is Christ in all of this? This remains to be seen.

Second, there is the hypothesis that the authorities of the day moved the body from the tomb. This is an argument that is easily refuted. Why would Roman guards be necessary if the authorities intended to remove the body? Why then pay the soldiers to say the disciples stole the body, if the authorities were the culprits? The telltale signs are these, (1) No Jewish or Roman authorities stepped forward to refute the Resurrection, and no one produced the body of Jesus to stem the tide of the spread of Christianity throughout the years.

The religious leaders were so angry that they did all they could to stop the message from spreading, even later arresting and beating Peter and John (Acts 4). But, it was too late. However, imagine for a moment that the authorities actually had the body of Jesus. Who in their right minds would believe the body would not have been produced, so as to allow Christianity to flourish?

Third, another popular theory is that because of distress and darkness, those who arrived first at the tomb were confused and actually arrived at the wrong tomb. Critics, conclude, “No wonder the tomb was empty, it was the wrong tomb!” Again, this theory is weak. If the first visitors, who were women, went to the wrong, then it would have been easy to later produce the body from the right tomb.

This theory is quite offensive to women, by implying they were in such a poor emotional state that had no sense of direction in the early morning hours. Furthermore, how likely is it that after burying a loved one that all of His friends would arrive at the wrong place of burial? Since the tomb was a borrowed burial place, we must also assume that the owner, Joseph of Arimathea, would have easily identified his own private property. After all, Jesus was not buried in a public cemetery.

Fourth, the silliest—yet one of the theories that garners a lot of attention still today—addresses Jesus’s death and resurrection through what is called the “Swoon Theory.” This theory proposes that Jesus did not actually die in the first place. He was simply reported as dead, and appeared as such from the torture and exhaustion.. The theory also proposes that with the coolness of the tomb, and with rest and recovery, Jesus revived and everyone thought Him to be resurrected.

Would Jesus have survived His wounds? Would he have survived approximately 75 pounds of spice wrappings? If so, He would have had to extricate Himself from these wrappings and heavy grave-clothes, rise from his stone slab, muster the strength to push lift a stone from its moorings with hands pierced with spikes, and roll it away from the tomb entrance. He then would have had to overcome Roman guards, and walk miles on feet pierced with a spike. Furthermore, to do all of this, we must assume that the Roman soldier who pierced his heart with his sword, actually missed, and Jesus’s heart, or surrounding tissue regenerated somehow within three days. The bottom line is this: Jesus would have had to lie to His disciples about His death, if He was merely swooning and recovered. Thus, the world’s greatest hoax would then have been perpetuated.

One last point remains, with little attention from history. If this theory is correct, then Jesus died sometime later in history. Where then, does His body lie? Regardless the theory, it all comes down to one thing: Where is the body of Jesus? The answer given at the empty tomb still resonates today. In Luke 24:1-8, we read:

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.”

Here are some advocates of the swoon theory, throughout history.

1. 1780: German Karl Friedrich Bahrdt claimed Jesus deliberately feigned his death, using drugs provided by the physician Luke, to appear as a spiritual messiah and cause Israel to abandon the idea of a political messiah. Later, Jesus was then resuscitated by Joseph of Arimathea, in whose tomb He was placed. Jesus was assumed to have Essene connections with Joseph and together they plotted the conspiracy.

2. 1800, Karl Venturini proposed that a group of supporters dressed in white, who were part of an underground “secret society” but heard groaning from inside the tomb, where Jesus had regained consciousness in the cool, damp air. They then frightened away the guards and rescued him.

3. 1802: Heinrich Paulus, wrote that he believed that Jesus had fallen into a temporary coma and somehow revived without help in the tomb.

4. 1920: Ernest Brougham Docker speculates about the theory in If Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross.

5. 1965: Hugh J. Schonfield addresses the possibility of the theory in The Passover Plot.

6. 1982. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, speculated that Pontius Pilate was bribed to allow Jesus to be taken down from the cross before he was dead.

7. In 1992, Barbara Thiering explored the swoon theory in-depth in her book Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

8. 1994: Holger Kersten addresses the theory in Jesus lived in India.

9. 2006, Baigent published The Jesus Papers, a book that describes how Jesus may have survived the crucifixion.

In closing, we hearken back to the words of Geisler: “The bodily resurrection of Christ is an indispensable foundation of the Christian faith. No deviation on this doctrine should be tolerated within the ranks of orthodox Christianity.” (In Defense of the Resurrection, p. 28)

empty tomb (2)

Common Core: Sharing Responsibility for Education?

20 Jul

 Could we also PLEASE pass and enforce laws that hold parents and students accountable for attendance, cuts, disciplinary actions, homework, and their own education-especially at the middle and high school levels? You know, I think large numbers of secondary students would be just as absent and uncaring about their education, as they would be if they were taking their classes online, rather than the classroom. What then? Would we blame the “boring” online course for students not completing their requirements?

Placing the vast majority of school accountability on teacher performance provides for those unwilling to admit larger problems a scapegoat, since bureaucrats have stripped 90% of the authority away from classroom teachers.  Common Core advocates want to ramp up rigors, then how about ramping up expectations, discipline, authority of teachers, and accountability for parents.  While you are at it, why not tighten up what is ramped up?

In fact, parents cannot discipline their children at home for messing up in school. They are told they can be arrested for any physical contact. The easy route is parents excuse their kids when they cut classes, like it is no big deal. Taxpayers should be angry over the tax dollars thrown away when students do not come to school.  Children are not the center of the universe in education, but they should be the focus.  The former has lead to an entitled group that fears little and has even less accountability.  The latter brings with it what is best for all, including the students and holds them accountable.  Yet, all we hear about is how bad teachers are and why they should be fired.

If we really want to hold teachers accountable, then culture has to change to allow teachers more authority over their classrooms, grading, and policies that enhance learning.  At those junctures, teachers with tools to succeed may result in surprising results.

Schools must get tough on attendance and students being must come to school prepared to learn. Families are not doing their jobs, like they did in the recent past.  Some of this is not their fault.  The federal government creates classes of people, demarcates them further by divisiveness, and then points fingers.  You see, with government taking care of nearly 60,000,000 families with all sorts of social entitlement programs, school is just another of the entitlements.  Perish the thought that those who serve on fixed incomes at schools with expect students and families to work together with them.  Most teachers,truly believe schools are where kids go to learn.  Subverting this belief are parents who do not see that the primary educational functions belong to them.  Without that, it is neither fair, nor just, to hold teachers accountable for things within which they cannot make a difference–especially when students are not in class.

Bureaucrats have gotten in the way of teaching–my teaching, your teaching.  So, I am speaking out. These same bureaucrats, with their policies, have gotten in the way of student learning, by enabling them to be irresponsible. Think about it. Why has the culture changed to allow the vast majority of students the freedom to feel empowered to cut school, or class, with seeming near-absolute impunity?  Government gives them a pass.  Schools give students and parents multitudes of chances, in the hope that one day they’ll come around.  Love should be unconditional, yes.  But should education be unconditional?

I am “all for” holding teachers accountable. But the question is, “Hold teachers accountable for what?” Student learning?  If so, get them in class and get them to do their work.  If bureaucrats and parents won’t do it, why are teachers held accountable for that reality?  Likewise, if they do not come for “good” reasons, why should teachers be held accountable if students have to work to support their families, or teenagers choose to have sex and make their lives messier?  I could go on!  Teachers are told to understand the plights of today’s families, accept every definition of family, and treat everyone as equals.  While practicing this, teachers are going to be evaluated when outside influences and cultural plights get in the way?  This is bureaucratic insensibility in what is completely a socialistic system called “education.”

In addition to holding teachers accountable, I am also all-in for holding bureaucrats and families accountable. While we are at it, why not restrict students’ behaviors so that it hurts?  Why is one political party allowed a stranglehold on policy in some states?  I know I am speaking to the wall, because bureaucrats are fearful that someone would feel bullied, offended, or singled out for improvement.  Litigation threats stifle truth and any real significant movement forward.

As an educator, I ask for more authority. But please do not hold me accountable as a teacher for students and families who are not Americans, or are here under the radar.  We are compelled to serve all students, even if it means citizens receive less attention.  However, if you must evaluate us, may we teachers hold you–THE BUREAUCRATS accountable for the lack of achievements of the same group and diminution of assessment scores?  May we tie student assessment scores to YOU and YOUR tenure in office?  May we have a voice on policies that place teachers in nearly impossible situations?

Hey bureaucrat, “If you want some evaluative authority, give some evaluative authority.”

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