Bloomfield High School Class of 1973 Memorial Dedication Page

16 Sep

 

Bengals Forever:  A memorial tribute to those that have left us.

UPDATED:  September 2018

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Memories, the 1973 Bloomfield High School Yearbook

Cover designed by Patricia Anselmo Daly (’73)

Reaching

Desiring light but enveloping darkness

You search for the beauty

And the life

And the meaning.

~Colette Natalie Lisacchi (’73)

Gone, but never forgotten . . . 

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“No good work is done anywhere without aid from the Father of Lights.”

~C. S. Lewis

Poem for his Friends

So my friend you’re feelin’ down

Someone you once knew is gone

Farther than the longest mile

Gone without a word.

Life is a sacred gift

Taken back for no reason

Going faster than it came

leaving only a sigh.

How you doin’ friend we’re thinkin’ of you

Hold your head up in the morning sun

Look down upon us from wherever you may be

Your life hasn’t stopped, it’s just begun.

So your friends’ memories are never gone.

Sometimes lost but always found

And as time passes day by day

Sooner than you think you’ll meet again.

So my friend, don’t let it bring you down

He is better off then we are here.

So my friend, don’t let it bring you down

He is watching over us somewhere.

~Kenneth J. Brill (’73)

John Mitchell Adams

Mass to be Held Today for John Mitchell Adams.
A Mass will be held this morning for John Mitchell Adams, 18 son of Mr. and Mrs. Kelty Adams of 26 Olive
Street, at St. Anthony’s Church, Franklin Avenue, Belleville.  The youth was reported missing in heavy seas at Seaside Heights last Thursday, and presumed drowned. Marine police and Coast Guard boats searched through Sunday.  The accident occurred about 7:40 p.m. off of the Summer Street beach.  Mr. Adams and two other youths were on a raft which was upset by a wave. Mr. Adams was swept away but the two other youths managed to get to shore.  Born in Wyatt, MO., Mr. Adams moved with his family to Connecticut, then to East Orange and Bloomfield. John Adams attended Clifford Scott High School in East Orange for two years and Bloomfield High School for two years and was a member of the BHS graduating class of 1973.  He had been sworn into the Naval Reserves and was supposed to report for duty on 1. He planned to spend two weeks with friends at the shore first.  In addition to his parents, members of the youth’s family include two sisters, Mary Louise, 19 and Angela, 15 at home; his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Alphonse Condito of 91 Watsessing Avenue, and his paternal grandfather, John W. Adams of the Olive Street address.  Obituary; John Mitchell Adams.pdf.  See link below.

Phyllis (Angelo) Piccirillo

David Aspen

Patricia Caruso

Patrick Cervasio

Thomas W. Corcoran (Drama Club; Acting Club; Vice President; All-School Production; Student Prints; Photography Staff; Chess Club; Intramural Basketball; Intramural Volleyball; Camera Club)

Thomas W. Corcoran, on Monday, September 15, 2003, of Upper Montclair, NJ, husband of Patricia Barry Corcoran, father of Maureen, Leigh Ann, and Heather Corcoran, all of Upper Montclair, son of the late Charles andVirginia Corcoran, brother of Charles of Middlesex, also survived by 15 sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, as well as 23 nieces and nephews.  Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral from The O’BOYLE FUNERAL HOME, 309 Broad Street, Bloomfield, NJ, Friday at 9:00 am.  The funeral service will be held at Riverside Community Church, 50 Union Avenue, Nutley, at 10:30am. Internment Immaculate Conception Cemetery.  Friends may call Thursday 2-4 and 7-9 pm.  For those who wish, in lieu of flowers,contributions may be made to the Jennifer Swift Feldman Foundation, 60 Bellevue Avenue, Upper Montclair, NJ  07043, or the Riverside Community Church.

Kathy Dell’Osso

Michele Mary De Vito

Howard S. Dieterle (J.V. Baseball; Varsity Basketball; Intramural Volleyball)

John Dull

Timothy Dwyer

Stephen Figurelli

Karen E. Fleisher (Display Committee; Guidance Worker) 

Al R. Fleming

William F. Giammearse

Edward A. Gleason

Kevin Robert Greener (Library Council, Display Committee; Wrestling. Outdoor Track)

Maralyce “Molly” Henchey

Maralyce (Molly) Henchey of Montclair, N.J., died on Nov. 21, 2010, at Father Hudson House, Elizabeth, N.J. She was 55 years old. Relatives and friends are invited to a memorial service to celebrate her life on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 12 to 2 p.m. at Frank Halpin’s Brookdale Funeral Home, 1284 Broad St., Bloomfield, N.J. Maralyce was a 1976 graduate of Ramapo College with a degree in psychology. She was an avid gardener. Maralyce was the beloved daughter of the late Ann and William
Henchey; dear sister of Monica Ginsberg of Randolph, N.J., and Michael Henchey and Lawrence Henchey, both of Montclair, and loving aunt of Aaron and Ethan Ginsberg. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Father Hudson House, 111
Dehart Place, Elizabeth, N.J. 07202, in her memory.

Norajean Hughes (Home Economics Club; History Club)

Robert L. Juliano (Outdoor Track)

Joan Kabasakalian (German Club; National Honor Society)

Charles S. Karsh (Valedictorian; History Club; Creative Writing Club; Ecology Club; Treasurer; Key Club; National Honor Society)

Carol Lynn Koslosky (Football Program)

Paul Krie

Donald Robert Krentz (Intramural Basketball)

Joseph P. LaBadia (Varsity Football, Golf, Italian Club; Varsity “B” Club; Intramural basketball);  Birth Date:  11 June 1954; Death Date:  22 April 2005; Localities:  Big canoe, Pickens, Jasper, Georgia, 30143

Kathleen Ann Lataro (Home Economics Club)

Dorothy Ann Leggins

John Lloyd

Thomas James Madden

Daniel Peter McGrath

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Daniel McGrath Retired Bloomfield fireman Daniel McGrath, 61, of Longs, S.C., passed away on Aug. 7, 2016. Relatives and friends are invited to attend a celebration of his life at the O’Boyle Funeral Home, 309 Broad St., Bloomfield, N.J., on Tuesday, Sept. 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. Please express condolences at oboylefuneralhome.com. Born in Newark, N.J., Daniel lived in Bloomfield and the last eight years in Longs. He was a retired fireman in Bloomfield for 20 years. Daniel was the brother of Gerard, Terrance, and Susan.

Nancy E. McLaughlin (Home Economics Club; MEMORIES ’73; Literary Staff; Future Nurses of America; National Honor Society; Recording Secretary; Junior Red Cross Representative; Delegate to the Citizenship Institute; S. G. A.; Homeroom Representative)

Henry George Meininger

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Henry George Meininger USMC veteran and former Caldwell police lieutenant, 61 Henry George Meininger, 61, of Blairstown, N.J., for the past two years, formerly of West Milford, N.J., passed away Sept. 9, 2016, at Morristown Medical Center, Morristown, N.J. A visitation will be held from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m., today, Monday, Sept. 12, at Newbaker Funeral Home, 200 Route 94, Blairstown. A funeral service will take place at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Free Evangelical Church, 11 Lambert Rd., Blairstown. Henry was born on Dec. 9, 1954, in Bloomfield, N.J., to John H. and Phyllis (Lawson) Meininger. He was a graduate of Bloomfield High School, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1974-1977. He retired as a police lieutenant of the Caldwell, N.J., police force, and later as accident investigator instructor. Henry attended the Free Evangelical Church in Blairstown, and was involved with the Solid Rock Day Camp in West Milford, N.J., where he was an instructor of archery and paintball. He is survived by his wife, Christine (Kongsberg) Meininger; three daughters, Anna Pascarella, Krista Dailey, and Amanda Meininger; three grandchildren, and a sister, Phyllis Bedotto. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Henry’s name to either The Solid Rock Day Camp, 37 Stevens Rd., West Milford, N.J. 07480 or the Shiloh Bible Camp, 753 Burnt Meadow Rd., Hewitt, N.J. 07421.

Gerald Oliveto

Richard Pelosi

Joseph Pezzino (Sophomore Football; Varsity Football; J. V. Baseball; Varsity Baseball)

Kathy Pologonia

John Puttorak

James “Jimmie” Quine

James Thomas Romanowski (Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Cross Country, Intramural Basketball)

Bernice J. Ryblewski (Art Club)

Alfred Michael Saia (Intramural Basketball and Volleyball)

Vincent Michael Salvatore (C. I. E.)

Armond Sasso (J. V. Basketball; Varsity Basketball; Varsity Baseball)

Richard A. Saunders

John Scalise (Camera Club; Homeroom Representative)

Thomas Phillip Scaringello

Marla Scott

Dennis Brian Slattery (Electronics Club; Homeroom Representative; Intramural basketball; Intramural Volleyball)

Richard Soper

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Richard Soper Loving father, son, brother Richard Soper died unexpectedly in his home in Bloomfield, N.J., on Nov. 21, 2016, from complications of cancer. A memorial will be held at First Presbyterian Church on the Green on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, with visitation at 1 p.m., followed by the service at 2 p.m. Arrangements are by Van Tassel Funeral Home, vantasselfuneralhome.com. Richard was a loving father, son and brother. He was a man of integrity who endured many challenges in his life. His gruff exterior masked a very loving heart. Richard was born in Bad Axe, Mich., on Nov. 15, 1955, to Ruth Louise (Emery) Soper and Ward Orin Soper. When the family moved back to Bloomfield, Richard was educated in the Bloomfield school system. In 1972 Richard was given an award for bravery when he rescued his maternal grandmother from a home fire. He married in his twenties and was blessed with beautiful daughters, Georgann and Annatalie Soper, whom he loved very much. After living in Florida for a few years, Richard returned to Bloomfield to take devoted care of his parents. He was a loyal employee of Terry Drugs, then Esquire Big and Tall, until his retirement a few years ago. Richard is survived by his mother, Ruth; daughters, Georgann and Annatalie, and sister, Cheryl. He was predeceased by his father, Ward; grandmother, Louise Emery, and brother and sister, Ward Arthur Soper and Sandra Louise Soper. Richard will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him very much.

Published in Star-Ledger on Dec. 2, 2016– See more at: http://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?n=richard-soper&pid=182920150&fhid=17157#sthash.bYeJPcAK.dpuf

Theresa Spano (Pep Club; German Club; Future Teachers Club; Gym Club; S. G. A.; Dramatics Club; G. A. A.; Cheerleading Squad, Speedball; Basketball; Volleyball)

Terry Spano, Rockette and performing arts school founder, of Roseland, 53 Terry Spano, 53, of Roseland passed into eternal rest Thursday in Hackensack University Medical Center, after fighting a courageous battle for four yeares against ovarian cancer. Services will be conducted from the LaMonica Memorial Home, 145 E. Mount Pleasant Ave., Livingston, on Monday, Sept. 29, at 9a.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church, Roseland. Interment will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Hanover. Visitation is on Sunday form 1 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.  Terry was born in Newark, the daughter of the late Michael and Carmella Spano.  She was raised in Bloomfield and moved to Roseland in 1984. A 1973 graduate of Bloomfield Senior High School, Terry auditioned in her senior year and was accepted into the world famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. This began a 23-year career that took her all over the world. Terry began her love of dancing at four years of age as a student of the Perry and Keller Dance Studio in East Orange. At Radio City Music Hall, she danced with such famous stars as Liza Minelli, Peter Allen, Liberace, Ginger Rogers and Gwen Verdon. She also starred in the made-for-television movie ‘Legs’, the life of a Rockette, print ads for’I Love New York’, and the feature film, ‘Annie’. In 1988, Terry was chosen to be one of eight Rockettes to co-star with Chita Rivera on a world tour of the revival of the Broadway hit of Cole Porter’s ‘Can Can’. This 2 1/2 year tour took Terry around the U.S. and all over the world to London, Paris, Germany, Australia and for three months, Japan. Terry was a 30-year member of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild, voting every year for the Academy Awards. She retired from Radio City Music Hall in 1996 and became the founder and artistic director of the the Roseland School of Performing Arts, showcasing the development of young students in the area several times a year. Through these experiences, Terry gave others her courage to dream of a life in the performing arts. In June 2007, Terry was chosen Citizen of the Year by the Roseland Chapter of Unico National for her outstanding devotion and dedication to the Roseland community. She is survived by her husband of 28 years, John Higgins of Roseland; her brother, Michael Spano Jr. and his wife, Angela, and sons, Ryan, Gino and Michael, all of Roseland, and her many loving family members. In lieu of flowers, donations in Terry’s memory would be appreciated and can be sent to The Sisters of Saint Joseph, St. Joseph’s Villa, 110 W. Wissahickon Ave., Flourtown, Pa. 19031.

Richard Staub

Richard P. Staub, 54, passed away on Saturday, October 11, 2008. A memorial mass will be held on Saturday, October 25, 2008 at St. Mary’sChurch, 17 Msgr. Owens Pl., Nutley at 1:00 p.m. To send condolences and to sign the guestbook, please visit www.biondifuneralhome.com.  Mr. Staub, formerly from Bloomfield and Florida, currently lived in Nutley and was a butcher and meat manager for Pathmark and ShopRite. Richard is survived by his former wife Louise Staub and his beloved son Richard Ryan Staub. He is also survived by his brothers Joseph Staub; David Staub and his wife Karen; John Staub and his wife Lisa. Richard is also survived by his sisters Mary Hoover, Theresa Sheldon and her husband Gary; Peggy Caruso and her husband John. He is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and life-long friends.  Arrangements by the Biondi Funeral Home of Nutley, NJ.

Linda Tibbetts

Vincent Henry Tucciarone

Edwin D. Whelpley (Electronics Club; Chips and Sparks Club)

Gail Wilks (Visovsky)

Robert William Williams (Outdoor Track)

Is Suicide Ever Right?

17 Jun

I would like to open a discussion on the topic of a person taking his or her life. We call it by the term “suicide.” The suicide recently, of a friend has spurred the revisiting of an older post. On the heels of California becoming the fifth state to legalize a “right to die” for patients, the events of this trying week beg the question: Is suicide ever the right thing to do?
Before I move into a bit of conversation, I would like us to make certain to spend a little extra time lingering over those hugs with our kids, spouses, families, and friends. We must state our love in words and in actions. One never knows how long we have on this earth, which leads me to the next point. The facts are that even with all of these loving expressions, we live in a world that is tainted by evil and sin. We live in bodies that are faulty, and riddled with chemical imbalances, at times. We are frail and all of us one breath from the end of life here on earth. We also live in a world that would swallow us up, as a vortex vanquishes its volume. The pressures are great on us all.
For me, there is no mistaking the fact that evil exists, and that some people are tempted by internal and external forces to end their lives. The culture of death and abuse in which we live is pervasive. Many young people are not seeing their futures as full of purpose, and that is our fault as Americans. There is also no mistaking the fact that there are other factors that can cause people to “feel” hopeless, and convince themselves there is only one way to deal with this hopelessness. These feelings are real. These feelings are heightened beyond reality, sometimes. They are feelings, nonetheless. I am left to wonder the extent that biology plays into depression and destructive thoughts.
With that last query in mind, I know firsthand the thyroid deficiencies that cause irrational thoughts and bizarre behaviors. I am aware of the depression that haunts some people, due to chemical imbalances, bipolarism, or PTSDs–and even child sexual abuse. The threat of suicide by all should be taken seriously by loved ones and friends. A person living with “harmed and fractured insides” sometimes believes that such harm is a norm and that what we would call “additional harm” may be viewed as that person’s “additional norm.” When this happens, something is wrong inside the person. Add to this some form of chemical or substance abuse, and the brain is all cross-circuited, and emotions are imbalanced. The brain both affects and is affected by biology and chemistry. Emotions and the brain are inseparable, especially so for girls and women.
As a Christian man, I can assure you that praying for people is the right thing to do. Miracles do occur. I have seen some. But God gives us common sense also, and sometimes prayer has to be coupled with professional assistance and treatment. Asking a person to simply pray their way out of depression, or for healing from a fractured youth is one thing. Walking through these issues has to be accomplished by the person first admitting there is a problem. This is where there is often a hang up.
As quickly as we go to the doctor for a physical disease, the same should be done for something problematic emotionally and mentally. However, getting the right help with the right worldview is critical. I am no physician, and certainly I am not a psychotherapist. But I am a man of common sense and signs of trouble are perceptible if we take the time to see them and act accordingly. They are easily missed, and even more easily dismissed–until it is too late. Having said all of this, permit me to address some issues for additional conversational purposes.
First, Jesus, in offering up His life and being in command of the moment it ended, has been accused of suicide by some critics. I would like to know the differences between giving up one’s life by choice, and ending one’s life by choice. They are both ends of life by choice. Is it in the purpose that we consider one not as suicide and the other, as such? Love to know your thoughts.
Second, if a military person charges directly into the line of fire, we call this person a hero—even if it means his life is ended. Is this suicide to do so, knowing the outcome is certain death? On the other hand, again, is it in the purpose for which the life ended that allows the removal of the label of suicide? Can it ever be heroic for a person to take his or her own life, albeit for a higher cause–even if it means pain in the present? I have heard people say, “They would be better off without me, in the long run.” Some people actually think they are choosing a higher path, in their own minds. That is the issue. They see this negative as a positive. In a disabled mental or emotional state, one’s mind can confuse purposeful actions.
Therefore, third, is it possible for a person to be in such a confused state that ending his or her own life is to be viewed as equal to sacrifice for a higher cause? The converse of this is whether suicide is a cheap and selfish way out of problems a person sees not end to, and it is ultimately purposeless, irrational, and devoid of anything heroic. I have always said, if those who kill themselves by their own choice, could float above the room in which their family and friends gather, and see the devastation and grief their actions leave behind in the people they claim to love, they might very well wish to un-choose their actions. Yes, this is only speculation. But, we struggle to understand reasons why people would be tormented by thoughts of death and destruction.
If we trace the family history, sometimes is seems as if others in the family’s past have also committed the destructive act. But this is not always the case for the first person in the family to carry out the act. But now there is a precedent and a bridge crossed for others to more easily justify the action for themselves. I have heard people say, “I have suicidal thoughts because my mom and grandfather committed suicide.”
Some argue this is a spiritual issue. Others argue it is genetic and that mental illnesses are passed on. I think there is a sensible position in the middle, where both explanations might can fit as factors. Certainly drugs can cause a person to commit irrational acts—whether prescription or not. We must understand that death is not a part of life, like a nap from which we awaken later. Death is the cessation of physical life. Taking one’s life with the hope that there is an eternal life, lessens the value of this temple we are given–the very house of the Holy Spirit and new creations, at that! This leads me to the ultimate question: If the last act committed by a Christian is a sin—in the case of suicide, which a crime against oneself and a sin to God, as well as the stumbling other believers—does this person find himself in the presence of the Lord, and ultimately heaven? I do not know the answer to this question. I have my beliefs and these are strong beliefs–but I simply do not know. This is where my faith comes in.
I did not originate life and I do not control its ends and the eternal state of created souls. Certainly we cannot practice anything we want at any time, and think our lives are in line with the Almighty. What is more, we cannot expect those in their right minds, who rake their lives, to be accountable. Inasmuch as a small child’s brain is not fully developed to be accountable for his or her actions, I also believe there are probably some adults whose brains, hearts, and minds are so injured that they are not accountable for their actions, either. My only dilemma is whether or not all suicides fit this accountability factor. Again, that’s up to the Almighty.
In summation, here are six questions to consider:
(1) How is killing another the same, or different from killing self? Is killing still killing?
(2) If suicide ever justified for the believer, if it means saving someone else from harm?
(3) Is suicide an unpardonable sin, since the person deceased cannot repent and ask for forgiveness, after the fact?
(4) Is there purposeful suicide to alleviate suffering, whereby the person saves others from having to deal with the individual any longer?
(5) If a physician assists in a patient’s suicide, by his or her choice, is that really suicide, or murder—or both?
(6) What reasons are there biblically, and what theological context is there, to say categorically that suicide keeps one out of heaven, or does not keep one from heaven?
Thanks for reading and thanks, in advance, for your comments. Please keep them respectful.

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)

A Christmas Reminder . . .

13 Dec

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!

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.”

HR-5: EXCEL is a Verb as Well as a Proper Noun

8 Jul

HR-5, has anyone stopped to consider a few simple truths?

Any program that has as its aim closing “achievement gaps between groups” is set up already  set up to fall short.  There are only a few ways to close gaps, which is actually code for federally-required test scores.

First, pack money into programs and focus on ELL, special education, non-English speakers, immigrants both legal and illegal, the homeless, impoverished, and others who are labeled as low-achievers.  Ho…w insulting is that to be labeled as such.  However, once we label, we fund.  Remove the funds and people are racists and haters.

Second, disregard those from Asia and do not even mention them in any minority discussion.  Ask yourself, why do the Asians do so well in our schools, both public and private?

Third, focus less on those considered high achievers because, as one of my professors stated back-in-the-day, “they have resources and will do fine no matter what.”  Focusing less on high achievers does help to close the gap.  But this is not a fair closure.  Here is why.

Focusing on raising assessment scores for low-achievers, while allowing any level of disregard of higher achievers is not socially just.  It is discriminatory.  If the higher achievers decline just a bit; and the lower achievers grow just a bit, we are back to an AYP and API, but under different names.  Thus, in one way or another, we arrive at the reality in public education.

Rather than pushing the excellence envelope for high achievers, actually widening the gap AND pressing for low achievers to succeed, our nation focuses down on those declared in greatest need.  We do not mind practicing this in competitive athletics.  Why not in academics?  If our students are going to be competitive, as the bureaucrats want, then let them compete and excel.  If the gap widens, then let it widen.  Develop alternative schools and programs.  Let the gap widen in other areas that kids excel in.  It is mere socialism to disadvantage one or more groups over others–when they are meant to excel and achieve.  Is this NOT the purpose of “The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015”?  Unfortunately, it is not.

Is there any wonder why parents opt to place their kids in private or charter schools?  As long as political correctness rules, and schools do not diversify their reality and programs, there will truly be no solid answers–aside from spending–for the problems created by government and culture.

We cannot have it all, which is why a one-size fits all does not fit.

Groups are NOT all the same size.  Either are individuals.

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