Monthly Archives: August 2016

Christians, You have been Warned!

Recently, I read an article that caused me to sit up and take notice.  The article, “Adult Coloring Books and Mandalas, A Warning for Christians,” opened my eyes to a sinister plot designed to mislead and warp unassuming Christian minds.  In the article, the author warns that coloring an intricate circle pattern, called a mandala, found in most adult coloring books is a dangerous practice that may lead to submersion with demonic “deities.”  I was astounded!  Although I have long been troubled by thinly veiled threats to the Christian community, I had no idea a coloring book could be so heinous and deceitful.  Unfortunately, coloring books are not the only seemingly innocent everyday item used for the work of the devil.  I know of a far greater threat to Christians than mandalas.  If left unaddressed, this item could threaten the very existence of Christianity – especially in America!

This item – found in every Christian home across America – is actually a sophisticated version of an item people have used for countless centuries.  The media inundates us daily with commercials telling us to buy this brand of the item or that brand.  Yes, it comes in brands!  The devil has cleverly created a brand for every taste!  Shamelessly sitting on shelves in Walmart, Corner Market, Target and just about every other grocery or convenience store in America, it also sits in plain view in Christian homes.  It is a necessity in our lives.  The item is toilet paper!

I do not have a problem with toilet paper itself, but as a Christian, I do have a problem with the shape of the individual tissues on the roll – square.  It bothers me greatly, that until now, no one, including me, has warned Christians to stay away from toilet tissue squares.  When I say toilet tissue squares are not to be taken lightly, I realize most people will think I am crazy.  However, inattention to this threat could very well jeopardize a Christian’s entry into heaven.

The square has long been associated with religion – Christian and pagan.  In both, the square invites a feeling of immutability – God (gods for pagans) is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  This duality of conceptual thinking constitutes a contradiction of balance in the universe for Christians, and places them in a perpetual struggle with all they do not understand.  Multiply this paradox by 165 two ply squares per toilet tissue roll and it is easy to see the gravity of the situation for Christians, especially when they tend to stockpile the rolls in their homes.  Do the math!  Bringing home one twelve pack of toilet paper (the cheap stuff) from Walmart is equivalent to infesting a Christian home with 3960 symbolic pagan squares.  Without knowing it, Christians are turning their homes over to the pagans.

You may say I am overreacting, but am I?  No one can deny the place of the square in pagan beliefs.  Early non-Christians looked at the square as a symbol of the four elements – fire, water, air, and earth.  At Stonehenge, Druids referred to the square within the circle as the Truth of Sacred Geometry.  In Islam, the square is a symbol of the four sides of the heart – Angelic, Diabolic, Human, and Divine.  For the Hindu, the square represents the natural order of the universe, and the square symbolizes an objective awareness in Buddhism.  Sounds harmless enough, but do Christians really want such a pagan symbol in their homes?  Is it in the best interest of the children in the home to keep such a paradox to their Christian faith next to the second most used seat in the house?  Of course not, so why do Christians allow toilet paper squares, an undisputable mockery of what they believe, into their homes?

However, some argue the square is a Christian religious and spiritual symbol as well; therefore, we must not be too quick to denounce it.  I agree to a certain extent.  In Christian symbolism, the square represents spiritual concepts related to the number four, such as the four corners of the earth and the Four Evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  The square is also frequently used in Christian art as a halo to signify a saintly person.  Although, this lends credibility to the square from a Christian perspective, it nevertheless, creates a paradox of its own, and this is where I rest my case.  SHOULD CHRISTIANS be wiping their hiny with squares that carry significance for their religion?  I think not!

So, my question is do Christians really want to use toilet paper squares to wipe and risk going to hell, or should they stand against toilet paper on behalf of Christianity and boycott it?  People did just fine without the stuff for thousands of years prior to its invention in 1857; corncobs and paper catalogues were good enough for our ancestors, so why aren’t they good enough for us?  Also, is toilet paper really about wiping in comfort, or is it pagan evangelism subtly calling to Christians?  As for me, I will continue to wipe, but when I do, I will grab a newspaper or catalog.  It may not be “squeezably soft” or as fluffy as a blue bear, but at least I’ll be true to what I believe.  However, in the end (oops, a little pun), I am sure most people, including Christians, will continue to use toilet paper, but if they do, at least I have done my part and given them fair warning.

Go, and wipe in peace.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 28, 2016

Twenty Tips for New Teachers (or Veteran Teachers)

Over the years, I have been asked numerous times for advice or tips I would offer new teachers or veteran teachers.  I always respond by saying the little I know is the result of professional reading (at least thirty minutes daily) and mistakes I made as a teacher and a school administrator.  I think the biggest mistake most teachers make is looking for perfection.  This mistake can cost them their joy as a teacher.  It causes them to lose sight of what teaching is about and why they signed on to teach in the first place.  Sometimes teachers become so blinded by the pursuit of perfection, they lose sight of the good they do, and as a consequence they drum themselves out of the profession.  No matter how badly they want it, there is no such thing as the perfect student, the perfect parent, or the perfect teacher, so my advice to teachers is to STOP looking for perfection, and replace it with an expectation of always “putting forth the best you can do.”  That is the highest expectation, teachers can ever hope to achieve from their students; it is the highest expectation they can ever expect of themselves.  Next, I would advise teachers to MAKE TEACHING A COMMITMENT:  commitment to the teaching journey, commitment to learning from mistakes, commitment to professional learning, and commitment to NEVER giving up on students or themselves.  After that, I would offer the following advice and tips:

  1. You WILL make mistakes – learn not to repeat them – learn to apologize and move on! Making a mistake is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign you are not sitting still;
  2. It’s okay to have fun! Good teachers figure out how to make learning fun!
  3. Use handouts as a teaching tool, not a “keep them busy” tool. Remember, teachers teach and subs give handouts!   Which are you?
  4. Use pre-test to assess your student’s existing knowledge. Pre-assessments will help you make your teaching more relevant and their learning more meaningful;
  5. Communicate with parents often! Nothing can be more unsettling to a teacher’s day than a surprised or angry parent who has been kept in the dark about their child’s progress;
  6. Greet students at the door like you are happy to see them – not like they are the plague;
  7. Be on time for duty! The safety of students and your career is on the line.  Monitoring duty in the cafeteria, in the hall between classes, before school, or after school is a necessity!  It is not a useless punishment your uncaring principal has placed on you;
  8. Make note of teachers who always complain and are unhappy – be nice to them, but stay away, unless you want to be like them;
  9. Be proud to be a teacher! You have the most important job in the world.  You influence young lives every day, so decide every morning if it will be a positive influence or a negative influence;
  10. Assign seats! Especially until you get to know your students.  Assigning seats also makes it easier and faster to take roll;
  11. If you do not plan to discuss and review homework in class the next day, DO NOT assign homework! Homework is only effective if it is used as a formative tool with timely feedback to students;
  12. DO NOT assign work in class that will not be discussed, reviewed, or graded. Like the teacher, students DO NOT need busy work;
  13. Never make an online assignment without first checking the websites, including links to other websites. Ask these questions – Is it active?  Like most everything, websites do not last forever.  Is it blocked by the school filter?  If blocked, seek help from the school technology person to unblock it.  Is it appropriate?  Make sure the content is appropriate for the student age level you teach as well as for the community the school serves;
  14. Always, always, always preview movies to be shown in class. Movies should be used sparingly in class and then only in small clips to support discussion of the lesson.  Showing a movie that takes up one to three days of class time is poor practice and a waste of instructional time.  Showing a movie in its entirety is lazy teaching;
  15. If you assign a book or website that may be controversial to students, their families, or the community do the following: (1) meet with the principal and seek his/her support by explaining why you have chosen the material and its value to the learning process; (2) Send home a notice to parents/guardians that some content may be offensive and explain why you believe it is necessary to use the material in class; (3) offer an alternative assignment for students and/or parents who object to the content (use of offensive language, use of graphic sex, etc.);
  16. Never argue with a student in class! You are the authority in the classroom!  If a student wants to challenge authority let him/her challenge the authority of the assistant principal or the principal;
  17. Teaching for student success:
    1. Pre-assess (pre-test) knowledge;
    2. Provide students learning targets based on pre-assessment needs;
    3. Teach what you want them to know;
    4. Use on-going assessment (formative) throughout the lesson. Check frequently for understanding;
    5. STOP and re-teach if and when necessary;
    6. Assess what you want them to know (summative);
    7. Use summative assessment as a formative tool (feedback) for student learning; and
    8. Re-teach if and when necessary.
  18. Being a TEACHER is NOT about teaching; it is about LEARNING! You may be the greatest presenter of content of all time, but if your students don’t learn, you have failed as a teacher;
  19. Remember, it’s okay to breathe! Teaching is a monstrous responsibility, but if you teach with the same passion and compassion you expect from your children’s teachers, you will be okay; and
  20. Enjoy the teaching journey! You are a part of an awesome group of people.  You are a teacher because you care.

These tips are basic, but if followed, they can serve the new teacher or the veteran teacher well.  Teachers must always maintain high expectations, accept nothing but the best from their students, and never give up on the least of them or themselves.  A tall order, no doubt, but kids will tell you – GOOD TEACHERS CAN DO ANYTHING!

JL

©Jack Linton, August 24, 2016

Conservative Tribune: Real or Propaganda?

Over the past few months, I have seen several articles posted on Facebook from www.ConservativeTribune.com.  That is not surprising since the majority of the people I know are devout, card carrying conservatives.  However, it is surprising that a website that claims to be a legitimate news source often fails to report the whole story – facts are sometimes glossed over in favor of the conservative views of the writer.  The website is an online conservative magazine, so a certain amount of bias is expected, but when an article serves no purpose but to agitate and prey on threadbare emotions, the reporting turns from legitimate journalism to yellow journalism (journalism based upon sensationalism, exaggeration, and eye-catching headlines).  I realize bias free news is almost unheard of these days; reporters, especially on the national level, tend to be opinionated celebrities rather than non-biased journalists.  They have forgotten that the purpose of reporting the news is to provide information not to agitate and entertain.  News should be about the facts and only the facts, and when it is not, it becomes a tool for deception and lies.  Presenting news – conservative or liberal – based on missing or misleading information and sensationalism is not news but propaganda.

Is Conservative Tribune propaganda?  Maybe, maybe not, but to be fair and get a clearer picture, I spent several days researching the website to find out.  I traced it back to its beginning in 2009, read articles, and looked at the people writing those articles.   What I found was very interesting.

Origins and History:

Based on web domain records, in January 2009, the website was founded as Conservative and Republican Party Blog:  America’s Newspaper.  The website changed names in May 2009 to Conservative news, views and commentary. By September 2009, the name changed to Conservative Tribune, but the website became inactive and was suspended in February 2010.  In October 2013, under the ownership and leadership of Shaun Connell, an Arkansas web product designer and businessman, the website resurfaced as Conservative Tribune: Defending Our Conservative Values.  In January 2014, the website changed names once again to Conservative Tribune: Small Government, Free Markets, and Traditional Values.  Another partial name change occurred in August 2014, this time the website became known as Conservative Tribune:  In Defense of Western Civilization.  The website became known simply as Conservative Tribune in 2015 when Connell sold it to Liftable Media, a company owned by Floyd Brown, co-founder of the advocacy group Citizens United.

Writing for Conservative Tribune:

By the website’s own admission, individuals do not need experience as a writer or a degree of any kind.  If a person can write a coherent sentence and is willing to write what the management tells them to write, they qualify to write for the Tribune.  Here are the credentials needed to write for Conservative Tribune as outlined by the website:

“Details for our writers:

  1. We pick the topics for you.
  2. We write the headlines for you.
  3. We pick the sources you’ll link to.
  4. You just have to write articles with 250 – 400 words of original content to explain the news story from an ultra-conservative viewpoint.”

News printed in Conservative Tribune is “ultra-conservative” biased, and they are very open about it.  In other words, nothing that contradicts the website’s “ultra conservative” view will be allowed on the website regardless of the facts.  Therefore, readers can expect to receive only the information that supports and promotes a conservative viewpoint.

Writers for the Conservative Tribune:

Over the years Conservative Tribune has published writers from Brutus, of Shakespeare fame, to staff writers using pseudonyms, and to freelance writers with legitimate writing credits.  A few writers who have contributed to the Tribune include:

Beasley
Shaun Connell
Publius
Brutus
Centinel
Valerius
Publicola
Ben Marquis
Ben Franklin
Katrina
Wilmot Proviso
V Saxena

Some of these names have historical significance such as Wilmot Proviso, which was an 1846 proposal to ban slavery in land acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War. However, regardless of historical significance, news journalists using any name but their own should raise a red flag for readers.  If a journalist is telling the truth or presenting all the facts, why is there a need for an alias?  It is fairly common for a fiction writer to use a pseudonym or alias, but a news journalists should not need an alias unless, maybe, he/she is writing fiction rather than truth.  For an online magazine that claims to tell the truth, this practice raises questions of credibility.

Articles Published by Conservative Tribune:

Articles written for Conservative Tribune are, as the guidelines state, “ultra-conservative.”  The site, by its own admission, may contain copyrighted material but not necessarily with the copyright owner’s permission.  The management for the site claims the use of such unauthorized copyrighted material constitutes “fair use” as provided under the Copyright Law of the United States.  This claim of “fair use” may be a contributing factor as to why so many authors writing for the website utilize a pseudonym/alias, or it may simply be a sign of lazy journalism.  Either way it is a questionable and possibly illegal use of other journalists’ work.

As for being a real news magazine, the site is indeed real, but that doesn’t mean the reader will get all the facts in the news reported on the website.  In other words, the website reports newsworthy and marginally newsworthy stories, but if the reader is a discerning individual who likes to make up his/her own mind, it would be wise to consult other sources to validate the stories first.  Using misleading, emotionally charged, headlines that fall short of alignment to the content of an article is also common (Remember the guidelines for writers: “We write the headlines for you).  Readers of Conservative Tribune need to understand they are not going to read anything on the website that may be damaging to the conservative cause.  Articles are “ultra-conservative” biased!

Conservative Tribune Bottom Line:

There is nothing new or shocking about conservative or liberal media pushing their own agendas even if it means ignoring certain parts of a story.  Both will tell their readers they exist to set the record straight or to tell the whole truth.  Both prey on reader emotions and fears; they tell readers only want they want them to know and nothing more.  In that respect, both are propaganda tools that are not above using bias and misleading information to publicize and promote their political cause or views.

George Upper, managing editor of Conservative Tribune, says it best, “We’ll tell you the truth as we see it.”  Like children, they never lie – they simply tell only the part of the story they want readers to hear and know.  Their job is to influence readers to think as they do, and keep readers emotionally engaged in their ideology.  Their biggest enemy is a reader who thinks for himself!  Conservatives and liberals alike are looking for followers, not leaders; they will tell you who should lead.  Therefore, a word to the wise – always question any and everything you read online, especially if it screams conservative or liberal – both are in the propaganda business.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 21, 2016

Tapioca Pudding

Her name was Marie; a name I never called her.  To do so did not seem right.  I did not dare, even as an adult, call my own parents by their first names – that was disrespectful, so I shied from calling her by her first name for the same reason.  Although born in New York, she carried herself with the dignity, standing, strength, and charm of a true Southern lady.  Her gift was charm, but she could also put you in your place with a look that said simply, enough is enough.  Her life was her family, and the job she did as a mother and wife will echo in the ballads of heaven for all eternity.  To be a part of this great lady’s life was my blessing.

We met over a bowl of tapioca pudding.  Her daughter, my future wife, invited me to supper to meet the family – mom, dad, brother, and four sisters, two of them twins.  That was the first time I tasted lasagna, ground beef cooked between layers of cheeses and pasta sprinkled with Italian seasonings and spices.  It was close, but I may have been hooked on her lasagna before I was hooked on her daughter.  Dessert was next, confirming I had found heaven on earth.  I grew up in a home where dessert was a rarity served in plastic bowls, so when an elegant long stemmed glass bowl of white pudding was set in front of me, I seriously thought I had won the lottery – a beautiful girl at my side, a smiling delightful family, an unforgettable meal, and dessert served in a glass bowl on a slender pedestal, what more could anyone ask.

The flurry of activity to clear the table for dessert was an event unto itself.  My anticipation grew; a dish that commanded such attention had to be beyond mouthwatering.  The table clear, a collective silent reverence spread through the room.  A pudding was placed in front of each person, and all eyes turned to me.  As the honored guest, I was expected to take the first bite.  If you have never tasted tapioca pudding, all I can say is – Don’t!  The first taste of the sweet concoction brought me back to reality, and my dislike for the stuff must have shown on my face.  “What’s wrong,” one of the twins said, “you don’t like my mother’s cooking?”  I don’t know how I did it, but I gulped down every drop of that awful stuff, and even managed to smile politely and turn down seconds.

Afterwards, each time I dined with the family, the meal concluded with a bowl of tapioca pudding.  I began to believe it a ploy to run me off, but after being introduced to lasagna, hotdogs and beans (my favorite), stuffed artichoke, and Boston cream pie, I wasn’t going anywhere.  I am sure she probably thought her daughter could do better than the risible stray she brought home, but I believe, like her daughter, she also had a soft spot for strays.  Over the years, she never treated me with anything but kindness or . . . maybe, it was pity, but either way, I am forever grateful she made room for me in her family.

This week, she went home to begin preparing for the next time we all gather around her table.  Until then, she will dine with angels and teach them to make lasagna and hot dogs and beans.  She will tell stories of 70 years of marriage, her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  In our time, one by one, she will greet each of us with the smile that welcomed all, even the strays, into her home, and with a pinch of mischief in her eyes, she will once again place a long stemmed glass bowl of tapioca pudding in front of me.  I will eat it, and I will ask for seconds.

In loving memory of Mrs. Marie Laakso

JL

Jack Linton     August 11, 2016

Are You in Bed with a Conservative or a Liberal?

No matter the venue – television, radio, newspaper, or social media – you will likely hear “conservative” and “liberal” sloshed around like muddy drinking water.  “Conservatives to the right, liberals to the left,” Jimmy Buffet might sing to illustrate the depth of understanding for these overused and abused words.  If you are on the right, you are right, but if you are on the left, you are wrong, or should it be vice versa?  Who knows!  In today’s society, that question is too deep for the majority of people to comprehend.

Most people wouldn’t know a conservative from a liberal if one sat on their face and whistled Dixie.  When it comes to beliefs and values, they simply pick up where grandpa and grandma left off and mama and daddy still reside and dance along blissfully naïve in their footsteps.  They have no idea why they believe a certain way other than, somewhere along the way, they were told how they should think and believe.  Original thought is not well in America.

William Shakespeare said, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”  It doesn’t get more miserable than the conservative and liberal relationship, nor do bedfellows come any stranger.  Maturity wise, both groups are not too far removed from the backseat “he touched me” whine heard on long risible family vacations.  They are reminders a mature understanding and acceptance of diversity and tolerance is not one of America’s strong points.  However, a major part of the problem, overlooked by so many, is few people are purely conservative or liberal; people tend to fall somewhere in between, which adds confusion to the issue.  To make matters worse, people are often tossed from the ranks of the conservative to the ranks of the liberal and back again with a word, statement, or action.  Membership in either group depends as much on the moment as it does on embedded values.  Like two people caught in a rocky marriage; it is hard to tell who you are in bed with sometimes, and that can indeed produce strange bedfellows.

You Know You Are in bed with. . . .

  1. You know you are in bed with a conservative if there is no foreplay;
  2. You know you are in bed with a liberal if you make love with the lights on;
  3. You know you are in bed with a conservative if your partner considers love making a duty;
  4. You know you are in bed with a liberal if your partner comes back for seconds;
  5. You know you are in bed with a conservative if your partner insists on paying because he/she doesn’t believe in a free ride;
  6. You know you are in bed with a liberal if sex is considered recreational;
  7. You know you are in bed with a conservative if there is a gun under the pillow;
  8. You know you are in bed with a liberal if there is a whip and a jar of honey under the pillow;
  9. You know you are in bed with a conservative if your partner believes the missionary position is the only one way to make love;
  10. You know you are in bed with a liberal if love making is a team sport;
  11. You know you are in bed with a conservative if your partner misses the point and is offended by this blog; and
  12. You know you are in bed with a liberal if your partner misses the point, and thinks the blog is a funny/satirical look at sex education.

So, are you and/or your partner a conservative or a liberal?  More important, who cares!  The truth is conservative and liberal tags are little more than excuses to enable people to express their ignorance about one another.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 7, 2016

It’s The First Day of School, Teachers Don’t Worry

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About low pay – they can’t afford what you are worth;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About long hours – artists never see the clock;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About politicians – they’ve never had your back;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About public opinion – they haven’t a clue what you do;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About evaluations – they need you more than you need them;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About teaching – make compassion your passion;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About state tests – teach their content with your heart;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About personal breaks – teachers have big hearts and bladders;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            About not being good enough – your best is all anyone can ask;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            That America’s kids are behind the world – you know that’s B.S.;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry

            That parents don’t like you – sometimes they don’t like themselves;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            Smile – Feed a young soul with your light;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            Pray – Stay humbled by the lives you help shape;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            Play – Laugh, dance, and celebrate the day;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            Stand tall – Not many have the courage to do what you do;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            Seize the moment – Be ready to make a difference;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            Give – Your best gift is that you care;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            Love – You teach because you love kids;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            You have the most important job in the world;

It’s the first day of school, teachers don’t worry –

            Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride!

 

Remember the three most important influences in a child’s life are  . . .

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Teachers

Everyone else is gravy or sour milk.

 

JL

©Jack Linton,  August 3, 2016