15 April 2010

April snippets

  • A commenter on the First Things: Evangel blog has alerted me to this passage from Justin Martyr on the resurrection from the dead:
    For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians. . .

  • Last week Chuck Colson published two BreakPoint commentaries that have a bearing on secondary education: South Hadley Hellions: The Fruit of Sin and Savagery in South Hadley: Where Are the Adults? The event that prompted these commentaries was the tragic bullying and suicide of Phoebe Prince in a west Massachusetts community. I was struck by Colson's words here:
    American teenagers operate in what has been called a “parallel culture” that operates free of adult interference. American high schools have been described as places where “individuals of the same age group define each other’s world.” As we saw in South Hadley, instead of challenging these definitions, or even the kind of cruelty endured by kids like Phoebe Prince, teachers and administrators often adopt a hands-off approach. This is politically correct, to respect personal autonomy. Look what it leads to. Every once in a while, events like those in South Hadley or the school shootings a decade ago cause us to examine some aspect of this “parallel culture,” but the “parallel culture” remains.

    I myself wonder whether the problem is more deep-seated than even Colson lets on. Public secondary schools have existed for generations in North America, and they have indeed fostered a powerful adolescent subculture with its own (sometimes twisted) mores and social expectations. This subculture came into its own in the unprecedented prosperity of the postwar era and we are living with the consequences of this 65 years later. My response? Shut down the public high schools! I will come back to this topic, so stay tuned.

  • Speaking of education, some public school systems cannot quite resist the temptation to impose a worldview on their students, along with teaching them reading, writing and arithmetic. The Hamilton Spectator carries two articles that make this evident: Sex ed moves to Grade 3 and Sexual diversity policy on agenda. Yet it could hardly be otherwise. Someone's worldview will inevitably inform the educational process. There is no such thing as religiously neutral education. Which is why there are christian schools.

  • This is a tragic development for many Americans with an increasingly marginalized culinary taste: School's out: Last sardine cannery in U.S. shuts down. I guess they will just have to get by on imports from Portugal, Norway and Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada.

  • Several years ago genealogical research turned up the name of my 7th great-grandfather, Gotthard Witzell, who fought for Swedish King Karl XII against Peter the Great's Russia some three centuries ago. Born in Livonia, now northern Latvia, he moved to coastal Finland, where he married and started a line that included a number of my ancestors. This he did after Sweden lost his homeland to Russia. Now I have recently been contacted by a distant Finnish cousin, Anneli Santtila, who has discovered more about Witzell's roots, which may well have been in the region of Frankfurt, Germany: The Wittzells of Livonia: Frankfurt, Riga, Alavieska, Kalajoki. So I guess that makes me a Franco-Greek-Cypriot-Germano-Finno-Anglo-American-Canadian. Or perhaps I should just admit to being a mutt.

  • One more item. Teachers of Canadian government will find this website an invaluable resource: Canadian Politics Online, which is billed as "the first curriculum based e-textbook of its kind on Canadian government and politics." A bit of possibly misleading trivia from the site: "The origin of the word 'riding' comes from old British Parliamentary times when horses were used to transport politicians and officials around an electoral area." However, not everyone agrees: "A common misconception holds that the term arose from some association between the size of the district and the distance that can be covered on horseback in a certain amount of time." It seems there are still some glitches to be worked out.
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