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Religion | G-MM™ | Belief

What Did Jesus Mean In His Good Friday Words To The ‘Daughters Of Jerusalem’?

The Gilmer Free Press

Christians might ponder during the Holy Week season of sorrow that precedes Easter joy. Jesus’ saying was poetic prophecy that, yes, can be opaque. This shows the value of owning a good one-volume Bible commentary and a “study Bible” to help with understanding. The Religion Guy consulted a variety of such reference works and they generally agree on the meaning of Jesus’ Good Friday words and the Old Testament prophecies he was quoting.

Among the four New Testament Gospels, this material only appears in Luke chapter 23. The lead-up in verse 27 merits special attention. Luke reports that as Jesus struggled on the road to crucifixion he was followed by “a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him.” The Temple authorities had rallied crowd support in seeking execution by Rome, and anti-Semites have exploited this in the Christian past.

Luke’s account tells us Jewish opinion was split. The women gathering to bemoan execution was something of a public ritual in that culture. But Luke indicates there was a “multitude” of common Jews who identified with Jesus’ movement or lamented his unjust sufferings. It seems likely some were followers of Jesus in town who had joined the “Palm Sunday” hosannas days earlier.

Then we come to verses 28-31 and three linked prophecies of doom that Jesus addressed to the women: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Jesus’ first oracle was paraphrased by Protestant scholar I. Howard Marshall, former president of the British New Testament Society: “Do not weep so much for me as for yourselves and your children” because in a coming time it “would be better not to have children than to see their sufferings.” Similarly, Jesuit John Donahue of California’s Graduate Theological Union said Jesus was telling Jerusalem that “so terrible will be its fate that the women without children will be fortunate.” Jesus thus reversed the Old Testament depiction of childlessness as a curse and turned it into a blessing. There’s possibly an echo of Jeremiah 16:1-4, where the prophet cited Israel’s devastation to explain why he had no wife or children.

Jesus’ second stat4ement quoted an expression of despair in Hosea 10:8: “They shall say to the mountains, Cover us, and to the hills, Fall upon us.” This portrays people desperately crying for mountains and hills to provide shelter, just as in Isaiah 2:19 they scramble for protection into caverns and hollows in the ground. A related but grimmer interpretation of Hosea is people longing for an earthquake or other natural cataclysm so death will end their misery. This saying is carried verbatim into the Bible’s last book, in Revelation 6:15-16.

Jesus’ third statement cited another Hebrew judgment prophecy, Ezekiel 20:47: “Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree; the blazing flame shall not be quenched.” Exegetes explain that Jesus referred to himself as the green wood not easily consumed by fire, and Jerusalem as the dangerously flammable dry wood. The meaning was that if the innocent Jesus was not spared then guilty Jerusalem was in far greater risk of destruction. In Donahue’s summary, “If such crime as his death can occur now, what will be the horrors of the city’s crisis?”

Marshall concludes that in this passage “the words are of pity rather than condemnation.”

Though liberals and skeptics may question future predictions in the Bible, Christian tradition says that Jesus was looking toward the destruction of Jerusalem that did occur one generation later. Speaking of “blazing flames,” the Romans torched the Holy City and the Temple. Rome’s troops retaliated after Jews had overturned their occupation, laid a siege and recaptured the city in A.D. 70. They slaughtered thousands, enslaved thousands more who survived, and pillaged and leveled the Temple, which permanently changed the religion and history of the Jewish people.

Another technical note: Kristyn wonders if this is actually “what Jesus said”? Many university professors will pooh-pooh such belief. But Luke stated that the information in his Gospel was “delivered to us” by “eyewitnesses.” If so, it’s certainly possible that some observers along the “Via Dolorosa” heard Jesus’ words on that memorable day and passed them on.

American Christianity

Why Some Fear This Election’s Lasting Damage To American Christianity
The Free Press WV

Teryn O’Brien has stopped calling herself evangelical. As a 28-year-old living in Colorado Springs, O’Brien has held concerns with the conservative brand of evangelical Christianity for several years now, but she described this election as “the final straw.”

O’Brien said American evangelicals have historically held the upper hand in America and are seeing that power slip away. Searching to recapture it, many of them turned to Donald Trump, someone she sees as racist, misogynist and antithetical to Christian behavior.

Now O’Brien, who attends an Anglican church, has dropped the “evangelical” label, simply calling herself a Christian. But she said it has become hard to distinguish “evangelical” from “Christian. ” Evangelicals make up about a quarter of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of them are white.

Conservative Christians are also the loudest group by far,  O’Brien observed, and so they often get the most attention. Exit polls show 81 percent of white evangelicals across the country backed Trump, the vast majority of whom are Republican and lean conservative, constituting the highest percentage that has voted for the Republican nominee since they voted overwhelmingly for President George W. Bush in 2004.

“This election has truly shown the underbelly of the toxic relationship that can develop between politics and religion,” O’Brien said.

Political divisions have run deep within churches and families, and observers say this election cycle has exposed underlying political and racial divisions within Christianity as a whole, but especially among evangelicals. As a result, some religious leaders are afraid of damage done to the perception of the Christian faith in the United States during this election cycle and fear its long-term effects.


Tensions high

Evangelical pastors say tensions have soared during the election season, and some are questioning whether they can even continue to use the label evangelical for fear of being associated with Trump.

“I keep trying to disavow that I am ‘that’ brand of evangelical, but after tonight, I don’t know if I even want to have any association with that label anymore,” Helen Lee, an evangelical author, said on Tuesday.

Eugene Cho, a pastor of an evangelical church in Seattle, said that his church building was recently painted with “F— organized religion,” though he is unsure whether it’s connected to Trump or the election.

“The election has made things more hostile or given permission to people to be more aggressive on both sides,” Cho said.

Cho, who has pledged that he will never endorse a candidate from the pulpit, joined a group of evangelicals in the fall condemning Trump, arguing his campaign “affirms racist elements in white culture.”

The letter, which was also backed by about 80 evangelical pastors and other leaders, decried Trump’s comments on women, Muslims, immigrants, refugees and the disabled.

“People just think that all evangelicals support Donald Trump or support particular platforms or a certain way of thinking,” Cho said. “This was just to communicate there isn’t a monolithic thought within the so-called evangelical wing of Christianity.”


Who speaks for evangelical Christians?

After a video of Trump was released showing he joked about sexually assaulting women, some religious leaders said that while his comments were inappropriate, he was still the best leader for the country. Others rejected the idea that those leaders were speaking on everyone’s behalf.

“The evangelical support of Trump will be an indictment against its validity as a Christian movement for generations to come,” Richard Rohr, a Franciscan author and teacher, tweeted after those comments.

Some leaders are worried about the lasting impact this election will have inside churches. Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention’s political advocacy arm, is deeply concerned about the impact of Christian leaders who defended Trump and the potential damage it has had within churches, especially among women and younger evangelicals.

“One evangelical woman said to me, ‘I’ve spent all my life saying the church is going to be a place where you can go when you face this sort of thing.’ Now I’m looking around, and a pastor is saying ‘This isn’t a big deal.’ That’s going to take a lot of work to undo,” he said.


Christianity’s political ties

The contrast between different groups of religious voters this election season is striking, said Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College. Polls ahead of the election showed Catholics divided, and that many Mormons abandoned the Republican Party compared with years past. But evangelicals voted for Trump in even greater numbers than they voted for Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain.

“Trump has been a candidate where one could say, ‘Is there no point at which you won’t vote for the Republicans?’ ” Silk said. “I think that’s what’s given away the extent to which personal identity for religious conservatives and churchgoers has become wrapped up in Republicanism.”

In their book, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam and Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell argue that the extraordinary rise of people who affiliate with no religion is due in part to their rejection of its entanglement with politics. Today 22 percent of the population says they have no faith.

“For many, their aversion to religion is rooted in unease with the association between religion and conservative politics,” Putnam and Campbell wrote. “If religion equals Republican, then they have decided that religion is not for them.”

Michael Wear, who did evangelical outreach for President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and now consults with evangelical groups, said that people have been talking about rebranding evangelicals or even Christianity in America now for several years.

“The people I work with view Trump as a moment for Christians to actually separate themselves from towing a particular party line,” Wear said. “We’re going to have four years to test that theory.”


Shifting demographics

White Christian Protestants have dominated America’s political and social landscape for most of its history. But in recent decades, the number of Americans who stopped affiliating with religion has surged, along with a rise in Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other Americans. The year 2008 marked the last in which Protestants represented a majority of Americans, according to demographer Robert P. Jones.

For most of American history, mainline and evangelical Protestants have dominated the landscape, spiritually and politically. But as Protestants’ majority has waned, Jones writes in his book, “The end of White Christian America,” Americans who are between 18 and 29 are less than half as likely to be white Christians as those who are 65 and older.

This election season, there was a divided voice among Christian leaders as a whole, Jones said. The Catholic bishops in the United States were much quieter than in elections past and some Mormons, including former GOP candidate Mitt Romney spoke out against Trump, while the so-called “values voters,” Christian conservatives who historically coalesced on issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, largely backed Trump.

“It’s going to be poignant that the group that has sold themselves as ‘values voters’ has abandoned those arguments and justifications,” Jones said.


The dividing lines

Faith often becomes front and center during election years, said Barna Research President David Kinnaman, because it reveals the fault lines along gender, generations and ethnicities, and between theological traditions.

“It’s a powerful moment where people are organizing themselves and making those differences more clear,” he said. “There are larger questions about why and how Christians should engage on cultural matters, and this election is redefining how Christians interact.”

When reports emerge about whom evangelicals voted for, they usually mean “white evangelicals,” glossing over a growing racial division within Christianity. Latino evangelicals are one of the fastest growing segments of churchgoers in America and have largely been fueling the growth among evangelicals, and many did not favor the Republican candidate.

“There is some real angst when there is a blanket statement that ‘evangelical supports . . .’ ” Salguero said.

Latino Christians are different from their white Christian peers, Salguero said, because they don’t have a history of being a majority in America.

“We don’t have messianic expectations for our politicians,” Salguero said. “We don’t have this moment of ‘we’re not at the center of power anymore.’ Latino evangelicals were never at the center of power, so we can be a prophetic voice independent of who gets into office.”

~~  Sarah Pulliam Bailey ~~

What Gods Do the “Three Peoples” Believe In

The Free Press WV

In my reductive Three Peoples theory I propose that three kinds of people live in the modern world. There are the People of the Subordinate Self, workers and peasants who are clients to some great lord. There are People of the Responsible Self, citizens that work in the city as responsible individuals. And then there are People of the Creative Self, that believe life should be more than just responsible; it should aim for a work of original creation.

But no man is an island; each of us must life in society. That is the point of social animals, that we work together. So what does that mean to each of the Three Peoples?

We humans symbolize this situation with the notion of “gods.“ Our God is the something to which we surrender and bend the knee, and that is what makes us social and connected rather than alone on an island.

The God of the People of the Subordinate Self is the great lord or patron. In return for his Patron’s patronage he must surrender to the power and might of his lord, his political boss, his work supervisor. And the Patron distributes loot and plunder as the mood takes him. I have argued, in my “little darlings“ notion, that in the end the People of the Subordinate Self get left by the roadside, for they are, in effect, the soldiers in the great lord’s army, and when they are no longer useful, the lord will abandon them, as Napoleon abandoned his troops on the retreat from Moscow.

The subordination to a fickle lord or Patron is not an easy life, and so from time to time the peasants arm themselves with their pitchforks and rebel. But they are always too late.

The God of the People of the Responsible Self is the abstract, though personal, God of the Axial Age religions. He is no longer sitting in the middle of the village or on Mt. Olympus playing power games with the human lives under his charge. Now God is retiring from active rule, and setting forth abstract rules for humans to follow. The problem for humans is no longer to submit to the actual power and might of the ruler, but to submit to the abstract rules of the Law. This was incredibly sexist, for it is men that demand to be told the rules, so the new God came out with a girl concept as well. Now the thing to do was to submit to God’s love, for God offered the perfect relationship: love God and God would love you right back. In our latter days, People of the Responsible Self have learned to submit to the market, that remarkable human notion, and offer themselves and the work to the rest of society in return for the hope of reward. Of course, the market also has its girl aspect, as in the long-term relationships between businesses and their customers.

The submission to an abstract God or to the market is a hard and challenging life, for all its rewards. And so the People of the Responsible Self are always tempted to take the easy way and return into the orbit and the protection of some new Patron. But they betray their responsibility when they do.

The God of the People of the Creative Self is the the Creative Self. If the old God was the creator of the universe, or at least in on the design, the modern creative self aims to become as God. The nature and the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is not a mystery known only to God, but a Gordian Knot that creative man himself is unraveling and will eventually master. That is why our modern ruling class is full of plans for improvement and bending the arc of history towards justice. Society is, for them, a creative project.

The relation of the Creative Self to society has almost come full circle to the great lord or the Patron god. It is a temptation that few creative people seem able to resist, to sit on Mt. Olympus and order around the humans under their rule as the mood takes them. But I would say that the essence of the creative life is to submit to the verdict of the creative Muse. The fact of a life devoted to creation is that is is a failure: many are called, but few are chosen. Many people aspire to become artists and writers, but few make the grade. Many people start businesses and tech startups, but almost all of them are failures. If it is hard to be a peasant, and harder to stay responsible in the face of setbacks, it is harder still to aspire to creative notability.

You can see that there is a common theme here. A true and faithful person must surrender and submit to his chosen God, and not to do so is to betray your God and become antisocial and corrupted. A Person of the Subordinate Self has surrendered his life to the pleasure of his great lord, and the subsequent cruel fate that awaits him. A Person of the Responsible Self has surrendered himself to obeying God’s laws and the verdict of the market. If it seems hard, well, it is. A Person of the Creative Self must submit to the creative process, and accept that very few people that aspire to works of original creation actually succeed in that Olympian ambition, just as very few aspiring Olympic athletes get to participate in the Olympic Games.

The whole point of this little exercise is, of course, to point out that humanity’s Big Problem right now is the globalist Creative Class and its overweening conceit that it is called, like the peerless Lina Lamont, to bring a little joy to our humdrum little lives, so that all its hard work “ain’t been in vain for nothin’.“

~~  Christopher Chantrill ~~

What Gods Do the “Three Peoples” Believe In

Trump & Religion

“Moral Sewage”
Trump The Opposite Of Christianity

t wasn’t me who called Donald Trump’s campaign “reality television moral sewage.” The person who said that was none other than Russell Moore, the very conservative president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. And it isn’t just things like calling women fat pigs, commenting on how women based on how they look, or talking about the size of his ##### in a nationally televised debate. Donald Trump’s entire philosophy of life is predicated on the Ayn Randian notion of the ‘virtue of selfishness,’ the belief that power and wealth are the zenith of what is important and good in the world—not more old-fashioned values like basic human decency. Is there a clearer antithesis to what Jesus preached in the gospels?

Jesus denounced those who lie; extolled the virtues of humility; said that we should treat everyone as we would want to be treated and that we should welcome the outsider; and preached that every person would be judged by whether they showed compassion for the poor. Trump hasn’t shown even a hint of any of those qualities in his business or political life.

That’s why Republicans are so uncomfortable when they are asked whether Trump is a good role model for Christian values. Check out the video of my colleague Andrea Haverdink asking Republican members of Congress that question. Note the uncomfortable looks on their faces, and that the vast majority avoid answering the question at all:


Despite Trump’s decidedly unchristian character and behavior, he’s gotten some endorsements from the biggest political hacks in the extremist evangelical world, like Jerry Falwell, Jr. Trump spoke yesterday in Orlando to 700 evangelical ministers, some of whom were even enthusiastic about his candidacy. Clearly there are some far-right Christians who hate Hillary Clinton so much they will ignore Trump’s many sins. But this contradiction is creating a widening chasm that threatens to destroy the Republican Party this year.

Polling trends right now are showing the possibility that Republicans will be less likely to turn out their voters than Democrats, which is very unusual. Generally Democrats (who are younger and poorer and thus a lot less likely to vote) are much less likely to turn out to vote. Big demographic blocs of Republican voters, including evangelical Christians, are feeling decidedly unenthusiastic about voting this year. Trump is only getting in the low 80s of self-identified Republican voters, when normally the GOP nominee at this point in the race would be getting 95%.

Meanwhile, Republican Senate and House candidates, and those further down ballot, are generally screwed unless they are in the reddest of red states/districts. If those Republicans in tough races embrace Trump, every voter who is sane gets uncomfortable. If these candidates distance themselves from their nominee, they anger their Trump-loving base. The resulting twisting and turning from Republicans like Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, and Paul Ryan make them look like they are trapped in a sadist’s version of the game Twister.

Democrats should never take anything for granted, and we need to keep working our hearts out, but I would note that the above trends are making even the pessimists in my party think we Democrats could have a big year. My friends at the brilliant numbers-crunching group NCEC, who are the best electoral data analysts in the business, are now saying that if things keep going the way they are, the Democrats have a decent chance at winning back the House. This is notable from a group notorious for erring on the side of pessimism (after the 2004 cycle, NCEC said Democrats might not win the presidency for decades because the electoral math was so stacked against us). http://ncec.org/articles/20160810-the-house-is-in-play

If Democrats win big, it will be because of Trump’s “reality television moral sewage.” This man who is in every way the opposite of Jesus’ teachings is making a mockery of so-called Christians like Falwell. But apparently hypocrisy runs in the family—in the 1990s, Falwell, Sr. accused the Clintons of murdering dozens of people, a claim for which there was not even a shred of proof. Jesus would probably be comparing these kinds of hypocrites to the Pharisees of his day.

The irony here is that Hillary, in stark contrast to Trump, is a Midwestern Methodist to her core, just like she was raised. My Methodist minister at the church I grew up in reminded me recently of when I introduced him to Hillary, and the two of them talked about the theology of the Methodist church. Hillary firmly believes in the Methodist social gospel, exemplified in that quote from the Methodist Church’s founder, John Wesley, that she mentioned in her convention speech: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Those values are also why Hillary gave the kind speech she gave in Michigan yesterday on economic issues. The fact is that Hillary is a genuine progressive on a wide range of economic issues, and progressive organizers and leaders have the potential to move her even more if the political strength is there to get good things passed through Congress.

If you are a Christian, the kind of person Hillary Clinton is seems like a whole lot better bet than a man who talks about the size of his ##### on national television.

~~  Mike Lux ~~

Easter Means A Better Life Here, And In The Future

The Free Press WV

Ask a person on the street what Easter means and a few will give the same answer. Even fewer will give an accurate answer.

Is it about a bunny, an egg hunt, or candy? Some have suggested it is an excuse for spring break. What is really behind this spring holiday that comes once a year on a Sunday in March or April?

The term Easter refers to the history’s most important event, Jesus Christ rising from the dead.

The week leading up to Easter has been called the passion week because of what Christ goes through. It culminates with the resurrection.

The betrayal of Judas led Jesus to an unjust trial where he was crucified on the cross for the crime of rebellion to the religion of the first century, the worship of Roman kings.

At least that is the Roman reason for crucifying Jesus, but the Bible records Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and according to God’s plan.

Jesus did not commit any crime nor did he ever sin. He went to the cross, dying for us, the payment of our sins. Three days later, on Sunday of a new week, Jesus rose from the dead.

This is the historical meaning of Easter.

The question now is, what does this mean to me if I don’t believe in Jesus? What if I don’t read the Bible or go to church?

The message of Easter means something to each of us regardless of our church affiliation. It is certainly the heart and soul of Christianity.

Easter means Jesus is the truth because of his resurrection. Jesus told his followers he would rise from the dead. While they did not totally understand what he said about the resurrection, they realized it to be true after they saw the empty tomb.

All that Jesus said about himself, about us and about heaven is true because of the resurrection.

Easter also means life for us. Jesus tells us he is life for all of mankind. He came to give us abundant life.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as our savior, our lives are changed into a life of purpose and hope. Inside of us all is the longing to have a purpose or meaning for existence in something greater than ourselves.

Jesus offers a life that is certainly greater than the present life. He provides that life for us freely by his grace. Grace means it is unearned and undeserved.

The Bible gives us this statement about grace: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,“ it says in Ephesians 2:8-9.

Easter also means there is a way to heaven. Jesus made it possible for every person to go to heaven when they believe on him. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,“ it says in John 14:6.

As you celebrate Easter, there is a personal meaning for you. God loves you and the meaning of this special day is the offer to you of a better life here and in the future.

G-OpEd™: West Virginia Women Get Antigay Lecture With Marriage License

They say a deputy county clerk called them an ‘abomination’ and said they’d face God’s judgment
The Free Press WV

Two women who applied for a marriage license in West Virginia this month say they got an antigay lecture along with it, as the deputy county clerk who processed their license called them an “abomination” and said God would judge them.

Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich applied for their license at the Gilmer County Courthouse in Glenville in early February. The deputy who waited on them, Debbie Allen, yelled at them that their marriage was wrong, that no one in the county would perform their ceremony, that they were an “abomination” in the eyes of God, and that they would face his judgment, they told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

“It just takes one person to remind you how closed-minded our world is,” Brookover told the paper.

Allen and another deputy disputed the couple’s account of the meeting. “We did not attack them,” Allen said. “We did not yell at them. We were not aggressive with them. I felt I talked nicely to them.” She said she did not use the word “abomination.” The other deputy, Angela Moore, said she did not hear that word either, although she could not make out the entire conversation. They both said Allen kept her voice down.

Allen, however, did not deny that she told Brookover and Abramovich that their marriage was morally wrong and that God would judge them. “I just told them my opinion,” she told the Gazette-Mail. “I just felt led to do that. I believe God was standing with me and that’s just my religious belief.”

Brookover’s mother, Jill Goff, who was also present, said she complained to Gilmer County Clerk Jean Butcher, who said she believed as Allen does. In an interview with the newspaper, Butcher said that the upshot of the matter was that the couple got their license, “and that was the main thing.”

But Allen’s conduct, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, still “flagrantly violated” the women’s constitutional rights. “By chastising the couple and expressing religious disapproval of their relationship and attempt to marry, the County violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” the organization said in a letter sent to Butcher and county commissioners Friday. “In order to bring the County Clerk’s office into compliance with the Constitution, the office and its staff must refrain from conveying religious or antigay messages when processing marriage-license applications or performing other official functions.”

Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, added in a press release, “It is both cruel and unacceptable for a government employee to berate anyone he or she serves in an official capacity. Even though Ms. Allen did not refuse to issue a license in this instance, she still deprived an innocent couple of their rights when she treated them like second-class citizens.” Americans United gave Butcher 14 days to respond to the letter.

The incident added to concerns about West Virginia’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by the House of Delegates last week and now pending in the Senate. It would allow any business or individual to cite religious objections as a legal defense for noncompliance with a state or municipal antidiscrimination law. The state does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity in its civil rights laws, but seven cities do. Also, in a bill allowing Uber to operate in the state, House members voted against requiring drivers to have a nondiscrimination policy regarding sexual orientation or gender identity. That bill has gone on to the Senate too.

The situation brings to mind the actions of Rowan County, Ky., Clerk Kim Davis, who confronted same-sex couples when denying them marriage licenses last summer. Davis eventually went to jail for defying a federal judge’s order to comply with the law and issue licenses without discrimination. Since her release, deputies in her office have been serving same-sex couples, and late last year Kentucky’s new governor issued an executive order taking clerks’ names off licenses in all counties — something Davis had requested as an accommodation of her religious beliefs.

~~  Trudy Ring ~~

Pope Francis v Donald Trump

The Free Press WV

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump fired back today at Pope Francis for suggesting that anyone who wants to build a border wall “is not Christian.“

Trump said it is “disgraceful” for a religious leader to question a person’s faith. Trump had kicked off the back-and-forth before the pope set off for Mexico by calling Francis  “a very political person.“

Here’s how the exchanges played out:


DONALD TRUMP:
On Fox Business Network last week, Trump said: 

“I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border we have with Mexico. And I think Mexico got him to do it because Mexico wants to keep the border just the way it is, because they’re making a fortune and we’re losing.”

The Vatican responded by arguing that the pontiff wasn’t jumping into the U.S. presidential race but that his concern for migrants is a global issue.


VATICAN: 
Responding late Tuesday, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said:

“The pope always talks about migration problems all around the world,“ the Associated Press reported.

Lombardi added that Pope Francis also focuses on “the duties we have to solve these problems in a humane manner, of hosting those who come from other countries in search of a life of dignity and peace.“


POPE FRANCIS:
After finishing his trip to the Mexican border, Francis told journalists: 

“A person who thinks only about building walls — wherever they may be — and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel.“

“As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.“


DONALD TRUMP:
Responding to the pope’s comments, Trump released a statement saying: 

“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President.”


Trump has said that he will force Mexico to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants from traveling to the United States.

Immigration and migrants are hot-topic issues in the Republican presidential race. Both Trump and his Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, have promised to deport all of the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Trump has vowed to block Muslims from entering the country, build a wall across the border with Mexico, revoke birthright citizenship and other measures.

Pope Francis arrived in Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican border town across from El Paso, Tex., on Wednesday. It was the last stop on his six-day tour of Mexico, where he highlighted corruption, violence and drug-trafficking. His stop in Juarez included a call for compassion for the thousands of migrants crossing the border into the United States.

Religious Freedom Arguments Used To Weaponize The First Amendment

The Free Press WV

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer peered over the bench at the lawyer and all but said he just didn’t buy it. “You will go out this door, and you will buy hundreds of things, if not thousands, where money will go from your pocket into the hands of people, including many government people, who will spend it on things you disagree with,” Breyer told attorney Michael Carvin at oral argument last week.

Breyer was questioning the logic behind the case the court was hearing that morning, Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association, a challenge to union fees brought by teachers and a conservative Christian educators’ association. They say their First Amendment rights are being violated by being  required to pay a union for collective bargaining. But Breyer could have been talking about any number of conservative legal claims, even if they cite different laws. Phrased as a desire to opt out, these arguments are pushing the boundaries of what counts as expression of speech or religion, and what violates it.

“You’re seeing an increasing tendency to use the First Amendment or First Amendment-like arguments by conservatives as a way of resisting various forms of regulation or progressive regulation,” said Samuel Bagenstos, a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School who oversaw civil rights at the Justice Department in the Obama administration. “The arguments that might have in the past come under the heading of ‘property rights’ or ‘freedom of contract’ now are coming under the heading of ‘free speech’ or ‘free association’ or ‘religious freedom.’”  

That phenomenon includes Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, the 2014 case in which a corporation successfully claimed its religious rights were being violated by having to cover contraception on its employee insurance plan. And this term, it includes the follow-up to Hobby Lobby, Zubik v. Burwell, which could take religious refusal to a whole new place. The plaintiffs, who are nonprofit schools and charities with religious affiliations, already don’t have to pay for contraceptive coverage. But they argue that what the Obama administration calls an opt-out form is actually conscripting them in helping employees get “abortion pills,” known to most people and the medical community as birth control. Citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law that sought to strengthen First Amendment protections, the groups also object to even contracting with an insurance company that is giving other people contraception.

“The legal issues in the two are distinct, but both seek to roll back important protections in the name of expressive or religious rights,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

And that’s just what has reached the Supreme Court. In lower and state courts, religious objectors, largely Catholic and Protestant Christians, are asking to be exempted from anti-discrimination law so they can refuse service at same-sex couples’ weddings. Some Catholic universities have asked for religious exemptions to block adjunct professors from unionizing at their institutions, notwithstanding the Vatican’s longtime and explicit support of unions. Hobby Lobby isn’t their only win: In 2012, the Supreme Court allowed a Lutheran school to be exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act, because the school said a teacher counted as a minister.

Of course, to the proponents of broader religious exemptions, including Republican presidential candidates, this is nothing new — just American tradition. Answering Breyer at the Supreme Court that morning, Carvin, the attorney for the teachers who said union fees violate their First Amendment rights, said, “As to requiring people to give money to [that] which they don’t wish to give, Thomas Jefferson said that was sinful and tyrannical. James Madison famously said, requiring three pence is the thing. So it’s not at all something that we’ve invented.”

But Carvin was asking the court to accept a First Amendment argument it rejected nearly 40 years ago. Just about every legal observer thinks Carvin’s side will win and the precedent that the union fees don’t violate the First Amendment will fall. Something has changed — and liberal legal scholars fear where that change is heading.

The plaintiffs in these cases aren’t asking the courts to dissolve unions, repeal the Affordable Care Act or its contraceptive coverage requirement, or reverse the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision. “Although Petitioners, as Roman Catholic entities, disagree with the Government’s goal of providing the mandated coverage, they do not challenge the legality of this goal,” some of the plaintiffs in Zubik wrote in their brief, adding, “Rather, Petitioners ask only that they not be forced to participate in this regulatory scheme in a way that violates their religious beliefs.”

The law says that government cannot “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” One of the disputes at the heart of Zubik is who decides what burden is substantial and what isn’t. The objectors say that as long as they can show their objection is genuine, they get the final word on the question. “If a religious adherent sincerely believes that taking a particular action would make him complicit in the sin of another, then courts must defer to that belief,” they wrote in their brief. The action in question: Filling out a short form that certifies their objection to the insurer or the government.

But in the contraceptive cases, the Obama administration, and almost every federal appeals court to rule on the cases so far, argue that’s not what the religious freedom law says — or how the form in question works. They contend that insurance plans cover contraceptives by default, so the opt-out form isn’t “triggering” anything. And they say that it’s not so simple as declaring your objection.  

“If the Court is going to relieve religious employers” of their obligations, wrote Brigham Young University law professor Frederick Gedicks, “then obviously the Court itself needs to police the boundaries of that exception, lest employers push those boundaries so far that the exception swallows the rule.”

The four Democratic appointees on the court made it clear how they felt on the question in a preview of the case, when the court temporarily blocked Wheaton College from complying with the contraceptive opt-out in 2014. “Not every sincerely felt ‘burden’ is a ‘substantial’ one,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “and it is for courts, not litigants, to identify which are.”

The exception swallowing the rule is precisely the fear that liberals have about these exemption claims. The plaintiffs in Zubik have suggested alternate ways for the government to help women to get contraception under the Affordable Care Act “without involving Petitioners,” such as a “‘public option’ to provide ‘contraception insurance’” or expanding the federal Title X program for low-income women.

But while the court doesn’t have to consider whether something is politically feasible, the facts on the ground suggest women who work for objecting institutions aren’t about to get their federal contraception cards anytime soon. Many congressional Republicans fiercely oppose the very existence of the Title X program, as well as its major beneficiary, Planned Parenthood. The “public option” for any health insurance at all, let alone one specifically related to women’s contraception, didn’t get very far the last time Congress considered it, with far more favorable numbers for liberals.

But give public employees the right to opt out of paying fees for collective bargaining, and union resources and power shrink. Poke holes in what was touted as seamless health care coverage, ensuring access to people who were previously uncovered, and it doesn’t look so seamless. Allow religious reasons to opt out of anti-discrimination law and leave the most vulnerable unprotected.

If the plaintiffs succeed, it will be partly because social conservatives will have successfully cast themselves as oppressed by the whim of the majority. “When opponents of such laws have been unable to block them entirely, they have invoked claims of religious liberty and shifted from speaking as a majority seeking to enforce traditional morality to speaking as a minority seeking exemptions from laws that depart from traditional morality,” Yale Law professor Reva Siegel and University of California law professor Douglas NeJaime recently wrote. “In this way, they can appeal to pluralism and non-discrimination to justify limiting the recently recognized rights of other citizens.”

Bagenstos agrees. “It puts liberals who have traditionally been defenders of free speech on the defensive,” he says. It doesn’t hurt that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the deciding vote in many cases, is very sympathetic to First Amendment claims.

Georgetown Law professor Robin West has written that the newly broad exemption claims create “separate sovereignties,” which try to create an entirely separate regime where religious law prevails. That, she wrote, “sometimes come with profound costs to the weaker members within them, who no longer enjoy the protection of the law against the possibly abusive practices of the stronger members of their separate sovereign community.”

A legal precedent that says a “substantial burden” on religion is whatever the religious objector says it is “could open the floodgates to allow religious objectors to deny important rights and benefits to a great number of people in a variety of contexts,” says Mach. He added, “There is a history in this country of people seeking a religious exemption from a non-discrimination rule. It would be new if they prevailed.”

~~  Irin Carmon ~~

Backlash over Common Core Extends to U.S. Catholic Schools

The Free Press WV

The backlash against standardized testing is rippling through some Roman Catholic schools as they balance the college-driven Common Core learning standards with spiritual goals.

The Diocese of Albany announced recently that it will reduce the frequency of the Common Core-aligned tests while sticking with the standards, which spell out skills students should master at each grade level from kindergarten through high school.

“Although the standards of the Common Core itself are good, the collateral pieces have caused great strife for families and teachers,“ Superintendent Michael Pizzingrillo said.

The number of dioceses that have opted out of using either the standards, tests or both hasn’t been officially tracked while states have phased them in over the past five years. Surveys showed about half of the 195 U.S. dioceses — which like other private schools are not obligated to use the standards— initially adopting them, the National Catholic Educational Association said.

“Right now, Catholic schools are still trying to figure out how they respond to the Common Core and how deeply they embrace it,“ said Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 programming at the Cardinal Newman Society. The focus, he said, has to remain on the development of students’ “mind, body and spirit.“

“We don’t open Catholic schools to get kids into college,“ Guernsey said. “We open Catholic schools to get them into heaven.“

About 1.9 million students around the U.S. are enrolled in 6,568 Catholic schools, most of them elementary schools, according to the National Catholic Education Association. They haven’t been immune to the outcry over high-stakes testing roiling public schools.

“Many parents are listening to the news. They see the political charge,“ said Sister John Mary Fleming, executive director for education at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “What this situation has done is created an opportunity for Catholic schools to review our mission: What is our mission and how does the curriculum support that mission?“

The conference urges education leaders to review the standards but notes that rejecting them could put students at a disadvantage later in high school. Fleming said individual dioceses have chosen a variety of approaches to the Common Core, either adopting or adapting them in part or as a whole, or, in places including Denver and Lansing, Michigan, staying away from them altogether.

The Albany diocese’s decision to change its testing schedule coincides with a call by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “a total reboot” of the Common Core after his state became the epicenter of anti-testing sentiment. An unprecedented 20 percent of public school students statewide opted out of the mandatory math and English assessments this past spring. A task force is expected to make recommendations this month.

Three of the 46 states that originally adopted the Common Core standards have dropped them. More dramatic has been the decline in membership in the two consortia tasked with creating the assessments, Smarter Balanced and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The number of participating states has fallen from 46 to 22 as states find alternative ways to meet testing requirements, according to the Education Commission of the States.

Pizzingrillo said it’s hoped the Albany diocese’s move away from state tests in its 23 schools will help parents distinguish between the standards, whose focus on critical thinking is seen as useful, and the tests, which are at the center of so much turmoil. Instead of testing all students in grades three through eight, Albany Catholic schools will, beginning this year, test only those in grades three, five and seven and use a different test to measure student achievement.

An initiative by the National Catholic Education Association makes available detailed lesson plans that integrate spiritual components into a standards-based curriculum. A fifth-grade English lesson on the Civil War, for example, incorporates the idea of righteousness, while a fourth-grade geometry lesson uses crosses to demonstrate parallel, perpendicular and intersecting lines.

English teacher Meghan Bornhorst said the standards will continue to guide her lessons, even though not all of her students will be directly tested on them.

“A lot of students go to public (high) school,“ she said. “I don’t want them to go and say, ‘We were supposed to learn this?‘“

Marshall University RA Shames Heterosexual Christian Students for Their ‘Privilege’

A resident advisor (RA) at Marshall University in West Virginia has placed a poster in a freshman dorm that attacks heterosexual Christian students by defining them as “privileged.”

Senior RA Jessie Swiger hung her poster in Freshman North, a co-ed dorm. Campus Reform reported the story and presents screenshots of the poster, as well as Swiger’s Facebook post defending her poster and a tweet in which Swiger justifies, “It’s not shaming. It’s educating. Privilege exists as a result of racism, sexism, ablism, & classism engrained in society.”

The poster itself, which is handwritten, equates privilege as “not being asked ‘how does sex work for you?’” and “’flesh colored’ matches your skin tone.”

The Gilmer Free Press

Examples of “privilege” Swiger provides on the poster are “white, male, Christian, cisgender, and heterosexual privilege that you’ve probably never realized or thought about.”

In a Facebook post, Swiger said, “I’m thankful to have been able to go through training and take classes that have helped me to understand and recognize privilege, what it is, and how it affects our brothers and sisters of the world.”

“As a person passionate about social justice, I feel this is an important starting topic that will influence other issues we face in society,” Swiger continues. “I know that I have privilege because as a white, middle class, heterosexual, cisgender, educated, Christian person I can post this and know that my point will be taken seriously and the only negative comments will come from other privileged people.”

Swiger said there is no need to feel ashamed of being a member of a “privilege group but instead should use it to recognize advantages that may have not previously crossed your mind that someone who is not in your group has to struggle or fight for more than you.”

Similar types of posters or bulletin boards were discovered by Campus Reform at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, where one board told students to “Check Your Privilege” and shamed students who are white, male, Christian, able-bodied, heterosexual, or “cisgendered.”

The “Check Your Privilege” campaign was launched by three University of San Francisco professors—psychology professor Ja’Nina Walker and assistant professors Scott Murray and Sonja Poole—who define privilege as “unearned access to social power based on membership in a dominant social group.”

“If you can expect time off from work to celebrate your religious holidays, you have Christian Privilege,” states a campaign flier.

~~  Dr. Susan Berry - Breitbart ~~

G-MM™: Meditation Moment - 150321

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


Proverbs 20:3

It is honorable for a man to stop striving,
Since any fool can start a quarrel.


Exodus 20:12
The Fifth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.


Notes on the Scripture

What Importance Do the Commandment of Exodus 20 Have?

The first four of the ten commandments address the relationship between God and man; the remaining six (beginning with today’s) address the relationship of people to one another. This division underlies Christ’s famous summary of the Law into two great commandments, e.g. Matthew 22:37-40.

The fifth commandment (like the fourth, keeping the Sabbath holy) raises an important issue: As important as Exodus 20 is for understanding God’s will, it is neither complete nor fully original and is, really, a sort of Cliff’s Notes version of God’s law given to the Hebrews.

The first, second and fourth commandments were certainly given to the Hebrews before the ten commandments were engraven at Mt. Sinai. See e.g. Exodus 16:22-30. More importantly, their already exist “commandments”, equal in importance to these ten. For example, while they were in Egypt, God gave the Hebrews a strict set of rules requiring the observance of Passover. If it occurs to you that they are not as important as these ten, just consider: a person who eats leavened bread at Passover must be thrown out of the congregation of Israel. Exodus 12:19

More a propos of today’s passage, at several prior points God has imposed obligations on parents to instruct their children. E.g. Exodus 12:24-27. Instruction and discipline of children is probably a more fundamental duty than any of the last six “commandments”, for the continuation of the covenant would depend upon it.

When we think about such issues as “what were the laws of Moses” and “what obligation do they place upon Christians today”, turning to the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 is a cop-out. Too much emphasis on them means that we have not read the Bible. People like them, though, because they aren’t “Jewish” sounding. We want to put them in a nice clean category, “rules that still apply after the coming of Christ”, as opposed to, say, laws detailing the burning of goat carcasses as a sacrifice.

Reading and studying the actual text of Exodus will give us a much more accurate and deeper understanding of Old Testament law and its application to modern Christians.


That Your Days May Be Long

The gloss at the end of the commandment, “that you days may be long upon the land . . “, might or might not be intended to be tied to the specific commandment. “Your days” does not refer to an individual’s lifespan, but rather, to Israel’s occupation of the promised land under the protection of Yahweh. By inference, a child who honors his parents will learn and follow the precepts of a monotheistic and God-centered life; he will inherit the knowledge needed to please God and, under his parents’ watchful eyes, learn to behave correctly in the eyes of God.

As a general principle of Biblical interpretation, however, the first mention of a principle informs what is to follow. As J. Edwin Hartell puts it in Principles of Bible Hermeneutics(Zondervan, 1947): “The first time a thing is mentioned in Scripture it carries with it a meaning that will be carried all through the Word of God.“ There is, we must remember, only one speaker in the Bible, although there are many mouths.

Which put more plainly, means that the reward of living long in the Promised Land applies to all of God’s commandments, not only to the obligation of honoring one’s mother and father. There lies a critical message, not only for a struggling, scruffy Semitic tribe over 3000 years ago , but also for us today. If a society is to prosper, it needs to pay close attention to God’s moral law.

Meditation Moment - MERCY

The Gilmer Free Press

MERCY

God blesses those people who are merciful and He will treat them with mercy.  “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. 5:7)  Mercy is a Christian grace. It denotes “Kindness, love and loyalty”.


Jesus was constantly showing mercy toward people in need. Matthew 9:27 “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.”  “And their eyes were opened…” (vs 30)  In Matt. 20:30 two other blind men’s eyes were opened.  Jesus expects us to show mercy to our needy fellow human beings.  (Matt. 5:7)  Mercy is a requisite quality of those who belong to God.  He calls us to serve him with mercy.  (2 Cor. 4:1)


The best example of mercy on a human level is seen in the reaction of the good Samaritan to the one who fell into the hands of robbers on his way to Jericho. (Luke 10:30-37)  The one who had mercy on him bandaged his wounds, took him on his donkey to an innkeeper, and paid for his care.  Jesus admonishment was “Go, and do thou likewise” (vs. 37).


Mercy can be best defined as God’s goodness to those in need; grace is God’s goodness to those who do not deserve it.  Yes, God so often gives us what we need, not what we deserve.  We should go and do likewise.


Use these examples to draw near to God.  “let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)  Jude writes in verse 21, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

Glenville Church of Christ
211 Powell Street, Glenville WV
Noel Roberts - Phone 304.462.8136

G-MM™: Meditation Moment   150316

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


Psalm 121

The Lord is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
from this time forth, and even for evermore.


Galatians 3:2-3
Finishing as You Started [1] (Galatians #25)

2-4 I only want you to tell me one thing: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law, or by faith, from hearing and believing the Gospel? Do you really intend to rely on your flesh, which could not begin your salvation, to perfect it? It would be insanity. Would you simply throw away the benefits of the tribulation you have suffered?


Galatians 3

About the Daily Prayer BibleThe “Daily Prayer Bible” is a paraphrase translation. This means accuracy to the original text has been sacrificed, to make it more readable and readily understood. This is especially useful in the Epistles of Paul. Verses are often out of order and often explanatory matter is included in the actual translation.

It is part of a larger work, DP 3-Column Bible, a Bible translation with 3 different levels of literal accuracy, which you can access by clicking the link at the bottom of the Scripture section. We call the most readable and least accurate translation the “Daily Prayer Bible”. The middle translation (“The American Bible”) is what is called a “literal” translation, accurate to the original text but using English grammar and idioms.

The third translation is a unique transliterative text, called “Verbatim Bible”, that has an unparalleled degree of accuracy but is not readable except with difficulty. It gives the non-Greek-reading user the ability to see the inaccuracies and ambiguities that become invisible in even the best so-called “literal” translations, such as the NASB or our own American Bible..


Notes on Scripture

In classical education, students studied Rhetoric as a primary subject: the art of speaking and writing to persuade. Paul shows either some education, here, or a natural grasp of a persuasive technique. First, you ask a rhetorical question which the listener must, or will probably, answer “yes”. Then, you ask a second question, whose answer logically follows (or seems to follow) from the first. Third, you asks a powerful emotional question designed to make the listener want to take action based on the second.

So the first question Paul asks — “Did you receive the Spirit by works of law or by faith?” — is one which he has confidence that the listeners Paul’s epistles were written, but were primarily transmitted by having someone read them aloud, as few could read Greek and fewer still read it well. would answer “by faith.” Paul would have known, for a fact, that the churches of Galatia were convicted by faith, because he had personally founded the churches. The original members had received the Spirit by listening to him and believing what he said; and those who had joined after he had left would necessarily have been convinced by listening to the original members, and believing.

The congregants were primarily Gentile and thus found Christ without any exposure to the Law at all. Perhaps they knew a few odd habits of the Jews in their town, but they were not educated in the Law of Moses and certainly did not try to follow it. But even Jewish members would have to realize that their salvation had not come from Judaism, but from faith in Christ. If their Judaism had been sufficient for them, they would not have converted in the first place.

Then Paul, having established the necessity of faith in the forefront of the listeners’ minds, asks if they are stupid enough to think they can complete in the flesh what was started in the spirit. We can correctly make an inference here: Paul means that what was started by faith, in the spirit (or Spirit), can only be completed in the spirit. (A discussion of the difference between implication and inference (assumption) is badly needed at this point, but we will have to do it tomorrow. Look forward to it — it is a critical issue in Christianity.)

We discover an ambiguity from the Verbatim Translation. Paul could be saying, what was begun in the spiritual realm must be completed in the spiritual realm, that is, we will be saved by spiritual means and not by activities of the flesh; or he could mean to say, what was begun by receiving the Holy Spirit can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit. Like so many ambiguities, this one is best resolved by understanding both meanings. We find salvation in our spirit, through the Holy Spirit — not in the flesh by virtue of the Holy Spirit (such as by good acts that the Spirit empowers us to do), not in our spirit by our own effort.

To be continued . . .

TRUTH OR TRADITION?  – #314

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The Wicked Husbandmen.

Jesus told a parable about a man who planted a vineyard and let it out to husbandmen.  At the time of harvest, he sent a servant to receive his portion of the fruit.  They beat him, and sent him away empty.  So he sent another servant who received much the same treatment.  He sent a third servant.  The husbandmen wounded him and cast him out.  Finally the lord of the vineyard sent his son, and they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.  What will the owner of the vineyard do now?  “He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others.”   Luke 20:16.


The Application.

The vineyard was the Jewish nation.  God had blessed them and expected the fruit of worship from them.  For centuries He had sent prophets, priest, and kings, but they were rejected.  Finally He sent His Son, but they cast Him out and killed Him.  What is He to do now?  Paul said it this way, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you:  but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”   Acts 13:46.


Some Things About God.

There are a number of lessons we can glean from this parable, but in the space that is left we want to notice some things about God.


His Benevolence.

The owner of the vineyard had provided everything needed to make his vineyard a choice one.  For centuries, during the times they were faithful, God provided for Israel’s every need in abundance.  “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”   Philippians 4:19.


His Expectation.

Just as the owner of the vineyard expected fruit,  God expects the fruit of respect and worship from His vineyard.  Jesus said, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.”   John15:2.  The only miracle Jesus did that was destructive in nature was to place a curse on a fig tree.  Why?  Because it was barren.  Matthew 21:19.


His Severity.

As with the owner of the vineyard, God is longsuffering and patient with His people, but His goodness and patience has an end.  “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God.”   Romans 11:22.  Folks like to think of God as a God of grace, mercy, and love,  and indeed He is,  but many fail to see the other side of His divine nature.  The one talent man was called a wicked and slothful servant.  He lost the talent he had, and was cast into outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Matthew 25:25-30


His Judgment.

As with the husbandmen in the parable,  the day of reckoning always comes.  When the Lord comes again,  He will come;  “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8.


Steer Creek Church of Christ,  3466 Rosedale Road,  Stumptown WV 25267
Minister: Gene H Miller, 3281 Rosedale Road, Shock WV 26638-8410.
Phone:  304.462.0384     E-Mail:  “ghmiller@frontier.com”  Web Site:  steercreekchurchofchrist.org

G-MM™: Meditation Moment   150315

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


Psalm 65:16-18

As for me, I will call upon God,
And the Lord shall save me.

Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.

He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me.


James 3:6-12
The Tongue [1]

6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.

8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.

My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.


Notes on the Scripture

Like the bit in a horse’s mouth or the rudder on a ship, the tongue, in spite of its size, can direct the course of a human life. Like an uncontrollable fire started by the toss of a match, the tongue can put into motion a chain of events that goes beyond a speaker’s sway. And like an animal that cannot be tamed, the tongue can do unexpected and often harmful things. “For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue.” (Jas. 3:7-8a).

Think for a moment of the birds, marine life, reptiles, and mammals of every description that have been brought under human dominion. The tamed elephants, lions, dogs, and seals at the circus give impressive and sometimes amusing testimony of our ability to train creatures that were formerly wild. But this is child’s play compared to the formidable task of taming the tongue, because “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matt. 12:34). This is why the Proverbs say, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32).

As if the images in these verses were not enough, James adds another: “it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (Jas. 3:8b). Consider the plague of fiery serpents that were sent to punish the children of Israel because of the venom of their murmuring and grumbling in the wilderness (Num. 21; cf. 1 Cor. 10:9-11). Along similar lines, Paul paints this portrait using the vivid palette of the Psalms: “Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Rom. 3:13-14).

And yet the tongue has the power to do great good. James recognizes this enigma in verses 9-12: With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh.

Continued next Sunday . . .

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During intervention the State had dictatorial control of our school system to include all decisions related to the GCES.

One result is that the GCES was built too small.

An investigation is needed to determine who was responsible for the bad decision, and what role the no-bid architectural firm had in designing and constructing the school.

Something major happened to cause the GCES to be built too small. Was something dropped at the expense of adequate class room space as a result of having to spend extra money because a poor site was selected?

Minimally, gross incompetency on the State’s part is the explanation for the disaster foisted onto the County.

A question pertains to the new gym. Lots of effort was taken by the State to try to convince the public that a competition gym instead of a regular gym was needed.

Did the competition gym cost extra money at the expense of needed classroom space? If the answer is affirmative who was responsible for deciding on the more expensive gym?

What about the enormous pit at the GCES? Was money spent on it at the expense of classrooms because something was wrong with the school’s site that was selected by the State?

Nothing similar to the pit has been seen at other sites where new WV schools were built.

Why has there been a failure for a thorough investigation to have occurred to expose the facts?

The obvious explanation is that powerful elitists in control do not want tracks leading to them, and they have veto power over a meaningful investigation including one done by a leading newspaper.

By GCES Built Too Small Scandal on 01.15.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Pat McGroyne is spot on.
High speed internet is simply another failure of WV state government.

If the elected in our state, were doing the job expected by voters….we should have very few problems or issues?

By Gilmer resident on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Muddling has another distinct symptom. It is the tendency for administrators in control to emphasize processes and procedures while avoiding disclosure of progress, or the lack thereof, in achieving learning results.

The purpose is another way to avoid personal accountability for school system failures.

By Muddling Epidemic In WV School Systems on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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West Virginia is number one!
Our politicians are the best that can be had.
They are also the lobbyers dream come true.
No one—-can out-muddle our elected reps !

By we know it on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Suggestion after reading strategic plans for the GCHS and the GCES.

How about the school board requiring that for each school an informative executive summary be written to include——where each school stands on reading, math, and science proficiency, what the term proficiency means to eliminate the confusion, student proficiency goals for the two school, target time to expect goals to be achieved, and a statement to commit to keeping the public informed of progress in achieving the goals at designated intervals (e.g. quarterly) during a school year.

Omit confusing abbreviations and technical terms understood only by a select few in the education field, and written for comprehension by reasonable persons.

Leave it up to the County’s professional educators to determine how to get the job done with continual laser-like focus on getting results.

By Student Learning at GCHS and GCES on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Muddling infects federal, state, and local government entities where personal accountability for top officials to get measurable results rarely exists.

Muddling practitioners are famous for passing off information unrelated to measurable proof that effective problem-solving has occurred. A common example is emphasizing how much public money is being spent to attempt to convince tax payers that magnitudes of expenditures are always directly correlated to levels of problem-solving successes.

Muddling by an organization is characterized by the existence of thick planning documents replete with vagueness and lack of clarity, undefined technical terms, and mysterious acronyms.

Muddling thrives on intentional ambiguity and confusion designed to protect muddlers and their organizations.

By Muddling 101 on 01.11.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Gilmer County is not the only place in the USA that has been faced with its students failing to meet proficiency standards for science, reading, and math.

The difference here is that evidence is lacking to conclusively demonstrate that Gilmer County’s officials in control have exerted proper efforts to profit form powerful lessons learned elsewhere to use that knowledge to help solve learning deficiencies in our schools.

In fact, a convincing argument could be made that the approach in the County has been the one professional planners designate as muddling through.

Classic symptoms of muddling through include failure to thoroughly analyze categories of causes contributing to problems followed up by using the information to develop a comprehensive plan to do the most good in getting better results by treating key causes instead of symptoms.

Muddling typically involves officials assigning blame for lack of progress to outside forces e.g., the “culture”, the State did it to us, and poverty. Haven’t we heard plenty of that?

Muddling must be eliminated if we want progress in solving non-performance problems within the County’s school system. Does anyone disagree?

By End School System Muddling on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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It is unclear after reading school board meeting minutes what progress if any is being made by GCHS and GCES principals in improving student proficiency in reading, math and science.

Why not allocate a few sentences in the minutes to summarize what the two principals reported to the school board?

All it would take to get the critical information out to citizens would be for the new school board to act on this.

Does anyone have a problem with the suggested change to keep Gilmer’s bill paying public informed?

By Need Specifics For Principal's Reports on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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“High speed broadband – a necessity for today’s homes, businesses and other institutions – remains a huge unmet need for rural residents, despite promises by a succession of Governors from both parties (a contributing factor in why we’re losing population at a rate higher than any other state).“

I disagree with much of what Mr.Boggs believes.  That said, high-speed broadband is the single most important step the State of WV could take to improve the business climate and provide more opportunities for its citizens.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Conversation at local eatery.
Shortly after election.
Individuals were educators.

‘You think we have school problems now, wait until these new folks take the steering wheel’.

‘Students, parents, staff are all going to be in the soup’.

Sounds as if Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving vacation-deer season times have all taken a big hit.  If that is true, the union teachers need to come together, stand their ground, along with parents, and hold this new board accountable.

Have a local strike if need be.
Request resignations.
Vote of no confidence.

Schools employees can win.
You have done it before.
Just stick together.

By overheard conversation on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Scholarship must be the most important focus in Gilmer County’s schools.

Brought up the ZOOMWV Data Dashboard site to review the most recent State achievement test results for GCHS’s 11th grade.

Folks, Gilmer is in serious trouble. Proficiency for math=24%, reading=41%, and science=24%.

On an A through F grading scales the GCHS gets an F for all three subject areas.

What does the new school board have to show for inroads it has made since last July to make critically needed proficiency improvements at the HS? Citizens deserve answers to the question.

By ZOOMWV Data Dashboard on 01.07.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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A thorough accounting for where all the public money went could be easily achieved by a competent accountant.

Isn’t there a special account at the County’s school board office for expenditures related to all bills paid and who got the money?

Following the money trail always gets results along with verification of means, motives, and access.

By Let An Accountant Dig It Out on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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If central office financial records for all public money paid out for everything from site planning, site studies and development, and everything else to get to completion of the GCES and the LES—- what is the reason?

It is known that money was spent on the Arbuckle site and Cedar Creek, and public money was paid out for the LES too.

Were County records for the spending purged and if that happened who ordered the action? The records are either in the County’s central office or they aren’t.

By End Financial Secrecy on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Hasn’t the time come to finally start naming names and making people accountable?

By Get It Done on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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How about the “BIG WV WINDFALL”....?

For 3 or 4 months now we keep hearing about the millions of dollars of tax revenue collected.

Millions and millions above ‘estimates’.  Were those ‘estimates’ honest, or fudged to begin with, so as to request higher tax rates?

Well, Justice and the Legislature now have our dollars, what will become of this windfall? Will we see tax rates lowered?  Doubt full, but we should.

Likely this windfall, created by “over-taxation”, will simply create a “party atmosphere” of legislative spending. Watch the Charleston ‘gangsters’ get their wish lists ready this coming session.

By taxpayers always lose on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Yes.  The blame Does seem to fall to ‘local’ people. In small places like Gilmer County, it’s just a poker game, boys, and the deep pockets win.  Money speaks volumes where ‘officials’ stay silent.  Go ask for the records, see what they’ve got.

By CheatersNeverWin on 11.20.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Teachers and staff knew from the beginning that the GCES was going to be too small. They were ordered by the State to keep quiet about the shortfall and other serious concerns too.

A sixth grader could understood how many rooms were needed by dividing total student numbers to attend the school by how many students should be in a classroom.

Under sizing was the State’s fault and it cannot be rationalized any other way including to assign the blame to local people. Same applies to the over sized LCES.

By Corrupt State Intervention on 11.19.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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There will never be a full, public accounting of the gross mishandling of tax dollars during WVDOE intervention.
Too many local jobs and too many embarrassments of both elected and appointed bureaucrats.
These types cover dirt for each other.

Any local whistle blowers?  Doubtful.

One school built short 4 classrooms and another built with 5 too many.  Can it get more stupid than that?
Mr. Degree and Ms. Common Sense seldom travel together.

By Full accounting will never be revealed. Never. on 11.18.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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GCBOE when the two principals give reports at board meeting could the gist of what they said be summarized in minutes to keep the County informed?

It was a welcomed development by the Board to require principals to give reports particularly if there are required updates on progress designed to improve student learning for reading, math, and other subjects.

We still have not been informed about the status of science proficiency at the GCHS based on the latest testing. Why has the State failed to release the data? Were results too dismal?

By More Specifics For Principal's Reports on 11.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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If it is going to cost extra money to eliminate over crowding at the GCES the financial information referenced by Do It Ourselves should be presented to Charleston and the press too.

That would help frame a solid case that crowding problems were not caused by Gilmer County because all decisions related to facilities were dictated by officials over whom the County had no oversight authority during the State’s intervention.

By Follow The Money on 11.16.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is assumed that all records for spending to include money paid out for the LCES, dropped Arbuckle site, dropped Cedar Creek site, and all bills for the GCES are in the Gilmer Schools central office.

The new GCBOE has authority to get to the truth by demanding a thorough accounting for all the spending.

Afterwards the financial officer in the central office could easily access existing computerized records and to use the information for a report to the GCBOE and the public.

By Do It Ourselves on 11.15.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Notice that most of the ‘officials’ in Gilmer County also hold regular day jobs - sometimes working on more than one paying ‘job’ at a time in the same office space. This common practice is concerning for many reasons, and it needs to be talked about when so many go without.

By QuestionablePractice on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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There are two views in the County related to the under built GCES. Although the State built the school with inadequate classrooms one group believes that we should move on to let go of the past.

Isn’t this a form of advocacy for a coverup to prevent accountability for the State’s incompetence and mismanagement?

The other group believes that there should be a full accounting for all public money spent up to the time the GCES was completed to include disclosure of recipients of the public money. 

The accounting should be done for all public money spent at the LCES, the Arbuckle site, Cedar Creek, and finally the GCES.

Reasons for the under built GCES should be fully disclosed too. When the State was in control this information was kept secret from the public with loud claims that there was adequate space at the GCES.

Now it is known that there is inadequate space at the GCES and the problem is left to Gilmer County to fix. Only in WV!

By Citizens For Financial Disclosure on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Unprofessional issues,rude commentsand rolling eyes at the high school has become an issue. Being on cell phone talking to boyfriends,when parents etc.going into the office. Since the teachers were ask not to be on them while students in the classroom. The one in the office should not be allowed to talk personal to her boyfriend, or whoever. Also, I hope this is corrected, the personal days, etc that the board provides to staff shouldn’t be allowed to use to work or operate a second job. Let’s get the priorities straight.

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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GULMER COUNTY BOE. It is time for me to let you know some issues that is going on at the High school.  I’m hoping this will be addressed at the next board meeting. 1. It should not matter if an employee has a second job or run a business. The priority job is for the board. One should not be allowed to use any time from the board to run your business. There is going on
If they want to run your business than go but not on the boards time. I would like for all employees be treated the equal. They should not be allowed to use the time the board gives them for other jobs.

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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While at it there should be an investigation of why the LES was build with too many classrooms and the GCES was built with too few. At the very least what happened is a WV horror story example of the State’s waste and mismanagement.

By Where Is The Investigation? on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is obvious that the GCES has a major space problem.

What options for dealing with the State’s mismanagement to cause the serious blunder are being considered by the Board of Education?

Could the original architectural design for the dropped Cedar Creek site be compared to what resulted at the GCES to accurately determine the extent of classroom space alterations?

If the architectural design at the GCES is different than the original plan for Cedar Creek the next step should be to determine reasons for the changes and where the money originally planned for needed classrooms went.

By INFO REQUEST TO GCBOE on 11.09.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It’s long been known that Justice doesn’t happen in Gilmer County “because it all comes down to money”. And for those in charge of handling it and making decisions, it comes down to being competent to do the job,  keep accurate books and accounts and I’m sorry to say, that is seriously lacking in Gilmer County.

By Follow the Paycheck(s) on 11.06.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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What is GSC’s BOG’s plan for getting money for the next payment on the $38,000,000 bond loan the Gilmer County Commission approved?

Will the State pay or will the money come from private donations?

Money will have to come from somewhere to avoid a default.

By Where Is The Money? on 11.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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So sorry to hear of Kendall’s passing. I have fond memories of him at Uncle Paul’s store and the family reunions. I’m sure he will be missed greatly by those closest to him.
Please accept condolences from me and my family.

By Steve Lewis on 11.04.2018

From the entry: 'Kendall Goodwin'.

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GSC’s present plight is no secret and its future existence is in question.

Instead of expressing attitudes that GSC is being picked on could the Blue Ribbon Commission reveal why the College “tested out” as it did to fail to get more State money?

Was the “grading system” based on student enrollment trends, retention, time taken to get a degree, academic reputation, inept governance and administration, and other factors to block more funding? Informative specifics were not disclosed.

Teachers know that concerned students who want to do better always seek advice on what needs to be done to get better grades.

Similar to concerned students GSC’s supporters should be informed of what needs to be done to position the College for improved chances for survival to include eligibility for more State funding.

Saying that GSC is being picked on does nothing to help solve its nagging problems.

By What Was The Grading System? on 10.30.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Well thank you, Details Please,  for asking!  So many problems in Gilmer and education is just one.  Look at the town, take a good look around.  Remember who runs unopposed at election time.  Vote.  Make a difference.  Hold authority figures responsible.  Allow videos, minutes and more to be shared on GFP again, for transparency.  Know your neighbors, help a friend.  Be good to each other. Amen.

By Reader7 on 10.29.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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I will truly miss my Uncle Stephen.  Telling me so much information about from gardening to canning. Just to listening to him talk with such passion for everything that he does… he had a sense of humor that always warms my heart.. listening to him play the banjo sometimes even when he didn’t feel good. he is always willing to share his recipes and his ways of doing things… his solar information he was always studying something ... I’m remember one time we asked him where he got his blackberries when it wasn’t Blackberry season and he go there’s a store down the road it’s called Walmart they have everything… He was so funny.  I love you.. xoxo.

By Robin Nunez on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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Sorry for your loss. He sure did look like his father.

By Buck Edwards on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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Reader 7, please give details for your suggested solutions to the County’s concerns you addressed.

The information would be helpful for consideration by school system administrators and the general public.

By Details Please on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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There is speculation that the plan is for GSC to convert to an education center for low risk federal inmates. Is this something the County and central WV needs?

By GSC's New Mission? on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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Dr. Pellett’s commentary in the 10/26/2018 issue of the Gazette includes a statement that GSC is responsible for injecting $28,000,000 into the local economy.

If GSC were to close loss of the money would cause the County to have more severe poverty than it has now.

The pressing challenge is for GSC’s administrators including its Board of Governors to exercise effective leadership to prevent closure.

Why can’t GSC take action on the long standing suggestion for it to be an innovator by establishing a five year teacher education program to enable students to earn a masters degree by graduation time?

Something must be done in WV to deal with the 700 positions for which certified teachers including those for math, science and special education are not in the classrooms.

Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors why is a new teacher education program at the College not a viable option? Nothing else seems to be working.

The need exists, a similar program of excellence does not exist anywhere in the State, and GSC’s status would be elevated by having a masters degree program.

By GSC Alumni on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'Paine: Plan to improve math scores to focus on algebra where a third of teachers aren’t certified'.

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GSC could make a valuable contribution to WV by doing a study to report on how grade and elementary schools with excellent results in math and reading did it.

Then, other schools could use the information as guidance instead of going it alone to reinvent the wheel.

With the Ed.D. expertise at GSC it would be a natural to take on the assignment. Dr. Pellett, would you back the initiative?

By Opportunity for GSC on 10.23.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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There is reference to signing an agreement with the State for math4life for all WV school districts. What has Gilmer County agreed to do to fix our problems?

By Agreements Matter on 10.22.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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This important news has potential for making significant progress in improving math and reading outcomes in WV.

It hinges on how quickly advantage can be taken from lessons learned in schools that excelled.

The WVBE could do an analysis of reasons for excelling and to quickly provide guidance information to other schools.

That is the way the private sector approaches problem-solving because chronic failures have consequences and the unfit are weeded out.

Dr. O’Cull could help if the WVBE is not responsive. There could be panels of individuals from excelling schools to make presentations at WV School Board Association meetings to explain what their schools did to make the achievements.

By Why Reinvent The Wheel? on 10.22.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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A characteristic of a good strategic plan is to simplify language to enable a clear understanding of all its details.

Regarding the comment about abbreviations, a simple fix for them and terms (e.g. lexile) would be to insert an asterisk or a footnote symbol the first time one of them is used to refer readers to a section at the end of the documents where the entries are defined.

This comment is not intended to be a criticism. All specialty fields have a language of their own including the teaching profession.

Suggested clarity improvements in the plans would not be time consuming for principals at the County’s two schools.

By Clarity Is Always Good on 10.18.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Looked at the strategic plan for the GCES. It is a major achievement for the new GCBE to provide the information to the public.

Suggestion. Could the GCBOE post a meaning of all abbreviations in the plan? Doing that would make it far easier for readers to understand details in the plan.

By Help Understanding on 10.17.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Thanks Mrs. Lowther and the BOE for providing meeting minutes for the public to read.

Those of us who voted for the levy would appreciate receiving specific information for what is being done at the grade school and the high school to make needed improvements for college and career readiness.

Could a current overview and updates throughout the school year be provided to the public?

Why not put the details on websites of the two schools to give the principals a chance to shine?

By Levy Supporter on 10.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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“engage in pedantic colloquy?“

No Bill.

By WEKNOWYOU on 10.14.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Correct.  I do not wish to engage in back and forth useless ‘banter’ with big words and no results.  What I AM interested in is Gilmer County, in all it’s ways.  Education, Food, Law and Transparency.  Fancy words are often used to hide, divide, and distract..  Plain words speaking truth for the safety and well being of the people is what I’m looking for..  Gilmer is suffering… I want it to stop. I want to see the citizens healthy, educated and strong. I want to see more jobs instead of food banks.  I want Committee meetings for all to see. I want the law to do what it should, when it should.  Plain english would work fine.  Thanks for asking.

By Reader7 on 10.14.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Lol 7, you do not wish to engage in a pedantic colloquy?

By Smart Feller on 10.13.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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All nice but a small request? Can we simplify some of the language?  Don’t mean to be rude, but fancy works aren’t needed for the Truth.

By Reader7 on 10.12.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Stop living the delusion the state will fix education.
They have caused the problem.
Remember, for them, job one IS job protection.

Rare in history, that the cause of a problem, has come forth with a solution to what they have caused. They keep resetting testing standards so as not have any ‘yardstick’ they can be measured against.  Apparently people just don’t get it?  And the WVBOE is so happy about that.

By it-ain't-a-gonna-happen. period. on 10.12.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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There is a continuum for sophistication regarding what is done with data.

Collecting and compiling it is at the low end of sophistication.

Synthesis is at the high end.

This means using results and other information to make specific recommendations for making improvements.

The State took its typical easy way out by failing to go beyond the data compilation stage.

By Easy Way Out on 10.10.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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The comment about need to find out what was done at high performance schools to determine what we could do in Gilmer County to get the same results merits a comment.

The comment flags what is wrong with the State BOE in failing to provide effective leadership.

Does anyone recall a single instance, after tens of millions of dollars were spent on amassing data, when the State BOE did anything to effectively address lessons learned at high performance schools for application at other schools?

Of course not! It is the easy way out for those in high income brackets in Charleston to collect data instead of using it to the maximum to take full advantage of lessons learned.

Could the WV School Board Association help fill the gap?

By Lost Opportunity on 10.07.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Harry, So sorry to hear of the passing of your wife.  I’m also sorry that I never got to know her because if she was anything like you, I’m sure she was pretty special.  Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.  May God’s love be with you my friend.

By Greg Garvin on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Judith “Judy” Carolyn Buckley Rich'.

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What is the BOE’s proficiency goal for English and mathematics and what is the time frame for achieving the goal? That is news citizens want.

Then too, how can citizens at large get involved to honor and to encourage students who improve, and what of a similar nature could be done to give special recognition to outstanding teachers who contribute to improved learning for English and math?

By Positive Changes Made By New BOE on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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The BOE and Mrs Lowther deserve high praise for disclosing proficiency information to the public.

It is the first time since 2011 anything like this has happened.

We still do not know about results for science, and it is understood that Charleston is still “working” on it.

Now we know our serious shortcomings in math and English and there is new hope for burrowing out of the mess with everyone in Gilmer working together.

By Thanks Gilmer BOE on 10.03.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Well, dear citizen… sometimes the local ‘law’ gets it wrong.  #truth #JusticeForGilmer

By Transparency matters on 09.30.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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Soooo…...why do we never see a big drug bust in Gilmer?
With the college and others, there are plenty sources.
Seems strange?

By citizen 3 on 09.23.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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If you access http://www.mywvschool.com it is evident that some schools outpace others for math and English.

For examples look at data for Lizemore Elementary in Clay County, Alum Creek Elementary in Kanawha County, Rock Branch Elementary in Putnam county, and Greenmont Elementary in Wood County.

Gilmer BOE why not assign someone to evaluate what is being done at those school and others to make them State standouts and to apply lessons learned to our elementary schools?

The same applies to learning from others regarding how to get high marks at GCHS.

By Learn What Works From Others on 09.23.2018

From the entry: 'WV and Area Counties Balanced Scorecard for School Year 2017-2018'.

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I have not read anyone blaming our teachers.  Quite the contrary.
There have been some well thought out comments submitted too.
I am old enough to remember when we had few issues about quality education.

Forget Charleston? Better not.
Believe we are still in their “probation” period.
You better check out just what that means.

By GC--still on state probation? on 09.22.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Why not go for it on our own and use the tried and widely accepted Iowa Test of Basic Skills to evaluate learning proficiency of our children?

It is the longest running test in America and it goes back to 1936.

One outcome of using the test is that each grade would be evaluated and compared to performances to schools in other parts of America.

We would probably have to go through hoop jumps of the State’s everchanging testing too.

By Iowa Test For Gilmer on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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To compound complexity of the issue, Gilmer is different from McDowell and both are different than Monongahela.

The implication is that getting out of the crisis must be county-specific and there is no one size that will fit all of WV’s 55 school systems.

Each county is on its own and ones with the best planning, local boards of education, and administrators will shine. Forget about Charleston!

By County-Specific on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Similar to most complex problems there are several categories contributing to WV’s dismal failure in improving education results in our grade and high schools.

Information in referred journal is beginning to show up. Some of the categories include curriculum issues in high schools, block scheduling failures in high schools, inordinate emphasis on sports at the expense of academics, inadequate prep of grade schoolers to ensure that they get firm foundations in math and English Language Arts, failure to instill need for life long learning at early ages, failure for school systems to fund continuing education of teachers to prepare them for newly emerged practices for enhanced student learning, cultural impediments including failure of some families to encourage children and to give them extra learning help at home, dysfunctional families for children to grow up in caused by drug and alcohol abuse and chronic unemployment, grade inflation characterized by too many As and Bs and attitudes that nobody fails so pass them along, failure of school boards to hire the best qualified superintendents and teachers because of local emphasis on favoring “home grow” individuals, failure of school boards to define performance expectations for superintendents to make effective accountability impossible, constantly changing types of State mandated testing to cause chaos and morale problems, poor compensation of teachers necessary to attract and keep the best and the brightest, etc.

To blame all problems on teachers is a cruel travesty.

One of the weakest links contributing to a lack of progress in improving WV schools is that instead of analyzing the full spectrum of contributing problems and focusing on ones with the biggest payoff potential, the trend in Charleston is to constantly apply band aid approaches with hopes that “cures” will be stumbled on accidentally.

By Do Not Blame It All On Our Teachers on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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The problem with preK-12 education in WV is that a holistic and and technically defensible evaluation of contributing factors to cause WV’s problems and how to deal with them has not occurred.

Instead, under direction of clueless politicians ineffective muddling prevails while selling what is done at a particular time as the definitive solution.

How many times have we witnessed muddling over the past 20-30 Years? It still goes on in Charleston.

Why not obtain a grant to have qualified experts analyze success stories around the Nation and use findings to craft a demonstration project in Gilmer County to improve our school system?

Regardless of what we do there must be open minds in seeking out what to do in homes, schools,  teacher education programs in our institutions of higher learning, continuing education for classroom teachers, and to involve various factions in our community to achieve acceptable results. Everyone must band together as a unified team to make it work.

One trap is over emphasis of sports. If the same magnitude of attention and importance were to be focused on solving preK-12 education problems in WV, great strides could be made to benefit deserving children.

By Muddling on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Our heartfelt condolences on the passing of Mr. Ron. I too know this pain of losing a beloved father. Both of these men were taken way too soon. Praying maybe Mr.Ron, my Dad, and all the former Westinghouse employees in heaven are getting together. Love and prayers from, Adrienne and family.

By Adrienne (Trimper) Johnson on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'Ronald J. Vanskiver'.

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West Virginia’s educational failures is NOT because of classroom teachers.

It IS because of the WV Board of Education’s failures of the past 20-30 years.

That 9 member, lopsided governor board is a crime against children and education in WV as a whole.

It needs 3 teachers, 3 general public parent members, and 3 governor appointees.

Until that governors click gang is broken up, you simply see repeats of the past.  NO progress in education.

It will take the legislature to fix it, but they are too busy with the legislature created court system failure, while trying to line pockets with gas and oil money.

By Tell It Like It Is ! on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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What is the plausible rationale for Gilmer not disclosing detailed facts similar to what Superintendent Hosaflook did?

Wood County reported 11,176 students in its 27 schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

In comparison Gilmer had 734 reported students in our two schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

Wood County had 15 times more students than Gilmer and it is reasonable to assume that it was 15 times more demanding to administer with its 27 schools.

If Wood County could get detailed facts out to the public with its significantly higher work load what keeps tiny Gilmer from doing the same?

By Why Gilmer BOE? on 09.18.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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We have not had a responsible, functioning, WVBE for 20 years.
Not one that would accept any responsibility.

They just keep changing ‘score keeping’ so there can be no accurate tracking of student progress.

State ranks 48th or 49th on educational outcomes. Still.
Colleges still have to give remedial classes.

The ONLY thing that changes are the names of the governor appointed players.
And just look at the ‘cost-per-pupil’ spending!
We are about the highest in the nation.

West Virginia State Board of Education = complete failure.  Nothing less.

By just more smoke and mirrors on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released for Public Schools in West Virginia'.

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Never could figure out why working people, retirees, volunteers are picking up trash left by adults?

Not when we have the numbers of bored prisoners we have locked up doing nothing??

By No solution here- on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Adopt-A-Highway Fall Statewide Cleanup Set for September 29'.

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Go to http://www.mywvschool.org to access more official State information about Gilmer’s schools. There are serious red flags in need of immediate corrective attention.

If you access Lewis County schools on the same web site you can review info for LES. Look at the red flags there. Worse than GES.

Instead of using the info to criticize it can be useful in seeking out opportunities for making immediate improvements.

For those who take apologetic stands that Gilmer is doing as well as some other WV counties and everything is fine, it does not mean that inferior educations for our children are acceptable.

By Look At Red Flags on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Who is responsible for Gilmer’s oversight of the LES?

If you access the State’s website you will learn that math and reading is red flagged for the LCES to be as bad as it can get.

Why is it that nothing is reported in Gilmer County about how that school is doing when we know that our sixth grade finishers from over there will go to the GCHS to finish their educations? 

It is like our students who attend LCES are forgotten about. Someone needs to be watching out for them.

By Who Minds The Store on 09.15.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The really sad stories are left out.
The students who accrue debt and for whatever reasons, drop out of school after a year or two.

They have little hope of improving incomes, but still have debt.
More of them than you think.

By More sad ones to be told. on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Information made ‘public’ forces accountability.
Do not hold your breath lest you turn blue.

‘They’ want elected. Get their place at the trough.
Then discover ‘exposure’ makes their work more difficult.

Informed citizens make informed decisions.
Why do we see the same names being elected over and over and over?

By WHEN we're allowed to see it......? on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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Lots of work to be done with schools in Gilmer County. 2017-2018 Summative Assessments out today for student achievement.

Gilmer County High School.

For Math
*Exceed or Meet Standards=40% of Students.
*Fail to Meet Standards=60% of Students

For Reading
*Exceed or Meet Standards=36% of Students
*Fail to Meet Standards=64%

The scores speak volumes. What was done to accurately determine causes of failures and what will be done about it? BOE, the public has a right to know answers.

By Public Demands Answers on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The Founding Fathers screwed up, we should not have to work and pay our bills. Let that man behind the tree work and pay for it all.
Free education should be a right.
Free food should be a right.
Free healthcare should be a right. 
Free transportation should be a right.
Free entertainment should be a right.

By Smart Feller on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Thank you BOE members and Mrs. Lowther. Let’s work together at all community levels to make Gilmer County an educational power house in West Virginia. We can do it as an effective team and provision of information will be the key to success.

By Better Times On The Way on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Accountability - good point - and across Gilmer County.  We’ve seen glimpses and pieces of news WHEN we’re allowed to see it, mere mortals that we are. But never any follow up.  And the information come in bits and pieces (remember when we actually got to SEE what the Gilmer County Commission was up to?)  My question is, why do we never see the accountability or repercussion for actions of current Gilmer ‘elite’??

By Transparency matters on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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Encouraging news that the superintendent will present her goals for Gilmer Schools on 9/10.

We assume that there will be a commitment for specific goals to achieve, measurable outcomes, completion dates for different steps and final goal achievement, and a meaningful monitoring program to determine if we are on track or there is need for mid-course fine tuning.

If any of this is missing there will not be meaningful accountability. Excellent business plans have all the components addressed above.

By Waiting To See on 09.09.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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