Sunday, April 30, 2017

Song for Sunday: Uptown Girl


Song for Sunday is back!!  And I'm going with Billy Joel, cause I just love his music. You know the lyrics to a few of his songs are a bit iffy, but he's got some others that are just amazing. Not quite sure where this one falls.

The song is sung by Billy, probably in character. He sings as a "downtown man" or "backstreet boy" going for an "uptown girl." A snippet:
I'm gonna try for an uptown girlShe's been living in her white bread worldAs long as anyone with hot blood canAnd now she's looking for a downtown manThat's what I am

As I listen to this song, I think of a brash man, driving a motorcycle, in a  leather jacket. He's loud, he drinks too much, he might do drugs. A bad boy.

Going for a pretty, well dressed rich girl. A girl who's been good, but wants to sow wild oats, maybe get at her parents.

I suppose I am partially influenced by a novel I have been reading in which a boy form a "trashy trailer park" falls for a girl from the other side of the tracks after they reconnect at meetings for recovering addicts. She uses him to get at her rich father. Eventually the boy discovers she is not really interested and kills her, goes to prison, meets Christ, get executed, yada, yada.


But what makes me think a backstreet boy is "bad" and an uptown girl is "good"? Good and bad folks live on both sides of the tracks, right? I mean, it's silly to think otherwise. But many of us do. Inherent bias, reinforced by years of media images and social conditioning.

I am reading the book Waking Up White and attended a workshop by the author, Debby Irving. These resources have helped me begin to see more deeply into my own biases and the way they were formed.


So, I see Billy Joel's song Uptown Girl in a new light. Still enjoy the music though.  Here's a link for you?






What inherent biases do you see in yourself?




Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day and Science

Today is Earth Day. 


There is also a march for science happening, as people feel that science is being threatened by the current government. Along with the big march in Washington, there have been marches in cities all over the country. People are pointing out how science as helped us and how badly needed it is. 

One quote going around is: 

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”

                                                                          ~Neil deGrasse Tyson

My personal response to that is this statement, that I posted on Facebook:

Science helps us explore the universe and our own back yards. It gives us a systematic way to observe and test what's around us. Science really isn't true or false, it helps us discover what is true or false about the physical world. It is highly important that we have people well educated in scientific method and aware of what has been learned and discovered in the past. Science and science education need to be supported. 

Science isn't something to be "believed in." It's a process (or a set of processes) which help us to learn many things. It has it's limits. It changes over time.

Put it in the context of Earth Day. Climate change is a big issue. It would be hard to say based on scientific evidence that global warming isn't real. It would also be difficult to argue that it isn't human driven. But scientists don't claim to have found out everything about this phenomenon. They are still studying, seeking causes and remedies, refining theories. Views on the specifics change all the time and vary from scientist to scientist. Also, no scientists studies all aspects of it. Some study the greenhouse effect, others melting glaciers, others the connection to increased severe weather events.

Here's another thing. Science doesn't tell us how to behave. Scientific discoveries can show us what the consequences of certain actions will be, but it doesn't offer moral evaluation. It's not meant to do that.

Science also isn't either good evil. It is how it is used that determines that. Remember scientists  have brought us both the cure for polio and the atomic bomb. Healing and destruction.

Personally, I believe that God gave us the inquiring and curious minds that have lead to the development of science. His Word can also give guidance in how to use it, to build the Kingdom of God rather than tear people down. 

Judeo- Christian culture historically supported science and allowed it to flourish. Check out more on that here: Are Christianity and Science Compatible?  There have been many clashes between science and the church, but really theology and science, if each is rightly understood can be complementary. 


One final response to Mr. Tyson's statement: 


God is real and alive and good, whether you believe in him or not. 


And that doesn't change the fact that science is important.

Friday, April 7, 2017

April 7, 1933: The Return of Beer

My great-grandfather was a poet. An unpublished one, but I have his poems in a little green book with little red labels saying "My Poetry Book" and Vol. 1 on the side. It's not full, so I don't know that there ever was a Vol. 2.

He wrote about his world, what was happening to him, and his own family. On April 7, 1933 he penned his only poem with a date. That was the day that Congress repealed the Volstead Act, allowing the sale of beer with less than 3.2 percent alcohol. Eight months later, Prohibition was repealed altogether. My great -grandfather wrote a poem rejoicing in the return of beer, but also sounding a cautionary note.

To the Return of Beer
April 7, 1933

Well, good old beer is here again
And has caused quite a sensation
And with it comes prosperity,   
And an income to the nation

Now a man can drink a glass, 
And not feel he's doing wrong, 
He has gained a new freedom, 
That he has wanted, so long.

Let's hope he will enjoy it,
and not abuse, this new right,
Let's hope he'll be contented, 
And drink in a way that's right.

There is no harm in drinking, 
Amongst a gathering of friends, 
But the beer, let's have cheer, 
And good fellowship to the end. 

                                               ~ John F. Henderson, Sr.


What do you think of the message of this poem? 

Do you have any writers in your background who have left a perspective on history?



For more information on the repeal of the Volstead Act and Prohibition, go here: 

April 7, 1933: Gimme a Tall, Cold One - Wired

Sunday, April 2, 2017

100 Years Ago Today: Wilson Asks for War

On April 2, 1917,  Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany and bring the US into World War I.


Wilson was solemn as he spoke to a joint session of Congress which he had called for the purpose. He really didn't want to go to war, but he knew that our allies needed our help to end the war -- without the US, the conflict would go on for an extended time.

As quoted in Life magazine, Wilson told Congress:

"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance, but the right is more precious than peace. 
Congress, which had been waiting to hear this request, cheered.


Wilson was appalled. "Think of what it was they were applauding," he told his private secretary Joseph Tumulty. "My message today was a message of death for our young men. How strange it seems to applaud that." And then, he sobbed.


Wilson was not a perfect president. None of them have been, really. But if there must be war, I would want my president to have this attitude going in: a combination of understanding the reality and reluctance because of it and also a willingness to do a right and necessary thing.

I pray for peace. For no more death for young men (and women) because of war. I pray for those places where there is war. I pray that our leaders know what war is and enter into reluctantly only when the right is more precious than peace.

God bless us all. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hidden Figures: A Review

I saw the movie Hidden Figures a few days ago. It is a film that everyone should see, one that illuminates a portion of our history that has been shadowed. It tells the true story of three exceptionally intelligent people who did not allow the discrimination and prejudice shown both women and African-Americans to hold them back for long. They made incredible contributions to the space program while they worked at NASA. 

This movie is a reminder of a past full of prejudice and segregation. It makes a strong statement that we were wrong back then. Sadly, it can’t be thought of as just a look back at a dark period in our history. It’s message is very relevant today as women, African-Americans, and others still struggle for equal opportunity and recognition. 

Hidden Figures allows for good discussion in the areas of history and government, and we took full advantage of that in our homeschool. We also analyzed the movie based on the principles of rhetoric. I will explain our thoughts, but I am going to attempt not to include spoilers. You’ll have to see the movie to see if we are right. 

Ethos: The movie appears credible. Styles of clothing and cars, the influence of faith and the black church, and the pervasiveness of “Jim Crow” laws are all portrayed in an historically accurate manner. Several times, real news footage is shown on what appear to be period appropriate TVs. The movie is, of course, a fictionalized account of true events. I am sure that timelines, dialogue, and the details of incidents have been altered for dramatic effect. But the movie gives the impression that it is telling the real story in a reliable way. 

Logos: The story dramatically builds it’s argument that segregation and prejudice were and are wrong. It logically shows that women and African-Americans should be provided with equal education and opportunity. It is consistent in this message. 

Pathos: There are many points at which the movie successfully tugs at the  emotions. At various points we found ourselves feeling empathy, sorrow, frustration and joy. We ended up rooting for some characters, despising others. Characters grew and, as their views matured, we found  ourselves glad. 


I strongly recommend this movie. It tells a powerful story, and does it well. 



What movies have you found helpful lately?