“The Winter of the Church, the Season of Innovation” from Hacking Christianity

I encourage everyone to wander over to the “Hacking Christianity” blog and read Jeremy’s latest thoughts, “The Winter of the Churc

I encourage everyone to wander over to the “Hacking Christianity” blog and read Jeremy’s latest thoughts, “The Winter of the Church, the Season of Innovation.”

2015 Anti-Science Legislation

I am not sure how we need to address the problem but there are those who are committed to limiting the K – 12 educational processes by changing the nature of science education.

The National Center for Science Education has just posted a list of various bills from state legislatures that would limit science education in the areas of evolution and climate science. Opponents to evolution and climate science continually seek ways to force teachers to teach creationism and a denial of climate change as part of science.

Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Because if K – 12 teachers truly understood the processes of science and taught the controversy, creationism and/or intelligent design would be thrown quickly.

The State of Education Today

It is bad enough that there is a minority (at least I hope it is minority) would rather us go to war than seek peace in this world.

But I just read that the new president of the University of North Carolina system was given a salary of $775,000 and the chancellors in the same system were given raises of 8 to 19 percent. The faculty in the UNC system, after several years of pay freezes were given a one-time payment of $750.

I have never understood why administrators are given six figure salaries when it is the faculty and support staff that do all the work.

And all the while, tuition goes up making it harder and harder for families to send their children to college.

And this is not just in North Carolina (for the record, Ann Walker​ and I have ties to the state that go back several years). I see such gaps between administrators and faculty in K – 12 education as well.

But we are told that teachers are overpaid for what they do. In 1971, my first year of public school teaching, I made $6,300. My landlord essentially told me that I should be grateful that I was getting that much and shouldn’t complain because I also got 3 months summer vacation. But during that “vacation” I was under contract to go to school and I did not get paid for those months of vacation.

College teaching is really no better because, especially at colleges like the UNC system, you are expected to do research and seek funds which then replace, not supplement, your salary. And if you don’t do the research and publish the results (which by the way grants are written belong to the university), then you go looking for another position somewhere else. In most cases, it does not matter one bit if your passion and excellence lies in teaching, research and publications for the benefit of the university are all that matter.

And now, with the need for an educated populace even more of an imperative, there are those who would lead us to say that education is not important, that it cannot be free, and that we need to pursue more mundane jobs. I am not saying that every child should go to college because, for some, that is the wrong mix. But education needs to be a way of improvement, not the maintenance of the status quo.

The process of education is two-fold. First, it helps each and every individual find who they are. Second, it creates within each individual the opportunity to discover new things. Right now, we are not doing that and we are going to pay the price pretty soon.

My Grandfather’s Diary entry for this day, 11 November 1918

I first published this on 11 November 2007.  I think it is important enough to be reposted.


For those who are not aware, I am the son of a career Air Force officer and the grandson of a career Army officer. I do not know much about my grandfather, as he died when I was five years old. What I know about him comes from “tales” told to me by my parents and the diary that he wrote while in combat in France during World War I.


His entry for the month of November reads

At the beginning of November, 1918, the 2nd Army was preparing for a major attack on the section of the Hindenburg Line in the Metz area. The attacks were scheduled for November 10th and 11th. At the beginning of the month, the 14th Brigade had been withdrawn from the front line and replaced with the 13th Brigade. While ostensibly a move to give the 14th Brigade time for additional training, it appears that this move also facilitated moving the 14th to its intended position of the planned series of attacks. The 34th Regiment found itself scattered throughout the section.

During the period 9 – 11 November, the Division executed local attacks and gained temporary occupation of a hill west of Preny (9 November), Hill 323 (1 km southeast of Rembercourt) on 10 November, and established a line from 310.2 to 287.1 in the Bois de Grand-Fontaine, captured the quarry near 278.7 west of Rembercourt, and the small woods .25 km south of Mon Plaisir Fme. on November 11th.

November 9, 1918

On way to front again. We are to attack tomorrow. Men have been hiking all day & night, then to go in an attack will sure be hell.

November 10, 1918

Attack held up by very strong machine gun fire and a cannon barrage by “Fritz”.


November 11, 1918

A great day. The armistice was signed today. We were to resume our attack at 2 p.m. in case it was not signed. Slept in a German dugout last night.

From a second diary –

Was in German dugout at points 242.4 & 365 (on the Thiaucourt 1 to 50,000 maps) on the day Armistice was signed. 34th Infantry Regiment captured 1 German officer, 32 enlisted personnel, and 3 machine guns during tour; advance the outpost line .75 kilometers to include Hills 311.2, 310.2, and 312.

Nothing in what my grandfather wrote tells me anything about his feelings on war. Any mention of death or destruction in the diary is rather simple. I think that this was because he used his diary as a drafting board. As the Adjutant for the 34th Infantry Regiment, one of his duties was to prepare the daily reports. Those daily reports, recorded in the unit history, are almost the same things I read in the diary. Still, it was what he wrote on the front page of the diary that tells me he saw war for what it was and what it could be.

If I should fall, will the finder of this take it on him or herself to see that gets to my wife, Mrs. Walter L. Mitchell, 4150 A De Tonty Street, St. Louis, MO., USA? By doing so, they were conferring a favor upon Walter L. Mitchell, Captain, 34th US Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces, France.

The Threat To Our Freedoms

There has been a lot of discussion lately concerning attacks on our freedom. But it seems to me that these discussions are incomplete and miss the point.

It seems to me that those who complain about attacks on their freedom want to fight those attacks by limiting the amount of information available. This, to me anyway, is a far greater threat to our freedoms than anything that anyone else can imagine. For if you can control the flow of information, you control what people think, say and do and that, in turn, controls all of our freedoms.

The control of information begins when you determine how people are taught or what they are taught.

Let me start by first defining teaching and learning.

Teaching is the process of transferring information from one place, say my mind or textbook, to another location, say your mind or notebook. Success comes when the receiver of the information is able to repeat what was transferred. There is no interaction between the teacher and the student in this process; the transfer is, in effect, a one-way process.

I think this is, and has been for some time, the dominant process in our educational system. And based on various metrics, something we have become quite good at doing.

But there is relatively no new information being created and the means for doing so are not present. There is no analysis of the information presented so that the receiver can determine if it is good or bad information or even appropriate information. And without the ability to create or analyze the information, there is no way the receiver can determine the validity of the information. If you cannot analyze the data or, for that matter, create new data, then your ability to solve problems is limited.

It is possible to solve problems provided they are similar in nature to problems that you have solved in the past. But this does not provide the basis for solving completely new problems. And the ability to do so only comes when you learn something, not when someone else teaches you.

Learning is an interactive process between the pupil and the teacher, the instructor and the learner. It goes beyond what is already known by including the skills one needs to learn on one’s own. In one sense, true learning ultimately eliminates the need for the teacher because the learner gains the skills and abilities needed for future learning.

We are fast approaching a point, if we are not there already, where will not be able to respond to any sort of crisis because there will be no individuals who have the skills to think through a problem, analyze the available information, determine what additional information is needed, and then offer a new solution. At best, we only have people who can offer the same old solutions that haven’t worked in the past because they don’t have the ability to create an alternative.

I have no doubt that we know lots and lots of information but as I noted in my earlier piece, “Notes On The Common Core”, acquiring information does not automatically mean you know what to do with it. We can neither continue to maintain the status quo or, as others suggest, limit the ability of learners to question and analyze.

Consider the case of Dr. Alexander Coward, a mathematics instructor at the University of California – Berkeley (http://alexandercoward.com/). It would appear from the public information that the mathematics faculty at Berkeley is 1) opposed to the methods that Dr. Coward uses in teaching mathematics and 2) embarrassed that his results are better than the majority of the other faculty members. They would offer the notion that the results that show his students learn more and at a higher rate than other faculty members is faulty or the results are flawed and somehow incorrect.

This would not be the first time a faculty has argued against a change in methodology or information. When Galileo first presented his ideas on the relatively new Copernican model of the universe, it was the academic establishment that raised the first objections because acceptance of this new idea would mean that they had to change or retool everything they were doing. The church became a participant when the academic establishment convinced church authorities that Galileo was a threat to their security as well (see “Changing Of The Seasons”).

In the end, we are faced with one undeniable piece of information – each person has their own unique style of learning and one fixed process does not always work. Each subject requires its own approach and each instructor needs to adapt and adjust according to the situation they are in and the students they are teaching. Limiting how we teach or limiting and/or controlling the information flow can only lead to failure and ultimately the loss of freedom.