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Friday, March 31, 2006

He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions

This coming Sunday our church is having communion, and as a preliminary there will be a reading – the entirety of Isaiah 53. As most people know, Christians see these words fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the Christian, Isaiah 53 is a reading about Jesus Christ and his ministry unto us, a ministry and work also depicted in the elements – the bread and wine – of the Communion Table. I wanted to leave you with the words for the weekend:

Communion Reading: Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed what they heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

How About Those Gamecocks

Gamecocks you say? What about all those pictures of me in Clemson sweatshirts? What’s with that?

Well, I mainly went to Clemson. Actually, my dad graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and was a bit of a fanatic Tar Heel. I grew up with tales about Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice who was a contemporary of my dad’s at Chapel Hill, and Ken Willard then with San Francisco, and the North Carolina basketball teams of the mid to late 60’s. I was a huge Charlie Scott fan.

But then I started playing basketball. One day the South Carolina team (the Skip Harlicka era) came out to visit our league for some sort of special event, and I got autographs from most of them. That was neat. The next year or so in came the great team Frank McGuire had recruited from the New York era – Bobby Cremins, John Roche, John Ribbock, Tom Owens, to be followed quickly by the likes of Kevin Joyce, Mike Dunleavy, Brian Winters, Tom Riker, and the great local talent Alex English. (who went to same high school my dad had attended).

Well, that great John Roche team caught my heart, and I even got to meet a lot of them at a Frank McGuire basketball camp. Move over Tar Heels.

Despite my newly changed affections, I actually planned to attend UNC Chapel Hill. I applied early admission, was accepted, and assumed I was going there, until my dad sat down with me over Christmas Break 1974 and told me the news: he could not afford the out of state tuition. I had not even applied to any of the State schools in SC. I really only considered Clemson. I just didn’t want to go to college in my home town.

So off to Clemson I went in the fall of 1975, and I became a Clemson Tiger forever. I was in Steve Fuller and Dwight Clark’s graduating class, and even took a course with them both on South Carolina history. I loved Clemson sports, and still do. I consider Clemson my undergraduate college.

Indeed, the greatest sporting event I ever witnessed in person was the football game in the fall of 1977 between Clemson and South Carolina, at South Carolina. I was there, with all the Clemson crazies, in the end zone. Clemson went up 24 to 0, and it seemed like a route. But then South Carolina stormed back in the fourth quarter to go up 27 to 24. With a little over a minute to go Clemson received the kickoff, and Steve Fuller proceeded to march them down the field, ending the drive on a truly unbelievable pass and catch to Jerry Butler, who was elevated several feet off the ground, completely extended, face up, catching the ball at maximum reach. It was the
greatest catch I have ever seen. Fellow Clemson alum Dwight Clark may be known for “The Catch,” but his catch couldn’t hold a candle to Butler’s. Clemson won the game 31 to 27.

Well, as things would go I did not return for the Spring 1978 semester. Instead I worked for a couple of months and then went over to England to study at a place called “L’Abri Fellowship. I had to settle some personal spiritual issues before I continued college.

When I returned in the summer of 1978, I just felt out of step with my Clemson friends and program, and so I ended up taking 21 hours a semester and summer school and graduated from South Carolina in the summer of 1979.

Thus, I am actually a South Carolina alumni.

I still follow South Carolina sports though I am not as keen about the SEC as the ACC. And I am proud of South Carolina winning two NIT’s in a row. It may not be the Big Dance, but there were a lot of good teams South Carolina had to beat to win, including Cincinnati, Louisville, and Michigan. So, my hat's off to South Carolina. Go Gamecocks!

And as to Clemson and South Carolina sports, I remain, forever and a day, a man divided.

Bud Watching

Greetings to all in Greensboro on a mild last day of March, 2006. I hope your day is going well so far.

Yesterday as I drove by
The Perfect Tree on Elm Street I saw that it’s end buds were huge, really to open up and fill the air with Oak pollen. And last evening I noticed that the birch tree catkins (from the white or paper birch trees by our patio) are just starting to swell an elongate. Soon, birch pollen will cover our patio. I pity my neighbors with allergies, but I love, in the true sense of deep affection (and praise to God) the “miracle” of Spring. OK, so I am a biology geek, but tree buds are way cool. Their formation, dormancy, and opening is akin to conception, development, and birth in animals, and almost as fascinating.

Spring is here! Take a break. Go outside and walk around and look at the perfectly ordinary and common tree buds all around you. They are swelling. Many have opened already and we see leaves on their trees–maple trees for example, and hackberries, and red buds. Others are just getting ready. Notice the covering of the bud. All winter long those bud scales, sometimes one big scale, sometimes two, sometimes more, have protected the life inside the bud from the cold and wetness outside. One freezing rain storm after another may coat the tree with ice, but the bud scales keep the life inside the bud safe and ready to grow when the time is right.

Inside are tiny leaves and/or flowers, either well-formed in miniature, or at least already differentiated as cells ready to take on full form. What energy the tree didn’t put into its seeds or store in its roots last summer and fall, it has packed into these buds. Indeed, as last summer wound down, and the buds started to form which would lie dormant over the winter, the tree “knew” to transfer important energy sources from the leaves to the buds. These buds are rich in energy which is why deer and other animals like to eat them. As the buds open they will attract the season’s very earliest insects, crawling and flying, to their moisture and sugars. Over the next few weeks Greensboro will be filled with budding coming-to-life trees, awash with flowers. Tree flowers aren’t always bright and glorious like red buds and cherries. So, like the many varieties of oaks may have some color, but that color may be masked by the beautiful earth tones of the catkins baby leaves. Sometimes the most beautiful things are faint, and less showy. So keep your eyes peeled, and if you have a chance, go on a bud walk. It’s at least as fun as sitting at a computer all day!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

You Say You Want a Revolution

There has been much discussion of late about free speech on the campus of UNCG. I for one am an advocate of as much free speech as possible. I think even the improved policy is a far cry from what it should be at a University of all places.

However, the freedom to speak includes the freedom to speak rudely, and in some cases the freedom to hinder the speech of others. Just because speech and assembly are protected does not mean that the speech or assembly is always wise or kind.

Matt Hill recently wrote in his
Anti-Gay Politicians Watch 5: UNCG Red State Day (and here too)about upcoming conservative speakers coming to speak at UNCG, many of them confessedly not too keen about the , many being, in Matt’s words, “negatively outspoken when it comes to LGBT issues.”

It seems that Matt addressed this forum in an appropriate manner, and for that I am thankful and respectful.

However, based on Melissa Westmoreland’s
All's fair in war, I suppose, respect for others was just a bit too much for the Anti-War Coalition, a group which shares sympathies with the International Socialist Organization. I encourage you to take a look at Ms. Westmoreland’s piece, and the comments that follow.

The constitutional protrection of speech and assembly includes the protection of mean and silly speech. What kind of bugs me is why a group feels compelled to make noise and otherwise protest the free speech of others. I mean, is their intent, as in the State of the Union Protest downtown, to keep people from tuning in to the speech of others. Why can’t a group like the Anti-war Coalition let the other guys have their turn?

I was made to think all this on the way back from lunch. I turned on the radio to the opening chords of the Beatle’s “Revolution.” It made me think that maybe the anti-war coalition should have a listen. Maybe John Lennnon was on to something…

Revolution

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right
Ah

ah, ah, ah, ah, ah...

You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right
all right, all right, all right
all right, all right, all right

Red Bud

I noticed today driving into the office that the red buds are blooming all over town. They are blooming a little later than last year, although the winter has been warmer. Odd.

Red buds with their splashes of light purple (especially when set along or near a wildly yellow forsythia) make me smile. This dash of purple is from one of our more humble native trees. Why it’s not called the purple bud is a mystery. Not even the bud itself is red, but some see the color as reddish purple, and perhaps growing in different soils it looks more red than purple. But around here both bud and flower are light purple, or at best purplish pink.

The red bud is actually a member of the bean family. As early spring flower turns to fruit, and as the summer progresses, thick dark bean pods about 3 inches long hang heavily from the red bud limbs, and providing another source of food for a few birds such as bobwhites and cardinals, and some mammals such as deer and squirrels, though the red bud fruit is generally not a food favorite. Bees however love the nectar of the flowers. The bean pods persist often well into winter hanging and rattling in the winter wind well after the leaves have fallen.

In our early forests, red buds, along with dogwoods and ironwoods and sourwoods, would have found their place under the great canopy trees of oak and chestnut and hickory and tulip poplar, taking what sun they could get, and offering another level of habitat for animals and visual beauty for human visitors.

The red bud makes for an excellent garden tree. It’s leaf is sort of a rounded heart shape, about as wide as tall, three to five inches across. The tree tends toward a bushy appearance with multiple braches, though it can be pruned to one or two primary trunks. It’s a bit of a gangly tree, no two looking just alike, thus lending character to the suburban yard. It grows fairly slowly and reaches a maximum height of 20-30 feet at most.

We have a twenty five year old red bud in our front yard. It got beat up by a mower early in its life, and is kind of scraggly, but I love it none the less, as do the bees and butterflies.

To see a picture, click here.

Younger and Thinner

I met someone the other day. She said, more or less, “Oh, you’re Joel Gillespie. I had pictured you as younger, and thinner.”

What do you say to that?

I’ve been laughing all week, every time I think of it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart: Matthew 5:8

from a Sermon presented on October 22, 2000
Friends, a day is coming, a day when we will stand bare before the judge of the earth, just us and our creator God. All life up to that point is prelude, introduction, preface.

We face at that time not just the issue of judgment in an impersonal sense - whether we will be “in” or “out”

We face the person of God – whether we will be drawn into his presence and see Him as He is, or be cast away from Him forever.

The opposites grow greater. We will either see God or we will be cast from his sight.

To see God is the supreme good of human life. It is the ultimate purpose for which we were created. By seeing God I mean being directly confronted and overwhelmed with His person, being bathed in His love and holiness, being recognized and known in the deepest sense by the One who made us and has been watching over us all through this life, in whose image we have been made. In seeing God will have come home.

The Scripture speaks of Moses as one whom the Lord knew face to face. Certainly Moses had an intimacy of fellowship with God that was quite out of the ordinary. Yet, even Moses longed to see more of God. He asked God, “show me your glory,” God told him “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name to you, but, you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.”

God was incredibly kind to Moses is revealing His goodness to him in the way He did. What a honor and blessing even to see this much of God! Likely none of us will experience in this life what Moses did there on that mountain.

But one day we will. It’s coming. One day when the curse is removed God will let us see his face, revealed in and through His Son:

Revelation 22:3-4 says, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”

How is it that we will be able to see the Lord then? Because the curse will have been removed. There will be no vestige of sin. We will have new bodies and be like Jesus.

John puts it this way in his first epistle.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

In a blink of an eye we will be transformed, we will be like him and we will see him. We will have come home. We will be ourselves finally. The reality of who we are now is hidden, then we will appear with him in glory.

There is then a correlation between our seeing God and our being made finally and completely pure.

The sixth beatitude says that the ones favored by God (who are also poor in spirit, who mourn, who are meek, who hunger for righteousness, and who are merciful) are ones that are pure in heart, for they will see God.

What does it mean to be pure?
What does it mean to be pure in heart.
And does this say that we only see God if we can make ourselves pure?

The word translated as “pure” here has two general meanings.

The first and most obvious meaning is that of personal inward moral purity, holiness, righteousness.
The second and perhaps most accurate meaning is that of being single-minded of purpose, undivided, and true.

The first refers to our becoming like Jesus in every way.
The second refers to our following after Jesus in single minded devotion.

These obviously go together. To follow after Jesus means to become like Him.

The beatitude says we are to become pure in heart.

In the Bible the heart is the center of your total personality, the source of your focus and direction in life.

Purity of heart does not mean to contrast the heart with the head, feeling with thinking, being with doing, or intentions with actions. Purity of heart includes all of these – action, attitude, deed, sincerity, thinking, feeling, and willing.

In Jesus’ day this emphasis on purity of heart may have been heard as a contrast between inner moral purity and outward ceremonial purity, purity determined by observance of the Old Covenant purity laws regarding foods, contact with gentiles, dead bodies, etc.

Jesus taught that it is not what we eat and touch that makes us impure and unclean, but what comes forth from the heart – evil thoughts, murder, theft, slander, and such. These are what makes us unclean. The problem is inside.

Psalm 51:10 provides a perfect sense of Jesus’ meaning when David says “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

These are parallel statements and repeat a similar thought.

When David says “Create in me a clean heart,” he is asking God not merely to forgive him but to transform him inwardly. He knows that his sin with Uriah and Bathsheba flowed out of a heart which was impure and unclean, and he knows that if he is to be clean then God must make him clean.

When David says “Renew a steadfast spirit in me,” he is asking God to create within him a single-minded and unwavering devotion that will keep him on the right path.

The sixth beatitude says that those with such a heart will see God, and implies that only those with such a heart will see God.

So, we face the dilemma. To see God requires purity of heart. But we cannot make ourselves pure in heart? Is there any hope?

We will never be sufficiently free of the curse to see Him until we have a new body which is no longer prone to sin. Even with the present and abiding Holy Spirit we still in ourselves are not as pure as we must ultimately be to see God. The promised reward of seeing God assumes God’s intervention and work in completing our salvation. Until that time, while we remain in this body, we will in fact waver in our devotion; we are not and will not be utterly steadfast. Thus we will not see God now as we will then. Paul cried out, Who will rescue me from this body of death.” The answer, “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ my Lord!”

But the blessing of the kingdom is not merely and only future. The kingdom of God has broken into the present.

In the beatitude Jesus is pronouncing blessed those who by God’s grace have heard the call of Jesus and responded to Him.

Congratulations to you who are and will steadfastly follow me – for you will see God! If you throw your lot in with me, if you will follow me single-mindedly and take what comes as a result then you will receive the reward of rewards - -you will see God!

Well, who are these people? To whom belongs the kingdom? Who will see God?

The poor in spirit who know and mourn over their sin and long for righteousness, these are the same who are pure in heart and who will see God.

Jesus says that as these poor in spirit look to Jesus, as they respond to Him and follow after Him and cling to Him – these are blessed, to these is the kingdom!

The pure in heart are those who believe in Jesus and His words, and who keep coming to Jesus in their need, who keep seeking from him forgiveness and comfort and rightness. The truly repentant are not perfectly pure, otherwise they wouldn’t be need to be repentant.

These who keep believing and keep repenting see God in two ways.

First, in believing in and seeing Jesus we are in fact seeing God.

Philip said to Jesus in the upper room, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Paul put it this way: “For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

That is, as we have fellowship with the Lord Jesus and see and know Him we are seeing the glory of God.

Second, our fellowship with God through Jesus by the Spirit even now in this body opens up to us the reality of God’s presence. Through the work of Jesus we have real fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit who works faith in us and transforms us is Himself the Lord of Glory!

Third, in continuing to repent and believe, in continuing to follow after Jesus, we are being transformed into his likeness, and in this transformation more able by faith to see God.

It is true that God sometimes removes His presence from even his most obedient and passionate saints. They experience a dark night of the soul as their faith is tested in the crucible of suffering.

But generally there is a correspondence between our purity – both in the sense of our inner moral purity and our single-mindedness of purpose, and the degree to which we know the blessing of seeing God.

Entanglement in sin obscures our view. Lack of devotion to the word of God dims our sight. The pursuit of earthy treasure takes our sight off the Lord. Anger and bitterness cloud our eyes. Ingratitude pushes us far from Jesus.

When we realize this is true we will realize both that we have grieved the Lord and that we have wasted out purpose, and we will not feel great. We may feel downright terrible, even, well, pretty poor, pretty poor in spirit. And we will cry out to God as David did

Create in me a clean heart oh God.
Renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Let us pray

On Mexicans and Frenchmen

I have been interested in the last few days about the massive demonstrations in France and here in the US. There are contrasts that interest me greatly.

It seems that in France that the youth have an incredible sense of entitlement. Maybe most everybody does.

On our front, we’re talking about protections and reasonable policies towards folks who generally don’t have that sense of entitlement, but who come here and work very hard. I realize I don’t understand what it may be like in border communities where local services are stretched to the breaking point by huge numbers of immigrants.

But, what I have seen, anecdotally, in immigrants from Mexico and other Central American places (discounting the drug network) is impressive. I see hard work. I see a passion and desire for a better life. I see a responsibility to help those back home.

Last year we have a plumbing disaster and ended up replacing the carpet in our house – long story. We bought the carpet through a local company, and the installers were hired out, and they were Mexican. I don’t know if legal or illegal. We don’t have a big house but we have a lot of stuff in it, and all that had to be moved of course, the carpet laid, and everything moved back. It was a huge job.

A crew of three came, an older man and two younger fellows about 20ish. They worked non stop from 8:30 Am to 8:30 PM. They did the whole job. Hardly took breaks. Don’t even know if they ate. They were nice and respectful, didn’t complain, and the younger guys were very respectful of the older, did what he asked, and he also taught them different things. It could not have been better. My response was, wow, are there many 20 year old kids I know who would work that hard?

I called the carpet company to find out how they were paid, and they told me, and it wasn’t much. It was legal and all, just not very much per hour, so I gave them a very big tip.

The thing with me is that I see people who are hungry to work hard, willing to work up, and desirous of building a better life. As far as I can see I think that is good for our community and good for our country, not that I desire to see them remain underpaid, because I don’t. But if you’re going to work harder and strive for better things, then come on over. That’s how I look at it. And if some college kid or anyone really can’t get a job because he won’t work hard, so be it.

I mean, the situation could not be more different than what is going on in France. If those French youth had been laying our carpet, they would probably have demanded twice the pay, meals provided, and no longer than a six hour work day.

This good people from Mexico and other countries are one reason we won’t go the way of Western Europe.

A for me, having so many Mexican and Central American neighbors has made me desire to learn Spanish. That is now life goal # 4.

So, let’s do right by these people, and be thankful for what they bring our way, in work, and in culture.

Joel

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Favorite Love Songs

OK, so someone pointed out the other day that I did not have a list for my favorite love songs. I scanned my memory driving around yesterday and then started a list below. I have in mind somewhat more innocent love songs, not really songs about broken hearts, lost love, or unfulfilled longing (that is another longer more interesting list), and not really songs about getting it on in the night (So, Night Moves won’t be on the list, nor Crazy on You, [but maybe Moondance? Hmmm.]). So, here is a beginning. I’ll add and subtract a few and whittle it down to 25. So, what am I forgetting?

Colour My World by Chicago
Fly Me to the Moon by Tony Bennett
Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley
Beautiful by Gordon Lightfoot
This Girl’s In Love by Dionne Warwick
And the Night Stood Still by Dion
Your Song by Elton John
Moondance by Van Morrison
Lady by Kenny Rogers
Longer by Dan Fogelberg
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack or Johnny Cash
Eight Days a Week by the Beatles
Perhaps Love by John Denver and Placido Domingo
The Wedding Song by Paul Stookey
I Honestly Love You by Olivia Newton John
Love, Reign O’er Me by The Who
Crescent Moon by Bill Mallonee
Something in the Way She Moves by James Taylor
I’ll Have to Say I Love You In a Song by Jim Croce
Looking into You by Jackson Browne
Michelle by the Beatles
Crystal by Fleetwood Mac
To Know Him Is to Love Him by Trio
Always on My Mind by Willie Nelson
Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
Three Times a Lady by Lionel Richie
Pride and Joy by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Some Kind of Wonderful by Grand Funk
Song For a Winter’s Night by Gordon Lightfoot
You Make Loving Fun by Fleetwood Mac
Something by The Beatles
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkle
And I Love Her by the Beatles

Monday, March 27, 2006

Our School District. Immigration. Iraq. Battleground and Horse Pen Creek. Books.

It’s been a little over a month since I did any serious blogging. The break was nice. Life has been busy. Coming back into the blogging world has been a shock – I forgot how rough and tumble it was out there. I guess I am a wus.

So, I have a new blog site -- http://joelgillespie.blogspot.com/. It is being interwoven with a new web site – www.joelgillespie.com. I am going to keep posting at my MSN Spaces site and work to build up the look and content of the web site and blog site as time goes on.

What’s on my mind today?

Our school district. Immigration. Iraq. Battleground and Horse Pen Creek. Books.

1. I don’t think our children are best served by accepting the fact that we are a mid level district and that Superintendents will naturally use us as a stepping stone to better and bigger districts. That tempts them too much to lead based on their own resume building. I don’t think that is best for our kids. I have pasted comments below I made on Patrick Eakes site.

2. I like President Bush’s position on Immigration, as exhibited in his call for a civil immigration debate. Conservatives would do well not to vilify the “aliens and strangers” amongst us. And they better keep out of the calling many churches have to minister to “aliens and strangers” for they will lose that battle, and lose many of their evangelical base. I think we need an Immigration policy that we can enforce and which honors the incredible contribution immigrants continue to make to our culture and economy. OK, I do think the border needs to be shored up, but the felony thing is too much.

3. I am maybe one of the 1-2 people who has changed from being so so on Iraq to more supportive of our efforts there. I don’t think I’ll be getting any kudos for my intellectual courage.

4. Does anyone have thoughts on the moonscape at Battleground and Horse Pen Creek. That developments will forever stand as a monument to our local government’s lack of courage and will as regards Open Space, Water Shed Protection, Reasonable Planning, and Good Sense. Is it possible for our leaders to say “no” to a developer?

5. I took the bait and joined Quality Paperback Books. Got a whole pile of books. Am reading (I read several books at a time, a little here, a little there) a most fascinating book entitled “Animals in Translation” by Temple Grandin. It offer incredibly interesting insight into the animal mind (and emotion) by an autistic woman. I hope to write a full review when I’m done. And I am reading Stephen King’s “Cell.” Not sure what I think of that yet. I haven’t read a Stephen King book in 25 years.

Joel

As shared on Patrick Eakes site:
Patrick,

I am with you on this. Here are a few thoughts and observations.

1. It seems to me from anecdotal evidence that teacher morale has plummeted in the last 2-3 years under all the mandated curriculum issues and whatnot. That is my biggest concern of all. I believe that in the end the teacher is the most important person in the whole education equation. What I hear from teachers in many schools is mostly very negative regarding Terry Grier. When I taught high school (for five years) there was not such a mindset about our Superintendent, so I don't think it's inherent to the teaching job to feel that way.

2. I would like to know if anyone knows what has been the change in both actual and percentage amounts of the money spent on district office staffing.

3. It seems again to me that under Grier there is more Central Office control of almost everything. Is that correct, and if so, is it best?4. What role should the present or a future school board play, and what responsibility do they share for the failings (as well as the successes). It seems to me that the Superintendent has had almost a free hand, but I am sure there is much I don't know.

5. It has seemed that many decisions have been made just to make Grier or our county district look good, like the decision to push and even in some cases force many students into AP classes. This decision seems only geared toward upping numbers. My concern is are decisions like this part of "resume building." That worries me. I don't think we have to accept a ladder climbing Superintendent. If that's what we get the person in that role ultimately is using our system for his benefit rather than really loving, embracing, and seeking good for our schools and our students.

6. How much of the hugely problematic "teaching to the test" and forced curriculum conformity has resulted from No Child Left Behind. This seems to be one of the issues that has torn most at the motivation and joy of teachers. Are we really dependent upon the federal money that requires such conformity and teaching to tests? Have Grier's hands been tied on this?

7. Well, now that word is out he is a lame duck. I think we should start searching. Maybe there is a local person who would do a great job and who would not be using us as a stepping stone to bigger and greater jobs.

All for now.

Joel