Thursday, December 28, 2006

Charter school uses educational travel

My article for the January '07 print edition of Carolina Journal got an early publication in today's Carolina Journal Online.

Charter Uses Travel to Educate
School in Wilson makes educational travel centerpiece of programs

RALEIGH — Sallie B. Howard, a native of Wilson and a black schoolteacher, was once stopped at the border of Saddam-era Iraq. The guards demanded to know why she was trying to enter the country without a visa. Undeterred, she explained she wanted to see the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; she had made several journeys to visit the Seven Wonders of the World, and this was next on her list. She managed to talk her way in.

The Wilson charter school that bears her name has adopted some of her philosophy and boldness as its own. ...

While other schools may sponsor trips to Florida, New York City, or even a senior cruise for their high school students, Sallie B. Howard School just took 10 middle-school students and six chaperones 7,000 miles to China.

They've got a neat story; I hope I did it justice. My version of it is online here.

UPDATE 1/1/07: Dr. Woodard at the school emailed to let me know that the article also appeared in the weekend edition of the Wilson Daily Times, 12/30/06.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Cards We Received

A few notable Christmas cards on our mantle this year:
A painting of the White House with wreaths in the windows and snow on the lawn:
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  Psalm 119:105
May the light of the season shine bright in your heart now and in the new year.  2006"
George Bush, Laura Bush
A drawing of Washington landmarks with a Santa figure in the foreground
"Wishing all of our friends a Merry Christmas and Joyous Holiday Season"
Ken Mehlman, Jo Ann Davidson, Kelley McCullough, & The Staff of the Republican National Committee
A photo of the extended family standing on the Senator's front porch
"'Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.' - Isaiah 40:28  '... the just shall live by his faith.' - Habakkuk 2:4
Wishing you every happiness this holiday season and throughout the coming year - Merry Christmas"
Ginny and Fred Smith
Packages wrapped in patriotic paper
"Greetings of the Season:  May the Spirit of the Season remind you of the strength and perseverance of our nation and its people"
Bob Crumley and family

Monday, December 25, 2006


Not settling our brains etc. yet

Just an observation that even those who are working for a low-key, Christ-centered Christmas celebration are sharing the great American holiday ritual of the late-night Christmas Eve wrap session. I am amazed and humbled that my most excellent wife manages to collect so many gifts, and some of pretty substantial weight, for our children over the course of a year -- and for so little cash outlay. God truly blesses her efforts.

Okay, off to the wrap mines. We've already wished "Merry Christmas" to our family in China, which has already reached lunch time on December 25.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

This, however, may be a bit much

The merchandise section of Old Lutheran is ... how to say it ... a phenomenon of its own.

For example, I am not ready for socks with the Luther rose and the motto, "Here I Stand", even in navy, or the "Clergy Girl" doll with collar. Nor the Martin Luther bobblehead doll, bundled with the Luther DVD.

Ach du lieber.

(HT: Purgatorio)

A little diversion

Ready for a bit of humor? See the new link on the right sidebar. Let me recommend The Sacred Sandwich with a Pepsi (be sure to slurp up the top couple of inches as soon as they hit the ice).

"Their main interest is liberty"

"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can."

-- Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative

HT: Mitch Kokai at The Locker Room

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Signs of the times

There's a little give and take with my friends on The Locker Room this afternoon, about an economist's electrical analogy. The end result, if considering the "power" of government, might be symbolized by this sign on one of my former employer's substations.

Thoughts on graduation

When God led Moses and the nation of Israel out of Egypt, He set in motion the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham more than five hundred years before – the promise of a land for His people.

When they arrived in that land, God gave them markers, both for boundaries and for memorials. Joshua had the elders of Israel build a marker at the point where they crossed over the Jordan, so that “when your sons ask in time to come ... you shall answer them, 'The waters of the Jordan were cut before the ark of the covenant of the Lord ... and these stones shall be for a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.'” (Joshua 4:6-7)

They were warned not to remove a neighbor's landmark, “which those in the past have set in your inheritance, which you shall inherit in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 19:14)

Four hundred years later, Solomon counseled his son, “Do not remove the old landmark which your fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28;)

Tonight we celebrate a milestone. This is the end of an academic year, for most of you students, and the completion of high school studies for these graduates.

Landmarks are important, but landmarks are not the land. When God gave memorials and landmarks to the children of Israel, those were not the promise. The landmark is not the land, it is just a marker. The promise was not for a memorial – the memorial was for the promise. In the same way, a diploma is not the education. It simply represents the completion of part of the journey. It is a memorial of many years of study, of teaching, of learning, of plain hard work.

But as homeschoolers, we know that the diploma is not the goal. The goal is not preparing for tests, or completing time in classes, or collecting certificates. The goal of homeschooling is an education, and that is never complete until we receive it in heaven from our Lord, the one true Teacher of us all.

The Lord says, “Do not let the wise glory in his wisdom, nor let the mighty glory in his might; do not let the rich glory in his riches; but let him who glories, glory in this – that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, doing kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these I delight, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Because ultimately, our purpose in life is not in reaching milestones. Our purpose is to glorify God, in our study, in our instruction, in whatever work He calls us to do; and to live our lives in such a way as to enjoy Him, now and forever.

But along the way to forever, this is an important night. We have reached a milestone. God Himself gives us milestones so we can see our progress and reflect on His care and provision. This is better than a mountain top, because from mountain tops we always come down. From where we stand tonight, whether as graduate or continuing student, God calls us to continue upwards and onwards, to understand and know Him, and to enjoy Him forever!

These are remarks given at the Johnston County Home Educators graduation ceremony in June of this year. It's now time for December graduations so it's back in season again.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Pastoral Scene

My grandmother's maiden name was Miles, a family with deep roots around Alexander and Leicester townships in western North Carolina. Grandma once told me about playing with her grandfather, Andrew Jackson Miles, when she was very little and he was very old, and her grandmother Malinda chiding him for being in his second childhood. This must have been one of her very earliest memories, since she was born about 1909 and he died sometime about 1911.

The Miles family has a long association with French Broad Baptist Church in Alexander, N.C. In fact, the earliest Miles ancestor I've found was an elder in that church 181 years ago. This item appeared in The American Baptist Magazine in 1835:

On the evening of the 28th of August, in Buncombe county [sic], (N.C.) during the session of the French Broad Association, brother William Roberts and brother Isaac Miles were ordained to the work of the Gospel ministry. The presbytery consisted of ten ministers, viz. Holland, from South Carolina, Meeks, from Georgia, Center, from Tennessee, Taylor, from Missouri, and Posey, Byers, Morgan, Ring, Dewees, and Freeman, of North Carolina. The ordination sermon was preached by Elder Holland; the Bible was presented, and charge given by Elder Posey. The season was solemn and deeply impressive. [1]
Isaac's grandson John Miles is listed in the 1860 census as a Baptist preacher, and John's son Andrew Jackson Miles was also ordained after the War Between the States. For obvious reasons, I considered titling this post “Miles of Pastors”. Quite a heritage, even at this distance.

UPDATE 2/14/07: Although this sequence of elders skips a generation in my direct ancestry -- Levi Miles, the son of Isaac Miles and father of John Miles -- I since discovered that my uncle in that generation, known only to me by his initials, was likewise an elder. Isaac's wife Sarah Doe survived him by a number of years and died in Union County, Georgia, in 1851. Her obituary appeared in the minutes of the Hiwassee United Baptist Association for that year, 1851, on page 563:

Sarah Miles, the widow of Elder Isaac Miles. She was a Baptist for 50 years, and died at age 75. She was the mother of Elder A. N. Miles. [1A]
A matter of historical interest, too

Another fact caught my eye in the orgination article. Although it is a Baptist gathering, it speaks of elders and a presbytery as if it were a modern Presbyterian meeting (though both Baptist and Presbyterian would agree that the terms are biblical, not denominational, distinctives). This is evidence of what church historian Tom Nettles describes in By His Grace and For His Glory -- that the early Baptist churches in America were largely Calvinistic in their doctrine and Reformed in practice, as were the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention.

However, it's clear that there were conflicts over these doctrines even then.
The French Broad Association was formed in old Buncombe County, N.C., in 1807, starting with six churches which had been part of the Holston Association in Tennessee and the Broad River Association in South Carolina. As time went on and the French Broad Association grew, several other associations formed, including this one:

[The Big Ivey Assocation] is an immediate offspring of the one last named [the French Broad]; it was organized in 1829, and appears to have been the first colony which went off from this mother body, and not in the most agreeable manner. This has been called a Free Will Baptist institution; how it came to be so denominated, is explained by one of my correspondents for this region.

“About the year 1828, an unhappy split took place in the French Broad Association, on principles; the one party inclining to the Calvinistic, and the other to the Arminian side of the controversy. The Arminian party
went off and formed themselves into a Free Will or Liberty Association; since that time, it has changed its name to the one it now bears.” [Letter of James Blythe to the author, 1846]

[1] The American Baptist Magazine (N.P.: Baptist General Convention Board of Managers, Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society, 1835), p. 347. One of John Miles' brothers was named after pastor Humprey Posey, a man who must have been well loved, given the number of Humpreys and Poseys that appear in the census and the Civil War records of that time. Posey was commissioned as a missionary to the Cherokee as well as his charge in Alexander, and he finished his race in North Georgia at the head of a school for the Indians. The Georgia Baptists claim him with pride in their publications. Cousin Humphrey, as it happens, enlisted in Co. C, 29th N.C. Infantry, in 1862 with several of our kinfolk (including Andrew Jackson Miles); was captured outside Atlanta in the Battle of Peachtree Creek in July 1864; and subsequently died in a federal POW camp, Camp Chase, in Ohio early the following year.

[1A] Footnoted on "Ancestors of Annie D. Roberts" by Judy Fisher (, 11/25/2002), s.v. Sarah Doe.

[2] Benedict, David, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and Other Parts of the World (New York: Lewis Colby and Company, 1848), p. 698.