Sunday, August 03, 2008

Overheard from the children

"Help! I'm being patronized!"

Thursday, July 31, 2008

This man stole my lines

Earl Pendleton stole one of my better lines.

Occasionally some one will ask if there is anything homeschoolers simply can't do. My stock response -- for a time -- was that homeschoolers are doing great on individual sports and sports with small teams, basketball in particular, but football -- probably not. After all, it's one thing to find five or six high schooled homeschoolers with size, interest, and ability. Eleven and more? Not really likely.

Well, Earl killed that answer about five years ago. I'm sitting at a practice field for the Raleigh branch of his Homeschool Football League, watching varsity, JV, and "Mighty Mite" teams working out in heat and humidity, running the same drills I went through at their age. Somehow, Earl found a way to get those interested students together with enough coaches, equipment, and organization to make it all work -- for several years running, now.

Hats off, gentlemen -- a true servant!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sitting in the Governor's Chair

I'm currently sitting in the North Carolina governor's chair.

That is, it used to be his, or more specifically, part of his office furniture. I'm working from my home office and needed a new desk chair, so last time I was in Raleigh, I went by the state surplus property warehouse and picked one out. Anyone who has worked in a typical office can picture precisely what used up and cast off chairs there are to select from -- generally ranging from broken to "butt-ugly" as one family member described it, though we did get a deal on a courtroom "lawyer's chair" a while back so it is always worth checking.

The one I selected was a little out of fashion but otherwise solid, clean, and not worn. I paid $6 for it and my son Caleb and I wrestled it into the back of our Jeep Wrangler for the trip home.

To my surprise, when I was carrying in the door, I noticed the state property tag on the underside read, "Office of the Governor".

Ipso facto, the governor's chair.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A New Domain

It was a birthday present only a geek could love, and I did.

After the children had given me their other presents, John Calvin brought me my laptop and said, "Check your email." The message he'd sent included a link which opened up to a new domain and format for The Inundated Calvinist. I'm going to be experimenting with WordPress over there for a time, though I may cross post both places just to keep the archives updated.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Of Camden and Cannon

Camden, S.C., bills itself as the state's "Oldest Inland Town". It was first settled in 1732, the year that George Washington was born, and while there is no house labeled "George Washington slept here", there is one where he ate dinner. The Marquis de Lafayette planted the cedar tree near the courthouse when he visited in 1828, and the Baron de Kalb is buried in front of Bethesda Presbyterian Church. It's a historically self-conscious little town.

My wife and I took a walk after breakfast and stopped by Rectory Square. Camden has a number of small parks scattered around downtown, and this one is a smallish block next to the former Episcopal manse. The centerpiece is the Pantheon, six fat columns encircling a fountain, dedicated in 1911 by the schoolchildren of Camden in honor of "the six Camden schoolboys who attained the rank of general in the Confederate Army". I had to go see it up close, because this year the fountain has been reactivated -- the pipe had always been there, but from my childhood there had never been any water.

There were six generals who came from Camden. James Chesnut (no "t") was close to Jefferson Davis, but he's best known through A Diary From Dixie, which was written by his wife, Mary Boykin Chesnut. I don't know anything in particular about Deas, Kennedy or Cantey. Villepigue was only 32 when he died in 1862, which I pointed out to the boys as an example that even a young man can answer the call to serve and to lead. J. B. Kershaw was descended from one of the town's founders, and was the commander who gave Sgt. Richard Kirkland permission to cross the line at Fredericksburg to take water to wounded Federals while under fire -- the action which gave Kirkland the title, "The Angel of Marye's Heights".

There is one cannon, a Parrott ten-pounder I think, which is aimed defiantly northward (coincidentally, toward the genteel neighborhood where Northern industrialists like the Buckleys located their winter mansions). I found this remarkable, because the two times Camden was captured, the enemy came from the south -- Lords Cornwallis and Rawdon advancing from Charleston, and General Potter's raid coming from Sumter. Apparently the cannon's placement is more symbolic than historical.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Don't Wait for Leaders on School Choice

I have an article in the July issue of Carolina Journal, looking at the level of support for school choice and educational alternatives among this year's crop of candidates. The answer is, not a great deal. Republicans McCain and McCrory come out the best, but even then, the support seems lukewarm.

The article was posted in Tuesday's online edition.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Another Patriot

State of North Carolina }
Bucomb [sic] County }

On this 3o day of October One Thousand Eight-hundred & forty three (1843) before me James Sharp one of the acting magistrates and a number of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions in & for the County & State aforesaid personally appeared Jacob Martin a resident of the County of Buncomb [sic] & State aforesaid aged Eighty four Years. Who being first duly sworn according to Law doth in his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions made by the act of Congress passed (?) June 7th 1832. Granting pensions to soldiers of the War of the Revolution.

That he lived in the County Lincoln North Carolina and was drafted into service from that County the first was a Tour of three months, under Captain Henry Whitener [probably Widener] for which he was drafted and was placed under Capt. McDowell he [ill.] marched on to Monks in South Carolina where he spent some time & his term of service expire & he was discharged from service without anything of note occurring which he thinks was in the year of Seventeen hundred & seventy nine.

The next was a Tour of six months he was drafted under Capt. Whitener & was placed under Capt. McDowell by order of General Rutherford who had the Command the [ill.] marched on to South Carolina again with the intention of joining the main Army and going against the British at Charleston, but before they reached Charleston they were met by the American Army who had been defeated by the Brittes [sic] at Charleston & they turned their course towards No Carolina and was at the Battle at Ramsours Mill against the Tories at which time Capt. Falls was killed which was in the Year of 17 hundred & Eighty sometime in the summer of that Year & soon after which he was discharged from that tour of duty after having served six months.[1]

The next and third Tour was for three months he substituted himself in the place of Jacob Wetzel and was placed under Capt John Sigman, Cols. Cleveland and Campbell & others he was scouting about in different parts of the Country & was in the Battle of Kings Mountain which was the fall of the Year of 17 hundred & Eighty and soon after that Battle his time of service expired & he was again discharged.[2]

The fourth & last Tour was for three months he was drafted he was marched down to Fayetteville by order of Genl Rutherford & at that time they announce at the aforesaid place peace was declared & they were soon discharged which was soon after the talking of Corn Wallis [sic] at York Town in the Year of 17 hundred & Eighty one, which was the last of his services in the War of the Revolution. X

He also declared that has not nor Either does he know, of any documentary Evidence, in support of his services that from old age and loss of Memory he cannot give all the particulars of his services that he knows and very well recollects that he served in all fifteen months as set forth in the foregoing declaration. That he knows of no one now living that was in service with him.
He further declared that by reason of old age and bodily infirmity he is unable to go to the Court House to make this his declaration --- Furthermore I do hereby relinquish all and Every claim to a pension or Annuity excep the present whatever and declare my name is not on any pension Roll of any State.

Sworn to and subscribed on the day and Year first-above written

(signed) Jac Sharp (seal)

Jacob X Martin (his mark)



Jacob Martin is my great-great-great-great grandfather on my mother's side.

[1] The Battle of Ramsours Mill was 20 June 1780. This would place the start of his second tour sometime in January 1780, assuming a discharge sometime in the end of June or early July.

[2] The Battle of King’s Mountain was 7 October 1780. Three months prior would have been August or July, so there was little time between his second term and this third time serving as a substitute.

One Patriot's Record

State of South Carolina }
District of Fairfield }

On this seventh day of May --- in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty four, personally appeared in open Court before John R. Buchanan Esquire Judge of the Court of Ordinary in and for Fairfield District in the State aforesaid Bolling Wright a resident of Fairfield District aforesaid, in the state aforesaid, aged seventy-five years (nearly), who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832; That he was born in Brunswick County near Meherrin River in the State of Virginia on the 12th day of May, A.D. 1759; That Deponent has his age recorded in his Family Bible, and made the entry from one that was made in his Fathers Bible, and has no doubt of the [ill.] of the entry in both.
Deponent when first called into service was living in Brunswick County, State of Virigina, and after the first term of duty, moved to Mecklenburg County Virigina, and was living in the last named county when he performed the other military service hereinafter mentioned, and in the course of five or six years after the Peace of 1783 deponent removed to Fairfield District aforesaid, South Carolina, and has lived there ever since, and now lives there.
Deponent was drafted in every time he performed, he believed to the Second Division Virginia Militia, said Militia being divided into two Divisions.
Deponent received a discharge in writing in his second term from Captain Oliver at Pitch Landing the place of discharge some distance above Portsmouth Virginia which discharge was at the time looked on by Deponent as of little importance and has long since by time or accident been lost or destroyed. Deponent has no distinct recollection of receiving discharges at any other time but thinks it probable that he received a discharge at the end of every term, as he served out his time in every term, and [ill] authorized by the proper authorities to return home, but if deponent ever received such discharges they have been lost or destroyed as deponent has lately made diligent search amongst his [property?] but could not find any.
Deponent states that the following persons are his neighbors and can testify as to his character for veracity, and their belief of his services as a soldier of the Revolution to wit, David R. Coleman, Jacob Feaster, Robert Fletcher [?] and Thomas Lyles; Revd Wm Joiner, Robert Coleman Senr, Andrew Feaster, John Feaster, Revd Samuel Fant, Isaac Means [Mears?].
That he entered the service of the United States under the following named Officers, and served as herein stated.

First Tour. The First tour deponent performed was in Captain Jesse Taylor’s company, Infantry, was living when called into service in Brunswick County Virginia, was called out in the month of January, but does not recollect the year nor the day of the month. Was marched to a town in Virginia called Portsmouth which was separated from the Town of Norfolk by the Norfolk River. The troops were stationed at Portsmouth during the whole term and used the houses of residents [?] for the troops. There was a small fort above the Town in the North side mounting as well as remembered eight cannon, which fort was manned by some of the troops. Deponent was stationed in the Town. General Weadon commanded the whole militia. Does not recollect the name of the Colonel. Asaph Greggory was orderly sergeant in deponent’s company. Bolling Sharr and Lugar Durham [?] were privates in the Company and Solomon Wright deponent’s father also a private were along in this term. Deponent does not now recollect the names of any other Officers in this term. Does not believe there were any regular troops along this term. Deponent served as a private this term two months. There was no engagement with the enemy at this time.

Second Tour. The second tour of service performed by Deponent was under Captain Oliver (believes his Christian name was John). Deponent was living in Mecklenburg County when this and following terms were performed. Was marched through Petersburg on to a place called Pitch Landing. This term commenced in December as deponent believes. Recollects of the company stopping and getting turnips on their march above the town of Petersburg. Does not recollect the year or day of the month. Arthur Fox was first Lieutenant. When the company arrived at the Pitch Landing it was placed under command of Colonel Flemming. There were some troops at the Pitch Landing when they company under Capt. Oliver arrived, under General Muhlenburg [sic]. Thinks Genl Muhlenburg had some regular troops under his command. John Bolling was adjutant to Col. Flemming’s regiment and Jacob Beasley was orderly sergeant to the company deponent was attached to. Does not recollect the names of any other Officers except that of Capt. Grauy [?] who commanded one of the Militia companies. During this term the British had posession of Portsmouth where the Deponent had served his first term. Had no serious engagement with the enemy. Deponent volunteered under Col Flemming with about fifty men to reconnoitre the enemy and drove in their piquette guard in the old field near Portsmouth; one of the party under Col. Flemming was wounded by a Ball in the thight in this affair. The troops had temporary huts erected at the Pitch Landing and were stationed there during the tour. The object was to protect the country against the inroads of the enemy from Portsmouth. Deponent served three months as a private soldier this tour.

Third Tour In the third tour deponent served he was commanded by Captain Isaac Harris Wm Lewis first Lieutenant and Tucker [?] was the Major [?]. This tour commenced in the spring of the year. Does not recollect the year or the month. It wa very warm weather before Deponent got home. Was marched on to Cumberland Court House, Virginia and there was joined by other Militia Companies. Thence was marched on to Pointy Fork [?] over James River, and joined General Stuben [sic] who had about nine hundred regulars under him. Some of his men were blacks. Genl Stuben had command of the whole army. The British were on the opposite side of the River and fired cannon across, and shot a horse of Major Cunningham. Genl Stuben had no cannon and retreated back to Willis’ Creek and the next day the Regular and Militia separated and the Militia fell under command of General Lawson and were commanded by him the reaminder of the tour. Tarleton was said to have been along with British at James River. The Militia under Genl Lawson were there marched lower down James River. Deponent was there taken sick and knows very little of the movements of the enemy during the remainder of the tour. Deponent served three months as a private soldier this time.

Fourth Tour. Deponent was called out in the fourth tour in the year 1781. He recollects the year from the circumstance that it was the year in which Cornwallis surrendered at York Town but does not recollect the month nor day of the month. Captain Stephen Malury [?] commanded the Company. Edward Pennington first Lieutenant. Was marched to Nottaway River Jones’ Bridge. Believes the Bridge was in Amelia County Virginia. Marched on crossing the Nottaway River to the Appomattox River, crossed it and went on to James Rier and crossed it at Hay Island, thence through Williamsburg town, thence to Mattpennic [?] River one prong of Little York river, crossed it and went on to the paspuccunkic [?] river, crossed at Suffield [?] thence down the Pawmunkee [?] until the [ill.] joined Genl Lafayette before York Town. Was joined by another Company on the March between the Appomattox and James River. At York Town deponent’s company was placed under command of a Militia Colonel the Milita colonel was named Weadon but his name not recollected. Grauy [?] was the Major. Genl Washington commanded the whole American forces, and was on the other side of the river from Genl Lafayette who was the head commander on this side. In nineteen days after Deponent arrived at York Town the army under Command of Cornwallis surrendered. There were a great collection of troops both Regular and Milita assembled. Captain Maybury and company remained at York Town some time after the surrender, and until arrangements were made to secure the captured property, and afterward assisted in escorting the prisoners. Deponent served three months as a private soldier in this tour.
That deponent kept no journal or memorandum of his service at the time and owing to his age and consequent loss of memory is unable to state the moths or years in which the services were rendered, but he has a good recollection of the times he served and of the length of time he served in each tour, and that he served eleven months in all as a private soldier and for this period of service he claims a pension.
That during the time he was in service he was not engaged in any civil pursuit but was wholly engaged in his duties as a soldier. That he belonged to an embodied corps, regularly organized and called out into United States service by competent authority.
That Deponent knows of no person now living who can testify as to his actual services. That said services as above stated were performed in Virginia and that deponent has for forty five or forty six years past resided in Fairfield District, So Carolina, and knows of no one who has actual knowledge of the service.
He hereby relinquishes every claim whatsoever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.

Sworn to and subscribed }
the day and year aforesaid }

(s) John R Buchanan (s) Bolling Wright

(Bolling Wright is my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, on my dad's side.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tax Spending Questioned at the Heartland Institute

My first article for the Heartland Institute is online now and will be going out in the August issue of their monthly Budget and Tax News.

The fact that a think tank in Chicago would be interested in the actions of a relatively small county in North Carolina shows how outrageous they are. The Orange County commission has spent over $100,000 of tax money to promote an upcoming referendum on more taxes -- an effort that failed there, as it did in every other county that proposed it.

After this article went out, the same county raised its property tax to the one dollar mark. Even their commissioners are worried this will impact the ability of low-income citizens to stay in the county.

Economies of Scale

Go figure. I had a product sample to send to a potential vendor in Raleigh, not an hour away from here, and realized that it would cost me $16 and change to drive it over to him, but DHL would deliver it for $5.51. Remarkable. So I packaged it up and sent it out on Friday, thinking how odd but economically logical it was to send this 8 oz. package to an address in the next county, using the same international express company that we use for China.

This morning, I discover that for DHL, the route from Smithfield to Raleigh passes through Roanoke, Virginia. In fact, the package went through the Raleigh facility on its way to the Roanoke Hub, where it was processed and put back on the truck to Raleigh.

I thought it was just the Postal Service that did things like that. And I still saved $11.

Friday, June 27, 2008

You Can't Win With Just 7%

Ninety-three percent of Americans believe in God or some sort of "universal spirit", according to a survey reported this week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

In North Carolina, the number is even higher -- 96% -- and it maxes out at 97% in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

So much for "bitter" people, Senator Obama. Some of them must be part of your base.

From the Smithfield Herald

This was in the Wednesday edition of our local paper; apparently the "Class Notes" doesn't make it to the online version, so I'm posting the item in full below.


John Calvin Young of Smithfield will enter college this fall with a scholarship awarded by the North Carolinians for Home Education, a member-supported organization in Raleigh.

Young won the Don and Linda Lassiter Scholarship, sponsored by the Lassiters of Johnston County.

Young is the son of Hal and Melanie Young.

The seven scholarship recipients were announced May 24 at NCHE's 24th annual conference. Candidates were chosen based on a comprehensive review of academic achievements, community service, extracurricular activities and leadership potential.

-- Smithfield Herald, 6/25/08, p. 12A
The full story is in this week's edition of N.C. Homeschool News.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Once to every man and nation

Once to every man and nation,
comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision,
offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever,
’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble,
when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses
while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue
of the faith they had denied.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
keeping watch above His own.

Quoted from Cyberhymnal

Dobson not leaving the light on for Obama

Barack Obama's campaign is seeking a meeting with Dr. James Dobson before the Democratic national convention, saying that "Obama is proud to have the support of millions of Americans of faith and looks forward to working across religious lines to bring our country together."

Dobson is less than wowed, saying the Democratic candidate's statements on faith and politics are "deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology, ... [and] dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

[Focus on the Family VP Tom] Minnery said he doesn't expect Obama to make inroads into the reliably Republican voting bloc.

"Evangelicals are people who take Bible interpretation very seriously, and the sort of speech he gave shows that he is worlds away in the views of evangelicals," he said.

Minnery also said Dobson will probably continue his criticism of Obama.

"Given our fact that religion seems to be such a relevant topic in this election again, we will defend the evangelical view vigorously," he said.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thankful again

WRAL is reporting a drive-by shooting in Raleigh last night. The victims, one of whom died, were standing at a street corner along the route of my former commute when I worked uptown. I drove through that intersection at that time of day more than once, being about five blocks from where I used to park.

Once again, reflecting with thanks on the blessing of a home office.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

McCain on Educational Choice

Early in the campaign, Sen. John McCain's website had little to say about education, one way or another. I commented on this back in December, way back when there were still a bunch of candidates to talk about.

As I'm working on a piece for the July issue of Carolina Journal, though, I note that McCain's website now has a comprehensive section on educational policy. Under the heading, "Excellence, Choice, and Competition in American Education", the current statement hits a lot of the right notes:
Public education should be defined as one in which our public support for a child's education follows that child into the school the parent chooses. ...

The deplorable status of preparation for our children, particularly in comparison with the rest of the industrialized world, does not allow us the luxury of eliminating options in our educational repertoire. John McCain will fight for the ability of all students to have access to all schools of demonstrated excellence, including their own homes. ...

John McCain believes our schools can and should compete to be the most innovative, flexible and student-centered - not safe havens for the uninspired and unaccountable. ...

If a school will not change, the students should be able to change schools. John McCain believes parents should be empowered with school choice to send their children to the school that can best educate them just as many members of Congress do with their own children. He finds it beyond hypocritical that many of those who would refuse to allow public school parents to choose their child's school would never agree to force their own children into a school that did not work or was unsafe. They can make another choice. John McCain believes that is a fundamental and essential right we should honor for all parents. ...

John McCain will place parents and children at the center of the education process, empowering parents by greatly expanding the ability of parents to choose among schools for their children. He believes all federal financial support must be predicated on providing parents the ability to move their children, and the dollars associated with them, from failing schools.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Inundated Calvinist will be back shortly

I'm taking a short break to attend, participate, and speak at the North Carolinians for Home Education conference in Winston-Salem, followed by some well-deserved family time. Please check back for reports on all of the above, coming soon ...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"evangelical" with a little "e"

The National Association of Evangelicals has put together a twenty-page document called An Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment. This was released last week with predictable headlines: the Associated Press said "Evangelicals say faith is now too political" and led with the following:
Conservative Christian leaders who believe the word "evangelical" has lost its religious meaning plan to release a starkly self-critical document saying the movement has become too political and has diminished the Gospel through its approach to the culture wars.

The statement, called "An Evangelical Manifesto," condemns Christians on the right and left for "using faith" to express political views without regard to the truth of the Bible, according to a draft of the document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

"That way faith loses its independence, Christians become `useful idiots' for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology," according to the draft.

I'm reminded of the American prophets Simon and Garfunkel who wrote, "Still a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest, doo-doo-doo ..." The full document says many things critical of both the evangelical right and the evangelical left -- notably, the paragraphs embracing the "useful idiot" statement --

The other error, made by both the religious left and the religious right in recent decades, is to politicize faith, using faith to express essentially political points that have lost touch with biblical truth. That way faith loses its independence, the church becomes "the regime at prayer", Christians become "useful idiots" for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology in its purest form. Christian beliefs are used as weapons for political interests.

Christians from both sides of the political spectrum, left as well as right, have made the mistake of politicizing faith; and it would be no improvement to respond to a weakening of the religious right with a rejuvenation of the religious left.

So the Manifesto is not a guided missile aimed at the Religious Right. Not entirely.

There is a great deal of truth in the document, and some things are stated very plainly. I appreciate the sensitivity to the perceptions of our brethren outside the American church, and the call to biblical orthodoxy is on target. There are rebukes to pandering and manipulative models of church growth, as well as narrowmindedness that leads to self-righteousness and undermines the call to reach out in love to a fallen world. All true and good to point out.

There are many statements that don't work biblically, though. In fact, one of the first problems in the document is a very light veneer of Scripture. It's not meant to be a Westminster Confession of Faith, rev. 1, but they could have taken it as an example of buttressing each assertion with relevant texts. It would have helped avoid some of the more obvious faults.

Take the statement on page 5, that Jesus "exposed and reversed the course of human sin and violence". The only way that could be true is to say that Jesus reverses the course of individual believers, previously on a downgrade to hell; addressing humanity as a whole, no, the sin and violence continue as before.

On page 8, it says "The Evangelical message, 'good news' by definition, is overwhelmingly positive, and always positive before it is negative." But Jesus' message was fundamentally, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." That's a strong negative at the very start -- REPENT, meaning don't continue doing what you have been. I think they are trying to address the perception (reality) of legalism and judgmental attitudes, but I don't think the Gospel is best described as "a colossal Yes to life and human aspirations". Human aspirations are not the point here. Likewise, the final statement rings out with a commitment to unity for "a greater human flourishing" -- whatever in the world that is supposed to mean. Genesis 1:27-28 doesn't seem to be in view.

To me, it rings out "This statement was approved by a very diverse committee, and like a painter who worked himself into a corner, we couldn't quite figure out how to end."

The most glaring problem is the committee's attempt to separate "Evangelicalism" -- they proudly capitalize the term -- from fundamentalism. While rejecting liberalism in strong terms, they say that "Fundamentalism has become an overlay on the Christian faith and developed into an essentially modern reaction to the modern world. As a reaction to the modern world, it tends to romanticize the past, some now-lost moment in time, and to radicalize the present, with styles of reaction that are personally and publicly militant to the point where they are sub-Christian" (page 9).

That's an awful load to put on a large number of fellow Christians. Well, maybe sub-Christians, if that's what they think. I find it hard to imagine why Ergun Caner, the head of Liberty Baptist Seminary, one of the most fundamentalist of schools, would be a charter signer. Likewise, I'm perplexed to see Daniel Akins of Southeastern Baptist Seminary, a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention's conservative resurgence, listed there.

They correctly identify a problem area among fundamentalists -- that in the zeal to be biblically right, it is easy to become judgmental, forgetting to love your neighbor as yourselves, not to mention loving your enemies. That's fair enough, there are pitfalls and lurking temptations in any human movement.

But the overall position that Christian fundamentalism is now and has always been "thoroughly world-denying and politically disengaged from its outset" (p. 15) is simply false.

On page 13 they call for "an expansion of our concern beyond single issue politics, such as abortion and marriage" and then, "a more complete understanding of discipleship that applies faith with integrity to every calling and sphere of life ... and that thinks wider than politics in contributing to the arts, the sciences, the media, and the creation of culture in all its variety" (p. 14). Yet I see that Jerry Falwell's ministries at Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church, for an example, not to mention the leadership and staff of Regents University and everyone's favorite fundamentalist bete noire, Bob Jones University, have invested decades building ministries to the poor and the poorly educated, programs for unwed mothers and recovering addicts, and training young men and women to take a self-consciously Christian worldview into the fields of science, journalism, law, the military, and the arts.

(By the way, I'm not ignoring the hauty sniff and dismissal of creationists, claiming their "anti-intellectualism" is sinful (p. 12). I'd suggest to the authors their arguments would have more cogency if they stop battering their fundamentalist straw man and actually consider that scientists -- not just theologians and passionate amateurs -- are fully engaged in this debate. Ditto the matter of anthropogenic global warming, hinted at but not explicitly named here. After all, the errors of churchmen who ignore the work of Christian scientists did not end with Galileo; the authors need to talk with more of them.)

I have not had time to read all the commentary washing about right now. My own reading of the document, though, tells me that I will be content to be evangelical with a small "e", just as I count myself fundamentalist with a small "f". This Manifesto is a patchwork of truth and trendiness that mainly seeks to innoculate the term "evangelical" from the toxic label "fundamentalist", triangulating between an obviously wide range of viewpoints and traditions on the committee.

The only thing that is consistently clear is that I'm not going to capitalize the "E" any more.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One Solution to Illegal Immigration

A friend forwarded a comment that when there was an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- mad cow disease -- the federal government was able to locate a cow born in Canada three years previous, track her to her stall in Washington state, and then track each one of her calves to their new homes.

On the other hand, we can't locate 11 million humans living in our country illegally.

"Maybe we should give each of them a cow," she concludes.

Geometric Illustrations of the Order of Salvation

Our men's Bible study this morning was in Romans 5:1-11, and an illustration occurred to me from verses 1-2:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

I preached on Romans 4:1-16 a couple of weeks ago and spoke at some length about the doctrine of justification -- it is an instantaneous event, a single point in eternity when God pronounces and accepts the individual sinner as righteous by the merit of Christ's obedience and redemption.

Faith is a continuing exercise of the believer toward God, beginning at the point of salvation and lasting for eternity.

Grace, however, extends from eternity past to eternity future.

So in geometrical terms, justification is a single point. Faith is a ray that extends from the point of justification to "positive infinity". Grace is a line, infinite in both directions.

And I suppose that, from the world's point of view, life is a line segment with a start point and an end point. That's true as far as physical life, at least prior to Christ's return, but the unbeliever still has an unexpected eternity to grapple with.

Blackberry Winter

I heard our cold snap here is referred to as "blackberry winter". I had only heard the term as the title of a piece of neo-classical music, several years ago, and never thought about looking it up until Jon Ham mentioned it on Right Angles the other day. A related term is "dogwood winter", another one I'd never heard.

Is anyone claiming this cool weather is related to global warming yet?

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Washington Politicians Willingly Bestow President Upon Harvard.

Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, June 3. – The common, coarse politician here is wild with joy and staid Senators are chuckling at the horror expressed in Harvard circles at President Roosevelt’s offer to take charge of that institution. Nay, more; at Lansing President Roosevelt said, “In a year and eleven months I expect to be a member of the (Harvard) organization,” and when he speaks like that and shuts his jaws, snap, the politicians know what it means. Moreover, they submit. But Dr. Henry Pickering Walcott, senior member of the Harvard Corporation, rushed into print with evident alarm to say: “There is no possibility of his ever becoming President of the university. President Roosevelt is not what you would call an academic man.”

It was when this came out that the politicians cried, “It is our turn now.” They have long complained that the President brought into Washington a lot of long haired, spectacled doctors of philosophy and ex-football captains – mostly from Harvard – to shoulder them out of fat jobs. There is Attorney General Bonaparte in the Cabinet, Assistant Postmaster General Hitchcock; there are Harvard members of the Tennis Cabinet and Judges and District Attorneys, to say nothing of revenue and custom collectors.

“If Roosevelt has made up his mind to be President of Harvard,” the politicians say, “he will be. Did we want him for our President? Well, he is, ain’t he? That’s the answer.”

If the President should be satisfied to merely take a chair on the Harvard Faculty, leaving Dr. Eliot in peace, the politicians tell the Harvard men with grins that the Roosevelt chair will cover so many fields that other professors of the “academic” type will be killed by competition. With the Roosevelt works for texts, the elective courses will cover history, economics, sociology, politics, religion, anthropology, zoology, biology, literature (special Irish saga course), government, &c. The President has treated all these topics with authority.

“We are glad it’s Harvard,” say the politicians.

(The New York Times, June 4, 1907)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Exercise the Franchise

We were voters number 381 and 382 at our precinct in Smithfield, about 11:15 this morning. I don't have the current registration numbers, but this is about 8% of the registered totals in 2006 -- so not a tremendous turn out so far today.

You Can't Keep Great Books Down

Jane Shaw reports on the conference of the Association for Core Texts and Courses, which promotes the teaching of the classics of Western literature and thought. A story by Professor Marcia Marzac from the University of St. Francis illustrates the power of teaching these challenging works at length:
Initially, this class introduced “classic Western thought” through a series of excerpts from an anthology. Three weeks on Greek culture, for example, included selections from Homer, Aeschylus, Herodotus, and at least four others.

But students hated the course. Evaluations were “abysmal,” said Marzec; the class was “boring,” “confusing,” “disconnected,” and “too hard.”

So they redesigned it. They stopped reading excerpts and chose 10 complete texts, ranging in time from the Sumerian Myth of
Gilgamesh to Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde.

They organized the works around the theme of the “good life.” Instead of beginning the course with a classic, however, they asked the students to write informal essays on how they define happiness, after reading a short modern essay on the topic. Class discussion introduced the issues that would dominate the course — “happiness, joy, free will, evil, and suffering,” as Marzec summarized them.

The class, said Marzec, became a “phenomenal success.” Complaints dried up. The students read as much or more as previously, but it was no longer too much or too hard. Their discussions related one work to another. The most popular book was the relatively obscure
Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. “I was on the wheel of fortune in my own life until we read Boethius and Chaucer,” wrote one student in an evaluation.

In other words, this redesigned course, relying on complete works, not snippets, and organized around a theme that connects with the interests of today’s teen-agers, became a hit.

This demonstrates that "difficult" books by the proverbial "dead white males" can be made relevant to modern students without dissolving into trendy nonsense and anachronistic reinterpretation. That's one of the things that makes them classic -- they grapple with the universal experience of the souls of men, and they speak to us because circumstances change but humanity doesn't.

By the way, the great books program at Southeastern College at Wake Forest is a local example of this sort of thing.

Monday, May 05, 2008

We are unable to take your call ...

My family and I did a stint of phone bank work for a candidate friend of ours (who shall remain nameless) and found an interesting statistic. Of the numbers we called -- nearly 400 registered voters -- almost 40% had their answering machines pick up. This was independent of time of day -- mid-morning, evenings, late afternoon.

Frankly, I can't say I blame them. With a close gubernatorial race in both parties and the ongoing saga with the Democratic presidential campaign, I don't doubt if some folks are tired of picking up the phone. It did make our job a little faster, I'll admit.

N.C. Homeschool News 5/4/08


ALAMANCE -- School board candidate calls for public schools to use homeschool curriculum. At least, that's what I think she said -- read the comments of Rebecca Stumpfig in the article. (Burlington Times-News, 5/3/08)

McDOWELL -- Family begins homeschooling after 12-year-old son is paddled at school. (Asheville Citizen-Times, 5/1/08)


ROWAN -- The Cabarras-Rowan Homeschool Stallions defeat in-state rival Raleigh Warriors in Marietta, GA, to win a berth in the Homeschool World Series (Salisbury Post, 5/1/08)

UPDATE: The Post didn't include the Raleigh mascot - thanks, Cindy Vedder! (See her reports in the comments below)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Who I'm Supporting

Some of my friends have asked who I'm supporting in the upcoming primary elections. Based on the ballot locally, here's my slate:

President: John McCain - I've never been an enthusiastic supporter, but I follow William F. Buckley's rule -- vote for the rightwardmost viable candidate. Yes, I know Paul is still out there, but he's not going anywhere. McCain is the man this year. Obama and Clinton are not.

Senate: Elizabeth Dole

Governor: Fred Smith - I have known him for years and he has always been interested and attentive to the concerns of homeschoolers in his district. I've seen him watching out for our interests and freedom in committee meetings, planning sessions, and other places that policies and politics are on the table. He's proven his conservative credentials as a county commissioner and as a state legislator, and I'm supporting him for governor this Tuesday.

Lt. Governor: Robert Pittenger - I like Jim Snyder, and if Pittenger wasn't in the race I'd go for him. However, Pittenger, who has one of the most contrary voting records in the state Senate (i.e. he opposes more of the actions of that Democratic body than nearly anyone else), has a solid record - and possibly a bid at governor some day.

State Senate: David Rouzer - A former Helms aide with a solid background in agricultural issues. I've met with him one-on-one and while he's something of a new face locally I think he's got a good future ahead of him. Local Republican leadership is strongly behind him, too.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Eric H. Smith - When have you heard a candidate for head of public schools say that parents, not educational professionals, should have the last word on how their children are taught? Not coincidentally, Eric was homeschooled for part of his own education. He gets it.

Briefly, local and judicial races:

County Commission: Ray Woodall

Court of Appeals: Dean Poirer

Court of Appeals; John Tyson

District Court: Gary Ragland

District Court: Paul Holcombe

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bonnie Prince Charlie

I just finished reading Winifred Duke's In The Steps of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and I was struck again by the remarkable loyalty of the Scots, so richly wasted on the Stuarts. Even with a price of £ 30,000 on his head, by their self-sacrificing assistance Charles was able to elude capture by a manhunt that at one point placed a cordon of the Duke of Cumberland's camps at half-mile spacings and his sentries in sight of one another.

After the disaster at Culloden in April 1746, Charles lived in constant exposure and near starvation for five months. His survival, coupled with the Scots' often self-destructive aid to him, suggest to me the difficulty that our forces have experienced trying to locate and capture Osama bin Ladin in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also suggests a measure of pessimism that we may ever catch up with him, being in a worse cultural situation even than the English troops of the "Hanoverian" Cumberland faced among the Scots, and our inability to erect the kind of human fence that Cumberland did.

For what it's worth, I have no idea where our ancestors stood in "the '45". MacLeods figured prominently both in support of the Young Pretender and if not in opposition, at least in careful avoidance of collaborating with him.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

N.C. Homeschool News 04/27/08


STATE -- Republicans from the 2nd Congressional District have elected a homeschooled high schooler as part of their delegation to the Republican National Convention this summer. John Calvin Young, son of Hal and Melanie Young of Smithfield, was selected as an alternate delegate to the Convention, to be held in Minneapolis in September. John Calvin, 18, has been active with Republican campaigns and Teen Age Republicans for several years, and will be majoring in political science and economics at Washington and Lee University in Virginia this fall. (GOP 2nd District website, 4/26/08)

WARREN -- Letter writer says that state senate candidate Chuck Stires supports school choice, including homeschooling (Virginia/North Carolina News, 4/23/08)

BERTIE -- South Mills homeschoolers visit alpaca shearing in Windsor
(Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, 4/27/08)


PENDER -- Homeschooled member Joshua Butrim shares the team's recognition for "Safest Handling of Firearms on the Line" in 4-H District shooting competition at Camp Tuscarora (Wilmington Star-News, 04/22/08)


BUNCOMBE -- Homeschooler finds interest and diversity in discussions of "Blue Moon Group" (Asheville Citizen-Times, 4/27/08)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Education Incentives and the Next Governor

The N.C. Family Policy Council has posted its 2008 Primary Voter Guide online.

In the gubernatorial part of the guide, Democratic frontrunners Purdue and Moore did not respond to the 17 question survey; Dennis Neilsen did, though his reponses were very close to the Republican consensus.

Among the five Republicans, there was little disagreement until question 11 -- "Should parents who choose to educate their children in private, religious, or home schools receive a voucher or tax credit from the state?"

Phil Graham wrote in, "Should be a deduction not a credit". Pat McCrory said yes, Bob Orr was undecided, and Fred Smith attached a statement supporting a more general statement of his educational platform:

At this time, I support the removal of the cap on Charter Schools. Charter Schools are public schools and offer parents a choice in the education of their children. I also support home schooling and believe that children who are home schooled should be allowed to participate in public school activities. I believe competition in our educational system is critical for future success.
The other difference was the final question, "Should an individual's personal religious beliefs influence the decisions he or she makes while serving in a public office?"

Fred Smith certainly thought they should. "My personal religious belief influences my worldview and values. I do not check my values and beliefs at the door when I enter the public square," he wrote. "As a public servant, I consider all factors: faith, the rule of law, and common good for all people in my decision making process."

Pat McCrory gave a shorter answer, "The values that I learned from my faith, family, education, and experiences all helped shape my decisions."

Bob Orr marked "Yes" but added, " 'Should' is not the word I'd use. Instead I'd say it's 'permissable or appropriate'." E. Powers was undecided, stating, "I will rely on moral values trust/faith in God".

Bill Graham simply checked, "No".

Saturday, April 19, 2008

N.C. Homeschool News 04/19/08


STATEWIDE -- Homeschooling is mentioned as part of the education platform of gubernatorial candidate Sen. Fred Smith (Leland Tribune, 17 Apr 2008)

CABARRUS -- State senate candidate Thomas Hill says state should encourage homeschooling as an answer for school construction costs (Charlotte Observer, 17 Apr 2008)

ORANGE -- Editorial calls for refundable education tax credits, and notices that they cover homeschoolers in some states (UNC-Chapel Hill, Daily Tar Heel, 14 Apr 2008)


DAVIDSON -- Davidson County Community College Foundation Scholarship Golf Tournament will fund scholarships that include homeschoolers from Davidson and Davie
(Lexington Dispatch, 14 Apr 2008)


HAYWOOD -- Homeschool father called "The Michaelangelo of Maggie Valley" (Waynesville, Smoky Mountain News, 16 Apr 2008)

MECKLENBURG -- Homeschool mother Tina Witt wins one of fifty tickets from the Charlotte Diocese to see the Pope in D.C. (WSOC-TV, Charlotte, 14 Apr 2008)

Monday, April 14, 2008

N.C. Homeschool News 4/14/08


NATIONAL -- N.C. homeschool mother Jennifer James, founder of National African-American Homeschool Alliance, is part of an article on the growth of homeschooling among black families. She estimates they make up 10% of the homeschooling population, which is an increase over the 5-6% estimate I heard from other advocates and researchers several years
(New York, The Village Voice, 04/08/08)

DAVIDSON -- Community college holds third homeschooling conference to promote dual-enrollment options. DCCC has also used the conference to recruit homeschoolers for their Early College program, which is a public high school. (WFMY-TV)

DURHAM -- The team from Quest Homeschoolers of Durham advances to the world finals of Odyssey of the Mind, to take place at the University of Maryland this summer (The News & Observer, Raleigh, 04/09/08)

HENDERSON -- Letters from students in the Henderson County Homeschool Association are included in the time capsule of the newly renovated Henderson County Courthouse dedicated this week (The Times-News, Hendersonville, 04/12/08)

WAKE -- Class of homeschoolers takes part in wild bird banding with N.C. Museum of Natural History (The News & Observer, Raleigh, 04/11/08)


NATIONAL -- Former North Carolinian and Environthon coach Mary Sund takes her success with Envirothon to Arizona, where her team from the Home Educators of Yuma takes a third place finish in state competition. (The Sun, Yuma, AZ, 04/05/08)

CUMBERLAND -- Fayetteville homeschool mother Patti Katter featured in story about military wives (The Daily Tar Heel, Chapel Hill, 4/1/08)

CUMBERLAND -- Fayetteville homeschoolers send thanks to local Food Lion for sponsoring their two-day debate tournament (Fayetteville Observer, April 3, 2008)

DAVIDSON -- A 9-year-old Lexington girl is homeschooled due to a rare blood disorder; a fund raiser to defray her medical costs is planned for April 19. (The Dispatch, Lexington,

Monday, March 31, 2008

N.C. Homeschooling News Roundup 03/31/08


HENDERSON: Three of the state's top four Level 7 gymnasts are homeschoolers and heading to the state championship at Elon University (Hendersonville Times-News - March 29, 2008)


GASTON: Mount Holly bluegrass band founded and led by the homeschooling Flowers family (Gaston Gazette - March 24, 2008)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

NC Homeschool News Roundup 03-23-08


STATEWIDE -- Republican gubernatorial candidate and former state Supreme Court justice Bob Orr calls for tax credits for "approved expenses" as part of his educational strategy ensuring parents are partners in the educational process. He does not mention homeschools explicitly in the policy paper on his website.

MECKLENBURG -- Over a thousand families are homeschooling in the Lake Norman area, according to this story. (Charlotte Observer, 03/02/08)


DURHAM -- Quest Homeschoolers of Durham will be competing in the state Odyssey of the Mind competition April 5 in Greenville. "Earlier this month, 1,118 students from 69 schools and organizations showed off their creativity in the Eastern Region competition. Teams advanced to the state finals by excelling in events such as writing and performing humorous skits on why dinosaurs became extinct and developing a balsa-wood structure that weighs no more than 15 paper clips but can support a huge amount of weight." (Raleigh News & Observer, 03/19/08)

MECKLENBURG -- Kelsey Rushing Farson, the daughter of Jak and Teresa Farson of Davidson, has been named a 2008 Morehead-Cain Scholar, one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in North Carolina. The scholarship to the University of North Carolina is worth over $80,000 and pays for summer programs and a laptop computer in addition to full tuition for the univeristy. The Morehead Scholarship was renamed last year after a $100 million donation from the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation. Congratulations Kelsey! (Greensboro News-Record, 3/12/08)


STATEWIDE -- Homeschool teams from Greensboro and Wake Forest were reported as favorites in the 12th annual East Coast Basketball Championships at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. (Lynchburg, VA, News-Advance, 03/19/08)

BUNCOMBE -- The Western Carolina Athletic Association Trailblazers established their credibility in a 1-1 tie against Enka High School in Asheville. (Asheville Citizen-Times, 03/23/08, with photo) According to Ernie Hodges, president of North Carolinians for Home Education, rules for the N.C. High School Athletic Association do not allow homeschooled athletes to be members of public school teams; however, there is nothing that restricts homeschool teams from competing against the public schools, as in this case and others around the state.

CLEVELAND -- Gardner-Webb University's women's softball program signs a homeschooled star from Virgina, where she led her club teams to national championships. (Gardner-Webb
University press release,

ORANGE -- Hillsborough's Euroclydon Storm downs the Binghamton Blaze in quadruple overtime, 90-86, at the East Coast Home School National Basketball Tournament in Lynchburg, VA. (Binghamton, NY Press & Sun-Bulletin, 03/19/08)

RANDOLPH -- Jonathan McNeill of Asheboro won the state K-12 chess title and a $1500 cash scholarship at the N.C. State Scholastic Championship, sponsored by the N.C. Chess Association, February 22-24 in Charlotte. He will be representing the state at the G.M. Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions in Dallas this August. (Susan Polgar, 02/25/08)


ASHE -- 2007 champion speller Josiah Wright, a homeschooler from Fleetwood, will give introductory remarks to the contestants of the 2008 Winston-Salem Journal Regional Spelling Bee. (Winston-Salem Journal, 3/24/08)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NC Homeschool News Roundup 03-16-08


STATEWIDE -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Nielsen "said the solution to many of the state's education problems can be averted through home schooling," according to a newspaper article on education reform. (Rocky Mount Telegram, 03/16/08)

STATEWIDE -- Eric H. Smith, a Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, told the Johnston County GOP convention Saturday that parents are the best judges of how to educate their children, and stated his support for charter schools, private schools, and home schooling as useful alternatives. (NCHSN exclusive, 03/16/08)

ALAMANCE -- The Alamance-Burlington School System's Parenting Subcommittee recommends a number of ways the school system can improve their interaction with parents, in hope that changes to the system to help parents "connect" with their children's educational process and lower the "achievement gap".

Increased and enhanced parental involvement in the schools will help lower the achievement gap by making the parents more knowledgeable of what is going on in their child's school and classroom, making the parents feel good about what is happening in the school, and improving parental support of the child's efforts and the school's efforts. Heightened parental interest and involvement in school enhances the child's views of the value of education and the importance of academic success.
They conclude,

These recommendations are clearly in place in most private and charter schools, and parent involvement goes without saying in home schooling.
(Alamance-Burlington School System web page, accessed 03/16/08)

HERTFORD -- Chowan University opens its instructional materials library to local homeschoolers. (Chowan University Headlines, 03/04/08)


ASHE -- A performing group of homeschoolers, organized and led by 15-year-old Jeremiah Cullen, ministers to residents at Seagraves Nursing Home (Boone, The Mountain Times, 03/13/08)

EDGECOMBE -- The Tar River Home School Group gets socialization on field trips (Photo) (Tarboro Daily Southerner, 03/12/08)

MECKLENBURG -- Tanner Winchester, 10, of Waxhaw, took first place in his division at the Charlotte Piano Teachers' Forum competition in Charlotte recently. He has performed in a number of venues, including a lunch concert at Founder's Hall in Charlotte, where "Winchester demonstrated his flair for the classics. Many uptown workers did a double-take when they realized it was a little boy filling the hall with dazzling music." (Photo, video) (Charlotte Observer, 03/09/08)

POLK -- Homeschooler James Hyde of Saluda has been selected as a finalist for Clemson University's top scholarship, the National Scholars Program. The scholarship covers tuition, books, room and board, and study abroad for eighteen students selected this year. James plans to major in bioengineering. (Clemson University press release)


NEW HANOVER -- Homeschooled 10th grader Ellie Cooper was the top North Carolinian competing in the Junior Olympics in fencing, placing 98th nationally. Ellie competes in the foil category and represents the Cape Fear Fencing Association. (Wilmington Star-News, 03/05/08)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

NC Homeschool News Roundup 03-09-08


STATEWIDE -- More on new vaccination requirements:

  • "A booster dose of TDAP vaccine [tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis (whooping cough)] will be required for ... Students in private, homeschool, and non-traditional schools who are 12 years old on or after Aug. 1, if five years or more have passed since the last dose ... [as well as] Students enrolling in college for the first time on or after July 1 who have not been vaccinated against tetanus and diptheria within the last 10 years"

  • "The new rules, approved Monday by the state Commission for Public Health, also mandate a second dose of mumps vaccine for all children before enrolling in school, college, or university."

HARNETT -- Homeschooling mother files for school board

Lillington home schooling parent Jone Rose added her name to the ballot for the District 4 seat on the Harnett County School Board Friday, the last day of filing. ...

Mrs. Rose said she is aware that people will wonder why a home schooling parent would want to serve on the board for public schools. She said she is running because she knows other families may not be able to escape a public school system that isn't meeting all their needs.

"There are families out there who can't home school or afford to send their children to private school," she said. "They have no options. They are stuck. I want to bring my knowledge and understanding of the educational system to the table so we can improve the standards in Harnett County to benefit everyone."

(Dunn Daily Record, 3/3/08)

NASH -- Libary includes homeschoolers in plans for a $212,000 homework center
(Rocky Mount Telegram, 3/2/08)


STATEWIDE -- NCHE State Homeschool Basketball Tournament

Boys Semifinals - Forsyth 69, Raleigh 30
Girls Finals - Surry 52, Durham 33

(Winston-Salem Journal,3/02/08)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday in the Western Theater

For a time in the first part of the war, ancestors on both sides of the family - mine and my wife's - were serving in the same part of the Confederate Army. A number of our North Carolina forefathers were in the 29th N.C. Infantry, commanded by Col. Robert B. Vance; my wife's ancestor, Capt. Samuel C. Godshall, served in the 11th Tennessee under General Rains (and in fact, Vance was in command of Rains' brigade after that officer was killed).

One of the religious histories of the war related a chaplain's visit to these units in the spring of 1863, somewhere in central Tennessee:
Rev. S. M. Cherry, one of the most devoted chaplains in the army, gives an account of the revival at this period in McCown’s division, to which he was attached as chaplain of the 2d Georgia battalion. … “While riding on,” says Mr. Cherry, “I met with Rev. Dr. Bunting, chaplain of the Texas Rangers, who kindly consented to preach for us. We found General Ector’s Texas brigade, and Colonel Vance’s brigade, of North Carolina and Georgia troops, concentrated in a glade of rough rocks and gloomy cedars. Both commanders are official Church-members, and never object to preaching even on the outpost. Soon one thousand of our soldiers were grouped about the spot selected for Sabbath morning service. It was a grand sight to behold such a vast assemblage, seated upon the rugged rocks, to listen eagerly to the words of life. … While all listened so attentively, I could be contrast the scene with the bloody charge made by the same men when the gallant General Rains fell upon a spot very similar to our preaching place. The theme of the preacher was: ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,’ and strong were his arguments and earnest his appeals to impress indeliby upon their hearts the truths of his sermon.”
From Chapter XVII, “Spring of 1863”, in William Wallace Bennett, A Narrative of the Great Revival which Prevailed in the Southern Armies, (Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1877), pp. 266-266 (Accessed via Google Books, 2 Mar 2008).

Friday, February 29, 2008

NC Homeschool News Roundup 03-02-08


STATE -- Rising 6th graders or 12 year olds, including homeschoolers, are required to have booster shots of tetanus/diptheria/pertussis vaccine, starting August 1, 2008. (Greensboro News & Record, 2/29/08)

WATAUGA -- Appalachian State's high school science enrichment program targets homeschoolers and underprivileged kids (ASU News, 2/26/08)


SURRY -- Results from the girls semifinal round of the NC State Homeschool Basketball Tournament in Greensboro:

Surry 52 - Durham 33

Cabarras 42 - Lighthouse 39

(Mt. Airy News, 03/01/08)


HYDE -- Muzal Bryant of Ocracoke Island died last week at age 103. The Bryants, an African-American family, taught their children at home during the days of segregation.

The Bryants did not go to school with the white children on the island; they were taught at home. Otherwise, the family was well-accepted in the community, [caretaker Kenny] Ballance said.

"They worshiped together," he said. "But they didn't educate together."

(Hampton Roads VA, The Virginian-Pilot, 2/21/08)

ORANGE -- Ben Noblit, 16, of Alamance County, has been a Revolutionary War re-enactor since he was 11. He speaks up at Revolutionary War Living History Day in Hillsborough. (Chapel Hill News, 2/26/08)

Monday, February 25, 2008

NC Homeschool News Roundup 02-24-08


STATEWIDE - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Nielsen calls for tax credits for homeschoolers (WNCN-17 (NBC), Raleigh - 2/22/08)


HENDERSON - Lia Campbell of Hendersonville qualifies as a finalist for National Vocabulary Championship, to be held in Los Angeles next month. Lia was a competitor in last year's first ever event (PRNewswire, 2/21/08)


ARTS - Congressional Arts Competition (Raleigh News & Observer, 2/23/08)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Late Night Listening

I'm working late on a project and listening to WCPE-FM, the all-classical station out of Wake Forest (they have an excellent audio stream on their website, ). Right now they're playing Smetana's Festive Overture, which has been really good for this late in the evening - cheerful, without sounding too frenetic (the can-can from Orpheus in the Underworld was the first selection this evening, and it would be way overboard here at 2 a.m.)

Earlier this evening they played the "Troika" from Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kjie Suite, which I haven't heard before but liked right away. Good stuff all evening long.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

And we worried about Mitt and Huck

When you see the fervor gathered all together, it really looks creepy.

At least Romney and Huckabee are followers of religious movements, not the center of one.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Luther, Romans, and South Smithfield

This morning I had the honor of preaching the opening sermon of our church's series on Romans. In 1515, the young Dr. Martin Luther started a year-long series of lectures at the University of Wittemberg, and in the process, discovered the critical truth he was seeking. He had already realized the futility of religious works for making himself acceptable in God's eyes; it was Paul's letter that showed him the true path to forgiveness:

I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the justice of God,” because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate of heaven. …

Quoted in Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1950), p. 65.

NC Homeschool News Roundup 02-17-08


NASH -- Homeschools on the topic list for Leadership N.C.'s education session
Rocky Mount Telegram, 2/14/08

POLK -- Hendersonville homeschooler kicked off Facebook - no category for "homeschoolers"
Washington Post "Off Beat" Blog, 2/11/08


FORSYTH -- Winston-Salem homeschooler achieves highest honor in Royal Rangers program
Winston-Salem Journal, 2/10/08

Monday, February 11, 2008

Endorsement Watch 02-11-08

Gary Bauer has announced for McCain.

Paul Weyrich, who formerly endorsed Romney, has come on board for Huckabee.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

NC Homeschool News Roundup - Feb 10


BUNCOMBE -- Black Mountain Home School Math Club going to state Mathcounts competition in March
(Asheville Citizen-Times, 2/5/08)

CLEVELAND -- Public school program billed as dropout prevention wants homeschoolers, too
(Shelby Star, 2/7/08)

FORSYTH -- Virtual public schools equated with homeschooling (which they aren't)
(Winston-Salem Journal, 2/7/08)

HENDERSON -- Homeschool science fair leads school news in Hendersonville
(Hendersonville Times-News, 2/4/08)

NEW HANOVER -- Charter school failure "forced her to home-school her son"
(Wilmington Star-News, 1/31/08)


GUILFORD -- Rising popularity of homeschooling in northwest Guilford County
(The Northwest (Guilford Co.) Observer, 2/8/08)

HENDERSON -- Nonagenarian was homeschooled during World War I era
(Hendersonville Times-News, 1/31/08)

IREDELL -- Homeschooled 8th grader wins pageant ad sales award
(Mooresville Tribune, 2/4/08)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wonders Never Cease

Actual event in the family kitchen today. An "unbreakable" Corell serving bowl slipped out of the bottom rack of the dishwasher, fell six inches, and broke into a cascade of shards.

Not an hour later, a light bulb rolled off the top of the microwave, fell four feet to a slate tile floor, then bounced another eight feet to the wall. The light bulb didn't break.

Friendly Notice to Commentors

Hi, y'all, thanks for reading. Feel free to post your comments; if they make an interesting point, I'll post them.

Be advised, though, that if you sign as "Anonymous", I'll call you "Ann" to keep it congenial. I just mention it so you'll know.

Friday, February 08, 2008

When Ceremony Replaces Religion

James W. Allen, an attorney and Reformed Baptist elder in Georgia, gave a tremendous answer in a discussion of why some of our brethren leave our historic practices for other traditions, notably Presbyterianism. Jim sees a larger problem than denominational ties underlying it all. I'm quoting him in total, with his permission. Emphasis is added, and my own. -- Hal

I think, in regard to defections to paedobaptism or even to Catholicism and Orthodoxy, that we cannot discount man's inherent love of ceremony. Whatever else may be said for Baptists, it is clear that we (in general) are just not good at ceremonial things. Our weddings, baptisms, funerals, etc., are "plain Jane" affairs and simplicity (if not rusticity) has always been a hallmark of our churches. Watching Baptists do something as simple as take up an offering can make you long for the sophistication of a kindergarten"hokey pokey" dance.

People love ceremonies as part of religion. Ceremonies bring the appearance of the holy into our sphere of reference and make us "feel" like something important is happening. In all the different movements toward idolatry, I think you see this manifested.

We see it manifested even in Baptists as churches embrace "child dedications" and "building dedications" and "prayer marches" and "days of prayer" and advent ceremonies and calendars. We see it in Christmas cantatas and "Living Trees" and altar calls. Put simply, people love ceremonies.

Why? Well, I think we have the answer in Romans 1 and in the story of the Israelites. Men struggle with the reality of God and much prefer to view God in a watered-down way, mediated through a ceremony or image. A man naked before his God is a lonely man, but a man in the midst of ceremony is not alone and need not face the truth of God fully. Far easier to honor the Spirit as a dove than as God, for example, and much easier to see Jesus as a statute than as the King of All.

In Romans 1, we see that man abandoned the truth of God for images, ideas, and (as we know) for ceremonies of idolatry. I think that tendency remains.

In the Israelites, we saw how God came to speak to them "man to man" and they rejected him. They make that absurd comment that "we have seen that a man may speak to God and not die, but we don't want him to speak to us anymore because why should we die?" They could not bear the true presence ofGod.

Much happier, for them, a God behind the veil. Much more comfortable to consider a God dwelling in the temple than a God present in their lives.

Ceremonies are a constant temptation for believers because they allow us to set aside hard realities for comfortable images. Infant baptism is one such comfortable image, setting aside the hard truth of God (salvation is by grace through faith to the elect) for the image of "my child as a part ofChrist's body." People weep at these ceremonies and, as we have seen in other paedobaptist cultures, build entire social events around them. All this is so much more emotionally satisfying than teaching our children and facing the truth.

In everyone I have known who has moved in the ceremonial direction (from Baptist to Presby, from Protestant to Catholic or Orthodox), there is always a marked love of the ceremonies. They talk about the gratifying nature of"true worship" in these things. They talk about how much "easier it is to worship" in those forms, as if ease of worship (comfort in a ceremony) was the goal of our service to God.

The pull toward a ceremonial faith is a strong one and, at least among those I have known, a significant factor in their move. Seldom do they move because they have been theologically convinced. They move because it is more comfortable for them. But, of course, I deal mostly with non-clergy.

When we weep more over the beauty of a ceremony than over our sins, and when we love the experience of worship more than the object of our worship, we have left the path of true religion.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

So Long, Mitt

I was watching National Review's blog, The Corner, as the story broke this afternoon during lunch. So now we're down to McCain, Huckabee, and Paul -- which I certainly never expected. Jon Sanders had the first poetic tribute posted, actually before the announcement -- rats! --

Slightly more conservative
But it's McCain's time

But I had mine up soon after it was official:

Poor Hugh Hewitt had claimed it was crucial
That we give Mitt our full faith fiducial;
But Huck's current day saints
Said of Romney “He ain’t” --
So if not Mitt nor Fred leads, then who sh’ll?

After a few more minutes' thought, I posted a follow-up:

Reagan’s three-legged stool will be stable
If the nominee's tactics are able
To knit GOP hearts --
But as Romney departs,
I’m afraid the right wing’s off the table

Readers know I have never been enthusiastic about Romney, even though National Review swung their support behind him -- and defended it constantly -- several weeks ago. But really, where are the conservatives going to go now?

Arthur Branch, please call your office ...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Endorsement Watch 02-06-08

The long awaited statement from Focus On The Family's Dr. James Dobson came yesterday, in two stages. The rocket's red glare was his anti-endorsement of John McCain, as Dobson announced on Laura Ingraham's show:

"I am deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings, opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, has little regard for freedom of speech, organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters in judicial hearings, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language.

"I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience," Dobson said.

However, he told Dennis Prager later in the day, that he would support Mitt Romney:
"My theology is very, very different, obviously, and I would not find myself in agreement with the ways he sees Scripture, and, of course, their own interpretation and extension of Scripture. I'm not in any way minimizing that; it's a very important issue.

"I think we're facing such a point of crisis in our country, that we're going to have to have the strongest leadership we can. And I think I could deal with that in the polling booth."

Not exactly a formal endorsement statement, but pretty close. Story on Citizen Link here.