Phone it in Friday XXVIII: Christmas Concert

Today is the day of our big Christmas Concert at school.  It’s both my favorite and least favorite day of the year, because while the concert is incredibly fun, it’s also incredibly stressful.  It’s worth it, though, to see the kids singing and playing and having a good time.

As I’ve grown older, fatter, and achier, I’ve scaled back a bit of the theatricality and bombast of the Christmas Concert to something a bit more manageable.  Gone are the days of singing while standing on a piano (I did that once, years ago).  I also strive to make the concert focused on the kids (well, and Jesus).

Still, it’s a lot to pull together, with not only my two classes (the middle and high school ensembles) but also two choirs, three dance classes, and six Foreign Language classes.  I’ve completely eliminated solos (outside of soloists on songs within these classes) to streamline it as much as possible.

I’ll be doing a full write-up one Saturday (possibly tomorrow) covering it, but for today, just pray for yours portly.  I’m confident it will be a good concert, I just gotsta get through it!

Merry Christmas!

—TPP

You’ll Get Everything and Not Like It

Being one of three brothers who came of age in the 1990s—the golden age of watching ribald, edited-for-television comedies on basic cable—I was constantly exposed to humorous quips and one-liners from hilarious movies.  One perennial favorite was the raunchy (again, edited for television) comedy classic Caddyshack (1980), about a bunch of blue-collar kids working at a tony country club’s golf course (and Bill Murray trying to blow up a gopher).

My brothers and I still reference one brief but oft-quoted scene:

Judge Smails irate handling of his ingrate nephew is a classic, and something I have probably said to a student.  My older brother loves saying it to my younger brother’s kids, who, while not rotten, and definitely spoiled (a good bit by their Uncle Portly).

My older nephew, is nearly six, likes to invert the phrase, shouting at his other uncle, “You’ll get everything and not like it.”  It’s one of his many (unintentionally?) Zen utterances.

I was contemplating this amusing bit of familial banter on the way to work yesterday.  My sweet little nephew is right—we Westerners do have everything—and we’re miserable!

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Election Day 2022

Well, here it is—Election Day 2022.  The much-vaunted midterms have arrived, and it looks like it’s going to be a pretty good day for Republicans.

I’ll admit, I’ve been tuned out from and burned out on politics of late, and while I’m optimistic about today’s results for Republicans, I’m a tad disillusioned with the state of electoral politics generally.  Will a “red wave” result in some meaningful reform this time around, or will GOP Establishment types wrangle the feisty upstarts and neutralize the MAGA Wing?

I’m not a “doomer” by any stretch—I sincerely hope for the latter, and I think it is the future of the Republican Party, if the GOP hopes to survive as a viable political party.  History, however, is not an encouraging indicator.

That said, a sweeping Republican victory is, by any measure, vastly preferable to a sweeping Democratic one.  At worst, I know a Republican House and Senate won’t screw things up further, and may make some marginal improvements; but a Democratic House and Senate, at worst, will double-down on the current insanity of lawlessness and moral relativism.

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TBT^2: Things That Go Bump in the Night

It’s the so-called “spooky season” again, which naturally turns my mind to things not seen.  Lately, I’ve been pondering the pre-modern mind, and how differently pre-moderns saw the world.  It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around it.  What must it have been like to fear God—naturally (as in, without the scientistic arrogance we moderns seem inculcated into at an early age)?  To suspect mercurial forces at play in every tree or lonely bog?

There’s so much we don’t know; so much we can’t see (even if it’s caught on video).  Ironically, for all of our assuredness about how the world works, we find ourselves in an age of constant epistemological confusion, one in which we seem incapable of knowing what is True or not.

Heady contemplations, indeed.  The possible existence of Bigfoot or any other number of odd creatures, corporeal or otherwise, is not insignificant:  if supernatural beings exist, God Exists (or, more probably, because God Exists, there are all manner of spirits and angels and the like at work, just beyond our perception).

Spooky stuff!  With that, here is “TBT: Things That Go Bump in the Night“:

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Bible Study Update II

An eager commenter on my original “Bible Study” post prompted me to give a second brief update on my daily Bible reading (I wrote the first update back in July 2022).  Apparently, my humble daily regimen inspired the reader to establish a schedule of her own.  To that, all I can say is, “To God Be the Glory!”

That said, it’s satisfying to know that the words I scribble down on this self-indulgent blog do, indeed, reach people.  There are probably fewer things more pleasurable to a writer than to find that his words have made some impact on his readers, and the pleasure is enhanced when it’s a stranger.  We all understand that we influence those close to us, for good or for ill, because we can see the effects more clearly.  But the idea that a stranger might be reading our words is a small sign that we’re expanding beyond our immediate familial and social circles to wider audiences.  It feels good.

But I digress.  This post is about studying the Bible, not tooting my own saxophone; pride, after all, is a sin.

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Gnostic Mysteries

There is something appealing about possessing some bit of secret knowledge or trivia that is unknown to everyone, save a select few “initiates” fortunate enough to partake in the mysteries.  The seductive allure of secret knowledge—or of just being “in-the-know” about some microniche subculture—seems to be a part of human nature.

We’d like to think in our modern age that we’re not superstitious sorts, but we are haunted everywhere.  Scientists have elevated themselves to the level of priests in a cult of scientism, worshipping the emptiness of nihilistic materialism just as the pagans worshipped lifeless idols.  Both are made of stuff—hard, material, unfeeling, insensate stuff—and both are equally empty.

But we here on the Right can fall prey to Gnostic fantasies as well.  The Libertarian dreams of a utopia in which everyone engages in frictionless free exchanges and all uncomfortable disputes are settled with cash and self-interest.  He’s as materialist and deluded as the mask-wearing mandatory vaxxer preaching loudly from the Church of Scientism.  The hyper-nationalist dreams of some impossible ethnostate that never really existed in the first place.  And so on.

Still, it’s seductive, the idea that we can possess the knowledge of good and evil, of true Reality.  After all, that’s the original sin, isn’t, it?  Eve, then Adam, could not resist the allure of being—so they were told, dishonestly—like God.  But even—perhaps, especially–Christians can fall into this trap.

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Chapel Lesson: Listening

Now that The Age of The Virus is pretty much over, my school has resumed its normal schedule of weekly events, most of which were shuttered during those two, long, pointlessly fearful years.  Part of that schedule is Chapel on Thursday mornings.

Years ago, we had a regular chaplain, a crusty ex-Marine and Episcopal reverend whom I loved dearly (his widow gave me several of his shirts and a leather bag, which I still carry to this day).  After his passing, we went through a parade of youth pastors of various stripes and backgrounds, and briefly brought in a charismatic black man who shouted inspirationally at the students (and frequently showed up late, or not at all).

We now have a young Spanish teacher—a very sweet, unassuming fellow, who is probably six-and-a-half-feet tall—who will serve as our chaplain.  However, he’s a shy man—a gentle giant—and wasn’t quite ready to dive into Chapel this year.  As such, the administration asked me to deliver the first little lesson of the year.

It’s a responsibility I took seriously, but also willingly.  I prayed about what I should cover, and while flipping through a devotional from The Daily Encouraging Word, I found a good lesson from James 1:19 about listening.

It was a good, broad message that is applicable even for non-believers, and I thought it’d make a good, quick lesson for students, who often need to be reminded to listen closely and not to jump to conclusions (many adults—myself included!—need to be reminded of this lesson, too!).  The five tips are directly from the DEW devotional, but I added in some verses I’d been mulling over from Proverbs.

It was remarkable to me how the Holy Spirit placed these related verses in front of me as I was putting this little talk together.  I’ve been reading and rereading Proverbs, reading one chapter a day for each day of the month, and it’s really deepened my understanding of the wisdom contained therein.  It just so happened that there was a great passage from Proverbs 25 the morning I was to give the chapel lesson, so it fit in nicely.

To God Be the Glory!

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Bible Study Update

For the past month (roughly) I’ve been dedicating my mornings to Bible study.  I became very negligent about spending time in God’s Word over the past school year—and, really, over the past few years—so I have been doing my part to mend my relationship with Him and to immerse myself in His Word.

I’m pleased to report that, so far, I have largely stuck with it, only rarely missing a day’s reading.  I started simply:  reading through Proverbs.  A very common Bible study tactic is to read one chapter of Proverbs a day; in thirty-one days, or one month, you’ll have read the entire book.  I adapted that slightly, sometimes reading a couple of chapters a day.  As June has only thirty days, and I started late, I managed to end the month with Proverbs 31.

After finishing Proverbs, I realized I needed to expand my reading further.  To that end, here is my current reading schedule each morning:

  • Three chapters of Psalms (with 150 chapters, it should take fifty days to get through Psalms, although Psalms 119 might be its own day)
  • One chapter of Proverbs, corresponding with the date (for example, this morning I will read Proverbs 12)
  • One chapter of Isaiah, also corresponding with the date until I get to Isaiah 32 on 1 August 2022, at which point I’ll keep reading one chapter a day until I have completed the book (again, this morning I’ll read Isaiah 12)
  • A New Testament passage from a little “read-the-New-Testament-in-one-year” Bible someone gave me years ago (today’s passage will be Romans 1:1-17)
  • Some days, I do a reading from a little devotional, Our Daily Bread

In total, it takes me anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour to complete this reading, as I try to read slowly and take notes in the margins (I also start readings with thorough prayer time with God, praying prayers of thanksgivings to Him; praying specific prayer requests; and praying for His Hand in my life and my budding relationship) and if I see connections to other Scriptures—which is happening more and more frequently lately—I will take time to note the parallels and tie them back.

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Bible Study

Now that summertime is here, I’m using the bit of extra, unstructured time to try to develop some good habits.  This past school year was pretty brutal, between a heavy load of classes and up to twenty lessons a week.  I was thankful for the income from lessons and for the security of work, but it really took its toll as the academic year wore on.

Unfortunately, one of the first things I let go was daily Bible study.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always been spotty about reading the Bible daily.  I’m often more interested in listening to someone else’s commentary on God’s Word than reading it for myself, as if I’m a medieval Catholic.

But there’s no substitute for the real thing—daily Bible reading and study.  So I’ve established a routine now that summer is here, and it’s really helped me keep on track.

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