Monday, February 23, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Growing up, John Quincy Adams was just an ordinary, upper-class boy. His father, John, was a moderately wealthy landowner, and as such, Quincy had a relatively easy childhood.
Or rather, he would have.
The 1770's came, and John Sr. was thrust into the forefront of politics. He spent less and less time at home, and finally was sent by congress to France to aid the American delegation. While other 11-year-olds spent their days playing with friends, John Jr. was sailing off to France and praying their ship would not be captured by the British navy. Both of his parents saw the trip to Europe as a golden opportunity for the young man to garner experience and knowledge. In France, Quincy applied himself, learned the language impeccably, and studied hard.
At the age of twelve, when other boys were just beginning to notice girls and enjoy "society," Quincy moved from France to the Netherlands to be with his father, who was now part of the American envoy there. Quincy applied himself there as well, studying in Leiden University.
At the age of fourteen, when other boys of his class began dancing, chasing girls, and exploring the possibilities of careers, Quincy was headed off to Russia. Alone. His hard work and studying paid off, as his ability to speak French attracted the attention of Francis Dana, the ambassador to Russia. Seeing potential, and needing someone who spoke the lingua franca, he employed young Adams as a secretary and brought him to Russia.
At the age of fifteen, when other boys were apprenticed and enjoying all of the entertainment privileges the upper class provided, Quincy was making his way across Europe on a self-led tour, gaining a self-taught university education through visiting cathedrals, museums, and palaces.
At the age of sixteen, when other boys were in the full swing of enjoying the dances and other interactions with their own generation, Adams was mixing "out of his league" as a secretary for the Treaty of Paris. He then joined his father and the rest of the family in London to serve as Adams the Elder's secretary.
At the age of seventeen, when other boys were beginning to plan for marriage and a career, Adams was still in England, working as his father's secretary while studying to enter Harvard. Adams had some doubts about the boy's work, as he confided to the boy's former tutor in a letter.
"He has translated Virgil's Aenied...and the whole of Sallust and Tacitus' Agricola...a great part of Horace, some of Ovid, and some of Caesar's Commentaries...besides Tully's Orations...
"In Greek his progress has not been equal; yet he has studied morsels of Aristotle's Politics, in Plutarch's Lives, and Lucian's Dialogues, The choice of Hercules in Xenophon, and lately he has gone through several books in Homer's Iliad.
"In mathematics I hope he will muster. In the course of the last year...I have spent my evenings with him. We went with some accuracy through the geometry in the Preceptor, the eight books of Simpson's Euclid in Latin...We went through plane geometry...algebra, and the decimal fractions, arithmetical and geometrical proportions...I then attempted a sublime flight and endeavored to give him some idea of the differential method of calculations...[and] Sir Isaac Newton; but alas, it is thirty years since I thought of mathematics."
At the age of twelve, most teens today are more concerned about their high-tops and their skateboards than about foreign travel.
At the age of fourteen, most teens today are more concerned about their cell-phones and their iPods than about an internship.
At the age of sixteen, most teens today are more concerned about their cars and the opposite gender than learning.
At the age of seventeen, most teens today are more concerned about which college they will attend and what career they are interested in pursuing than cramming about foreign languages and studying math in a dead language.
John Quincy Adams served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, Prussia, Russia, and the Netherlands. He served as a State Senator, was a Senator and a Representative from Massachusetts, served as Secretary of State, was the sixth president of the United States under the current Constitution, and was the only president to serve in congress after their presidency.
Who did something right, and who's blowing it?
Monday, February 16, 2009
The man's name?
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Don't forget to take a moment to scroll down to the bottom of my blog and check out my newest addition: the Shelfari! In it, you'll find books that I'm currently reading, books that are all-time favorites, and books that others should know about. It's still in the works, but I'll soon be arranging them so that those I am currently reading will be the first on the shelf. Feel free to comment on the books on this blog.
Also, if you're a new reader, please take the time to go back and read my original post, "Who Am I?" I'd greatly appreciate it if you commented on that post as well.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
At a Florida town hall meeting this past week, Obama had this exchange with a member of the audience, Julio Osequeda:
OBAMA: Last question. Of course, now it better be a good one. Go ahead.
OSEQUEDA: Oh, this is such a blessing to see you, Mr. President! Thank you for taking time outta your day! (gasping) Ohhhhhhh, gracious god! Thank you so much! Oh! (gasping for air)
OBAMA: All right, what's..? What's the question?
OSEQUEDA: All right, Mr. President -- heh, heh, heh -- my name is Julio Osegueda. I'm currently a student at Edison State College in my second semester, and... Okay, I've been at the same job, which is McDonald's for four and a half years because of the fact that I can't find another job. Now, with the fact that I've been there as long as I've been there, do you have any plan or any idea of making one that has been there for a long time receive any better benefits than what they've already received?
OBAMA: The fact that you are working as hard as you're working at a job that I know doesn't always pay as well as some other jobs, I think that's a source of pride for you. That shows that -- that you're doing the right thing. Now -- The second thing is -- is that you will actually benefit from the tax breaks that we're talking about so you'll be able to keep a little bit extra money because we're gonna offset your payroll tax. That's going to help. Say you're -- you're going to school. What are you studying?
OSEQUEDA: I'm looking to study and majoring in communications, hopefully being a broadcaster or a disc jockey.
OBAMA: Well, you sound like you've got a (sic) good communications skills.
OSEQUEDA: Thank you so much.
There are a few problems with this exchange.
First, notice that Osequeda isn’t out of work. He’s complaining about the job he already has. In this economic climate, he should be very thankful that he has a job. A job that, according to the company’s website, offers health and dental plans, and helps pay for school, in addition to paying an excellent salary that is based on performance.
The second problem, however, is the entitlement mentality of Osequeda and Obama. If Osequeda dislikes his job, why does the government need to help? The job of the government is to ensure that every citizen has life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is nothing in the Constitution or any other founding document that provides for the government aiding “needy” employees. The reason he’s not being paid as well as other jobs is because he’s working at McDonalds, not at an office or other position that requires more skill.
This is just the latest example of our entitlement minded culture. Why is it that we are now dependent on the government for everything? No one “deserves” a job, and no one “deserves” to have the government to help them. That’s not the government’s job. It has never been the government’s job. And if it becomes the government’s job, we will have taken one step closer to socialism.
What do you think of Obama's Stimulus Plan?
Special thanks to rushlimbaugh.com for the transcript.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Why is it that we care more about our iPods, cell phones, and computers than about the people around us? Why do teens have to be constantly texting? Heads up: It's rude to text when you are talking to someone, or when someone is talking to you. It sends a signal that "Whoever just texted me is more important than you are." And if all these devices are just being used to continue our pointless conversations, do we really need them at all?
I understand that discussing films and popular culture is fun, and that's fine. But if that's where you draw the line, I'm sorry, but you don't deserve to be an adult. Ever. A true discussion of films should be discussing the themes, the biblical correlations, and the worldview the director is selling, but no one is interested in doing that. It "hurts their heads." Where are all the leaders of the next generation? Don't tell me that congress will one day be filled with politicians who are texting during a senate session or who caucus on IM!
That is, if today's teen ever wakes up and realizes that is important. Most of the people I know were more concerned that they dropped their cell phone or that they have no bars at church than the Gaza Conflict. In fact, the mere mention brought "Well, I'm not into that." Not into that? Hello?!? You don't have a choice. You have to be into that. Someone is going to have to deal with that down the road, and wouldn't it be better if you knew what that was before you had to vote on someone whose platform is built on that?
Adolescence is a recent invention. Very recent, in fact. The idea of the teenage years, and all the pop culture lore that comes with it, didn't emerge until around the 40's-50's. When someone was a teen, they were adults, and were treated as such. They had jobs in the career they were interested in, were planning for marriage and a family, and acted "grown up." There's a reason why many of the elderly today were married when they were 18 or 19, after knowing the person for 3 months: they were mature enough to get married, and knew that the other person wasn't going to change.
That is so different from today's world. If teens have a job, it's flipping burgers or defrosting chicken at the nearest fast-food restaurant. Their money isn't saved for a house or college, but blown on the latest clothes, CDs, or 5-dollar latte. They have a car, but they don't act responsible enough. It would take two hands to count the times I've almost been in a dangerous and violent accident, just because the adolescent driver was showing off or just being stupid.
Most of the activities teens engage in today are pointless, too. We go to Starbucks and sit there, talking about what ridiculous thing we've done lately just to be funny, for three hours. We go see a movie that's about as deep as we are. In short, nothing we do has any value. It's not even worth the time we put into it. We shirk any responsiblity and think we deserve to have fun.
Why do we live like this? It's not real. Nothing we do is preparing us for what the rest of life will bring. If you watch the "adults" that have been churned out of this mill, you'll notice they are lazy, self-centered, and bored with the world. And they have a huge entitlement problem.
So what happened to America's youth? Well, it isn't all our fault. We're just obeying what we've been taught by schools and, more importantly, popular culture. They tell us to question authority, to revolt, to give our generation a new identity. The 60's--our parent's generation--was all about revolution, about challenging the establishment. Their rebellion was directed toward parents, teachers, and governmental authorities. Unfortunately, when they grew up, they became the establishment, but the rebellious attitude lived on. And instead of demonstrating rebellion against authority by becoming the anti-hippie, our generation just decided to go even further to the extreme. Long hair became neon Mohawks. Peace symbols became skulls. Black was the new tie-dye. Rap was the new rock. Weed was the new LSD. Sex was the new love. Death was the new peace. Piercings were the new tatoo. Everything was one step further away from normalcy.
Also contributing to the problem was the mantra of "self-esteem." In the quest to make everyone feel good about themselves, everyone now had to help boost children's self-esteem. And in order to do that, standards had to come down. No longer is an A a 90%-100%. Teachers now have to grade on a curve. Gone are "F's," gone are punishments for not doing what you know your absolute best is. The standard for teens today is "Whatever they turn in, that's good enough." This, of course, leads to a spiraling cycle of lowered standards and expectations, until anything is "good enough," simply because we don't want to hurt anyone's self-esteem.
The most important factor, however, is our sin nature. Its natural bent is toward laziness and rebellion, and if that's what we're offered, our flesh is more than happy to go along for the ride, hands in the air, gleefully screaming at every drop further into depravity. The more biblical standards we get to break, the happier we are, since our sinful nature that we are born with hates God's Word and anything that comes from it. That's why our rebellion will never naturally lead to biblical normalcy.
What is morbidly entertaining about all of this is the rallying cry. We scream "Overthrow the Establishment," without realizing that we are the establishment. We claim that with our dress, hair, and style are our way of seeking out our individual identity, not realizing that whatever we settle on groups us with thousands of other teens that look exactly like we do (punk, goth, emo, etc). When someone really does challenge the establishment (i.e. homeschoolers) and dress in a relatively decent fashion, they are ridiculed for conforming by all the supposed non-conformists who all look the same. Like they came out of cookie-cutter molds.
So what's to be done? Can we reclaim this disaster of a culture? Or are we doomed to take over the world without ever growing up. A child seated in the Oval Office? A Supreme Court Justice texting during a trial? There is something that can be done, but it's not going to be easy. We, as Christians, have to rebel against the rebellion.
Well, not exactly. See, rebellion is always sinful. Any quick change is simply superficial, and always ends up creating worse problems than the one the revolution tried to fix. The French Revolution is a case in point. The abject poverty and tyranny the general populace was subjected to in 18th-century France was real and terrible. But by killing all of the "oppressors," overthrowing the government, and establishing a new one, France was plunged into years of poverty and brutality such that the world has never seen. The guillotine worked around the clock, as both oppressors and oppressed shared in its horrors. Leaders of the revolution came, one after another, and each "took care" of the last.
Why didn't the French Revolution work? Because it was a revolution. Instant change. Instant gratification. It never provides lasting change, and it never solves anything. If people's hearts and minds aren't changed, the problem still remains. It's just masked under a new face. True change only comes through reformation.
Reformation is the gradual change of a culture's people, not a culture's external facets like government or pop culture. It's changing people's hearts, minds, and lives. Once a people is changed, their attitudes and actions can and will change. It isn't easy. Reformation is a long, tough, slow process. The results aren't visible immediately. In fact, they may not even be visible during a reformer's lifetime. But if others take up his mantle and carry on, change will come eventually, and when it does, it will be larger and more impactful than anything the initial reformers planned.
We're in the beginnings of a reformation right now. It started with the homeschool movement. Rejecting the low standards and pressure from culture, parents decided they would obey the words of scripture and teach their children themselves (Deuteronomy 6, Deuteronomy 11, and Ephesians 6). Parents homeschooling their children are training them in the admonition of the Lord so that they can have a major impact on the culture and the world. We’ve been trained long enough. Now it’s our time to carry out that mandate.
How? First, we reject the low standards. We "do hard things," as Alex and Brett Harris suggest (http://www.therebelution.com/). Enough is enough. Second, we're going to start acting our age. This mean rejecting the low standards, but it also means we’re going to act like biblically mature adults, and not children. It means taking things that are serious seriously. It means treating each other like adults. We're old enough to make a difference now. Let's go do it!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim, If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same:. If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings, And never breathe a word about your loss: If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much: If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!