Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
One of my favorite (current) writing gigs is the opportunity I have to provide content for the All Pro Dad website. All Pro Dad is the on-line arm of SuperBowl-winning coach Tony Dungy's work to support and encourage dads throughout the USA.
This year - to date - I've penned 72 of the "10-Ways" lists associated with the ongoing Billboard Campaign. My lists appear on the website, and are also emailed to thousands of men via the "Tony Dungy Play of the Day".
Today's "10-Ways" column is especially timely as the subject is politics. I've also highlighted the headline as an active link to this article as it appears on the site:
Enjoy - DEREK
10 Things You Need to Teach Your Kids About Politics (It's possible to disagree with respect, to be wrong with integrity, and to be right with humility)
A well-known adage declares that polite conversation always steers family away from politics, religion or sex. But we say that’s bunk!
If we’re not talking about these things in our family, then our kids are most certainly having the conversation elsewhere. “Elsewhere” should never be the primary source of facts, discussion, advice and grounding when we have the opportunity to talk about important matters at home.
This time it’s politics, and it’s a subject that’s always timely. Here at All Pro Dad we don’t want you to necessarily think like us – but we do want you to think. And we want you to teach your children how important it is to replace bias, and rumor, and prejudice, and misinformation with a thoughtful look at what makes America tick politically.
The greatest enemy of freedom is a people unprepared to engage in intelligent debate and thoughtful decision-making. Don’t be that guy.
Here are 10 things we all need to think about when it comes to politics:
1. Freedom relies on widespread participation in the political process: Kids need to understand that it’s important to take part. Not voting and not thinking about politics is a decision to not value liberty.
2. The Constitution: We need to teach our children the U.S. Constitution. They need to be familiar with the contents and understand how it was written and why it gets amended.
3. An open mind is not a political affiliation! Party affiliation does not determine receptivity to new ideas. Openness to growth and learning is more of a spiritual condition. A closed mind can repel wisdom irrespective of our politics.
4. Our political preference is not a religion: Politics does not provide spiritual nurture, nor does our leaning necessarily say anything about our standing with God. The writer of the Declaration of Independence acknowledged that “The Creator” endowed us with fundamental rights, not the government, and certainly not one political party.
5. Free speech should not be a higher value than courtesy: It is important that our children understand the necessity of courtesy in political discourse. It is possible to disagree with respect, to be wrong with integrity, and to be right with humility. This is where parental modeling is of the essence.
6. It’s okay to get excited! America was born out of passionate disagreements, has been sustained by heartfelt debate, and will remain strong because of - not in spite of - sometimes over-enthusiastic differences of opinion: While #5 is true, it’s also important that our kids realize it’s Okay to be fervent in our views and to communicate our convictions with enthusiasm.
7. Children must learn to think for themselves: Too many people have given up critical analysis in favor of simply parroting other people’s opinions as their own. This is not only lazy, but dangerous. The greatest threat to democracy is a voting public – and families - who don’t think things through.
8. Listen to both sides: Teach your kids to listen to both sides of a debate and to pay attention to people they think they will disagree with. We must learn how to cultivate multiple sources when gathering information.
9. The truth can handle good questions: If children don’t understand, they should always ask. Good questions reveal truth… or the lie. Either way, good question asking is critical to a political process that works
10. People who disagree with us are not by definition un-American: We all know people who believe everyone should walk in lockstep (both in politics and in religion). We must teach our children that there is always more to learn, that people who disagree with us aren’t always wrong, and that narrow-mindedness is the shortest path to political oppression.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
- First, I shared a meditation that fits into Rebekah and Tim's current sermon series on "Perspective". I talked about how God has given me renewed clarity to see things through spiritual eyes, and how I am now able to see things more clearly than ever before.
- Then, I started a conversation about the history of First Presbyterian of Brandon (fpcbrandon.org). I asked the men to share how long they have been coming and what it was that helped them decide to stick around.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Therefore… ergo… we need to improve the teachers. All this leads to the following conclusion; poor teaching must be the reason society is – essentially – on the brink.
Flawed logic! There you go. That’s American education in a nutshell, and there’s really not much to argue about in anything I just said, at least prior to the conclusion. However (and this error is at the root of much that passes for contemporary social and political debate), stringing a series of statements together that are – ostensibly - true does not necessarily prove the case, nor justify so many sweeping generalizations.
In the case of education, there are good teachers and there are the not so good. Professional standards, supervision and accountability often work together to accomplish a "so-so" job - as in any profession.
But, and this statement needs to be hung on a huge banner in every legislature in America - and a few school board meeting rooms for good measure, "Classroom time = a mere 14,4% of a child’s year – and that’s assuming perfect attendance. Kids actually spend more or their lives with the computer and the TV than a classroom teacher! The key variable in preparing children to succeed in life is the home."
That’s worth repeating: The key variable in preparing children to succeed in life is the home.
But the legislature can’t get inside my house or yours, and neither can Mr. Gates (unless Windows 7 is even trickier than we knew!). So we do what we can do and we throw rocks at the teachers instead.
The Gates Grant’s end game is the laudable goal of identification and implementation when it comes to best practices in terms of classroom instruction. But, the initiative seems to be being parsed as “Fix the teachers and everything will be Okay.”
Well, no, it won’t!
- Bottom line, the majority of teachers don't need fixing. Hillsborough County’s teachers are already well qualified and competent. They will doubtless benefit from the Gates program in the same way they profit from any of the extensive in-service trainings they already pursue.
- The Gates program is a distraction that's already being used more as an offensive weapon than an opportunity to grow. Such an approach will, in all likelihood - negatively impact the classroom.
- What public education really needs is a general revival of family life; one that takes more active responsibility for raising children, supports education, and works to re-craft the values that define our culture.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Please... people... Enough with the endless "Derek's shirking on his blog" complaints. Sheesh... This has been one monster of a busy week. Leading a men's event in Atlanta last weekend; then (just a few moments ago) completing another at Camp Cedarkirk; plus lots of writing in between in preparation for the big October vacation.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
- Father Toni: "Who has any ideas for making the sanctuary more appealing?"
- Mrs. DeLucca: "The fall colors are lovely, how about some late roses?"
- Mrs. Angelo: "I have a nice head..."
- Father Toni: "Right then. Let's go with the head. Now, about the fall festival...."
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Hmm - long time no blog. It's been since Thursday. I must be off my game... Or maybe I was off flying the friendly skies, meeting cool and fascinating people in Atlanta?
Friday, September 17, 2010
This morning's post is pretty-much a message to the guys in my Wednesday evening small-group Bible-study. I've had a lot of thoughts running through my head this week about what it means to be a Christian man in this culture.
- It wasn't so much quiet as it was expectant.
- It wasn't that everyone shut up so much as that they switched to openness and reception.
- It wasn't trivial in the room anymore; it was suddenly loaded with meaning.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Yesterday I stayed up writing till almost midnight. Not by choice so much as necessity. I suspect it's going to be this way for the remainder of the month.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
- Most importantly, I can't talk about faith with any credibility if I'm not practicing it deliberately in my own life.
- I need to spend quality time with God during the preparation; it's the first and most critical element of the process. Additionally, I need to set aside some time with God that very morning, before I even climb in the car to drive to the place where I'm scheduled to talk.
- Enthusiasm is a must. The quality of the words are only a small part of the equation - they have to be launched with passion and sincerity, in a manner that suggests I really do believe what I'm saying.
- Authenticity is the strongest selling point of any message. When people realize that I'm not reading someone else's script, and that everything I say is coming from my heart, then things such as erudition and smooth speaking skills become secondary. Have you ever heard a joke told by someone who really believed it was the funniest story they'd ever heard? That sense of belief, a confidence that is unshakable, is infinitely more important than "slick" presentation or comic timing.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Faith is a journey - a pathway and sometimes a more serious climb. But it is always moving somewhere, always making some kind of progress, always open to direction. - always listening, always trusting...
My status on facebook this morning read: "Derek Maul got a record high number of 'hits' on his blog yesterday. He thinks he should use words like 'nincompoop' in the title line more often!"
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
- sad: "deplorably bad; sorry; pathetic."
- idiotic: "senselessly foolish or stupid."
- indecency: "offense against accepted standards of propriety, or good taste."
- consummate: "being of the highest and most extreme degree."
- pathetic: "miserably or contemptibly inadequate".
- nincompoop: "non compos mentis"; "insane, mentally incompetent;" "a fool or a simpleton."
- aberration: "deviation from truth or moral rectitude."
- Ungrounded in credibility
- Unanchored in scripture
- Unrelated to the mission of The Church
- Unconscionable in terms of foundational moral thinking
- Unreliable vis-a-vis the eternal purposes of God
- Indefensible when it comes to our responsibility to follow Jesus, honor the Prince of Peace, love one another ("so people will know you are my disciples"), and live according to the light.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
It's been a while since I posted a photo for the "Gourmet Initiative" files. But yesterday I made this exceptional Pasta Primavera, with grilled chicken, and the dish was begging for some face-time on my blog!
- People who chose a diet of fast-food, soda, sugar fixes, snack-food, heavy desserts and junk-food become overweight, undernourished and generally unhealthy.
- Likewise, a marriage unwilling to invest the time and the creativity to cultivate a balanced, healthy relationship lifestyle is likely to end up in the emergency room or the morgue.
- The best possible ingredients
- Care in preparation
- A commitment to excellence
- Serving (with delight)
- Giving thanks...