Friday, December 23, 2016

Goals for 2017

            I hate the term “resolutions”. I guess resolutions sound so static—a list of clearly defined things I want to accomplish. I’m too creative to nail down all the exact details, because I know they will be adjusted along the way. Also, I’ve found that life is messy. There’s too many things out of our control. We need to head in a certain direction, but be able to do mid-course corrections. So, here are my goals!

            I already have applications out there, so I’m taking steps. But, this one is something I can’t completely control. I can’t make someone hire me. Even if I had my own business, which I’ve started to take steps toward, I still would need clients. Somewhere along the way, I need someone to pay me to do what I do!
            I see two main reasons behind my desire to move. First, Ohio is a living hell. It’s constantly grey. It’s even grey in the summer. It’s not uncommon to go a week in June or July where sun never touches the ground. And, once October hits, the long dark grey begins and lasts for about eight months.
            A second reason is that my dad passed away last year. Akron is no longer my childhood home. After the staleness of death, I want newness—a new area of the country, new things to explore, new people to meet. I don’t want to be surrounded by the things of my childhood. When my dad died, something of my childhood died, and the attachment to the homeland of my childhood is no longer there.

            This one is pretty self-explanatory. But, I don’t just want to be somewhat healthy. No, I want to get back to the level of an athlete—with a pulse down in the 40’s, single-digit body fat, and renewed strength and stamina. It may take a while for me to get there, but once someone has been in this type of condition, that is the type of condition they want to be in.

            Five years ago I declared myself a freelance writer and speaker. I even put it on my LinkedIn profile. Since that time, I have made some money doing it, so I can consider it a job. It’s been a way for me to monetize my hobbies. When I declared that, I was thinking it would eventually become a career. I wasn’t sure all the details, but I believe in life you can’t wait for all the details. If there’s an itch, you have to scratch and see where it heads.
            Now, things are starting to come into focus. I want to focus on speaking and training people on creativity. I’ve written a book on it. I’ll likely need to write a second book that contains activities to spur creativity. I’m organizing information into a non-linear PowerPoint, so I’ll have a starting point to speak about it. I’m writing some song parodies on creativity, which I can incorporate into training and seminars. I’ll need to start small and see where it heads—probably just as a volunteer speaker. Then, maybe a small seminar. The details will start to become clearer. I’m starting to see the groundwork being laid.

            So, there you have it. These are three things I’d like to work on for next year. Wish me luck. This will likely be the last blog of 2016 for me!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I Don’t Have Standard Students

            Auto manufacturers machine engine blocks to extremely tight tolerances. Each cylinder is exactly same—not just for a single block, but for every block for that particular engine model. The reason why is obvious. They need the pistons to fit, and every piston for that particular engine is also exactly the same—machined to extremely tight tolerances. It’s one of those round-pegs-in-round-holes type of situations.
            Standardizing education is like machining engine blocks to tight tolerances. Some believe if the block is machined correctly, the outcome will be a smooth running learning machine. But, there’s a problem. Students aren’t like pistons. Each one is different. Some may fit the system like a glove, but some are a little more awkward—fitting like a boot up someone’s ass. Or, even worse, some don’t fit at all.
            Suppose for a minute that auto manufacturers were no longer able to machine their pistons. Imagine they had to get all their piston from an outside source, and all the pistons were of various sizes. The only way they could make functioning engines is to start designing engine blocks to custom fit whatever pistons they had. The same applies to education. Bureaucrats have tried to mechanize learning, but in doing so, they haven’t followed a basic engineering principle. The peg must fit the hole!
            I am currently teaching online English classes to kids in China. One of my kids is a five-year old boy who is extremely energetic. Can you say ADHD? I knew you could! Now, imagine trying to teach English to this hyperactive little boy through an online system that resembles Skype. If I was in a face-to-face classroom, and had the freedom to teach him according to his learning style, I’d teach him English through calisthenics. J is for jumping jack: jump, jump, jump. P is for pushup: push, push, push. Today’s verb is run: run around the building, run around the building, run around the building. After he reached the point of exhaustion, I’d drag his little limp body to a desk and enjoy the 5 minutes of complete attention he’d give me until he fell asleep. Then, I’d go take a nap—a long nap, because this kid is exhausting!
            What do the “rules” of education say? They say when you’re teaching someone something that is new to go slowly—very slowly. The training the company I’m teaching for taught me to go very slowly for young kids. My thousands of hours of experience in the classroom say the same thing. We keep machining those cylinders that say, “for new material, go slowly—very slowly!” Now, I challenge you! Try to hold the attention span of a hyperactive, five-year old boy by going S-L-O-W-L-Y! I’m going S-L-O-W-L-Y, and all I see on my monitor is this kid crawling all over his room—jumping on the bed, showing me his feet (don’t ask me why, because I don’t know), playing with whatever toy he has in his hands, drinking his juice, . . . well, you get the point!
            Today I was teaching him the letter T—yeah me! Instead of going slowly, I instead tried speeding things up. Instead of, “T is for t-a-b-l-e” and then cupping my ear and waiting while he dances around the room, I sped it up and turned it into a little chant. Yes, I was being a little cheerleader with little dance moves and everything! “T is for table! T is for table! T is for table! T is for table!” While I wasn’t completely successful, because he has the attention span of a gnat, at times he starting parroting my cheers. High-speed, energetic chants seemed to work better than slow speed, patient conversation. Maybe this student is just a high-speed, energetic piston, and in order to reach him, I have to give him a high-speed, energetic cylinder. Today I broke the rules and I think it may have been the most successful lesson I’ve had with this kid in a long time. Sure, his attention faltered after about 15 minutes into his 25-minute lesson, but 15 minutes of decent attention was a miracle. Yes, I’m not an ordinary teacher. I’m a miracle worker! His attention did start to refocus near the end of the lesson as well. After class, I went down to the lake and was walking on water! Yes, I’m that good!

            Before we declare me a miracle worker, maybe I’m not the second coming. Maybe I was just following a basic principle of engineering—that the hole must be the right size for the peg. I don’t have any standard students. So, why does everyone want to keep forcing me to standardize education?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Time Isn't What We Perceive It to Be

            Every moment in time is a page in a book—a book that is already written, a complete volume resting in the library of the author. The moments that have gone before are still alive on the page. The moments that exist in the present are ink that has already dried. The moments in the future are already complete, but not read by human eyes.
            We already exist in the eternal state—whatever that might be, but it is beyond our meager faculties. Perhaps you doubt that we exist outside the constructs of time and space. If so, then consider prophecy. Things that happened in the past were predicted by men abiding in an even more ancient past. Things that will happen in the future have already been penned by men living before we were born. While the prophets existed on only a few pages of the book, part of them also existed outside—beyond the book, with the ability to flip the pages and see the past and present. Moses wrote of things that had gone before—of creation, Abraham, and the birth of the Children of Israel. Daniel saw kings and kingdoms—some that have already been, and some that are yet to be. Ezekiel saw wheels within wheels, and was transported to some abode we yet understand, where he could flip through and see some pages of the book.
            The human spirit, soul, or whatever name we want to give to the immaterial part of us, exists outside—outside the book, outside the realm of our perceptions, outside what we see, hear, live, and breathe. But, our body is like a book mark, pulling us to reside only on a single page. But, in the opening of the book, God breathed into mankind and we became living spirits—spiritual beings, who exist outside the book, designed to have eternal communion with him. It’s a communion that we don’t experience; and yet, we are already there.
            We have those fleeting moments—in dreams, visions, or when struck by utter terror, when we realize this page we are reading isn’t all there is. No, there’s more. There’s much more, and we long to experience that much more.
            Let’s consider the eternal state. I used to know for sure that there was a heaven and a hell—a place of constant bliss or constant torment. But, my surety was based on what I had been taught—conditioned to think that way by religious institution. I can’t say that way of thinking is wrong, but I can say it’s up for honest scrutiny. Men have taken those viewpoints from Scripture, but honest men have also taken other viewpoints from Scripture—including annihilation and universal salvation. So, let’s consider all three and how they fit in with our expanded view of time.
            I must at minimum question eternal torment, if for no other reason how it’s been used throughout history to control and manipulate people. It is the fear tactic of the institutional church, and it is an effective one. At this point, I can’t with any certainty declare this (or any of the other viewpoints) as being correct. As with most things, I suspect the true answer lies between the extremes being proposed. What if all three are correct? What if eternal torment, annihilation, and universal salvation are all true. But, how can that be?
            Those that hold to eternal torment divide people into two categories—the saved (those who have placed faith in Jesus), and the lost. But, in truth, the Bible divides people into at least three categories. There are the descendants of Adam, and within that broader category are those who have placed faith in Christ, and those who haven’t. But, there is another race of men called the Nephilim. These were a hybrid cross between fallen angels and human mothers. They are clearly described in Genesis six as existing before the Flood, but also afterwards. Many of the giants the Israelites later faced when crossing into the promised land came from this race. And, since the Israelites never completed their God-given mission of utterly destroying certain people groups, this hybrid race likely still exists today—probably parading as full-blooded members of the human race. The contemporary existence of the Nephilim is conjecture, but wasn’t isn’t conjecture is that the race existed. It’s what the Bible clearly teaches. This gives us at least three categories of men: 1) those from Adam who have accepted Christ, 2) those from Adam that haven’t accepted Christ, and 3) those from the Nephilim.
            When Jesus teaches of hell, it has to be considered in the context of the rest of his teachings. Didn’t he say the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat? Didn’t he say there would be a division between the sheep and the goats? Modern day Evangelicals will claim this is referring to their two categories—that the wheat and the sheep are those that have placed faith in Christ, and the tares and the goats are those that haven’t put faith in Christ. But, their interpretation doesn’t fit when you consider the Nephilim. The tares the enemy sowed were the Nephilim. Christ description of sowing (propagating) tares, fits in cleanly with the description given in Genesis six of the sons of God (a term clearly referring to angels) having relations with the daughters of men, and creating a hybrid offspring. Christ’s teaching of tares and goats most likely refers to the Nephilim—not to any pure-blood descendants of Adam. This turns Evangelical’s teaching of hell on the ear, for it seems Christ might really be teaching that eternal judgment falls on the Nephilim, which makes sense considering Scripture teaches that the lake of fire has been prepared for the devil and his angels. Doesn’t it make sense that’s where the descendants of the devil and his angels would also spend eternity?
            I know I’m bucking thousands of years of church dogma, but I’m doing so by using a clear teaching of Scripture that the church has been ignoring for centuries. Could it be the institutional church has been using fear to control people, when the people it is controlling have no reason to fear? At this point, I can’t say for sure. I’m just thinking things through.
            Let’s follow another train of thought. Let’s say the Nephilim don’t receive eternal torment, but instead face annihilation. Some may argue this isn’t possible, for the Scripture teaches everlasting punishment. But, let’s consider the nature of the book the author has written. The book is eternal. So, anything contained within the book is eternal. When the book is finally closed, all time ceases to exist, and everything within the book lasts forever—even if the characters within the book no longer experience the ink on the pages. The nature of the book allows for something to be eternal (because it is inked on the pages), but also not to exist outside the book in the eternal state. The nature of the book allows for both an eternality of torment, because the record is permanent, but also for an annihilation—in that something no longer has life and consciousness in the eternality that exists outside the book.
            Let’s consider the descendants of Adam. There are Scriptures that teach that those who accept Christ are saved. Further discussion for this group of people isn’t really necessary—for whether one accepts the concept of universal bliss for a select few, or accepts the concept of universal salvation, this group is set for eternity.
            How about those descendants of Adam that don’t accept Christ? We can’t assume the teaching of the church for hundreds of years is correct, because the church’s teaching is based on two categories of people, when in truth there are at least three. What if the teachings on eternal torment apply only the Nephilim? It seems many of the teachings of Jesus in reference to eternal torment applies specifically to this group, because it is the common sense reading once the doctrine of the Nephilim is accepted. Could it be that those who don’t accept Christ receive torment for a period of time, and that torment is considered eternal, because it is permanently inked in the book? But, when it comes to the eternal state that exists outside the book, God saves all descendants of Adam?
            At this point, I don’t have any definite answers. The only definite answer I have is that the church’s teaching on eternity and the eternal state is incorrect, because it is based on the faulty assumption of a two-fold division of mankind, when in truth there is a three-fold division: two divisions for the race of Adam, and the hybrid race of the Nephilim. Both the nature of the book, as well as the three-fold division of mankind has me questioning if annihilation, eternal torment, and universal salvation might all be true doctrine.