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Is Perfection a Criteria for Public Service?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

How long back should we dig into a person’s past in order to assess their current morality and character and ability to faithfully execute a job?  Five years?  Ten years?  Twenty?  The entirety of their life?  Should different actions be graded and investigated under different standards?  And perhaps, finally, most importantly, would we ourselves wish to be weighed and measured using the same scale?

 

We have a situation in our nation currently, in which an individual is being held accountable, or attempting to be held accountable for actions over three decades in the past.  This is not a post about whether the individual is guilty or not, that is a separate issue, but of whether the person’s actions from near forty years ago should be used as criteria for service currently.  Would we ourselves, in our current station in life be willing to be judged and hired or fired based upon actions from our teenage years?  Should we?  Again does it depend on the actions?  Does it depend on how long ago the actions took place?

 

If a person robbed a bank at gunpoint forty years ago, should that bear on their current adequacy for a job as a cashier?  As a college student?  As a high school teacher?  An electrician?  A state governor?  What if a person stole a candy bar in junior high; when they turn fifty should they be barred from promotion in a company?

 

If we are going to look at the bad, shouldn’t that mean that by default we must look at the good too?  If a person broke into a house as a teenager, but they served three hundred hours of community service and possible some time in jail, and have since had a spotless record, should that house break-in still have a bearing on their job promotions or opportunities when they turn forty?

 

Look, I am neither defending nor condemning the current situation, simply asking if we want a system of government that looks forty years into the past?  There is a huge, HUGE difference in a situation being executed within the last five to ten years, and a situation from forty years ago … with the massive, gargantuan qualifying statement that is that the record has remained clean and that there is not a continued pattern of criminal activity or abuse.  You cannot defend a person as adequate or qualified for good judgement in many if any professional (or personal for that matter, maybe even more) settings if they continually disregard common sense, decency, the law, and most of all morality.

 

Just some thoughts folks on the current state of our politics.  Whatever your opinion is, support it.  Be willing to have yourself measured and judged under the same set of rules and criteria.  And be insistent upon the same scale being applied across the political spectrum regardless of race, ethnicity, class, belief, or affiliation.  We are either a citizen of this country, or we are not, and that is the only issue that should determine how every single one of us is judged in this country.  – JT Cope IV

 

 

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What our Culture Tells us. (Mini Blog Post)

Posted on by jtcopeiv

Our culture tells us to focus on everything we don’t need to focus on, and ignore all the things we need to focus on.  It tells us we have to participate in everything, and do all the extracurricular events, and have all the right possessions.  It tells us that our marriage has to take a backseat to our job, and our kids, and our community, and (when it is convenient to their narrative) even our country.  And sometimes that may ring true as in the case of a war for the survival of our society or when you have a newborn at home for the first time.  But so so so often that is just a bald faced lie.  How can our kids, or community, or country, or even our job survive without our marriage being strong and coming before that.  What kind of home can we possibly have if the two people that are supposed to become one flesh and make a place a home aren’t on the same team, fighting the same battle, swimming the same direction, each day?

 

We can either call God master or culture master, not both.  We can either be called crazy by culture and focus on our marriages, or we can chase after culture and run away from God.  We can’t go two directions at the same time … and neither can our Country.

— JT Cope IV

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Do we put off living?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” — Dale Carnegie

 

We have a tendency as a culture to procrastinate.  I have a master’s degree in it.  And yet we all look up so often and complain that we spent too little time with the person who’s funeral we are attending, or that we can’t believe the politician made the decision they did who got elected in the previous election we didn’t vote in, or that we can’t believe how fast our children grew up while we were off working 10-12 hour days or away from home.

 

Our culture tells us to chase after money or fortune or fame.  To chase after good times or easy living.  And yet the vast majority of people whom I have observed or spoken to near the end of their life never decry having spent less time at these things.  No, what they miss or regret, what they inevitably say they value most … their faith, their spouse, their children and their family.  They talk about the people they helped or the people who helped them in a time of need.  So why do we focus on, and chase after things which so obviously do not matter to people at the end of their life, all the while ignoring living our life as it fly’s by?

 

There are a number of reasons, excuses, we make, some of them even legitimate in specific cases of hardship.  The reason that reverberates with truth and that most people will admit in their heart if not their mind or with their voice is a dire disordering of priorities.  We say that our relationship with God is our number one priority.  How much time do we spend each day with Him?  We say that our spouse is the most important human relationship we have on earth.  How much time and effort do we put into our marriage each day?  We say honesty and integrity are keystone traits of our life.  How many politicians or athletes who knowingly lie or cheat or steal do we continue to elect or idolize?

 

In order to get our country back on the right track we must first get our families and communities back on the right track.  For if we cannot control and manage our own households, how in the world can we manage our country or even more the Church?  Think about what you want your priorities to be.  Really be.  Write it down and then write down your actions, not only what you do, but how you feel you do.  Be honest and see if your actions match up with your priorities.  If they do, great!  If they don’t, how can you make incremental, but noticeable, changes to your lifestyle so that when your life is all said and done, you don’t feel like you have missed living chasing a fantasy. – JT Cope IV

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Why Politicians Don’t Understand America

Posted on by jtcopeiv

The following is not a direct quote, but it is very close, close enough that it needs to be cited as such.  The statement is also such a good representation of a large percentage of politicians it needs to be circulated.  Hope you’ll take a minute and check it out.

 

“The politicians in America, don’t understand America.  None of them has ever been in the military, so they don’t understand the men and women in uniform.  They aren’t religious so they don’t understand the deep antipathy so many feel toward abortion or gay marriage.  They never worked manual labor jobs, so they don’t understand those who do.  They think marriage and traditional morality are old fashioned, so yesterday, so they don’t understand those who believe in them.  Most of them have never worked in private industry, so they think business is crooked and contemptible.  Their political base is in the inner cities, yet they advocate policies that will keep people poor and fight policies that would give the poor a leg up.  They are the perfect hypocrites, con artists, traitors to the people who believe in them.  They willingly tell lies to advance their political agenda, and are amazed when that outrages people.” – Stephen Coonts, Liberty’s Last Stand

 

When we as a nation have a large percentage of politicians that are willing to lie, cheat, and steal to advance their own agendas, support and promote a flawed ideology that has never worked in the history of humankind, and are willing not only to ignore logic, but to persecute those who mention it, we are in deep trouble.  When there are also a large number of people in the country who knowing this are still willing to elect and endlessly re-elect these politicians, the country has a fight coming.  For you must either fight against corruption and, as overused as the word can be these days, evil, or you must lay down and call it master.

 

Fight folks.  Fight wherever you are, whenever you can, in whatever what you are able.  Resist the tide, not if it is merely going in a direction you don’t like, but if it is going in a direction that leads to dishonor and depravity.  Spread the Good News.  Discuss the positiveness of traditional morality and traditional American values at least as much if not more than you discuss the negativeness of corruption and dishonesty.  And illustrate with your life the benefits and encouragement that determined dedication to the morality and precepts laid out by an unchanging source can provide.  For what will you tell your children and grandchildren if the country continues to fail and you did nothing to stand in the gap?

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Seven Great Books to help kids get ready for Fall!

Posted on by jtcopeiv

There are quite a few great kids’ books and book series out there.  And with the upcoming months of fall and all the holidays that go with them, most of the series have a few selections for you.  This list is not even close to exhaustive and if you enjoy it I may put some more up, but here are a few, that might be a good fit for any of y’all out there with younger kiddos.

 

The Berenstein Bears

This may be our girls favorite series of all time.  It would certainly be hard for me to say too much good about the series.  And though I am not familiar with the Harvest Festival book, we have the Prize Pumpkin and read it multiple times last year.  This series overall is just a quality, character based series which still does a phenomenal job of teaching a moral with each story.  If you haven’t ever picked up a book in the series now is a great time to start.  They also have some Halloween books if I can squeeze a post in about them sometime coming up.

 

Fancy Nancy and the Fall Foliage

Fancy Nancy is another fav of our girls.  Which makes sense … since they’re girls.   The Fall Foliage is a fun read about most things fallish, not just the pile of leaves on the cover.  If you have little girls and haven’t tried this series out, this would be a good book to start with.

 

Ladybug Girl and the Dress-up Delimma

Although not my favorite of the books my girls pick, it was fun, and it had lots of pumpkins and corn and fall things in it, so that made it better in my book.  Don’t know much else about the series, but I can recommend this book to you.

 

The last three books are some that I have not read but that have been recommended multiple times.  If you have read them I would be interested to see what you think about them.  I can vouch for the Little Critter series all day long though.  Mercer Mayer created a fantastic world in both the pictures and his understanding of life with small children.  I would very much recommend the series.  And you can’t have a fall book list without something about the pilgrims in it.  Although my favorite fall pilgrim visit is always with Charlie Brown, these books have been recommended often.  Let me know what y’all think and any books y’all would add to the list!?

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Neutrality an Option?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. – Revelation 3:15-16

 

We seem to ride the fence quite a bit these days in America. No one wants to hold a line for fear of being judgmental, or even worse as being seen as judgmental. There are many subjects about which neutrality is fine. Who makes the best coffee? What brand of toilet paper feels the best?  Would you rather be too hot or too cold?  Which football team is the best?  Who makes the best shoes?  Shockingly, these are the things which everyone seems to comfortably take a side on. However, neutrality on moral issues is deadly. You can’t do it and keep your character or your country intact. And saying that you were trying to be nonjudgmental will be an empty excuse when the bill comes due.

 

Saying that everyone is right from their own perspective isn’t sustainable.  Eventually you end up with two people you like who both have viscerally opposite thoughts on a subject.  Not on the kind of subject like blue is a better color than red for a sweater, but on the kind of subject like Jesus Christ is the son of God or he isn’t, or abortion is wrong or it isn’t.  You can’t square those kind of disagreements and say everyone is right from their own point of view.

 

At some point you have to pick a side folks, as uncomfortable as it is, and as many enemies as you may make, some even in your own close circle of friends and family.  You have to decide what you think, and then “ride for the brand”.  Now, I’m not saying that you can’t change your mind, or that with age you don’t gain wisdom and some perspective, but if the wisdom and perspective you are gaining is to live and let live to the point where you don’t disagree even when a situation is morally wrong … that is not kindness or wisdom or understanding, that is simply cowardice.

 

This is not the most comfortable of subjects, but I feel like it needs to be talked about these days.  I’ll leave you with a couple quotes here.

 

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” — (Attributed to multiple sources)

 

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, 1755

 

– JT Cope IV

 

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Seven Great Middle Grade Reads

Posted on by jtcopeiv

 

Well, it happened … Pinterest finally sucked me in.  So sad.  At least they have lots of great book lists there; right???  That’s my excuse anyway.  So I thought I would make up some of my own and see what y’all thought; if y’all agreed?  Here is a first attempt, with the books in no particular order.  One particular note to any parents out there who might read this.  Although I don’t always screen everything I post about, when I have I want to make that abundantly clear.  Now, none of these books is perfect, no book is, but for the most part I think almost any parent should be comfortable if they see their child has picked them up.  At least that is my hope, but tell me if you disagree; I really am interested!

1. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – My all-time favorite series and one of my favorite books in the series. This is a fantasy following the Pevensie children through a wardrobe door and into a magical land of talking animals and a cruel witch.

2. The Hobbit – Completely different in my opinion from The Lord of the Rings, but a great piece of literature. Much more light hearted and just a fun read.

3. Treasure Island – A classic boy book. Pirates and stowaways and treasure in the end.  Can’t beat this for any young lads.

4. Little House on the Prairie – A great book for anyone but especially for young girls in my opinion because it focuses on the strength of girls as they are, not trying to make them plastic models or turn them into boys.

5. Harry Potter and the Sorceress Stone – Now I can see some parents having issues with the “wizards and witches” part of the books. I understand that position, but barring that, they are fairly clear of violence and sex and are written very well.

6. A Wrinkle in Time – Wonderful book written back during the cold war that is still as prevalent as ever in its discussions of communism and socialism and what disasters those are (but in such a way that most kids won’t understand it is political but they will very much see the difference in results), and just a fun read.

7. I won’t put anything about the last one. Y’all can fill in the blank there however you would like, good, bad, or ugly.  J

 

At any rate, I hope y’all enjoyed my first foray into the world of book list making.  Let me know if you have questions or comments of any kind.  I am game.  Hope y’all have a wonderful rest of your day and week wherever you are.  – JT Cope IV

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What do we do with diligence?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’

 

Do we pray with diligence?  Do we pray carefully and consistently?  For that matter do we do anything in our lives with consistency?  Our culture is so wrapped up in immediate gratification we scarcely see diligence and determination. Those few who possess that trait often possess it primarily for the sake of achieving wealth or fame or prizes. But there are some, hopefully some in your life, which do possess diligence toward God and prayer. Find those people and learn from them. See how hard they work and how consistently they search for and pray to God and Jesus.

 

We must not only find good examples, but we must look into your own lives and see what we do with diligence.  Are we consistently on social media?  Do we always find the hour or thirty minutes to watch that TV show at night?  Do we workout each day?  How consistently do spend time with or serve God?  Do we show love to our spouse day in and day out?  Do we spend time with our children?

 

I am afraid we won’t like the answers to many of these questions.  We may well find that we are extremely consistent in doing things that don’t really matter too much in the grand scheme and much more irregular in carving out time each day to do the things that really do matter, like prayer, or quality time with our spouse.  It is all about actions, folks. Words can give an indication of character, but they mean nothing without the actions, the careful and persistent actions, to back them up eventually. — JT Cope IV

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What is the Point of Education?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

What is the point of education?  What was it, and what has it become?  This obviously is a much larger topic than can be covered in a single journal entry, but I would like to offer some thoughts based upon my extremely brief teaching career – a graduate assistant for a semester at college, a semester of physical geology at community college, and now right at a year of high school biology.

 

Is the point of education, particularly public high school education to make scholars of boys and girls?   Is it to prepare as many people as possible to be engineers?  Lawyers?  Doctors?  Teachers?  Any profession in particular?  Is it to prepare students to move on to college, or to get a job?  If every single child in every single high school went on to college and graduated from college; what would the result be?  Would the nation be better off if every single citizen had a degree in business, or mathematics, or physics, or sociology?  Perhaps history or language would indeed improve a nation.  What if every single student left high school to get a job, and none went on to college?

 

Is education, or should it be, defined by the scores of tests that students receive; by how much information, in as broad a spectrum of topics as possible, we as a country can cram into our youth?  As President Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”  This is apparent through then annuls of history.  Many a man and woman with brilliant mind full of knowledge have caused far more harm to their country than help.  The names of Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and dozens of others come to mind here.  They were unarguably intelligent and had a great deal of understanding and knowledge, but they also perpetrated actions with little to no morality apparent.  These names may well be some of the most infamous in history, but the same truth applies to the smallest most seemingly insignificant communities in a nation as well.  Therefore the point of education cannot simply be to stuff as many pages and volumes worth of information into a student’s mind as possible.  For if the student has no idea how to implement the knowledge they will be more of a detriment to society than a help.  So, again, what is the point of educating a person?

 

As President Jefferson commented in a letter two centuries ago we must, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people, [to] enable them to see that it is [in] their interest to preserve peace and order.”  President Jefferson also noted that, “… it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this [self-interest],” and that we must do this for, “They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”  So, from one past President comes the rule that education serves to preserve liberty.  But how can simple education preserve liberty?  We can teach a child all there is to know about genetic drift, gene flow, sedimentation, differentiation, diffraction and deflection, sine and cosine, and a dozen other topics without them having even the slightest clue about how to preserve liberty.  We must dig a little deeper.

 

The answer is not in the material we teach alone, but in how we teach the children to use that material.  A look at some quotes from men who gave much to their nation and to humanity in general is worthwhile:

 

 

  • “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
    ― Aristotle

 

  • “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
    ― S. Lewis

 

We must then educate children with the aim of providing the students with the means to use that knowledge in a moral manner.  And this morality must be one that spans the centuries and generations, not one that evolves from one generation to the next or one decade to the next.  The content of the education may change, will change, over time such as discovering gravity or relativity, but the morality, particularly the source of that morality, imparted into a nation’s youth must not change or it is no morality at all.  – JT Cope IV

 

 

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What came first … the marriage, or the children?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

Unlike trying to answer the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first, the question of what came first, and what should still come first, between a couple’s marriage and their children actually has an answer.  Doesn’t it?  Well, in theory the marriage always comes before the children.  Now that obviously isn’t true in the real world, but even when circumstances occur in a different order the question is still imperative.  What comes first, both at the beginning of a marriage and throughout?  In essence, what is most important?

 

If priorities dictate actions and you look at our society as a whole today, would you argue that the marriage or the children come first?  What takes up the most “free” time in our family’s lives?  What do we spend most of our disposable income on?  What is the daily routine planned around?  Are decisions made with the marriage foremost in a couples mind, or do the children hold that position?  At night after a day of work, be it outside the home or in, who dictates the schedule?  How many nights a week do children’s functions control the schedule versus how many nights a week does the marriage control it?  When conversations are going on between husband and wife, do they immediately stop if a child has a question, or must children wait until their parents are through speaking?  This may seem a long list, but the list certainly is even longer.  The bottom line is, what is the priority in the home; is it the marriage or is it the children; and what does either choice foretell about the future of the family, couple, and even the country?

 

Well, let’s examine briefly what the children coming first looks like.  When the child wants to be involved in something then the parents must shift finances, time and energy away from other possible activities and toward what the child desires to be involved in.  Dinner takes a second seat to baseball practice.  Afternoon work schedules are lengthened or cut short in preparation or participation of the parents in ensuring their child gets to art lessons.  Saturday’s, and perhaps even Friday nights are filled with preparation for, traveling too, and participation in softball, basketball or tennis tournaments.  And depending on the event, Sunday’s are also given over to watching the child’s activities.

 

Now, when the marriage comes first, life works out a bit differently.  Events that the child wants to be involved in are accepted or rejected based upon whether the event fits into the couple’s schedule.  This certainly can be abused to the point of not allowing a child to be involved in anything, or having the time to spend on a parent’s phone or computer supersede the child’s involvement in softball or violin lessons.  The evening routine for the family though does not take a continuous second seat to the child’s wishes.  Dinner is still served around the dining room table more often than not.  Getting off work early or late is done in preparation for taking your wife out for a date or for taking the family on vacation.  Saturday’s are filled with working together as a family, working out together with your husband, or sitting and watching the sun set from the back porch.  Sunday’s are still spent in a chair or a pew listening to a man teach or discuss the life of a Man who cares deeply about every member of the family.

 

Perhaps this seems inconsequential, or perhaps this seems like not that difficult a choice.  Either way, what do these choices tell about the future of the children, the family, the couple, and the country?  On the one hand you end up with children who grow up assuming that they matter more than any adult, and therefore when they become adults, more than anyone else.  For if a child sees their own interests supersede that of their parents, what other adult can possible hope to convince them of making someone or something else more important than themselves?  The family becomes merely a conduit for delivering the child to their desired activities or destinations.  Once the child can attain those desired activities or destinations on their own, what need do they have for the family?  The couple, the marriage, becomes little more than a business partnership with one spouse coordinating the logistical moves and another financing those logistical moves.  And when the packages needing that logistical support leave the family warehouse, what need do the business partners have for each other.  Even if they acknowledge the need for each other, they must attempt to develop a new relationship at the middle to end of their lifetime, and as is so often quoted, “it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”  The country falls here somewhere now, and to what end can a country hope to come to when the cornerstone of their society has become not a couple committed to each other for life, stable and dependable, supporting and assuring, but a child certain only of their own importance and the need for the world to bend to their desires and wishes immediately upon the announcement (and discovery) of those wishes?

 

On the other hand, when the marriage comes first, you end up with children who grow up knowing that their parents take center stage in their life, and with the knowledge and desire to seek out a partner of their own who will hold them and their relationship in that same esteem.  You end up with children who understand that there are in fact other people who have individuals in their life who matter more than they do to them.  By default the child also learns to cherish above all others the person who decides that they are that person who matters most to them.  You end up with children who understand that at times the needs of their spouse are best met by following the needs of the country, that their country has legitimate claim to their allegiance and devotion.  And that that allegiance and devotion will serve those they love most.  This again can be abused by ignoring the needs of spouse or family at all times for the service or “betterment” of the country.  You also end up with marriages that survive the loss or departure through maturity of their children.  Marriages where the adults do continue to cherish and hold on to each other above all others and for the entirety of their mortal lives.

 

In the end, when children claim the most important position in families, above marriages, you end up with children who place their own importance above that of parents, family, and country.  You end up with couples that leave, ignore, or dysfunctionally interact with each other after their children have left the house, and you end up with a country whose stability is reduced and resources are squandered trying to repair at least emotional if not physical damage to her citizens.  Opposite of that, when marriages retain the position of most important position in families, above children, you end up with children who are assured of the stability of their family and parents and are thus able to better prepare for and lead their own lives, contributing more to their own spouse, their children, and their country.

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