Don’t believe Phil…or me either

Unless you live under a rock you have heard about the GQ interview where Phil Robertson was asked for his beliefs about what sin was. If you want you can see the entire interview here What the Duck? Read it and draw your own conclusions regarding the attacks on Phil and response by the A&E Network and others.

That is really the point of this post…Get your information from the source and form your own conclusions. Don’t just accept what you hear any news organization or supposed experts or group say about anything. Chances are they are reliable sources but there is a better chance their information is slanted in favor or their own beliefs and life experiences or agenda.

Here is the question and answer from the article

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Below is the passage from the Bible in I Corinthians 6:9-10 in the English Standard Version. You can see many other translations at the link above.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Go to the source

It looks like a pretty good paraphrase to me but don’t believe me either. Go the source; your Bible, or the link at the scripture reference above and read it for yourself.

I try to do this with anything I share on Facebook, twitter, Google+ or here in my blog. I click on the link and read or view the information being shared to make sure it is what I thought it would be because I don’t want to share anything I haven’t seen. When I am expressing my thoughts and perspective as I am now they are based on what I learned by going to the source and, of course, my beliefs.

My thoughts based on what I read

If you read the entire GQ article it appears to me that Phil was sharing the gospel with the reporter as he was showing him around his property. There are some things Phil said that are a little coarse but the reporter also used language in the article that Phil would not have used or approved if that was his place to approve it, which it wasn’t.

What GLAAD did was to pick out one of the sins listed, homosexuality, and focused on that when there were numerous examples of sin listed in the scripture Phil quoted from. What GLAAD and others either do not understand or choose to ignore is when a Christian is describing what sin is and who sinners are we always include ourselves in that list.

Lying is a sin just as stealing is a sin just as any sexual act outside the confines of marriage, which God defines as between a man and a woman, is sin, and that is where homosexuality and adultery come in.  If someone has an issue with that it is with God and not Phil Robertson.

What they do understand

People say they don’t read the Bible because it is too hard to understand. There are some parts that are hard to understand. However I believe it is what they do understand that really bothers them. They use the “too confusing” excuse to not read it for themselves. I believe if they did read it for themselves they might find there is more there they do understand and believe than they thought, and they will see that God offers forgiveness for any sin except the sin of disbelief.

There is a lot in the Bible I don’t understand. I do not claim to be an authority. That is where faith comes in. However, the things I do understand are very clear even when they do convict me of committing a sin or “step on my toes.” That doesn’t mean they are not valid or important or not applicable today because they are outdated. It means I need to change.

Get the facts

Those are some of my thoughts and my perspective on this subject but my challenge to anyone who is caught up in this “controversy” or whatever the controversy of the week is next week is to go to the source and then base your opinions on facts and not someone else’s interpretation.

Never Judge Someone by the Opinion of Others
Image courtesy of Billy Cox – Ziglar.com

For this one, don’t believe Phil. Don’t believe me. Don’t believe GLAAD, Don’t believe A&E. Read the article and read the Bible. I expect you will possess a different perspective after doing so.

If you really want to understand what Phil Robertson believes get his book unPhiltered, which was published after this article and controversy.

Until next time…

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2013 Year In Review

Well 2013 has come and gone so I thought I would just take a quick review of the year for Peculiar Perspective. I received my annual report today from WordPress and it contained some interesting information.

First, if you are reading this thank you. If you have read any of my posts this year thank you. As I mentioned in one of my posts Feedback Is Always Welcome I do appreciate any and all feedback I receive. I can look at numbers to see how many people have clicked on my blog but I really cannot tell how many people have actually read it without your feedback.

Thank you for the feedback you have given me by commenting here in comments, on Facebook and in person and please give me more in 2014 – both good and bad. That is the only way I will learn how I am doing from your perspective. I am still not sure exactly what I am doing with this except expressing some of my thoughts on topics that are of interest to me. I hope some will be interesting to you as well but whether I will ever settle on just one main theme or not I don’t know. Continue reading 2013 Year In Review

Welcome Dr. Wright

We Are EnterpriseWelcome to Enterprise Dr. Wright!

I can only speak for myself but my gut feeling is the entire community welcomes you. I am confident as you begin to meet more of these citizens of Enterprise you will continue to be impressed by their love of Enterprise and Enterprise City Schools, support for the Superintendent, and their desire to see Enterprise City Schools continue to be one of the best in the state of Alabama and the reason so many families, who do have a choice, choose Enterprise for the education of their children.

I would also like to commend the Enterprise City Board of Education in making your selection. I believe it was a very good choice from an impressive group of candidates for this important position.

I was impressed by the way you handled yourself in your public interview and the experience in education and leadership you bring with you as you take over the leadership of the Enterprise City Schools. All of the candidates were asked about the role of the School Board in relation to the Superintendent and all answered similarly as you did. The board sets policy and the superintendent implements the policy in the manner they choose and believe is best. You also added the board should listen to the community. You also indicated your first goal here would be to “find out where you are.”

My second goal in writing this post was to help you achieve that first goal. My first goal in writing this post was to welcome you, in case that was not obvious. Continue reading Welcome Dr. Wright

Feedback Is Always Welcome

Happy, Happy, HappyI love getting feedback from the words I post here on this blog. This has been a learning experience for me as expected and as my tagline says, “There is always more to be learned.”

I am writing today to say thank you for all those who have read any of my musings here and commented whether that be online here, on Facebook, or in person. They do mean a lot to me and are appreciated. As is mentioned in my About information,  I hope something might resonate with you and be worth thinking about, commenting on, agreeing with, disagreeing with, or sharing, or all of the above. That certainly has been the case for many of the posts I have made here and, did I say I appreciate that? Well I do.

Bad Information – Misconceptions

I received what I believe is my first phone call directly related to a post last Wednesday after my Two Questions post which was also published as a letter to the editor in the Southeast Sun as Two questions to ask of the superintendent candidatesI am not sure if the caller read the post here or there but, he did not specify. In any case, it did generate a phone call. I enjoy all kinds of feedback because that is the only way I will learn if what I write is being interpreted as I intended when I wrote it. This feedback was certainly interesting. Continue reading Feedback Is Always Welcome

Two Questions

We Are EnterpriseWith the interviews for the new Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools upcoming I wanted to pose two questions to the candidates. From my perspective they are important questions but will likely never be asked. It really doesn’t matter as the actions taken after being hired are the only answers that will matter in the long run.

(Q1) I am sure you are aware the reason you are being interviewed is the former superintendent was allegedly forced out, in his opinion and that of many others familiar with the situation, due to micro-management and intimidation by the current President of the School Board. If you need a refresher on this A City Divided provides a pretty good summary.

Knowing the potential for this to continue with any superintendent hired, since the President of the School Board has not changed nor indicated his behavior will change, are you committed and prepared to stand up to this when it occurs and make your decisions based on what is best for the students of Enterprise City Schools and not necessarily for the political or personal benefit of any school board member or city government official? Continue reading Two Questions

All Part of the Plan

The Joker in The Dark Knight is portrayed by H...
The Joker in The Dark Knight is portrayed by Heath Ledger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About five years ago The Dark Knight with Heath Ledger as the Joker was the most popular movie around. In my opinion he turned in one of the best acting performances ever as that character. That is one of my favorite movies. I think I paid to see it in the theater 4 times and I haven’t done that for any movie before or since. One of the classic lines from the Joker in that movie was, “It’s all part of the plan.”

That line has come to mind lately in regards to the roll-out of the insurance exchanges required to be set up by Obamacare. The official name of this law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act but effects of this law are anything but affordable and I have not heard of any patients it has protected. If you have a lot of free time on your hands or insomnia you can read the final bill (H.R.3590 – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) as passed here.

News reports are not good

Much of the news coverage about the implementation of this law is about how the implementation is failing, the health care exchange web sites where people are supposed to go to sign up for the health insurance are not working, are not secure, and once someone creates an account there, if they persist and are able to do so, their private information can be shared with anyone the government chooses and the account cannot be deleted. That is all true.

Opportunity or Tax Penalty?

Then there is the “opportunity” for those who do not have health care to be able to get health care promised by this law which I wrote about earlier (see Opportunity) which is really a requirement or mandate or tax penalty, not an opportunity. This “opportunity” is there for everyone and if you don’t take advantage of this “opportunity” the IRS will assess a penalty on your tax returns next year.

This personal mandate or personal tax penalty is the one the Republicans recently tried to get postponed for a year as well but the President is opposed to that idea because it would not force people to the exchanges in the numbers required by his plan.

Forced participation is required for success

If the younger, healthier citizens do not sign up for health insurance and pay 5-10 times or more than would be required for their normal risk class, if this was really insurance, then the law will fail. The deductibles on these policies are so high the likelihood of these policies actually being used is very small. This forced participation by the young and healthy is required in order to pay for the older and less healthy citizens.

I am not going to try to cover all of the details of this law. That is done now daily by many others, even mainstream media outlets. That is not my goal here. If you do want more information on how you might fare where you live you can find that in this article How Will You Fare in the Obamacare Exchanges?

What I want to point out here is

If that is news to you then you have not been paying attention. This information has been available since before this law was passed. It is just now becoming verifiable since the law was enacted October 1st.

Reality doesn’t match promises

Many have already received letters from their health insurance providers indicating their policy is not being renewed because they are no longer doing business in that state. Some have received letters saying they can keep their policy but the premiums have doubled, tripled, or worse and their deductible will have a similar increase.

Others have received letters from their employers saying they are no longer providing insurance for employees since the employer mandate has been postponed until January 1, 2015 and directing them to the exchanges for their health insurance.

Others have had their hours reduced to less than 30 per week to make them part-time status so the employer is not required to provide them health care coverage even when the employer mandate does take effect. There was much of this done the first half of this year before President Obama postponed the employer mandate for a year.

In case you are not following this, the result is less private health care options to choose from, less health care provided by employers and more people being forced to the Obamacare exchanges to buy insurance that is more expensive, not less as promised, and many are trying to pay for this added expense while working less hours.

Also, in case you missed this year’s tax increase anyone who has a flexible spending account option with their employer the maximum allowed was reduced to $2500 beginning this year so that was a tax increase for anyone who was funding this plan more than that amount prior to this year. I was one of those.

What was said about this law before it was passed and denied by its supporters is now being realized and is not very hard to verify. This law was never intended to be successful in providing health care for the long-term. It was just a stepping stone to a single payer system controlled by the U.S. Government. The fact it is failing in implementation now is all part of the plan. The only thing that might be a surprise to the administration is how quickly it seems to be failing.

The real plan in short is to force private insurers out of business, make the implementation of Obamacare as difficult and expensive as possible, and force as many people as possible to the Obamacare exchanges. Then you will see the same politicians who sponsored, promoted and voted for this law begin to say this is not working at all and is hurting the people it was designed to help so we, the government, must now take over the health care system in order to resolve this issue, that they created. There will be nowhere else for people to go since the private health insurance industry will have been decimated.

Let me restate that to make sure I am clear. The same people who wrote this law will be the ones saying the law is not working and they need to fix it. The fix they will say we need is a single payer system run by the federal government. The only question is how long this will take to play out. I am not sure they even know the answer to that but they are watching and will be ready when this law has punished enough people to make them want to accept their solution.

It is insane if you think about it but it happens often in Washington DC. Does anyone remember the housing, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac mortgage crisis of 2008? We the people are paying for these political games both figuratively and literally and will be for many years to come.

Introduce a little anarchy

“Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order and everything becomes chaos.”

That is another memorable phrase from the Joker that I believe describes where we are right now with Obamacare – chaos. Remember who created the chaos when those same people say they have a solution for it. Also remember this law was passed with only Democrats voting for it.

“Those who fail to learn from history and are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

So when the President and Secretary of HHS continue to say Obamacare is working they are not lying. It is working just as they expected it to. Most people just don’t realize what their expectations were. If you have read this far you cannot use that excuse any more.

Remember when those who passed this law begin to admit it has failed and say they have a solution; it was all part of the plan.

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 10/18/2013

 

 

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I Agree

We Are Enterprise

Have you ever had one of “those” moments…when someone else expresses the feelings or beliefs that you share but have never expressed to anyone verbally, except maybe your wife, as I have? Well, that just happened for me.

At the most recent Enterprise City School Board Meeting on September 24th, Perry Vickers spoke and expressed feelings I share and I suspect many other have had and share over the past few months since this issue became public in June. Continue reading I Agree

Trust and Assumptions

We Are EnterpriseWe were told back in June that “none of this would have happened” if we, the citizens of Enterprise had been attending the school board meetings. We were then told by the same board member that “there were some things we didn’t know” and we just need to “trust them.” That seems rather contradictory to me. On one hand we are told we should have been there to watch the meetings so that “none of this” would have happened and on the other hand we just need to “trust them.”

I used a lot of “we’s” there. We, in this case refers to non-board members.

It is now mid-September and there are still things we do not know, so we have to assume or make educated guesses based on what we do know or believe to be true, and there is still a lack of trust between the school board and the citizens of the City of Enterprise.

I have never been one to just complain to hear myself complain. Don’t get me wrong. I have and do complain and expect that will not change in the future.

However, complaints only help identify the issue or problem, which is the first step in resolving any issue. In my career and in life when I have complained I have, when possible, tried to suggest possible solutions to help resolve whatever it is I was complaining about. If I determined, based on my judgment, no changes would be forthcoming, I had to choose to stay and make the best of a bad situation or leave the situation. I have done both.

For the issue at hand here, lack of trust, I do think there are actions that can be taken to re-establish and build trust. Some who read this will agree. Some will not. However, they do represent some steps or actions that will help in most similar situations and could help here too.

Respect and Trust

Respect_and_Trust_ZZBTW

This slide appeared in my news feed in the last few days. It still amazes me how often I see something like this now and my thoughts immediately go to our current situation in Enterprise. This one seems to fit very well to me.

“~Respect and Trust~

The two easiest things in life for someone to lose and the hardest things to get back.”

Trust is very hard to regain once it has been lost. It can be done but it takes a concerted consistent effort to do so. I believe the two ingredients required are communication and time. We have had time pass, 3 months to the day, since this issue boiled over in June but not much communication or concerted effort from the school board to venture down the path to rebuild trust.

Communication, communication, communication

Anyone who has either sold real estate as a realtor or bought or sold it as a consumer has heard that the three most important factors to consider in this type of transaction is location, location, and location. Similarly, I believe the three most important actions to consider in anyone trying to build or rebuild trust are communication, communication, and communication.

Think about your relationships with friends and family. If someone breaks your trust and asks you to trust them going forward then avoids you or doesn’t make an effort to open up a dialogue and start trying to talk to you more regularly than they did when that trust was broken, where do your thoughts go? If they are like mine they would head right to assumptions such as, “There they go again. Nothing has changed. They are just doing what they want, heading down the same path again, not considering anyone else, and obviously did not mean what they said.”

On the other hand if that person were to come to you and say, “I want us to be able to trust each other again so I would like to have regular meetings and conversations so you can hold me accountable and know what my thoughts and motives are so you don’t have to assume the worst,” I would think you would be receptive to and welcome that if you wanted to rebuild that trust yourself.

You would likely be skeptical or cautious at first, and rightly so, but over time, if their actions matched their words trust would begin to grow.

Encouraged and Discouraged

I was both encouraged and discouraged last week when I attended the special school board meetings that included the budget hearings. There were handouts available for anyone who attended showing the budget information being presented. Many more than were needed were printed as the attendance at these two meetings was the lowest I have seen since June, which was a little discouraging to me. I know they were budget meetings and scheduled earlier than normal and one of them was on Wednesday night when many are at church so that made it harder for folks to get there. I just hope this is not a continuing trend.

I was encouraged because this proves that supplemental information can be provided by the board if they choose to do so.

Sharing Information

Sharing information – communicating – is critical, in my estimation if this situation is to change. The information would not have to be printed but that is one option. Another would be to use the News sections of the School Board web site and post information there or the board or individual board members could start a blog and share information that way. If I can do it anyone can.

The method is not the critical issue but sharing information is.

What could be shared?

I know there are some things that are not shareable to the public. I am not talking about that type of information. I am talking about filling in some of the gaps that do not get addressed during the board meetings or are not explained adequately. I am sure that board members have thought, “I wish I had said…” after a meeting. I know that community members have had unanswered questions after board meetings. Updates for what is going on between the board meetings and maybe even some of the whys and methodology used to arrive at the decisions being made during the meetings could be shared also.

A couple of specific examples that come to mind for me are as follows.

There were questions about the salary difference between the interim superintendent and the former superintendent that have come up a couple of times in different meetings. I have been an independent contractor and understand the difference between that and a salaried employee. Many might not understand that difference.

“According to The Wall Street Journal, ICs are usually paid 20% to 40% more per hour than employees performing the same work. Hiring firms can afford to pay ICs more because they don’t have to pay Social Security taxes or unemployment compensation taxes, provide workers’ compensation coverage, or provide employee benefits like health insurance and sick leave.”

You can read more about that here if you are interested.

Mr. Barr said he made this calculation and there was only about a $1500 difference. That was understandable and enough for me. However, to make it clear to everyone the calculations he used to arrive at the $1500 could have been provided by one of the methods mentioned above as supplemental information to the meeting. That might have prevented future questions.

Another example would be the suggestion by the interim superintendent at the last regular board meeting that the board should enforce the policies already in place regarding speakers at board meetings. This will change how they have been handled in recent meetings where they have gone from allowing people to add their name to the list at the beginning of the meeting to now requiring they call the superintendent’s office prior to the meeting. Time limits for speakers were also mentioned.

This will be perceived as a form of censorship regardless of how it is handled if changes are made. However, if the board wanted to build goodwill or show they are trying to rebuild trust with the community they would announce and explain the new process prior to enforcing it. They may be planning to do this at the next meeting and then enforcing it for subsequent meetings. That would be the best way to handle it.

However, if they were to post the new process on the News page of the Board of Education web site ahead of the meeting this would indicate they are not planning to just spring it on those planning to speak at the next meeting. I suspect most will not agree with or like the new process but at least it would have been explained so those planning to speak would know the new rules and be able to prepare their comments accordingly.

Will this work in Enterprise? I don’t know. It has not been attempted so far.

If the board did start sharing more information would the people believe it?

No. I don’t think we would at first. However, over time, and I don’t know what that period of time is, if the communications and actions matched and are in sync with what is best for Enterprise City Schools I believe it would work.

Will it even be tried?

I don’t know. That is up to the Board of Education. If it isn’t then the board will be aware we will continue making assumptions based on what we believe to be true based on the information we have and will continue to have suspicions or doubts about any decisions made. The ball is in the board’s court on this.

What can we do?

If the attendance at board meetings continues to dwindle then the board will be the ones making assumptions. They will assume that everything is fine and we are satisfied with what they are doing and the issue has “blown over.” If that is not true then we cannot let that happen. The ball is in the citizens’ court here. Let’s not fumble the ball now.  It IS football season so that just rolled out.

The next regular board meeting is next Tuesday at 6:00. I hope the attendance is more similar to the June meetings than the most recent meetings in September.

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 9/19/2013

 

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Moving On

We Are Enterprise

I saw this quote the other day on one of my information feeds and it resonated with me in regards to the ongoing relationship or lack thereof between the leadership of the Enterprise City School Board and the citizens of Enterprise.

 

The quote is, “Moving on doesn’t mean you forget about things. It just means you have to accept what happened and continue living.”

Moving On_1175006_10151876078723304_1178105272_n

Reality

Based on his inaction so far I just do not see any change forthcoming from the President of the School Board. Continue reading Moving On