Author Archives: MzEllen

Here's a little civics lesson.

I'm hearing a lot of suggestions that The United States drop the Electoral College and move to a direct democracy.  So I started reading up.

(I'll put the "moral of the story" right up front:  CHILL OUT.  This is a design feature, not a glitch.)

The Founding Fathers feared the tyranny of the majority and set up a Three-Branch Republic. They designed a delicate system of Checks and Balances to insure that the government they set up would not allow this.

We know about "checks and balances" (if we paid attention in Civics Class)- we have three branches of government (Administrative, Legislative, and Judicial.) The three branches are supposed to put a check on each other*.  If one branch goes off the rails, the other branches are supposed to step in and stop them.  The three branches are also supposed to provide balance - roughly equal amounts of power to govern should not allow either party (in a two-party system) to control the country

I didn't realize (or it just didn't click) that all three branches of government are selected through different processes.

  • the Legislative Branch is selected by direct ballot (although originally, the State Legislatures voted on Senators)
  • the Executive Branch is chosen by the Electoral College
  • The Judicial Branch is chosen by the President and confirmed by the Senate

The Legislative Branch is selected through direct ballot

- each person in a state has one vote (in an ideal world, not accounting for fraud) to elect Representatives and Senators to represent their state.  Even within this branch, the two houses are different.

The Senate has two Senators from each state, allowing the *states* to have equal standing - the most populous states would have no more power than the least populous states.  Vermont knew that New York would have New Yorkers' interest in mind when voting.  In the Senate, those from the less populous states are protected from the tyranny of the more populated states.

In the House of Representatives, the number of Representatives from each state is based on the population of that state.  New York had way more Representatives than Vermont, so those from the more populated states are protected from the tyranny of the less populated states.

This is also "checks and balances" - it is also brilliant.  Each state is represented in two chamber - in one, the less populous states are "over-represented" and in the other, the more populous states are "over-represented."

The Judicial Branch is chosen by the President...

And confirmed by the Senate.  Supreme Court appointments (as well as some others) are for life (although justices can and do retire.)  A president cannot just appoint any old person - the appointment must get past the Senate.  Unfortunately, this process has been hijacked a couple of times, and as things get more fractured, will continue to be.

In my lifetime, there has been only one time that one party has held the White House for more than two terms.  This means that each party will be able to appoint justices during their hold on the White House, so that an *overwhelming* left/right split is less likely.

Granted, in the *impartial* standard was *impartial* adherence to the Constitution, none of this would be an issue - but it isn't the standard, and it is an issue.

The fact that both other Branches are involved in the appointment of Justices is another example of "checks and balances."

The Administrative Branch is chosen by Electoral College

The voters don't elect the president (like they elect Senators and Representatives.)  Each state has Electors, based on the population of the state and the voters elect Electors.  Many states have laws that insist that all Electors throw their ballots to the Presidential Candidate who won the majority of the ballots in the state, and two (Maine and Nebraska) split their Electors - 2 Electoral Votes go to the majority winner, and the remainder are split according to Congressional districts.  So Electoral Ballots can be split between Candidates.

Without this system of Checks and Balances, the most populous states would *CONSISTENTLY* be able to control the least populous states.

With a smaller country, a direct election might work.  But the United States is so vast and diverse, the Electoral College serves as checks and balances between the States.

It's brilliant.

*check - definition #2 - stop or slow down the progress of (something undesirable.).

 

 

Reading Challenge: now reading

A book on Christian Living:  The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment (Tim Challies)

a biography: Crazy Horse and Custer (Stephen Ambrose)

A Classic Novel: Pilgrim's Progress (John Bunyan)

Off-plan: The Hammer of God (Bo Giertz)

Big for last year -

we remodeled our bathroom.  We hope to put the finishing touches on this weekend.  Phil worked so hard on the part he's doing and it all looks great.  I hope that means more entertaining here.

I finished reading through the Bible in a year.  It only took me seven years.  But I had some really good side trips along the way.

I started a business.  My goal is to be a blessing to families and a help for kids.  And let them pay me to do it.

Knee surgery - after four months I'm finally starting to feel "right" - but I've been so sedentary that I'm way far behind on fitness.

I started serving our church by scheduling volunteers for Sunday School.  Again...a blessing for families and a help for kids.

What's up for 2016 -

Grow my business.  I'm aiming at helping home school families with special needs kids, growing Barton Reading System (for people with Dyslexia) and forming summer enrichment activities.

Starting reading through the Bible again.  This time, using a two-year plan, via "ReadingPlan."

A "goal" is to keep up with reading organization - what I'm reading, what I read.

Part of this is a targeted reading plan - that will give me a structure of what sort of books to be reading, which will give me a little better diversity than I have now.  I'm using Tim Challies' "reading challenge" - who wants to join me?

Almaden Quicksilver - the goal is to hike every trail.

And the other health - use "my net diary" to track food, to lose 1.5 pounds per week - with a focus on "real food."

Work on being a better wife...

and the usual...blog more.

We've been considering buying our own stock of "pew Bibles" so that we know that we will have enough ESV Bibles for the Sunday School class that we teach.  We'd bring them with us, or store them in a locked cabinet for our use.

I was looking for Bibles, and (when looking at a book, I find the 1-star reviews more useful than the 5-star reviews) I saw a few 1-stars.  There were a couple of "the print is too small" and "the binding fell apart."

But the majority of 1-star reviews were people who simply reviewed a variety of Bibles in order to mock Christianity.

In what is supposed to be a country based on liberty and religious tolerance, there is an increasing amount of vitriol aimed at Christianity.

It's not going to stop and American Christians are simply not prepared for the coming "worst hard time."

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I'm trying to get my Sunday School class to "get" the importance of Scripture - bringing their Bible to class and memorizing God's Word.

Our March "Sword Passage" is Psalm 23 - which I learned in KJV.  This is a really good illustration about how what you learn when you're young stays with you!  My commitment is that whatever I'm asking them to learn, I'll come to class ready to recite.

Re-learning Psalm 23 in ESV is harder than I thought it would be...

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

I was reciting the chapter today and stopped short.

"even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering..."

I've heard it many times...but today something more...drink offering upon WHAT?

the altar?  no, although that's what I'd always been taught, but it's really, really obvious.

Memorizing the whole book has taught me a lot about the "therefores."  Paul adds on to the add-ons, building on the previous part to make a point.

I had been taught that Paul was referring to becoming a martyr, being tortured and burned for the gospel.

But *offerings* are made by the religious adherents *to* God.  If somebody else sacrifices *you*, it's hardly your offering!

the "drink offering" was not poured on the altar.  It was poured on the sacrifice!

Throughout this letter, Paul has been referring to the fact that he is currently imprisoned for the gospel, and he has been urging the Philippians to act out their faith...  The people that he is writing to are sacrificing themselves for the faith of the gospel.

Jews would have been familiar with the offering system.  The animal sacrifice was made, and burned - a symbol looking forward to Jesus' final sacrifice.  Then, a specific amount of wine (the drink offering) was poured over the burning meat, symbolizing the blood of Christ.  (This is important:) the drink offering was only offered to God after His people entered into their promised land.

Paul knew that he would be killed for his faith; so put the drink offering in the context of that.

His beloved students were given Christ as an example who was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross...therefore, his students should also obey.  As their obedience becomes their sacrifice Paul himself would be the drink offering adorning that sacrifice.

The drink offering was not poured on the altar.

for me to live is Christ and to die is gain...my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better...

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering up the sacrificial offering of your faith..."

You also should be glad and rejoice with me...

Paul was ready to die.  As his students laid their faith down, Paul's life would be the libation that adorned their faith.  And he was glad.

And they should rejoice with him.