Category: Personal Development

Worldview and the U.S. Constitution, Part 1

By Dr. Paul T. Criss

In honor of Constitution Day, September 17, 2018, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the worldview from which the Constitution was written. There are a whole bunch of people out there that think the United States Constitution has nothing to do with God. There is even a book out there used in law schools called The Godless Constitution where a couple of professors from Cornell say that we have a secular government governed by a secular document. Modernism is at the root of the problem because it separates history from its context. What was the context of the writing of the Constitution? What did the founders intend by what they wrote? These are the questions we should be asking as we interpret and apply the Constitution. Those who penned the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights did so from a Christian Perspective. There are seven reasons why the Constitution is not a godless document, but rather stems from the Christian worldview.

The first reason the Constitution stems from a Christian worldview is found in Article 7. It is the clause that incorporates the Declaration of Independence into the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence acknowledges God four times, but opponents say that we are not under the Declaration, we are under the Constitution. Eleven years later, the framers left God completely out. Really? That makes the mistake that the two documents were meant to be separated. The Founders intended that the two documents were irrevocably intertwined; they go together. Samuel Adams said, “Before the formation of the Constitution, the Declaration of independence was received and ratified by all states in the union, and it has never been disannulled.” The Declaration has never gone out of force. It was completed before the Constitution and it is a key document. Even the early U.S. Supreme court said, “The Constitution is but the body and letter of which the Declaration is the thought and the spirit…it is always safe to read the letter of the Constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.” They could not be separated.

The Constitution cannot be understood without the Declaration. John Quincy Adams said, “The Declaration of Independence was the platform from which the Constitution of the United States had been erected. The principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence were embodied in the Constitution of the United States.” The foundation cannot be pulled out from under the structure of the Constitution. Consider the Constitution and Declaration as you would the documents needed to call a corporation into existence. Two papers must be created and filed: the first is the Articles of Incorporation; the document that calls the corporation into existence – the reason the corporation is to exist. The second document that must be filed is the Bylaws – this is how the corporation will operate under the Articles of Incorporation. So the Articles of Incorporation provide the purpose and the Bylaws provide the practice; the “what/why” and then the “how.” The Bylaws are never allowed to violate the Articles of Incorporation. The way you operate the company cannot violate the reason it was called into existence. This is why the Declaration and Constitution cannot be separated. The Constitution cannot exist without the Declaration.

The Supreme Court pointed out that you cannot understand the Constitution without the Declaration. They said that if you want to understand the intent of something in the Constitution, then “determine the evil which was intended to be remedied.” If you want to understand why the Second Amendment was added, then determine the evil or abuse they meant to prevent.  They wrote this material down to ensure that these abuses never happen in America. Within that framework, look at the articles in the Constitution. If you go to Article 1, Section 5, Paragraph 4: “neither house during the session of Congress shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days to any other place in which the two houses shall be sitting.” Why? Go back to the Declaration and look in the 27 grievances, where they pointed out 27 abuses that Great Britain enforced upon the thirteen colonies. Grievance four in the Declaration discusses how the King would adjourn one body of Congress for months or move their meeting location away from needed resources to frustrate their progress when they were proposing something against his will. This was designed to prevent a specific problem going on at the time. Article 1, Section 4, Paragraph 2: “Congress shall assemble at least once a year and such a meeting shall be on the first Monday in December unless they shall by law appoint a different day.” Why? It is the solution to grievance five in the Declaration. Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 4 says “the purpose is to establish as uniform rule of naturalization and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy throughout the United States.” Why? This is the solution to grievance seven in the Declaration. The grievances stated in the Declaration directly correlate to what is stated in the Constitution; therefore, the two documents cannot be separated. It is the only way to understand the two documents.

For the same reason Article Seven, the last line of the Constitution, says, “done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the Year of Our Lord, one-thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.” But then there is another clause: “and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.” Why did they date the Constitution back to the Declaration? They did not believe they had created a new document, they were expressing that it was an extension of the Declaration from 1776. To this day, Constitutional Acts signed by the President do not date back to 1787, rather they date back to the Declaration and 1776. That is why it cannot be separated and the first reason we can know it stems from a Christian worldview. Article Seven connects the Constitution to the Declaration; the Declaration acknowledges God four times and sets forth the value system under which America is to operate which is “the law of nature and of nature’s God” – natural law and the Scriptures.

The second reason the Constitution stems from a Christian worldview is the source of its ideas. The Constitution contains ideas that had never before been set forth in a previous government’s documents. A full republic with checks and balances – a marvel among humankind. Where did they get these ideas? Political science professors at the University of Houston collected representative writings out of the founding era (1760-1805) and analyzed who they quoted to find out where they got their ideas. They collected fifteen thousand writings and identified 3,154 direct quotes of the founders; it took them ten years, but they took every quote back to its original source and discovered the top one hundred sources. They published their findings in a book called The Origins of American Constitutionalism. Out of all the writings that were out there – Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Hume, Hobbes – the one that was quoted more than any other was Baron Charles Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws at 8.3% of the quotations. The next quoted source was Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law at 7.9%. The third most cited individual is John Locke’s Two Treatise’s of Government at 2.9%. These are the top three cited individuals, but the number one source cited was the Bible at 34%. That is a good indication that they did not think this was a secular document because this was their primary source. Article 1, Section 8 about immigration compares with Leviticus 19:34. Article 2, Section 1 says the President has to be a natural-born citizen from Deuteronomy 17:15 which says the head of your nation has to be born from among you. Article 3, Section 3 deals with witness for capital punishment for treason, but two people must testify to it in open court; this compares with Deuteronomy 17:6 says you cannot be put to death unless it is established in the mouth of two to three witnesses. Article 3, Section 3 prohibits bills of attainder; Ezekiel 18:20 prohibits these in the Scripture. You can see the Bible throughout the Constitution, but because secularists never read the Bible, they are blind to these connections.

More reasons to come…

Recommended Resources used in this blog: GOD and the Constitution and Original Intent by David Barton. www.wallbuilders.com

Peak Moments

by Dr. Paul T. Criss, Dean – Memphis/DeSoto

Coming back from the Christian Adult Higher Education Association Conference 2018, I have been reflecting on several ideas that were presented that I would like to unpack over a couple articles.

The plenary speaker, Dr. Mary Kay Park, Executive Managing Director of the Far East Broadcasting Company – Korea in Los Angeles, presented several intriguing ideas. The one that greatly intrigued me personally was this statement: “Currently there is a ‘boundary-less-ness’ in careers. The shape of the career has changed – today’s young people will change employers twelve to fifteen times and careers nine to eleven times. We are not preparing students for a single job market, we are preparing them for twelve to fifteen employer scenarios and nine to eleven career scenarios.”

That provoked some reflection on how our classrooms will likely change. In addition to focusing on the content of the course, the faculty member must also focus on all of the intangibles that need to be brought to bear on student learning. Not only the typical hard and soft skill development, but also teaching and developing flexibility, resilience, and grit/perseverance. These essential skills are needed for the diverse future that may lie ahead.

Dr. Park continued to explain three areas that disrupt a student’s pathway to success. The first is situational barriers – things like time limit and cost. The second is institutional barriers – policies and procedures that may discourage or exclude students. The third area is dispositional barriers – personal perception, attitude, and support. As faculty, we may not be able to address the first and second barriers, but we certainly can address the third. But how? How do you help improve a student’s perception of themselves,  of Belhaven, and of the future that God has in store?

Disneyland and Disneyworld conducted a study by asking attendees to rate their experience throughout their day at their amusement park. On a scale of 1-10 how good is the experience at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, and throughout the day. The average experience was 8.6. How would one look back at that a few months later? Would you remember? Everyone remembers the higher scores. WE only remember the peaks and then we average the peaks. What are students remembering from their experience in your classroom? What are they sharing at dinner parties? With current Belhaven Students? With potential Belhaven students? How is that an anchor point for them as they maneuver through their career journey?

Dr. Park suggested focusing on the “power of moments” – teachable moments – peak moments that will be remembered. How do you create more peak moments in your classroom? Perhaps find ways to embed God’s truth into practical life application. Share personal and professional experiences that have shaped you. Bring into the forefront those experiences that changed the trajectory of your career. Moments that made you more resilient, flexible, and gritty. Students in Tennessee attest that the number one reason they persisted in their studies is that they had a meaningful moment with a faculty member outside of the classroom. Be available in the hallway, prior to class, or at a student appreciation event. Be intentional about learning each of your students’ name. Find something about each student to which you can relate – it will help you remember them. Create those peak moments in your classroom and improve the trajectory of your students’ lives.

Webinars to Inform and Improve

Greetings,

We are working on a re-design for the Faculty Resources tab of our site and in the process the webinars, which have been listed there, have all been moved to YouTube for easier access.  As I was compiling these links I reviewed some of the webinars and was reminded of the wealth of information these contain.  I’m posting that information below and encourage you to look over the list and review a couple yourself – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Don’t forget to register for the upcoming Webinar of the Faculty’s Role in Student Retention – see the calendar link on this page to register.

APA and Grading Writing Across the Curriculum. Presenter: Dr. Everett Wade https://youtu.be/HFeLIpg2lUk

Bring Life to Your Classroom. Presenter: Dr. Ed Garrett https://youtu.be/urKi7DGVGQM

Christian Worldview: Practical Applications for the Classroom. Presenter: Dr. Paul Criss https://youtu.be/jFm9nNoFoXc

Effective Use of Library Resources. Presenter: Dr. Kim Priesmeyer https://youtu.be/CxpBGF8AHAs

Introducing Critical Thinking into the Classroom. Presenter: Rosemary Foncree https://youtu.be/HotogEC0PEc

Plagiarism: Helping Your Students Avoid It. Presenter: Dr. Kim Priesmeyer https://youtu.be/jFmhBggVdzw

Student Engagement Strategy: Experimentation. Presenter: Dr. Thomas Randolph https://youtu.be/vvOAQl2Q_48

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Foster Critical Thinking. Presenters: Dr. Jerald Meadows & Elizabeth Juneau https://youtu.be/Qdt7Mu5sGno

Using Canvas to Facilitate Team Projects. Presenter: Dr. Rick Upchurch https://youtu.be/RWuMnPtAvZA

Millennials in the Classroom. Presenter: Emma Morris https://youtu.be/0kgNsVN3SDs

Canvas Updates 2017. Presenter: Joe Villarreal https://youtu.be/0wWkVfKNNbA

Andragogy: Adult Learning Theory Applied. Presenter: Dr. Rick Upchurch https://youtu.be/KnDc3zfpvrs

Accessing Case Studies from Belhaven Library. Presenter: Charles Gaudin https://youtu.be/3k_X6RQ5jvM

2018:MLK50

by Dr. Paul Criss, Dean – Belhaven University Memphis/DeSoto

2018 commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. As we celebrate the life of Dr. King this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and then prepare to commemorate the tragic day of his assassination, it seems important to reflect on his life and message. I am sure that many of you will have questions raised in your classes and you will want to encourage your students to take some time for reflection. This is especially needed due to the social unrest we have been experiencing in our country and even in academia recently.

Many students and leaders in academia are looking for glimpses of hope and truth within the current social framework. I believe our best source for reflection is history and Scripture, as did Dr. King. In his book on the history of the Civil Rights movement, David L. Chapell describes the movement as not political, but as primarily religious and spiritual. White liberal leaders in the North who were allies of the African American civil rights leaders were not advocates of civil disobedience or of a direct response to segregation. Believing in the goodness of human nature, they supported education and enlightenment to bring about social and racial progress; however, that would not be enough. Chapell argues that African American civil rights leaders were rooted in the biblical understanding of the human sin nature and in the rebuke of social injustice offered by the Hebrew prophets. He also shows that it was their vibrant faith that empowered them to press for justice despite the often violent opposition to this biblical standard. Chapell concludes that there is no way to comprehend what occurred until you see the Civil Rights movement as a religious revival.1

Dr. Timothy Keller builds on this understanding specifically addressing Dr. King’s living out of this biblical ethic in his book The Reason for God:

“When Martin Luther King, Jr., confronted racism in the white church in the South, he did not call Southern churches to become more secular. Read his sermons and ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ and see how he argued. He invoked God’s moral law and the Scripture. He called white Christians to be more true to their own beliefs and to realize what the Bible really teaches. He did not say, ‘Truth is relative and everyone is free to determine what is right or wrong for them.’ If everything is relative, there would have been no incentive for white people in the South to give up their power. Rather, Dr. King invoked the prophet Amos, who said, ‘Let justice role down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream’ (Amos 5:24). The greatest champion of justice in our era knew the antidote to racism was not less Christianity, but a deeper and truer Christianity.”2

That is the key, not only to all intellectual endeavors, but also to all social progress – to become truer as individuals and as a society to a deeper and truer Christianity. As your students inquire and as you reflect on what happened 50+ years ago and on what is happening today, it is hoped that we will personally inch closer to the biblical standard and that we will lead others to do the same.

Resources

1 Chappell, David L., A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

2 Keller, Timothy, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Penguin Random House, 2008).

Helpful Online Resources:

  1. kingcenter.org; http://www.thekingcenter.org/books-bibliography
  2. http://www.aascu.org/programs/ADP/publications/MLK/
  3. rca.org/resources/mlkblackhistorymonth
  4. http://www.poetpatriot.com/holidays-martin-luther-king-jr-day.htm
  5. desiringgod.org/articles/dont-waste-martin-luther-king-weekend
  6. http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/2015/01/martin-luther-king-jr-day/
  7. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-65/martin-luther-king-jr.html
  8. crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/inspiring-quotes/31-powerful-quotes-by-dr-martin-luther-king-jr.html
  9. dclibrary.org/mlkday
  10. edutopia.org/article/resources-martin-luther-king-jr-day-matt-davis
  11. nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-lecture.html
  12. http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/martin-luther-king-jr
  13. tes.com/teaching-resources/blog/commemorating-martin-luther-king-jr-day
  14. thoughtco.com/martin-luther-king-day-federal-holiday-45159
  15. thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/evangelical-history/the-day-martin-luther-luther-king-jr-prayed-at-the-billy-graham-new-york-crusade/ .
  16. http://edsitement.neh.gov/feature/i-have-dream-celebrating-vision-martin-luther-king-jr

What makes a millionaire?

By Dr. Ken Elliott,
Dean, Belhaven – Jackson Lefleur

It’s not what you think.  Thomas J. Stanley has spent a career studying wealthy people and the personal characteristics and actions that make them successful. His book The Millionaire Mind (New York Times Best-Seller, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001) is the culmination of his research through interviews and surveys of business people who have acquired the title of “millionaire.”  Some of his findings are not what you would expect.  Here are some of the highlights.

  1. Most wealthy people are not wealthy by being lucky. They generally work very hard and often long hours. Their understanding of luck is: “The harder you work the luckier you become.”  The point is not so much about “luck” but rather that “risk” is lessened through working hard and working smart.  Generally, the wealthy do not play the lottery but they do know their business and they do know the odds.
  2. The wealthy rely on good counselors. “. . . in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14). Stanley explains: “The wealthy are “never too proud to seek advice from skilled investment advisors, especially CPAs and tax attorneys.” (p. 152)
  3. The wealthy focus on their niche. This means that their main interest is in their own business and that is what they invest in. They work their particular area or niche better than others.
  4. They are also not deterred by criticism. They are firm believers in themselves.  Self-confidence is a real success factor and helps them overcome difficult obstacles.
  5. Their ability to reduce stress is founded in a strong religious faith. Stanley noted that the stronger the religious faith the stronger the self-confidence.  This is not what you would expect, but he nevertheless found it to be true.
  6. Generally, most of the wealthy also had strong marriages, especially those marriages that have a strong sense of partnership not only in life but also in the business.
  7. Also, they know what their vocation is. The live it, love it, and work it.  They know their business well enough that they do not necessarily go with the crowd but are able to plow a new path where others fail to go.

This book has many more interesting insights into the success of the millionaire.  It’s a quick read and well worth spending some time in it.

10 Insights on Building, Motivating and Managing an Exceptional Team – re-post

I found this great article on LinkedIn and wanted to pass it along.  This is definitely worth the time and can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom or as a teaching resource on teams.

“When it comes to assembling, motivating and keeping a great team happy so that they can flourish in your business, the truth is that it’s a bit of both.

It cannot be understated how important a great team is to a business’ success. The quality of the work you do will never exceed the quality of the team behind it. To many entrepreneur’s and manager’s dismay, team building often seems as complicated as watchmaking—there are a lot of moving parts, and things have to be just right in order to create something magical.

Fortunately, academic research on team culture and group dynamics sheds some much needed light on creating and motivating the perfect team.”

READ MORE

END OF COURSE EVALUATIONS – SOMETIMES THEY STING

The post below was originally made in December 2014.  Since then we have fully moved back to paper evaluations and will continue with that model until we can find a way to achieve a similar response rate through electronic means.  When the evaluations come in from the classes, the quantitative data is processed through a scantron like process to yield the individual and summative scores.  The individual comments are all typed in manually for easier consumption.  Hopefully, you are looking at your scores in each area as well as reading through the comments.  We never pull any comments out, even those which seem unduly harsh, thus the title of this blog.  Since the recent TEBS data for Spring 2017 has or will be released soon, I thought this might be a good time to re-post this.

Rick

Dr. Chip Mason, Dean of Belhaven’s School of Business, sent me an article titled “Cruel Student Comments: Seven Ways to Soothe the Sting,” knowing we are moving back to paper evaluations for the Adult Studies courses.  I’m excited about this move because it means we will get a much better response rate, which will yield better information about the course and classroom instruction.  However, it also may yield more of those stinging comments which we all would rather not hear.  In this article by Isis Artze-Vega, she expands on the seven points below.  I encourage you to read the article.  This is always a touchy subject where it is easy to get defensive, but it is also can be one of the most useful tools available if approached from the right perspective, even if painful.

Seven Ways to Soothe the Sting:

1.  Analyze the Data

2. Resist the lure of the negative

3. Let your critics be your gurus

4.  Find counter-evidence

5.  Dwell on the positive ones.

6. Read them with a friend

7. Be proactive

Thanks, Chip, for sending this to my attention.

Setting the Table . . . Insights on Andragogy from IWU

There are a lot of resources available for Instructors to draw from to improve their ability to achieve student learning both in and out of the classroom.  At this LINK you will find an excellent resource from Indiana Wesleyan University Faculty Development Blog.  This particular session deals with group work within the classroom and how to organize and manage group work effectively.

In this series on “Setting the Table” from Indiana Wesleyan you will find other presentations which will hopefully inspire you to try something new and see your role in a fresh light.

Related Webinars

Grit “in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.” (Wikipedia) Angela Duckworth has made a career out of studying grit; how grit affects success, where it comes from, how to get it, and why we should seek it. She has presented a powerful TED talk on the subject that is worth the time to view. She has developed a Grit survey and scale for evaluating your own level of grit and compiled a lot of research around the subject of grit.

In Duckworth’s research she has been able to correlate an individual’s grit with their ability to meet and overcome challenges in life. For her, “Grit has two components: passion and perseverance.” (p.56) Hence the subtitle of her book. What this translates into is recognizing purpose in some activity, be it playing the piano, serving others, compiling research, finishing an education, etc., and then pursuing that goal in spite of challenges and set-backs over a long period of time. She writes, “…here’s what science has to say: passion for your work is a little bit of discovery followed by a lot of development and then a lifetime of deepening.” (p. 103) For Angela, how you see your work is more important than the job title (p.152).

Grit is a factor for students returning to school.  The more grittier the student, the more likely they are to complete their program of study.  Although you can complete the Grit survey and determine where you fall on the Grit Scale, that really is only a starting point. Grit can be developed. It develops from practiced and determined effort from the inside out as you find purpose and passion, and then begin to bring commitment into the picture. She states, “The point is that you can, in fact, modify your self-talk, and you can learn to not let it interfere with your moving toward your goals. With practice and guidance, you can change the way you think, feel, and most important, act when the going gets tough.” (p. 193)

Grit also develops from the outside in, which is just as important or even more so.  Here is the connecting point for the Instructor.  As the course Instructor you have the ability to influence and strengthen a student’s GRIT.  According to Duckworth, “…there’s a hard way to get grit and an easy way. The hard way is to do it by yourself. The easy way is to use conformity – the basic human drive to fit in – because if you’re around a lot of people who are gritty, you’re going to act grittier.” (p. 247) It really does matter whom we associate with; associate with gritty people and you become grittier yourself, associate with individuals who never seem to quite commit and are constantly bouncing from one thing to another and you will find yourself being influenced by that example. “If you want to be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it.” p. 245.  In the classroom this translates into building a gritty culture.  You might think this is impossible, especially in the five-week courses, but it can start with the choices you as the instructor make and the words you use from the first email you send the week before the class starts and the first words you speak on that first night of class.

 

I encourage you as you begin this new year that you take up the challenge of being more gritty yourself, and helping your students to develop this important trait.

Blessings,

Rick

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