Letters to the Editor

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Five-point grading scale recognizes students who choose tough classes

Would someone please give me one "good" reason why our school board is against using a five-point grading scale to recognize those students who elect to challenge themselves by taking honors or advanced placement classes? As a parent of such a student I can see only the down side. For instance, take the University of Alaska Scholars Program that rewards the top 10 percent of each school's graduating class with a college education. The determination of the class standing does not take into account that calculus is a much more

challenging class than, say, basket weaving, pottery or even no class at all.

Calculus is not a requirement for graduation. Does the school board really want to reward the students who take the easy road? I would very much like to believe that they have our best interest in mind when setting policies, but I would have to doubt it as current policy places our children at an extreme disadvantage when competing nationally for scholarships and college admission.

I am certainly not implying that all the top 10 percent are taking an easy class load. I am simply stating that there are other kids that should be recognized for challenging themselves and not penalized for it. Why should my son who carries a B average in several advanced classes (not even required) be disqualified for the same scholarship program as a student getting an A in pottery, band and open hour?

Our principal, teachers and counselors support the five-point scale (as does most of the country). Why won't the school board support it?

William J. Keller, Soldotna

One way to interpret song points to reason for celebrating Christmas

I am writing in response to an article titled "Parents say 'lighthearted' Christmas song not very amusing" found in the Dec. 16 issue of the Peninsula Clarion's Peninsula Life section.

I have to say that I totally agree with Mr. Bob White in saying that the twist on the lyrics "is just wrong." It took a real twisted mind to come up with the lyrics, "The partridge leaves the pear tree with a gunshot blast, and the three French hens wind up in soup for the sick."

So, what is "The Twelve Days of Christmas" all about anyhow? Tradition states that the 12 days represent the period of time from Dec. 25 until the beginning of Epiphany, Jan. 5, the time when the three Wise Men arrived to present gifts to the Baby Jesus.

Dennis Bratcher wrote, "The popular song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' is often seen as simply a nonsense song for children." (http://www.cresourcei.org/cy12days.html). He claims that this song is used to teach basic Christian doctrines. Bratcher explained that the words, "my true love" refer to God, and the word, "me" refers to every baptized believer of the Christian faith.

Each of the "days" represent specific doctrines as follows: "A partridge in a pear tree" represents Jesus Christ (Luke 13:34). "Two turtle doves" are the Old and New Testaments. "Three French hens" represent faith, hope and

love (1 Corinthians 13:13). "Four calling birds" are the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. "Five golden rings" are the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the Old Testament, also know as the "Torah."

The "six geese a laying" represent the six days of creation. "Seven swans a swimming" are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and compassion (Romans 12:6-8). The "eight maids a milking" are the eight Beatitudes as found in Matthew 5:3-10. "Nine ladies dancing" are the nine fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Ten Commandments are represented by the "ten lords a leaping." The "eleven pipers piping" are the eleven faithful apostles (original 12 minus Judas Iscariot). Finally, the "twelve drummers drumming" are the 12 points of the Apostles' creed.

Certainly the veracity of this traditional meaning is up for debate.

Nevertheless, I find the graphically violent and "lighthearted and silly" twist quite offensive.

You see, Christmas is a time of celebration for the peace, hope and joy that came with the expected Messiah. God loved the world so much that He sent His Son Jesus to minister in person and subsequently die on the cross, thus paying the price for our sin.

This interpretation has been called an "urban legend" by many, and indeed the proof to the actual origin is missing. But, this interpretation certainly points the focus of Christmas back to Christ. It is my hope that as you enjoy the fellowship with friends and family, and the exchange of gifts that comes with Christmas morning, that you will remember that Jesus is the reason for Christmas.

Ed French, Soldotna

Those who fish, hunt must learn to respond to threat PETA poses

The Dec. 14 "An Outdoor View" sounds a warning we all need to take very seriously. PETA -- not subsistence, not guides, not Native rights -- is the greatest threat to fishermen in the years ahead. The PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) people are deadly serious, and as "An Outdoor View" says, "We'll hear more from this group in the future." Indeed.

PETA's essential error is to believe we can live in a world where nothing has to die. PETA childishly refuses to recognize that we all, plants, animals, humans, live in a seamless tapestry of life and death -- something dies so that something else might live. A vegetarian who despises a fisherman killing a fish for the dinner table, a vegetarian who believes himself above that kind of vulgar carnage, doesn't know what happens to rabbits, mice and more as combines sweep across the acres harvesting the vegetarian's dinner.

Nor does the vegetarian begin to grasp what

happens to insect life when the ground is plowed or what happens to songbirds and insects as fields are sprayed with herbicides and pesticides to bring him his vegetarian supper. It can, in fact, be shown in terms of kilocalorie counts that the local fisherman, hunter or gatherer imposes far less bloodshed and ecological cost on the planet than does the vegetarian dependent on irrigation, farm equipment and worldwide transportation for his food.

But as "An Outdoor View" also notes, some of PETA's charges against fishermen do sink home: "... littering and stream-bank degradation among them." Author Ted Kerasote suggests a number of possible ways to reform legitimately objectionable aspects of hunting and fishing:

First, more effort on education, conservation, and ethics; second, de-emphasize the pursuit of trophies for the trophy's sake; third, speak out against competitions that involve the killing of animals; fourth, rephrase the debate -- should a fisherman killing a salmon 10 miles from home be considered a consumptive resource user, while a tourist who flies 10,000 miles to photograph spawning salmon be termed a nonconsumptive user of the planet's resources?

These suggestions and more need to be acted upon.

It's not going to be enough, in the years ahead, to try to ignore PETA. As "An Outdoor View" warns, these people are serious, they are clever, and they have money. They will not be ignored, they must be answered. Those of us who respect the hunter-gatherer tradition must present a united front insisting that fishing affirms the essential web of life and the God-ordained role of the various species within it. Anything less grants the moral high ground to the other side.

John Nelson , Soldotna

Has legislator forgotten he pledged he would not touch dividend?

On Dec. 12, Rep. Drew Scalzi was the guest speaker at the weekly Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce luncheon. During this luncheon Rep. Scalzi addressed many issues, including the current fiscal problems the state is experiencing.

Rep. Scalzi handed out a sheet of paper entitled "Fiscal Goals and Objectives 2002," which lists the Fiscal Caucus' recommendations to solve the current budget crunch. Rep. Scalzi made it clear that he supported these recommendations or any combination of them to eliminate the state's deficit.

With the objective of maintaining the Constitutional Budget Reserve at $1.5 billion, the following sources of revenue to be considered are listed. First on the list was capping the permanent fund dividend at $1,250 per person. Keep in mind that during the 2000 campaign then-candidate Scalzi stated that he would not touch the permanent fund dividend. Yet he now supports capping it.

When asked by a member of the audience why he did not feel it necessary to abide by the Sept. 14, 1999 advisory vote concerning the permanent fund, he replied that you (the public) did not understand the question on the ballot.

So, to refresh his and everyone's memory, let me restate the ballot question as it appeared on the 1999 ballot. "After paying annual dividends to residents and inflation-proofing the permanent fund, should a portion of permanent fund investment earnings be used to help balance the state budget?"

Is there anything that anyone doesn't understand about this question? The last part of the question is simplicity itself. "Should a portion of permanent fund earnings be used to help balance the budget?"

Alaskans voted "no" by a margin of 83 percent to 17 percent. Yet, our legislators justify capping the dividend by claiming that we are too stupid to understand a question that the state legislators wrote!

In retrospect, what they really wanted was a question where "no" meant "yes" and "yes" meant "no."

Add to this the fact that Rep. Scalzi favors doubling the amount of money that is taken from the permanent fund excess earnings and putting it into the general budget, a 2 percent sales tax, a 3 percent state income tax, an employment tax of $100 just because you have a job, a 5 percent alcohol tax, a 5 percent gasoline tax, and a cruise ship tax of $25 per person and each working Alaskan will be digging into his or her pocket for an average extra $1,100 to $1,200 each year!

Rep. Scalzi and others believe that they hold the Holy Grail of financial solutions to the state's budget problems, but in reality they are sacrificing the crew in order to save the ship.

Doug Ruzicka, Anchor Point

God warns about witchcraft, sorcery throughout the Bible

There's been much discussion lately in our community about the new Harry Potter movie and its impact on children. The movie is based on a book by J.K. Rowling who belongs to a New Age cult in Scotland and believes there is no such thing as sin, hell or death -- they are only illusions. The movie portrays a young sorcerer apprentice who uses witchcraft and sorcery in his adventures. The question becomes: What does God say about sorcery and witchcraft?

One of the major themes in the Old Testament of the Bible is how Jews were told by God to not follow the "abominations" and detestable acts of pagan cultures. The Jews were threatened with death because these acts were considered idolatry, the First Commandment of God. God continually warned the people to avoid detestable customs like sacrificing newborn children, engaging in witchcraft and sorcery, consulting with mediums (psychics), interpreting omens, using magical effects, being a medium (channeler) with the dead or being a spiritist who supposedly communicates with the dead but actually is in contact with demons. The punishment was death by the Jewish leaders.

In the New Testament (Rev. 9:21, 21:8, 22:15), Jesus considered sorcery together with murder and sexual immorality as abominations that would send a person to hell along with Satan, the anti-Christ, and "whoever loves and practices a lie."

When Jesus condemns sorcery and witchcraft as severe sin it is certainly wrong to glamorize such acts in children's books and films. Certainly we wouldn't glamorize murder, child pornography or adultery in books or movies meant for children. Jesus considered them together. It should be added that many children have recently sought sorcery and witchcraft information on Internet sites.

Harry's only chance to escape hell is to ask God for his forgiveness, repent of his sins and become a reborn Christian. Now that would make a great movie.

"As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." There are many more appropriate and entertaining books and movies for children to engage in.

Donald Szepanski, Soldotna

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