Monday, April 27, 2020

Seeing Signs Along The Way...

When I was a little kid about three years old, my sister, and brothers and I would sometimes wander from our own yard, and Mom would come running from the house to call us back. Where do you think you're going?" she'd ask. And according to family legend, I would always say, "...on a bubenshur..." because evidently I could not say the word "adventure."

So for the rest of my life whenever returning from a trip with my mother, she would say, "Well, that was a 'bubenshur'..." and I would smile as if passing a pop-quiz on terms from our family lexicon.

My mom has been gone form many years, but Friday was her birthday and that quirky little word came back to me as Mrs. K and I returned home from a very pleasant trip to some of your front yards. We did it again on Saturday and it was again a wonderful "bubenshur."

We know west Michigan well, but finding some of your homes took us to beautiful places we had never seen before.We passed farms and orchards; fields and forests, rivers and lakes; closed malls and busy country stores. We even saw some of you along the way, and we've also seen dozens of you on social media beside Calvary signs that others delivered. Whereever we go, I'm seeing Calvary signs along the way.

This past week Brad and Joy Richards secretly put a sign in the yard of nearly all Muskegon area CCS families. Mrs. Sarah VanTine  also helped place several signs. By the end of this week, all of families in our directory should have one. (Please let us know if you don''t.) 

Through the years, Calvary has always had families from within a long tri-angle roughly from West Olive (south) to Ravena (east) and Freemont / Shelby area (north) wtih the Lake Michigan shoreline along the west. It's always a joy to go to the "Open Houses" of seniors from extremities, and after six weeks of quarantine, it was a special treat to take this 200-mile safe-social-distancing excursion this weekend making sure everyone got a sign. We hope this small gesture underscores the truth of each line on that sign because it is truer than ever.

Calvary is a very diverse school family. It is urban, suburban and rural in four counties. About half of our homes have only one student, but several have four or five.  If the family that lives furthest south of the school went to visit the family that lives furthest north, it would take roughly an hour to get there. (Having seen both of these large hard-working families from a distance this weekend, I can tell you that it it's well worth the trip.) If the family furthest east of the school traveled as many miles west, they would end up about 10-15 miles out in Lake Michigan.

The blue lines on this map lead to only a few of the homes Mrs. K and I went to on Friday and Saturday. More than 500 miles were traveled to deliver these and the 100+ other signs, but the five people involved gladly touched each yard as a thank you to the CCS families and staff who collectively travel more than 2,000 miles round trip each day to come to Calvary. (That does not factor in car-pooling but is based on round trips from each of our CCS homes to school and back.)

Until driving a fraction of those miles this weekend, I did not fully understand how remarkable a place Calvary is because of each of you. Thank you for being a vital part of Calvary Christian Schools.

We say it often, but in the context of these facts it bears repeating:

CCS builds an educational foundation based not on geography but on the "common ground" of shared values. We are defined not by the roads we take to gather but by the path we walk together.

Many thanks to the donors who made these yard signs possible.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

"Enoch Was No More": The Story of a Chinese CCS Senior Whose Father was Wrongfully Imprisoned for His Faith.

This is a story that could not be told to the CCS family until very recently. In late March, Enoch was granted political (religious) asylum by the U.S. State Department, and he is now free to speak openly of why he came to Calvary.

This past February, CCS friend and former banquet speaker, Dr. Bob Fu, was a guest speaker during the January Series at Calvin University. His presentation was live-streamed across the country and to different countries and the persecuted church in China. In that address he introduced Enoch to the large audience, saying that today with us is the oldest son of one of the most newsworthy examples of the persecuted church in China. That day we learned that Bob Fu’s financials legal assistance in Enoch's "back story" has been known by CCP since the first few weeks of his father's imprisonment.

That same week, Enoch's father also told his son, "You are safe. You are free. Speak up. Tell the truth about what has happened to us. God will protect you in America and us here in China." 

This past week, Enoch and I sat down in our living room to tell you, his friends and family at CCS, an abreviated version of how his father was imprisoned in China and how, upon his release after two and a half years, they determined to get their son Enoch safely out of communist-controled China to attend Calvary Christian Schools. This is that story. 

Part One: "What They Did to My Father"

Part Two: "Enoch Arrives in America"

NOTE: Numerous links to related news articles about Enoch's father may be found at the "Show More" prompt at the YouTube channel of these videos.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Thank You from Mr. Kapanka on his Birthday

Some of you will remember "The Waltons" from back in the 70's. This Zoom Birthday greeting reminded me of the way that TV show ended each week. "G'night, John Boy," etc.
Thank you to all who were able to make this time-slot. We are all blessed to be part of the Calvary family!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Mr. Kapanka's "Walking Stick Stories"

Don't let the title fool you. These object lessons serve a direct purpose during our Covid-19 isolation. The first story brings a bit of excitement and humor. Did you know that you can ride "bob-sled" down the mountain of the Great Wall of China. Yep. Crazy! Funny ending to that story.

Did you know that my shady street as a child was lined with beautiful Elm trees, but they all died from "Dutch Elm Disease" but there was one type of elm that resisted the disease. Yep. Did you know that trees have a "defense mechanism" very similar to human immune system that fights off infection from a wound or "virus"? Yep. Did you know Mrs. K's father was a pastor and her mother a church organist for over 50 years? Yep. You've heard that "God is the potter and we are the clay," but did you know that when Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches" that that is also a formative statement? Yep. Did you know that Mr. Kapanka's favorite walking stick took 40 years to make? It illustrates what Virgil said more than 2,000 years ago: "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." That is an important lesson.

Each stick tells a story that is fitting for this unprecedented weeks of isolation. This presentation was prompted by the "W" class of Mrs. Kapanka's "Cozy Little Cabin," but the stories are geared for children and adults of all ages. Tom Kapanka

Saturday, April 11, 2020

"The First Green Thing"

An Easter poem that might make you wonder...or think... and just maybe... worship...

Click arrow to view 4-minute video:

April is poetry month, and today is Easter. This particular Easter is unlike any Christian has seen in over a century. Please watch the video-poem above. It's only 2 minutes long with a 2-minute explanation to pique your interest. If you like riddles (or poetry or theology), you may want to explore further.
"The First Green Thing" (2010) is told by a old man walking an unfamiliar woods who comes across a discarded work of art. Is it a birdbath? It's clearly more than that, and seems like it would be in a magnificant garden, but now... it seems to have been discarded by its maker. The imagery of the work baffles the man. The a vertical part is a strong bronze arm that appears to reach right out of the earth as if the rest of the man is buried. It is holding a laurel wreath above the basin of water so that whoever looks in the reflection sees the wreath being place on his head as was the custom in the time of Christ. But a thorny vine has overtaken the wrought-copper laurel and it now looks more like a crown of thorns. Why was it "cast from the garden"? What is the meaning of the green things the man did not fine in the opening lines? Is "the fall" merely a season?

Watch it again and see if you can make sense of it. If you'd like to have some help, this poem is full of intentional symbols from beginning to end that are explained at the link below:

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Why We Sing of Calvary...

Today's thoughts are meant for people who know of churches, ministries, or schools that bear the name of "Calvary." It is for people who can think of songs new and old that sing of "Calvary" (like the sampling of songs at the bottom of the post). Knowing the horrible things that happened at that place, how can we sing of it? How can such hope and blessing come from such a cursed place referred to in the gospels as "the place of the skull"?

Now add this to the question: Since the word "Golgotha" appears three times more often than the word "Calvary" (which appears only once and only in the King James Version), why do we not instead sing of Golgotha? Why do we not see churches, ministries and schools bearing that name?
Perhaps you've never thought about this, but please take 20 minutes with me to learn why I think this is true. Twenty minutes? Couldn't you make it shorter, Mr. K? Please watch it from beginning to end. I think you'll find it interesting.

Since January of 2019, Enoch, a young man from China has lived with us. I'll  share more of his story another time, but in an interview with the Grand Haven Tribune a few months ago, he said to the reporter, "My life has been changed twice by Calvary: First by the Calvary in the Bible; and then by the Calvary in Fruitport."  Is a higher compliment possible?  The first Calvary is of utmost importance to mankind; the second only to those who have been a part of a small school. To whatever extent the latter reflects the life-changing power of the former, it too has significance.

(Double-click on video screen to enlarge.)


Notes: Below is more information for those who like to read more about things they have learned:

To believers, the word Calvary has great significance, yet if you go and do a word search for "Calvary," you will get zero results in all of the commonly used translations. Only in Luke 33:22 of the KJV  (King James Version) will you find it. And that lone citing is owed to two things: first, the fact that Luke, a doctor, used a specific Latin word (for cranium) where the other three gospel writers used the Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic word (for skull). And second, the fact that St. Jerome, while translating the New Testament into the Latin Vulgate in the 4th Century, saw the significance in Luke's word choice and preserved it. More than 1,200 years later the translators of the KJV did the same.

The Latin "Kranion" is often translated as Skull in English, but more accurately it means Cranium, the part of the skull enclosing the brain. In Latin Kraníon is rendered Calvariæ, from which the English word Calvary derives. Had Luke not used that Latin term, we would have no "Calvary" in the Bible.

Both words are clear in meaning and the word meaning "skull" is used three times more often by Matthew, Mark, and John than Luke's single use of the word meaning "cranium." So why is it that in the post-Reformation centuries of song-writing that the word Calvary and not Golgotha is used in lyrics? (The difference is about 100 to 1. Why?) 

I have have wondered about this question for years. Is Calvary simply a more pleasant word? Is the word Golgotha unpleasant?  I feel like that is true, but why?  I've created this comparitive outline to reflect what I think is the connotation of the two different words that refer to the same place.

Is it possible that the word “Golgotha” just sounds ominous because of the harsh "G" sound or due to negative associations with the root word, GOTH (meaning "skull")? Are the images evoked by all forms of that word imagined or are they at the heart of the very word itself? In my opinion, the obvious answer has gone unnoticed through 20 centuries.

While trying to confirm that the same root meaning has slithered through the centuries, I learned, for instance, that the origin of the name given the "Goths" in northern Europe is unknown. But this article "Who Were The Goths?" explains that they were barbarious tribes that dabbled in dark arts. It also mentions that even in real time "Gothic architecture (Notre Dame Cathedral) was described as Gothic due to its inclusion of barbaric images (gargoyles).

In this video, I did not mention a whole genere of gothic literarture because I used to teach literature and this would have added much more content, but for those who want to know more. The Gothic Literature movement came four centuries AFTER gothic architecture, but it deliberately played on the same dark themes abd introduced vampires and other monsters. Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, is an example of Gothic Literature.

So... whether or not others are willing to make the connection between the barbaric nature of the "Goths" and gothic architecture and the darkness of gothic literature the root word gal-GOTH-a meaning "skull," I have made that connection because that root word was nearly identical in Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic languages in use throughout the rise and fall of the Roman Empire (which overlaps with the time of the Goths).

Whether or not I can prove the connected dots touched on in this video is secondary to the fact that the conotation and sound of the word Golgotha has been clear from the time of Christ until now, and that alone makes a case for the answer to the title question.

Furthermore, the evidence that Christianity has been drawn to the more positive use of the word Calvary (over Golgotha) can be proven by thumbing through any church hymnal.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below.

I hope you were able to set aside 20 undisturbed minutes to watch the video and see if this short exploration does not bring clarity to why we say Calvary. And if, like Enoch, you happen to know the significance of both the Calvary of the Bible and the Calvary in Fruitport, MI, you will want to watch the video to the very end.

He is risen... He is risen indeed!

Tom Kapanka

Sample Calvary Songs:
Here are some wonderful examples of Calvary Songs (click the title to listen):

(According to this source, This 100-year-old hymn's musical theme comes from Handel's Sarabande .The text comes from Avis Christiansen and matches the tune well. The switch to D major permits a newly composed melody to emerge, one of assurance. Returning to Handel's strain, the piece ends in strength and praise.)

Lead Me to Calvary Jennie Hussey, 1921

"Calvary Covers It All" original hymn by E. R. Taylor (as churches sang it for 80+ years, 1934. Ethelwyn Robinson Taylor and her husband Walter ran the Pacific Garde Mission in Chicago, IL from 1918 to to 1936.)

"The God of Calvary " by Chris Tomlin

Through the centuries there has been little mention of Golgotha in the Hymns of the faith.  In fairness, I did find one new song about Golgotha by Crowder. See if you dont agree that it actually underscores the thoughts of this video. It chooses to focus on the place, the pain, the punishment of Golgotha, but it also gives one mention of the word Calvary which echos in the refrain: "You can't stop love." I can't imagine a congregation singing this song, but I include it only as further proof of the contrast between the two words: Calvary and Golgotha.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

"The Shadow Box": A Game For All to Play

Since "Mrs. K's Cozy Little Cabin" is not meeting this week due to Spring Break, Mr. Kapanka wanted to show her class and whoever else is interested something from of “the other corners of the cabin."

The objects in the Shadow Box are Circa 1963-83, and contain small objects from both Mr. and Mrs. Kapanka's childhood and their first five years of marriage. This particular project involves a rectangular piece of 1/4 plywood/mahagony and about 3 or 4 soft pine yardsticks (the kind hardware stores used to give away with the store name on it). This video was made during the national school closure of March-19, 2020, in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. In the spirit of the "I Spy" books, see if you can find the following items in the shadow box. Viewing on a large screen (Ipad, Chromebook, laptop, or larger), It may help to take a picture of the list on a separate device or print the list on paper and check items as you go: Do You See....
Round one: Watch video once without pausing. See how many items you can find WITHOUT HITTING PAUSE. (If you find half without hitting pause, you're amazing.)

The Shadow Box Game

Round two: Pushing pause is allowed as needed to search in the nooks and crannies and shadows of the shadow box. Here is the list (92 items):
3 toy guns, tube of toothpaste, 1 small toy soldier,tin can, rocking horse, steel ball (marble), small piece of rusty barbed-wire, two dogs sitting side by side, large bolt, 2 bottle caps, 1 carnival prize clicker, rusty wrench, tiny silver wrench, steel whistle, old dump truck (missing wheel), oil lamp (red chimney), monopoly game piece, 2+shells, acorn, bulldog, 2 small bottles (no lids), Roosevelt pin, lock of hair, two tiny pad-locks, light bulb, business card, white feather, Statue of Liberty, die (1 "dice"), 3 rusty nails together, straight pin, Amoco pen, 1984 Detroit Tigers pocket schedule, 2 eagles, Saturday Evening Post, West Highland Terrier (white dog), Old "skeleton key," 1 pill bottle, Charlie Brown watch, U.S. brass button, jack knife (without picture on it that is no longer in its place by the last close-up shot), spent rifle cartridge, button from Levi Strauss jeans, 2 thimbles (one broken), corsage (pink flowers) Oil-o-sol medicine, brass token (Showbiz Pizza), 2 test tubes, 2 empty spools, 1 full spool, small girl with blue flowers, 2 girls riding old bike, silver tie clip (with sword), locket with baby picture, Bayer aspirin tin, round Silver Dollar City, Missouri sticker, air mail pin, drill bit (hidden), 3-4 track runners, 1 "I love you" coin, 1 "V" for Victory pin from WWII, 1 "Indian" chief, 1 Buckwheat badge (from "Little Rascals") , 1 cigar (gum), 1 penny, small gum-ball machine Now think outside the box: 1 Vernors bottle, 1 bow (no arrow), 1 "rug beater", 6 Michigan lighthouses, 2 wooden tennis rackets, 2 rag dolls, 1 school administrator passing time with dear friends.

Use the comment section to request hints if needed. After a few days, I will respond to requests for hints in the comments. "Contest" ends Easter Sunday at Midnight.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Every Day Counts...

Every day counts. Every choice matters.
Every one of us knows that’s true.
Every life has purpose. Every purpose a plan
and we've no choice but seeing it through.
Every week spent apart seems longer
than the weeks spent apart before.
Every morning brings a new fondness
for the hinge--not the lock--on the door.
But if we must live our days (cloistered away)
‘til the key in that lock is turned,
we will live knowing this: “EVERY DAY COUNTS” 
and that matters…
more than all other lessons learned.
© April 1, 2020, Tom Kapanka

Sent to CCS Students on April 1, 2020 the day rumors in most Michigan news outlets leaked that the governor was going to announce that all schools would remain closed for the remainder of the school year. On March 12, in response to the escalating number of Covid-19 cases in Michigan,the governor mandated that all schools, public and private, must shut their doors until April 6, and that all students must "Stay Home; Stay Safe." Later that same week all theaters, restaurants, places of assembly were closed. Calvary immediately launched a "home to home" teaching model, and assured students that we would "carry on" and stay the course. However, by the next Friday, the MDE declared that no matter how much instruction was given (from teachers to homes), the days would not "count." There was an explanation about how the mechanisms were not in place to evaluate the merit of such "instruction," that not all districts were equally equipped to deliver services, and therefore the days outside the building would not count toward credit or graduation requirements. As a private school we had the freedom to decide a different approach to the situation, as I explained to our school family via video the morning after the MDE news. We had chosen to apply the lesson from the parable in Matthew 19, the [head]master said, "occupy till I [we] return. We chose to "occupy" ourselves academically and invest each day in hopes of a return (a return on our investment and a return to school). Two weeks later, more rumors shot across the state that the "return date" which had already moved from April 6 to the end of April was about to convert to a "no return this academic year." Our students were again confused, and we began getting calls asking, "So none of the days we've worked so hard mattered? The days don't count?" So I went to the school (11:00PM) and shot this video update which we sent out the next morning. The morning before the governor's announcement, which gave all districts the freedom to address the news as best they can in their own local contexts (which was what we did from day one), I woke up thinking about the sad and empty echo of the question heard around the state: "Does every day count?" I know it was being asked in an academic sense, but I want CCS students and all students everywhere to know that the answer is a resounding: EVERY DAY COUNTS. In fact, these days count more than any other days you've ever spent in a classroom. Make the most of them. Learn things beyond the books. Reconnect with family. Ponder the strange feeling of Isolation vs. solitude, remember the energy of being seated among hundreds or thousands at a concert or a ball game or a rally or church. Learn that it always takes the presence of countless others to be "one in a million." Remember that feeling and how we took for granted how often freely gathered. Ache for the fact that we cannot do that. Ache for the families feeling grief and loss. Ache and don't forget the feeling. For in such heartache there is learning that lasts a lifetime. Then rise from the ache and do something that matters each day. Not just school work. Yes, that matters but determine to learn and think beyond those "lessons" and absorb the reality around you as you are living it. It's then you will know what has always been true: EVERY DAY COUNTS.