Two New eBooks at Amazon Kindle!

FacebookMySpaceTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponRSS Feed

My freshman year I served as a writer for our high school newspaper and yearbook. I don’t know how I got this job, except maybe that I could type faster than most boys and a lot of girls. Whatever it was I value the experience because it’s one of the earliest memories I have of participating “officially” in the writing craft. I loved to read and I loved newspapers then and now, so writing was an unplanned but logical next step. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a beginning.

This was pre-Internet and pre-everything else. We learned lay out by physical cut and paste, which was a better education in geometry than I got the next year in Geometry class.

I can’t remember my Geometry teacher’s name. Odd, isn’t it? This person who dominated my sophomore year and I can’t remember her name. I do remember that she was the kind of teacher we liked to make jokes about. She was smart and probably a fair teacher, but she was also extremely thin, talked with a squeaky voice, and had what to us were antiquated ideas about how to behave. All that is undoubtedly unfair to her but such is the mentality of sophomores.

Geometry was scheduled after P.E. class just before lunch. One day for reasons I yet don’t comprehend, at the end of P.E. class I changed clothes and I got locked in the Locker Room. Just me, locked in a stinky locker room. I spent the entire next period contemplating life in prison because either no one heard me yell or no one cared to liberate me. So I missed Geometry class.

With the coming lunch hour someone re-opened the Locker Room and I made my escape. I went straight to Geometry class and told Mrs. Thin where I’d been and why I’d missed class. She didn’t believe me and told me so. I did all the things one does in proclaiming ones innocence but to no avail. She eventually gave me a poor grade for that day and I had to like it or lump it.

If I ever needed therapy it wasn’t for being locked in a Locker Room. Maybe if it’d been all night in the dark, but it was 45 minutes in late morning. No, if I ever needed therapy it’d be because of Mrs. Thin's squeaky voiced lack of confidence in my moral compass. I got through that class but didn’t like Geometry then and don’t like it now.

High school offered different kinds of highlights. Us teens knew the best places to go to make out, which I won’t identify just in case these hideouts are still in use. Of course, back then, making out was about all anyone ever did, except obviously the one girl who got pregnant while we were in high school. She was a beautiful girl who hung out not only with the wrong guy—a loud-mouthed tough—but with the wrong crowd. She paid a sad price for her misjudgment, and sadder still, I’m not sure he ever paid any price. While she was permitted to remain in school until she "showed" this was still a scandal in those days, a far cry from the lack of concern, lack of shame, and lack of common sense that passes for teen sexuality today.

We were blessed to go through high school without hearing about our self-esteem, inner self, finding ourselves, being true to ourselves, or you owe it to yourself. We did, however, hear about selfishness and self-starter, the former bad, the latter good. Though it was the end of the 60s, Small Town high school was still insolated and thus insulated from the winds of cultural change that were blowing down establishment ideas and institutions across the nation. The Me Generation was yet to come. We still believed in individual responsibility and social consequences, and for this I am grateful.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


High school in Small Town was a series of highs and lows. Really highs and really lows. Or maybe this had more to do with being teenagers than high school.

Looking back one could say our ups and downs were not all that significant, but they seemed so to us. This was true in studies, sports, romance, and even teachers.

In my time in Small Town we benefitted from outstanding elementary and junior high teachers, a whole list of them in the day when teachers took their professional calling seriously. Every teacher to whom I was assigned from 1st Grade to 8th Grade did a remarkable job of helping us slay the dragons of ignorance. In most ways they may have been ordinary people, but they were in our lives extraordinary teachers because they taught and they expected us to learn.

Changing culture changed all that, and not for the better. We got the first inklings of this in high school. By the time we arrived in high school waves of education reform and counter culture were just beginning to weaken secondary schools. Teachers were still in authority and students were still expected to “obey.” But this was a quaint practice, one undermined a little more each month with news of university student sit-ins.

It wasn’t long before the academic establishment rejected the idea one could know truth about anything. All things are relative, the postmodernists said. The logical conclusion of this illogical idea is that nothing matters, particularly religion. Students weren’t long in picking up on the “nothing matters” part and education turned into a river of hedonism, narcissism, and nihilism that still inundates it today. Very soon, it was “Make Love, Not War,” “Flower Power,” and civil disobedience.

But in high school we were still blissfully oblivious to much of this. And we were blessed with a few excellent teachers, no question—Mrs. Burns, Mrs. Crevey, Mr. Farley, to name a few. But we had our share of bummers too. Having spent a career working in academia and knowing what I know now about education I can say without fear of exaggeration that at least four, maybe five, of these people should have been sent to find their real calling in life—it clearly wasn’t teaching.

I’ve mentioned before the broken-nosed former prison guard who masqueraded for a time as our Physical Education teacher. Then there was the Health and Physical Education teacher who mostly got by on charisma. We laughed a lot but didn’t learn much in his classes.

Our nominee for Inept Teacher of the Year would have to go to our Physics teacher. He was a former Presbyterian minister and if he gave as much to his ministry as he did to teaching I understand why people didn’t keep him in the pulpit.

There were about 8 guys and 1 girl in the class. We were all college prep kids so our grades were good and perhaps this is another reason the teacher let us off the hook. Mostly, though, I think he was treading water.

For two periods in Physics class, that’s a good chunk of the day, we did one of two things, or both. Every day four or five guys would gather around this girl, one who was attractive, smart, talented, and highly popular, and basically vie for her attention for two periods. I liked her too and joined the group a few times. But I can remember thinking I didn’t want to be part of the herd, so I chose not to be.

Mostly I played chess. That’s right, chess. For two periods every day our entire senior year a few guys, my friend Larry Yoho being one of them, and I held Physics class chess tournaments. We got to be pretty good at chess but didn’t learn much about physics.

Ridiculous. I look back now and think about the wasted academic time. I wonder why the principal never showed up and how the teacher got away with it. I wonder how a teacher as lazy and unmotivated as this fellow survived in the system. But there we were, flirting on one end of the room, playing chess on the other.

I mentioned Mr. Farley and I should give him his due. In my estimation he was under-rated as a teacher by his peers and his students. This lack of appreciation stemmed more, I think, from his quirky personality and mannerisms than from his teaching. But he was, in a word, an excellent teacher.

Mr. Farley lectured every day, required us to take notes, and administered challenging tests. He asked us questions in class and expected us to know the answers. He clearly loved his subject and was nothing if not diligent in his pedagogy. I sat in both his U.S. History class my junior year and his U.S. Government class my senior year. In both I learned a great deal and consider this experience one influence in my later opting in college to pursue both a Social Science and History major and a teaching certificate.

Mr. Farley nominated me for an odd-sounding award called the “I Dare You Award,” which I earned, probably in large part due to his affirmation. He presented it to me at graduation and, though the name is funny, the idea was to think big, think bigger in terms of ones potential achievements and contributions. It’s a great concept, another large lesson in a Small Town upbringing.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

Certain characters loom large from my youth. One lived across an alley from our house. Others I met later at my first job off the farm.

Mr. Hagen was across the alley. A retired fellow by the time I got to know him, he had a first name but I don’t remember it. He was always Mr. Hagen to me. He was honest, hard-working to a fault, apparently devoted to his wife, loved to tell tall tales, generous, and a first-class gardener.

Mr. Hagen’s gardens: no weeds, big green growing plants, walkways, and continuous harvest throughout the fall. He spent hours on end days on end in that garden. People would find him there and start long chats over the back gate or sitting in his swing.

What made Mr. Hagen interesting was the confluence of exaggerated traits he presented in a short package. He could talk forever, liked to talk to anyone and everyone, smoked stinky cigars, told these long convoluted stories that somehow kept you engaged to the end, and salted his language with healthy, or maybe unhealthy, doses of earthy vocabulary.

I can’t say that I remember any terrible words he taught me—his words were, in today’s context, pretty tame. But I can still remember those long conversations wherein he instilled the idea that I could probably do whatever I set out to do. I didn’t know then whether that was true, and I’m not so sure now, but the thought certainly makes you look beyond. I owe his memory that—far horizons.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at



Our high school was a new-fangled thing called “consolidated”—combining five smaller high schools into a small high school. We didn’t have drugs, much less “do” them. Alcohol, yes—that was always the excitement Friday and the big news Monday. Didn’t understand the giddiness then and don’t understand it now. But we didn’t have hard drugs. Narcotics came to my high school during the next years after I left.

High school in Small Town was a time when we all figured out a little bit more about who we were and who we hoped to be. We all wanted to be cool, at least that was true of the boys. Girls were harder to understand, then and now.

It’s hard to be cool, though, when your Latin teacher calls you “Rexy.” In fact, it’s hard to be cool taking Latin. Mrs. Burns called me that Freshman year, the next three years till I graduated, and for all I know till the day she went to heaven. Part Latin teacher, part Librarian, she taught the classics and was herself a model of all that’s classic in high school teacher-dom.

In Mrs. Burns’s class I learned—I kid you not—“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in Latin. Sure, I learned to conjugate Latin verbs—porto, portas, portat, portabam, portabas, portabat—but I’ve forgotten most of them.

I haven’t forgotten:

“Mica, mica, parva stella,
Miror quaenam sis tam bella.
Super terra in caelo,
Alba gemma splendido.
Mica, mica, parva stella,
Miror quaenam sis tam bella.”

Yes, Mrs. Burns forever bequeathed to me the ability to recite “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in Latin.

Our high school algebra teacher was Mrs. Crevey. She was as wide as she was tall, taught us everything we needed to know about algebra, and we were afraid of her. The idea of being “afraid” of a teacher seems quaint, but it’s true nonetheless, and I don’t mind admitting it. She was as good a person as she was a teacher. We learned a lot more from her than algebra.

I remember a high school P.E. Teacher who was little more than an over-large bully. Big voice, big strut, big nose, big ego, big nuisance. He lasted long enough for us to learn some adults never grow up.

Our high school quarterback was Dominic Capers, a couple of years older than me and a multi-sport athlete who went on to a career in the NFL. Today he’s the highly respected Defensive Coordinator for the Green Bay Packers.

Our cheerleaders actually cheered. No choreography. No sensual moves, not really, let alone the semi-exotic dance that passes for cheerleading in some school districts today. Kids think “current” is normal, which is to say erotica at times transposed onto cheerleading, so kids do whatever prevailing culture urges them to do. But where are their parents who know better?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


In our town Small Town we were Protestant and Catholic with a sprinkling of Greek Orthodox. That was about it. We understood that certain church doctrines distinguished one from the other, but in our town back then, in day-to-day life we were more alike than different.

Our pastor was Rev. Harold House, a man more widely known as Howdy House. Another great name from our Small Town. What better name could a pastor have than Howdy? He’d been a newspaper journalist in his early years. I remember him as a kind and good pastor who preached the word in season and out.

Pastor was there to greet me when I went forward at age 9 to say I wanted to be baptized. He was also there when I stepped into the waters of the baptistery a short time later. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Pastor Howdy put me under the water, brought me part of the way back up, then put me under again and shook me. I’m not kidding. I don’t know if he thought I hadn’t gotten entirely “immersed” in good Baptist fashion, whether he was enjoying his own inside joke, or whether he was trying to take me out. But I got thoroughly baptized that day.

I grew up in a time when churches held Wednesday night prayer services. Pastor would do a short Bible study, than people would pray over requests and praises. Or maybe it was the other way around. In either event one lady stands out. I’ll call her Ms. F.

Ms. F prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. I mean she prayed interminably, at least it seemed that way to a kid. Forever, prayed for every missionary we’d ever heard of, prayed for everyone on the sick list, Ms. F prayed and prayed some more. She even quoted God’s Word to God, thinking perhaps he’d forgotten what he’d said. To my knowledge Ms. F’s prayers were sincere, so I don’t want to make fun at her expense. It was just tough for a kid to sit through prayers that lasted longer than the incidents prayed about. One thing’s for sure, though. Ms. F was a classic Small Town character and I learned a lot during those mid-week prayer services about the methodology of public prayer.

Mr. P also offered prayers for the ages. He was one of the co-founders of our church and had a white pompadour to make Porter Wagoner jealous.

Then there was Mr. and Mrs. W, both elderly, faithful, white coiffed. Coolest thing to a kid? They drove a shiny, black, probably 1960 Plymouth Savoy with huge fender wings. It was the batmobile pulling up in front of our church every service. Glorious to a kid.

Another Small Town character lived down the street from the church—Mrs. S. Her claim to fame is that, as far as we could ever tell, she never wore anything, ever, except a bathrobe. You’d see her at all hours of the day, on her porch, in her yard, going for the paper, in a bathrobe. There’s sometimes a fine line between lazy and leisurely. Determining which description fit Mrs. S is above my pay grade.

Church and characters populated the landscape in Small Town. There are fewer churches, fewer characters, and fewer small towns now.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at



I remember church picnics where everyone went. From the newest baby to the 90-somethings everyone came. The picnic was usually held at a local park with a large pavilion in which tables were covered with potluck.

This was back when churches actually scheduled church-wide events, something almost unheard of today even in smaller congregations. Today we have options, so each generation if not each individual exercises their freedom of choice by going in several directions at once. It makes for comedy but not community.

Same can be said for versions of the Scripture. I’m by no means a “King James Version Only” guy (yes, there are KJV Only guys), but I do sense a trade-off, if not a loss, that’s come with ever multiplying presentations of the Holy Writ.

When I was a kid in Sunday school, “Jet Cadets” (What a name, right? I’ll tell you that story another time), DVBS, i.e. Daily Vacation Bible School, and later teen groups I memorized verses from the KJV. Those verses are still in my mind today, complete with all their “thees” and “thous.” In fact, they’re still in the minds of anyone over, say, 40 who memorized Scripture in his or her youth.

It’s amusing: a preacher reads his sermon text from the church’s selected newer version of the Scripture. He begins preaching. Later as he’s in full flight the Spirit of God brings a verse to his mind that he had not planned to use. He quotes it—in the King James Version, and this he does no matter what version du jour he read earlier.

It’s bemusing: The Church no longer has a common vocabulary. With each church exercising its Christian liberty to choose whatever version of Scripture the fellowship likes we move farther apart. If we memorize Scripture at all we learn different words and will not necessarily recognize the same verse from another version.

If this is a challenge within the Church, think how much more confusing it is for a public increasingly distanced from biblical knowledge.

It used to be that I could say “He’s willingly ignorant of that issue,” and people around me would know that I had just borrowed a phrase from Scripture. But if I say this now most people will not recognize the biblical allusion because most haven’t heard the language of the KJV (2 Peter 3:5, KJV).

Old black and white movies from Hollywood’s Golden Era feature many references to biblical themes, characters, verses, or theology. Someone says, for example, “That woman is a Jezebel,” and culture knew what that meant. Today’s films are mostly sanitized of biblical references, but even when they’re included many viewers miss the connection.

I was reading an editorial a while ago and the author said, “As Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Well, during the Civil War President Lincoln did say this, but he was paraphrasing the book of Matthew (12:25) and other Gospels.

I am not against different versions of the Bible, nor do I think it’s improper for churches to select the version that best fits their ministry. I’m simply saying that we’ve embraced this newfound freedom with little discussion of its implications for community long-term.

And I believe we’re losing or among young people have already lost a common language of the faith. We're increasingly pulled apart by the centrifugal social forces of culture and we have little remaining centripetal influences of the faith pulling us together again.

Maybe we need to resurrect the church picnic.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at