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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

History 101: A Brief History of The Crusades of the Holy Roman Empire



In 1095 Pope Urban called upon Christians to take up arms against the invading Turkish Muslims to free the lands that were overtaken, specifically Jerusalem.  His call was seen as a call to faith, a call to duty and a call to serve Jesus by the people.  People by the thousands picked up the banner of the Roman Catholic Church and rode off to the Holy Land which held no promise of return for them, but they did so to preserve their faith and the safety of Christians throughout the land.  One of the motivating factors behind Pope Urban’s call to service was that after the Turkish invasion force moved through Jerusalem, Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos asked for a show of force in order to protect his lands from further incursion by the Muslims.  This can been be seen as the pope reaching out to increase the power of the Church and force the re-unification of the eastern and western factions of the Catholic Church.  By coming to the aid of the Byzantines the pope could be seen as the powerful one who came and bailed out the less powerful side of the Church.  If this angle had worked out, Pope Urban II would have had the momentum to fold the eastern and western factions back together into one church that spanned the majority of the European continent, and history would have seen him as the great uniter.  As history records it, Pope Urban II was the one who’s call to action started what was (at least) a two hundred year war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Christians and Christians alike.  And each successive Crusade after the First Crusade became less about protecting Christianity and more about holding land and furthering power.

While the world may not know the name of the pope who started the Crusades, they certainly know that the Crusades happened.  What many in the world remain unaware of is the scandal that some say the Crusades served to cover up.  That scandal is the Investiture Controversy.  The Investiture Controversy was a major dispute between the church and the kingdoms about the role that the local authorities had in the appointment of bishops and abbots within the local churches.  In 1073, Pope Gregory VIII declared that that the church itself would be responsible for appointing and confirming those into the roles of bishop and abbot.  Before this, the local church lay people had the power to appoint local church leadership.  The kingdoms did not like this power grab by the pope and resisted it at every turn.  The resistance stemmed from the idea that those who were able to appoint church leaders would control those leaders.  And if you had some degree of control over the church leaders, you would have their favor.  Over the next two decades this fissure between church and state continued to grow until Pope Urban II felt that it had to be pushed aside and made less important.  Many scholars surmise that Pope Urban II’s rush to the First Crusade was partially to draw attention away from the Investiture Controversy.  However, it wasn’t until the Concordat of Worms in 1112 that this issue was laid to rest.  It was decided that all bishops would still be approved by the church, however the local authorities could select the candidates.


The Second Crusade was launched by Pope Eugene III and was lead by the nobility of Europe.  Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany took up the cause and marched to reclaim County of Edessa from the Zengi.  After the first crusade, four crusader states had been established: Kingdom of Jerusalem, Antioch, County of Edessa and later the County of Tripoli.  The County of Edessa had been the northern most and least populated of them but represented a spread and power base for the church.  When Edessa fell, Pope Eugene responded to take the crusade state back because he did not want to lost any territory.  This crusade seemed to lack any real spiritual backbone and did not accomplish anything that moved in the direction of a Christ-centered goal.


The Third Crusade, also known as the King’s Crusade, was a direct response to Saladin’s rise in power.  The Muslims had been in-fighting for a long time, but Saladin came along and united them into a single power that began taking back the land lost to the Christians in the First Crusade.  After the Second Crusade failed to displace the Zengi, they continued to control the area of Syria and their forces were eventually assumed by the armies of Saladin.  In 1187, Saladin marched the same armies of the Zengi into Jerusalem and continued to take Christian held cities and states throughout the area.  These incursions were said to have caused Pope Urban III to have a heart attack and subsequently die.  The next pope, Pope Gregory VIII then called for a Third Crusade in 1187.  This Third Crusade would be lead by King Richard I of England, King Phillp II of France and Emperor Barbarossa of Germany.  While the armies looked strong at first, they were immediately beset with problems and political strife that ended up with only King Richard’s forces actually reaching the Holy Land to do any real fighting.  What is most interesting about the Third Crusade is that most scholars see it as successful because the Crusaders drove the Muslims from Acre and Jaffe, and Saladin failed to score a decisive win against King Richard, but at the end of it all Jerusalem remained under Saladin’s control with only a treaty that allowed Christians safe transit to Jerusalem.





When Pope Innocent III assumed papal power in 1198 he made it clear that he wasn’t pleased with the treaty that ended the Third Crusade when he launched the Fourth Crusade with its stated goal of recapturing the city of Jerusalem.  However, the execution instead was to invade and take the city of Constantinople, which is seen as the last great act of the Great Schism in the Catholic Church.  The Crusaders established the Latin Empire within the Byzantine states at that time.  This only lasted from 1204-1261 because the disparate sections of the Byzantine empire would not be ruled over and fought back eventually destabilizing the Latin Empire and eventually liberated their capital city.  The ramifications of this reverberated through Europe for some time.   For centuries experts have debated what the goal of the Fourth Crusade actually was.  Was it to conquer Constantinople?  Or was it to take back Jerusalem and things just shifted?  Constantinople was seen as a haven for Christians, and defended Christianity throughout the Crusades.  By sacking the city the Crusaders sent a message that they really weren’t out to defend Christianity and the cause of Christ, but instead to wield power and extend their reach.   It was nothing more than a stab in the back that has been felt for centuries and has stood as a bigger division within the Catholic church than the Great Schism itself.


Summing up the Crusades is a difficult task.  So many actions were taken, battles were fought and lives were lost that the root causes and goals become less clear as time goes on.  While the Catholic Church stated reasons and goals that were pure and sought to defend Christianity at its roots, there is still question about how much of it was true and how much was a power play.  However, as we continued to look over the reasons and actions that lead to the other major Crusades it become more and more clear that they became about no more than who controlled what land, when and how in order to facilitate trade and – in the end – create more wealth through real estate.  And in the end, the sacking of Constantinople can’t be seen as anything more than a back-handed action that sought to deal a death blow to the western church, but instead revealed the eastern church for what it truly was: an organization that had started out to spread the word of Christ, but got lost along the way and instead of using its power to spread the good news, they used it to control lands and people in the guise of evangelizing to the world.





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Bruce holds a degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Graduate Certificate in Biblical History from Liberty University and is working towards a Masters Degree in American History at American Public University.  He has worked in educational and technology for over 18 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  

Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel -- with a new book, Learn the Basics: Digital Forensics, due soon. 

Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!




Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Benefits of Installing a Good Parental Control Software

They say parenting adolescents is mostly about retaining a tenuous balance between being aware of what your kid is up to and giving him or her a fair amount of privacy and independence. Since the Internet age is very much here, conducting a discreet form of surveillance on your kid's activities should be much easier.


However, as the Internet evolved to become increasingly complex and all-encompassing, so did its user's abilities to conceal a great deal of their activities online. Kids and teenagers have become particularly adept at getting around websites with restricted content while hiding the said activity from their parents in the process.

So, with all the assorted toxic content floating around on the Internet just waiting for kids to seek them out or stumble upon them, how can a parent protect his or her children when they won't always be around (or when kids choose to hide their online activities)? 


The answer possibly lies in the installation of a good parental control software.  One type of parental control software is known as keylogger. One of the benefits of such software is that it provides concerned parents is that it can be installed remotely and that it is generally undetectable once in place. The kid would know that such a software is in place, of course, but they would not know when it is functioning. (This then serves as an additional deterrent against visiting websites with inappropriate content or engaging in cyber bullying.)


Some of the other crucial benefits that a good keylogger can provide also include the following:

  1. Keystroke logging. Some of the best keylogger software out there can even track your child's keystrokes and show you the sort of keywords or text that commonly pop up when your kid uses the Internet. If some of their keyword searches also turn out to be particularly suspicious, the program can track that too and give you a heads-up.
  2. Screenshots. A lot of busy parents often don't have the time to check in with the program as much as they would like. Fortunately, they can set their parental control program of choice to take and keep screenshots of their child's online activity so that they can peruse them when they are ready.
  3. Some keyloggers also automatically generate reports so that parents can get timely updates on their child's online activities even when they are away from home for long periods of time.
  4. Recording of chat transcripts or emails. Perhaps the scariest thing about cyber bullying is that it often goes undetected until it's too late. This is because a great deal of the bullying occurs behind computer screens, where insults are lobbied behind the safety that distance and anonymous usernames provide. Parental control programs can help nip things in the bud since it picks up on suspicious chat transcripts or email exchanges and keeps a record of them. That way, it can be easier for a parent to notice any disturbing patterns of behavior being made towards their kids. Another advantage is that the records can also stand as proof in case the parent might need to take further action against the bully.

    See related posts:  Stop!T! - Stop Cyber Bullying in its Tracks at Your School

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Bruce holds a degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Graduate Certificate in Biblical History from Liberty University and is working towards a Masters Degree in American History at American Public University.  He has worked in educational and technology for over 18 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  

Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel -- with a new book, Learn the Basics: Digital Forensics, due soon. 

Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!




Wednesday, August 12, 2015

7 Questions Every Teacher and Educator Should Ask

Education and Technology have always had a promising, if not tenuous relationship.  Schools, administrators and teachers alike have struggled with how the two can come together in the most prodigious and productive ways possible.  This has been going on for over thirty years... and while there have been some successes, and a large number of promising ideas that have come from it -- the large majority of schools and teachers struggle with the right formula that will consistently breed success.  

And in the end... the answer is that no such formula exists.  Every teacher, every student and every school are different... and because of that, it is an ever changing and evolving area.  But recently the ASCD posted a BLOG on 7 questions  that every educator should ask themselves as the prepare for this upcoming school year.  And these questions speak to how the educator approaches instruction whether it be with or without technology.  I am reposting those questions here, and then linking to the article below so you can see how the ASCD has answered these questions.  But I urge all administrators, teachers and educators in general to answer these questions for themselves before reading the article.

1. Learning -- Who owns the learning?
2. Learning Space -- Do our classrooms empower students to practice creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication and contribution?
3 . Partnerships - Does our school have a plan for communicating with families?
4. Assessment - Does our school have a plan for supporting formative assessment?
5. Reflection - How will each staff member create white space for reflection and growth?
6. College and Career Readiness - Would you hire your own students?
7. Image - What makes your school unique?

In the end, the only way to affect change is to create the change... disrupt the norm.  Progress in all areas comes from finding new ways to think and then new ways to do.  If we want to improve continuously, we must question what we do, how we do it and -- why we do it continuously.  Keep reading... and keep asking questions!

Here is the original ASCD article.


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Bruce holds a degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Graduate Certificate in Biblical History from Liberty University and is working towards a Masters Degree in American History at American Public University.  He has worked in educational and technology for over 18 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  


Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel -- with a new book, Learn the Basics: Digital Forensics, due soon. 

Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!



                            

Friday, August 7, 2015

American History 101: Manifest Destiny

 Manifest Destiny.

A premise that pushed America forward in the mid-19th century before the Civil War.

No nation ever existed without some sense of national destiny or purpose.


Manifest Destiny was a phrase used by leaders and politicians in the 1840s to explain continental expansion by the United States.  It helped to revitalize an American sense of "mission" or national destiny for individual Americans.

The people of the United States felt it was their mission to extend the "boundaries of freedom" to others by imparting their idealism and belief in democratic institutions to those who were capable of self-government. It excluded those people who were perceived as being incapable of self-government, such as Native American people and those of non-European origin.

But there were other forces and political agendas at work as well. As the population of the original 13 Colonies grew and the U.S. economy developed, the desire and attempts to expand into new land increased. For many colonists, land represented potential income, wealth, self-sufficiency and freedom. Expansion into the western frontiers offered opportunities for self-advancement.

To understand Manifest Destiny, it's important to understand the United States' need and desire to expand. The following points illustrate some of the economic, social and political pressures promoting U.S. expansion:

  • The United States was experiencing a periodic high birth rate and increases in population due to immigration. And because agriculture provided the primary economic structure, large families to work the farms were considered an asset. The U.S. population grew from more than five millon in 1800 to more than 23 million by mid-century. Thus, there was a need to expand into new territories to accommodate this rapid growth. It's estimated that nearly 4,000,000 Americans moved to western territories between 1820 and 1850.
  • The United States suffered two economic depressions — one in 1818 and a second in 1839. These crises drove some people to seek their living in frontier areas.
  • Frontier land was inexpensive or, in some cases, free.
  • Expansion into frontier areas opened opportunities for new commerce and individual self-advancement.
  • Land ownership was associated with wealth and tied to self-sufficiency, political power and independent "self-rule."
  • Maritime merchants saw an opportunity to expand and promote new commerce by building West Coast ports leading to increased trade with countries in the Pacific.


Beginning in the early 19th century with Jefferson'd acquisition of the Louisiana Territory, and the subsequent push of the Native Americans off their land,  the push for the United States to expand westward was something that the country needed during this period in order to accomplish the goals set forth almost forty years earlier.  And, as with earlier pushes west, this period of "Manifest Destiny" would push the United States into conflict -- and soon war -- with Mexico.



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Bruce holds a degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Graduate Certificate in Biblical History from Liberty University and is working towards a Masters Degree in American History at American Public University.  He has worked in educational and technology for over 18 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  


Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel -- with a new book, Learn the Basics: Digital Forensics, due soon. 

Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!