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July 06, 2009

Daily roundup

Getting things done

Justice Fellowship president Pat Nolan is quoted in this article about Sen. Jim Webb's efforts to reform the criminal justice system.

Glass houses

As Frank Schaeffer continues his quest to distance himself from conservatism and evangelicalism, his tone grows ever shriller:

What are the Republicans in Congress and the other "respectable" leaders on the far right -- from Focus on the Family's James Dobson to Rush Limbaugh, from Laura Ingraham to the leaders of the NRA -- doing to stop the right-wing domestic wave of terrorism exploding in the aftermath of President Barack Obama's election? I ask this as a former evangelical right-wing and "pro-life" leader who quit the right and the Republicans in disgust over their extremism. . . .

There's a biblical story about the stoning to death of St. Stephen, where the yet-to-be-converted-apostle Paul didn't throw the deadly stones himself but stood holding the coats of the people doing the killing. Similarly, the right-wing leadership, are "holding the coats" of present and future violent actors. These coat-holders sow the seeds of hate with their words, then pretend horror when those words are taken seriously.

Here's what I don't get: If Schaeffer truly believes that the language of conservative leaders is inflammatory, and that inflammatory language leads to violence, then why is he using inflammatory language himself?

July 02, 2009

Please tell me this is not true

Jackson children THIS is why we need to more strictly regulate the whole industry of sperm donors, egg donors, surrogate mothers, whom eggs and babies are given (sold) to, etc. Evidently, one surrogate mother had no idea that the child she was carrying (biologically hers? or somebody else's?) would ultimately be absorbed into Michael Jackson's freak show. Shouldn't she have? Plus, Jackson never filed the paperwork necessary to legally adopt the children?

So--somebody just handed three innocent children over to someone who'd been charged (more than once) with child molestation? Please tell me this isn't true. No, don't bother, because I won't believe you.

(Image © Splash News)

July 01, 2009

Pat Nolan on prison rape

Our own Pat Nolan is extensively quoted in this column by National Review's Kathryn Lopez on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission report.

Churches have played no small role in the disinfecting process already. These dark crimes came out of the shadows when churches got involved, Nolan emphasizes: “Churches made it a moral issue. In a civilized society we cannot allow this to go on.”

June 30, 2009

Solitary Con-demnation

If prolonged isolation is—as research and experience have confirmed for decades—so objectively horrifying, so intrinsically cruel, how did we end up with a prison system that may subject more of our own citizens to it than any other country in history has?

So asks Atul Gawande, writing in the New Yorker. In his article "Hellhole," Gawande looks at studies (of monkeys tested in isolation and prisoners of war) that show how solitary confinement—a relatively new corrections tactic—produces individuals given to either greater violence or greater insanity.

Gawande points to the story of Terry Anderson, an American journalist held hostage by Hezbollah for seven years, to illustrate the inescapable mental meltdown that can overwhelm even the sanest among us:

In September, 1986, after several months of sharing a cell with another hostage, Anderson was, for no apparent reason, returned to solitary confinement, this time in a six-by-six-foot cell, with no windows, and light from only a flickering fluorescent lamp in an outside corridor. The guards refused to say how long he would be there. After a few weeks, he felt his mind slipping away again.

“I find myself trembling sometimes for no reason,” he wrote. “I’m afraid I’m beginning to lose my mind, to lose control completely.”

One day, three years into his ordeal, he snapped. He walked over to a wall and began beating his forehead against it, dozens of times. His head was smashed and bleeding before the guards were able to stop him.

If such derangement can overcome a lucid journalist, Gawande asks, how are prisoners, including many whose lucidity is already under question, expected to emerge from such an ordeal with any chance of becoming productive members of society?

Continue reading "Solitary Con-demnation" »

June 29, 2009

Why are TV crime dramas so popular?

L-o-15x01 I'm doing a little research for one of our staff members and I'm curious to hear our readers' thoughts and insights. We are wondering why the genre of crime drama is so popular in current American television (think CSI and its many spinoffs, the various versions of Law and Order, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Bones, Without a Trace, NCIS, etc). What draws viewers to these shows and what does that appeal say about our attitude toward crime and prisoners in general?

I found this study, which offers at least three divergent hypotheses. I'm not sure if I buy them, though.

(Image © NBC)

Scientology: The beginning of the end?

180px-StresstestA devastating exposé of Scientology's "culture of intimidation and violence" has some people wondering if the high-profile cult might not be long for this world.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

June 26, 2009

Suzanne’s First Day Out

Suzanne-W300 Suzanne Johnson swirls around in the salon chair. A clip restrains some wayward waves on top of her head, the rest of her tresses falling in just-straightened rows down her back. She’s a pretty 34. Long lashes, full pink lips, rosy cheeks. A strange contrast to her drab sweatshirt and jeans, the final reminder of her last day as Oregon inmate number 16047521.

The three other women in the room—two of whom are prison hair stylists—gaze curiously at her. Perhaps wishing they were in her shoes. Perhaps dreading the day it will be their turn.

One of the women cheers her on: “Enjoy your freedom!”

The three words resound down the prison hallway as Suzanne steps out into the sunlight, just 20 minutes away from her release from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility on March 30, 2009.

Read the rest of the story here, in Inside Out.

(Image © Inside Out)

June 24, 2009

Daily roundup

Missionaries in Yemen Killed

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch reports that three missionaries in Yemen have been killed, possibly by a former Gitmo prisoner. If this has been reported by the mainstream media, I've missed it. In any case, such news throws a dark shadow over the president's plan to close Gitmo and release dangerous men back into the world.

June 23, 2009

Today Victims of Prison Rape Receive Hope

Prison bars When Marilyn Shirley dares to remember, she can still smell the prison guard who assaulted her. While locked behind bars for a non-violent drug offense, this mother and grandmother was brutally raped by one of the prison staff. Her horror only intensified when the man spat into her ear, “Who are you going to tell? Do you think people will believe you, a no-good criminal, or me, an upstanding prison guard?”

Marilyn’s story is shared by over 60,000 prisoners. Men and women who were raped by prison officials or other inmates. Men and women whose bodies and minds are forever scarred by the most horrific and degrading attacks.

Today, however, these victims are hearing a message of hope. After years of interviews and study, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission is releasing its report and standards to the public. The report will shine light on the sexual attacks that occur throughout our prisons and jails, and the standards will hold prisons accountable to prevent, detect, and report rape.

Prison rape is not a joke. It’s the worst kind of assault against God’s image bearers. It’s time for the court of public opinion to call our prisons to account and say “no more.” The Commission’s work gives us a powerful tool to do this.

Justice Fellowship director Pat Nolan is a member of the Commission and has worked incredibly hard to make the report and standards a reality.He is in Washington, D.C., today to participate in press conferences announcing the study’s release.To get updates throughout the day, visit Justice Fellowship’s Twitter Page.

To read the full report, visit the website of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Also, visit Justice Fellowship’s Prison Rape Issue page.

June 22, 2009

Tragically timely

Iran With the eyes of the world focused on Iran, a certain movie opening this week has suddenly become timelier than ever. Go here to read about the connection between The Stoning of Soraya M. and events going on in Iran right now. And check back later this week for Chuck Colson's review of the film.

(Image courtesy of The Wrap)

June 19, 2009

What does the Lord require of you?

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that it's up to the states to protect inmates' access to DNA evidence. 

By refusing to enshrine post-conviction DNA testing as a Constitutional right, the five judges in the majority left the fate of William Osborne squarely in the hands of a lower Alaskan Court. Osborne, who was convicted of rape 15 years ago, had requested DNA testing on a condom found at the scene of his alleged crime. The Alaskan government refused.

In some states, people like Osborne would fare well. Forty-six states have laws that govern inmates' ability to request testing of crime scene DNA after they are convicted. But four states, including Alaska, have no such rules. And even some states that do have laws still limit prisoners' DNA access.

The reasons for denying DNA testing usually center on the price of testing and the harm of clogging the judicial system with frivolous requests. These things are certainly worthy to consider. Yet, I have to wonder, should cost and efficiency trump justice? Shouldn't knowing the perversity and sloppiness of human nature cause us to err on the side of caution? 

God explicitly requires us to do justice -- not to save money or time. And He promises dire consequences for those who fail to acquit the innocent. 

Imelda Marcos: From the World’s Greediest to Penniless?

(Adapted from my blog The Living Rice.)

The news clip below, from a local Filipino newscast, shows Imelda Marcos weeping because, according to her, she is poor and out of funds. She says that her only source of income is her late husband’s life pension and she’s asking the Philippine government for pity. 

It’s interesting to see how the widow of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who gained worldwide notoriety in the '80s through her lavish lifestyle and 3000 pairs of shoes (Newsweek listed her in 2009 as one of the "Greediest People of All Time") has turned around, pleading with the country she and her husband once robbed of wealth. Ironically, the begging ex-first lady, as you can see in the video, is more glammed up than the rest of us. It reminded me of what Jesus said: where our treasure is, there our hearts and thoughts will be also (Matthew 6:21). Makes one ponder, if I were to lose all my money and material possessions today, how would I respond?


For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

June 18, 2009

Daily roundup

War on the unborn

Fetus2A recent post from Jill Stanek pointed me towards this piece by William Saletan on Dr. George Tiller. Saletan is trying to argue that pro-life arguments don't hold together -- but it's his own arguments that strike me as being on very shaky ground:

To me, Tiller was brave. His work makes me want to puke. But so does combat, the kind where guts are spilled and people choke on their own blood. I like to think I love my country and would fight for it. But I doubt I have the stomach to pull the trigger, much less put my life on the line. . . .

The people who do late-term abortions are the ones who don't flinch. They're like the veterans you sometimes see in war documentaries, quietly recounting what they faced and did. You think you're pro-choice. You think marching or phone-banking makes you an activist. You know nothing. There's you, and then there are the people who work in the clinics. And then there are the people who use the forceps. And then there are the people who use the forceps nobody else will use. At the end of the line, there's George Tiller.

He's right about one thing: The military does a dirty job, a job that needs to be done, but one that many of us know we're not strong or brave enough to do.

But the last time I checked, we hadn't declared war on the unborn.

At least, not officially.

(Image courtesy of Mark Mallett)

June 16, 2009

Daily roundup

June 15, 2009

Daily roundup

Stephen Johns memorial funds

2009_0610_stephentyronejohns Speaking of Stephen Johns, three memorial funds have been established for his family. Click here to find out how to contribute.

Round up the usual suspects

Liberal columnist and talk-show host Bonnie Erbe suggests that we "round up" purveyors of hate speech before they cause violence:

Not only have we had three hate crime murders within the last two weeks ([Stephen] Johns, as noted above, Dr. George Tiller a week ago last Sunday, and Pvt. William Andrew Long by an American-born Muslim convert outside a recruiting station just before that.)

Now we have this quote from the so-called Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who used to be President Obama's pastor. Hate comes from among all peoples and all religions. He said this about his lack of communication with Barack Obama since he's been elected president, according to the AP:

"Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office," Wright told the Daily Press of Newport News following a Tuesday night sermon at the 95th annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference.

It's not enough to prosecute these murders as murders. They are hate-motivated crimes and each of these men had been under some sort of police surveillance prior to their actions. Isn't it time we started rounding up promoters of hate before they kill?

I've been as sickened and disturbed as anyone by the incidents Erbe describes, as you all know, but I wonder if she's thought this through. "Round them up" and then do . . . what? Put them in jail for thoughtcrime? I thought that sort of thing went against everything that the left held dear. (If you'd told me back during the presidential campaign, when we were all being told to pay no attention to the man behind the pulpit, that a prominent liberal journalist would soon advocate his arrest, I'd have done a spit-take all over my keyboard.)

We need to take steps against the encouragement of violence in our society; there's no question about that. But the steps Erbe advocates would lead us in a very dangerous direction.

June 12, 2009

Daily roundup

There is nothing new under the sun

Anne Frank On what would have been Anne Frank's 80th birthday, the Holocaust Memorial Museum will present the new play Anne & Emmett, "an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, teenage victims of anti-Semitism and racism, respectively."

The play would have premiered Wednesday, if not for the murder of a black Holocaust Museum security guard by an anti-Semitic, racist killer.

June 11, 2009

PFM’s Pat Nolan testifies before the Committee on the Judiciary

Well, I'm dead meat -- David asked me to let you all know about this beforehand, and I forgot. But you can join the webcast in progress at this link. (And it's been nice knowing you all.)

Security guard dies in Holocaust Museum shooting

Stephen Johns As you may have seen in the updated Post article at my original post, security guard Stephen Johns has died after being shot in the chest at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. R.I.P. Please be in prayer for his family.

(Image © AP/U.S. Holocaust Museum)

June 10, 2009

Daily roundup

Self-Defense and Christianity

Book2yel Jason's recent post on a pastor who has urged his congregation to bring their guns to church fascinated me, and brought up a related issue: self-defense. A number of years ago, I spent a week going through a self-defense course led by Sanford Strong, who was once a San Diego police officer in charge of violent crimes. He became tired of investigating crimes where victims could have survived -- or at least sustained lesser injuries -- had they known how to respond to a violent assailant. So he began traveling the country offering self-defense classes.

What is perhaps unusual about my involvement is that it happened because a pastor friend arranged the classes for everyone (kids and adults) who attended a week-long summer camp. A woman in his congregation had been attacked in broad daylight on a busy interstate highway. Fortunately, she was able to get away unharmed. But it made Gene realize that part of his job as "shepherd" was to teach his flock how to protect themselves. So he hired Sandy to come in and conduct a self-defense seminar.

In between the Bible classes one would expect at a Christian camp, Sandy taught us what to do should a criminal confront us; he then had us practice simple self-defense moves against the largest guys there, who were wearing special padded uniforms to keep them from getting hurt. We were all a bit black-and-blue by week's end; but it gave us the confidence to know that, if we act properly, we can greatly increase our chances of surviving a violent crime. (I should add that, as a teacher, I believe it's my job to protect my students should someone come into my classroom and cause trouble. So the training I received goes beyond mere self-defense.)

How many of you have been through -- or would like to go through -- such training? Do you find it consistent or inconsistent with your Christian beliefs? Explain.

(Image courtesy of Sgtstrong.com)

More Racing for Prisoners’ Kids

Runningshoes I’ve always thought “Wow, these Pointificators are a smart bunch … and fun too!” And with the outpouring of giving toward Prison Fellowship’s Storybook Dads program last month -- I hoped to raise $100 via my race … and you delivered $266!! -- I also realized “Wow, they’re generous too!”

Well, Joe, Zoe, Ron, CreationWaits, Dennis and YouKnowWhoYouAre, you were absolute heroes for my race. Again, thank you SO much.

Now, may I come back to The Point and ask our many dear friends for help again?

Those of you who enjoy reading The Point, first, may I again tell you how much we enjoy conversing with you? And may I also ask you to give to fellow blog contributors Karen Williams and Travis McShirley? They, too, are running to raise funds for Storybook Dads, a Prison Fellowship program that helps build the bonds between incarcerated fathers and their children.

Karen’s site is here. Travis’s site is here.

Continue reading "More Racing for Prisoners’ Kids" »

Breaking: Shooting at the Holocaust Museum in D.C.

The Washington Post has more.

Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Ap_ken_pagano_090605_mn A pastor in Kentucky is encouraging his congregation to bring their weapons to church to promote responsible gun ownership. Pastor Ken Begano of New Bethel Church in Louisville calls it "Open Carry Celebration" and it will feature gun safety videos, patriotic songs and a $1 raffle to win a handgun. He said, "As a Christian pastor I believe that without a deep-seeded belief in God and firearms that this country would not be here."

(Image © Ed Reinke for the AP)

June 08, 2009

Daily roundup

American journalists sentenced in North Korea

Nkorea_200 Euna Lee and Laura Ling have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry into the country and "hostility toward the Korean people." NPR has more.

(Image © Yonhap/AFP/Getty Images)

June 05, 2009

Daily roundup

June 02, 2009

Two lives

Scsarahp0602 Gov. Sarah Palin draws an important, and largely overlooked, connection:

The stories of two very different lives with similar fates crossed through the media's hands yesterday — both equally important but one lacked the proper attention. The death of 67-year old George Tiller was unacceptable, but equally disgusting was another death that police believe was politically and religiously motivated as well.

William Long died yesterday. The 23-year old Army Recruiter was gunned down by a fanatic; another fellow soldier was wounded in the ambush. The soldiers had just completed their basic training and were talking to potential recruits, just as my son, Track, once did.

Whatever titles we give these murderers, both deserve our attention. Violence like that is no way to solve a political dispute nor a religious one. And the fanatics on all sides do great disservice when they confuse dissention with rage and death.

(Image © AP)

The Irony of President Obama’s Positions

ObamaPlannedParenthood Has anyone else noticed the blatant incongruity in President Obama’s positions when it comes to abortion and torture?

He believes it is fine for a woman to abort her unborn child for any reason and at anytime during the pregnancy. Even if the child initially survives an abortion attempt there should be no attempt to save that child and the doctors will not be held accountable. YET, he finds it totally unacceptable to use waterboarding on a terrorist who may know something about a possible attack on Americans, even if the information obtained could prevent that attack from happening and save many lives.

Irony #1: Abortion always causes the child to die while waterboarding never causes the terrorist to die.

Irony #2: Abortion tears the child’s body apart while waterboarding at most causes the terrorist to swallow water. Ronald Reagan said, “The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother's body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being.”

Irony #3: The government wants to go after those that have allowed waterboarding and have them prosecuted or disbarred while those that uphold abortion are given positions in President Obama’s administration.

Irony #4: President Obama calls waterboarding torture, abortion a choice.

Barack Obama condemns the use of torture but isn’t it time for him to recognize that abortion IS torture and condemn it as well?

Jesus said, “'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25:40)

(Image courtesy of LifeSiteNews)

June 01, 2009

Daily roundup

Down the rabbit hole

Alice03thTed Olson is suing to overturn the Prop. 8 ruling in California (along with former Bush v. Gore opponent David Boles) . . .

. . . and Ted Rall wants President Obama to resign.

There are days when I feel exactly like Alice.

(Image courtesy of Project Gutenberg)

Voting under Threat of a Wood Shampoo

Perhaps the dropped voter-intimidation charges -- which have been dropped post-judgment, mind you -- are an example of the much-touted "empathy" that is now supposed to pervade our administration of justice? In this case, I guess that would be empathy for baton-wielding Black Panther thugs who hassle potential voters at polling stations? And who say things like "you are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker"?

But Eric Holder's InJustice Department has, as always, an impressive explanation:

The Justice Department was successful in obtaining an injunction that prohibits the defendant who brandished a weapon outside a Philadelphia polling place from doing so again. Claims were dismissed against the other defendants based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law. The department is committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote.

Ooh, what a victory. You "obtained an injunction," did you? And it prevents the main thug from menacing potential voters in the future, does it?

Um ... I think you already had that. I think it's called The Law.

May 31, 2009

Breaking: Abortionist George Tiller murdered

The controversial late-term abortionist was shot to death this morning . . . in church, of all places. Details are few right now, but we'll update later when we find out more. (Thanks to Laura for the tip.)

I wanted to lose no time in emphatically denouncing the crime. This is not something that any of us here would have wished on Dr. Tiller. Despite his own acts of violence, we are not to take the law into our own hands. Better to leave his life in God's hands and let him have every chance to repent and turn from his sins before facing his Creator.

But now we can only pray, may God have mercy on his soul.

Update: A 51-year-old male suspect is in custody.

Update: The "person of interest" has been identified as Scott Roeder -- possibly the same Scott Roeder who, as a member of an anti-government group, was arrested in 1996 after being caught with a bomb-triggering device. Also, President Obama released a statement on the killing.

Update: The following people and organizations have also denounced the killing:

National Right to Life Committee

Tony Perkins, Family Research Council (scroll down)

Troy Newman, Operation Rescue

Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life

Kansans for Life

Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony List

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life

Concerned Women for America

Jill Stanek

Gov. Sarah Palin

Shaun Kenney, American Life League

Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family

(Special thanks to Kathryn Lopez for much of this information.)

May 29, 2009

Daily roundup

May 27, 2009

Daily roundup

Isn’t justice blind?

Nm_sotomayor_090526_mn Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, has some troubling views on that subject. From the New York Times:

In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor, an appeals court judge, gave a speech declaring that the ethnicity and sex of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging.”

In her speech, Judge Sotomayor questioned the famous notion — often invoked by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her retired Supreme Court colleague, Sandra Day O’Connor — that a wise old man and a wise old woman would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases.

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” said Judge Sotomayor. . . .

(Image © Win McNamee for GettyImages)

May 26, 2009

The proof is in the penitent

Brotherston When Billy Barclay's mother saw her son's killer on TV singing praise songs, the only thing she could find in her heart was disgust. Apparently, convicted killer Garry Brotherston became a Christian in prison and is now openly discussing his conversion on Christian TV. But, for Billy's mom, it doesn't sit right.

“There is nothing that he can say that will convince me he’s a Christian," she told the Clydebank Post.

If we believe anything at Prison Fellowship, it's that people can change--that bank robbers can become philanthropists, that drug dealers can become pillars of society, and that murderers can become peacemakers. But ... it must start with repentance. And that means not simply repenting before God, but also repenting before those one has most grievously injured--in this man's case, to the family of his victim.

Brotherston's transformation might indeed be sincere, but the proof lies in actions of remorse and repentance. In an interview, Brotherston claimed to think of his victim's family every day. But has there been a letter of apology? Nada. Has there been any attempt at communication? Zip.

In Catherine's As We Forgive, we learn of a man named John who waits more than 10 years to seek forgiveness from a woman whose father he had murdered during the Rwandan genocide. At first, the woman--Chantal--rebukes him in her anger, accusing him of false repentance. But John doesn't leave the apology there--he follows up by visiting Chantal to help her cultivate her land, demonstrating by his actions that his remorse is linked to his soul. Over time, Chantal finds the strength to extend forgiveness to John, and she, herself, is transformed by the freedom it brings.

Conversion must be punctuated by remorse. I don't blame Billy's mom for her skepticism. I'd probably doubt the man's sincerity too.

(Image courtesy of the Clydesdale Post)

May 22, 2009

Daily roundup

Posting will be light Monday because of Memorial Day.

May 20, 2009

The Ultimate in NIMBY

We've all become familiar with the concept of NIMBY (Not In My Backyard), though it usually comes up with issues like nuclear waste, garbage dumps, power lines, or new prisons. But now for the ultimate in NIMBY: It's time to find a new home for Guantanamo Bay detainees!

Representative Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), who represents many of the Northern Virginia suburbs where some 17 detainees might be relocated, is having none of it. This is a no-brainer position for any politician who wants to be popular in his district. Few enjoy the prospect of having someone who fought U.S. troops landing literally in their backyard in tony Fairfax.

But whatever happened to "love your neighbor," some may ask. Well, it's true that Jesus preached a gospel that demanded love beyond one's immediate circle of family and friends. However, he also said that we were to "love our neighbor as ourselves." Many in Frank Wolf's Congressional District, including Christians, might well discern that self-preservation is part of Jesus's admonition.

You aren't much good to anyone else if you're hacked to pieces by someone who hates your country.  

May 19, 2009

Foster Care Prayer Vigil

Boy 2 soft This week has been designated Foster Care Prayer Week by several Christian organizations, including our friends at Show Hope. More than half a million kids are in foster care in the U.S. on any given day.  Many are there because their homes were unsafe for them to remain in, while others wind up in foster care because their parents have been arrested and there were no relatives available to care for them.

I do hope you'll pray for kids in foster care this week, but there are other ways you can help these children. Becoming a foster parent is the obvious way. Kids in crisis need a stable, safe place to live, and if they can do this in the presence of a family that loves God and models His love to those children, what an impact that could have.

There's another way. I'm in training right now to be a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for kids in foster care, part of the nationwide effort to have an advocate assigned to every child in foster care in this country. You can read more about this effort at the web site for the National CASA ("Court Appointed Special Advocates") program. 

The web site for this year's Prayer Vigil is loaded with other ideas and resources, including a section on why this issue and these kids matter to God. Go check it out--and while you're praying for kids in foster care, pray about how you might get involved in helping them.

(Image © Cry of the Orphan)

May 18, 2009

Daily roundup

May 15, 2009

Daily roundup

May 14, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President

Art.1700.obama.cnn I was extremely thankful to read that President Obama has reversed course and now opposes releasing any more photos of detainees being interrogated. He has wisely noted that releasing these photos would flame anti-American sentiment and endanger our troops. According to the president, “The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by small number of individuals."

I wish the ACLU got this. Thank goodness, the president does. 

(Image © Shawna Shepherd for CNN)

May 11, 2009

More Thoughts on Guns

Glock_30_45cal We wandered a bit off-topic in the thread about what we expect in the president's Supreme Court nominee: I mentioned that I figure his nominee will be someone who will oppose the private ownership of guns, which led Andy to wonder why Christians want to own guns in the first place, as if there were some biblical reason why we shouldn't. I thought that was a reasonable issue to address, and decided to continue the discussion here.

I can't speak for every gun-owning Christian; I can only speak for my family, especially my husband and myself. First, guns are part of two sports we both enjoy -- hunting and shooting. When it comes to hunting, we only kill animals we're going to eat, such as deer, wild pig, elk, antelope, rabbits, and quail. While we certainly don't need to hunt to eat, we see nothing wrong -- certainly nothing unbiblical -- in doing so. The fact that we both grew up in the country, and regularly ate what we and our fathers killed, makes this activity normal for us. (I can understand why it might seem strange to a city dweller who thinks that all meat comes in styrofoam packages.) 

We also like to go target shooting. I must admit that I'm only a fair shot on the range, but my husband is fantastic -- whether with a shotgun shooting skeet (he's poetry-in-motion) or with a pistol or high-powered rifle shooting targets. In fact, he once captained the Air Force's High Powered Rifle Team and competed at the national level. Both our children (now adults) like to go target shooting, something we started them doing at a young age. FYI, my husband and I never allowed our kids to have toy guns; we never wanted them to think of guns as something to play around with. For the same reason, I am adamantly opposed to videos games which teach children to shoot. Guns are not toys and should never be treated as such.

Second, we own guns for protection from "varmints" -- both animal and human. Jesus told His followers to sell their extra cloak and buy a sword because He knew that the world was a dangerous place and that they might need to defend themselves -- whether from dangerous animals or humans. I have never had to kill a lion, as David did, but I have certainly had occasion to shoot poisonous snakes when I was out camping, hiking, or hunting. And, should a criminal break into my home or threaten someone I love, I have no problem using a gun in our defense. Yes, it would be nice if the police could be around 24/7 to  handle the bad guys for us, but that's not ever going to happen. Some of the responsibility for protecting myself and those I care about remains in my hands.

Continue reading "More Thoughts on Guns" »