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July 06, 2009

Daily roundup

June 30, 2009

Are You Educated? Take a Quiz and Find Out

Intercollegiate Studies Institute is offering a small quiz to test you on your civics knowledge. It has questions like this:

1)   Which of the following are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence?
A. life, liberty, and property
B. honor, liberty, and peace
C. liberty, health, and community
D. life, respect, and equal protection
E. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Take it and see if you're smart than the average bear--oh, jumping jehosophat--I mean person. 

June 26, 2009

Dear Emmie II

Last week, I posted my response to Emmie, who, in the valley of decision regarding what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, left the valley for an arena of opinions. She decided to terminate the pregnancy.

I joined the arena and was sincere in what I said, though I regret understating the joy it is to have a daughter. But several of the claims and conclusions in this series continue to grieve me. I will focus only on three:

Claim #1 (by Emmie): I will do good because of my [bad] abortion. “If I get my degree then maybe the path it will take me on will lead me to work on women’s issues. Maybe one day I’ll make a million dollars and start a scholarship program for pregnant graduate students. I can’t believe that nothing good can come of this, I know I’ll do something right one of these days.”

Emmie clearly does not believe abortion is a harmless act. She is already planning to try to atone for it in the future. It might ease her conscience, but I'm afraid it will do little more.

Continue reading "Dear Emmie II" »

June 25, 2009

We Are a Pragmatic People

Unfortunately, some school officials believe children ought to receive monetary rewards as an incentive for academic performance. Sure, maybe this would be fine if education were primarily for future economic gain. Instead of pursuing education as a means of further good, this practice makes education a purely pragmatic step toward the next step...whatever that may be.

Pragmatism hardly leads to the type of virtue that true education should develop.

June 24, 2009

Daily roundup

June 23, 2009

Daily roundup

June 17, 2009

Dear Emmie

Baby-1Dear Emmie,

This morning, I had some plans. They were simple, but they were plans, and, once again, they were interrupted. I closed my laptop and swiveled away from my desk to lean over my crying baby. This time she needed a new diaper and to be fed. Her arms and legs were slowly waving, her eyes squeezed shut, and her mouth squared open in seeming anguish--a little melodramatic, to be sure, but she was very uncomfortable! In those moments of certain inconvenience, somehow her needy face--melodramatic though it is--makes my heart melt. She needs care.

You are free to proceed with the abortion, Emmie--and, just as you've felt a weight lifted with the decision, you may never regret it. As many have said, giving birth is not easy. But, if you allowed the baby to be born, and if you let that baby receive care, whether from your hand or another's, you would not regret it. And I think you would realize then, and only then, that aborting him or her would have been a terrible thing to do.

So, you have the option of aborting now and possibly feeling no guilt--or you have the option of carrying to term, feeling no guilt, and allowing the dependent baby to receive care and someday make decisions for him or herself.

Have you been able to read my comment before aborting? Has it influenced you at all?

One last question--how can you be sure you will be happy in graduate school?

My baby began crying again, so I should stop here. But I had to write you. When I looked into my daughter's face this morning, I feel I peeked at your baby's face, too.

Bless you.

(Image © Block magazine)

June 16, 2009

Marxist (Harpo, not Karl) Managers

Harpo Mike Metzger over at the Clapham Institute has written an article about how business managers fail to use moral language at work -- even if they are "acting for moral reasons." Because they fear it will hurt their career, "they perform as moral mutes instead" (hence the Harpo Marx reference).

Metzger cites several studies that confirm this problem, including one survery of 13 top business schools that showed a "B-school education not only fails to improve the moral character of students, it actually weakens it." 

Another study reveals how the problem springs from the modern educational system that dismantles the moral order that America was once based upon: "Students are taught a definition of reality that makes an absolute distinction between facts and values. Facts are the province of science and business while values are the province of religion. Facts are propositions; values are preferences. Fact language includes economics. Values language includes ethics. Students graduate with an unshakable faith that using moral language even remotely hinting at faith has no place in the workplace."

One result of this mindset is "our current economic crisis" caused by managers who could not see beyond their "own narrow ambitions" -- as evidenced by the scandals and economic meltdowns at Enron, Worldcom, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc.

Metzker sees one glimmer of hope: 20% of 2009 graduates from the Harvard Business School have voluntarily signed "the M.B.A. Oath" in which they pledge to "serve the greater good" and to "act responsibly, ethically, and refrain from advancing their own narrow ambitions at the expense of others." 

However, my reaction was one of dismay since only 20% were willing to sign the pledge. Seems to me that such a step should be required for all college graduates, regardless of their major. Restoring the sense of what we ought to do -- based on Judeo-Christian ethics -- is critical if we want to turn America back from her current self-destructive path.

(Image courtesy of IMDb and MPTV)

May the Force be with him

StarWarsIV I don't know why I, a longtime resident of the D.C. area, never heard about Sen. Tom Coburn's "famous Star Wars-themed STD presentation [to Capitol Hill interns] in 2005," but I feel gypped.

At any rate, I hope the Senate Ethics Committee can get this dispute regarding these lectures (over pizza!?) resolved pretty soon. Coburn knows his stuff, and the information he has to share just might save lives.

(Image © Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century-Fox)

June 12, 2009

’Our Father...’

Since I'm attending my older son's college graduation this week, this news item caught my eye. I watched the video, and laughed. I was pleased that the school principal showed respect, even though he was clearly taken by surprise by students loudly and gleefully (you can see some of them grinning in anticipation just before they disrupt their graduation ceremony) reciting the Lord's Prayer.

The ACLU had bulled the school into forbidding graduates to pray or say anything of a religious nature at their ceremony. The result: the ACLU ended up getting far more religious speech than they would have had they not attempted to shut religious graduates up in the first place.

The ACLU, which always gets its knickers in a twist when it doesn't get its own way, was spluttering with outrage at this unseemly outburst of free speech. However, their response to the noisy graduates (whose "crime" was, in effect, telling the ACLU where to get off) was disturbing. ACLU attorney Benjamin Stevenson said, "Something should have been done to stop the recitation of the Lord's Prayer." The recitation took, what--about 20 seconds? What did the guardians of free speech expect school authorities to do? Stand by with clubs just in case somebody said the wrong thing?

Kinda reminds you of the Gestapo, doesn't it?

June 11, 2009

Witch Hunts and Pimps

Finding Nemo From a very young age I regarded pimps as modern-day slave-masters, thinking of them as yellow-bellied bullies who are the boils and plagues of society.  What I never thought possible happened: In some circles I am considered a pimp.  

Many years ago, Jean Bethke Elshtain reviewed Katie Roiphe's book The Morning After, which is about the problem of feminists' quest for power. I think the review is germane in light of a recent Point post about Pixar Studios and girl power. In a nutshell, the problem is that while attending institutions of higher learning, women like the Mad Typist (author of that article about Pixar) have imbibed the noxious notion that they're victims and men--all men--are villains.  

To empower women is not a bad thing. As Elshtain says, the empowerment of women and men is creative because both sexes bring something to the table which would not be "brought alone." But what the zealots want is for women to dominate men. This kind of power, asserts Elshtain, "is...of the most unredeemable variety." 

So unless Pixar produces a movie which reduces males to stupid brutes and raise females to the status of goddesses, feminist zealots rate the creators as chauvinists. Furthermore, unless all women agree with this radical stance, they, too, are considered pimps: "Catharine MacKinnon, the eminence grise behind this movement, claims that women who argue against the 'all men are rapists' formulae are also 'pimps,' they and their male colleagues who worry about the civil rights of the accused and other such 'bourgeois niceties' readily dispensed with for the sake of the greater cause."

Comparing worldviews between the Mad Typist and people like Elshtain is useful. In a short bio, Mad Typist states that she's a secular humanist. Her worldview denies the goodness of God and the goodness of His creation. She believes in a dog-eat-dog world. Elshtain's a Christian who believes that both men and women are created in His image and both sexes have something to contribute. Along with a high view of men and women, there are also standards of how to treat one another and ourselves which handily matches our design. Elshtain calls this Ethics. 

In the final analysis, we must resist the urge to engage in this power-playing nonsense. Regarding women like the Mad Typist, I concur with Elshtain and Roiphe: "Grow up."

(Image © Pixar)

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)

June 09, 2009

Daily roundup

Chesterton, Anyone?

28thlogo2 Fittingly, while I was contemplating starving men, I received an invitation to the American Chesterton Society's 28th annual conference. It’s being held in Seattle University’s Pigott Auditorium, and includes intriguing topics like “Chesterton and Alfred Hitchcock” and “The Dangers of Trifling with Chesterton.”

I’m sure, if you go, you will be ingesting ideas of meaty substance.

(Image © American Chesterton Society)

June 08, 2009

Daily roundup

June 05, 2009

Daily roundup

Safely amusing

Ride7 With schools out or just about to let out around the country, the summer season at amusement parks is getting underway. Here's a list of helpful tips for keeping your kids safe while keeping them entertained. For more tips, check out the Safer Parks web site.

(Image courtesy of Safer Parks)

June 03, 2009

Daily roundup

June 02, 2009

Daily roundup

Tragedy Strikes Healthy Egg Donors

Egg donation College-age females are at risk for more than STDs. Bioethicist Jennifer Lahl warns readers about the advertisements aimed at college students offering money for their eggs -- advertisements that don't tell the truth about the very real risks. 

(Image © S. Walker for Getty Images)

June 01, 2009

Ah, the pathos: The droning of self-excommunicates

In the last few days a couple of headlines have popped up that have an interesting running theme: excommunication. I’m not talking about the common use of the word, namely expelling Catholics from the Catholic Church. Rather, I’m referring to Protestants breaking communion with a church or religious organization.

A few days ago, the Associated Press reported that Liberty University will no longer recognize the College Democrats club on campus.  Vice President of Student Affairs Mark Hine told the club’s president, Brian Diaz, that the Democratic Party stands against the principles of the university and therefore cannot be facilitated or supported by the University any longer.  Some of the issues that clearly divide the values of the College Democrats from those of the school’s founder, Jerry Falwell, are abortion, socialism, and the gay rights agenda.

Similarly, a little later, the Associated Press reported on the “ousting” of 61 Episcopal clergy due to their opposition to “consecrating” an openly gay bishop. As former Bishop John-David Schofield said, "The Episcopal Church needlessly isolates itself from their brothers and sisters around the world." In this case, though the clergy were officially ousted, it's the Episcopal Church that is ousting itself from the worldwide Anglican Church.

The Associated Press has presented the Liberty University situation as an “ousting,” or a “barring” of participation of a radically liberal group from engaging in communion with Liberty University. I have trouble with this because neither institution has been vague about what it believes. I hope it comes as no surprise that Liberty University, the same institution founded by the conservative Baptist Jerry Falwell, stands firmly against homosexuality, abortion, and socialism. Likewise, the Anglican Church worldwide does not believe in homosexuality as part of God’s plan. 

When both of these institutions align themselves so closely to specific values, aren’t violators of these values ousting or barring themselves? The institutions have done nothing except uphold what they have always believed. 

Continue reading "Ah, the pathos: The droning of self-excommunicates " »

A liberal at Liberty

Roose2_200 What happens when a liberal student from Brown enrolls, secretly, at Liberty University? That's the subject of a new book, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University.

Anyone who grew up in the Christian culture might have to stifle a guffaw at that description of the Lynchburg college. No offense to "Jerry's kids," but we've heard the stories. And besides, we're all sinners.

Still, I loved that the NPR article about the book included this snippet about the reaction author Kevin Roose got when he told his new friends about his undercover assignment:

He expected them to feel betrayed — and expected to do a lot of apologizing. Instead, he says, something amazing happened.

"Everyone forgave me — immediately," he says. "It was unreal how quickly their surprise turned to real compassion and excitement."

Good for them. Although the best part of their reaction followed:

But there was just a little disappointment. "They thought, given the semester with me, that they would have done a better job of converting me," Roose says.

(Image © Kevin Roose)

May 29, 2009

Crichton’s View

Pelosi China As the Speaker of the House is in China drumming up concern about global warming -- and asserting that "Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory ... of how we are taking responsibility" -- this video of Michael Crichton (some profanity in comments) speaking on global warming is a breath of fresh air (hat tip to one of our Pointificators, Mike Snow).

P. S. Anyone else concerned about the possibility of Big Brother coming into our homes to determine if we're "green" enough? Of children being taught in schools to "tattle" on their environmentally wasteful parents?

(Image © Andy Wong for the AP)

May 27, 2009

Daily roundup

Don’t teach my kid THAT!

If you think the cross isn't an offense, just wait until the Gideons show up at school. 

One Texas school district is hearing complaints from parents because the Gideons were allowed to leave a stack of Bibles on a table in the school's office where literature and brochures from numerous community organizations was available for students to take. Never mind that the school district was following the law in this matter.

As for the Gideons, I think this is what Jesus would call being "as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."

May 26, 2009

If there’s a graduate in your life

Cap diploma . . . I recommend passing along this hard-hitting advice from Jon Acuff.

The State of Public Education

Could reading, writing, and arithmetic lessons possibly be eliminated from public school curricula? In The Weekly Standard, Charlotte Allen gives an eye-opening report on her attendance at the American Education Research Association's annual meeting. (Note: Article contains sexual themes.)

Besides allowing homegrown terrorist Bill Ayers a platform at which to speak, other "progressive" educators promoted the harebrained idea of allowing little Billy or Sally to "decide" what material they preferred to study. It spreads ripples of terror to think of how many children are constructing their own universe. 

If it were not so darned serious, the session on mathematics would be a hoot to read. A professor from Virginia Commonwealth University suggested that teaching students the rules of mathematics is wrong.  

[Gabriel] Reich was trying to explain to me why it was presumptuous for professional mathematicians (and many parents) to be up in arms about the currently fashionable constructivist idea that instead of explaining to youngsters, say, how to do long division, teachers should let them count, subtract, make an educated guess, or otherwise figure out their own ways to solve division problems. College math professors may complain that young people taught the constructivist way arrive in their classrooms unable to perform the basic operations necessary to move on to calculus, but so what? "Why should we privilege professional mathematicians?" Reich asked. Long division, multiplication--"those are just algorithms, and a calculator can do them faster than we can. Most of the people here at this meeting don't think of themselves as good at math, and they don't think math is creative. [The constructivist approach] is a way to make math creative for many people who never thought of it that way."

With ideas like this being sold by institutions like VCU to impressionable young future public teachers, parents with young children might want to consider living in a hut in order to send their little ones to private schools.

But before parents choose this alternative, they should note that Allen's piece isn't entirely devoid of all hope for public education. Read it to find out why.

May 22, 2009

Who said they were ’anti-sex’?

2009_0519_meghan_mccain I'll be the first to acknowledge that the Republican party needs to make some changes, but I don't think this is the way to go about it. (Note: sexual themes.)

(Image © Comedy Central)

May 21, 2009

Daily roundup

May 20, 2009

Obama knows Catholics better than Catholics do!

When listening to the president's commencement speech before the graduating class of 2009 at Notre Dame, I didn't feel particularly offended. I don't expect much from liberals when it comes to "finding common ground," so as long as he didn't demonize Catholicism I wasn't going to lose much heart. 

That is, until I read George Weigel's recent posting on National Review Online. He lays out an interesting argument that the president decided to tell America what Catholicism is all about. He didn't stop at defining Catholicism. He seemingly went so far as to partition Catholics into two groups:  ObamaCatholics and "the others." ObamaCatholics are gentle, peaceful, unifying, and willing to accept liberal nonsense. 

Here is an excerpt from Weigel's argument:

What was surprising, and ought to be disturbing to anyone who cares about religious freedom in these United States, was the president’s decision to insert himself into the ongoing Catholic debate over the boundaries of Catholic identity and the applicability of settled Catholic conviction in the public square. Obama did this by suggesting, not altogether subtly, who the real Catholics in America are. The real Catholics, you see, are those like the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who are “congenial and gentle” in persuasion, men and women who are “always trying to bring people together,” Catholics who are “always trying to find the common ground.” The fact that Cardinal Bernardin’s undoubted geniality and gentility in bringing people together to find the common ground invariably ended with a “consensus” that matched the liberal or progressive position of the moment went unremarked — because, for a good postmodern liberal like President Obama, that progressive “consensus” is so self-evidently true that one can afford to be generous in acknowledging that others, less enlightened but arguably sincere, have different views.

Whether Catholic or not, it's a scary idea to think that the leader of the political world is now telling one of the largest religious forces in the world what they believe and how they should believe it.

Continue reading "Obama knows Catholics better than Catholics do!" »

May 19, 2009

Obamanation at Notre Dame

Obama ceremony The choice of a commencement speaker at Notre Dame University could have been, should have been, a reminder to the world that some things are phenomenally more important than others--that honoring God's teachings is more important than the prestige of having the President of the United States honor YOU by agreeing (for political reasons) to be your commencement speaker. Notre Dame's leaders chose not to send this message. Instead, they chose to drape a robe around the most aggressively pro-abortion president in history--one whose actions are increasing the number of abortions performed both here and around the world.

By inviting Obama, Notre Dame's leaders were saying, in effect, "Abortion doesn't matter very much." Perhaps those who invited Obama should review John 12:43 ("For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God").

During his address, Obama had the audacity to lecture his audience about "living together as one human family." How about starting by simply allowing its youngest and most helpless members to live, period, Mr. President?

Which leads to another question: Are there any Centurions living in or around South Bend? The Notre Dame Class of 2009--which was applauding Obama's "reducing abortion" lines--desperately needs someone to teach them how to think. Has it not occurred to them to question the logic (and motives) of someone who claims to want to "reduce" something he supports? If there's nothing wrong with abortion, why bother reducing it? And if there IS something morally wrong with abortion (Catholic teaching calls it a grave injustice) why does Obama enthusiastically support it, fund it, and export it?

Continue reading "Obamanation at Notre Dame" »

May 18, 2009

Obama, Notre Dame, and the tide of history

Obama Notre Dame An interesting feature of President Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame yesterday (transcript here, video here):

The president spoke of the need "to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity -- diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief . . . [to] find a way to live together as one human family." On some subjects, he spoke as though this need to cooperate -- to find "common ground," as he said elsewhere in the speech -- were the highest goal:

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved.

But on other subjects, he spoke as if the highest goal were for right to win and wrong to be defeated:

After all, I stand here today, as President and as an African American, on the 55th anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Now, Brown was of course the first major step in dismantling the "separate but equal" doctrine, but it would take a number of years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God's children. There were freedom rides and lunch counters and Billy clubs, and there was also a Civil Rights Commission appointed by President Eisenhower. It was the 12 resolutions recommended by this commission that would ultimately become law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under which category does abortion fall? In the president's mind, it appeared to fall under the first: "When we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe -- that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground. . . . That's when we begin to say, 'Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions.'" This isn't how he spoke about the freedom rides and the lunch counters and the Billy clubs.

Considering that, at this moment, the tide of popular opinion -- perhaps even the tide of history -- appears to be shifting against Obama and his view of abortion, he may want to rethink that position.

(Image © Nancy Stone for the Chicago Tribune)

May 15, 2009

Daily roundup

May 14, 2009

A privileged disaster

Obama-asu-topper In the commencement speech to Arizona State University's graduating class, President Obama referred to the economic crisis as a "privilege" because "it is moments like these that force us to try harder and dig deeper and discover gifts we never knew we had. To find the greatness that lies within each of us." 

Following this logic, and acknowledging the fact that young graduates are "privileged" to enter what many are calling the worst economic climate since the 1980s, should we be thanking the President for giving our children a debt that will force them to "dig deep"? 

(Image © Charles Dharapak for the AP)

May 13, 2009

Stepping into Quicksand at Notre Dame

ND Students on Obama1 Notre Dame officials have their hands full these days with alumni and friends, both Catholic and Protestant, who have a problem with having a pro-choice President like Barack Obama give the commencement address at this year's graduation exercises in South Bend, Indiana. As our readers know by now, it's a story that doesn't die.

No doubt, President Obama will try to give a speech that pours cool waters on this fire of controversy. But what is interesting here is how little deference is paid to the feelings of those thousands of Notre Dame supporters who find this whole incident so distasteful. We live in an age where the Pope himself feels obliged to quickly exit the stage when anti-Semitic talk takes place in his presence. Good for him! Yet when traditional Catholics' sensitivities--and on their key social issue--are bruised, few in the mainstream press seem to care at all. 

In fact, we're already hearing from the hard left that this is just a shabby show of political posturing and "hysteria" on behalf of the pro-life cause. Perhaps, deep down, the chattering classes know that the only way they can win against convictions is to decry the manner in which the protesters are stating their case.

All the more reason for the Notre Dame protesters to continue to take a page out of the playbook of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., being both wise as serpents, and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). If the protesters can state their case with as much eloquence as Obama will try to do as commencement speaker, then people will take note of their cause.  

It would be unfortunate for the protesters to allow the President to play the martyr before the country. That could set the pro-life cause back, not advance its aims.

Thankfully, with only a few exceptions, the protesters have engaged in a very civil confrontation with Notre Dame's foolish administrators who, wittingly or unwittingly, caused this unnecessary brouhaha. The amount of money lost from the Notre Dame Foundation this year should be brought up by savvy members of the school's Board of Trustees when their President, Rev. Jenkins, has his contract up for renewal.

(Image courtesy of WSBT)

May 12, 2009

’Clueless’ Is the Word

Ppwenski050509 At least some Catholic leaders in this country understand the moral incongruity of a Catholic university inviting the most pro-abortion president in history to speak on its campus. Bishop Thomas Wenski held a Mass of Reparation "to make amends for sins against God" for those Catholics who are outraged with Notre Dame's "clueless" decision to have Obama speak at its commencement service on May 17. 

Those who oppose Obama's presence at Notre Dame point to a 2004 bishops' statement that says, "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." Wenski claims that he doesn't like conflict or fights, but that this case is "egregious enough that we have to be clear. We're standing on principle...." 

Ironically, as I read the second article linked above, it was not the "cluelessness" of the leadership at Notre Dame that struck me: it was the cluelessness of the average American Christian who just doesn't get what all the uproar is about (evidently, 50% of Catholics don't mind). In one sense, the Notre Dame controversy is a small thing: the president will give his speech and the world will move on. But his apprearance at Notre Dame represents the spirit of our age -- a spirit of lukewarm faith and a willingness to compromise with the world rather than a willingness to embrace, however unpopular, our biblically mandated position as spiritual non-conformists (Romans 12:1-2). 

Obama will give his speech, the flap will die down, but -- as Christians -- we will have taken one more step down the ladder of spiritual decline. And most of us will be none the wiser about what we've just lost.

(Image courtesy of Catholic News Agency)

Abdicating the throne

Prom Being elected Prom King and Queen takes charisma and popularity. One Kansas City high school got a little more out of their prom court. Instead of basking in the glory of their teen moment, the Prom King and Queen at Blue Springs High School took off their crowns and presented them to two classmates with special needs. 

It's nice to see some royals acting with nobility for a change.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

May 08, 2009

Daily roundup

’Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ was right

Commas make all the difference.

May 07, 2009

Daily roundup

Clapham School’s Classical Christian Students: What a Crew!

Clapham School For anyone needing a bit of hope for the future of the human race, I commend to you the classical Christian school movement. I had the opportunity to engage with one such school last week in Wheaton, Illinois: the Clapham School. You got it: the founding parents named their school for William Wilberforce's Clapham Saints. After just three years, their enrollment is flourishing, offering Christian parents a great opportunity to help build their children's minds and character for Christ. 

Doug Reynolds, father of three and an international businessman-turned-Christian educator, serves as Head of School. He and his wife, Julie, came back from an overseas assignment in London wanting to combine Christian worldview, the classical education model, and the educational philosophy of 19th-century British educator Charlotte Mason. 

Mason is a favorite of homeschooling proponents, but schools like Clapham are able to distill the essence of Mason's joyful approach to learning in small group settings, as well. In this method, young children, while taught obedience, are also considered people and respected as such. As a result, challenging material, while always age-appropriate, is encouraged. In short, their minds can handle it.

I got a first taste of this phenomenon by just observing one class of second graders at Clapham last Thursday morning. First, it's a nice treat to have the whole class stand to greet you cheerily with "Good morning, Mr. Reed!" One by one, each student got before his or her fellows and spoke with interest about a subject they researched for this part of class. The first little girl presenting her material had the presence of a British Member of Parliament, discussing her research in a relaxed but highly competent way. The other students asked her compelling questions, and a great little colloquy had begun. 

When it was my turn in another class to lead a discussion on abolitionist John Brown, I got halfway through and only then realized to myself, "These are third graders, and I'm going to be discussing complex themes like violence in the name of morality!" How would this go? But they ate it up, including Ellie, a bright, fun young lady whose mental machinery was written on her face as she grappled with John Brown's complicated nature. But they seemed to enjoy it just because they love to learn something new. The questions were magnificent, worthy of a college class sometimes.

Continue reading "Clapham School’s Classical Christian Students: What a Crew!" »

May 05, 2009

Absolutely hysterical

Doris-day In discussing Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon's decision to decline the University of Notre Dame's Laetare Medal, MSNBC described the medal and previous recipients thusly:

The Laetare medal (pronounced Lay-tah-ray) was established in 1883, and is considered one of the oldest and prestigious awards that can be given to an American Catholic. It’s given out annually at the University of Notre Dame commencement ceremony. Previous recipients include President John F. Kennedy, Catholic Worker founder Doris Day, and fictional American president Martin Sheen, who received the award last year.

Did you catch that? The Catholic Worker movement was founded by a bubbly blond actress who starred in "Pillow Talk" with Rock Hudson!

MSNBC has since fixed its error, but the story is another reminder that when it comes to covering religion, the MSM is two-plus-two-is-three brainless.

Or as the other Miss Day might say, "Que sera, sera."

For more on the REAL founder of the Catholic Worker movement, click here.

May 04, 2009

Daily roundup

May 01, 2009

Daily roundup

April 29, 2009

Daily roundup

Margaret Sanger’s Real Views

Main_sanger A year or so ago, the Women's Studies program at my university sponsored a bulletin board in praise of Margaret Sanger. I wanted to gag, because every poster hailed Sanger as some great female liberator.  Obviously, none of the students who created those posters had ever bothered to move beyond the propaganda and actually read what Sanger wrote, especially her views on eugenics. This article sheds light on Sanger's destructive philosophy -- and shows just how little our current Secretary of State knows about a woman she is in "awe" of.   

(Image © AP)

April 28, 2009

Daily roundup

April 27, 2009

Sermons about Sex

This Florida church has landed in hot water for teaching a series on the biblical view of sex. Why? Because they meet in an elementary school. Evidently, it's OK to teach elementary students about homosexuality and condoms during the school week, but when a pastor advertises a series on what the Bible has to say about sex -- well, that is deemed "obnoxious and inimical to the best interests of the school board." Anyone else see something wrong with this picture? 

April 24, 2009

’Your future is great’

Although I'm not a parent myself, I think James Lileks has some good thoughts here on messages that we knowingly or unknowingly send to kids -- and how those messages affect them.

As for Earth Day, I don’t mind the planting-trees-and-picking-up-trash part - the kids did that last Saturday, which is good. Labor and sweat on behalf of a cleaner city. I put in eight trees last year, so I’m holding up my end. At least the arboreal part. But I’ll have none of that YOUR FUTURE IS BLEAK stuff; I grew up with that, and it was a dark cloud hanging six inches over my head for most of my childhood. If it wasn’t ecocatastrophe that would leave us all living underground or stuck in a small smelly apartment with Edward G. Robinson pedaling a bike for ten minutes of lights, it was nukes, or that “Late Great Planet Earth” stuff that really depressed me. I suppose some kids thought it would be keen to be around when God called the game on account of sin, but I thought it was a raw deal. Can I just have a life down here first ? What’s the hurry? You have all the time in the world. You invented it.

[My daughter] was excited to tell me that they’ve discovered two new planets, and they could have water. I told her I thought there were many planets out there like ours, and I thought some of them had life. Maybe someday she’d learn they had heard a radio signal from one of them. Your future is great.