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June 19, 2009

I was saved by a Christian movie review

The-hangover Well, not exactly. Though I did learn a valuable lesson the other week when a co-worker of mine revealed to me the graphic and perverse content of a movie I ignorantly wanted to see, it’s an overstatement to say I would have lost my soul.

The movie is titled The Hangover. From what I had seen of the previews, it was a movie about a few young men who go to Las Vegas for their friend’s bachelor party. After waking up the next morning from a drunken night of partying, they have a few unanswered questions about the night before, such as how they came into the possession of a baby, why a tiger was in the bathroom, where the groom was, and why one of the men was missing a tooth. I found the strange mix of problems to be utterly hilarious. The movie seemed to hinge on the storyline of these men unraveling the details of their strange circumstances and finding their friend who is expected at the altar in five hours.

The movie is a box-office hit and raked in over $105 million in the first two weeks of its release.

Since the movie is rated R, I should have known there is some inappropriate material, and perhaps writing this post is penance for my willingness to pay and see a movie that lacks integrity and virtue. 

Fortunately for me, I mentioned my intention to see this movie to a co-worker, who decided to search for a review at Plugged In Online, a website and resource of Focus on the Family. In this review the seedy details of the movie were uncovered: a full array of “gratuitously explicit moments” including male and female nudity. I was relieved to have this review at my disposal. Without it I might have found myself on the most awkward date of my life (and that’s saying something). 

Continue reading "I was saved by a Christian movie review" »

Technological revolution

I've been following the events in Iran with fascination, all the more because a friend of mine just returned from a mission trip there. As she pointed out, with such a minuscule percentage of the Iranian population professing Christ (0.2%, according to Wikipedia), the young people who are risking their lives for the sake of freedom are, in most cases, risking much, much more--their eternal destiny and a life apart from God. Pray for the Iranians to know the true freedom of the Gospel.

One of the reasons we know so much about what has been happening in Iran this last week is technology. The kinds of things that become useless time wasters for us (who cares what Ashton Kutcher ate for lunch?) are the very things that have allowed news of the post-election chaos in Iran to make it past government censors and a foreign media ban. NBC Nightly News ran a piece last night on several Iranian youth who are attending school here in the U.S. and are working hard to keep their peers back home online despite government bans.


At the same time, over at the State Department, a leftover from the Bush administration has been the driving force behind keeping Twitter online and working with cell phone providers to develop technology that would allow people to access Twitter without Internet service.

I guess this Time piece on geeks inheriting the earth has finally come true. If nothing else, they may help to make the earth a more hospitable place for the people of Iran. We can all hope.

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. 

Don’t call me ma’am

Glad we got that settled. Because as we all know, brigadier generals sit in front of soap operas eating bon-bons all day to get their titles.

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

The Point Radio: Parenting Dad-Style

Dad, your presence makes all the difference....


Click play above to listen.

Judsen Culbreath, “What Dads Are Made Of,” Reader's Digest.

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)

President Obama Thwarts a Terrorist Attack

President Obama thwarted the attack while he was conducting an interview on CNBC. At first he tried diplomacy by saying, "Get out of here." When that didn't work, he resorted to violence, while the camera was still rolling.

Okay, it really wasn't a terrorist attack, but the way mainstream media is fawning all over the President, you'd think that's what he did.

But not everyone is happy. The PETA folks were in shock. They couldn't believe their admired President had killed a helpless animal. They thought he should have continued his diplomacy effort.

Of course, the Democrats blamed President Bush for introducing the fly into the studio, while Nancy Pelosi, in a hastily called news conference, blamed the CIA for lying to her about whether the fly had any WMDs on it. She also said Americans don't torture flies.*

Despite all of the hoopla, President Obama was quite pleased with himself and said, "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it?"

So look out, Bin Laden. We have a President that will smack you down.

*Not really.

Chastity and, um, not Chastity

Lenny-kravitz__1424496c Dawn Eden, author of The Thrill of the Chaste, has two interesting pieces up on her blog. The first includes a link to this article in The Telegraph on Lenny Kravitz's celibate lifestyle:

"It took years to get it right. To actually do it, and really try to walk the walk and not just talk it. It’s not like it’s not important – I think sex and intimacy and all that is very important. It’s just that I’m going to do it with my wife." He laughs. "And not everybody else."

This summer, not long after he turns 45, it will be four years. The final trigger came after a night in the Carlyle Hotel in New York. (His apartment was under renovation.) "I was doing my normal thing and I was with somebody, and I remember waking up in the morning thinking, 'What am I doing?' It’s not that I was all over the place. It’s not, like, groupies or somebody you’d pick up on the street. I didn’t carry on like that. It was somebody that I know. But it was still, 'What am I doing? And why?' And that morning I was just talking to God, as I do, and I said, 'You got to help me to stop this. I just really want to stop this.' And that was the day that it changed."

The second is a post Dawn has written about Chastity Bono's announcement that she will undergo a sex change and become Chaz. Here's a snippet, but the entire post is worth reading at Dawn's blog:

It seems Chastity has always had a hole in her heart that could not be filled. I know what that is like because I have felt it myself. It is only because of God's grace that I have learned, not without pain, to endure it from hour to hour and day to day; to invite Jesus to enter into it, receiving Him through the Eucharist, and to begin, in His love, to learn how the space in my heart can shelter others regardless of whether they are able to shelter me.

I believe that, rather than live with the vacuum, Chastity is seeking to eliminate what she sees as its source. To her, it will be a physical confirmation of an identity she already possesses. Perhaps, in a sense, she is right. "Chastity the girl" may have died a long time ago.

(Image © Jesse Frohman for the Telegraph)

The Point Radio: Wisdom's Pay Back

Watching for that tax refund in the mail?...


Click play above to listen.

Jeff Bloom, “What to Do with the Tax Refund Check?” 26 March 2009.

Tweet Tweet

Twitter Technology updates at lightning speed and gains eager users in droves. New advances seem like the next best thing, but are they really? Mere newness fails to imply "better."

Such is the deal with Twitter. Until recently, I never thought I would Twitter...or is it "tweet"? Now I do, and I like it...to an extent. When used as a tool to deliver important information, the site is a top-notch tool. But what are we doing to ourselves with the constant use of technology and a rarely-ceasing barrage of updates?

Part of being human is interaction with other...um...human beings, not merely with text on a screen sent from a friend far away (or in the adjacent cubicle) who sent the text from another machine. Maybe our pace is too fast.

Rather than pausing to consider what we are taking in, we are pressured to rush rather than reflect. Can we really function this quickly, or have we simply conditioned ourselves to believe this pace is necessary?

I am not advocating doing away with social networking sites. They have their benefits and have potential to spawn great thought and debate. But before we jump in with both feet, maybe we should consider the pace of our lives and how much information is really necessary. Maybe we should pause to reflect about a practice that touches so many people and consumes so much of our daily lives. 

Yes, pause.

(Image © Twitter)

June 17, 2009

Daily roundup

Political schizophrenia

Capt.photo_1245189794287-1-0 A good example of both the speed of the news cycle, and the President's schizophrenic thinking on social issues: When I found and collected this article this morning, it was titled "AP source: Benefits for govt workers' gay partners." When I clicked on it just now to see if there were any updates, it was titled "Obama fends off criticism from gay supporters." The odd thing is, both headlines are true.

(Image © AFP)

You can’t be too careful

Ensign You may have heard that Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada) has resigned his Senate leadership post after confessing to an extramarital affair. You may not have heard about this, from a 1999 article:

Christian politicians and evangelical leaders commonly follow an unspoken rule not to meet behind closed doors with women staff members or travel alone with them. The Rev. Billy Graham, for example, has famously refused to be alone in a room with any woman except his wife since he married her in the 1940s.

Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.), a Christian conservative, insists a male staff member is present whenever he meets with a woman, his spokesman said. John Ensign, who is running for senate in Nevada will not be alone in a car with a woman.

To make that kind of commitment to purity and faithfulness, and still to fall into sin -- to me, that seems the saddest part of the whole sad story.

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12, NKJV)

(Image © MSNBC)

Hope Sprouts in Britain

BrusselSprouts_1424514c For months, I've been thinking that not only will the sun finally set on the British Empire, it will set on Britain itself. The country seems to be losing its mind: from the Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting that British Muslims be able to live under Sharia Law, to a new law that will force religious organizations--including churches--to hire people who do not share their beliefs.

But now, I see a sprout of hope--and good old common sense. 

(Image © James Fraser for the Telegraph)

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)

One Big, Happy Family

Kayes A friend of mine from my college days has quite the amazing family. If you have a few spare minutes, I highly recommend taking the time to watch this video of the Kayes family in Cincinnati. If there is a better reflection of God's selfless love for each of us, I haven't seen it.

(Image © Facinglife.tv)

Religion in America: The News Isn’t All That Bad

Naysayers are predicting the end of Christianity in America, and since their pessimism is repeated incessantly, many people have come to believe it. Is their prediction true? World magazine editor Marvin Olasky says the predictions don't match reality. Find out why.

The Point Radio: Gleaning

What have you gleaned from Scripture lately?...


Click play above to listen.

June 16, 2009

Daily roundup

All Obama, all the time

Ao The blogosphere is a-Twitter (sorry) with the news that ABC News will be going all-out to publicize President Obama's health-care plan next week. Unprecedented level of access and information-sharing, or ethical violation? What do you say?

(Image courtesy of the Drudge Report; H/T Caffeinated Thoughts)

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)

Power to the people?

Not in Washington, D.C., where the Board of Elections and Ethics shot down a proposed referendum on same-sex marriage. Apparently, the consent of the governed should play a role only when it can be ensured beforehand that the governed will vote the politically correct way. Details (including Bishop Harry Jackson's plan to appeal the ruling) are here.

What do we really know about gravity?

Gravity Very little, it seems. In fact, the New Scientist has listed seven unsolved mysteries about gravity, including "What is gravity?" And this, mind you, for one of the most familiar and studied aspects of the physical world! As I mentioned earlier, as long as science is confined to naturalism, questions like these will remain mysteries.

(Image courtesy of the New Scientist)

Redeeming fiction

My Sisters Keeper Mary DeMuth has a really good article in the current issue of BreakPoint WorldView Magazine on how fiction can bolster our faith, make us think about eternal truths, and generally be in step with a Christian approach to life. Mary just happens to be one of those rare individuals who can successfully write both fiction and nonfiction. I have a copy of her novel Daisy Chain on my reading pile right now and can't wait to get to it. 

I thought about this topic of fiction's impact last night as I finished up a Jodi Picoult novel, Perfect Match. The story involves a parent who kills the man she believes has molested her young son. Picoult manages to walk the reader through the process of thinking about whether something could be morally just and legally wrong at the same time without coming off as preachy and while resisting the temptation to spoon feed the answers. She does this by using a lot of first person narrative and showing her characters wrestling with their decisions.

I picked up Perfect Match because my library didn't have Picoult's book My Sister's Keeper, which is hitting the big screen later this month. My Sister's Keeper tells the story of a girl who was genetically engineered to donate any number of possible things (platelets, bone marrow, a kidney) to her older sister who is battling cancer. It looks like a tear-jerker of a movie, but it also looks like the kind of story that will find moviegoers leaving the theater to find a good restaurant where they can sit and talk for hours about ethics and family and love.

And that, to me, seems to suggest another reason why fiction is important. Imagine debating the topic of medical ethics with your neighbor or co-worker or friend who rejects the notion of a just and good God. Now, imagine how that conversation might be different after reading a book like My Sister's Keeper in your neighborhood book club, or watching the movie with a group of friends.

(Image © Simon and Schuster)

The Point Radio: Rain, Rain, Go Away . . . or Not!

Rain, rain, go away. Or maybe not....


Click play above to listen.

June 15, 2009

Daily roundup

Take Joy in Your Calling

Dirt Reading Wendy Shalit's review of the book Dirt got me thinking again about an ongoing interest of mine. That is, the role of women. 

Rather than making a one-size-fits-all statement, I think it best to consider the underlying problem. Why, specifically, are women sometimes discontented at the thought of having to keep house and home, cook and clean, and worry about how to balance tasks such as vacuuming with a career? We live in a day when there are endless ways to organize and "simplify," yet our lives are often busier than ever. With all of this "help" many women are overwhelmed with the task, or even reject the idea that homemaking should be part of their role.

Rather than assuming homemaking is a demeaning task, let us consider that it is a glorious task to serve. Service does not equate to debasement; rather, serving others in love is a testament of freedom. If you are able to make the choice, is it better to live in a home of chaos or guide your home toward peace and order?

Having a well-rounded education and making an impact in your field are both important callings. Learning to keep order in the home does not contrast with either of those, but rather, it holds its own important place in the whole of life.

(Image © Seal Press)

Welcome a new blogger

Amanda Bush is interning with BreakPoint this summer. Her bio will be up soon on the contributors' page -- though all you really need to know is that she adds another voice to the pro-Dickens forces among us. :-) Please join me in welcoming Amanda to The Point!

Climate Change Is Real

Booker-14060_1423198a That's right. The world's climate is changing, always has been -- just, this time, not in the direction predicted by the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner. As reported by the Telegraph, cooler, not warmer weather is causing crop shortages and higher prices around the globe. For instance,

In Canada and northern America summer planting of corn and soybeans has been way behind schedule, with the prospect of reduced yields and lower quality. Grain stocks are predicted to be down 15 per cent next year. US reserves of soya – used in animal feed and in many processed foods – are expected to fall to a 32-year low.

The situation is similar for China, Africa, and Europe.

So what's the culprit? Something that was identified 200 years ago when "the great astronomer William Herschel observed a correlation between wheat prices and sunspots. When the latter were few in number, he noted, the climate turned colder and drier, crop yields fell and wheat prices rose. In the past two years, sunspot activity has dropped to its lowest point for a century."

Hmmm. Looks like the science "was in," the debate over, two centuries ago. Had the Nobel been established back then, the Peace prize might have gone to an astronomer.

It is a sad irony that in our efforts to fix a problem that doesn't exist -- man-made global warming -- the food situation around the globe could very well be exacerbated as "the millions of acres of farmland [are] now being switched from food crops to biofuels" to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

(Image © Reuters)

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.

The Point Radio: Hit the Road

The road is calling....


Click play above to listen.

June 12, 2009

Daily roundup

Father’s Day flicks

Frequency Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse's Ruth Institute is running a Father's Day Movie Poll. You can click here either to vote for one of their choices, or to nominate a favorite "dad movie" of your own. This was my pick (although this is a very close runner-up). What's yours?

(Image © New Line Cinema)

Blackaby’s Reading List

Books3 Since we have been talking about our summer reading, I thought some of our Pointificators might enjoy seeing Henry Blackaby's recommended reading list. One thing you'll note right away: there are no "beach books" here! In fact, working your way through this reading list, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, just might change your soul forever. 

A few of my favorites from the list (beyond the obvious, Blackaby's own Experiencing God) are these:

George Müller, The Autobiography of George Müller
Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

What are some of your favorites from Dr. Blackaby's list?

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.

’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?

Foxhole faith

Flag We're in the middle of what always seems to me like the most patriotic of seasons. Memorial Day was just a few weekends ago, this Sunday is Flag Day, and just a few weeks after that, we'll be eating watermelon and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. As a card-carrying Daughter of the American Revolution, I couldn't be happier. Bring on the flag bunting and red, white and blue jello parfaits.

Getting me in the mood for the season is a book I picked up at the library. God in the Foxhole details dozens of stories from the frontlines of American conflicts. Author Charles Sasser (a Navy and Army veteran) includes anecdotes from the Gulf Wars, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, the two World Wars, the Civil War, the Alamo, the Revolutionary War, and even the French and Indian War and King Philip's War (both fought on American soil before we were independent of those tea-taxing Brits). 

Included among the stories of ordinary and even anonymous soldiers are the stories of some not-so-anonymous men and women, including Sen. John McCain, Clara Barton, and George Washington.

Washington's story comes not from the Revolutionary War, but the French and Indian War, when he was a young colonel in the Redcoat army. During a battle to capture the French Fort Duquesne, Washington rallied an outnumbered Virginia regiment and left the battlefield unharmed--but with a coat full of bullet holes. Fifteen years later, in 1770, an Indian chief who, during that battle at Fort Duquesne, had assigned his best sharpshooters to fell the Redcoat who fought like an Indian caught up with Washington to tell his side of the story and to deliver a message:

...a power mightier far than we shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades; but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington] and guides his destinies. He will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven and who can never die in battle.

Indeed, the Father of Our Country died in his bed in 1799 at the age of 67 after a sudden illness.

Continue reading "Foxhole faith" »

Journalists should cringe

Newspapers While perusing a review of the crumbling state of our nation's newspaper industry, I crossed paths with these chilling words:

The unsettling possibility looms that some big cities could lose their sole remaining daily newspaper – and that the public won't care. If the dead-tree edition of a newspaper falls in a crowded media forest, will it matter, except to the journalists who work there? Are newer, hipper online news outlets poised to fill the void? What, if anything, will be irrevocably lost?

And the public won't care! That's what scares me the most. Even more, that the public won't care if good storytelling follows these newspapers down the drain. In our soundbite-saturated culture, are we forgetting the treasure that daily newspapers bring to us in good stories?

(Image courtesy of ArtsJournal)

The Point Radio: A Parent's Homework

School's out, but it might be time for parents to hit the books....


Click play above to listen.

You can find a list of upcoming homeschool conferences at American Vision.

June 11, 2009

It’s a good night to watch a John Wayne movie

Jwayne John Nolte explains why.

(Image courtesy of Big Hollywood.)

Re: Witch hunts

The-princess-and-the-frog Kim, that explains a lot. Including this article (previously linked in a Daily Roundup). Maybe we need to start a quota system for Disney and Pixar heroines to ensure that they all have the (1) right career, (2) right race, (3) right attitude, and (4) submissive boyfriend of the (5) right race.

You'd think some women could find something better to do with their time -- like standing up for teenage girls who become the targets of sexual jokes on national television. Oh, wait, that wouldn't be politically correct.

(Image © Disney)

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)

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.)

’A Devastating Blow’

This Sunday, June 14, marks the first anniversary of the death of Esbjörn Svensson. Sam Christie's tribute at the Guardian's Music Blog pretty much sums it up:

[EST's] music was sensuous, soulful and funky music, executed with precision and passion but tempered by the self-awareness of competent jazz players honestly stretching the potential of the music. I underline that this music was born out of self-awareness, not self-consciousness; this wasn't an exercise in vanity. This confident group made music that they wanted to listen to and invited us to join them in understanding it. We came in droves . . .

We have truly lost a genius and it breaks my heart.

Mine, too. I own (I think) all of the trio's albums and I've recently gotten into some of Svensson's other projects, such as the very different Swedish Folk Modern. What I appreciated most (apart from the music itself) about Svensson and EST was that they cut through the paralyzing "Jazz/not Jazz" nonsense that has hurt Jazz in the land of its birth. As John Kelman at All About Jazz put it:

Contrary to Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch, jazz is no longer an American or, even more specifically, Afro-American art form. Jazz has, in fact, always been about incorporating music from various traditions, folk and otherwise, into something of a cultural melting pot.

And few people could stir that pot like Esbjörn Svensson.

I can't bring myself to embed only one sample, so here's two. First is my favorite EST song, "A Picture of Doris Traveling With Boris," from their album Viaticum Platinum.

The second is "Seven Days of Falling" from the album of the same name.

I still can't believe he's gone.

Seeing Jesus Afresh

Jesus Mafa Years ago, when I was going regularly to Russia and Belarus on short-term missions, I invested in a series of A Beka posters depicting Bible stories. The posters were beautifully rendered and were a great teaching aid, whether I was working with children or adults. The posters, of course, depicted Jesus as either white or olive-skinned.

However, once I started going to Africa, I wanted a set of Bible story pictures that would resonate with Africans, from both an ethnic and cultural standpoint. A couple of years ago, I discovered this wonderful resource -- Jesus Mafa -- and ordered a set of their posters, which show a black-skinned Jesus in settings that look like a typical African village.

If you are a white American, take a look at these images and tell me what you think (click here and go through the seven links to see images from Christ's life). Do they change your perception of Christ? Do they give you a greater appreciation for the passages in Revelation which talk about how heaven will be populated with people from every nation, tribe, race, and language? If you are non-white, do these pictures make you feel more at home with Jesus? Why or why not?

(Image © Jesus Mafa)

’Them Jews aren’t going to let him’

Wright Oh, lovely. Add anti-Semite to the list of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's endearing attributes.

(Image © Charles Cherney for the Chicago Tribune)