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July 01, 2009

Daily roundup

June 26, 2009

Daily roundup

Tipping point for the Teen Choice Awards?

TCA Regrettably, the Teen Choice Awards show has never been in the best of taste, as I've lamented over and over. But this year, it's become truly horrific.

Never mind Twilight and Gossip Girl. We're talking about a nomination for infamous gossip blogger and displayer of semi-pornographic photos Perez Hilton -- yes, he of the Carrie Prejean brouhaha, though that's probably the least of his offenses. No, I'm not linking to him. I'm not even giving out his URL, not even with a warning or disclaimer. That's how bad his site is.

And he's nominated for a TEEN Choice Award.

The people behind the TCAs may have finally gone too far with this one. I saw the news on a secular message board where the general attitude is, shall we say, pretty free and easy. And even there, people were shocked and upset.

There's a petition here to remove Hilton's nomination. You can sign it if you want, but Web petitions aren't generally considered very effective. A better move would be to write to Fox and to the show's official sponsor, TeenPeople. I'll be doing it, and I hope you will too. It may have something of the feeling of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic -- but it's a start. Who knows? This may finally be the tipping point that changes things at the TCA.

(Image © Teen Choice Awards)

June 24, 2009

Daily roundup

June 19, 2009

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.

June 17, 2009

Daily roundup

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)

June 15, 2009

Daily roundup

June 12, 2009

Daily roundup

June 11, 2009

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)

June 10, 2009

Daily roundup

No Christians Allowed

An evangelical group has been severely restricted in its ministry in a low-income housing area in Tulsa, something it's been doing for more than 20 years. They can come and "play games" with the children and talk about "moral things," but they have been forbidden to mention God or Jesus Christ -- conditions identical to those I experienced as a short-term missionary in Russia and Belarus in the late 1990s.

Is it my imagination, or are these attacks against Christians in America becoming more common?

June 09, 2009

Daily roundup

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 04, 2009

Daily roundup

Twenty years ago today

Tiananmen Square.jpg

In twenty years, how much have things changed?

(Image © Charles Cole)

June 03, 2009

Daily roundup

Christian Worldview Conversations Can Be Found Almost Anywhere

Drag poster Now I make no recommendation of the new horror movie Drag Me To Hell, owing to its gory violence, dabbling in the occult, and premarital sex references. However, I can say that it was better acted than most films in this genre, with the ability to laugh at itself, while still keeping a few jump-in-your-seat surprises in store throughout.

But what I was most struck by is how it would provide for some teenagers watching the film a springboard into the topic of moral consequences for one's actions.

In the film, Christine (played admirably by Alison Lohman) is a likable young loan officer with a nice, smart boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long). Christine's troubles begin when she is told by her boss that it's her choice as to whether to give a poor old gypsy lady a third extension on her mortgage payment.  

Christine's heart tells her to grant the old lady's request. However, her ambition for the coveted job of assistant bank manager gains the upper hand. Wanting to show her boss that she can make the "tough decisions" necessary for that promotion, she turns the old lady down. Worse, she accidentally humiliates the octogenarian on her way out of the bank, prompting the old lady to curse her.

Continue reading "Christian Worldview Conversations Can Be Found Almost Anywhere" »

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

Daily roundup

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 27, 2009

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

Daily roundup

Posting will be light Monday because of Memorial Day.

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

Uncle Sam calling the ’shots’

Daniel Hauser A 13-year-old Minnesota boy, Daniel Hauser, has refused recommended treatment for a growing tumor in his chest and vows to kick and punch anyone who attempts to force chemotherapy upon him. For religious reasons, the young Hauser and his family determined that chemotherapy and radiation treatment would be inappropriate and instead sought alternative treatment to cure the disease. 

As reported by the Associated Press, “The Hausers are Roman Catholic and also believe in the ‘do no harm’ philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.”

Because doctors do not expect the boy to survive without the necessary treatment, a judge has ruled that the parents and the boy must move forward in getting an additional chest x-ray and select an oncologist. With chemotherapy he has a 95% chance of surviving, but the alternative treatment bears just a 5% likelihood of success. 

Having experienced chemotherapy as a 16 year old I feel sincere, heart-wrenching pain for this young man. Being diagnosed with cancer at a young age is a difficult situation to deal with, but the spiritual pain can be just as devastating. I guess you could say that I was fortunate that my faith didn’t object to chemotherapy, because my cancer had a high success rate of cure when treated with chemotherapy and surgery. 

Hauser has a similar prognosis with chemotherapy, but because of his religious belief, there is likely no comfortable solution as to what should be done.

Continue reading "Uncle Sam calling the ’shots’" »

May 19, 2009

Daily roundup

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

Racing for Prisoners' Kids: Follow-Up

My sincere thanks to all of you who donated to provide Storybook Dads kits to prisoners' children through my race yesterday. I'd hoped to raise enough to cover the costs for 12 Storybook Dads kits, but -- between those who donated at my page and Joe's fabulous pledge at The Point -- you all provided a total of TWENTY-SEVEN kits for TWENTY-SEVEN prisoners' kids! You all are the BEST!

My sincerest thanks to:

  • Joe -- wow, a kit per mile! THANKS!
  • Creation Waits Photography -- $50!! Yowza!
  • Dennis Babish -- thanks so much!
  • Zoe -- thank vous!
  • Ron Humphrey -- you're the best!
  • Anonymous -- (I know who you are, but your identity is safe with me!) Thanks tons!

Race details, for those interested, are below. THANKS all!

Continue reading "Racing for Prisoners' Kids: Follow-Up" »

May 15, 2009

Helping Prisoners’ Kids: I’m Supplying the Suffering; Can You Supply the Funds?

This weekend, I'm running the Marine Corps Half Marathon. I'm admittedly horribly prepared, and I suspect by mile 10 or so, I'll be a rather pathetic sight, but it's worth it because it's for a great cause: Prison Fellowship's Storybook Dads program.

Quite simply, Storybook Dads records prisoners reading wholesome kids books to their children. The DVD video recording -- complete with special effects to make the story come alive -- is sent to their children for them to enjoy while reading the book along with their parent.

Far from a mere "nice to have" gift, Storybook Dads helps maintain the important parent-child bond that gets so strained while parents are in prison.

Anyhow, there's more at my fundraising page. Will you please consider giving to supply Storybook Dads kits -- just $8 per DVD and book set -- to fill this important need? As the race is this weekend, I'm obviously getting this out to the Pointifficators much later than I'd prefer. But it sure would be great to raise $100 for prisoners' kids who -- so often feeling shunned, humiliated, alienated and unloved -- are among the innocent victims of their parents' crimes. Many thanks to you all!

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

Daily roundup

May 12, 2009

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

Blogger roundup

Here's a collection of full-length articles recently published by your Point bloggers:

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!" »

Teen sex: The roots of our confusion

Palin and Prejean At On Faith, the Washington Post/Newsweek religion blog, David Waters asks some pertinent questions about teen sex:

Unwed, single, teenage mom Bristol Palin was being lauded on talk shows Wednesday -- National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy -- for encouraging other teenagers to abstain from sex. Meanwhile, Carrie Prejean (Miss California) was defending her title -- and her advocacy of "traditional marriage" -- because of sensual and revealing photographs taken of her when she was a teenage model.

I'm confused. Are we in favor of teenage sexuality or not? Are we OK using teenagers to model lingerie until they become public figures? Are we not OK with unwed teenage moms until they admit their mistakes on national TV?

These questions have prompted me to ask a question of my own, one that I've been thinking about for some time:

To what extent are we Christians to blame for the problem by hesitating to come straight out and call premarital sex a sin, even as we keep pushing to try to reduce its rates? That is, have we as a group been guilty of softpedaling the subject, of treating it as a social ill instead of a matter of disobedience, guilt, and repentance, because we're afraid of marginalizing ourselves and thus becoming ineffective?


(Image courtesy of the Washington Post)

May 05, 2009

Daily roundup

2000 Reasons to Celebrate

A friend of mine (who will remain anonymous for security reasons) is currently in India conducting Bible classes for children. Last week, she and her team reached 1400 children; this week, they'll reach 600 more.

Please be in prayer for the salvation and spiritual growth of all these children -- and their parents -- who have had a chance to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed clearly, boldly, and with such obvious love. I've heard much good news coming out of India in the past few years, especially from missionaries who minister to those "lowest" on the social and economic scale in India. How true are Christ's words that the "last will be first" in His kingdom!

The Blog Tour Continues

This week I'm talking with Dan Cruver at Together for Adoption about As We Forgive. Here's a little from their website on what they are all about:

Together for Adoption (T4A) sponsors adoption conferences that focus primarily on vertical adoption (i.e., God adopting us in Christ), with a secondary focus on its implications for orphan care and horizontal adoption (i.e., couples adopting children). In fulfillment of our objectives, we desire to see conference attendees walk away from a T4A event:

  • understanding why it is that vertical adoption is the highest blessing of the gospel
  • rejoicing afresh in the gospel
  • moved to act on James 1:27 both locally and globally

I'm giving special emphasis in this interview to the stories in the book that center on the lives of Rwanda's orphans.

Also, yesterday, the book got a mention at Touchstone's Mere Comments. Thanks to Jordan Ballor of the Acton Institute for the shout out!

May 04, 2009

Daily roundup

May 01, 2009

Daily roundup

April 28, 2009

Daily roundup

April 27, 2009

Daily roundup