It’s easier somehow, to think of “war casualties” as stark numbers on a spreadsheet, disconnected from the human lives attached to those numbers. Unless a combat death suddenly crashes into our safe little world, we seldom stop to think of the lives represented by those casualty numbers we hear on the news — the families whose lives were shattered in an instant and for whom there will alway be a missing piece. The little boy who was too young to form memories of his father who was killed in action. The father who won’t be there to teach his son to throw a baseball or ride a bike or be a husband. The daughter who won’t have her father there to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. The mother who will grieve the death of her daughter until she takes her dying breath. For those families, there is no list of casualties on a spreadsheet. There is only one casualty that matters — the one that turned their world upside-down and left a permanent void in their lives.
Memorial Day is the time we set aside each year to remember and to show our gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price to secure the blessings of liberty for the rest of us. As we honor that sacrifice, let us also remember the families who bear the terrible burden of carrying on without their loved ones. Those families who will always have an empty place at the dinner table and an ache in their hearts.
As it turns out, the decade wasn’t all bad!
Here are a few things we remember fondly from the 1970s:
1. Department Store Gift-Wrapping
As a child I was completely enchanted by the dazzling array of bows and shiny gift wrap displayed on the wall in the gift-wrapping department at the May Company department store near my home in suburban Cleveland. The ladies were expert wrappers, with perfectly creased corners and stripes that lined up at every seam. The bows and gift cards were like icing on the tops of beautiful cakes. It was like watching magic happen before my eyes to see an ordinary salad bowl transformed into a sparkly work of art piled high with ribbon and lace. These days, most stores no longer offer gift-wrapping service (though a handful still do). More often than not you’ll be directed to the wrapping paper aisle and told to fend for you ham-handed self — explaining the exponential growth of the gift bag industry.
‘Tis the season when those of us in the Midwest are serenaded by the tornado sirens on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Whether you head for shelter the minute the sirens go off or wait until you see the funnel cloud heading up your street, it’s important to think about what items you should grab on the way to safety. While you hopefully have emergency supplies like water, non-perishable food, self-powered flashlights and radio and a first aid kit in your basement or storm shelter, what other items will you need in the minutes and days immediately after your home is destroyed? What should you grab as you are heading for shelter?
Here are five things you can grab quickly and drop into a small bag as you’re running to safety — things you’ll be very glad to have in the event your home sustains significant damage:
1. Cell phone and charger
While most people will instinctively grab their cell phones on their way to the basement or shelter, it’s also important to grab your electric phone charger or, even better, a battery (or solar) operated charger. At the first sign of an impending storm, charge all of the family’s cell phones (and extra batteries if you have them) so you’ll be able to connect with first responders, other family members, and insurance companies in the event of a true emergency. If your home is damaged and you’re forced to relocate to a shelter or a hotel, you’ll likely have access to electricity, but chargers specific to your phone may not be available.
We had the honor of attending our son’s graduation from Hillsdale College last week on a picture-perfect May day with chairs lined up in tight rows on the east lawn of the beautiful campus. In addition to the joy of watching our eldest son walk across the stage to receive his diploma, we were blessed to hear the insightful commencement address from author Eric Metaxas. In addition to sharing stories from his youth and his faith journey, Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, discussed at length the connection between faith, virtue, and freedom. You’ll find the video of the speech at the end of this post.
Here are ten incisive quotes from Metaxas’ address, “The Role of Faith in the Story of Liberty”:
1. Real faith is never something that can be forced by the state.
Real faith is never something that can be forced by the state. It’s something that either be encouraged and smiled upon or discouraged and frowned-upon. Or, simply crushed, as it has been in every Communist country…Religious freedom, which was at the very heart of the Founders’ vision for America, cannot be compromised without all our liberties being compromised and America as we know her being redefined into non-existence.
Recent surveys highlight the fact that seniors lag behind the younger generation in the adoption and usage of technology. Based on interviews with more than 1500 adults age 65 and over, Pew researchers found they could roughly divide senior citizens into two groups. The first group is “younger, more highly educated, or more affluent.” They are far more technologically connected and demonstrate more positive attitudes toward the benefits of the modern digital world. In fact, this group uses the internet at rates approaching — or even exceeding — the general population. The second group is “older, less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability.” They are less connected and more wary of the Brave New World of digital platforms. Internet use drops off dramatically after age 75.
Here are some other facts about seniors and technology use:
1. 59% of Seniors Use the Internet
In 2012, 59% of seniors were internet users, up six percentage points from the previous year. In 2014, 47% of seniors have a high-speed broadband connection at home and 77% have a cell phone (up from 69% in 2012). According to the Brookings Institute, seniors spend most of their time online communicating with friends, shopping, and searching for health information.
Tyler Vigen, a Harvard Law student, has created a website that appears to demonstrate the truism: “53% of all statistics are made up.” That’s not precisely true of the “research” Vigen presents at Spurious Correlations (his correlations rely on actual data sets) but it does give some insight into the tools the data crunchers have at their disposal for spinning actual facts into what they want us to hear (often to the exclusion of more relevant information). Vigen says, “Empirical research is interesting, and I love to wonder about how variables work together. The charts on this site aren’t meant to imply causation nor are they meant to create a distrust for research or even correlative data. Rather, I hope this projects gets people interested in statistics and research.”
Here are some of Vigen’s best Spurious Correlations:
1. Number of people who tripped over their own two feet and died correlates with Civil engineering doctorates awarded (US)
The more pressing question: Are the civil engineers tripping over their own feet or are they designing things that cause others to trip?
Homeschooling can be the greatest, most rewarding experience of your life. It can also be the most stressful. Here are some pro tips that can help you to keep things in perspective:
1. The World Is Your School
While it’s tempting to think that “seat time” is synonymous with education, traditional academic work is not the only way that children learn. A lot of what our kids learned about science—especially in the early years—they learned in backyard puddles, in the garden, and on hikes in the woods. They learned about agriculture at a corn maze that taught the kids about local farming with a clever scavenger hunt. One son even learned the locations of all the states when the results of the 2000 election were coming in and he faithfully colored the red and blue states as the returns were announced on TV. All of us learned about exotic cultures half a world away when missionary families that were home on furlough visited our home. Every trip to the grocery store, the veterinarian, and the pediatrician can be a learning experience if you approach life with curiosity and a sense of adventure and teach your children to do likewise.
While the 1970s are known for some terrifying fashions and the human indignity of the Disco Era, the decade (with some assists from the previous generation) also gave us some amazing technological advancements that many of us take for granted today. Here are ten that changed the world:
1. Microwave Ovens
Before the 1970s, our only option for heating up leftover pizza was the conventional oven and we didn’t have the luxury of 4-minute microwave popcorn (gross as it is). Though the “Radarange” was first sold in the United States in 1947, it wasn’t until the ovens became affordable for the average family that “microwaves” became common in American homes (even if they didn’t live up to their promises of delicious layer cakes and scrumptious roasts in 30 minutes). In addition to the high prices, many Americans were afraid of radiation associated with microwave ovens. I remember my dad refusing to purchase what he called a “radar burger” at a concession stand in the early ’70s. In 1971, only 1% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave. By 1986, roughly 25% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave oven, with the number soaring to 90% of American households by 1997.
According to Mediaite, an “Ohio Paper Can’t Find a Single Person to Argue Against Legalizing Pot.” On 4/15, the Dayton City Paper (DCP) published a “debate” about marijuana legalization it its “forum” section. DCP moderator Alex Culpepper offered a fairly balanced introduction to the debate followed by a pro-legalization piece, “Debate Left: Don’t Believe the Damning Hype About Marijuana” by Marianne Stanley, who is listed as a DCP blogger on the paper’s website. Next to Stanley’s opinion piece is a large empty space with the following disclaimer:
[Editor's note: On behalf of the Dayton City Paper staff, we apologize, but we were unable to locate a debate writer who was able to submit a view opposed to the legalization of marijuana in Ohio at this time.]
The Dayton City Paper (not to be confused with the widely circulated mainstream Dayton Daily News) is a free weekly alternative newspaper that describes itself this way:
Dayton City Paper offers pages full of challenges to prevailing notions, investigations of local institutions and voices that are not those of the usual figureheads in the community. Our entertainment pages are filled with local talent — jazz musicians, filmmakers and musicians. The paper is unabashedly local, unashamedly grassroots and absolutely alternative. And the Dayton market loves it.
DCP claims a circulation of 18,000 (and somehow that swells to a readership of 132,000) through its distribution at over 500 pick-up locations, marketed to an audience you would expect to support legalizing pot:
Dayton City Paper consistently delivers a valuable audience mix of professionals, community leaders and university students. This is an audience interested in our unique coverage of music, art and independent thought. These are readers that other print media wish they could have: professional women, young adults, the highly educated and those with high disposable incomes and the imagination to spend creatively.
None of my friends in Dayton have even heard of the paper, for what that’s worth, and even many Reddit users from the area had never heard of it, though those who did said it was mainly distributed in student-oriented bars and shops around several Dayton-area universities and colleges.
Is it possible that DCP couldn’t find a single person willing to argue against legalizing pot? Well, anything is possible, but the more likely scenario is that the cool kids over at DCP don’t actually associate with the types of people who might be in opposition — or even know where to find them. Their disclaimer (and the celebratory headline that followed from Mediaite) suggests an editorial staff that didn’t try very hard. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out studies showing that long-term cannabis use stifles motivation. You can draw your own conclusion.
I’ve defended and supported Sarah Palin in the past, but she has jumped the shark this time with her comments to the National Rifle Association on Saturday. Palin told the group (at the 7:16 mark in the video) that we need to put the “fear of God” in our enemies, adding:
Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.
Palin doubled down on the comments in an interview with NBC News:
Would I make it again? Why wouldn’t I, yeah, absolutely. Terrorists who want to annihilate Americans, innocent Americans, our children – whatever it takes to stop them. If I were in charge, I’d be stoppin’ em.
Aside from the fact that Palin, a professing Christian, describes a sacred sacrament in the context of a practice that many consider to be torture, there is the fact that in many Muslim countries identifying with Christ in baptism can actually have deadly consequences and flippantly inserting baptism into a joke about terrorists is in poor taste.
For example, in May 2010, an Afghan TV channel broadcast footage showing alleged converts to Christianity, including scenes of baptisms. This was followed by Afghan MP Abdul Sattar Khawasi’s call in the Afghan parliament for those featured in the footage to be executed. A crackdown against Christians ensued, and around 25 converts were arrested after a group of Kabul University students shouted death threats and demanded the expulsion of foreigners accused of proselytising. There were numerous demonstrations in the wake of the TV broadcast of the baptisms in different cities throughout the country — Herat, Baghlan, Mazar-e Sharif and again in Kabul. This resulted in a Christian cleansing of sorts in Afghanistan, as hundreds of former Muslims who had converted to Christianity fled the county, including hundreds who ended up in New Delhi, India, and now live in a legal limbo, still fearing for their lives. Christianity Today reported last year:
Although the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs fleeing Afghanistan for India, the Indian government’s refusal to do so means that Afghan Christians cannot seek legal protection from discrimination from other religious groups. Such discrimination often arises from Afghan Muslims who have also sought refuge in India. Many Afghan Christians make a meager living as translators for Afghanis seeking medical care in India, but the language and social challenges continue.
In other words, the Christians who fled to India after their baptisms were shown on TV continue to be persecuted by Muslims in what they thought would be their country of refuge. Examples abound of Christian persecution in Muslim countries and the public act of baptism is one of the main ways converts are identified and targeted.
I’m not a bit worried about offending terrorists (in fact, I share that sentiment with Sarah Palin), however I do object to Palin’s insensitivity to the brave Christians who are willing to pay with their lives for the privilege of being recognized as Christians through the sacrament of baptism in hostile countries around the world.
I love ya’ Sarah, but this is one you should walk back.
Yesterday I volunteered at the campaign headquarters for a candidate who is running in the the Republican primary for the 14th congressional district seat in Ohio. State Rep. Matt Lynch is challenging Congressman Dave Joyce, who replaced Steve LaTourette (of Mainstreet PAC fame). Lynch’s campaign has an uphill battle against incumbent Joyce, who is being heavily funded by LaTourette’s SuperPAC (more than $80,000 to date). In fact, Lynch only decided to run against Joyce when LaTourette’s daughter, Sarah LaTourette, filed to run against Lynch for his seat in the Ohio House, ending the Ohio Republican Party’s de facto ban on challenging incumbents. (Yes, these Mainstreet folks really are working that hard to eliminate conservatives).
I had never met Lynch but showed up at his campaign headquarters today after seeing a plea on Facebook for help to get a huge mailing out. I decided to help with the campaign after listening to the Plain Dealer editorial board’s interviews with Joyce and Lynch. A devout Christian and running on a platform of “Faith, Family, and Freedom,” Lynch sounds less like the preachy moral majority candidates of the past and more like Mark Levin with a bit of a religious bent. Dave Joyce sounds like President Obama with a Republican bent. I enjoyed spending time with an enthusiastic group of volunteers who were committed to the conservative movement.
At lunchtime Rep. Lynch showed up with pizza and asked one of the volunteers if he would bless the food. The man recited a quick prayer he had memorized. Lynch held up his hand and said he would like the opportunity to pray for all of the volunteers. It was clear that he is a man who is no stranger to prayer. He prayed naturally and from the heart. After we all said, “Amen,” a man in a uniform (who had stopped by on his way to work) put his arm around Lynch and said he would like to pray for him. So we all prayed again. Lynch was obviously touched by the gesture.
It was such a natural, spontaneous moment. It wasn’t scripted, but everyone seemed to know what to do and it wasn’t a bit awkward. And yet, as I consider the current environment in this country with religion (and in particular, Christianity) under attack, it was in some ways a remarkable moment. Here was an elected official taking time from the heat of the campaign trail to seek God. No “Freedom from Religion” bigots could stop that prayer and certainly, no government official could censor it or demand that it be religiously “neutral” (as if such a thing were even possible).
While we’ve always had one form or another of a civil religion in America, the true heart and soul of our country has always been individuals and groups praying quietly in their homes, churches, and other meeting places. James 5:16 says that “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” God takes no pleasure in coerced prayers or prayers led by those who are not his true followers. In Proverbs 15 King Solomon writes, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but he loves him who pursues righteousness.”
We don’t need to demand prayer in schools or in city council meetings — or even in Congress — to find God’s favor. Indeed, in this modern era of “Coexist” it’s likely that such prayers would be offensive to God and would make things worse. We simply need men and women, boys and girls — and elected officials — who are committed to praying and honoring God in their private lives. Such a commitment to private prayer and faith will naturally flow out of the homes and into the public square and in doing so, will positively influence public policy as Americans are drawn closer to God.
When our first son was born in 1991 we were told to lay him on his tummy at naptime — never, ever on his back because it would increase his risk of choking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). By the time our second child came along in 1994 the experts had decided that parents should never, ever let their children sleep on their stomachs because it increased the risk of choking and SIDS. A month after he was born the experts told us that we needed to buy a wedge that forced our son to sleep on his side. This would prevent choking and lower the risk of SIDS. Thus was our introduction to our generation’s obsession with hypervigilant parenting.
We were instructed to bathe our kids in Purell and to sterilize everything that touched our bubble children. We were also told to instruct them about inappropriate touch from the moment they exited the womb. Instead of letting our children explore the neighborhood, entertaining themselves in the great outdoors, parents were encouraged to prop their children up in front of Dora the Explorer so they could vicariously experience her adventures in the safety of their playrooms (while munching on organic peanut-free multi-grain crackers and drinking hormone-free organic milk). Good parenting also demanded scheduling and supervising every minute of a child’s day.
This video is a nostalgic reminder of the freedom children have lost over the years.
Marcia Clemmitt, a social policy researcher and former high school teacher, recently published an extensive report on homeschooling at CQ Researcher. In “Homeschooling: Do Parents Give Their Children a Good Education?“ Clemmitt discusses the research of Jennifer Lois, a sociology professor at the University of Western Washington, in Bellingham, and author of the 2012 book Home Is Where the School Is, who described some of the differences between those who homeschool for religious reasons and those who do it for more “pragmatic” reasons, such as safety or educational benefits.
Jennifer Lois said that although homeschooling parents generally acknowledge that “there’s potential for a lot of conflict and emotional button-pushing” between home-schooling parents and their children, she notes that “conservative Christian and other home-schooling mothers generally describe such problems quite differently.”
Lois said that “non-evangelical” mothers are more likely to remark that “we’re not meant to be together all the time; we’re not well matched for that.” In her study of homeschoolers, Lois discovered that these mothers were more likely to spend only a few years homeschooling their children and they were also more likely to complain about the children’s fathers not contributing enough to the homeschooling effort.
Clemmitt explained that women who homeschool for religious reasons are more likely to stick it out for the long haul. “By contrast, most evangelical Christian women whom Lois studied made very long-term home-schooling commitments, often lasting from preschool through high school,” Clemmitt said.
Women who view homeschooling as an integral part of their faith also view the inevitable family conflicts differently than their non-religious counterparts. “Evangelical mothers tended to describe conflicts less as problems and more as opportunities ‘to figure out ways to make their relationships with their children grow,”’ Lois says. Evangelical moms viewed the conflicts as opportunities for relationship building.
No word on how the dads view these issues (at least not in this study).
On Saturday I made what my Polish family calls “yellow.” It’s a sweet egg custard concoction that I remember my grandmother making every Easter when we visited. She always prepared the “yellow” the day before Easter and it would hang overnight, suspended between two kitchen chairs, wrapped in a cheesecloth, dripping excess moisture so the cheesy blob of yellow would be firm for Easter dinner the next day (the consistency of the finished product is somewhere between that of pudding and cream cheese).
No one in my family even likes “yellow.” I’m not sure why I made it — probably out of a sense of tradition and also for the feeling of accomplishment I get from creating something that required a bit of effort. Perhaps for the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing my part to contribute to my family’s Easter dinner.
When I was making the “yellow” that no one will likely even eat on Sunday, I was thinking about how we try to do that with God. Sometimes, we do things out of a sense of tradition. We “inherit” a faith from our parents and continue to perform the traditions out of either a sense of duty or a desire to honor our family’s heritage.
Other times, we approach God with something in our hands — confident that we have accomplished something that will please Him. If we work hard enough and put enough effort into our faith (or our good works), God will appreciate our effort and approve of us.
As I was stirring the custard on the stove (for a full 40 minutes!) I thought about my own propensity for doing both of those things — both my reliance on faith traditions and my smug assurance that my “doing” is what makes me right before God.
Crossway has a great video series on the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — the event Christians around the world will celebrate on Sunday. Filmed in conjunction with Crossway’s book The Final Days of Jesus, the short videos feature theologians and biblical scholars presenting the historical and theological meaning of the events surrounding Easter.
Holy Week, Day 7: Saturday features interviews with New Testament scholars Andreas Köstenberger and Douglas Moo. Dr. Köstenberger explores the role of Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’s burial as well as first century burial customs. Dr. Moo explains where he believes Jesus was on the Saturday before the resurrection, referring to 1 Peter 3 which talks about Christ preaching to spirits in prison.
Dr. Moo says, “Traditionally, a lot of people have thought [1 Peter 3] refers to Jesus between his death and resurrection, going to Hades, proclaiming the victory he had won, even perhaps proclaiming the gospel to people who had died so they would have a chance to respond to the grace of God in Christ.”
Allowing that it’s a complicated and controversial issue, Moo said he believes that instead the 1 Peter 3 passage is talking about Jesus at his ascension, “proclaiming his victory over evil spiritual beings.” According to Moo, that is how most contemporary scholars are interpreting that text. “If that’s true,” says Moo, “then we don’t really have any New Testament evidence that Jesus went to Hades or went to Hell between his death and resurrection.”
Moo said that the best guess is that Jesus was in the presence of the Father on Saturday.
“He tells the thief on the cross that he would be together with him in paradise that day,” said Moo. “And our best guess — and it’s not much more than that — is that Jesus was indeed in the presence of the Father before his body was raised on Easter Sunday morning. “
Do you agree with Dr. Moo or do you believe Jesus was somewhere else on Saturday?
Watch the rest of the videos in the series here:
British Prime Minister David Cameron used his Easter message to talk about the significance of the holiday as he highlighted the role of Christianity in Britain and the plight of Christians in countries where they are persecuted.
He said the country should reflect on what Christianity brings to Britain. “All over the UK, every day, there are countless acts of kindness carried out by those who believe in and follow Christ,” Cameron said. “The heart of Christianity is to ‘love thy neighbour’ and millions do really live that out.” He mentioned prison ministries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters run by churches. He said he saw the same “spirit” during recent storm in his country. “They proved, yet again, that people’s faith motivates them to do good deeds,” he said.
Cameron also reflected on the plight of the persecuted church. “And as we celebrate Easter, let’s also think of those who are unable to do so, the Christians around the world who are ostracised, abused – even murdered – simply for the faith they follow,” Cameron said. “Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right.”
He added that “Britain is committed to protecting and promoting that right, by standing up for Christians and other minorities, at home and abroad. Our hearts go out to them, especially at this special time of year” [emphasis added].
Cameron expounded on his Easter message in an article for the Anglican magazine, Church Times. Acknowledging that he is “not that regular in attendance, and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith,” Cameron disagreed with those who said faith should not be discussed in this “secular age.” He said, “I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.”
Cameron focused on morality and social action, saying he is “not one for doctrinal purity.” But he said that people who advocate secular neutrality “fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality, or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code,” Cameron said.
Despite the obvious benefits, a nation dedicated to good works will not pull Christianity back from the brink of extinction in the UK. Only authentic, committed faith can do that. But a government that recognizes the role of faith in society can allow churches to organically flourish by eliminating government interference and discouraging cultural marginalization. Whether or not Cameron is a man of true faith, he seems to recognize the need for Christianity to return to the United Kingdom.
The much-anticipated movie ‘Heaven is for Real’ is set to open in movie theaters on Wednesday. The book tells the story of Colton Burpo, a little boy who claimed he visited heaven during a near-death experience.
“Heaven tourism” books have proliferated Christian best-seller lists in recent years, but are the accounts authentic, fictional, based on hallucinations, or something else? Moreover, do they comport with the Bible’s descriptions of heaven and the afterlife?
Pastor and author David Platt says no.
He describes ’Heaven is for Real’ as “A fanciful account of a four-year-old boy who talks about how he went to heaven and got a halo and wings, but he didn’t like them because they were too small. He claims that he sat on Jesus’ lap while angels sang to him,” Platt said. “He even met the Holy Spirit, whom he describes as ‘kind of blue.’
Platt said that “There is money to be made in peddling fiction about the afterlife as non-fiction in the Christian publishing world today” and “The whole premise behind every single one of these books is contrary to everything God’s word says about heaven,” including their “relentless self-focus.”
According to Platt, “Scripture definitely says that people do not go to heaven and come back. ‘Who has ascended to heaven and come down?’ (Proverbs 30:4). Answer: ‘No one has ascended into heaven except he who has descended from heaven — the Son of Man’” (John 3:13).
“Four biblical authors had visions about heaven and wrote about what they saw: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul and John,” Platt said. “All of them were prophetic visions, not near-death experiences. Not one person raised from dead in the Old Testament or the New Testament ever wrote down what he or she experienced in heaven, including Lazarus, who had a lot of time in a grave — four days.”
But all of the biblical authors agree perfectly: “Their visions are all fixated on the glory of God which defines heaven and illuminates everything there. They are overwhelmed, chagrined, petrified, and put to silence by the sheer majesty of God’s holiness.” Platt said that notably missing from all the biblical accounts are “the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominate every account of heaven currently on the bestseller list.”
He said we need to “minimize the thoughts of man and magnify, trust — let’s bank our lives and our understanding of the future on — the truth of God.” He said that rather than relying on traditions, we should depend on the word of God. “There’s too much at stake in our lives and others’ lives for that.”
There is a nearly 1,200-mile-wide desert of abortion providers stretching from the western border of Idaho to the eastern borders of North and South Dakota. Across this five-state expanse, the total number of cities that offer any form of abortion access can be counted on just two hands. Montana used to be an oasis in that abortion desert, with four clinics in four different cities offering both surgical and medication abortion options, but not anymore.
Montana has gone from four surgical abortion centers in the last year to two in the wake of dedicated abortion provider Dr. Susan Wicklund’s recent retirement.
Even more troubling to the Daily Beast:
Between 2010 and 2013, one in 10 clinics closed across the country—and that was before Texas’s HB 2 began to go into effect, which will close another 20.
Emily Likins, communications director at the Blue Mountain Clinic in Billings, Montana (one of the state’s two remaining abortion providers) said, “We are busy here, and so overbooked. We are short on equipment, short on space, short on providers and short on nurses.”
Well that sounds really safe, doesn’t it? Are the butcheries having that much difficulty finding people to work for them?
She said they have to tell women, ‘We’re sorry, but we can’t get you in this week, and you’re only 9 weeks so we can wait until you are 10.’ We hate doing that,” Likins said. “We don’t want to force people to walk around pregnant when they don’t want to be.”
Not for one extra minute! (But really, what difference does it make? They can charge more for the late-term jobs.)
The article notes that more than 100 bills limiting access to abortion have passed in multiple states since 2011. Many of these laws have been aimed at increasing the safety of abortion clinics in the wake of the horrific conditions discovered at Kermit Gosnell’s clinic in Philadelphia.
Despite the legislative victories for those who support the sanctity of life, the Daily Beast warns that they may be short-lived. “For states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin, the only thing standing between losing most or all of their clinics are court orders blocking bills from being enforced.”
Because finding a sympathetic judge is way easier than winning legislative battles.
If that fails, maybe Michelle Obama can make adopting abortion deserts her new project for President Obama’s second term. Roadside stands anyone?
Marcia Clemmitt recently published an extensive report on homeschooling at CQ Researcher. In “Homeschooling: Do Parents Give Their Children a Good Education?,” Clemmitt, a “social policy researcher” and former high school teacher attempts to explain the economic impact of homeschooling in the United States:
Since public schools are allotted government dollars based on the number of pupils they enroll, districts where home schooling’s growth is greatest inevitably lose cash. Arizona’s Maricopa County school district, for example, had lost $34 million by the year 2000 because 7,526 students were being home-schooled.
While I do not doubt for a minute the propensity of government schools to “lose cash,” homeschooling is not to blame.
A report from The Heritage Foundation in 2009 found that just the opposite is true — homeschooling eases the burden on local public schools, saving them billions:
An additional benefit of homeschooling comes in the form of savings to taxpayers and school systems. Analysts have estimated that homeschooled students save American taxpayers and public schools between $4.4 billion and $9.9 billion annually. Other estimates are as high as $16 billion.
The argument that homeschoolers deprive public schools of tax money is based on the premise that each child represents a sum of money to which the school has an inherent right. When parents choose to educate their children outside the public school system, opponents of homeschooling say, those students are “robbing” districts of money to which they are entitled by virtue of the fact that the child happens to live in their district.
Megachurch pastor, televangelist and author John Hagee has warned of a “world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.” He believes that the series of lunar eclipses that will occur between now and then are predictive of major catastrophic historical events. The first “blood moon” will make its appearance on April 15. “There’s a sense in the world that things are changing and God is trying to communicate with us in a supernatural way,” Hagee told CBN earlier this year. “I believe that in these next two years we’re going to see something dramatic happen in the Middle East involving Israel that will change the course of history in the Middle East and impact the whole world,” he predicted.
That’s a rather unsettling prediction, one that is causing a lot of buzz among Christians and non-Christians alike.
What is a blood moon and should you be worried? Here are some facts:
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in July of 2013 as “7 Objections to Homeschooling Teens“ It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Visit tomorrow for the conclusion of the series.
In a recent article at Cafe Mom, Ericka Souter listed 7 reasons she could never homeschool her teen. They are all fairly common concerns that most parents wrestle with as they decide whether to continue homeschooling through the middle school and high school years and I’d like to address them:
1. I could probably get him through algebra and geometry, but we’d both need a tutor when it came to calculus. Sure, I took it in high school but it was in one ear and out the other as soon as the final was finished.
One thing that homeschoolers discover early on is that they learn along with their children. Most parents realize fairly quickly that there were gaps in their own education and they remedy the situation by plunging right into the learning process with their kids. With math, for example, parents not only review what they already know, but they fill in gaps as they work through the curriculum, progressively adding to their own skills as they teach their children. Many homeschooling books are designed to walk parents through every step of teaching various subjects, some even including video lectures.
If parents are uncomfortable teaching higher-level classes such as calculus and physics, they have a wealth of resources at their disposal. Some parents enroll their children in online classes for subjects they find challenging, while others, like our family, join co-ops in which parents pool their skills and teach classes to small groups of homeschoolers. In our co-op, a homeschooling mom who is a physician taught biology and a dad who is a mechanical engineer taught physics. We used a video-assisted program for pre-calculus, and my older son took discrete math at a local university during his senior year of high school. The array of options is almost dizzying.
Is it just me or are there others out there who feel like LinkedIn is really, really creepy? This week, after weeks of ignoring me, the social networking site sent me four consecutive emails: One from someone who wanted to connect with me, one suggestion of someone LinkedIn thinks I might like to connect with, a reminder that someone in my network was celebrating the first anniversary of his job (is LinkedIn sending people I know weird emails like this about me?) and a list of jobs that might be of interest to me. I’m puzzled by the sudden attention and of course, as always, I took the bait and end up on the LinkedIn site.
Once there, my first question is alway: Who are these people? I’m connected to 110 people, half of whom I do not know. I’m immediately taken back to that shameful night when, after my Ambien had begun to take effect but before I fell asleep I discovered an email from LinkedIn in my inbox asking me if I wanted to invite someone to link to me. Before I realized what was happening I fell into their trap and with one little tap on my phone I allowed LinkedIn to send an email to every blessed person in my address book inviting them to connect to me (if you were a victim of my middle-of-the-night Ambien-fueled spam, I am profoundly sorry!). (Note to self: Never, ever, ever reach for social media after you’ve taken an Ambien.)
Once I get past trying to figure out who all my connections are I’m immediately faced with this frightening pronouncement:
I have a love/hate relationship with knowing who creeped on my profile. On the one hand, I’m insanely curious and can’t resist knowing (in this case, my profile was viewed by an anonymous creeper, “Someone at Ohio Northern University—Claude W. Pettit College of Law,” and a friend from my college days. I don’t know anyone at Ohio Northern University so I’m left to wonder (and worry!) about why a possible lawyer is checking out my profile. I’m also faced with the realization that I show up in the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” section of other people. Look, I’m just going to say it… I prefer to spy on people anonymously. This is way too much transparency for my comfort and so I’m mortified at the thought of viewing anyone’s profile under these circumstances.
And then, of course, LinkedIn tempts me by telling me I have shown up in “search results” — and they’ll tell me all about it (for a small monthly fee). Someone’s searching for me? Fourteen people have searched for me? What on earth are they looking for? So far I’ve resisted the temptation, but it’s just sitting there — taunting me, week after week. Maddening.
Every time I visit LinkedIn I’m unnerved and feel more than a little violated. Not enough, of course, to delete my profile and walk away, so I mostly just avoid thinking too much about it — usually I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. I only drop by when an email arrives in my inbox tempting me … teasing me about amazing secrets that could be revealed to me if I would only click on that magic blue link (and hand over my credit card number).
Rhonda Robinson wrote earlier this week about the school district in suburban Detroit that dismantled the bleachers from the boys’ varsity baseball field so they would be in compliance with Title IX regulations after a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR had determined that the boys had better facilities, including better bleachers that had been paid for by parents on the team’s booster club. Rhonda wrote:
In an attempt to make everything fair and equal all it could do is bring everything down to the lowest level–in this case quite literally. The men and women that worked to rise above their circumstances, by building something better, were punished. Their work is completely destroyed. The moral of the story for the everyone-goes-home-with-a-trophy generation: When you expect the government to make everything fair then everyone becomes equally impoverished.
You have to actually read the OCR’s onsite inspection report to fully grasp the enormity of the federal reach into our local public schools and the extent to which their attempts to make everything equal have devolved into a mess that would be hilarious were it not so serious. Woe to the unfortunate school district that receives a visit from these federal genitalia counters with their clipboards and unhealthy interest in urinals and shower curtains. With respect to the availability and quality of the locker rooms, the genital counters who visited the Plymouth-Canton schools wrote:
All School athletes are permitted to use the locker rooms at the School, although some athletes prefer to change elsewhere. The school has varsity locker rooms for both the boys and the girls. The locker rooms are of nearly identical square footage and layout. The boys’ locker room has 236 lockers while the girls’ locker room has 218 lockers. The additional lockers in the boys’ locker room are larger lockers used for football equipment. Each of the locker rooms has eight showers of regular size, and one accessible shower; the only difference noted between the two shower facilities is that the girls’ locker room showers have curtains. The boys’ locker room has two toilet stalls, two urinals, and eight sinks. The girls’ locker room has four stalls and eight sinks. Both locker rooms have a whiteboard in the offices for coaches to use.
Oddly enough, the genitalia counters didn’t seem to have a problem with the disparate toilet facilities, which inadvertently gives us a glimpse into the insanity of these laws. Boys and girls are not the same. Girls cannot (in the absence of advanced gymnastic skills or large quantities of liquor) use urinals (trust me, I know this … I have a cousin who tried it once). The girls’ swimming facility used by the Plymouth-Canton schools has eight wall-mounted hair dryers — presumably because they recognize that women have different grooming needs than men (the guys are stuck with a few hand dryers, surely violating the rights of those with long tresses). And not to be all sexist or anything, but girls (especially those of the high school variety)
need want mirrors. It’s written in the female genetic code that there can never be enough mirrors when a gaggle of girls is present and performing grooming activities. No amount of genital counting and forced gender equality can alter these biological — and cultural — differences between the sexes.
Do you have a highly intelligent child who struggles with writing and spelling? A child who, despite good scores on standardized tests, is performing below his “potential”? If so, you may be the parent of a “stealth dyslexic.” According to learning experts, dyslexia manifests itself in a variety of ways beyond the most common form where individuals reverse letters and have difficulty learning to read. Indeed, stealth dyslexics often learn to read quite easily because of their outstanding memories and ability to compensate for their deficits. But because of this, their learning disability is often not detected until later in life.
According to school psychologist Jim Forgan, ”These highly intelligent or gifted children compensate for their dyslexia because they learn to rely upon their outstanding memory, keen intuition, and general smarts to work around their reading weaknesses.” Stealth dyslexia often goes undetected until the child is in third grade or older. “Your child may have stealth dyslexia if they are very smart and can read but don’t enjoy reading and rarely read for pleasure. Many of these children don’t read for pleasure because it’s laborious and mentally exhausting,” says Forgan.
Teachers often think that these obviously smart kids are lazy, inattentive or “not applying themselves” because they have precocious verbal skills and many, in fact, have high verbal IQs. According to the Davidson Institute, there is often a huge gap between the child’s verbal skills and the ability to read and write, especially as the student progresses to more difficult assignments in the middle school years. The Davidson Institute says that children with stealth dyslexia tend to exhibit some of the following characteristics:
1. Difficulties with word processing and written output.
2. Reading skills that appear to fall within the normal or even superior range for children their age, at least on silent reading comprehension.
3. Difficulty remembering how to form individual letters (resulting in oddly formed letters, reversals, inversions, and irregular spacing.
4. Difficulty remembering the sequence of letters or even sounds in a word.
5. Difficulties with sensory-motor dyspraxia, or motor coordination problems resulting in handwriting problems.
6. An enormous gap between oral and written expression.
7. Spelling errors in children’s written output that are far out of character with their general language, working memory, or attention skills.
8. Persistent difficulties with word-for-word reading skills, resulting in subtle word substitutions or word skips; which can result in significant functional problems, especially on tests. This occurs despite the appearance of age-appropriate reading comprehension on classroom assignments or standardized tests.