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.
Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, sent a letter dated Friday to the realty agent who has listed the Bath Township house for sale. In the letter, she asked about the listing and proposed making the house a vegan restaurant “to respond to the past with something positive.”
Newkirk likened the way animals are slaughtered, processed and consumed to the way Dahmer treated his victims.
“We are always looking for ways to draw attention to the violence inherent in the production of meat, eggs, and milk — which involve processes that would shock all but the most hard-hearted person,” Newkirk wrote in the letter to Richard Lubinski of Stouffer Realty. “Dahmer’s old house gives us a way to evoke sympathy for these victims and to suggest that a life-affirming diet can change everything.”
Because who doesn’t want to enjoy a
satisfying vegan meal while contemplating that a notorious serial killer murdered and dismembered a young man just inches away from the elegant baby beets with tofu and crispy shallots you’re gnawing on?
PETA thinks such a restaurant, situated on the scenic 1.5 acre wooded lot where Dahmer scattered the remains of his first victim, 19-year old hitchhiker Steven Hicks, could be a “celebration of culinary compassion.”
And PETA wants you to understand that the steak you’ll have for dinner tonight is exactly the same as the human victims that Dahmer tortured, murdered, mutilated, dismembered and ate:
Like Dahmer’s human victims, cows, pigs, and chickens are made of flesh and blood and fear for their lives when confronted by a man with a knife. They are also drugged and dragged, and their limbs are bound. Their struggles and screams are ignored as they are killed and cut up to be consumed. Their bones are thrown away like garbage.
The Bath Township zoning inspector said the wooded, sloped property with a well and septic system is zoned for residential use and not well-suited for a restaurant. Bath Township, a picturesque town located about 45 minutes south of Cleveland, has a median family income of $98,712, making it one of the most affluent locations in the state (LeBron James, whose sprawling 30,000 sq. ft. mansion is less than three miles from Dahmer’s former home, may have something to do with that average). Musician Chris Butler has owned the 3-bedroom, 3-bath former Dahmer home, which is currently listed at $295,000, since 2005.
Jeffrey Dahmer was bludgeoned to death while serving fifteen consecutive life terms in a Wisconsin prison, one for each killing he confessed to in that state.
On Wednesday night Kent State University went on lockdown and students were told to “shelter-in-place” after a shooting on campus. The suspect, who allegedly fled the scene after accidentally shooting himself in the hand during an altercation, was at large for several hours while campus police and local law enforcement officials searched campus buildings to determine that there was no ongoing active shooter situation in progress. Quavaugntay Tyler, a 24-year-old freshman criminology and justice studies major, was later arrested at a local hospital after seeking treatment for the self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Now, some students and professors are alleging that the university and local media outlets engaged in racial profiling when they released a preliminary description of the shooter saying they were looking for a “a black man wearing black basketball shorts and carrying a silver handgun.” From Kent Wired:
In Traci Easley Williams’ Black Images course Thursday afternoon, Walker and other students expressed their views and stories about how Tyler was identified as simply a “black male.”
Easley Williams, a professor of Pan-African studies and journalism, asked her class by show of hands how many of them believed they should have released the description of Tyler as a “black man” even though it was vague.
Only one student — Caleb Ference, a senior electronic media production major — raised his hand. Ference, a white student, did not believe the suspect’s race should have been released because it was very broad, but he said a statement was necessary so that he could be recognized by the public.
“It was a very hectic situation, and I believe people should have known,” Ference said. “Not releasing the statement could have avoided this situation in some ways, but it would not have eased the tension that was going on.”
Easley Williams said she does not believe it is fair that minority students have to face situations like this and carry the backlash while keeping up with all other responsibilities in college.
Professor Williams told WKYC News that, “There’s a lot of hurt with the students of color here on campus. They feel that many of them were targeted.”
Trey Walker, a freshman broadcast journalism major said, “It wasn’t that someone had a gun and they shot on campus, it became ‘a black man on campus has a gun.’ and anybody on campus that fits the description of wearing basketball shorts, which is a very, very general … nothing talking about their t-shirt … not saying if it was white, black, yellow, blue … you have basketball shorts. Black basketball shorts. You’re a suspect.”
A spokesperson for Kent State told WKYC that police released the most detailed suspect information they could at the time and public safety was their number one priority.
WKYC released a statement explaining their use of the racial identifier:
WKYC did use the description of the Kent State university suspect last night online and on the air. With an active search for a potential gunman, we reported any detail that might lead to an arrest. We review each story that includes a racial identifier and make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
According to the university, 1,949 of the 22,000 undergraduate students enrolled at Kent State are African American and 59% are female. So the campus text alert immediately (and, apparently correctly), narrowed the search from 22,000 students to fewer than 800. When you eliminate students who were not on campus that evening (75% of Kent State students commute) and those not wearing basketball shorts, the number of suspects becomes exponentially smaller.
If you’re the parents of a college student — or a students on a campus with an active shooter on the loose — wouldn’t you want authorities to disclose as much information as possible to help students protect themselves?
A few African American students admitted they felt relieved when they heard the race of the suspect:
Jamal Deakings, a sophomore electronic media production major, said he admitted to initially feeling relief when he received the campus alert identifying the suspect of the shooting as a “black man.”
“When I found out he was a black man with a handgun, I was actually relieved because I believed it was less likely it was going to be a mass shooting,” Deakings said.
Freshman broadcast journalism major Valerie Williams said she was surprised to hear the suspect was black.
“I was completely shocked; I honestly did not expect him to be black,” Williams said. “Most major school shootings are done by Caucasian people, so I did not think the suspect would have been black.”
Welcome to the future of American journalism, where students are encouraged to think that racial sensitivities are more important than basic safety and apprehending a shooter. Meet the new boss — same as the old boss.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in in May of 2013 as “5 Signs That We Haven’t Lost America Yet.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.
Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shore, China’s under martial law
Rock and Roll, cola wars, I can’t take it anymore
Billy Joel – “We Didn’t Start the Fire“
Benghazi, Boston bombings, the Gosnell trial, the Cleveland kidnappings, the IRS targeting conservatives, DOJ snooping on the AP, war games with Iran and North Korea, civil war in Syria…
Last week my ability to mentally process world events felt like a cell phone when the data is throttled — it was almost too much to wrap my mind around. Some days I fantasize about life as a low-information voter, not caring about anything more important than what some Kardashian is up to. Barring sudden brain malfunction, I’m not likely to experience that kind of apathy any time soon, and the fact that you’re reading PJ Media tells me that you’re likely in the same boat.
Instead of spending the weekend wallowing in all the terrible things happening in the country and around the world, I decided to instead consider many of the positive signs around us that all is not yet lost.
And so I bring you:
5 Signs That We Haven’t Lost America Yet:
Rod Dreher at The American Conservative has a thoughtful analysis of the state of Christianity in the United States as we plunge forward into our brave, new cultural revolution. He explains that historically, the Christian views of sex and marriage were good for the culture and improved the lives of slaves and women:
It is nearly impossible for contemporary Americans to grasp why sex was a central concern of early Christianity. Sarah Ruden, the Yale-trained classics translator, explains the culture into which Christianity appeared in her 2010 book Paul Among The People. Ruden contends that it’s profoundly ignorant to think of the Apostle Paul as a dour proto-Puritan descending upon happy-go-lucky pagan hippies, ordering them to stop having fun.
In fact, Paul’s teachings on sexual purity and marriage were adopted as liberating in the pornographic, sexually exploitive Greco-Roman culture of the time—exploitive especially of slaves and women, whose value to pagan males lay chiefly in their ability to produce children and provide sexual pleasure. Christianity, as articulated by Paul, worked a cultural revolution, restraining and channeling male eros, elevating the status of both women and of the human body, and infusing marriage—and marital sexuality—with love.
Dreher discusses the theories of 1960s sociologist Philip Rieff who said that cultures are defined by what they forbid. They impose moral demands in order to serve communal purposes. Rieff — an unbeliever — wrote that the sexual revolution signaled the imminent demise of Christianity as a “culturally determinative force” in the West.
Rieff, Dreher says, explained that “renouncing the sexual autonomy and sensuality of pagan culture was at the core of Christian culture—a culture that, crucially, did not merely renounce but redirected the erotic instinct.” He said that the West’s rapid “re-paganizing around sensuality and sexual liberation” was a sign of the end of Christianity. According to Dreher,
In the 20th century, casting off restrictive Christian ideals about sexuality became increasingly identified with health. By the 1960s, the conviction that sexual expression was healthy and good—the more of it, the better—and that sexual desire was intrinsic to one’s personal identity culminated in the sexual revolution, the animating spirit of which held that freedom and authenticity were to be found not in sexual withholding (the Christian view) but in sexual expression and assertion. That is how the modern American claims his freedom.
In contrast, Denny Burk argues in his book, What is the Meaning of Sex?, the purposes of sex according to the Bible are consummation of marriage, procreation, the expression of love, and pleasure. But even those ends are subordinate to the “ultimate end of glorifying God.” Burk says that,
“The four subordinate ends are not discreet goods but are inseparably related to one another in the covenant of marriage, which itself exists for the glory of God. The morality of any given action, therefore, must be measured by its conformity to these ends.”
Dreher says that gay marriage is the final triumph of the 1960s Sexual Revolution and the “dethroning of Christianity.” He rightly points out that gay marriage stands in opposition to a core concept of Christian anthropology. “In classical Christian teaching,” says Dreher, ”the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation.” He says that Christians lost the debate about gay marriage long before most people imagined that we could go down that road, in part, because Americans had devalued the cosmological meaning of sex and marriage in the post-’60s Sexual Revolution.
Clearly, our culture has floated quite a distance downstream from the goal of “glorifying God” in all areas of life, including sex and marriage. Today’s accepted cultural norms elevate the glory of man over the glory of God.
“The question Western Christians face now is whether or not they are going to lose Christianity altogether in this new dispensation,” says Dreher. He adds that “If the faith does not recover, the historical autopsy will conclude that gay marriage was not a cause but a symptom, the sign that revealed the patient’s terminal condition.”
From the Mozilla Blog:
Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.
We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.
Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.
Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard…
…We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.
Apparently, the “wide diversity of views” doesn’t include support for traditional marriage. Eich, who helped found mozilla.org in 1988 and was appointed CEO last month, donated $1000 to California’s Prop 8 marriage ban in 2008. It should be noted until he evolved in 2012, President Obama also supported a ban on gay marriage, so Eich’s support for Prop 8 was not considered extreme, out-of-the mainstream, or bigoted by most Americans at the time he made his contribution.
Even Eich’s blog post vowing to embrace inclusiveness at Mozilla could not save his job:
You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products. Mozilla’s inclusive health benefits policies will not regress in any way. And I will not tolerate behavior among community members that violates our Community Participation Guidelines or (for employees) our inclusive and non-discriminatory employment policies.
One commenter on a tech blog expressed the sentiments of many in the mob screaming for Eich’s head on a pike:
When a person progresses from talking about how gays are horrible and moves to working to actively take rights away or make them second class citizens in some legal sense then it ceases to become a freedom of speech issue.
A better way to express this sentiment is to say that free speech ends where the mob says it does. If you like your free speech you can keep it as long as you agree with the Dictators of Acceptable Speech. Allegiance to LGBT rights is quickly becoming a bona fide occupational qualification. It seems we are heading to a place where those with traditional views of marriage (still nearly half of Americans) will be relegated to the proverbial jobs no one else will do.
For now, we still have a First Amendment that (at least on paper) says the government shall make no law abridging free speech, though arguably, laws requiring disclosure of political contributions has that very effect. Going forward, many will be reluctant to support unpopular causes due to a fear of retribution by the de facto Ochlocracy now dictating what constitutes acceptable viewpoints.
One significant consequence of this and other high-tech lynchings is that we now know the marketplace is willing to sacrifice innovators like tech genius Eich on the altar of political correctness. Progress is now defined as agreement with an approved orthodoxy rather than the meritocracy of real, tangible innovation, invention, and technological advancement. That should concern all of us, regardless of our views on marriage or other contentious issues.
Jamelle Bouie argued in Slate recently that “Conservative evangelicals didn’t always care much about abortion or contraception.” Bouie’s article relies largely on the memoir of Jonathan Dudley, who claimed that evangelicals were mostly pro-choice from the 1960s until the rise of the religious right in politics in the 1980s:
It took the organizational might of Falwell and his “Moral Majority”—as well as evangelical anti-abortion figures such as Francis Schaeffer—to galvanize evangelicals around other “culture war” issues such as feminism, homosexuality, and school prayer. This in turn led to alliances with largely Catholic organizations like the National Right to Life Committee.
At First Things Dale M. Coulter concedes that there was a shift in Christian thought on the issues of abortion and contraception beginning in the 1960s but disagrees with the conclusion that Christians were historically absent from debates about the morality of abortion throughout history and in the decades leading up to the 1980s. Coulter cites the concerns over severe birth defects during the time that thalidomide was administered to expectant mothers, concerns over population control and the perception that these were “Catholic” issues as reasons for some of the lax views on abortion during that time, but gives numerous examples of Christians who were vocal opponents. ”This lax view,” Coulter says, “was not universally held even at the time.”
Coulter says Dudley does not take into account contextual factors in history or the history of Christian thought on the issues. “To say Evangelicals were latecomers to opposing abortion represents a selective reading of history, and a false one,” Coulter argues.
He does, however, agree with Bouie that Schaeffer’s 1983 book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (written with Dr. C. Everett Koop) was a “catalyst for a return to a staunchly pro-life position” in evangelical Christian thought.
Schaeffer, a philosopher, theologian, and pastor, helped to lead Christian thought back to the traditional view that life is sacred. He made his case through spiritual, legal, and intellectual arguments, framing the issue of abortion within the context of human rights, and contrasting the naturalistic worldview to a theistic view that affirmed the dignity of the unborn and their right to life. Schaeffer wrote,
“If man is not made in the image of God, nothing, then, stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. Human life is cheapened.”
In a video series based on the book, Schaeffer makes the case for the rights of the unborn and their connection to the larger human community:
Abortion is not only a religious issue, it is a human issue. The fate of the unborn is the fate of the human race. We are all one human family and thus, when the rights of any part of that human family are denied it’s of concern to all of us. What is involved here is the very essence of what true freedom and true rights are all about. Life is sacred — the first, and most precious gift that God gives us…the term ‘abortion on demand’ is a euphemism for man playing God.
Warning: graphic descriptions below.
Most of us shared a collective gasp last week when news broke that aborted babies in the UK were incinerated and, in some cases, used to heat hospitals. Mike McNally wrote,
It’s emerged that several National Health Service (NHS) trusts in the UK have been routinely burning the bodies of aborted babies as “clinical waste,” and that in at least two cases the remains were used to heat hospitals – an example of ruthless efficiency if ever there was one. This is what happens when the progressive left’s culture of death meets the heartless bureaucracy of socialized healthcare.
This, of course, has led many to wonder what happens to American babies after they’re aborted. Is the way they are treated upon their demise in the United States any less gruesome than the way they are disposed of across the pond?
Sadly, in our country, aborted babies are treated like trash—medical waste—and they are commonly incinerated. In some cases, the remains are dumped in landfills with other “solid waste” or ground up and dumped into sanitary sewers.
Laws vary by state. California requires that “pathology waste,” which includes recognizable anatomical parts or human tissue specimens, “must be treated by incineration.” New Mexico requires either incineration or interment. In Ohio the law simply says that “products of conception…shall be disposed of in a humane manner,” whatever that means, since “humane” is not defined in the statute.
Texas offers several options for disposal of “tissues or fetuses” (not for the squeamish):
1 Incineration followed by deposition of the residue in a sanitary landfill;
2. Grinding and discharging to a sanitary sewer system;
4. Steam disinfection followed by interment;
5. Moist heat disinfection followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill;
6. Chlorine disinfection/maceration followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill; or
7. An approved alternate treatment process, provided that the process renders the item as unrecognizable, followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill.
Dear God, what kind of country have we become? Surely we have lost our national soul when our laws can speak in such sanitary and pragmatic terms about the bodies of tiny human beings using words like “grinding,” “maceration” and rendering them “unrecognizable” so they can be deposited into a “sanitary landfill.”
Vince Vitale, a philosopher and professor at Oxford University makes the surprising and bold claim in a new video that God is alive and well at the highest levels of academia.
Vitale excoriates the so-called “new atheists” who are “not engaged in current philosophical scholarship,” attributing their brand of atheism to the “old scholarship” at the academic level. Vitale said, “More recently, in the last fifty years or so, what we’ve had is a remarkable resurgence of professional philosophers who have thought long and hard about the evidence and have come to the conclusion that God exists. God is not dead. He is very much alive.”
He cites Quentin Smith, a contemporary philosopher who has published twelve books and over a hundred articles. Smith, an atheist, discussed in a paper in Philo in 2000 an assertion by non-theist philosopher Richard Gale:
If each naturalist who does not specialize in the philosophy of religion (i.e., over ninety-nine percent of naturalists) were locked in a room with theists who do specialize in the philosophy of religion, and if the ensuing debates were refereed by a naturalist who had a specialization in the philosophy of religion, the naturalist referee could at most hope the outcome would be that “no definite conclusion can be drawn regarding the rationality of faith…”
Quentin Smith goes even further than Gale, saying that the non-theists would lose: “I expect the most probable outcome is that the naturalist, wanting to be a fair and objective referee, would have to conclude that the theists definitely had the upper hand in every single argument or debate.”
In the paper Smith goes on the blast his fellow atheist philosophers for losing so much ground to the theists:
This philosophical failure (ignoring theism and thereby allowing themselves to become unjustified naturalists) has led to a cultural failure since theists, witnessing this failure, have increasingly become motivated to assume or argue for supernaturalism in their academic work, to an extent that academia has now lost its mainstream secularization.
Smith concludes that, “God is not “dead” in academia; he returned to life in the late 1960s and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments.”
People with Down syndrome can live a happy life.
That’s the message of the inspiring video created by CoorDown, an Italian organization that advocates for children with Down syndrome.
The video says that CoorDown received an email in February:
I’m expecting a baby. I’ve discovered he has Down syndrome. I’m scared: what kind of life will my child have?
Fifteen children with Down syndrome from around the world reassure this scared mom unequivocally: People with Down syndrome can live a happy life!
Sadly, many of these frightened mothers will choose abortion — studies say up to 90% of children with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated before they take their first breath.
The beautiful children in this video admit that life with a disabled child can be challenging:
Sometimes it will be difficult. Very difficult. Almost impossible. But isn’t it like that for all mothers?
But oh, the hugs! And the smiles of these children!
Dear Future Mom: Your child can be happy. Just like I am. And you’ll be happy too!
What a great message for World Down Syndrome Day today!
Last weekend mysterious posters of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared in various locations around Beverly Hills. The posters featured an image of Cruz’s head — complete with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth — photoshopped onto a heavily inked torso. The headline on the posters read, “Beverly Hilton: Ted Cruz’s So-Cal ‘Blacklisted and Loving It’ Tour.” Cruz was in California last weekend to speak at the Claremont Institute’s Churchill dinner.
The story went viral, appearing in media outlets as diverse as Drudge, Breitbart, Time, and Huffington Post. Most of them applauded Cruz’s sense of humor when he tweeted: “Saw this, but noticed an error. So I wanted to make one thing clear: I don’t smoke cigarettes.” Cruz later signed a poster that turned up in his dressing room before the Churchill dinner with “The fight for liberty never ends.”
By Saturday morning the Twitterverse was demanding to know who was behind the posters — where could people buy them and would there be t-shirts?
We now have answers to these questions and in an exclusive interview with PJ Media, Sabo, the artist who created the Ted Cruz bad boy posters, tells the story behind them and talks about using street art as a way to take political messages to those who won’t traditionally listen to the Right.
Sabo, an articulate and in-your-face 46-year-old street artist, former Marine, and self-professed Hollywood Republican, grew up in Texas and Louisiana. His Twitter profile says, “I am not a Left-Wing-Zombie-Artist. I am on the edge, the only true rebel artist in LA.” According to his website, UNSAVORYAGENTS (where he’s currently selling Cruz posters), Sabo believes the Right has a great message, but he is frustrated that the Republicans refuse to counter attacks from the Left. He thinks those on the Right are not very well-educated or equipped in fighting back. “A lot of times we simply can’t because they own so many platforms. I find that frustrating,” said Sabo.
He is aiming to change that, one poster at a time.
On Thursday AEI’s Philanthropic Freedom Project hosted Bill Gates for a conversation with AEI President Arthur Brooks focusing on the role of philanthropy in addressing poverty. During the Q & A time Michael McShane, research fellow in education policy studies at AEI, asked Gates about the controversial Common Core standards. Gates, whose foundation has donated $150 million to facilitate the promotion and implementation of Common Core — including $1 million to AEI — ran through the usual list of talking points given by proponents of the new standards, which have been adopted by 46 states.
Gates thinks that, given the prospects for driving innovation, “pro-capitalistic, market-driven people” should embrace Common Core.
“If they have two [sets of standards] they’re comparing they oughta probably pick something in common because to some degree this is an area where, if you do have commonality, it’s like an electric plug,” Gates said. “You get more free market competition. Scale is good for free market competition. Individual state regulatory capture is not good for competition.”
Economies of scale refers to reductions in a producer’s unit costs as scale of output is increased. For a variety of reasons, it’s cheaper per unit to make a million electric plugs than it is to make one hundred — raw materials can be purchased in bulk for a lower price, a larger company can afford sophisticated automation equipment, etc. Gates thinks that this economic theory can be applied to the education of children. While it’s true that curriculum, tests, and even standards can be reproduced on a mass scale for a lower price than can the same items produced on a lower scale, the same cannot be said about the minds of children.
Human beings are not electric plugs. Schools are not molding soulless plastic objects, they are touching hearts and minds. Though Gates brushes off criticism of the standards by saying they’re merely a “written explanation of what kids should achieve at various milestones in their educational career,” the evidence shows that, whatever their original intentions, the standards have evolved into something that is not rigorous (by traditional American standards) and worse, will lead to continued cultural and moral degradation in our schools. Terrence O. Moore, professor of history at Hillsdale College has said that the new standards, as they are currently being implemented in schools across the country, will destroy minds and souls and lead students down “a depressing path of a prematurely jaded, post-modern, anti-heroic view of life.”
Plenty of industries can benefit from the economy of scale and even from shared services across states, but the idea of mass-producing education across the diverse landscape of the United States will ultimately lead to a Henry Ford-style education for all: You can have any kind of education you want as long as it’s of the approved, federal-centric, progressive variety.
Yesterday the prospects looked grim for the Romeikes, the German homeschooling family who had fled Germany’s oppressive education laws that would have forced the the children to attend government-approved schools in violation of the family’s Christian beliefs. The family risked losing custody of their children and even jail time in their home country if they refused to cooperate with German education mandates. The family sought asylum in the United States, hoping to educate their children in peace without government persecution. The Romeikes, their lawyers, and their supporters were disappointed yesterday when the Supreme Court declined to review their case. Michael Farris, a member of the family’s legal team, shared on Facebook:
This is extremely disappointing. We have some possibilities in Congress, but there are no guarantees. Although this is the end of the normal legal battles, we are not giving up. If 12 million people can live here illegally, then surely there is a way to find a place for this one family.
But this afternoon, we have a surprise announcement from Farris:
BREAKING NEWS!!! The Romeikes can stay!!!
Today, a Supervisor with the Department of Homeland Security called a member of our legal team to inform us that the Romeike family has been granted “indefinite deferred status”. This means that the Romeikes can stay in the United States permanently (unless they are convicted of a crime, etc.).
This is an incredible victory that can only be credited to our Almighty God.
We also want to thank those of who spoke up on this issue–including that long ago White House petition. We believe that the public outcry made this possible while God delivered the victory.
This is an amazing turnaround in 24 hours. Praise the Lord.
Proverbs 21: 1 “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord, He guides it wherever He pleases.”
The United States Supreme Court decided last month to consider whether to hear Romeike v. Holder after the family’s legal team filed an appeal in October. It first came up for consideration in November, but was delayed when the Court ordered U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to respond in writing to the family’s petition.
A day after the Supreme Court declined to review the case, someone in the incomprehensible American chain of command decided that the Romeikes will not be deported. For now.
We join Farris and the Romeikes in celebrating this great news!
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in October of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…
Now that school is in session, parents have begun sharing on Facebook and other social media outlets some of the Common Core homework assignments their children are bringing home. Below are ten really bad ones that will give you an idea of the direction education is going under Common Core. All of these assignments were shared recently on social media sites dedicated to informing parents about Common Core.
1. Star citizen: quiet, sitting, neat
This paper came from a Rhode Island first grade classroom. One mother commented, “I went to elementary school in Poland during communism. This is exactly what I was forced to learn.” It’s a step in the right direction for those who want a compliant, obedient citizenry. That said, this is not new to schools and we shouldn’t necessarily blame Common Core. Children — boys in particular — have been taught for decades that being “good” means being quiet and compliant. The link to good citizenry is something I haven’t seen before, however.
Downton Abbey, I shall miss you until next season!
The PBS series Downton Abbey is worth watching almost solely for the snappy dialogue between Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (played by Maggie Smith), and Isobel Crawley (played by Penelope Wilton), the mother of Violet’s deceased son-in-law, Matthew. Despite their differences in station — the aristocratic Violet and Isobel, the working-class nurse — and their constant bickering, it’s clear that the women have a deep respect and affection for one another. It has been obvious through the development of the series that their playful banter serves to spur both of the women on to personal growth and greater compassion.
And no one can throw a rhetorical elbow as politely as this pair of proper British gals in Downton Abbey!
In the final episode of Series Four, the family has gone to London for Lady Rose’s coming out festivities. The Dowager Countess Violet Crawley and Lady Isobel find themselves in a carriage together and they don’t waste any time taking up their battle positions on the plush shared seat as Violet explains her terror at the thought of being in London without a lady’s maid:
Violet: Cora insisted that I come without a maid. I can’t believe she understood the implications! How do I get a guard to take my luggage? And when we arrive in London…what happens then?
Isobel: Fear not. I’ve never traveled with a maid. You could share my knowledge of the jungle.
Violet: Can’t you even offer help without sounding like a trumpeter on the peak of the moral high ground?
Isobel: And must you always sound like the sister of Marie Antoinette?
Violet: The Queen of Naples was a stalwart figure. I take it as a compliment.
Isobel: You take everything as a compliment.
Violet: I advise you to do the same. It saves many an awkward moment.
The lines are fired like beautiful, proper daggers in a conversation as elegant as it is brutal.
After the disappointing conclusion of Series Three, I almost gave up on the Granthams and Downton Abbey. I may have even said something overly dramatic along the lines of, “I shall never watch Downton Abbey again!” I’m glad I stuck around for Series Four just so I could watch the relationship continuing to develop between these two lovely ladies. And I’m so glad they ended Series Four on a happier note that leaves me looking forward to the next season!
The CNN headline screams: “VETOED: Governor says ‘no’ to anti-gay bill.”
Saying she has not heard of “one example where business owners’ religious liberties has been violated” in the state and that the bill was too broad, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial SB 1062 .
SB 1062 is that bill that would have allowed business owners to discriminate against gays and deny them service in restaurants and bakeries, right? Have you gotten the message (from virtually every news outlet and even from the NFL) that the bill was all about — and only about — Arizona’s attempt to impose some version of Jim Crow laws on homosexuals? If so, you’ve been misled. But you’re probably not alone because the bill was so widely misrepresented.
In fact, nearly a dozen religious-liberty scholars wrote a letter to Governor Brewer prior to her veto, saying that SB 1062 “has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics.” The group included individuals on different sides of the same-sex marriage debate and those from a variety of religious and political perspectives. All said that “many criticisms of the Arizona bill are deeply misleading.”
The letter noted that the federal government and eighteen states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) that require the government to have a compelling interest before burdening a person’s religious exercise. The legal scholars assert that the standard makes sense. “We should not punish people for practicing their religions unless we have a very good reason.” Arizona has had a RFRA in place for nearly fifteen years with only a handful of cases and little controversy. SB 1062 merely sought to clear up two ambiguities in the existent law:
It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.
But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest. [Emphasis original]
Contrary to the widespread misreporting, this was not an “anti-gay” bill and nothing in the text of the bill would have overtly permitted businesses to deny services or “discriminate” against anyone. It merely would have made clear that individuals and businesses could raise religious liberty as a defense in certain cases. Arizona’s current RFRA, parts of which were copied verbatim from the federal law, left some ambiguity as to when that defense would be appropriate:
So, to be clear: SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons. It says that business people can assert a claim or defense under RFRA, in any kind of case (discrimination cases are not even mentioned, although they would be included), that they have the burden of proving a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them has the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona make the final decision.
In the wake of disappointing results from the U.S. speed skating team at the Sochi Olympics — no U.S. skater finished higher than 7th place — skaters, coaches and experts associated with the sport are looking for answers. Some quickly rushed to blame the untested, high-tech suits, designed specifically for the team by Under Armour. The Washington Post reported:
Had the Americans trained hard enough? Had they overlooked something the medal-gorging Dutch had figured out? And what about the Mach 39, devised in collaboration with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, no less? What had happened to the propulsive blast it promised to deliver?
Reporters wanted to know. And some U.S. speedskaters started having doubts.
Delivered by Under Armour to the team on Jan. 1, as contracted, the Mach 39 had never been worn in competition before the Sochi Games. So how could the U.S. skaters know for sure that the air vents down the spine translated to speed? Where was the experiential proof that the relocated zippers and high-tech fibers helped their performance more than hurt it?
“The reasoning behind that was we wanted to keep the suit a secret in case other people found out about it, and they had enough time to switch their technology,” explained U.S. speedskater Brian Hansen, 23, of Evanston, Ill., asked why the athletes hadn’t competed in the suit before Sochi, given prototypes to train in instead.
The team hastily voted to switch back to the Under Armour suits they had worn in the World Cup races, with no better results. Sensing a potential rift with a major sponsor and a lot of money at stake, the U.S. skaters quickly began to shift the focus away from the suits and the U.S. Olympic Committee jumped to extend its contract with Under Armour through the 2022 Games.
Now that all the Olympic excitement is winding down, it’s worth thinking about the extent to which our children, under the new Common Core Standards, have become lab rats in an experiment much bigger than the one the U.S. speed skating team participated in during the Sochi Olympics.