It was a busy week for "When Swing Was King" last week and, like always, we had a terrific time visiting our friends in the nursing homes and senior living centers. And, of course, we also enjoyed presenting them with the latest "When Swing Was King" program with its big band music, photos from the era, and an accompanying commentary that's not only interesting but fun.
The week's capstone was our presentation at the Brookstone assisted living complex. This one is always special for us. It's our biggest audience by far (it's a combined audience of residents and family) and we have some really enthusiastic fans here who continually let us know that we bring them one of the highlights of their month.
We thought things couldn't get any better here when, lo and behold, they did! Claire figured out how to run the Power Point program from her laptop directly through the facility's projection system. This gave us a much larger visual on the screen. And, for the audience members that have sight limitations or who are set way in back in the large room, this was a particularly appreciated improvement. Cool.
What a grand time we have with "When Swing Was King." The music. The stories. The love and laughter. It is a wonderful experience every time -- and we do it 11 (sometimes 12) times a month! Thank You, Lord, for our friends at these facilities, for the helpful staff (and they are especially good at Brookstone), and for the ministry that is "When Swing Was King."
"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (James 1:17 -- NASB)
The State Department recently announced that it was dropping coverage of religious freedom from its annual Human Rights Report. The declared reason: to avoid duplicating coverage available in the annual Report on International Religious Freedom.
There may be other reasons. Given the Obama administration’s consistent downgrading of religious freedom at home and in foreign policy, this move may be part of a larger reprioritization in human rights policy in favor of the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.
Whatever one thinks of that initiative, however, the failure to promote religious freedom abroad is likely to have significant humanitarian and strategic consequences for the United States...
Thomas Farr's "Religious Freedom Under the Gun: The Obama Administration Neglects a Key Foreign Policy Issue" is a very important article, one that should drive you to more frequent prayer, more support for global missions, and more advocacy efforts for justice and religious freedom. You'll find the article right here at The Weekly Standard.
"When we face difficult problems, we can choose to follow the world's prescription, or God's. If the NAE speaks with worldly wisdom in the name of evangelicals, it undermines pastors, parents, and young adults striving to do what's right. The Holy Spirit is real and can change people: Giving in to the contraceptive lobby is like saying the Holy Spirit is powerless to help us obey God." (Marvin Olasky)
Therefore, as I have done for years (see previous Vital Signs Blog posts dealing the the NAE such as 1, 2, 3, and 4), I continue to urge my fellow evangelicals to stop supporting the NAE. Get your denominations and individual churches out of this increasing heterodox and left-leaning organization.
CNN’s ratings are in the toilet, and its president resigned last week. The network’s defenders say the problem is that it is an objective, “just the facts” network, in an era when most viewers prefer the partisan approaches they can get from Fox and MSNBC. But no one who actually watches CNN buys that...
Thus, when CNN did a story on Chick-fil-A today, what did it focus on? The merits of the controversy? The fact that more than one Democratic government official has threatened to violate the company’s constitutional rights, because its CEO is opposed to gay marriage? No. In a dog whistle to its liberal audience, CNN focused on the fact that Todd and Sarah Palin, along with thousands of other Americans, tweeted photos of themselves eating at Chick-fil-A.
CNN introduced its segment with Pink’s “Stupid Girls,” a song which is obviously inappropriate for a cable news bumper, and evidently was intended as a comment on Palin’s support for Chick-fil-A…
Why is the fact that Chick-fil-A’s CEO opposes gay marriage newsworthy? At least half of all Americans oppose gay marriage. So what is the point? There is, indeed, a news story lurking here: public officials in at least two major cities, all of them Democrats, vowed to violate Chick-fil-A’s constitutional rights by denying them permits to operate in their cities because their CEO’s political views are not 100% congruent with those of the Democratic Party–as of today, that is; until two months ago, President Obama was opposed to gay marriage too.
So what does CNN say about the real scandal that is hiding here in plain sight? Nothing. This is it, as you can hear in the video: “Several communities now trying to block Chick-fil-A from coming into their cities.” As though that were completely normal, and constitutional; and as though “communities” were trying to do it, as opposed to two or three liberal Democrats.
This kind of pathetic news coverage explains why CNN has become irrelevant, and now is going down the drain.
Warner Todd Huston reports on the latest union outrage, a particularly despicable fight waged by a Louisiana teacher's union against parents, a school voucher system, and the best interests of children.
If there is one thing that unions can’t stand it’s the wholly American idea of competition. This is never more true than in our system of miseducation where unions imagine that they should be the only possible avenue to the education of our children and in Louisiana teachers union bigwigs are threatening to sue any school that has the gall to accept vouchers from parents.
The union’s ploy is to claim that the state’s voucher system is unconstitutional so it filed a suit in the 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana…
This is a sign of desperation, I’d say. Unions are losing this argument all across the country so they are desperate to find a new way to eliminate school reform. The fact is, unions will do anything to destroy new and better ways to educate our kids.
The problem, is that Tobias' list falls all over itself. Each Master Plot is too closely connected to another. They collide, merge, overlap and mix together. To take one example, what would Tobias select as the Master Plot of Homer's Iliad? Tough choice, right? That's because the Iliad could fit quite comfortably into any one of the 20. Think about it. Every single one.
The weakness in Tobias' desire to identify and organize plots, of course, is that life itself doesn't easily fit into separate compartments. The intricacies of life -- they too collide, merge, overlap and mix together. Even my own life story, though not nearly as complex as the Iliad, would still embrace all 20 of Mr. Tobias' Master Plots. I suspect that many of you could say the same.
I think one of my high school literature teachers had the most honest and helpful perspective on this matter. He believed the plot of a story was simply the answer to the question, "And then what happened?"
The Obama campaign's bigger problem, both sides are now realizing, is that his words go beyond politics and are more devastating than the Romney complaints that Mr. Obama is too big-government oriented or has mishandled the economy. They raise the far more potent issue of national identity and feed the suspicion that Mr. Obama is actively hostile to American ideals and aspirations. Republicans are doing their own voter surveys, and they note that Mr. Obama's problem is that his words cause an emotional response, and that they disturb voters in nearly every demographic.
It's why Mr. Obama's "out of context" complaints aren't getting traction. The Republican National Committee's response to that gripe was to run an ad that shows a full minute of Mr. Obama's rant at the Roanoke, Va., campaign event on July 13. In addition to "you didn't build that," the president also put down those who think they are "smarter" or "work harder" than others. Witness the first president to demean the bedrock American beliefs in industriousness and exceptionalism. The "context" only makes it worse.
This gets to the other reason the Obama campaign is rattled: "You didn't build that" threatens to undermine its own argument against Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama has been running on class warfare and the notion that Mr. Romney is a wealthy one-percenter out of touch with average Americans. Yet few things better symbolize the average American than a small-business owner. To the extent that Mr. Romney is positioning himself as champion of that little business guy and portraying Mr. Obama as something alien, he could flip the Obama narrative on its head...
In listening to the testimony of these border patrol officials, one understands just how dangerous to national security and the rule of law is the Obama administration's policy protecting illegal immigration.
Guys, this isn't mere incompetence. That would be bad enough. This reeks of a carefully calculated strategy to create more disorder, more economic distress and more illegal voters to help the Democrat ticket.
Perhaps the most compelling personal testimony I've read this year is the true life story of Mennonite housewife, Barbara Kennel, a woman who overcame personal tragedy, heartbreak and other significant difficulties in her quest to establish a happy home for her children in the difficult years before and after World War II.
The book is Soft Like Steel and its author is no less than the granddaughter of the book's heroic subject. Soft Like Steel is only 140 pages but Barb Malek manages to put into those pages a lot of history, a lot of memorable description and an awful lot of heart. Inspired (and substantially informed) by a journal kept by her grandmother, the Barb tells the story as it really happened, taking the reader through an emotional journey that tells of Barbara Kennel's numerous trials: the rigors of the Depression and the Dust Bowl, the death of a son, the war itself and, all the way along, the sorrows brought on by a cruel and unfaithful husband.
But before you decide that these circumstances mean Soft Life Steel will be a depressing read, forget it. Barbara Kennel's story represents an ultimate triumph which leaves the reader smiling and satisfied. And even the journey along the way is full of hope, joy and the powerful beauty one sees in a mother's dedicated love.
One never forgets the intense affection and admiration the author feels for the story's heroine. This is, after all, her grandmother. However, Barb Malek's abiding love and gratitude for Barbara Kennel successfully draws the reader in too. From the moment the journal is discovered and through all of Barbara Kennel's trials (her courtship and marriage, the death of a child, the various cruelties inflicted by her husband, the several periods of abandonment, a prison sentence, a confrontation with one of the "other women," etc.), the reader willingly joins the author in cheering Barbara on, relishing her resilience, glorying in the steadfast devotion she shows to her children, and applauding every triumph.
Soft Like Steel is a short read, as I said, but it's one the reader will not soon forget. The inspiration value is substantial - that's one reason it will stay with you. But you'll also find that it is a particularly effective stimulant to thoughts about your own family history and how you can be a better spouse, parent, uncle, aunt, cousin, and neighbor. I have a feeling that both the author and the subject of Soft Like Steel would be delighted at that outcome.
And one other thing. The legacy of Barbara Kennel's Christian faith, her love of children, and her devotion to relevant service has certainly been embraced by her eldest granddaughter, the one who shares her name -- the one who wrote Soft Like Steel. Barb Malek is a devoted wife, the mother of four grown children (one of whom is a missionary we support), and one of the founders and directors of the AAA Center for Pregnancy Counseling. Perhaps knowing this increases the reader's appreciation of how one life really can reach forward and bless the future. It did so for me.
“Mr. Romney wants to get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood. I think that’s a bad idea,” Obama said. “I’ve got two daughters. I want them to control their own health care choices.”
Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation, told LifeNews Obama was “insensitive” and “disrespected Tonya with comments he made supporting Planned Parenthood .”
“When Tonya Reaves walked into that Planned Parenthood abortion clinic last Friday, she completely lost any control over her ‘health care choices’ as well as her life. She did not choose to die. Planned Parenthood took that choice from her,” Newman said.
“We have to wonder how Mr. Obama would have felt if that had been Malia or Sasha bleeding to death on that abortion table,” Newman added. “By supporting Planned Parenthood and advocating continued tax-funding of this troubled organization, Mr. Obama is intentionally condemning other young women – and perhaps even his own daughters – to the same tragically avoidable fate suffered by Tonya Reaves just a few days ago.”
And the second response from the President? He didn't bother to wait for Congress (Does he ever?) nor did he bother to abide by the will of state legislators. With his usual arrogance and zealous devotion to abortion, Barack Obama ordered, on his own, another $426,000 of American's tax money to go to Planned Parenthood.
Barack Obama. As long as he's in the White House, Planned Parenthood (the nation's largest abortion company) is assured the money will flow in...even as the blood of preborn boys and girls flows out.
Chicago's Democrat Mayor Rahm Emanuel has forcefully condemned the pro-marriage convictions of the CEO of Chick-fil-A and promised to do whatever he can to keep the chicken sandwich business out of the city.
Said his honor, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”
Later in the day Mayor Emanuel spread out the red carpet and opened his arms to welcome to Chicago the leader of the Nation of Islam, the notoriously anti-Semitic troublemaker, Louis Farrakahn.
Championing homosexual weddings? An arrogant intolerance of Christian values? Tolerating anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism? Those are now "Chicago values"?
Caitlin Moran, whose book is half autobiography, half women’s-lib instruction manual, and was just released in the States, has been described as a “rock-star feminist,” “totally brilliant,” “a feminist heroine for our times,” “outrageous,” “delightful,” and “precisely what feminism has been waiting for.”
So, I read “How to Be a Woman,” and here’s the thing: I consider myself a feminist, and I was definitely not waiting for this book. I was certainly not waiting for excessive information on Moran’s excruciating journey through puberty; intimate details about her gross dog; her annals of awkward sexual exploration; and, most mystifying, her passionate defense of abortion and pornography, irrationally paired with her equally passionate condemnation of strip clubs and Botox.
The problem, I suppose, is that most “real” feminists I know of—Caitlin Moran and Slate writers like Marcotte likely among them—would probably consider me a weapons-grade woman betrayer with a full-time residence on Planet Patriarchy. I am, after all, pro-life. I have been known to vote for Republicans. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, I think that’s fine. If you want to be the CEO of Yahoo and say you’ll only take three weeks of maternity leave—interestingly, Mayer is getting pilloried for this decision as well—that’s fine too. I believe that casual sex is destructive, not empowering. I often don impractical footwear crafted by male oppressors.
I also generally shy away from celebrations of meaningless vulgarity, which, sadly, seems to be the leading theme in both Moran’s book and in the gigantic, flaming, multi-car pileup that is modern-day feminism. In “How to Be a Woman,” it’s OK to be a “slag” or a “slut,” as long as we’re “simply being honest about who we really are.” In interviews, Moran expresses approval for the recent rash of mortifying “Slut Walks,” in which young women strut down the street in ill-fitting, body-baring “clothing” in order to prove that they are empowered, not sexual objects. Which totally makes sense, if you’re crazy.
Moran has also gained applause for the book’s “fearless” description of her own abortion, which ended a “surprise,” inconvenient pregnancy. (Surprise! You can get pregnant when not using birth control on a trip to Cyprus! Who could have seen that one coming?) Two children past that pesky baby stage were just fine for Moran—“My two girls,” she writes, “are all I want”—but three would cramp the style. Bye-bye, baby.
What makes the account especially horrifying is Moran’s blithe insistence that abortions just aren’t that big of a deal—they are, she writes, merely “an operation to remedy a potentially life-ruining condition”—coupled with her clear awareness that she is ending a human life. At least in the bad old days, abortion defenders used to pretend they didn’t know when life begins, endlessly debating that magic tick of a clock when a fetus with a beating heart suddenly becomes a person. Many of today’s abortion-happy feminists are, to their credit, more honest, but the implications are scary.
When it comes down to it, whether addressing abortion, sex, or any otherwise self-indulgent behavior, the message of “How to be a Woman” is this: “If it feels good, do it.” How on earth is this retread of a failed 1960s mantra, known for its disastrous legacy, “brilliant” and “original” (Publishers Weekly)? How is this “entirely necessary” (Elle magazine)? How can this possibly be “engaging” and “brave” (The Independent)?
It’s quite telling that one of Moran’s “heroes,” the recipient of several glowing pages in “How to Be a Woman,” is the pop singer Lady Gaga. If you listen to Moran, Lady Gaga is a feminine hero for our time, breaking boundaries, creating new social spaces, clearing the way for young people to cast off the shackles of oppression. Of course, if you’re really paying attention, you’ll notice that Lady Gaga is an updated Madonna clone in a meat dress, desperate to shock, mistaking vulgarity for creativity: the musical equivalent of an old, dying system’s last gasp.
No wonder certain feminists are getting so wound up. They have reason to be worried. Something new is out there—conservatism, decorum, chastity, and respect are downright radical these days—but it’s not poor Gaga…
“So far this year, I made arrangements for 36 men to parole out of Illinois prisons and come to Wayside Cross for its residential program. It’s a Bible-based, Christ-centered program. We have 93 men in our residential program when it’s full.”
That's Tom Beatty talking about jail ministry, discipleship and aftercare programs. And, as always, he makes good sense.
“A lot of the guys are recovering from addictions but some are just learning how to live life on life’s terms without trying to escape through drugs or alcohol or sex. I would not have come here except that this option is available to them. I have been working at this long enough to know when men are released from incarceration and have nowhere to go, they get back into trouble.”
“If we don’t do something with these guys, we don’t have a leg to stand on the next time the garage gets burglarized, do we? We Christians have got to go into the jails and tell them about Jesus.”
Tom knows quite intimately the force of that last statement. For he himself was in jail in 1979 when he believed in Jesus Christ as his Savior, receiving forgiveness of sin and a brand new life.
“I was a drunk, a drug addict and a jerk. I mostly used marijuana and methamphetamines for years, but I would use whatever drugs that were available…[Then] Jesus Christ radically changed my life but it was necessary because I was radically out of control…”
It is vitally important to note, however, that Tom speaks with authority to the men in the jails not only because he's been there himself, but because that radical power of God unleashed in and through his life is very much in the present tense.
You see, Tom is an old friend of mine and I've seen his life and ministry, as they say, "up close and personal." As a jail chaplain, in rescue mission work, as a husband and dad, Tom has proven to be one of those "thoroughly converted" men who demonstrate that the power of God's grace is not just immense, not just holy, but also ongoing. Tom Beatty's testimony isn't just about the historic miracle of being born again. It's very much about the miracles that help him to live free in the here and now.
I too experienced a rather dramatic conversion in 1970 and the Christian organization with which I became involved frequently put me on the stage to tell my story. Those public speeches tended to be 80 or 90 per cent about shocking, titillating vices I had indulged in with a brief finale telling how I had eventually been saved, delivered and cleaned up. But one night after hearing one of my talks, the late Ervin Butler (a wise, patient and loving pastor whose son had become a dear friend) told me, "Denny, don't ever be slow to tell people how the Lord saved you. And I'm pleased and proud of you for being so bold and enthusiastic in telling your story. But never forget that a Christian's true testimony should also be able to describe, honestly and with the same passion, what the Lord has done in your life in the last 24 hours."
That was an important corrective, delivered by a guy I trusted because of his long experience with God, his knowledge of the Bible…and because I knew he had my best interests at heart. And I have no doubt even now, over 40 years later, that Erv's counsel became part of the momentum in my life towards Christian activism -- taking Christianity not only as a thing of the past (my conversion) or a thing of the future (going to heaven), but also as a relationship with Jesus that is of the utmost relevance to the immediate present.
That's what I mean when I use the phrase "thoroughly-converted." And Tom Beatty is one of the extraordinary examples I know of that ongoing miracle. That's why he is such an inspiration to me every time the Lord brings him to mind -- as He did a couple of times the last few days. That remembrance prompted me to write him a quick note, to read the article from which I've quoted above, and to direct your attention to Tom's exhortations about jail ministries and aftercare which are always important for the Christian community to heed.
“It’s really simple. We talk to people about Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who changes people’s lives. He changed my life 31 years ago, and I’ve never been the same since. He saved my life. I’ve seen Him change hundreds, maybe thousands, of people since then.”
Last week's schedule had only one presentation of "When Swing Was King" but there was an awful lot of other stuff to get done and so were really hustling.
And we were doing a lot of praying "on the fly."
There were, for instance, the regular hours to be invested in Vital Sings Blog, including the cross-posts on Facebook and Blogs Lucianne Loves. There was also the weekly compilation of highlights from the blog to send out via e-mail.
But the schedule also included a talk to a group of Christian teenagers from Hope Church who had come along to the "When Swing Was King" presentation at Skyline nursing home. They had come to observe but also to visit with the residents. They did a really great job. And afterwards we went back to the church and talked for over an hour about ministries to seniors and developing a Christian worldview and lifestyle. The kids were very responsive and we left impressed and a bit more hopeful about the next generation.
Also on the schedule last week were two sessions (Wednesday and Saturday mornings) of prayer and sidewalk counseling outside the horrid Planned Parenthood abortion mill; a clergy luncheon (at which I was the only non-Catholic clergy); quite a bit of lawn maintenance to help it survive this scorching weather; my Tuesday morning regimen at Panera's, preparation for Sunday’s sermon, and getting out this month’s LifeSharer letter.
The LifeSharer letter is always quite the project. First, I've got to write it. (Literally. Pen. Yellow tablet. Longhand.) Then Claire types it up. Then I proofread and edit the text. And that step is repeated an average of 4 times. Then we get it printed and bring it back to be folded. Before this, by the way, Claire has printed off address labels and return envelopes. We then fold, stuff, stamp, seal and get it all to the Post Office. The final two tasks are Claire posting the LifeSharer on the VSM website and also sending it out via e-mail to the 100 or so who prefer receiving it that way.
And that's every month. Whew.
So, things were certainly busy enough last week. But then life is always bringing surprises along, isn't it? And so we ended up having to squeeze in a few more activities: a visit to our home from a member of our church intensely agitated over family matters, a lengthy phone conversation with another friend also distraught about family problems, a hospital visit, a men’s breakfast at church, and so on.
All things considered, it was a week which really emphasized that an ongoing dependence on the Holy Spirit is an absolute necessity for life -- at whatever pace it's lived. For strength, for wisdom, for perspective, for graciousness and patience, for joy, and for victory, He must be one's constant Companion.
And yes, in case you're wondering, it was a very good week. Busy and sometimes difficult but also exhilarating and effective. And, of course, the opportunity I have in working alongside Claire makes even the tough and tedious things into blessings.
And, for a little more on the importance of stimulating fellowship, see the next post.
A few months ago I started setting aside early Tuesday mornings to head up to one of my "branch offices" (the Panera's restaurant on west Maple) in order to do some writing and ministry planning and, as it’s worked out, to enjoy very stimulating conversations with John Malek, who drops by for 45 minutes or so before he heads for work. John has long been one of my best friends, a Christian brother who is a fellow pro-life activist, a Board member of Vital Signs Ministries, and a part of the Notting Hill Napoleons, our rather famous literary club that's been going for over 20 years. John and I were even friendly competitors for many years in a fantasy football league. So we share a lot of interests and have experienced some 27-28 years of adventures together, some of which (sidewalk counseling, intercession, civil disobedience) have been pretty intense.
These Tuesday morning conversations are but the latest revelation to me of how valuable such friendships are to my ongoing spiritual development. For even though one can (and should) find friends comforting, the ultimate purpose of Christian friendship isn’t comfortability. Rather, it's growth in Christ and improved service to His kingdom.
The writer of Hebrews describes it like this: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Christian fellowship should provide comfort certainly. But it should also produce plenty of encouragement, accountability, correction, exemplary living, assistance, inspiration, prayer, complements, thanksgiving, empathy, rejoicing, wise counsel, and a sanity check which helps defend one another against the constant attacks from a pagan culture. And these are the things I receive from solid friends like John. They are blessings which stimulate my growth in Christ, expand my vision, deepen my understanding, improve my service to others, and enlarge my hope for that perfect fellowship I will one day enjoy with Jesus Christ and all of the redeemed.
Tuesday mornings then have produced good things. I’m convinced that I've got stuff done that I probably wouldn’t have had I not re-arranged my schedule. But, certainly as important, have been the quality conversations I’ve had with John. They are reminiscent of other high quality fellowship that has so enriched and helped me over the years -- long talks about everything under the sun with Dan Butler; endless hours on the front porch with Dana Hall; a Friday morning Bible study at our place in Village Green that included dear friends Perly Schoville, Dan Hovanec, and Mark Morin; lunches with Tim Sullivan, Bob Thune, Kurt Oyer and a lot of others over the years (most recently, with Allen Nelson); tea with Pat Osborne; coffee with Patrice Kabore; post-production talks at the radio studio with Tom Sharman; early morning prayers down in Nebraska City with Quint Coppi; and dinners with Keith and Carol Moran.
And, certainly not the least valuable, was the stimulating fellowship with fellow pro-life activists
at Village Inn on early Saturday mornings after praying in front of the
abortion mill. That group would include John, Quint, Tim, Kurt, Mark, Keith and Carol, Pat but also Matt Troutman, Don Kohls, Dick Wilson, Bev Weis, Karla Struble, Jack Miller, Ruth Denzler, Terry Herring, Jim Williams, Joe Ferrante, Mary Roberts and many more.
From Chuck Cooke and Dick Hall in the the very first days of my Christian experience through the more than four decades since, the stimulating, protecting, joyful fellowship of serious "doers of the Word" has been of limitless benefit to me. And I'm deeply grateful to them all (and to "the Giver of all good and perfect gifts," God Himself) for the myriad of blessings they have provided me.
If you don't have such friends, for crying out loud, go get some! And, if you do have such heroes in your life, make sure you're taking the time and effort necessary to glean all that you can. Don't just play church. Don't settle for surface conversations. Hang around Christians who are intent on studying God's Word and then living it out. You need such friends around you...and you need to be such a friend to others.
“Chivalry? Why maiden, she is the nurse of pure and high affection, the stay of the oppressed, the redresser of grievances, the curb of the power of the tyrant. Nobility were but an empty name without her. And liberty finds the best protection in her lance and sword.”
Chivalry. The word itself stirs the imagination and moves the soul to embrace manly virtues: strength, courage, a willingness to fight in a noble cause. But also kindness, innocence, courtesy and grace. And we must not forget honor, self-discipline, loyalty, and a burning love for God.
In recent speaking engagements (three Christian men’s groups, a gathering of teenagers, a church congregation), I’ve dealt with these themes. And in these talks, I do not treat chivalry as myth or literary legend. I deal with the subject as a historian and Christian activist, emphasizing to my audiences that chivalry did not live only in the romances of King Arthur, Sir Roland, Robin Hood and others. Chivalry was a hard fact. It was a set of ideals, to be sure, but ideals which were devoutly pursued by men very much from the real world...
It's as if President Obama climbed into a tank, put on his helmet,
talked about how his foray into Cambodia was seared in his memory,
looked at his watch, misspelled "potato" and pardoned Richard Nixon all
in the same day. It's fun to imagine the hand-wringing that must be
going on within the White House as staffers try to figure out how to
undo the damage their boss has done with his anti-entrepenurial riff.
Defining moments in politics are strange beasts. Sometimes they're only
recognized in hindsight, while sometimes they throw the train off the
tracks before a sentence has been completed. Sometimes their effect can
be contained and minimized, while sometimes their effect on the
political narrative mestastasizes. This one is very bad for the White
These defining moments take hold most devastatingly when they confirm what a large portion of the electorate already believes. Taken alone, it seems unfair that a single moment, an unguarded remark or a slip of the tongue can carry such weight. They're often dismissed as "gotcha" moments, but when voters are able to nod and say, "I knew it," these moments stick and do terrible damage. We have witnessed such a moment.
Certainly President Obama's remark reflected his genuine disdain for business and entrepreneurship, but he was still awfully dumb to actually say it.
That's what happens when he tries to talk without his teleprompter.
But was it really a "defining moment" as Pat Sajak believes? After all, the mainstream media, like it almost always does in such cases, ignored the President's statements. CNN, for instance, didn't even mention them until 3 days later and only then because they had to report on the zealous GOP response.
This means that President Obama's remarks (which he is already running away from) are only going to damage his hopes to win another term in the White House if regular folks like you and me spread the word. You can do so by reminding friends, family and church members about President's smear of free enterprise, hard work and creativity.
You can use humor to make the point by showing them things like this, and this, and this. You can recommend articles like this, this and this.
And you can draw their attention to political responses like the two I post below.
A "defining moment" for the President's re-election campaign? It can be...if we provide the exclamation point to his remarks.
The utter failure of this president is rank. History’s most expensive plan ever for buying your way out of recession barely propelled the economy uphill, and now, in a squeal and stench of smoking tires, the Obama Special (sweating, straining, roaring, leaking dollars) is slipping back down again. The president’s signature approach to governing is to ram through some wildly-unpopular measure and then take a bow as the audience hoots. He did it with his famous unreform of healthcare, and again with the blocked Keystone pipeline. His attorney general would be a joke if he weren’t so dangerous, but Obama likes him. The president did give up such unpopular ideas as closing Guantanamo, card-check, a criminal trial for KSM in Manhattan à la P.T. Barnum, cap-and-trade–but only because there was no way to push these things through. (Although when Obama can govern by decree instead of by legislation, he is only too happy. Legislation has always struck him as a monumental bore.)
Iran disdainfully snubs him, Russia snubs him, Europe ignores him, the Israelis can’t stand him, the world grows more dangerous by the hour. He did indeed take out Osama, and has moved aggressively to kill terrorists. But any other president would be deemed to have turned these victories into defeats by his tone-deaf campaigns afterward to squeeze out maximum political gain–as if he had killed Osama himself, bare-handed. The cost to US intelligence sources or the dignity of the office matters nothing, evidently, as the Obamiacs mash every last drop of juice out of the pulp. In fact this is a man to whom “cost” seems like a foreign concept, a word he has never learned…
The Machine is run by PORGIs, who are just like Obama: post-religious, globalist, intellectuals or at least intellectualizers (who talk and act like intellectuals even if they don’t quite qualify themselves). And his being black, with an African father, an African name (icing on the cake) and a childhood spent in a Muslim nation (the cherry on top!) makes him beyond perfect–makes him nearly divine. We’re unlikely to hear anyone say so during this campaign as frankly as Evan Thomas of Newsweek did in 2009: reviewing the president’s recent speech in Cairo, Thomas explained to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, “I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above—above the world, he’s sort of God.” But we all get the idea….
If conservatives were serious, they would think much harder about the Culture Machine (aka the Establishment) and the ways in which Obama is typical instead of exceptional—typical of a new type of Establishment leader, the new Machine Man. We’re used to old-fashioned political (usually Democratic) machines. But those political machines compare to the modern Culture Machine like a stick of dynamite to an H-bomb. While conservatives worry about debt and taxes and huge problems abroad, the left is busy pulling the whole country out from under them. While conservatives fiddle around on the roof, robbers are rifling the house and stealing the children. Conservatives might consider climbing down and having a look. Obama is only the first of a new breed.
Whew. It was another scorcher this yesterday. But with the morning's sermon behind me, I diverted my attentions from the heat by watching Ernie Els pull off a completely unexpected win in The Open AND by compiling a list of my favorite summer songs. I wonder how they compare with your favorites.
Here they are...
1) "All Summer Long" -- The Beach Boys. (But, of course, you could toss in here a dozen others from these guys that could also make the list: "I Get Around." "Surfin' U.S.A." "Surfer Girl." And so on. They are certainly pop music's version of The Boys of Summer.)
2) "Summer Nights" -- Marianne Faithfull (Moody, romantic. It's been a favorite ever since the days of my misspent youth.)
3) "Our Last Summer" -- Abba (Like many of Abba's later songs, this is great music…but music with a message of particular relevance to my generation.)
4) "Theme from 'A Summer Place'" -- Percy Faith Orchestra (Beautiful music by which to fall in love. And, as I can also attest, by which to stay in love!)
5) "See You In September" -- The Happenings (Tuneful, fun but also tender, especially for those who remember the pain of summer partings.)
6) "A Summer Song" -- Chad & Jeremy (A Top Ten hit from 1964. Mellow harmony. Meaningful lyrics. A very pretty number.)
7) "Under the Boardwalk" -- The Drifters (Classic New York soul from one of the greatest vocal groups of the early rock era.)
8) "Summer Rain" -- Johnny Rivers (A dreamy 1967 song that was played on hi-fi sets, 8-track tape machines, and late night FM radio programs throughout the "flower power" years.)
9) "One Summer Night" -- The Danleers (No doubt about it, this is doo-wop magic. The Diamonds had a nice recording of this too.)
10) "Sealed With a Kiss" -- Brian Hyland (A little saccharine perhaps but this 1962 song effectively captures the feeling of a temporary separation that at least one of the parties suspects might end up being more than temporary.)
11) "V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N" -- Connie Francis (Fun and funky. Connie at her playful best.)
12) "Here Comes Summer" -- Jerry Keller (Could it be that I've loved this song for over 50 years? Yep. I first heard it played over Denver's KIMN in 1959.)
13) "Wonderful Summer" -- Robin Ward (A one-hit wonder from a pretty brunette who was raised in Nebraska. And though she didn't have any other radio hits, you can hear her voice in the TV theme songs of Batman, The Partridge Family and several others. Also in hundreds of commercials like those touting Rice-a-Roni.)
14) "Summer in the City" -- Lovin' Spoonful (A harder-edged song that any of the others in this list but still a favorite. I hear this song and...presto...I'm back pumping gas at Banner Tire on West Evans in south Denver.)
15) "Hot Fun in the Summertime" -- Sly & the Family Stone (Did I say "funky" to describe an earlier song. Forget it. THIS is funky.)
16) "Summertime, Summertime" -- The Jamies (Sure, it's almost a nonsense song but with such a catchy chorus that I had to put it in the mix. And who can't help like a song that contains these lyrics: 'Well, I'm so happy that I could flip. Oh, how I'd love to take a trip. I'm sorry teacher but zip your lip. Because it's summertime.')
If you don't remember these songs (or if you've never heard them at all), you can find most of them on You Tube. Have fun...And stay cool!
Here is a creepy story about how the feds put their best "fright face"on when they knocked at the door of Jill Stanek's son-in-law. Note in particular the invasive and unwarranted questions the FBI agents asked.
Wow. Coming to a pro-lifer's door near you? Like I said, this stuff is creepy.
Psychologists concluded that teenagers exposed to more sex on screen in popular films are likely to have sexual relations with more people and without using condoms.
The study, based on nearly 700 popular films, found that watching love scenes could "fundamentally influence" a teenager's personality.
The researchers, from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, concluded youngsters were more prone to take risks in their future relationships.
They also concluded that for every hour of exposure to sexual content on-screen, participants were more than five times more likely to lose their virginity within six years… (Here's more of the Andrew Hough story in the Telegraph.)
As the Obama campaign and the media continue to press Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns, and to suggest--without a shred of evidence--that he is a “felon,” it is worth noting how much critical information Barack Obama has withheld from view--both as a candidate in 2008, and during his term in office. Here is a Breitbart News top ten list of things that Obama has refused to release (a complete list would fill volumes)...
Four days after President Obama insulted job creators by asserting "If you've got a business, you didn't build that; somebody else made that happen," CNN finally reported the controversial remarks, and only once the Romney campaign featured them in a campaign attack.
In contrast, when Romney surrogate John Sununu said on Tuesday morning that he wished "this President would learn how to be an American," it only took CNN a few hours to jump on the remarks. The network mentioned them every hour between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and anchor Wolf Blitzer even brought Sununu on for an interview to explain himself. The three major networks shared the same double standard when it came to ignoring Obama's quote, but CNN is a 24-hour news network and it did not touch the story all through the weekend...
As a record 150,000 condoms are handed out to a host of super-attractive athletes, could London 2012 be the raunchiest games ever? -- Athletes will receive 15 condoms each for the 17-day festival -- 'I've seen athletes having sex out in the open, getting down and dirty on grass between buildings,' says U.S. women's goalie' -- You'd think they might want to save their energy. But it seems that Olympic athletes will be working up more of a sweat off the field than they will on it this Summer.
In a sign of what the world's fittest sportsmen and women get up to in the Olympic village, a record 150,000 free condoms - 15 for each competitor - have been made available to them.
The phenomenal outpouring of prophylactics means there will be 50 per cent more available to athletes in London than the 100,000 handed out at the last Olympics in Beijing in 2008...
The latest American business to go out of its way to disparage marriage, sexual sanity and religious values?
Yes, Office Depot has joined hands with one of the most polarizing cultural figures of recent times, a singer whose own morality and outrageously poor taste has become infamous -- Lady Gaga.
Office Depot's specific drive is to sell products connected to Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, an organization that extols the "bravery" of letting people celebrate their personal, philosophic and sexual individuality.
Nancy French over at NRO drew our attention to this new partnership and that prompted Claire to check out the website. After doing so, she decided to write the following note to Office Depot, a business we had utilized quite a bit over the years, and announce that we would no longer be shopping there.
Dear Office Depot,
I was very disappointed to see that your company has partnered with Lady Gaga and her foundation, Born This Way. Why? First of all, Lady Gaga is a remarkably poor role model for America's youth. Even a cursory check of her lifestyle, fashion choices and song lyrics demonstrate an outrageous coarseness and tastelessness. Why would Office Depot choose to partner with such a polarizing figure, a person who has regularly gone out of her way to offend the moral sensitivities of most Americans? What dolt in the Office Depot advertizing department okayed that idea?
Secondly, I went to the “Stories of Bravery” on the foundation website, and discovered (no surprise) that most of the testimonies there involved a defense of homosexual practice. Where are the stories of young soldiers going into harm's way? Or the stories of young students resisting peer pressure in order to do well in school academics or sports? What about the young man or woman who holds a job while also working hard in their studies? What about the young person who chooses not to have sex until they are married or the young mother who stood against the pressures of obtaining an abortion when she deiscovered she was pregnant? What about the young person who takes his/her summer vacation to help others?
No, these kind of stories aren’t included in the foundation website. Instead, they are nearly all about gay identity and gay social practice. The agenda of the foundation couldn't be clearer. Born This Way (and apparently Office Depot) interpret bravery in a very limited, very directive way.
Because Office Depot has made such an elaborate campaign to help promote and fund Lady Gaga's career and the Born This Way foundation, I will be taking my business (which has been substantial over the years) elsewhere.
By the way, in looking for a photo to accompany this post, I saw just how over-the-top Lady Gaga is in her desires to shock and offend. From the pictures that came up in the internet search, I think I can safely say that Lady Gaga is definitely trying to make Madonna look like a prude.
So why on earth would Office Depot go with Gaga? It was a very irresponsible and offensive decision.
"Instead of feeling the joy of joining with other believers in offering praises to the Almighty, I often feel insulted, bored, and disconnected from 2,000 years of worship history. And just when I think that maybe it’s just me having a selfish and sinful attitude — a very real possibility — a flamboyant electrical guitar solo breaks out. I’m left deciding whether to waive my iPhone and buy the t-shirt or just shut up and go home."
In "Why I’ve Stopped Singing in Your Church," Bill Blankschaen has an essay that I'm sure many will find provocative...if not downright confrontational. But I happen to think he's thinking along sane and healthy lines.
In addition to The House That Jack Didn't Build that I posted yesterday (which received an awful lot of interest), I'm posting below a few others:
Nice toy. But don't bother trying to build anything with it. Somebody else must do that.
Signed, Your President
No, you didn't build this city. Somebody else made it happen.
Signed, Barack Obama
From the U.S. Department of Labor
Please be advised that Buttercup can no longer build you up. As of this past weekend President Obama has declared that no one can build anything anymore -- up, down or sideways -- without help from the government.
"This is the farmer sowing his corn
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built!"
Forget this nonsense. You didn't build the house anyway. Somebody else made that happen.
Signed, President Barack Obama.
P.S. The farmer is no longer sowing corn. His cornfields were taken by eminent domain for development as an outlet mall. The cock is dead. The priest now lives in a monastery because Christian values and practices are no longer tolerated in the public square. He wasn't needed anyhow -- who actually bothers to get married nowadays? Of course, milking maidens no longer exist; the FDA prohibits them. Dogs and cats are no longer around -- they were outlawed in a neighborhood covenant which was upheld by the 3rd District Court.
But the rat? Well, it it turns out he was of an endangered species and was therefore protected by the full powers of the government. He and his very large family are doing very well. Indeed, we're proud to say that my administration has been particularly proficient in serving the interests of rats. Please remember this come November.
One influential writer is insisting that abortion hereafter be called "development prevention" while using the word "cells" to stand for pre-born boys and girls. Another progressive is a bit bolder. She calls these kids "alien-parasites."
Welcome to the modern era -- an era which certain "thought leaders" are determined to make less precise, less realistic, and less humane.
This morning I participated in a media phone call organized by the
Romney campaign. It was led by John Sununu and focused on President
Obama’s astonishing claim that “If you got a business—you didn’t build
that. Somebody else made that happen.” Sununu was joined by four small
Sununu was nuclear. He said that Obama’s comments show three related
things: 1) The President doesn’t understand how America and business
work. No wonder his administration has failed to create jobs. 2) Obama’s
crony capitalism: he thinks the way to create jobs is for the
government to pick winners and losers, and slide money to Obama’s
bundlers and allies. 3) Obama’s attitude toward small business also
reflects where he comes from, the “murky political world” of Chicago
where politicians and felons are interchangeable.
Sununu wrapped up by saying that not only were Obama’s comments
insulting to entrepreneurs, they show he has no idea how the economy
functions. He said he wished Obama would learn how to be an American...
John Hinderaker of PowerLine goes on to describe the highlights of this conference call with journalists. And then he details some of the lowlights too; namely showing how the mainstream (read Democrat) journalists on the line tried to ignore, distort and spin things in Barack Obama's favor.
This is a most enlightening article...in more ways than one.
* "If you live in a battleground state, you undoubtedly have noticed that President Obama is running negative ads against Mitt Romney that outnumber Romney’s ads by three to one, five to one, or eight to one. At the same time, we read that in recent months, Romney has significantly out-raised Obama. So what is going on?" -- The answer to that important question is explained by John Hinderaker (and Byron York) in this illuminating PowerLine post.
* "For the past year, Union members in Connecticut have been putting the lives of Alzheimer’s patients at risk by sabotaging nursing homes over a contract dispute. A little over 17 months ago the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) decided to reject the employment contract being offered by HealthBridge Management, a company that operates a chain of nursing homes. Instead of continuing the negotiations or accepting a contract, the SEIU decided to go on strike. But just walking off the job leaving these poor patients at risk isn’t all they did. These unionistas also sabotaged nursing home facilities." (Read more of "Union Sabotage Puts Nursing Home Residents in Danger" by Warner Todd Huston right here at Liberty News.)
* "At least five of the president’s “bundlers” — in lay terms, people who form groups with their acquaintances and pool funds in order to donate significant sums to campaigns — run firms that keep some of their money in tax havens such as Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda. This is exactly the same behavior for which the president’s ad condemns Romney." (Read more of Betsy Woodruff's story, "Obama's Offshore Team" at NRO.)
* "A huge national food manufacturing company in the U.S. does more than just deliver great-tasting prepackaged meals - it delivers them with a pro-life flair. JTM Food Group, which boasted $100 million in sales just last year, delivers their meals to schools, restaurants, the military, and government organizations using 20 semitrailers, each displaying a prodigious image of a beautiful smiling baby on the rear panel with the words 'Life, what a beautiful choice.' The bottom reads: 'JTM: A Right to Life Company.'" (From a LifeSiteNews story by Peter Baklinski. Here's more.)
* Did you know that the Chevy Volt, Barack Obama's signature vehicle, is a grand (and very and expensive) bust? Read this article bySeton Motlery over at NewsBusters and learn how the media is covering for the President's outrageous failure.
* "The Obama campaign may be attacking Republican rival Mitt Romney for investing abroad, but it is not shy about raising campaign cash overseas. Last week, the campaign held a fundraiser for American expatriates in Shanghai, raking in large sums from those benefiting from the sort of personal and professional investment overseas that President Barack Obama has cast as unpatriotic in a recent attack ad against Romney...
The overseas contributions are legal, as long as they are made by American citizens. But the Obama campaign had to return a number of overseas contributions from non-citizens in the 2008 cycle, and it has been accused once again of being too lax in preventing such contributions in 2012. Regardless, the hypocrisy of attacking Romney for investment abroad, then raising money from those working and investing abroad, is glaring." (Joel B. Pollack, "Outsourced: Obama Campaign Raises Money in China--Again" published at Breitbart.)
* "Unlike Google, which provides a service via technology that other companies can't match (think: Search or Gmail) Facebook doesn't provide special technology you can't get anywhere else. In fact, at times, its tech pales in comparison to newer innovations. What Facebook has that others don't is popularity. When the people start leaving, or start getting mad enough that they think about leaving a once multi-million (or billion, in Facebook's case) dollar company doesn't have value for users, who come there to connect with friends, or for advertisers, who at this point come to Facebook for its large user base." (From "Uh Oh, Facebook Is Losing Its Popularity" written by Rebecca Greenfield and printed in the Atlantic Wire.)
In 1996, Republicans forced through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) bill, also known as welfare reform. It incentivized states to create welfare-to-work programs, trying to transition Americans from government dependency to financial solvency. But states quickly acted to poke holes in that legislation, calling the following activities “work” for purposes of the statute: bed rest, personal care activities, massage, exercise, journaling, motivational reading, smoking cessation, weight loss promotion, participation in parent-teacher meetings, or helping friends or family with household tasks and errands.
This was idiotic. So in 2005, Congress closed the loophole, over the objections of then-Senator Obama.
Now, Obama has walked back the 2005 legislation, using his Department of Health and Human Services to unilaterally waive those work requirements.
“This Administration is unbelievable,” said Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “Green-lighting new regulations to change bipartisan welfare reform without consultation from Congress is an outright abuse of the federal government’s system of checks and balances and an insult to American taxpayers.”