Saturday, December 31, 2005
Friday, December 30, 2005
A better understanding of the principle of Proverbs 22:6 would encourage parents to go all out in providing love, biblical instruction, and examples of holy living to their children. But it would not interpret the verse as a mathematical certainty. And thus it would remove a great deal of anguish, confusion and blame (blame directed at God Himself, among others) that so often results when a child does "depart" from the ethics and values established by godly parents.
Dennis Prager has a handle on this principle and he writes with great compassion about the suicide of James Dungy in this Town Hall column. In doing so, Mr. Prager can help ease the false guilt of many other parents. It is a very good piece.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
On January 6, NBC will begin a new series entitled The Book of Daniel.
While the public has not seen the program, NBC is promoting "The Book of Daniel" as a serious drama about Christian people and the Christian faith. The main character is Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest whose wife depends heavily on her mid-day martinis.
Webster regularly sees and talks with a very unconventional white-robed, bearded Jesus. The Webster family is rounded out by a 23-year-old homosexual Republican son, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer, and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter. At the office, his lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law.
NBC and the mainstream media call it "edgy," "challenging" and "courageous." The series is written by Jack Kenny, a practicing homosexual who describes himself as being "in Catholic recovery," and is interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation and isn't sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus. "I don't necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true," he said.
NBC considers The Book of Daniel a positive portrayal of Christ and Christians.
Bothered? You should be.
Bothered enough to take action? Have at it.
Bob Wright, Chairman
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Primary Phone: 212-664-4444
E-Mail: Bob Wright, NBC
You can even use AFA's own e-mail form by clicking here.
Just as important, however, is letting your firm protest be made to local NBC affiliates. Let them know they must take the heat for the decision to air this extremely offensive program. Here in Nebraska you can contact the following:
3501 Farnam St.
6475 Osborne Dr. West
North Platte: KNOP-TV
N. Highway 83
North Platte, NE
The gas bombs were first thought to be acts of terrorism created by Chechnyan separatists but now authorities are pointing to a "commercial dispute." An Interior Ministry official was quoted, "Competition is the most probable version of the incidents." Competition, huh? Oh, for the good old days when Soviet Communism prohibited capitalistic competition altogether. They didn't have gas bombs to bother consumers back then.
Of course, they didn't have home-improvement stores, Christmas shopping, or a press that was allowed to report bad news either.
The assisted suicide advocate who was Michael Schiavo's lead attorney during the legal battles with Terri Schiavo's parents will be heading up a "euthanasia cruise" during the first week of January. Doctors and attorneys who participate in the Caribbean cruise can earn continuing education credits by learning more about the medical and legal tactics that can be employed to end patients' lives. Felos will be one of two faculty members leading a program called the "Advance Directives/End-of-Life Care and Neurology." Those participating in the five-day cruise will leave January 3 for the Bahamas. Continuing Education Inc., based in nearby St. Petersburg, Florida, is a company that offers courses on cruise ships. The target audience is doctors and attorneys and they can participate by paying anywhere from $350-$625.
It's not known how much Felos will make for his part in leading the courses, but this isn't the first time the Michael Schiavo attorney has financially capitalized on Terri's euthanasia death. Felos has been listed with Eagles Talent Connection Inc. of New Jersey, which represents speakers. For fees ranging from $10,000 to $15,000, organizations or businesses can bring Felos to events to hear Felos talk on the subject: "The Terri Schiavo Saga-From Family Fight to Constitutional Crisis."
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Mom was depressed and Dad felt like a louse.
The children were listless; they were having no fun.
Their Christmas had lacked magic and now it was done.
Sound familiar? If so, then you're facing that common and most perennial of problems: the dreaded "post-holiday blues." But hey; don't panic and don't despair. There are cures available.
Number one cure? Some post-holiday sadness is inevitable as in the case where loved ones who returned home for Christmas have now had to fly back to Detroit, or wherever. The tears in your eyes, which arise from looking at your empty dining room, are natural. There's not much for it except to be patient and to be grateful for the time you did have. Indeed, thanksgiving is a key part of this cure. Let the Lord know your appreciation for the blessing that family and friends have been in your life. Enjoy the memories and look forward to God's using you to be a blessing to your loved ones and to others He brings your way. Pray for peace in your soul; find comfort in the Scriptures and in service; and resolve to do what you can now do to keep in frequent contact with those who are now absent from your side.
Cure number two, however, deals more specifically with those whose Christmases weren't all they had hoped for. In such cases, the post-holiday blues usually come more from dashed hopes or misplaced affections. The cure here centers on a fresh discovery of the full meaning of Christmas itself. Remember your Dickens? Getting on with the "business of mankind" through kindness, loyalty, and hope was the way the converted Ebenezer Scrooge learned to keep Christmas all year long. No post-holiday blues for him. Even better examples are the magi who sought not a season or a specific holiday, but rather a living King to worship and serve. You and I can overcome the post-holiday blues by engaging in the great quest those wise men did. They recognized that it's not the day; it's the duty that's important -- the duty of correctly, consistently serving Jesus Christ.
Making the Most of Christmas...
Contrary to popular belief, the season of Christmas is not the period from Thanksgiving through December 25th. That idea comes more from modern advertisers and merchandise salesman – the "only so many shopping days 'til Christmas" folks. No, the true season of Christmas is not the period leading up to Christmas Day but rather the one leading from it! The Twelve Days of Christmas is much more than the title of a terribly redundant song; it suggests the way the Advent of our Lord should be rightly celebrated.
Claire and I believe that Christmas is just too big and beautiful to be contained in one day. We love December and its various anticipations of Christmas, but our real celebration starts rather than ends on December 25th. While so many are weighed down by the post-holiday blues, we're just getting underway! Interested in stretching your Christmas out to its fullest? Here are a few suggestions.
1) The enjoyment of Christmas movies, reading, music, and parties go on apace for Claire and me even after the 25th. This is an extremely helpful example for all those people who complain about how fast Christmas comes and goes. Take it easy! When you utilize the whole season (December and especially the 12 Days of Christmas proper), you'll see you'll have more time for Christmas priorities as well as its most pleasant diversions. Many who adopt this approach find that as they de-emphasize the one-day celebration (with its hectic stress on big dollar presents and big dinner preparations), they are much more able to enjoy family, contemplation, and the other more spiritual elements of Christmas.
2) The nobility of celebrating the entire season of Christmas is that it emphasizes "extending," over "spending." Our gift-giving goes a long way beyond Christmas Morning because we open presents each of the Twelve Days. Imagine how much fun that is! However, since we those years before we began this style of celebration, the costs of have actually gone down, not up. Why? Well, even though we are giving each other more gifts than ever before, we have become more creative and personal in our selection. We might still buy each other a couple of "pricey" gifts, but with a whole 12 Days to cover, we were forced to come up with other ideas. And those other ideas have proven to be delightful ways of coming together in the spirit of Christmas.
For example, now our Christmas gifts often involve performance and personal time. For instance, Claire opens an envelope on the Seventh Day of Christmas which contains a new recipe with a note declaring I'm fixing that particular dish for supper tonight. Or it might be a "day off" from housework, the addresses of three newly discovered websites I know she'll enjoy checking out, or just a promise of a leisurely car ride out in the country. As for my pleasure in gifts, it is centered on inexpensive thinga anyway like used books, used records, and...let's see; did I mention used books and records already? (I'm pretty easy to shop for!) Anyhow, the point is that whether you use twelve days or one day to celebrate Christmas, the gifts that matter most are ones that underscore things like time, creativity, and personal attention more than mere "stuff." For us, the extended approach was very helpful in pursuing the better things
3) Even within the Twelve Days of Christmas, Claire and I have a few special observances, especially St. Stephen's Day (December 26th) and the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28th). Activities for observing the former should certainly include reading the Acts passages relating to Stephen's selection as deacon, his sermon before the Council, and his martyrdom. It could also involve writing a letter or two to missionaries, witnessing to your Faith, or visiting a widow or someone else in need of encouragement. And Holy Innocents Day, of course, has an obvious significance for pro-life activists like us. It is an excellent time for spiritual exercises and public actions that promote the sanctity of life.
4) Another important element of our Christmas season is taking time to consider, pray about, and discuss our New Year's resolutions. Now, I know it's common for certain Christians to be critical of those who make New Year's resolutions. That's unfortunate and I assume it's because these critics believe that making resolutions equals a dependence upon one's own strength rather than God's grace. How wrong an idea. The fact is that making resolutions is quite certainly a biblical practice. Think for a moment about the Scripture's use of exhortational verbs like "reckon," "count it," "establish," "consider," "dedicate," "consecrate," "remember," "put aside," and many more. All refer to the prayerful making (and keeping) of resolutions to live godly. An evaluation of one's entire life is always in order as is a careful plan of action to be more effective as a "doer of the Word." After all, this is a key purpose of the Sabbath rest God instituted. So, why not use the Twelve Days to go deeper than usual in your spiritual analysis so that you can better serve the Savior in the year to come?
5) And finally, all things must come to their completion and the Christmas season is over for us when that Twelfth Night comes around. However, there's one more very important Christmas event for Claire and me...and often for a few of our friends too. That is our celebration of Epiphany on January 6th. Epiphany is the holiday when the manifestation of Jesus is celebrated in much of the world, the day when we remember the visit of the magi as well as the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. It is also the gift-giving "Christmas" for much of the eastern world.
Claire and I use Epiphany as a way to close our Christmas season and we do so with a final Christmas party. Most significantly, we take time with our friends to wrap up the figures from our "main" nativity set, each person sharing a testimony or a prayer relating to each nativity figure. It is always a very moving time of fellowship.
So, there you go – a few ideas from our house to yours about how Christmas can be extended in time ---- and elevated in spirit as well.
Monday, December 26, 2005
* The Demise of Christmas ---- Is Christmas dying in America? If so, Rich Tucker argues, the blame is on Christians much more than the secularists. This column is excellent food for thought on this, the second day of Christmas.
* Katrina Revisited ---- In this fine piece, Mona Charen shines the light on the bad reporting that surrounded the coverage of the storm and its aftermath.
* The New Campus Rage: "Slut Feminism" ---- Monique Stuart is Program Officer for the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. She's a very sharp lady and she's looking to get other sharp ladies out to the nation's colleges (and other forums) in order to blow the whistle on the devestating effects of the newest liberal craze: "Slut Feminism". Promoted by TV programs like Sex in the City and even university courses with titles such as Cornellingus (Cornell University), Vulvagraphy (Princeton) and Sex and the Elm City (Yale), this fresh frenzy is the glorification and enthusiastic promotion of promiscuous sex. Take a look at Monique's coulmn right here.
* A Chanukah Primer ---- So you want to get the straight skinny on the holidays of Chanukah? Here is a keeper column written by Paul Greenberg.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
The Truce of Christmas
by G.K. Chesterton
Passionate peace is in the sky —
And in the snow in silver sealed
The beasts are perfect in the field,
And men seem men so suddenly —
(But take ten swords and ten times ten
And blow the bugle in praising men;
For we are for all men under the sun;
And they are against us every one;
And misers haggle and madmen clutch,
And there is peril in praising much,
And we have the terrible tongues uncurled
That praise the world to the sons of the world.)
The idle humble hill and wood
Are bowed upon the sacred birth,
And for one little hour the earth
Is lazy with the love of good—
(But ready are you, and ready am I,
If the battle blow and the guns go by;
For we are for all men under the sun,
And they are against us every one;
And the men that hate herd all together,
To pride and gold, and the great white feather,
And the thing is graven in star and stone
That the men who love are all alone.)
Hunger is hard and time is tough,
But bless the beggars and kiss the kings;
For hope has broken the heart of things,
And nothing was ever praised enough.
(But hold the shield for a sudden swing
And point the sword when you praise a thing,
For we are for all men under the sun,
And they are against us every one;
And mime and merchant, thane and thrall
Hate us because we love them all;
Only till Christmastide go by
Passionate peace is in the sky.)
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Item 1) A federal judge has blocked California from denying violent video games to minors.
Item 2) The bones of the dead are being stolen and sold for their tissue.
Item 3) U.K. police are hassling a retired couple for requesting permission to place Christian literature alongside a government-distributed pile of pro-homosexual pamphlets. The couple was told by police they were "walking on eggshells" and "were close to a hate crime."
Item 4) Officials and bureaucrats at our nation's colleges have stepped up their intolerance of conservatism, especially of Christianity.
Oh boy; can I say it again? "We need a little Christmas, right this very minute." But the Christmas I'm speaking of is not the one from the past. No, the "holiday" I long for is Christmas Two -- the return of the majestic King of glory who, in the memorable phrase from the King James Version of the Bible, "will judge the quick and the dead." Jesus came as the Lamb already. He returns next time as the Lion!
Friday, December 23, 2005
The article is here but it is a good time to also go ahead and bookmark Freedom House. It is one of the excellent religious rights organizations that can greatly help your intercession and advocacy efforts in behalf of the persecuted Church.
...While the rising trend is of long standing, one novel factor driving up childbearing outside marriage is the growing popularity of single motherhood by donor insemination. The incidence of this "assisted reproduction," as it is called, has more than doubled in the last decade...
Oh, but do keep little Lucy and her pals from imbibing any liquor at the soiree. That would be against the law for...you guessed it...contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
By the way, don't stop reading when Colson signs off. Note the "for further reading and information" listings that follow. Also, here at Vital Signs Blog I'm frequently touting the great ID sites, Uncommon Descent and the Discovery Institute. Check 'em out and see if you don't agree they deserve a spot in your bookmark list.
In "Munich" he portrays a hit team of Israeli agents ordered to kill the Palestinian terrorists responsible for the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics as morally equivalent to the terrorists. That, of course, is untrue. The act of the Israeli agents is morally justified as an attempt not only to eliminate murderers but also to demonstrate to the terrorists' leaders that kidnapping private citizens will not further their political goals. In the anarchy of terrorist war what the Israelis did is, alas, for the good and morally defensible.
As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of all those South Korean women signing up on a website to donate their eggs to disgraced professor Hwang Woo-suk's cloning project. They include an entire class of 33 high school girls - around the age of Mary, the mother of Jesus. And they offer their eggs to bring into being tiny embryonic humans - destined to die a few days later in the hands of scientists. But it was an embryo that size that God took as his human form. As Wesley, the greatest poet of Christmas since he was of all hymn-writers most alive to the divine assumption of human nature, sang:
Our God contracted to a span
Incomprehensibly made Man.
He was "made Man" as a baby; to be precise, he was manifest as a baby having been miraculously conceived in his virgin mother's womb, in a central Christian doctrine of telling relevance to contemporary bioethics. Human nature, in its indivisible and ineffable dignity and from its first beginnings, bore the weight of the Second Person of the Trinity. Any lingering doubts that humankind may have had as to human worth were vanquished with one stroke of the divine pen as "the Word became flesh." It is not the Christian view - pace Peter Singer - that members of Homo sapiens are uniquely significant in themselves, in a power grab among species. Having made us in his image, he now deigns to take our own form for himself. We derive our dignity from God, and he has underlined that dignity in terms that would be sheer blasphemy were they not revealed at the heart of our faith: by walking with us as one of us. And - in another aspect of this doctrine of equally telling relevance to the bioethics of "posthumanism " and all its works - he bears our human nature still. Hear Wesley once more:
Of our flesh and of our bone,
Jesus is our brother now.
Or in the more prosaic terms of Princeton's Charles Hodge, doyen of Reformed theologians of the nineteenth century, "he who sits on the throne of the universe is both perfect Man and perfect God."
Christmas, as the festival of the Incarnation, is the world's opportunity for reflection on what it means to be human, to bear this nature that God modeled after his and has taken to be his through the en-fleshment of his Son.
You can submit a request for that report (which is e-mailed to you immediately) right here.
Here's an example -- Jeff from Newark, Delaware wrote in, "My wife works for one of the largest banks in the world. They highly tout diversity - for women, African Americans, Latin Americans, Asians, disabled persons, families, and LGBT (lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and trans-gendered persons). These are examples of some of the corporate sponsored "networking groups" worldwide. These groups have a corporate-sponsored month to celebrate their diversity - banners, posters, workshops and guest speakers included. In fact, just recently there was a celebration for the Indian "Diwali" festival of lights in the main cafeteria of the campus (which is the workplace of 1,500 - 1,700 people).
Her work location is having a talent show for artists and performers to share what they enjoy with colleagues. She is a musician/singer and submitted her request to sing and play on guitar "Silent Night." She was asked not to sing this song. "You know how sensitive people are around here," was the comment. I am amazed at how diversity exists for EVERY group except Christians. Discrimination is alive and well, and it is corporate-sponsored on nearly every level.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I find myself staring at the Christmas tree with all the lights and the beauty that it shows, and at times I am reminded of something a Christian said one day at Christmas time. It was very profound and I will always remember it.
He said, "Isn't that tree really pretty with all the lights, decorations and gifts under it? Do you know what that reminds me of? It reminds me of the three trees in Scripture. The first tree was the tree of knowledge, and how Adam and Eve were not to touch it, but because they touched it the second tree had come, and that was the tree of Jesus' cross on which Jesus died on for our sins, but then because of that death we will be able to partake of the tree of life described in Revelation.
The lights remind me of John 8:12, that Jesus is the light of the world, and that if we follow Him we will be lead to life. The gifts under the tree remind me of God's gift of His son (John 3:16) who would die so that we can be saved." I had never looked at the Christmas tree like that before, and what he said will stick.
Countering the Myth of the Perfect Child
Bioethics Courses Focus on "Neonatal Euthanasia" and Other Problems
ROME, DEC. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Dr. Gerald Brungardt learned an unsettling fact when he came to Italy for an intensive weeklong course on bioethics.
The palliative care specialist from Wichita, Kansas, was surprised to learn that the average Italian woman has 12 sonograms during her pregnancy.
"It indicates our current fear of the non-perfect child," Brungardt said, "for which Dr. Bellieni has coined the term 'handiphobia' -- fear of the handicapped, the risks and realities of in vitro fertilization, embryo adoption, and neonatal/infant euthanasia."
He was referring to Dr. Carlo Bellieni, a neonatologist from Siena and self-described "fetus doctor" who teaches "The Myth of the Perfect Child" course during the week of studies at the Regina Apostolorum athenaeum's School of Bioethics.
A recurring theme in the many anecdotes Bellieni told his class of 80 students was how often parents reduce children to objects.
"We saw in this class how the child is no longer loved unconditionally and respected as a human person," said Dr. Laura Nino, a medical researcher from Houston, Texas, who participated in the course. Rather, the child is sometimes "seen as an object of possession which parents can dispose of when he or she falls short of their expectations," she added.
That sense of high expectations in parents can even lead to the death of perfectly healthy children in the womb.
Bellieni cited the example of prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and the proliferation of the use of amniocentesis. That surgical procedure involves inserting a hollow needle through the abdominal wall into the uterus of a pregnant woman and extracting amniotic fluid, which may be analyzed to determine the sex of the developing fetus, or the presence of disease or genetic defects.
"A healthy fetus dies for every 200 amniocenteses done which, for 35-year-old woman, is about the same risk as having a Down syndrome child," observed Bellieni.
"This means that in order to eliminate one Down syndrome child, we accept the risk of the death of another innocent child as an adverse effect of the amniocentesis," he said.
Bellieni sees a deeper problem lurking behind the overuse of amniocentesis and the widespread tolerance of abortion. That problem touches on interpersonal relations and even self-image, all of which he talks of in almost philosophical language.
"I" of the storm
"Most fundamentally, we cannot say 'I' anymore because saying 'I' would mean that we have found someone who has called us by name and loved us only because we exist, not because of our utility," Bellieni contended.
"This loss of the capacity to say 'I' leads to our loss of the capacity to say 'You' to the fetus," he added. "We do not love ourselves anymore and therefore we cannot love others. We see others, including the fetus, as a means and not as the end they truly are. One of the consequences of this outlook would be neonatal euthanasia."
"The Myth of the Perfect Child" is only one of several bioethics courses offered recently at Regina Apostolorum. The weeklong courses are offered twice each semester, and once during the summer to accommodate non-traditional students working toward degrees in bioethics.
Now in its fifth year, the athenaeum's School of Bioethics boasts 350 students from 30 countries. Lay people -- including politicians and health-care professionals -- study side by side with religious.
One of the invited guest speakers for next April's intensive courses is Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, the new chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics in the United States. More information about the courses is posted at www.upra.org or available via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among those who came to Rome this year to deepen their knowledge of science -- and the faith -- was Jennifer Miller of New York.
"Coming from Fordham University," she said, "I saw that scientists get so desensitized that they forget what they are really doing. There is a need to re-humanize science with a focus on human dignity."
In Israel, a government bill setting forth a procedure for passive euthanasia facilitates the placement of a timer on a patient's ventilator. "A response delayed by a timer attached to a patient's ventilator will solve the Israeli government's wish to introduce passive euthanasia for terminally ill people and to allow them to die with dignity," states a medical journal article.
COMMENT: The phrase "passive euthanasia" is an ambiguous term designed to make the imposed death of a loved one seem acceptable.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Following a story that was written and posted here on Vital Signs Blog (more than two weeks ago!) the news of Korean faux-scientist is at last showing up in pro-life publications and internet sites. In fact, the news is even being reported in the general press as in this example from the International Herald-Tribune.
Maybe these guys should check in to Vital Signs Blog a little more often, huh?
Police in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, will soon launch a holiday season campaign to improve their tough image by making random early evening visits to homes dressed in unexpected costumes; namely those depicting Father Christmas and a female assistant!
The program is called "Who's There? It's the Policeman Santa Claus!" and will run from 19-23 December. The callers will ask "security related" questions and award gifts for correct answers. One goal of the project is to "raise the level of security-consciousness among Minsk citizens," and home owners "will have the opportunity to place their residences in police registers from the comfort of their own sofas." The police announcement concluded that "a visit from 'Santa in a police uniform' will be a special holiday for any little Minsk residents in the house."
Belarus, as readers of this blog know, is a die-hard Communist nation with a corrupt and decadent dictator at its helm. And the Belarussian police forces (also corrupt, decadent and frequently the agents of repression and violence against the innocent) are therefore not known as, well, the Father Christmas type. But such is the wickedness of Alexander Lukashenka -- no scheme for propaganda and control, no matter how insidious or profane, is beneath him.
The case is being touted by Jews for Jesus as an important religious freedom and freedom of speech case. It is and I'm pleased with the result. However, the case does point out the problem evangelicals have of often being too quick (and too public) in claiming conversion status for others. Yes, becoming a Christian is an instantaneous event ("Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."), but in our anxiety to announce someone's conversion and begin the party, we too frequently make the wrong call. This is especially true of celebrities. Think of Jane Fonda, Lynda Carter, Kris Kristofferson, Terry Bradshaw, and many others. It is okay to let some time go by with its corresponding evidence of a true conversion before making someone's story a headline.
This sage advice applies to the New Media as well as the MSM (mainstream media).
Here's a very interesting story from columnist Paul Jacob about a major scandal in Wikipedia, the internet's special encyclopedia. The lesson to be learned is to establish credible sources in the first place but still be eager to check, check, and check again.
Friday, December 16, 2005
...Let us be consistent, therefore, about Christmas, and either keep customs or not keep them. If you do not like sentiment and symbolism, you do not like Christmas; go away and celebrate something else...
No doubt you could have a sort of scientific Christmas with a hygienic pudding and highly instructive presents stuffed into a Jaeger stocking; go and have it then. If you like those things, doubtless you are a good sort of fellow, and your intentions are excellent. I have no doubt that you are really interested in humanity; but I cannot think that humanity will ever be much interested in you...
Thursday, December 15, 2005
One of the problems is that Democrat Harry Reid is working against the bill because of his irrational passion to force yet more experimentation on human embryos. Yet I blame even more the spineless Republicans in the Senate who have not forced the issue here. This is a critically important matter and one which could be a home run issue for the G.O.P. but, like so many other crucial opportunities, the "Noodles" have failed to deliver.
And Republicans really wonder why conservatives are becoming more and more fed up with the party? Goodness me. For more, read Kathryn Jean Lopez' column over at NRO.
So why are proponents of intelligent design being villified more than ever by academic institutions?
Here's a short report from the Discovery Institute -- a good site to be on your bookmark list.
Here are excerpts from a letter announcing the cancellation of spring prom at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, New York. The letter was written by the principal, Brother Kenneth Hoagland, and I hope it stirs up a whole lot of school officials to either follow Brother Ken's example or at least begin a crackdown on the bacchanalia that proms have become.
"Over the years parents have become more active in creating the 'prom experience,' from personally signing for houses for a three day drug/sex/alcohol bash, to mothers making motel reservations for their sons and daughters for after prom get-togethers, to fathers signing the contract for Captain Jim's booze-cruise out of Huntington for an after prom adventure. We have become convinced that some parents support this type of activity, some tolerate it, prefer not to see it, or dismiss it as part of growing up. Some have expressed the view that it is better to lose one's virginity and get drunk before going to college, so that parents can be around to help.
...Aside from the bacchanalian aspects of the prom-alcohol/sex/drugs-there is a root problem for all this and it is affluence. Affluence changes people. Too much money is not good for the soul. Our young people have too much money. Sounds simple, but it is true. When Jesus said that it was very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, it shocked his hearers and it still shocks us. Wealth is powerful, not only in terms of possessions, but in being possessed by it. Wealth changes personalities, priorities, principles. The prom has become the occasion of conspicuous consumption-from dress, to limousines, to entertainment.
...So, too, with the senior prom. We have come to the conclusion that it has a life of its own which is no longer commensurate with the goals of Christian education. And so we dropped sponsoring it."
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
On this date in 1937, during the Sino-Japanese War, Nanking, the capital of China, fell to Japanese forces, and the Chinese government fled to Hankow, further inland along the Yangtze River.
To break the spirit of Chinese resistance, Japanese General Matsui Iwane ordered that the city of Nanking be destroyed. Much of the city was burned, and Japanese troops launched a campaign of atrocities against civilians. In what became known as the "Rape of Nanking," the Japanese butchered an estimated 150,000 male "war prisoners," massacred an additional 50,000 male civilians, and raped at least 20,000 women and girls of all ages, many of whom were mutilated or killed in the process.
An enormous hydrothermal "megaplume" found in the Indian Ocean serves as a dramatic reminder that underwater volcanoes likely play an important role in shaping Earth's ocean systems, scientists report. The plume, which stretches some 43.5 miles (70 kilometers) long, appears to be active on a previously unseen scale.
"In a nutshell, this thing is at least 10 times—or possibly 20 times—bigger than anything of its kind that's been seen before," said Bramley Murton of the British National Oceanography Centre.
Hmmm. How will Katie Couric blame this on George Bush?
* Severe persecution of religious believers.
* Coercive abortion and sterilzation policies.
* Harvesting and selling human body parts.
* Extensive use of slave labor and denial of worker's rights, safety and health concerns.
* A long list of other human rights abuses.
* Support of repressive governments in Burma, Belarus, and other places.
* Destruction of national economies (like our own) through cheap imports.
* Support of terrorists.
* Military aggression in Asia...and beyond.
* Extemsive spy networks in their own country and many others.
* Theft of Western tecnology.
* And, oh yes -- one more little thing...
Communist China is an extremely pernicious, extremely dangerous enemy to the United States.
Here's a news story dealing with one of the more recent evidences of China's sinister intentions towards the West; namely, a systematic campaign by Chinese military hackers to penetrate U.S. government and business computer networks.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Here's the letter...
Dear President Austin,
I am a UCONN alumnus, having graduated in 1950. After commissioning through the Air Force ROTC program, I went on to serve for twenty-three years as a military officer. In the service, I learned a code of working with subordinates, with my contemporaries and my superior officers. Mutual respect was at the heart of successful military life. It has also stood me well in my civilian years, after retirement from the service.
All this is to get to the point of my letter. Recently, a noted conservative journalist, Ann Coulter, was invited to speak at the University. Not only was she not treated with respect by many students and others who disagreed with her, but she was subjected to outright shameful behavior. It would have been better to not invite her in the first place.
However, this is America, and we should be able to have civil discourse with those whom we disagree. Thoughtful debate lies at the very heart of our representative system. If we can't have this, anarchy rules, and we lose our precious freedom. I suggest that in the future, attendees to all programs, whether there are likely to be differences of opinion or not, be admonished to show respect and courtesy. Those who act irresponsibly should quickly be ejected.
Lt. Col. (ret.) USAF Quintin J. Coppi
If you'd like to join Quint in making this protest of the shameful way in which Ann Coulter was treated, here's the info...
President~Philip E. Austin
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
Gulley Hall, Storrs Campus
352 Mansfield Rd., Unit 2048
Storrs, CT 06269-2048
FAX # (860) 486-2627
Department Web Site: http://www.president.uconn.edu
But this article, pointed out to me by Quint Coppi, shows that Bloomberg is just the latest in what is a long, sordid history of abortion enthusiasts in NYC. Yes, the politicians bear a heavy responsibility for this callous disregard for human life in New York, but so do the press, the Broadway glitterati, business leaders...and the people.
A spiritual conversion -- one that is deep, thorough, and ongoing -- is desperately needed here.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
One might say that ID is a prime example of how "survival of the fittest" applies to theoretical constructs about our planet's history. After all, ID is better, fitter, more intelligent and so is bound to triumph over those slower, weaker, more dim-witted Darwinian dinosaurs that once ruled the land. Just like Chuck said.
This is a short article (but a very well written one) exploring the abundance of scientific evidence for intelligent design. It is by by Stephen Meyer. It was originally published last week in the National Post of Canada.
And please note -- Meyer is no rookie in this field. He earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin of life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences. Previously he worked as a geophysicist with the Atlantic Richfield Company after earning his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Geology. Stephen C. Meyer is now serving as director and Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.
Dr. Meyer has recently co-written or edited two books: Darwinism, Design, and Public Education with Michigan State University Press and Science and Evidence of Design in the Universe (Ignatius 2000). He has also authored numerous technical articles as well as editorials in magazines and newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, First Things and National Review.
And speaking of Ann, here's a short piece from yesterday's Family Research Council update --
Students Against Hate Hating Ann Coulter
Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter is used to throwing off sparks wherever she goes. The best-selling author of Treason and How to Talk to a Liberal-If You Must was forced to cut short her speech at the University of Connecticut recently when "Students Against Hate" led others in sustained booing and jeering. "We encourage diverse opinion at UConn," said Eric Knudsen, a 19-year-old journalism student, the group's leader, "but this is blatant hate speech." So they shut her down. Now, there's liberalism for you. Shut up, he explained. Notice, Eric is a journalism major. Studies of student radicalism have shown that engineering, business, science, and pre-med students are almost never the campus cutups. They have to study. If Eric has the time, he might research Thomas Jefferson's view of academic freedom. Mr. Jefferson said of his University of Virginia: "Here we are not afraid to follow truth, wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate error so long as reason is left free to combat it." Campus liberals should try practicing a little of the tolerance they preach.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
One of Canada's leading cinema chains has stopped handing out Christmas wrapping paper to its patrons after parents complained it featured angels fondling each other suggestively, newspapers reported on Tuesday.
Famous Players acted after the wrapping paper -- a promotion for the Virgin Mobile phone service -- was handed out to young children. The paper features a male angel grasping the breast of his female partner, while she has hold of his genitals, as they kiss. Both are fully clothed in white angel attire.
"It would have been great for the right age group but clearly it wasn't suitable for children," a spokeswoman for Famous Players told the National Post newspaper.
Famous Players is part of Cineplex Entertainment LP, which is 50.5 percent owned by the Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund. Cineplex did not return a call seeking comment.
By the way, Famous Players -- such an inaccurate, offensive display is not "suitable" for any age group. But making a principled protest of your blasphemous action? Well, that is "suitable" to the max. So, for the Canadian visitors of Vital Signs Blog (and any non-Canadian who wants to join in), here's the relevant data:
Cineplex Entertainment LP is the leading Canadian movie exhibitor, with nearly 1,300 screens at more than 130 theaters. Cineplex Entertainment essentially doubled its size with the 2005 acquisition of the Famous Players movie theater chain, which it bought from Viacom .
Cineplex Galary Entertainment LP
Ellis Jacob, President
1303 Yonge St., Toronto CANON M4T 2Y9, Canada
Dr. John G. West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, commented this summer that "The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life. We expect that as scientists engage in the wider debate over materialist evolutionary theories, this list will continue to grow, and grow at an even more rapid pace than we've seen this past year."
The doubters of Darwinism are not confined to the scientific community.
Dr. Antony Flew, a famous philosopher who adhered to atheism, in his later years has come to accept the likelihood of Intelligent Design. He counts himself as a supporter of Darwinism in general but he sees something more compelling behind the creation of the universe. Flew, now more of a Deist, does not acknowledge God as having created the universe, but sees intelligence behind its formation. He is quoted in the Winter 2005 issue of Philosophia Christi (a publication of Biola University, in California): "It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design..."
Read more of this story from the Christian Communication Network right here.
But why must she go to Korea? Because so many of American medical institutions continue to emphasize non-productive experimentation which exploits and destroys human embryos. In many cases, this"stuck on stupid" attitude is to the complete exclusion of research using "adult" stem cells -- even though that's been the proven path of progress.
Michelle, our prayers ascend for your full recovery.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Remember those days of Hollywood's black and white films where smoking was so common, even glamorized? Well, things haven't changed much. A new study of 532 relatively current flicks reveals that cigarette smoking is featured in 74% of them.
Furthermore, the authors of this new study (published in November's Pediatrics) have determined that smoking depicted in the movies is a primary reason children ages 10 to 14 try cigarettes. Hardly a surprise. However, the thoroughness of the study and its overwhelming evidence is causing more of a stir than usual. James Sargent, a professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School, who was one of the many researchers who conducted the study, explained that they interviewed more than 6,500 children across the country and considered 21 other factors that influence young people's smoking, such as television viewing and parental permissiveness.
The results? Those who viewed the most tobacco use (especially in the movies and videos they watched) were more than two and a half times as likely to start smoking as children who saw the least. That means some 38% of young smokers started lighting up due primarily to the puffing film characters they saw on the silver screen.
This is bad news, no doubt about it, because cancer caused by cigarette smoking remains such an ugly (and unnecessary) way to die. But here's another point to ponder -- If young lungs are corrupted by cigarette smoke taken in because of the influence of movies, how much more susceptible are they to the corruption of their morals as they view Hollywood's parade of meaningless violence, sexual promiscuity, blasphemy, disdain for authority, leftist politics, and so on?
If you're in a mood to check the smoking study further, you'll find the article in Pediatrics Vol. 116 No. 5 [November 2005]. There's also an abstract right here and a USA Today story about the study here.
Senate Democrats are holding hostage a bill to expand life-saving research on cord blood stem cells. The bill passed the House 431-1! Basketball great Julius ("Dr. J.") Erving is backing the cord blood bill. So is Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.). One of many diseases cord blood stem cell research can treat is sickle-cell anemia.
The Senate Democrats want to force action on a House-passed bill that would fund experiments on embryonic stem cells. That means human lives would have to be sacrificed for uncertain gains. But the cord blood bill is based on ethical research that affords cures without endangering lives. It has broad support. Even Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)--both supporters of embryonic stem cell experiments--favor this cord blood bill, too.
Please call your U.S. senators. Urge them to back S.1317, the Senate version of the House cord blood bill. Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday named the former head of a pro-abortion organization has his new chief of staff -- angering pro-life groups in the process. After losing all of the special election initiatives he placed on the ballot earlier this month and seeing his poll number declining, the governor, who backs abortion himself, apparently believed he needed to reach out to Democrats. With that in mind, he appointed California Public Utilities Commissioner Susan Kennedy as his new chief of staff. Kennedy was cabinet secretary to former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who California voters threw out of office in 2003 in a recall election.
What upsets pro-life groups is that Kennedy is the former executive director of the California Abortion Rights Action League. “Arnold Schwarzenegger has become a liberal Democrat," said Randy Thomasson, the president of Campaign for Children and Families. "By placing a leading ... pro-abortion Democrat activist in charge of his entire administration, Arnold has taken a disastrous turn to the left," Thomasson explained.
Of course, pro-life activists didn't need this latest of Governor Schwarzenneger's pro-abortion actions to know he was "very bad news" regarding the moral issues. But this pick was over the top even for him. So spread the word to your friends -- if you think the Republican Party was wimpy already on issues of abortion, euthanasia, and genetic engineering, wait until the transfer of power is complete to such "noodlemeisters" as Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, and Bloomberg.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
From the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins comes this insightful update on the case of Swedish pastor, Ake Green.
Pastor Ake Green has been acquitted by the Swedish Supreme Court of the charge of hate speech. Sweden's highest court ruled 5-0 that he had not violated laws against speech that "shows contempt" for homosexuals. The Pentecostal leader had delivered a sermon against homosexuality before his congregation. The case attracted international attention. Pastor Green's acquittal brought quick reactions. The leader of the Swedish Christian Democratic Party said it is not the role of courts to decide how the Bible should be interpreted, but Liberal Member of Parliament Birgitta Rydberg replied that Ake Green would probably go to hell when he dies. "That's where you go if you call yourself a Christian and defy the Christian message of love," Rydberg said. Some defenders of Pastor Green called the verdict a "huge victory" for religious freedom.
While I'm pleased for the Pastor and proud of the legal team that championed him, I'm not as upbeat. Pastor Green has been dragged into court, threatened with imprisonment, and he says he will not preach on this topic again. "Everyone knows where I stand on that subject," Ake Green said. This is precisely what is meant by the phrase "a chilling effect." Johan Munck is Chairman of the Swedish Supreme Court. He warned others: "I don't believe this gives the green light for similar sermons." Left unclear by this ruling is whether any Swede who quotes, for example, the Vatican's latest directive against ordaining priests who are involved in the homosexual lifestyle would be prosecuted successfully under that country's hate crimes laws. We thank God that Pastor Green has been spared. But the light from Sweden to preachers around the world is flashing yellow.
Tim also points out an interesting take on the Scheidler case from Fumare. You'll find that here.
"For instance, one-quarter of those who call themselves born again did not meet the Barna Group criteria for born again – which generally meant they rely upon something other than God’s grace as their means to salvation."
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
South Korean professor and cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk, is in yet more trouble. And the MSM (mainstream media), who remain desperately committed to push embryonic stem cell research despite its failures, dangers, and immoral foundations, may soon be reeling at the fall of one of their heroes.
And, make no mistake; "hero" is the right word for how Hwang Woo-suk is revered by the media -- and by a large section of the Korean public who have bought into the false promises of embryonic stem cell and cloning researchers. For instance, just a few days ago (even after the revelation of his lying about the source of the eggs used in his experiments), the Telegraph (U.K.) described Woo-suk as "a scientific superstar" whose "laboratory is without doubt leading the rest of the world in using human embryos as a source of stem cells, flexible cells that could offer a treatments for ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and motor neuron disease."
Note too the response of Koreans to the documentary produced by MBC (a Korean TV network) last week. The hour-long program fairly covered the issue about Woo-suk's lies about the egg donations and included a lengthy interview with the professor himself. But the uproar that followed that program showed how little scientific facts (or moral standards) matter to the pro-ESCR forces.
Here's how The Korea Times described the response to the MBC documentary:
"Then supporters for Hwang quickly launched organized salvos at producers of the MBC program and the broadcasting network. Some even threatened to kill family members of the producers, posting their photos on the Internet. They argued the program was ``against national interests.’’
A group of protesters also staged a candlelight demonstration in front of MBC headquarters in Yoido, Seoul, Saturday. Among some 50 of them was disabled pop singer Kang Won-rae. The protesters said they will launch a signature-collection campaign against MBC.
Fearing further public rancor, 11 out of 12 advertisers for the MBC program have decided to withdraw their advertisements.."
Even the South Korean President, Roh Moo-hyun, weighed in on the matter. He too was bothered by the MBC documentary presenting Woo-suk in a negative light (the President knows this represents fewer investment dollars coming into the South Korean economy) yet he was obliged to decry the intolerance and fear fostered by the pro-ESCR leaders.
Let's face it; embryonic stem cell research has not had a good year. Despite the MSM's best efforts to keep the hype up, the public's belief in ESCR's benefits are waning. The results simply haven't come through. The developments utilizing adult stem cells, however, have been truly amazing with medical treatments (not mere potential or grand promises) already helping thousands of people. Adding the ethics violations of Hwang Woo-suk to sour the public even further on ESCR shenanigans paints an even bleaker picture for the field.
Don't figure on the movement's leaders and their media allies giving up easily though. In a recent USA Today story highlighting how embryonic stem cell scientists around the world were worried about further funding of their own projects after Woo-suk's lies about the egg donations, there was this observation:
He is not the only one to note that Hwang's findings have not been compromised. "While ethical issues about (egg) donation should be debated and the process regulated, the scientific conclusions of Dr. Hwang's research remain intact," Schatten said in a statement..."
But what if Hwang Woo-Suk lied about more than the egg donations?
New reports of his lying about the scientific findings of his much-publicized research have been made -- and again by MBC. And these lies go right to the heart of his ESCR and cloning claims.
Here's an excerpt from today's report from LifeNews:
A Korean television station whose investigative report was the nail in the coffin that prompted human cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk to admit he lied about egg donations his researchers made says he may have lied about the results of his research as well.
Last year, Hwang's team said it successfully cloned a human embryo from embryonic stem cells. The report came in the scientific journal Science, which also exposed the egg donation coverup.
However, Korean television station MBC has conducted interviews with an unnamed member of Hwang's research team who says the cells were never cloned successfully. The researcher called the reports a "collection of falsehoods."
According to MBC, the scientist "maintains that Hwang's team fabricated data because in reality it failed to clone a somatic cell and instead used a frozen embryo from the hospital to make stem cells."
The researcher also said Hwang's team did not successfully clone a cow, as had been reported. Hwang's team also claims to have successfully cloned a dog, the first time scientists have ever been able to do it.
A report in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in Korea says MBC was able to win over members of Hwang's team by claiming it was producing a documentary on stem cell research. The paper says the television station was able to use hidden cameras to dig up dirt on Hwang and his team members by talking to some scientists.
It will be interesting to see the story play out. But no matter how the pro-ESCR media try to spin a way out of these latest revelations, Hwang Woo-suk looks likely to finally go from the movement's hero to its goat.
Like I said, it's been a bad year for ESCR.
Related to this second argument is today's Dennis Prager column which includes yet another persuasive element in the case for capital punishment -- sheer pragmatics.
The Assault on Christmas
Boston's Mayor and Parks Commissioner has yielded to cries from people across the country: Beantown's "holiday tree" will be a Christmas tree, after all. The Christmas tree is an annual gift from Nova Scotia to thank the people of Boston for their great generosity following the explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax harbor during World War I. When he heard that the tree would no longer be called a Christmas tree, the Canadian donor said he'd rather put the majestic evergreen "in the chipper." Meanwhile on the West Coast, Encinitas, California, Mayor Dan Dalager braved criticism from the politically correct crowd. He renamed that city's holiday parade a Christmas parade. That's the name it proudly wore for decades, the Mayor explained. Mayor Dalager, a lifelong resident of the thriving coastal city, upset the local Girl Scouts council as well as the vice president of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Southern California. The dog club veep identified herself as an atheist. She did not, apparently, poll the dogs. Many of us think the celebration of Christmas is going to the dogs in this country when we see news stories about shoppers on "Black Friday" scuffling with Wal-Mart security guards. Fighting for what? A cheaper toy? A discounted laptop? The latest X-box? At times, it seems we went to sleep in George Bailey's friendly hometown in It's a Wonderful Life--and woke up in nasty Potterville!
Southern Baptists are tiring of colleges that take their money and ignore their teaching. An increasing number of state Baptist conventions are finding themselves severing ties with Baptist colleges and universities over differences in doctrine. The latest example is in Georgia where the state association voted overwhelmingly to discontinue funding to Mercer University.
J. Robert White, the Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, said "This is just another in a long history of incompatible experiences that have taken place... I think the convention is weary of being told that things are corrected and then learning later that things have merely continued but underground." The agency will withdraw nearly 3.5 million dollars in annual support to Mercer and sever all ties with the school.
Kenyn Cureton of the Southern Baptist Convention stated, "When a majority of the state convention messengers decide that a college or university no longer reflects their Biblical foundations, it's not uncommon for them to withdraw their support. We back up their decision whatever it is."
Wake Forest, Baylor and Belmont are also no longer supported by their state conventions because of liberal policies.
Two major Polish dailies, "Rzeczpospolita" and "Gazeta Wyborcza," blacked out large sections of their front pages on November 23 to follow an Amnesty International-led protest against media repression in Belarus. A black marker was run through headlines, photographs, and text in the two newspapers, suggesting that a censor worked on them. At the bottom of the two front pages, Amnesty International ran a caption: "This is what freedom of speech looks like in Belarus." The dailies printed their front page in full on page three, and carried commentaries and reports about human rights abuses in Belarus.