Monday, August 18, 2014

The Shadow Is a Passing Thing

“Frodo sighed and was asleep almost before the words were spoken. Sam struggled with his own weariness, and he took Frodo's hand; and there he sat silent till deep night fell. Then at last, to keep himself awake, he crawled from the hiding-place and looked out.

The land seemed full of creaking and cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while.

The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was a light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master's, ceased to trouble him.

He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo's side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.”

(J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"When Swing Was King" Produces Sweet Things

There were several sweet moments from today’s “When Swing Was King” at LCC in north Omaha. One involved a fellow who regularly refuses to come to the nursing home’s entertainment programs because, in his words, he “always gets bored but then hates to leave early because it seems rude.” So the activities director and her assistant started applauding when he wheeled himself down to the WSWK show. And not only did he stay throughout the program, he told us afterward that he loved it. “It was great, absolutely wonderful!” he said. “When did you say you’ll be back?”

Another delightful moment came when M….(94 in less than a month) came in to tell us she was sorry she had to miss the program but they were busy with her in her room. “I just wanted you to know that I would have been here if I could. And to thank you for coming every month and please keep on doing it.” We ended up having nice conversations with both of these residents and a few others besides. A really great time. Thanks, Lord.

Of course, you are (as always) invited to come along and enjoy the program and help us visit the residents of any of the 11 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other senior centers where we present “When Swing Was King” every month. (We’re adding a 12th facility in September.) The schedule is right here.

And the program this time around?

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra, “A String of Pearls.”
2) Duke Ellington Orchestra, “If Dreams Come True.”
3) The Andrews Sisters, “Begin the Beguine.”
4) Artie Shaw Orchestra, “Night and Day.”
5) Ozzie Nelson Orchestra, “I Must See Annie Tonight.”
6) Clyde McCoy Orchestra, “Sugar Blues.”
7) Ella Fitzgerald, “Blue Moon.”
8) Benny Goodman Orchestra, “Stardust.”
9) Frank Sinatra, “The Coffee Song.”
10) Larry Clinton Orchestra featuring Bea Wain, “Heart and Soul.”
11) Les Brown Orchestra, “The Continental.”
12) Fred Astaire, “The Way You Look Tonight.” (Photo theme:  A review of the career of this great American dancer, singer and actor.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Defense Secretary: "The World Is Exploding All Over"

Yesterday, Chuck Hagel tried to reassure Americans with these comments. “The world is exploding all over. And so is the United States going to continue to have the resources, the capabilities, the leadership, the bandwidth to continue with the rebalance toward the Asia Pacific? And the answer is yes.”

Okay, forget the weird inclusion of “bandwidth” that Hagel is proud of the USA having plenty of. Wonder instead just where is the evidence for his optimism. After all, his boss and the rest of this Democrat administration has continually disappointed and disrespected America’s allies, emboldened and enabled America’s enemies, divided and demoralized the American people, and distracted and dismantled the U.S. military.

Alas, there’s only one thing true of the Defense Secretary’s analysis — the world is exploding all over.

Remember how the crowds cheered wildly when Barack Obama promised he would fundamentally transform America? Well, the crowds aren’t cheering anymore. Not since we have learned (to our regret and shame) just what the fellow envisioned.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shakin' It Up (A Pro-life Mini-Drama)

The following is one of the brief pro-life plays I've written over the years that you can find on this page of the Vital Signs Ministries website. They were written for performance in churches but they can, of course, be used in a variety of venues. And, yes, you may feel free to perform those plays without paying royalties.

Shakin' It Up

The scene is a high school cafeteria.  A few friends are sitting around a table with their sack lunches.  The scene opens on their conversation.

Abe: "Can you believe that guy?  That was the most awesome presentation I think we've ever had!"

Steven: "No kidding.  This high school will never be the same since Mr. Tanaka showed up.  Imagine the nerve of the guy."

Teresa: "How did he get away with it in the first place?  I mean, doing an all-school assembly about abortion from a pro-life perspective?  That's impossible, isn't it?"

Steven: "Guess not.  He just pulled it off!"

Abe: "Well, here's the deal.  Planned Parenthood has been in here to do assemblies every year I've been here, right?  Sure, they sometimes brought in some ditzy politician to say something completely bland about abstinence, but everybody knows it's always the same message.  (Abe goes into a falsetto, nasal voice.)  'Use a condom, and our low-dose birth control pills, kiddies, and then when they fail...which they most certainly will, by the way... you all come to Planned Parenthood and we'll take care of you but good!'"

Teresa: "And didn't I have a heck of a time getting out of going to those presentations. Remember how my dad threatened a lawsuit before Dr. Bell would allow me to be excused."

Abe: "There you go.  Some freedom of choice. Well, from what I heard, that's exactly what Mr. Tanaka pulled too.  He had all this evidence about Planned Parenthood having a complete monopoly on these sex-ed assemblies and he insisted through some lawyers that they either kick Planned Parenthood out completely or they allow him to present an alternative view."

Steven: "And what an alternative?  Man, he was electric!  I mean, you gotta' figure everybody was expecting a boring sermon and then Tanaka comes out and really shakes it up."

Teresa (Laughing.): "No kidding; how many of those kids guessed a pro-life talk would include a film clip from ‘Blade Runner’ or a music video from Nick Cannon?"

Steven: "My favorite moment was when he used Eugene O'Neill's play 'The Abortion.'  That was super-cool.  I was watching Ms. Nelson-Rice and she was burning up.  You know, O'Neill is one of her favorites and you could tell she hadn't even heard of that play!"

Teresa: "Speaking of surprises, what about when he was quoting all of those early feminists who were against abortion?  That was great."

Abe: "And Marshall McLuhan!  Who knew he was a pro-lifer?"

Teresa: "Don't forget the quotes from Mother Teresa, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Phil Simms, and the Bible.  Wow, you could feel the sense of tension in the whole gym."

Abe: "Even guys like Sally and Carmello who are so pro-choice -- they told me afterwards that Tanaka had scored some heavy points.  Sally was quick to remind me she wasn't changing her mind, and I quote, 'about a woman's choice being paramount,' but she did admit that maybe being pro-life had more going for it than she thought."

Steven: "Chalk up one for the good guys, huh?"

Terry: "Hey wait.  You know what was the very best moment?"

Abe: "Yeah, I think I know what you're gonna' say."

Terry: "It was when Mr. Tanaka pointed out that in those Planned Parenthood sessions, he had never been allowed to make any opposition statement or even ask any questions. But he was different. He believed in freedom of expression and so he would gladly allow anyone to respond to his presentation..."

Steven: "...if, that is, when Planned Parenthood conducts their assemblies in the future, they must allow the very same courtesy."

Abe: "And nobody moved!  Man, you could have heard a pin drop, huh?"

Terry: "The quiet you heard in that gym, fellas?  That was the sound of truth winning a round. And in a public school no less!"

Abe: “And all because a bold Christian did his homework and then took the risk of standing up for what's right!"

Steven: (Raising his milk carton.) "To Mr. Tanaka, a man who is shakin' things up for life.”  (All raise their milk and "clink" cartons.) 

Scene fades.

A Few Not-To-Be-Missed Articles

* “Obama’s Treachery and Republican Silence” (David Horowitz, NRO)

* “The American Left: Friends of Our Country’s Enemies” (Ron Radosh, PJ Media)

* “A teachable moment in foreign policy” (Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post)

* “Bullies for Social Justice: A vision of America that is neither just nor reasonable.” (Janice Shaw Crouse, The American Spectator)

* “The West is ignoring the practitioners of 'disproportionate’ violence” (Charles Moore, Telegraph)

Friday, August 01, 2014

In Vitro Fertilization's Monstrous Secret

The research scientists (like those at the Yale School of Medicine who presented an intensive study a few years ago) tell us that around 80-85% of the embryos transferred during in vitro fertilization never make it to birth.

And since nearly two million kids have been born through IVF methods (as has been boasted by specialists in the field), that means that at least 10,000,000 embryos involved in IVF transfer didn't make it.

That's why I again post this brief article originally written for a Vital Signs' radio program. I'm afraid it is as relevant as ever.

What Happens to the "Extra" Embryos?

Amid all the talk about the ever-increasing availability of in vitro fertilization techniques, one issue is almost never mentioned; namely, what happens to all those extra embryos?

Well, to be frank, almost none of them make it.

Despite whatever warm feeling one might have towards infertile couples who are being helped to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization, it is important to understand this fact. In vitro fertilization generally creates multiple embryos to ensure a greater probability of success. And, yes, most of the little humans thus created...die. Either those embryos die as a result of the limitation of the female body to accommodate them or, in many instances, they are never implanted in the first place.

In the case of the embryos left over in the storage facilities of fertility clinics, different fates await them. They can, for instance, be frozen for some unspecified purpose in the distant future (the storage frequently being lethal itself) or they can be sold or donated to scientific research, a monstrous end from which none survive. Many IVF clinics merely incinerate the tiny guys and gals when they die, treating them no better than medical waste. Others, trying to be less crass, give the embryos some kind of funeral.

But no matter where the tiny bodies end up, they’re simply dead bodies, not living, growing human beings. And nothing, not even the heartbreak of being unable to naturally conceive children, can justify such brutal pragmatics.