Thursday, October 23, 2014

"I Will Never Forget"

“You know, I understand what you’re saying.  And you’re right, I know you are.  And I appreciate your being here and all that you’re offering to help me and my baby.  Really, I do.  But you just can’t get around my immediate problem and so I’m afraid I don’t have any choice.  That’s not how I want it and I wish I could undo some stuff but I can’t.  So, yes; I know this is sin, a very serious sin, and I hope somehow, somewhere my baby will forgive but I have to do this.  Because if I don’t go through with the abortion, I’d never fit in to my prom dress.”

Read the rest of this month’s Vital Signs letter right here.

Does Culture Trump Politics?

Liberals expend tremendous effort changing the culture. Conservatives expend tremendous effort changing elected officials every other November — and then are surprised that it doesn’t make much difference. Culture trumps politics — which is why, once the question’s been settled culturally, conservatives are reduced to playing catch-up... 

In 1986, in a concurrence to a majority opinion, the chief justice of the United States declared that “there is no such thing as a fundamental right to commit homosexual sodomy.” A blink of an eye, and his successors are discovering fundamental rights to commit homosexual marriage.

What happened in between? Jurisprudentially, nothing: Everything Chief Justice Warren Burger said back in the ’80s — about Common Law, Blackstone’s “crime against nature,” “the legislative authority of the State” — still applies. Except it doesn’t. Because the culture — from school guidance counselors to sitcom characters to Oscar hosts — moved on, and so even America’s Regency of Jurists was obliged to get with the beat... 

If the culture’s liberal, if the schools are liberal, if the churches are liberal, if the hip, groovy business elite is liberal, if the guys who make the movies and the pop songs are liberal, then electing a guy with an “R” after his name isn’t going to make a lot of difference...

Read the rest of Mark Steyn’s compelling article, “Why the real battle for America is over culture, not elections,” in the New York Post.

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Annual" Tree Lighting Event Cancelled After Just One?

You're kidding me, right? After just one event, the "annual" Christmas Tree Lighting at the Andy William Moon River Theater in Branson has been tossed aside.

Well, not without a polite protest and an effort, however mild, to get the theater folks to reconsider.

Below is the note I sent to the Branson newspaper, a few radio stations, the Chamber of Commerce, and the tourism bureau. We'll see what happens.

Last year we had a wonderful time at the First Annual Christmas Tree Lighting outside the Andy Williams Moon River Theater. Though the event received almost no promotion at all, there were around 300 people on hand (even before the matinee audience exited the theater) to enjoy the festivities, including remarks and music from the Lennon Sisters, the Osmonds, and other Branson stars. We also enjoyed delicious cookies handed out by the cutest of Santa’s elves.

We are planning a return to Branson this fall and were looking forward to attending the Second Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. However, a call to the theater office resulted in the news that there wouldn’t be one. Wow. That was a bummer. We were told there had been “a change of hands” and so the event was off. That’s really unfortunate for with a minimum of effort, the tree lighting could provide a lot of community unity as well as positive publicity for the theater and the Branson area. Plus, it could make for a great kickoff to the Christmas season, completely true to the tradition that Branson’s Christmas begins when Andy Williams says it begins!

So, what do you say? Is there any way that the powers that be might reverse their decision? It seems a pity that such a neat idea should fade away after such a promising start. Perhaps we’ll have to bring cookies from our home here in Omaha and pass them out in front of the tree there, in sad recognition of a lost opportunity.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Is the Fleetwood Mac Tour a Good Idea?

I see that Fleetwood Mac is back on tour.

In fact, I just watched clips of three songs they performed live for the Today show and though interesting, it confirmed my longstanding conviction; namely, that after a certain period of time rock and roll singers should retire and let their body of work stand at its apex, not in an unending anticlimax consisting of reunion tours, albums of re-interpreted standards, and concerts with younger, full-throated, "backup" singers whose voices are miked-up to help cover the aging voices of the stars.

Rock singers, do yourselves a favor. Do interviews. Act. Write your memoirs.

But please, stop singing.

By the way, note the debonair yet stately look of Mick Fleetwood in the photo above. (He's the tall fellow on the left.) Do you note the resemblance to our old friend, the late Calvin Miller? One of his later photos is here on the right.

Calvin, as many of you know, was a dear pastor, preacher, writer, teacher, artist, and family man whose career included a long stretch here in Omaha as the pastor of Westside Church, a large Southern Baptist congregation. We still miss him.

And as hep a cat as Mick Fleetwood most likely is, I can assure you the multi-talented, extremely personable, and devoutly spiritual Cal Miller beats out even Mick Fleetwood on cool.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

"When Swing Was King" Moves Into Fall

We opened this month's "When Swing Was King" schedule yesterday afternoon at Brookestone Village to a large and engaged crowd. It was a great time and we so appreciate the residents and their love for our programs. We also love the staff the Village. Rarely do we see such involvement from even nurses and aides in getting residents to and from the show. And the activities staff -- Sarah, Lynn and Miriam? They are superb.

Here, by the way, is the revised song list for October.

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra (Vocals by the Modernaires) -- “Perfidia”
2) Harry James Orchestra (Vocals by Kitty Kallen) -- “I’ll Buy That Dream”
3) Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra -- "Sophisticated Lady"
4) Benny Goodman Orchestra -- "Somebody Loves Me"
5) Paul Weston Orchestra (Vocals by Dean Martin) -- "I'll Always Love You"
6) Artie Shaw Orchestra -- "Begin the Beguine"
7) Chick Webb Orchestra (Vocals by Ella Fitzgerald) -- "Love and Kisses"
8) Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra -- "Ballin' the Jack"
9) Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (Vocals by Helen O'Connell) "All of Me"
10) Ted Weems Orchestra (Vocals by Perry Como) -- "Fools Rush In"
11) Lawrence Welk Orchestra -- "Champagne Time"
12) Roy Rogers -- "San Fernando Valley"

Monday, October 06, 2014

Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Here are a few key stories (and one astounding video clip) from the latest VS collection. You'll notice that many of them deal with the corrupt media but, trust me, they are important reads all.

* “Wait, There’s a Problem with Christian Medical Missionaries?” (David French, NRO)

* “Assisted Suicide ‘Out of Control’ in Netherlands” (Nick Hallett, Breitbart)

* “Rand Paul on Plan B” (Ramesh Ponnuru, NRO) You're wrong, Senator. And, because your medical training makes you know you're wrong, it brings up a troubling lack of character.

* “Mia Farrow’s dirty profits—a hidden payoff in corrupt Ecuador trial” (Phelim McAleer, New York Post)

* “‘Face the Nation’ Leaves Out Netanyahu's Criticism of Obama” (Trey Sanchez, Truth Revolt)

* “Princeton Professor: Cultural Elite Can No Longer Tolerate Christians” (Ginni Thomas, Daily Caller)

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Great Divide

...I also believe it is entirely rational to fear the possibility of a major Ebola outbreak, of a threat to the president and his family, of jihadists crossing the border, of a large-scale European or Asian war, of nuclear proliferation, of terrorists detonating a weapon of mass destruction. These dangers are real, and pressing, and though the probability of their occurrence is not high, it is amplified by the staggering incompetence and failure and misplaced priorities of the U.S. government. It is not Ebola I am afraid of. It is our government’s ability to deal with Ebola.

Over the last few years the divergence between what the government promises and what it delivers, between what is says is happening or will happen and what actually is happening and does happen, between what it determines to be important and what the public wishes to be important—this gap has become abysmal, unavoidable, inescapable. We hear of “lone-wolf” terrorism, of “workplace violence,” that if you like your plan you can keep your plan. We are told that Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration, that al Qaeda is on the run, that the border is secure as it has ever been, that I didn’t draw a red line, the world drew a red line, that the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups involved not a smidgen of corruption. We see the government spend billions on websites that do not function, and the VA consign patients to death by waiting list and then cover it up. We are assured that Putin won’t invade; that the Islamic State is the jayvee team of terrorism; that Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction; that there is a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.

While the public remains pro-Israel, our government negotiates with Israel’s enemies. While the public wants to reduce immigration, the preeminent legislative objective of both parties is a bill that would increase it. While the public is uninterested in global warming, while costly regulations could not pass a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, while the scientific consensus behind the green agenda is, at the very least, fraying, the president says that climate change is the greatest threat to the United States. While Americans tell pollsters their economic situation has not improved, and that things are headed in the wrong direction—while even Democratic economists acknowledge the despondent state of the middle class—the president travels to Chicago to celebrate his economic recovery.

These disjunctions and confusions, these missteps, scandals, and miscalculations, have hurt Obama’s approval numbers. They endanger the Democratic Senate majority, contribute to the widespread sense of disorder and decay, shatter trust in government and in public institutions. They have put into stark relief a political class dominated by liberal partisans, captured by ideas and interests removed from those of ordinary Americans. The stories of ineptitude or malfeasance that appear in the daily newspaper are more than examples of high ideals executed poorly. They are examples of the pursuit of ideas—of equality and diversity and progress and centralization and environmentalism and globalization—to absurd and self-destructive limits…

Read the full text of "The Case for Panic," Matthew Continetti's superb article in the Washington Free Beacon here. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Let the "Light Rain" Fall On You Too

“Light Rain” is a beautiful little film (4 very worthwhile minutes) that was directed by Neil Horner and produced by Stephanie Wrate. It is based on a true story told by Bob Perks and was donated to The Macmillan Cancer Support to recognize the work they do for families dealing with cancer.

Do check it out. The resultant blessing and inspiration will make you glad you did.