Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday miscellaneous (9/28)

Clint Eastwood ruffled a lot of feathers with his empty chair speech. However, it is looking more and more accurate. The President seems to be abandoning his day job in favor of playing a celebrity, and devoting more time to silly issues (like the NFL referee lockout) than important ones (like keeping Republican senators informed of the situation in Libya Update: Democratic senators are also complaining.). Meanwhile, the Democratic press is reduced to falling for made up stories about the Romney campaign.

Continuing the theme from my post on ideology, David Brooks writes about the missing element of today’s “conservative” party: the traditional conservative. Without them:

Republicans repeat formulas — government support equals dependency — that make sense according to free-market ideology, but oversimplify the real world. Republicans like Romney often rely on an economic language that seems corporate and alien to people who do not define themselves in economic terms. No wonder Romney has trouble relating.
Although, the Democrats are facing similar problems:
if you're a Democrat who has affirmed that you'd never vote for an opponent of gay equality; or a torturer; or someone caught using racial slurs; how are you going to vote for the guy who orders drone strikes that kill hundreds of innocents and terrorizes thousands more -- and who constantly hides the ugliest realities of his policy (while bragging about the terrorists it kills) so that Americans won't even have all the information sufficient to debate the matter for themselves?
And Thomas Sowell pits Obama of 2008 against Obama of 2012.

Yahoo News recently demonstrated its knowledge ignorance of Christianity.

It appears that Democratic Senate Candidate Elisabeth Warren earned hundreds of thousands of dollars practicing law without a license.

And just so that not everything is political this week, here is a young man’s critique of what the courtship model tells young women:

Her future husband would be a paradox: ambitious and hard-working and able to support a family, yet fully under his parents’ authority and living in their house without going to college. He would be an intelligent, independent critical thinker, yet he would agree unquestioningly with every belief of his parents and church.
And finally, this is both humorous and sobering:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday miscellaneous (9/21)

Federal spending may be out of control (with President Obama not even sure what the deficit is anymore), but personal use of credit cards is falling.

Despite ours (and his) criticisms of David Barton recently, historian John Fea reminds us that one of Barton’s premises--that signs of Christian influence were scrubbed from school textbooks in the 1960s and 1970s--is largely true.

The Atlantic has an interesting article on Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership strategy.

The Eisenhower leadership style sharply contrasts with what we have come to expect in our celebrity culture and tit-for-tat politics. Eisenhower was never showy or impulsive; he disdained partisanship and always played for the long term. He was patient and calm in the face of uncertainty. He needed to be, for he faced an unpredictable and dangerous foe.

I wrote the other week on the brilliance of Bill Clinton’s DNC speech. This article breaks down why he is so persuasive: “Because he treats listeners as if they are smart.”

This week we celebrated Constitution Day. Take the quiz to see how much you know about this founding document.

Justin Bieber's mom talks about getting pregnant at 18 and how she was pressured to have an abortion. It gives a whole new twist to “Baby, Baby, Baby, OH!” And speaking of abortion, China is backing off using forced abortions to enforce it’s one child policy.

The American Conservative addresses how neither party knows what to do about poverty:

[T]he national pseudo-conversation on politics and poverty seems particularly fruitless. The Republicans don’t seem to be able to deal with questions about poverty and culture in a way that grapples with the complexities of the thing — and neither, of course, do the Democrats. Both sides seem to be all about affirming the preferred narratives of their donor base and voting base.

Conservative Christians like to lament that we’re living in a pagan society. In fact we’re not (but a pagan society might be an improvement).

The pagans, by which I refer to pre-Christian Western man, may have been unwilling to accept that strange doctrine of the Son of Man, but they willingly accepted that they were sons of men. They may not have known how to be Christian, but they knew how to be human. The post-Christian, having left Christ, is in the busy process of altogether leaving Man. With respect to those delivering our daily mail, one might say we are moving increasingly to the Age of the Post-Man.

Think about it: Christianity is still attacked — one would hardly deny the fact — but the Christian today is rarely summoned up to defend the Holy Family. He is instead forever being called to rise to the defense of that Pagan institution, the human family. The fundamentally human idea that a vow is a thing forever kept is an idea weary and battered by divorce. That natural, human understanding that a child is Good is an understanding contracepted from our hearts. That our elders are a hell of a lot more important than ourselves is a thing that must be defended against the cult of progress, the cult of the youth, euthanasia and all the rest. Many fault Christianity for adopting elements of Paganism. I praise it for the same, for that she adopted was well worth keeping.

Is it any surprise that young boys suffer in a “Post-Man” society?

Our churches, meanwhile, are selling out to this very idea of unsustainable “progress” that is neither pagan nor Christian.

And finally, if last week’s video wasn’t enough to make you doubt the banking industry, try this out: 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Who is Paul Ryan?

Most people don’t get to know political leaders. Because of my job (and the fact that I live and breathe politics) I know far more of them than the average person, but even I have a very limited experience.

I do not hang out with Paul Ryan on weekends, nor do I work with him in a professional sense. Recently, however, I have had some experiences with him that I thought you might be interested in.

So the question is, who is Paul Ryan? In the last ten years that I have been in the DC area, I have, of course, heard a lot about the “numbers wizard” who is one of the very few people in this city who really seems to understand the federal budget. It is clear that he got where he is today, not because of political maneuvering, but rather because he is genuinely smart.

But smarts don’t make a man. Who is Paul Ryan? The other day I was at an event and Bill Bennett introduced Ryan’s speech. Ryan used to intern for Bennett and you could tell that Bennett has functioned as a mentor to Ryan in many ways. Imagine the author of the Book of Virtues mentoring you. I don’t think you could get away with anything!

But mentors don’t make a man. Who is Paul Ryan? I read a great article in the National Review called “Ryan Shrugged that talks about how his faith forms not only his core ideas and philosophy but also the basis for his policies ideas. He has been called an “ideas man,” but those ideas come from his deep faith. “A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private.” Ryan said in an interview. He continued by underlining that his faith was not just doctrine, but that he wants to answer the question “how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?”

But philosophical background doesn’t make a man. Who is Paul Ryan? Recently I drove down to Richmond at the request of the campaign to welcome Ryan to Virginia directly following his acceptance of the Republican nomination in Orlando. I was given VIP access, but the reason I went was I wanted to see how the new political superstar handled his stardom. This is what I saw.

When they introduced him, he came on stage to chants of “Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!” He opened his mouth and the crowd cheered. But instead of allowing his rhetoric to soar, he almost disappointed the crowd and spent time thanking the man who introduced him. It is a moment when the small town congressman’s mettle was tested, and he didn’t let the hype to draw him in. He rose above the excitement and began to share from his heart.

Before he entered, I curiously watched a young staffer bring prepared remarks out and place them on the podium. I still wonder what they contained because Ryan only looked at them once halfway through his speech that brought sustained cheers from the crowd time and time again. He talked about the values that Americans hold dear and how we can do better. He didn’t need notes because he spoke from his heart and meant what he said. From where I stood in the front row, I could see the conviction and idealism on his face.

Humility and conviction don’t make a man anymore than faith, philosophy, mentors, or smarts. Each of these things make up part of who we are and together they can give us insight into who someone is. Being in DC, I can become cynical about people and candidates, but I believe that Paul Ryan truly stands out as the kind of man who I want to see in leadership.

Who is Paul Ryan? He is a man of principle and leadership. He is a man who believes in America and someone I wholeheartedly support with my resources, word, and deed.

Post by Jeremiah Lorrig

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Facebook: The Gateway to Hell?

I imagine many of our readers went to Chick-Fil-A on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day a few weeks ago. My co-workers dragged me to lunch there and, honestly, as fun as it was, I ended the day with a heavy heart. I am sad because both the people on who supported Chick-Fil-A and those attacking it seemed to have abandoned their senses and engaged in hateful attacks on each other, forgetting that in America we can disagree without hating one another.

People on the left like to talk about “tolerance.” They want everyone to tolerate everything that they do. But, often, they are hypocritical because the one group they don’t seem to advocate tolerance for is Christians. Conservatives like to point out this hypocrisy and make it a centerpiece of discussion, but I don’t think many people on the left read this blog. Our audience is predominantly conservative Evangelicals, so let me talk with you.

Those on the left may have problems, but their hypocrisy is the speck in their eye. We Christians have a log in ours.

To demonstrate this, I need only point to Facebook. How many of you have ever noticed that people’s minds go out the window when they post on Facebook? I have seen sweet old ladies—people who are otherwise loving and kind towards everyone—post and share things on Facebook that are demeaning and harshly take jabs at real live humans.

Some want “tolerance” from Christians. But Christ called us to a higher standard than “tolerance.” In Matthew 5:43-47 Jesus says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”

In other words, if we only show love to those who agree with us, then we are as good as the “pagans.” But we are called to show genuine love—especially to those who we consider enemies.

What does this look like? Scripture tells us. One is from Proverbs 24:17. “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.”

But we find the best explanation of what loving our enemies looks like in the most authoritative definition of “love” that can be found: 1 Corinthians 13:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Several times this summer I have challenged people to apply this verse to their “enemies.” It is sometimes hard, but apply this to President Obama. Apply this to those boycotting Chick-Fil-A. It’s difficult to love those who don’t love back. In fact, I am convinced that we can only succeed in loving our enemies with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Life is hard. We all encounter people who we don’t like; we will all find folks we disagree with. We will all be hurt by someone else, but the fact is, we must still allow God to work in our lives. As a Christian, I believe that God gave us the Holy Spirit for a reason. He makes up the difference between what we can do ourselves and what we need to do. With His help, we can remember that we need to deal with the log in our own eye before we mouth off about the speck in our enemy’s eye.

Furthermore, people are not our enemy; we struggle against powers and ideas. And we will lose…if we focus on the wrong thing and harshly attack people who we should be showing love to.  If anything we should view the lost as just that: lost sheep with no shepherd, blinded even to their own blindness. Of course you and I know that Jesus is the perfect light, and that His is the light we need to shine.

We have been forgiven so much; shouldn’t we show mercy to others? Christ loved us so much that he died for us; can’t we be careful about posting hurtful stuff on Facebook?

Love your enemies: It is not a suggestion—it’s a command.

Post by Jeremiah Lorrig

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Conservative Bubble

What is wrong with conservative “leaders”?

  • David Barton rewrites history to make Jefferson more orthodox and his today’s scholars more liberal than either actually were or are.

These men are all leaders in their circles and are (rightfully or wrongly) looked up to by many. They also all profess to be conservative Christians on the front lines of the culture war. How did these statements happen?

Dennis Prager has a theory:

I have spent a good part of my life showing what an intellectual bubble the Left lives in. That is why so many could believe that boys don’t really prefer trains to tea sets or girls dolls to army soldiers. Those who believe such nonsense usually live in an intellectual bubble. They are raised by liberal parents, taught by left-wing teachers from high school through graduate school, watch left-wing MTV and news, listen to liberal NPR, go to movies produced by leftists, etc. Their whole world is left-wing. They don’t watch, listen to, study under, or socialize with conservatives.
Bubbles tend to produce nonsense. When the only people you talk to, read, and socialize with agree with you, it is easy to abandon critical thinking.
And when you are morally right — and those who argue for a right to life of unborn human beings (or human fetuses, if you prefer) are morally and even scientifically right — a bubble can make critical thought even more difficult.

The bubble theory is part of the problem, but not the entire issue. Also in play are gigantic egos. But I think there is something even deeper at play. The problem is the subjugation of everything to a political ideology.

Kenneth Minogue explains ideology as follows:

Ideology refers, as it were, to the negative and positive poles of a dogmatic conviction. Marxists had a true understanding of the world, and therefore whatever contradicted them must be false - that is, ideological, which meant both false and false because reflecting the wrong social location. … Ideology thus exhausts the entire field of truth and error, so long as one judges that one knows, as Marx and his followers thought they did, what the truth is.

* * *

Ideologies, by contrast with political doctrines, claim exclusive truth. They explain not only the world, but the false beliefs of opponents as well. Ideologists possess the long-sought knowledge of how to abolish politics and create the perfect society. … What they  have inevitably done is to institute a reign of truth, in which discussion disappears and nothing else but the ideology is taught in schools, universities, the media, the law courts, and everywhere else.

Rousseau demonstrates a more succinct description of this approach: “So let us begin by dispensing with the facts, for they are not relevant to the question.”

Classical politics is grounded in rational discussion of our common problems and search for the common good. Not that everything is debatable--there certainly are moral truths--but they don’t come from politics. They come, instead, from the natural order and religion; “nature and nature’s God” to quote the Declaration of Independence. Or, there is CS Lewis’ admonishment: “By the natural light he has shown us what means are lawful: to find out which one is efficacious He has given us brains. The rest He has left to us.”

So often the conservative alternative to a “liberal ideology” is to establish a “conservative ideology” (which results in what Prager calls the conservative bubble). We have liberal politics and conservative politics, liberal histories and conservative histories, liberal media and conservative media, liberal schools and conservative schools, liberal facts and conservative facts. They all combine to create the liberal or conservative ideology, which holds the secret answer to every question and the solution to every problem.

But as Minogue argues, such an approach leaves no room for rational discussion--which is at the heart of true politics. Therefore, he concludes, ideology has the tendency to destroy politics. All that is left are disagreeing opinions. History, politics, truth, and, ultimately, people, are the casualties. (Bart Gingrich’s critique of Barton comes to mind here: “Those of Christian-cultural influence must realize that we their children are not just bullets in the culture war.”) Anyone who disagrees has, by virtue of their disagreement, secretly bought into the agenda of the “other side.” For examples, look no further than the defenses by Wilson and Barton surrogates. There is no common ground where a shared humanity can meet and discuss, and thus, there can be no common good. There is just left “good” or right “good.”

In addition to an element of shared humanity, what is also missing in ideologies--both left and right--is people. I don’t mean that it lacks people to promote, or mimic, or campaign. I mean that ideologies by their very natures reduce people to means to an ideological end, be it communal ownership of property, an efficient market, or a social panacea. Such things are advocated as good for “the people” as a homogenous whole, regardless of how many human beings get in the way. Ideology is dehumanizing.

But politics is about the common good, and by that I mean the common good of people. It is a method by which we can fulfill the second great commandment: the love of neighbor. But there was no love of neighbor in the statements I opened with. There was no love shown to the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, the rape victim, the disabled, or the adopted child. They were simply used as means to a political end.

Ideology elevates politics to the status of religion, and by doing so displaces foundational religious tenets such as imago dei and love of neighbor. So I challenge my readers, conservative, liberal, or otherwise--re-examine your “ideologies.” Do they espouse a shared humanity and show a love of neighbor? Or do they reduce people to dehumanized camps? If the latter, I am afraid that your politics has become a false religion and embarrassing statements are the least of your worries.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday miscellaneous (9/14)

I had an odd schedule this week, so this will be shorter than usual.

First, health inspections of abortion clinics in Virginia found violations in every single one. The DNC abandoned the “rare” part of the “safe, legal, and rare” mantra at their convention this year. “Safe” seems to be disappearing as well.

Next up, a PHC graduate addresses how South Korea has balanced out its sex ratios.

Third, Al Mohler gives a very important reminder regarding the culture wars: Christian values don’t save people.

Fourth, yet another history professor who has used Wallbuilders materials in the past examines The Jefferson Lies.

Random question: why does coffee not taste as  good as it smells?

For those interested in political philosophy, Greg Forster gives a do-it-yourself MA guide. (I am pleased to say that I ran into almost all of these authors getting my undergraduate at PHC.)

Our economic problems are so bad that economists can’t even describe them anymore.

Which leads to this week’s video. Finally, an explanation of quantitative easing that is understandable.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Culture wars at the dinner table

A few weeks ago I linked to an article by Mark Mitchell on the connection between culture and limits. Since then, the issue of culture has been coming up frequently in conversations I’ve had and articles I’ve read.

Take, for example, Carl Trueman’s warnings about Christians taking culture too seriously:
One other thing it did remind me of, however, is how bland most Christian approaches (liberal and evangelical) are to pop culture.  To put it bluntly, we take it far too seriously, treating it as an authentic medium rather than what it generally is -- a prepackaged and mass marketed product with little or no real significance beyond the bottom line. Just look at how many reviews of the latest blockbuster movies appear on Christian cultural websites -- and few if any go beyond the plot or the production to the real backstory -- the marketing, the placement, the need to turn a profit.  We seem to assume 'artists' speak with 'authentic voices'  and give us a transparent insight into reality as they see it.  And that is an utterly absurd assumption.
Tim Chester (in a book my wife tells me is excellent, and which I plan to read once she puts it down) takes this idea of “cultural engagement” one step even further:
Much is said of engaging with culture--much that's right and helpful. But we must never let engaging culture eclipse engaging with people. People are infinitely variable and rarely susceptible to our sociological categories. If you want to understand a person's worldview, don't read a book.  Talk to them, hang out with them, eat with them.
In fact, in a follow-up article, Mitchell also makes this very point.
While hospitality will not solve every problem (neither will any policy, program, or party), a culture of hospitality will address a variety of issues—care for the infirm, the elderly, and the poor, for example—in creative ways that are simply overlooked or ignored by those who are focused primarily on public policy, court decisions, and protests. One solution looks primarily to the political arena for redress; the other, like the Good Samaritan, takes the wounded traveler and cares for him. Do you want to change the culture? Practice hospitality.
Culture is something that is artificial--it is people who make culture. How, then, can we expect to change the culture (or win a “culture war”) without engaging people?

One of the most moving scenes in War Horse is when the two soldiers--one British and one German--set aside the war to help the horse tangled in barbed wire. (Yes, I realize the irony of making a movie reference in this post, but bear with me.) In that moment, the enemy took on a face and became human. The war faded, and for them, at that moment, the culture shifted from one of hostility to one of humaneness. There was no attempt to change some amorphous “culture.” Instead, it was their common humanity--their empathy for a wounded animal--that caused the change.

We are surrounded by wounded people. And we are called, not to change their culture, but to be their neighbor. And that may just change the culture.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday miscellaneous (9/7)

Russia’s Vladimir Putin has let his preference for President Obama over challenger Mitt Romney be known.

The DNC convention was closed with a prayer by Cardinal Dolan, who prayed for … “those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected” and “a profound respect for religious liberty.” That must have raised a few eyebrows.

Jennifer Granholm, the Governor who left Michigan’s economy such a wreck (and therefore must be qualified to speak about jobs), gave an the convention. It keeps being compared to Howard Dean’s scream from several years ago.

Despite the enthusiasm of the DNC, there are still some weaknesses brewing underneath. Slate, a publication of the liberal Washington Post, published an article saying the attacks on Romney’s overseas bank accounts went to far:

You can fault Romney for laying off workers. You can fault him for exploiting tax havens. You can fault him for withholding his tax returns. But when you depict overseas investment per se as evidence of a candidate’s national disloyalty—when you quote the Bible at him, deny that he’s a patriot, and accuse him of selling out his homeland—you’ve crossed the line. You might win an election that way. But it won’t be worth what you’ve done to yourself and to this country.
And the New York Times also ran an article criticizing Obama’s competitiveness:
For someone dealing with the world’s weightiest matters, Mr. Obama spends surprising energy perfecting even less consequential pursuits. He has played golf 104 times since becoming president, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who monitors his outings, and he asks superior players for tips that have helped lower his scores. He decompresses with card games on Air Force One, but players who do not concentrate risk a reprimand (“You’re not playing, you’re just gambling,” he once told Arun Chaudhary, his former videographer).
His idea of birthday relaxation is competing in an Olympic-style athletic tournament with friends, keeping close score. The 2009 version ended with a bowling event. Guess who won, despite his history of embarrassingly low scores? The president, it turned out, had been practicing in the White House alley.
Forbes wrote that this article “might have killed President Obama’s re-election hopes.”

With this many political speeches in the past two weeks, everyone is a “fact checker.” But even CNN couldn’t quite accept the repeated 4.5 million jobs number from the DNC.

Vice President Biden, meanwhile, had his Secret Service van stolen on a campaign stop in Detroit.

Pastor Kevin DeYoung explores the topic of abortion in the Democratic and Republican party platforms since 1976. Historian John Fea also explores the same topic, noting that the Democratic pro-choice position became entrenched in the 1970s.

But enough about politics. Instead, imagine for a minute a giant knife fight between all the Presidents. Who do you think would come out on top?

Carl Trueman recently called the lack of historic orthodoxy among Christians the real scandal of the evangelical mind.

Harvard is currently investigating over 100 students for cheating. The class? Introduction to Congress. Seems fitting.

More people and organizations are distancing themselves from David Barton. Even the reconstructionist American Vision has criticized him. And a PHC history graduate wrote an excellent piece focusing on the danger Barton poses to conservative Christians.

Unfortunately, the agenda comes at the expense of individual souls. Students—especially the scholastically adept—are hurt very badly by the misinterpretations, misportrayals, mistruths. I barely survived coming across the knowledge, and there are many who do not. David Barton isn’t helping by circulating lies. Those of Christian-cultural influence must realize that we their children are not just bullets in the culture war. I’m not really much for the metaphor in the first place, but if we’re really serious about protecting marriage, life, and the Western heritage, we ought never to stretch the truth to get our way. Proceedings have already gone underway; it’s time to court martial David Barton.
And finally, speaking of revisionist history, have you ever considered the orc’s point of view?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bill Clinton, rhetorician

Last week Paul Ryan delivered the equivalent of a prosecutor’s opening statement against the Obama administration. Quite naturally, the Democrats complained about factual errors (several of which turned out to be errors on the part of the fact-checkers, not Ryan).

If Paul Ryan acted as the prosecutor, last night Bill Clinton played the role of the defense attorney. And he did it masterfully.

I didn’t start paying attention to politics until the end of the 1990s, so I don’t remember Clinton’s campaigns particularly well. But he proved last night what a masterful politician he is.

Clinton attempted to do what may said couldn’t be done--defend President Obama’s record. (Naturally, in the process he made his share of omissions and distortions--it is a political speech after all.) But he did something else that few politicians are able to do--he masterfully framed each question in Obama’s favor and painted his opponents as ignorant opportunists.

Yet he did not come across as mean spirited. Instead, several times he nearly had me laughing at the Republicans’ ignorance. He tacked Obama’s weaknesses--the economy, the debt, failure to lead--head on and attempted to turn them into Obama’s strengths. He painted Obama as the sympathetic character. And he had the audience in the palm of his hand.

I don’t remember Clinton’s original campaigns, but after seeing him in action it is no surprise that he won two terms. Rhetorically, his speech last night was very impressive.

I can disagree with his substance, but am a little in awe of his style. Bill Clinton nearly made me want to vote for Obama.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

200 Posts!

Looking for Overland's first post was in January of 2011. We have now published over 200 posts, and I thought it would be fun to share the most popular again. I am always surprised what gets read. One of my favorite posts of the year (The Glory of Heroes) got almost no page views. So maybe some time I'll do a subjective round up of the posts that I thought were best... 

But here is the top 10 Looking for Overland posts of all time:

Any movie with the line "We'll expect your declarations of war in the morning" is going to catch my attention. This is even more likely when it is said in a fetching Scottish accent. Ever since I saw the poster for Pixar’s Brave on the wall of the theater almost two years ago I have been waiting for this movie with great anticipation.
9.  4 Republican Candidates Stand Up for Parental Rights
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was the first candidate to raise the issue of parental rights saying, “What I am very concerned about is the issue of Parental Rights.” She then asked, “Should the federal government control these areas or should parents and localities control these areas?” Former Governor Mitt Romney following Bachmann’s lead was very clear, “I believe in parental rights and parental responsibility for our kids.”
8. Speed Dating!
Sometimes life throws strange stuff at us. Take the other day for example. I was innocently carrying on with life when all of the sudden I find myself in a speed dating rotation. By time I was done I had “speed dated” 106 women.
7. Ron Paul vs. Me
Isolationists could benefit from looking at history and remembering that selfishness is not a worthy standard for national policy. Doing what is right when it is in your best interest is not noteworthy, it is when someone does what it right when it costs them something that catches my attention.
This is why I disagree with Congressman Paul's foreign policy positions and was disappointed when I heard his speech.
6. The Choice is Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum: VOTE for Rick.
    The Choice is Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum: VOTE for Mitt.
 These two posts are self explanatory. 
5. David Barton v. the internet
Barton is right that Jefferson was complicated. But that complexity must be taken into account in his defense, rather than simply brushed away. Jefferson’s actions and ideals did not always act in harmony. Jefferson in particular had a significant blind spot in this area, which meant he thought he was being consistent when he wasn’t. (He does, however, appear to have taken in Barton.) ...But determining what Jefferson really thought about any given topic therefore involves much more than simply finding a quote or anecdote to support a claim. It involves a thorough examination of Jefferson’s life and works, as well as evidence of Jefferson's contrary thoughts or actions. I know Barton would agree with this—he said as much. Unfortunately, as with his hero, there is a significant disconnect between Barton’s rhetoric and his actions.
4. The Avengers: Review
The question that The Avengers asks is "Can we even have heroes anymore?" That is a valid question on many counts. First, it is fair to ask if our culture rejected the idea of heroism and tried to move past it. Second, when we do try to show heroism in the movies, often it is a conflicted hero who has his own share of problems and doesn't seem very heroic. Can we even have heroes anymore?
3. Adventures in Odyssey: The Labyrinth
"Don't get lost in the Labyrinth," were the last words John Avery Whittaker spoke to his son, Jason, at the close of "The Green Ring Conspiracy" (Spring 2011), before Jason went off on a quest across the globe to track down the villainous Mr. Grote, a villain in the Peter Lorre/Sidney Greenstreet mold. The title of their latest episode, "The Labyrinth," tells you all you need to know about the dark journey Jason is on now (well, dark for a kids' show).
2. War Horse Movie Review
Bravery is not just the cavalier charge of the noble horse soldiers. It is also an old man refusing to be proud. It is an energetic youth risking the machine gun fire to help save the lives of his friends. It is a wife standing by her husband in hard times. It is a little girl keeping her head when threatened by greedy soldiers. It is a grandfather staying above the foray, focusing on the task before him. Bravery is not one of these things, it is all of them.
1. Why This Dyslexic Reads Books
I am dyslexic, and I love books. In other words, I am a silversmith without a hand. I am a painter without use of arms. I am a deaf composer.

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