Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Poet Janette: I will wait for you

This made me laugh. It also made me utter a whispered "amen, sister" at my computer screen.

The Passion for Christ Movement

Monday, April 25, 2011

Surviving South Beach: Low-Carb Peanut Butter Cookies

Last week I started a diet. Well, kind of. Started probably isn't really the best word. I was already on the diet. I just started a much more strict version.

Several years ago my family discovered the South Beach Diet. I know -- it sounds like a cheesy fad diet. It really isn't. It was originally called The Doctor's Diet, but apparently they changed the name for marketing reasons. The premise is pretty simple -- eat healthy foods. You eat what you want of good carbs and good fats. You watch the scale, and you make wise decisions.

I was born with one of those metabolisms that causes me to put on pounds at the mere thought of food. So, I am usually really careful when it comes to my eating habits. But since graduating college last year, five sneaking pounds have crowded me out of my jeans. So, as a pre-summer blitz on my blubber, I started up Phase 1 of South Beach again. I also have started jogging (but that's an entry for another day).

This time around, my favorite treats have been the peanut butter cookies. They may not be as good as the real thing, but in my opinion, they are pretty darn tasty.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. creamy peanut butter (all-natural peanut butter works best)
1 1/3 c. Granulated Splenda (or 1 c. sugar if you don't want them to be low-carb)
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Mix ingredients. Roll into teaspoon-size balls and use a fork to criss-cross the tops. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

You can view the original recipe here.

Moving Beyond Stereotypes

Skimming through my Google Reader last week, I came across Mary Kassian’s “‘Dora the Doormat’ and other Scary Straw Women of Complementarity.” Kassian’s article focuses on some of the stereotypes (or straw women) with which complementarian women are sometimes confused.

A straw woman is the female version of a straw man. A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position, knocks that position down, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted. It’s a common, but faulty way to argue against an idea...

Visit Marry Well to read more

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Lenten Fade to Light

Photo by César Rincón via Flickr

It's the last day of Lent -- the season for remembering all that is wrong. Tomorrow, we turn our eyes to all that is right.

This evening, I finished the second part of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. I thought one passage in particular would be a fitting entry to my final Lenten blog.

Then they had them to another place, called Mount-Innocent. And there they saw a man clothed all in White; and two men, Prejudice, and Ill-will, continually casting Dirt upon him. Now behold the Dirt, whatsoever they cast at him, would in little time fall off again, and his garment would look as clear as if no Dirt had been cast thereat.
Then said the Pilgrims what means this? The Shepherds answered, This man is named Godly-man, and this Garment is to shew the Innocency of his Life. Now those that throw Dirt at him, are such as hate his Well-doing, but as you see the Dirt will not stick upon his Clothes, so it shall be with him that liveth truly Innocently in the World. Whoever they be that would make such men dirty, they labor all in vain; for God, by that a little time is spent, will cause that their Innocence shall break forth as the Light, and their Righteousness as the Noon day. 

Though we were clothed in scarlet, we now wear white. Though we were guilty, we have been judged as innocent. 

Though we once lived in darkness, the Light has come. And where shadow once reigned, it is now as bright as the Noon day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

From "The Passion"

Today is the Friday we call good -- the day we remember when God the Son died in our place.

What can I say of his passion? What words can convey all that the cross meant and means forever?

Frederick M. Lehman's "The Love of God" comes to mind:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:45-54 ESV) 

What words can I say? There are none equal to the act. But what I have, I will give.

Thank you. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday: Matt Maher on The Last Supper

Jacopo Bassano's "Last Supper" (1542)

Today is Maundy Thursday, the day the Church traditionally remembers Christ's Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist.

And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve ... Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” (Matthew 26:19-20, 26-29)

One of my favorite communion songs is Matt Maher's "Remembrance." A few months ago, I came across a fan video using his song on Vimeo. When I returned to look for it today, I came across a video of Maher speaking about the Last Supper. I decided to include it, because I like Maher's emphasis on the importance of remembering.

Here is the video I meant to find. I love the mix of contemporary and Renaissance imagery. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

John Bunyan on Women

Christiana and Mercy at the Slough of Despond

There are only a few more days of reading left before I finish the second part of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. During today's reading, I stumbled across this lovely little tribute to women. Who ever said that Christianity was a misogynistic religion?

Gaius also proceeded, and said, I will now speak on the behalf of Women, to take away their Reproach. For as Death and the Curse came into the World by a Woman, so also did Life and Health; God sent forth his Son, made of a Woman. Yea, to shew how much those that came after did abhor the Act of their Mother, this Sex, in the old Testament, coveted Children, if happily this or that Woman might be the Mother of the Saviour of the World. I will say again, that when the Saviour was come, Women rejoyced in him, before either Man or Angel. I read not that ever any man did give unto Christ so much as one Groat, but the Women followed him, and ministered to him of their Substance. 'Twas a Woman that washed his Feet with Tears, and a Woman that anointed his Body to the Burial. They were Women that anointed his Body to the Burial. They were Women that wept when he was going to the Cross; And Women that followed him from the Cross, and that sat by his Sepulcher when he was buried. They were Women that was first with him at his Resurrection morn, and Women that brought Tidings first to his Disciples that he was risen from the Dead. Women therefore are highly favoured, and shew by these things that they are sharers with us in the Grace of Life.

First Church of Surf City: Two Girls for Every Boy

Summertime is on the way, and I’m looking forward to hours of sun, sand and beach tunes like Jan & Dean’s 1963 Billboard chart-topper “Surf City.”

You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one
You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun, now
Two girls for every boy

Almost 50 years later, Jan and Dean could have skipped the beach and headed for church, where the odds are just as much in men’s favor. According to a 2006 report titled “The State of Unmarried America,” 20 percent of single men attend church on a regular basis, compared to 38 percent of single women...

Visit Marry Well to read more

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From Greatest Generation to iGeneration

Photo from The Greatest Generation
Gordon Larsen (R) at Guadalcanal, 1942
I first read about Gordon Larsen in a blog post a couple weeks ago. Tom Brokaw wrote about him in The Greatest Generation:
Gordon Larsen (was) a popular member of the community. He was a stocky, cheerful young man who worked on a crew that kept the electrical, heating, and plumbing systems going in the town. He had such a lively sense of humor that it was almost worth it to have your furnace break down. Gordon always kept up a lively chatter while he worked on it.
 So it was surprising that the morning after Halloween he came into the post office, where my mother worked, and complained about the rowdiness of the high school teenagers the night before. My mother, trying to play to his good humor, said, “Oh, Gordon, what were you doing when you were seventeen?”
He looked at her for a moment and said, “I was landing on Guadalcanal.” Then he turned and left the post office.
It was a moment that made a deep impression on Mother. She shared it with me when she came home that evening, and we have talked about it often. It was so representative of how quickly times had changed for young people. 

I was reminded of his story last Sunday, as I sat in church listening to the sermon.  The topic was the doxology of the Lord's prayer, and the teacher, Dr. Eric Bolger, was comparing our contemporary culture to what it was 60 years ago.

What we have instead of one leader is a culture in which we live -- and I'm talking about western culture in particular -- that constantly says that it's about our individual happiness and success and comfort. And so, rather than having one person saying, "Follow me," and we're saying, "No, I'm going to follow Jesus," what we have is, we're bombarded by a message that we are the most important person in the universe -- each of us individually. And I think the interesting thing about this is that it doesn't say so-and-so is the most important person, it says "Each of you individually is," and, "You can all get along even though you all think you are the most important person." As we know, that doesn't work.

And that's one of the fallacies that uncovers the lie of the culture in which we live. Again, the point here -- I don't think we struggle with Caesar; we struggle with self. But not self just because all people are selfish but because we live in a culture that says "Exalt yourself. Satisfy yourself. Your happiness is the most important thing in your life, so do whatever it takes to secure your own happiness." This is what we have to fight against, and this is the choice: "Will I listen to this culture and this kingdom -- this iCulture?"

And by the way I like iPads and iPods and all the iThings. I have some of them. iTunes is good. So I'm not criticizing Apple Company here, but I think it is symptomatic of the culture around us.

Imagine calling this generation -- and I love the young generation -- but anybody in this generation the Greatest Generation.

You know, it wasn't that long ago that we had World War II and what has been call the Greatest Generation. And if you watch movies or news footage from that you see this incredible willingness for many individuals to sacrifice their own comfort on behalf of a greater cause, which was called freedom and removing people from oppression. So people gave up things. They gave up freedom in order to secure freedom for other people.

It's hard to imagine today, in our country, people doing the same thing. Now, there are some people. But it almost goes against our grain. It's politically not correct for me to sacrifice for a greater cause -- unless that cause is politically correct -- but for me to die for somebody or for other people somewhere else today is almost not in the vocabulary of the culture. And it's only been 60 or 70 years and that transition has happened. And that is evidence, I think, of this iKingdom or iCulture that we have to say "No" to. And to say "Yes" to Jesus is to say "Yes" again to sacrifice and to denial of self. And we need to do that together because thats again part of our problem is we think its all about doing it for ourselves.

I wonder how history will remember the iCulture? I wonder what the teachers and professors will say about us in 60 or 70 years? Will they look to us as examples of self-sacrifice or self-indulgence?

It's for us to decide.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Remembering the Path of Palms

Photo by Tree-species via Flickr

They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” ~ Matthew 21:7-9 
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” ~ John 12:13

Nearly 2000 years after Jesus's triumphal entry, His followers still remember His ride into Jerusalem. Yesterday was Palm Sunday, and along with bulletins, my church greeters passed out palm fronds. Gathered in the sanctuary, we sang again the "Hosanna" (which is Aramaic for "save us") and remembered our Lord who saved us.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Of Green and Dogwood

I got to take a drive this morning.

Though the excursion wasn't intended to be a pleasure trip, the drive along the outskirts of town was absolutely breathtaking. I hadn't been out of town much for the last couple weeks, so I hadn't seen the hills since they started to turn green or the dogwood in full bloom.

I wish I had had a camera. But I didn't. This picture my sister recently took of some dogwood will have to suffice.

Photo by Southern Grace Photography

The flowers appear on the earth,
     the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the ... dove
     is heard in our land.
(Song of Solomon 2:12 ESV)

I love springtime in the Ozarks. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mumford & Sons: Roll Away Your Stone

I discovered this song today, and thought it was an appropriate song for Lent. Thanks be to Him who rolled the stone away for all of us.

Roll Away Your Stone

Roll away your stone I will roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don't leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside

You told me that I wouldn't find a home
Beneath the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
Yet it dominates the things I see

It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say 'That's exactly how this grace thing works'
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
And yet it dominates the things I see
Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
And yet it dominates the things I see

Stars hide your fires
For these here are my desires
And I won't give them up to you this time around
And so I will be found
With my stake stuck in the ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

And you, you've gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine

By: Mumford & Sons

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Are we behaving as liars?

What does it mean it mean for the Church to be the Body of Christ? Dietrich Bonhoeffer answers this thought-provoking question in chapter, titled "The Visible Community," in his The Cost of Discipleship.

It is their baptism into the Body of Christ which assures all Christians of their full share in the life of Christ and the Church. It is wrong, and contrary to the New Testament, to limit the gift of baptism to participation in the sermon and the Lord's Supper, i.e. to participation in the means of grace, or to the right to hold office or perform in ministry in the Church. On the contrary, baptism confers the privilege of participation in all the activities of the Body of Christ in every department of life. To allow a baptized brother to take part in the worship of the Church, but to refuse to have anything to do with him in everyday life, is to subject him to abuse and contempt. If we grant the baptized brother the right to the gifts of salvation, but refuse him the gifts necessary to earthly life or knowingly leave him in material need and distress, we are holding up the gifts of salvation to ridicule and behaving as liars. If the Holy Ghost has spoken and we listen instead to the call of blood and nature, or to our personal sympathies or antipathies, we are profaning the sacrament. when a man is baptized into the Body of Christ not only is his personal status as regards salvation changed, but also his relationship with daily life. (256)

In the U.S. Church, are we ministering to whole persons as Jesus did, or are we "behaving as liars?"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Women Lose, Part 4

I began this series as a response to the government's disagreement about whether or not to fund Planned Parenthood. 

We are a lost people. We are sheep without a shepherd. As in the days of the Judges, we have no King, and everyone does what is right in his own eyes.

Still, we are nation of people -- men and women created in the image of God. Though we don't know our Maker, we are still His creatures. Deep down, many of us still dream about the desires He placed in our hearts. 

Rebecca Jones is an author, homemaker, and writing instructor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California. In April, 2000, she gave an address at Bryn Mawr College titled "Does Christianity Squash Women?" In her talk, Jones spoke about what women want.

In my own experience with women in the thirty years since I graduated from college, I have found that most of them-whether Christian or atheist, single or married, aged twenty or seventy-long for the same things.
  • In their relationships with men, they want faithful fathers, brothers, husbands and sons who love and respect them, rather than mocking, ignoring, or hurting them. They want fun, but meaningful sexual relationships.
  • In their relationships with women, they want honesty, and true sisterhood, as well as older women who can mentor them.
  • They want the satisfaction of bearing and rearing children well.
  • They want a place to call home-not simply an apartment, but an affectionate, safe "sit by the fire" home where they can be themselves without fear and where others can come to receive something from them.
  • They want a sense of significance, of doing something that really counts in the world. Something only they can offer.
Because some of these desires seem mutually exclusive, women have given up their hopes in one realm in order to explore a path of satisfaction in another. Thinking that freedom from authority structures might give them a sense of individual identity, they have advocated autonomy. ... Thinking that men needed to learn some things about treating women with respect, they have tried to power them into that behavior. Thinking that they could assert their worth and individuality by affirming their control over their own bodies, they have chosen to claim a right to sexual satisfaction without constraints and to abortion without guilt. Thinking that the best way to bear and rear children is to have fewer children later in life, they have placed career before children, both chronologically and sometimes in terms of value. Thinking that freedom must behead the king, they have stormed the palace of the ultimate Patriarch, the Christian God.

Our country is full of lost and hurting women. According to Jones, these women want good things -- things that God created them to desire. But like the sheep that had gone astray, they have taken the wrong road home. And the result hasn't been heartbreaking.

According to Crittenden, women today are more likely to be divorced or never married, more likely to bear children out of wedlock, more likely to be junkies or drunks or to die in poverty. They are more likely to shoulder the lion's share of the housework, even if they work outside the home. Her thought-provoking way of stating the problem is to say that thirty years ago too many women were not treated as humans, while today, too many humans are not treated as women. (Jones)

As the Church, the representative of Christ on earth, it is our job to stand against the tide of culture and start treating women as women. It's our job to display God's design for gender complementarity and equality. It's our job to speak plainly about healthy sexuality and honor marriage. It's our job to celebrate the family and the role of wife and mother.

It's time that we started applauding women for the work they do -- be it inside or outside the home.

Until Christ returns, there will always be suffering. People will always make mistakes. But what if we helped create a culture where Planned Parenthood was obsolete? What if we came alongside unwed mothers with compassion and understanding? What if we embraced their children and welcomed them, not with judgment, but with celebration?

What if we really loved the women of our world?

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17 ESV)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Women Lose, Part 3

Photo by La FruU via Flickr

Women, in our culture, are losing. Terribly. And a large part is due to the feminist movement.

In her Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, author Carolyn McCulley discusses third-wave feminism.

So if you are wondering why young girls wear "porn star" T-shirts, why the paparazzi offer twenty-four-hour coverage of the latest sex scandals of the "train-wreck" stars, why a local gym offers "strip aerobics"... you are experiencing the effects, in large part, of third-wave feminism. "Sex-positive" or "porn-positive" theories are a large part of third-wave feminism. Third wave feminists did an about-face, dismantling the opposition to pornography and sex work of the second wave by claiming participants in pornography and sex work can be "empowered." Third-wave feminists have also embraced a fluid concept of gender and rejected any universal definition of femininity." (165)

Indeed, the raunch-culture of third-wave feminism is only possible in a world where women have been stripped of historic femininity.

From the time the first woman walked the earth, humanity has recognized an intrinsic connection between femininity and the ability to nurture life. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the first woman was given the Hebrew name ḥawwâ (translated Eve) -- which literally means life -- because "she was the mother of all the living" (Genesis 3:20 ESV). In Pagan traditions, the feminine has long been connected with the life and fertility of the earth itself.

Because of this deep connection, throughout history infertility has been considered a tragedy. In the Biblical narrative, women such as Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were emotionally afflicted by their infertility until God, through His mercy, opened their wombs.

While it is a terrible mistake to identify a woman's value with her ability to bear children (Rachel and Hannah were the favored wives of their husbands, though they were barren), I think we can learn something from our ancestors attitude toward femininity. They recognized that women were designed to nurture life, that in this way, femininity is distinct from masculinity. For this reason, women almost universally have functioned as the nurturers in society, while it has always been the men who risked themselves in war to protect the children and women -- the life, if you will -- of the society.

The whole world turned upside-down in the twentieth century. Femininity was redefined -- not by men, but by women whose latent misogyny drove them to hate that which made them separate from the masculine.

In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex. Writing on Beauvoir's work, McCulley stated that it "is said to be the seminal work of modern feminism ... Beauvoir argued that women were 'imprisoned' by the roles of wife, mother, and sweetheart; therefore, she maintained that 'all forms of socialism, wresting woman away from the family, favor her liberation.'"

Women were "liberated" en masse -- liberated from all that was distinctively feminine.

They were liberated from the home -- in 1950, 33.9 percent of women participated in the civilian labor force. By 2008, this number had risen to 59.5 percent.

They were liberated from the role of wife -- in 1950, 2.4 percent of women had been divorced. In 2000, 10.7 percent had been divorced. As of 2009, 44 percent of adult women in the U.S. were unmarried.

They were liberated from the role of mother -- in 1950, the pill burst onto the scene. According to one source, 62 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age are using contraceptives.

Indeed, feminists have succeeded in liberating women from femininity itself. And in doing so, feminists have created a culture where women feel pressured to objectify and debase themselves in search of what is missing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Women Lose, Part 2

I, for one, am tired of living in a culture that devalues women.

Oh, the culture values what we bring to academia, our intellect and skill. It values what we contribute to the workforce, our ability to multi-task and communicate. It values what we bring to politics, our strength and presence.  It values what we bring to the arts, our talent and sex appeal.

But for those with eyes to see it, the so-called "feminist" movement that began as an effort to protect women from masculine oppression has succeeded in bringing up a generation of women who are objectified and used perhaps more than any other. 

Today, it seems women are valued only if they act like men -- like lost and misguided men at that.

One of the most compelling summaries of the failure of the feminist movement was given (albeit unintentionally) by Professor Nancy Bauer in her (rather graphic) 2010 New York Times opinion piece, "Lady Power."

If there’s anything that feminism has bequeathed to young women of means, it’s that power is their birthright.  Visit an American college campus on a Monday morning and you’ll find any number of amazingly ambitious and talented young women wielding their brain power, determined not to let anything — including a relationship with some needy, dependent man — get in their way.  Come back on a party night, and you’ll find many of these same girls (they stopped calling themselves “women” years ago) wielding their sexual power, dressed as provocatively as they dare, matching the guys drink for drink — and then hook-up for hook-up.
Lady Gaga idealizes this way of being in the world.  But real young women, who, as has been well documented, are pressured to make themselves into boy toys at younger and younger ages, feel torn.  They tell themselves a Gaga-esque story about what they’re doing...But the morning after, students routinely tell me, they are vulnerable to what I’ve come to call the “hook-up hangover.”  They’ll see the guy in the quad and cringe.  Or they’ll find themselves wishing in vain for more — if not for a prince (or a vampire, maybe) to sweep them off their feet, at least for the guy actually to have programmed their number into his cell phone the night before...
What’s going on here?  Women of my generation...have been scratching our heads.  When we hear our daughters tell us that in between taking A.P. Statistics and fronting your own band you may be expected to perform...sexual feats, we can’t believe it...They (are not) living in a world in which their acts of self-expression or self-empowerment are distinguishable, even in theory, from acts of self-objectification.

The lie is so obvious -- "empower yourself by becoming an object." Yet, this is the alluring fruit for the modern-day Eve.

Women are losing -- horribly.

At the end of her column, Bauer asked a pertinent question.

It remains to be seen whether philosophers will be able to pick up the gauntlet that’s still lying on the ground more than half a century after Beauvoir tossed it down: whether we can sketch a vision of a just world seductive enough to compete with the allures of the present one.

It's time we started living the culture our Philosopher established, the just world where women are truly valued for who they are.

Being Deborah in a Jezebel Generation

You can learn how to do almost anything on eHow.

You can discover how to repair a faucet, how to be buried with military honors, or my personal favorite, “How to Date a Passive Man:”

1. Gather a thorough knowledge of the passive male’s mind-set.
2. Be the decision maker.
3. Avoid irritation.
4. Practice having patience.
5. Let him know that he is appreciated for the things he does for you.
Tip: While you may become frustrated while tending to his passive nature, try not to treat him like a child

Thankfully, we have a better resource than eHow...

Visit Marry Well to read more

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Women Lose, Part 1

Last night our government almost shutdown over a disagreement about whether or not to continue funding Planned Parenthood. 

I'm no political expert, but when our nation is plunging further and further into debt, it makes sense to cut unnecessary costs.

Planned Parenthood's stated purpose is to promote "a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning." 

To assist in that goal, the government gave $363 million to the organization in 2009. Is this necessary? I think not.

For thousands of years women have been making "informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning" -- without Planned Parenthood's interference. How? With true "commonsense" -- an idea Planned Parenthood apparently doesn't fully grasp. 

The commonsense approach to family planning is simple, and most women fully understand it by the time they reach puberty. It goes something like this: "Abstain from sexual activity and remove all risk of sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy."

I am a firm believer in a woman's inalienable "right to choose" whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Women have always had this right, long before Roe v. Wade made a mockery of the term and idea. 

I think it's time American women started exercising their freedom to choose.

I think it's time our country started respecting women enough to allow them to take responsibility for their choices.

And, I think it's time the Church started doing more to offer hope and help when people choose wrongly.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Darius Rucker: This

I saw this video for the first time last Sunday night. It's incredibly true. Thank you God for all the things that go "wrong."

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Faith for Roller Coasters

Photo from the Silver Dollar City Web site
"Wildfire" -- a roller coaster at our local theme park 

I don't do heights.

I don't like driving too fast.

I am rather afraid when it comes to airplanes.

But I absolutely love roller coasters. 

I've sometimes wondered about the cause of my incongruous taste in entertainment. Maybe it was conditioning over time -- I've been riding roller coasters since I was a tiny kid. Maybe it was peer pressure -- I have family members who love the things.

But really, none of that helped me overcome my fear of heights (I don't know how many times my dad had to rescue me out of a tree or from the top of a slide). And though I flew as a kid and many family members do it regularly, the idea gives me the shivers today.

In reality, I think it comes down to faith. When I get on a roller coaster, no matter how high it climbs, I have faith that I won't fall. No matter how fast it goes, I have faith that my safety harness will keep me in.

How come I don't have as much faith when it comes to life in general?

I'm a worrier. I know better. I believe God is sovereign. I believe He is all-knowing and all-powerful. I believe He is working everything out for His good in my life.

But I still worry -- a lot -- about things I really shouldn't. On some level, I lack the faith that I should have.

God is so much safer than a roller coaster. Those who trust in Him have never been let down. No freak accidents. No fatalities.

When challenges come, I should anticipate them with giddy delight. When the world seems to fall out from under me, I should put up my arms and scream with laughter, knowing that I'll never hit the ground. When I feel caught in a vortex of stasis, I should enjoy getting a little dizzy, knowing that at any moment life is going to shoot off in an entirely new direction.

If I had faith, I would enjoy the ride.

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

G.K. Chesterton on Birth Control

I saw a quote this morning by G.K. Chesterton that I liked very much. It was about feminism, and I wondered about it's context. With the help of Google Books, I found that it came from a piece of writing titled "Social Reform versus Birth Control," which was written in 1927 as two articles for Lansbury's Labour Weekly and published later that year as a pamphlet.

I have reprinted a portion of it here.
The real history of the world is full of the queerest cases of notions that have turned clean head-over-heels and completely contradicted themselves. The last example is an extraordinary notion that what is called Birth Control is a social reform that goes along with other social reforms favoured by progressive people.

It is rather like saying that cutting off King Charles' head was one of the most elegant of the Cavalier fashions in hair-dressing. It is like saying that decapitation is an advance on dentistry. It may or may not be right to cut off the King's head; it may or may not be right to cut off your own head when you have the toothache. But anybody ought to be able to see that if we once simplify things by head cutting we can do without hair-cutting; that it will be needless to practise dentistry on the dead or philanthropy on the unborn--or the unbegotten. So it is not a provision for our descendants to say that the destruction of our descendants will render it unnecessary to provide them with anything...

If you can make the wage larger, there is no need to make the family smaller. If you can make the family small, there is no need to make the wage larger. Anyone may judge which the ruling capitalist will probably prefer to do. But if he does one, he need not do the other.

There is of course a great deal more to be said. I have dealt with only one feature of Birth Control--its exceedingly unpleasant origin. I said it was purely capitalist and reactionary; I venture to say I have proved it was entirely capitalist and reactionary. But there are many other aspects of this evil thing. It is unclean in the light of the instincts; it is unnatural in relation to the affections; it is part of a general attempt to run the populace on a routine of quack medicine and smelly science; it is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands; it is ignorant of the very existence of real households where prudence comes by free-will and agreement...

The very name of "Birth Control" is a piece of pure humbug. It is one of those blatant euphemisms used in the headlines of the Trust Press. It is like "Tariff Reform." It is like "Free Labour." It is meant to mean nothing, that it may mean anything, and especially some thing totally different from what it says. Everybody believes in birth control, and nearly everybody has exercised some control over the conditions of birth. People do not get married as somnambulists or have children in their sleep. But throughout numberless ages and nations, the normal and real birth control is called self control. If anybody says it cannot is possibly work, I say it does. In many classes, in many countries where these quack nostrums are unknown, populations of free men have remained within reasonable limits by sound traditions of thrift and responsibility. In so far as there is a local evil of excess, it comes with all other evils from the squalor and despair of our decaying industrialism. But the thing the capitalist newspapers call birth control is not control at all. It is the idea that people should be, in one respect, completely and utterly uncontrolled, so long as they can evade everything in the function that is positive and creative, and intelligent and worthy of a free man. It is a name given to a succession of different expedients, (the one that was used last is always described as having been dreadfully dangerous) by which it is possible to filch the pleasure belonging to a natural process while violently and unnaturally thwarting the process itself...

The fact is, I think, that I am in revolt against the conditions of industrial capitalism and the advocates of Birth Control are in revolt against the conditions of human life. What their spokesmen can possibly mean by saying that I wage a "class war against mothers" must remain a matter of speculation. If they mean that I do the unpardonable wrong to mothers of thinking they will wish to continue to be mothers, even in a society of greater economic justice and civic equality, then I think they are perfectly right. I doubt whether mothers could escape from motherhood into Socialism. But the advocates of Birth Control seem to want some of them to escape from it into capitalism. They seem to express a sympathy with those who prefer "the right to earn outside the home" or (in other words) the right to be a wage-slave and work under the orders of a total stranger because he happens to be a richer man. By what conceivable contortions of twisted thought this ever came to be considered a freer condition than that of companionship with the man she has herself freely accepted, I never could for the life of me make out. The only sense I can make of it is that the proletarian work, though obviously more senile and subordinate than the parental, is so far safer and more irresponsible because it is not parental. I can easily believe that there are some people who do prefer working in a factory to working in a family; for there are always some people who prefer slavery to freedom, and who especially prefer being governed to governing someone else. But I think their quarrel with motherhood is not like mine, a quarrel with inhuman conditions, but simply a quarrel with life. Given an attempt to escape from the nature of things, and I can well believe that it might lead at last to something like "the nursery school for our children staffed by other mothers and single women of expert training."

I will add nothing to that ghastly picture, beyond speculating pleasantly about the world in which women cannot manage their own children but can manage each other's. But I think it indicates an abyss between natural and unnatural arrangements which would have to be bridged before we approached what is supposed to be the subject of discussion.
Times have changed since 1927. According to one source, 62 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age are using contraceptives, and 99 percent of women who have been sexually active have used at least one contraceptive method. Today, 71 percent of mothers with children under 18 work outside the home. Childcare is a $40 billion dollar industry in the U.S. and more than half of three- to five-year-olds receive care from professional childcare facilities. 

It seems Chesterton's prophesy has come true.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tenth Avenue North: You Are More

Tenth Avenue North's "You Are More" has been the Billboard No. 1 for Christian songs since the first week of Lent. I think it's beautifully appropriate for the season.

You Are More

There's a girl in the corner with tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered and the shame she can't hide
She says, "How did I get here? I'm not who I once was,
and I'm crippled by the fear that I've fallen too far to love."

But don't you know who you are
What has been done for you
Don't you know who you are

You are more than the choices that you've made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You've been remade

Well she tries to believe it that she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling that it’s not true tonight
She knows all the answers and she's rehearsed all the lines
So she'll try to do better but then she's too weak to try

‘Cause this is not about what you've done
But what's been done for you
This is not about where you've been
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel but He felt to forgive you
And what He felt to make you new
By Mike Donehey and Jason Ingram
© 2010 Sony/ATV Timber Publishing / West Main Music / Formerly Music / Windsor Hill Music (SESAC)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Christianity: It isn't a 'do-it-yourself' faith

I saw then in my dream, that they went till they came into a certain country, whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy, if he came a stranger into it. And here Hopeful began to be very dull and heavy of sleep; wherefore he said unto Christian, I do now begin to grow so drowsy that I can scarcely hold up mine eyes, let us lie down here and take one nap.

CHRISTIAN. By no means, said the other, lest sleeping, we never awake more.

HOPEFUL. Why, my brother? Sleep is sweet to the labouring man; we may be refreshed if we take a nap.

CHRISTIAN. Do you not remember that one of the Shepherds bid us beware of the Enchanted Ground? He meant by that that we should beware of sleeping; "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thess. 5:6)
HOPEFUL. I acknowledge myself in a fault, and had I been here alone I had by sleeping run the danger of death. I see it is true that the wise man saith, Two are better than one. Hitherto hath thy company been my mercy, and thou shalt have a good reward for thy labour. (Eccl. 9:9) ~ John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress
I came across this little passage as I was reading Bunyan's masterpiece a little while ago. Though Christian begins his journey alone, leaving family and friends to find relief from his burden of sin, he is seldom by himself once he begins to walk along the way. While Christian and his companions often fall down together, they lean on each other as they struggle to get back to the path. Indeed, if it were not for his friends, it is doubtful that Christian would have reached the end of his journey.

As someone born and raised in a culture of individualism, I found Bunyan's words a refreshing reminder to do things God's way. Christianity isn't a "do-it-yourself" religion. As God Himself exists in a perfect triune community, so He has designed His people.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone...” (Genesis 2:18 ESV)
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two... (Mark 6:7 ESV)
Photo by Kirsty Andrews via Flickr

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Work and Human Limitations: Allergies

Photo by Southern Grace Photography
A tree in my neighbor's yard

Spring has arrived. So have my allergies.

I tend to be a production oriented person. I like a fun-filled weekend now and then, but by the end of vacations I'm always more than ready to get back work. I love being able to go to bed at night and reflect with satisfaction on what I have accomplished that day. I love making a difference in the world, whether that be through spending time with people or spring-cleaning the house.

I don't like to be slowed down.

So this year, when allergies hit, I loaded up on Claritin and determined to muddle through. I wasn't going to let a little cough or sore throat get in my way.

Then, on top of the allergies, I caught a cold. Or the allergies became a cold. Or they became a sinus infection. I don't know.

Still, I tried not to relent. I popped some Tylenol and Sudafed, and tried to keep going as best I could. I gave up on my exercise routine and focused on easy projects. When I was tired, I crawled into bed with my laptop, determined to keep up on my writing.

I improved. Hope was in sight. I still had a nagging cough and runny nose, but those are small obstacles. It was so nice to be back on my feet again. I was looking forward to getting outside this weekend for a walk in the gorgeous springtime weather.

Then, last night, my cold or allergies or whatever it is went into my ear. More Sudafed. More Ibuprofen. More fluids.

Today I was bound and determined to keep going. I sat down with my laptop, planning to blog and work on another writing project. I read through my Google reader, looking for ideas. I checked a favorite website. I became quite inspired. I found several good ideas.

But the allergy medicine is getting to me, and I am too tired to think or write very well.

My Lenten commitment is to blog daily about something God is teaching me. So this is it for today -- I have my limitations.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
     those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
     the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
     and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
     for he gives to his beloved sleep.
(Psalm 127:1-2 ESV)
Unless the Lord composes the blog, the blogger blogs in vain. Maybe I'll go take a nap.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thanking God for Straight Paths

Photo by Southern Grace Photography
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
     and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
     and he will make straight your paths.
 (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
I've had to make some big decisions over the last year -- the kind of decisions I absolutely hate to make, the kind that have the potential of changing my life forever, the kind I might look back on someday with the nagging question What if?

As I stood at the crossroads, I tried to do as Proverbs says and "trust in the Lord." I prayerfully chose a path, and trusted He would make it straight. 

Over the last year, He has confirmed my choice in so many ways. During this last week especially, He has demonstrated His incredible faithfulness.

Today I am feeling very blessed and truly thankful.