Marching To The Beat Of A Different Reality

Monday, August 31, 2015

How The Planned Parenthood Videos Have Brought Life To My Son

Marshall's memory box

Anyone who's seen anything in the news lately, knows the horrible story of Planned Parenthood, not only aborting human fetuses in their clinics, but selling off their body parts to the highest bidder.

Apparently, this barbaric practice is done at any stage in fetal development to which they can gain access, however, many of the still photos I've seen splashed across the web involve as late as second trimester babies. This situation has me reliving the death of my son over and over through my social media news feeds.

David and I experienced our second pregnancy when I was 40. When I was five weeks pregnant, we underwent the standard 20-week ultrasound for 'high risk' pregnancies only to find that our son, Marshall, had died of complications due to a pinched umbilical cord as much as a week prior. Though the news was devastating, as I've written previously, I met Jesus during that experience. I may have lost a son, but I gained a relationship with my Father I'd not previously had, and consequently, though I've always missed Marshall, I've always been ultimately grateful for the experience.

Very recently, in the wake of the Planned Parenthood horrors, I read an article about a woman and her husband who lost their son at 19 weeks. The couple took pictures of their baby, Walter, and posted them on their Facebook page where they soon went viral. Because so few pictures of babies born this early are ever shared, baby Walter posthumously provided women who had lost babies in similar stages needed closure - an opportunity to grieve their personal losses. 
He also struck a cord with women considering abortion who, when confronted with such a clear picture of the humanity of an in-utero baby, re-thought their decision to complete such an irrevocable and inhuman act.
After birthing Marshall, the nurses advised me against seeing him, as his head had become malformed by hydrocephalus following his death. Frightened by the picture I might have kept in my head of our precious son, I chose to see and hold his body wrapped in a blanket with only his hands and feet showing.  It was amazing to see his sweet, fully formed little feet and hands certainly, but I've regretted looking at him fully every single day since. It was actually a balm to my soul to see the pictures of baby Walter. He was so perfect! So fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and I was grateful to finally have a picture in my head so close to that of what my son looked like after his birth.

Baby Walter
Though I remember being pro-choice for a bit in my very early years, even during my agnostic 30's, I couldn't conscience abortion. I never accepted the whole 'blob of cells' argument because none of the things I knew about cell development as a biologist indicated that to be the case. Even baby chickens start looking like chickens at about 10 days! I knew human development was no different.

Since becoming a practicing Christian, however, I can't explain my disappointment at the number of Christians I meet who will NOT speak out against abortion. This floors me. What are Christians to do but speak out on behalf of those whom God himself created?
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man (Colossians 4:5-6). 
Think here; what is "salt" in this case? It is that which 'preserves'. Is salt something you want to eat by itself? No. Why? Because it's not satisfying to the palate. In fact, it's not pleasant at all in a concentrated dose. Yes, we all need to be as graceful as possible in our speech, but we must say what NEEDS TO BE SAID in order to 'preserve' those ideals given to us in the Bible whether or not it 'tastes' good. 

Difficult subjects like abortion may not be 'palatable' discussions, but we can speak with grace while making the position of the Bible clear. Paul isn't telling us to keep quiet or agree with those whom we can't Biblically do so -- he's telling us to SPEAK OUT TRUTHFULLY, just not disrespectfully or unpleasantly. 

So often people are afraid to speak out for offending others, yet we have no such charge as Christians. Our charge is to speak out in love, yes, but often, when a person is living in sin and feels remorse on any level, even gentle, graceful communication can bring about offense. 
Our job can't be offense prevention, it must truth telling, whether or not offense occurs. 
When addressing someone who believes in 'choice', for example, you neither turn and walk away, nor do you verbally assault or denigrate them with your speech. You speak to them in love with all grace and humility, imparting gently the notion that the Commandment "Thou shall not kill" includes the smallest of us - those unable to be cared for outside the womb - those that must be protected from harm until capable of protecting themselves - like any infant. 

If the person to whom you are speaking takes offense, pray for that person to accept the truth and continue speaking in love, but do not abandon your position. Christians must take to heart Paul's command. 
No one can make anyone FEEL anything. 
Every individual person is responsible for their own reactions to stimulation - whatever that stimulation may be. We needn't take on the responsibility for the feelings of others so long as we have communicated in a Biblical manner. Be strong and of good courage (Joshua 1:9)! We have a commission to speak on behalf of the truth. 

If you'd like to get involved in the fight for the right to life of these, our tiniest citizens, check out these Oklahoma organizations (if you're in another state, just internet search the terms "anti-abortion efforts" and your state together to find):

Protect Life and Marriage OK Facebook
Protect Life and Marriage on the web

Oklahomans United for Life Facebook

In Kansas
Justice For All Facebook
Justice For All on the web

Thursday, August 27, 2015

In The Wake Of Recent Tragedy, Mental Health Reform Is A Must

Like many, I imagine, I've had a hard time reconciling the death of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, because the sadness strikes on so many levels

Though it seems incalculable to ruminate on them all, one I hope will come to the forefront as a result of this tragedy, is the unbelievable hardship it has become to seek help for those with mental instability - a situation to which I've had a bit of exposure on both sides of the fence.

Back in the early 1990's David and I owned a small house in a little incorporated town called the Village inside the Oklahoma City limits. Our home was in a neighborhood of small, 1940's bungalows, and we spent a great deal of time (pre-second round of children) renovating it and enjoying our work.

Our neighbor to the south was a single black woman named Charlene whom we saw little of when we first moved in. One night about 6 months or so into our home ownership, the dogs started barking and we began to hear the most awful crashing outside. I ran to the window and there was Charlene taking a baseball bat to the car parked in her driveway. David quickly called the police. In minutes, there was a patrol car there, lights flashing, and in very little time at all, the woman was being put into the police car with another man.

Curious as to the nature of this kind of incident right next door, David went out to speak with the policeman. Charlene, he told us, suffered from schizophrenia. She also had a very long 'rap' sheet. Charlene had medicine, but rarely took it because she liked to smoke crack and it interfered with her high. Her family refused to have anything to do with her anymore, after trying for years to get her to take her medications and getting her into treatment only to have her check herself out and end up back on the streets. They had tried to have her committed, but they could never manage it. Consequently, she would go off her meds, cause some kind of trouble, get hauled into jail for 24 hours on a charge of some kind, and go home in the morning.

This was eye-opening to me. Why in the world was there a schizophrenic living next door to me who couldn't be counted on to take her medicine? What if it was our car she took out next time - or our daughter who stayed home in the afternoon after school until we got home from work?

Over the next several years, Charlene threatened to kill us while brandishing a hammer, burn down the house with us inside, kill our dogs, etc. - all from the other side of a 3 foot high chain link fence in our back yard, or from our front porch, or our front yard. We became exceptionally friendly with the Village Police department, many of the officers whom we grew to know on a first name basis.

One day, after Charlene stood on the front porch screaming epithets at us because we wouldn't open the door and pounding on it like she was going to break it down, I asked the officer who showed up to remove her why she hadn't been committed. He told me it was very hard to commit anyone because the person had to be a clear and present danger to himself or others before that could happen.

I was honestly aghast at his answer. At what point was the 'clear and present danger' characterization made, we wondered? She had threatened to kill us while holding what could be used as a weapon. At what point did that become a concern for someone? After we'd been found dead in our backyard pulverized with a hammer?  We'd purchased our home. We took care of it and our yard. We were good citizens and good neighbors, yet it was often impossible for us to enjoy the fruits of our labor because of the actions of a mentally ill next door neighbor. Why did she somehow have more right to be living next door threatening my life than I had to lawfully enjoy mine?

This situation was a near continual frustration until one day, some people (her family?) showed up, carted away her things and took her with them. Fortunately, we never saw her again, but what happened to her? Was she simply removed to another place to start her cycle of threats and violence all over again? Did she finally hurt herself or someone else? We never knew.

Many years later, we internationally adopted a child who - unbeknownst to us - had severe emotional issues. Sadly, she frequently made life in our house impossible due to outbursts of anger and disobedient behaviors. She ran away from the house several times - and once threatened her life. For years I tried to find help for her but to no avail. If I found something, it was so expensive we would have had to mortgage our home to pay for it, as insurance barely scratched the surface of the expense. I will never be able to adequately enumerate the number and hours of calls I made only to hear, "We're so sorry, have you tried ______. We can't help you."

After three years of trying to assimilate her into our family, the upheavals she caused became too hard for our family to withstand. By God's grace alone we were fortunate to find a family willing to take guardianship of her. This situation lasted a year before this family was also unable to care for her. She was then sent to an aunt in another state. That arrangement lasted six months before she was allowed to come back to our home where the cycle started all over again.

Eventually, our daughter ran away from a subsequent and third guardian family after being kicked out of her high school for behavioral issues. She took a bus to Dallas where she was found by police in a homeless shelter. That night we drove to Dallas in the middle of the night to pick her up because Texas DHS would have either taken her back to the shelter or another facility across town where her stay would have been billed directly to us. How does that happen? If a parent dumped a kid at a shelter, DHS would have a field day, yet a state agency would just put a run-away out on the street? We couldn't afford to pay for her to stay indefinitely in Texas or we would have arranged for live-in treatment long ago. We were truly doing the best we absolutely could for our family on our budget. None of this ever made any sense to me and compounded the frustration we felt at the situation. Eventually, without assistance and with no way to care for the child in a way helpful both to her and our family, she was sent back to her homeland to be cared for by her brother. I would much rather have had her living with our family - happily, stably - but the 'system' made that impossible for us.

When I was growing up in the 1960's, there were homes for the mentally ill and those in need of therapy for emotional issues. Though there are a few such places today in Oklahoma (and in states across the nation), they are called, "residential treatment centers" and they are excruciatingly hard to gain access to. After Mark's death, I began to think about my past personal experiences with mental/emotional/behavioral issues and did a bit of basic research, the results of which I would never have guessed.

Though the history of psychiatry and psychology in America are long and interesting, today's mental health policies and procedures appear to be taken from changes that occurred within the practices during the 1960's when the methods of Freud (mainly psychoanalysis) began to be challenged as 'repressive and controlling'.

During the 1960's, Hungarian/American psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz (a libertarian) wrote a book called, "The Myth of Mental Illness." In the book, Dr. Szasz - who later became a professor at Syracuse University where he cast his theories - advocated against labeling individuals as mentally ill, arguing that there was, in fact, no such thing. Mental illness - including schizophrenia - was, essentially, a construct of physicians created to marginalize people out of society where they could then be used as guinea pigs for drug trials. Patients only really suffered, 'symptoms' because they refused to take responsibility for their own actions. Once a patient was able to exercise control over their irresponsibility, they would be cured.

The author of Dr. Szasz' website boiled his thoughts on mental illness down to 6 points:
  1. "The myth of mental illness". As far as Szasz is concerned, disease is defined as a physical lesion. Hence using the term 'mental illness' is a logical and semantic error. The reason the metaphor of mental illness is literalised by postulating it has a physical basis is so that it can serve as a justification for psychiatric interventions and institutions.
  2. Separation of psychiatry and the state. The state should not interfere with mental health practice, which ought to be an individual voluntary activity. Szasz was trained as a psychoanalyst and undertakes private work.
  3. Presumption of competence. Categorisation as a mental patient should not be understood as diminishing legal competence.
  4. Abolition of involuntary mental hospitalisation. Involuntary treatment is violence defined as beneficence. Detention should only take place under the criminal justice system.
  5. Abolition of the insanity defence. "Excusing a person of responsibility for an otherwise criminal act on the basis of inability to form conscious intent is an act of legal mercy masquerading as an act of medical science."
  6. "Americans are faced with the task of abolishing psychiatric slavery". As is apparent, Szasz is not afraid of polemical statements.
It is Dr. Szasz theories which are used predominantly throughout L. Ron Hubbard's creation, "Dianetics", the foundation of Scientology.

Not long after Dr. Szasz' theories were lauded, Dr. David Cooper's were as well. Cooper, who coined the term "Anti-Psychiatry" in his book, "Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry", was a Marxist who believed the concept of family to be 
"an ideological conditioning device that reinforces the power of the ruling class in an exploitative society". 
In 1967 he attempted to define 'anti-psychiatry' as 
"reversing the rules of the psychiatric game of labelling and then systematically destroying people by making them obedient robots." 
He believed that the roles of patient and doctor should be reversed and that a person should embrace and experience their own 'madness' rather than being treated or institutionalized.

Though there were many other players and events (such as the rise of the patient's rights movement) pushing the profound changes being made in psychiatry during the 1960's in America, Britain's 'anti-psychiatric' movement had begun a bit earlier in the 50's. 

In 1959, Britain passed the 1959 Mental Health Act in which involuntary treatment of the mentally ill was essentially abolished excepting in extreme cases, and institutional care was abandoned for care within the community. A practice called, "Care In The Community" rose up in response wherein, rather than institutionalizing those with mental health issues no one could be sure were actual or real, suffering people needed to be cared for in their own community where they would better assimilate a healthy lifestyle.

Looking to emulate Europe's response to the 'anti-psychiatry' movement, American President John F. Kennedy created the Community Mental Health Act in October of 1963. According to the National Council for Behavioral Health:
This law led to the establishment of comprehensive community mental health centers throughout the country. It helped people with mental illnesses who were “warehoused” in hospitals and institutions move back into their communities.
Along with this law, the development of more effective psychotropic medications and new approaches to psychotherapy made community-based care for people with mental illnesses a feasible solution. A growing body of evidence at that time demonstrated that mental illnesses could be treated more effectively and in a more cost-effective manner in community settings than in traditional psychiatric hospitals.
And there you have it. In the blink of an eye, the political machine was activated and public tax dollars went to the building of 'Community-Based Mental Health Centers' judged to be a better reaction to mental illness than any previous tactics because of the thoughts/ideas of a number of academics - not research from active psychiatric researchers (what little active research Cooper did, for example, failed miserably to prove his thesis) - and the creation of new drugs better able to help the mentally ill cope in society. Soon, Charlene's all across the United States were unleashed upon unsuspecting citizens in their 'community' with very little to keep them on track with their medications or their lives. 

In an article entitled, "When My Crazy Father Actually Lost His Mind", author Janeen Interlandi describes this situation well, and adds a quote, 
"But in the decades since, the sickest patients have begun turning up in jails and homeless shelters with a frequency that mirrors that of the late 1800s. “We’re protecting civil liberties at the expense of health and safety,” says Doris A. Fuller, the executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit group that lobbies for broader involuntary commitment standards. “Deinstitutionalization has gone way too far.”
The Treatment Advocacy Center provides information for legislators, lawyers and the lay community, lobbying for such issues as the addition of psychiatric beds and for removal of the incarcerated mentally ill to treatment centers. TAC also works hard to provide education of the current commitment laws in each state.  

Robert Davison, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Essex County in northern New Jersey (as cited in Interlandi's article) describes the circumstances of several individuals whom judges have refused to involuntarily commit due either to perceived civil rights violations or a lack of available treatment beds:
A man who was convinced that aliens were on the roof and that bugs were coming out of the walls and who would not sit on furniture but only lie on the floor was not committable. Neither was the man who refused medication and mutilated his own testicles. Nor the woman who wouldn’t eat because she believed the C.I.A. was trying to poison her.
Unfortunately, the changes to mental health treatment and commitment procedures have not only effected the mentally ill, but alcoholics and drug addicts as well. Without a commitment option available, families often have to wait so long before their loved one is able to seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, they injure others or themselves in the interim. 

In 2012, after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, the Washington Post published an article entitled "Seven Facts About America's Mental Health System" which delineated many of the concerns described herein, such as; 
  • costly treatment
  • tendency to treat with drugs rather than hospitalize
  • poor access to mental health care
  • lack of desire to accept treatment
Though mental health issues seemed to be gaining some inspection following this (and other) incidents of mass murder, today, as I finish this piece, yet another shooting has occurred - this time of a news reporter and her cameraman while on-air - by a man who appears to have been suffering from mental illness. 

Quite obviously, there needs to be less discussion and more actual reform of mental health care in America to uphold policies and procedures lying somewhere between the over-identifying, over-medicating psychiatric establishment and the treatment of the mentally ill as feral animals by the anti-psychiatric movement. 

It is beyond time for realist activists to engage on this issue, which, as with so many other American institutions has been overrun by ideologues. The mental health laws currently active in Oklahoma (substitute your own state if outside our borders) need to be researched and brought into the sunlight of the public square. It is absolute necessity to engage in the fight to make these laws protect the public as well as the mentally ill themselves - if for no other reason than this:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Selfie Generation And Proverbs 16:27

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I TRY to wake up around 5:30 am every morning. After that, I TRY to get in a workout (the ONE thing our X-Box 360 is actually good for in my opinion!), but during the summer months that's hard because I have to go out first thing to take care of the animals (about a 20-30 minute job) and work in the garden (a time-variant job that can last from minutes to hours) before the heat sets in. Recently, I had a morning where there was no way to squeeze in a work out because I not only needed to take care of animals and work in the garden, but begin to finish canning the 60 pounds of peaches and blackberries my neighbors and I picked the week before. On top of that, I still had to make bread and granola, start laundry and try to get the kids started on their studies before sitting down to pound out a (another!) blog on the ACT.

My early morning routine exposes me to the quiet of nature where I can contemplate on life and this particular day was no different. 

As I worked purposely toward finishing my tasks, it occurred to me in really stark relief that what I was doing was considered kind of faddish today. Growing a garden, having chickens/animals - working toward a more independent lifestyle - these are things a small (but growing) percentage of the population do, but that wasn't the way it was even 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, Americans worked. I don't mean the kind of effort resulting in a wage, I mean beyond that. 

For example, a lack of available fast and/or processed foods meant that city moms and wives spent hours at a time in the kitchen preparing food for their families and husbands, while rural moms often had to add care of the family livestock and garden to their list of 'to-do's' for the day. Laundry sometimes meant using a washing machine to clean clothes but clean, wet clothes had to be hung out on a line to dry - a prospect that took considerable time - and some women used roller washers into the 60's and 70's, a process that consumed so many hours, families had far fewer clothes because that meant fewer clothes to wash! 

Today, machines do most of our 'work' for us - no use spending 40 minutes at the sink washing dishes when it takes just a few to load a dishwasher that cleans every dish using only the elbow grease it takes to push a button, for example.

This fact brought to mind Proverbs 16:27 (TLB) which says, "Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece."

Are the words of this Proverb not exactly truth personified in America today? 

Americans have little to 'do' anymore; dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, fast/processed foods and WalMart satisfy even our smallest needs without us even having to lift a finger other than flipping a switch or putting something into a wheeled cart and then onto a moving belt. Good grief, we even have cars that can parallel park for us!

When there is little for humans to do but wallow in our own existence, we humans begin to think less about God. The less we think about God, the less important He becomes. The less important He becomes the more important we become. The more important we become, the less important others become. Soon, every day of life becomes little more than the study of our thoughts, our ways, our goals, our behaviors.
Once we stop emulating HIGHER love, we automatically begin to mirror SELF and exhibit SELF love. 
An end result of "self-love" mentality is the manifestation of OFFENSE - it can be no other. When tuned in to ourselves, we must automatically put ourselves first. Once we're first, everyone else comes second
In 'selfie' mode, we become the star we orbit. 
As humans, our only light is a reflection of the greater light of our Creator (John 8:12). Once we turn our focus inward, the light is lost and we implode.

Though humans needn't have to put their hands to manual labor to worship/recognize God, we must strive every day - because of the fast-food, Facebook/Twitter world we now live in - to recognize our tendency toward 'selfie' behavior and even call it out in each other when we see it. 
There is light on the other side of the black hole that is self, but it's The Light (John 14:6) - we have only to gravitate toward it to save ourselves from ourselves.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Where Does Your Child's World View Originate? Is It Public School?

Just so you know, I'm not the child who will criticize her own parents. Though, over the years I've seen many a disgruntled child lay waste to their parents over the way they were raised (their parents were mean, they didn't give them enough money, they didn't let them go enough places or provide for them the way they wanted), that won't be me.

Oh, I had a number of issues with my parents growing up, but I was a PAIN IN THE BACK SIDE of them both! I mean, I was truly an unruly kid by the time I hit middle school and I gave my folks fits and embarrassments. My perceptions of my upbringing will never match those of my parents - they can't. I didn't have the worldview as a child to understand their journey as adults. I only understood my own. Like most kids, it truly wasn't until I had my own children that I realized the inherent truth of all those, "You'll understand why I'm doing this when you have kids of your own" speeches.

Today, while I don't quarterback my parent's parenting, I did learn several lessons from their parenting style that I have used to fashion my own. One of those I want to share today.

I was born in 1962. Then, parents didn't sit down and have deep conversations with their kids over politics or religion. In fact, the phrase, "Children should be seen and not heard" was brought up - on a regular basis - during conversations I was meant to hear. This isn't horrifying, it's just the way things were. Truth be known, I think it healthier than the helicopter parenting of today where kids are granted rock star status in their own homes. Nevertheless, communication among parents and children back then basically consisted of a variation on the theme of,
Parent: "How was your day?"
Child:  "Fine."
Parent: "Ok."
Child:  "See you later."
Parent: "Ok."
This, it turns out, was a real problem for me - particularly in the area of religion and human relations. My parents never had the dreaded "sex" talk with me, so I picked up what I could through the grapevine and a series of encounters one might consider a form of "on the job training". Of course, this was not optimum and I am much, MUCH, more open with my children about dating, relationships and sex, than my parents ever would have thought to be. Our church youth leaders even provided a program (Created For Purity) outlining proper dating rituals for Christian young men and women that really helped spark needed conversation on the topic. I highly recommend it.

At any rate, the lack of religious discussion in my house was also a real issue. Yes, we went to church - every Sunday and sometimes Sunday night or Wednesday night, depending upon the church programming available where we were attending at the time. My family did not, however, do any kind of Bible study together, or pray much outside the box of "Thank you for the world so sweet...", Neither did we discuss the meaning or underpinnings of our Christian faith.

So, let's add this up:
  • I had 2 hours on Sunday morning at Sunday School and church, and an hour's program on Wednesday night. That's maybe four hours per week of time in church to develop my faith. 
  • I spent 30 hours a day - maybe - from 4 to 10pm at home with my folks.
  • In contrast, I spent 30 hours a week at school (120 hours a month, 10 months out of the year). had me almost as often as my family and much, much more often than my church. Excepting that three month break during the summer, I spent half or more of my time at school.

I attended public school all my life. The year I was born, the Bible was effectively removed from public schools through the court case Engel v. Vitale. Though schools weren't hostile to religion during my formative years, I wasn't going to get religious training there - that wasn't their purpose. I might learn about morals and ethics, but I wouldn't get the instruction necessary to defend my Christian faith.

Today, most public schools have openly adopted the concept of secular humanism (who cares about life, we're all only descendants of apes with no one to please but ourselves).

This is an important thought.

If I was raised in an era where everyone I knew (and my family) went to church regularly, public schools had no real sex education programs and secular humanism had not yet become their modus operandi, yet I STILL managed to move through various (and long) stages of atheism and agnosticism, how in the world could a child navigate today's public school system and still come out with a Christian worldview - especially if there isn't some kind of Biblical training going on in the home on a daily basis?

This is an important question.

If you are a Christian and your child goes to a public school where they spend at least as much time as they do in your own home, how do you know your child isn't succumbing to their version of faith - secular humanism?

If you are a practicing Christian with a Christian world view, this is a question you simply must answer. If you can't answer this question with clarity, here are some further questions to consider:
  • Do you talk to your children about your beliefs and values on a regular basis? 
  • Do your children understand the tenets of your faith and can they explain those to others?
  • Do you talk to your kids around the kitchen table, or in the car, or before bed, about what they believe and why?
  • Do you pray a rote/memorized prayer, or have you taught your children to use their own words to invoke the blessing of the Lord for their family, friends and the needy?
  • Do you have a list of issues and people for which your children and family pray consistently?
  • Do you stop what you are doing and ask your children to tell you specifically what has happened at school when they arrive home?
  • Do you look at their homework, books and papers to see what it is they are being taught in school?
It is important to consider your answers to this list of questions and attempt to develop a similar list of your own. It is absolute fact that if you don't make it your business to find out what is going on in your child's school, your child will rarely disclose it - not because they are attempting to be secretive or evasive - but because kids know what kids know. Kids don't have the worldview a parent does, or kids wouldn't have parents, they'd spring full grown from their heads (yes, an obscure reference to Zeus and Athena!). Parents MUST reinforce their belief system in their home with their children, or their children will develop their own without adult input. In fact, if children hear something 'wrong' (counter to your Christian world view), yet have never been told what is 'right' - anything they hear can be 'right'.

Several years ago, before I took my kids out of public school to school at home, I wrote a blog, "The Zombies Are Coming, The Zombies Are Coming!" Here is an excerpt from that blog where I forbade my daughter from completing and turning in a worksheet (ie; piece of propaganda) about global warming:
Me: "I forbid you to do that and turn it in! It's a lie. You're perpetuating a lie!"
Betty: "But MOOOOOOOOOM, You're the ONLY parent who ever gets upset at this kind of thing! You're embarrassing me!"
Me: "It's about more than being embarrassed child, it's about doing something that promotes "junk science" - science that isn't true and hasn't been proven!"
Betty: "But I don't care! I don't want to get a bad grade for NOT doing it and my teacher will be mad!"
As adults, we often forget to even consider how effected by peer pressure and the desire to please their teachers our kids are. In fact, I've heard a number of Christian parents tell me they believe it's their calling to leave their children in public school to evangelize those around them. This is a problematic thought process in several ways:
  • Peer pressure is excessive today and bullying is rampant in public schools. Kids today are often bullied for their faith - among other issues.
  • Social media can also provide an environment unfriendly to the Christian worldview.
  • During the difficult middle and early high school years, if kids aren't rock solid in their Christian worldview, the views of their non-Christian teachers/friends can supplant them with ease you might never have considered.
Therefore, Christians who use the public school system must make sure to arm their children with all the information necessary to fend off propaganda and preserve their Christian world view. This means taking the time necessary to impart that information - daily.
Though I would personally like to see every Christian withdraw their children from public school and educate them at home or in a private Christian school, I know many can't. so I'll leave you with these last several thoughts:
When flying, the stewardess will ALWAYS instruct you to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting your child with theirs. Take the time to make sure you are rock solid in your own faith in order to lead your children with strength. If you feel wobbly, try these resources by Josh McDowell, "Evidence That Demands A Verdict" and/or "More Than A Carpenter". Also, Frank Turek's, "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist" is excellent. "Cold Case Christianity; A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims Of The Bible" by J. Warner Wallace and Lee Strobel is another excellent read.
Do your best to find a church where the Bible is preached and studied in its own right. Our current pastor (Paul Blair) is unbelievably knowledgeable in the Bible and our whole family has learned more from him than any of the other pastors under which we've sat over the years. 
Put Ephesians 6:10-18 at the forefront of your mind and infuse these concepts into your daily life. Once YOU put on the whole Armor of God daily, put it on your children as well and send them off knowing without hesitation that nothing can turn them from their faith.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Beware, a storm is coming", signed SCOTUS

This is a still from the end scene of the first Terminator movie. Sarah Conner has just been told that machines will rise to prominence and begin subjugating and killing all humans. As she drives toward the mountains of Mexico where she must hide for safety, a storm rolls in - a fitting allegory for her future. 

I've thought of this scene frequently over the last decade as I've watched America become burdened by massive debt, witnessed the rights of her citizens usurped by government bureaucracy and observed the will of the people subverted by the courts. In fact, I've mulled over it enough to believe I must know how Sarah Conner felt at that moment; utterly alone in the world, knowing something burdensome others don't which will result in a massive change to the world as humans have known it.

SCOTUS' ruling on same sex marriage has, again, channeled my inner Sarah Conner.

Before I had read and studied the highest law of the land and its creators, and joined a church where I was schooled in the Biblical underpinnings of this country and its laws, I will admit to having no appreciation of how far away from the Founder's intent this nation has come. Like the majority of Americans today, I thought the country was to run the way I envisioned in my head; I had no knowledge of its template or recipe for governance. Because of this, I believed my government followed the concept of simple majority rule - all citizens voted to elect the kind of legislators necessary to create the laws necessary to allow citizens to do essentially as they liked.

Today's public schools not only provide less information about the moral underpinnings of the greatest, most democratically free country established in 5000 years of human society, they provide more information that test these foundations than any student should have to encounter in a state sponsored learning facility. 

Whereas students aren't often taught that our state and central governments were established for no other reason than to protect the rights of each individual, they are taught that groups of people have been bullied, subjugated through slavery, or otherwise mistreated throughout our country's history creating a need for protected classes of people with separate rights. Whereas students aren't taught the God of the Bible who prescribed natural law and bestowed upon each individual their human rights, they are taught that the god of government grants rights instead. Almost never are students taught that if their rights come from government - unlike their Creator - government can also take them away.

Additionally, many churches have given up preaching a Biblically-based message of Hell and Heaven, redemption and sin, in favor of a softer, more 'seeker' friendly message designed to make people feel good about themselves and their carnal choices while keeping their bottoms in the pews and the tithes rolling in. Consequently, even Christians today very often don't know what God's word says about topics of importance, such as homosexuality and abortion, well enough to defend them in the vast, impersonal, electronic wasteland that now constitutes our public square. 

Since the installment of our 44th President, we have seen our country move from a position of Constitutionally-supported, individual, God-given rights, to government-granted, group rights, yet it appears as though few are even aware of this cataclysmic shift.

Recently, my husband gave me a short course in a philosophy called, "Chesterton's Fence". It is found in G.K. Chesterton's book, "The Thing" in the chapter entitled, "The Drift From Domesticity". Here is the paragraph of substance:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
Chesterton understood the short sided nature of man and the inevitable denigration of our society into illiterate people who 'feel' their way through the world, highly influenced by peers and media, wanting every day only to feel good about themselves and be happy, devoting little time to the study of natural and Biblical law; refusing to acknowledge historical practices (ie; fences), let alone contemplate the reason for their placement because the process would simply take too much energy and time.

Traditional marriage was a fence. A Biblically-based, long-standing fence.

Unfortunately, the whir of the computer processor and incessant Smartphone Facebook alerts take precedence over quiet contemplation today, so few Americans will understand the ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision to override the sovereignty of state citizens in favor of elevating same-sex marriage to protected status, so I'll list several:
  • Americans have historically been assured of their individual rights - their 'equality' - under the Constitution, but beyond that, this notion was first built into us by our Creator. We have rights because God bestowed them upon us when we were conceived. Only governments separate, and divide, and this process is only undertaken to conquer - to subjugate - to obtain power over others. We have but to look at every Communist/Marxist country/ruler across thousands of years. This ruling was not only procedurally, Constitutionally wrong, it was unnecessary as well, as we all have individual rights simply by benefit of living in human form.
  • Homosexual activists will use this ruling to stifle religious liberty in every state in America as they are able. The test cases have already been performed. Look at the number of lawsuits already brought against Christian flower shops, bakeries, wedding venues and photographers who would not perform weddings for homosexuals. Next up are churches. It's not a far stretch of the imagination to believe that gays will begin to find churches where pastors refuse to perform homosexual weddings and sue for infringement of their 'right' to marry. How will this look in the end? Pastors going to jail? Parishioners going to jail because they stand for their pastors? This, is by far, the most concerning of all the ramifications - loss of Constitutionally protected concept of free speech.
  • Simply imposing a name on something doesn't change its matter. Sure, you can call a shoe a hat, but the shoe will still be a shoe. There is no magic in nomenclature. Calling a legal union between two gay or lesbian individuals marriage, does not a marriage make. The word 'marriage' is a Biblical word - a Biblical commandment all the way back to Genesis 2: 
  • 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.  
    Now, you can say you don't believe in the Bible - you can tell me you could care less about God - in fact, you can tell me there isn't a religion in the world that amounts to one hill of beans in your view. Fine. I'll accept that, however, considering the fact that we use 2015 to mark this year indicates to me that Jesus' birth was a pretty huge event. Consequently, I'm going to stick with the Bible - if for no other reason - than its historically significant precedent alone.
  •  As an education activist for years, I have offhandedly studied secular sex education curricula. They are varied and awful, by and large, and all I have read sneer pointedly at the idea of human beings as in control of their own reproductive urges. After all, we're all just slightly less hairy than our wild ape progenitors, right? We should just expect our kids to want to have sex and therefore put them on the 'pill' or direct them in the right way to install a condom in order to protect them from unwanted pregnancy and disease. Of course this is nonsense, but it's secular and that is the playground of the public school. Now, not only will our children be subjected to this utter nonsense, they will be told that - thanks to Caitlyn Jenner and others - anyone can be any sex they like and not only that, but any sex can legally marry any sex they'd like. Yes, the bastion of the family has now finally been reduced to little but a happy free-for-all of progressive ideals meant to broaden the horizons of every child in order to insure they never have to feel badly about their life choices.
  • Truly, these are but a few of the societal ramifications resulting from the removal of the traditional marriage fence, but there are more. I found a few articles with a number of links that you might want to explore as time permits. Please, don't be fooled about the foundational concerns regarding this issue - especially if you're a Christian. Gay marriage is neither about 'love' (I've now heard the phrase, "love wins" enough to ruin the word 'love' for me) nor marriage. Never more so than now, Christians can best show our support for gay and lesbian individuals by actively praying and assisting them toward a fulfilling and loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

    The Negative Effects Of Same Sex Marriage

    10 Reasons Why Homosexual "Marriage" Is Harmful and Must Be Opposed

    What Happens To Marriage And Families When The Law Recognises "Same-Sex Marriage"?