Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Fireproof", pro-marriage, pro-faith movie exceeds expectations on first weekend at theaters.

The movie, "Fireproof" a Christian, pro-marriage movie opened as the 4th best grossing movie over the weekend, bringing in $6.5 million. It's the 2nd best grossing movie of the year which was shown in less than 1,000 theaters.

What's unique about "Fireproof" is it was produced by a church and cost less than $1 million to produce. It's about a firefighter who's great at his job but terrible at his marriage. The story line ia about how he restores his marriage by acting on the principles found in the Bible.

They say the acting is uneven, I suppose because it's so low budget, yet the message comes across. I thought the response from LA Times and NY Times was interesting.

"I was hoping and praying for at least a Top 10 opening," said Bob Waliszewski, director of Focus on the Family's Plugged In magazine and Web site. "I'm very excited to see it's No. 4.

"It does send a message that there's still pent-up demand for good, wholesome family entertainment."

Even the mainstream media have been forced to add their accolades. The New York Times called Fireproof "a decent attempt to combine faith and storytelling that will certainly register with its target audience."

The Los Angeles Times went so far as to call it "a mainstream relationship flick."

Steven Isaac, who reviewed the movie for Plugged In, said anyone "in the middle of ugly emotions driven by marital neglect, apathy and want, will surely be compelled by Fireproof to … break out the survival gear right away, putting into practice some of the principles they've just seen brought to life."

I think what's interesting is with the advent of new technology, the movie industry's cost of entry has dropped dramatically. I think the only way to overcome to so much of the garbage in the Hollywood is to supercede it by producing good, appealing movies outside of Hollywood. This will not only attract customers but cause Hollywood to sit up and take notice.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Entertainment industries efforts to mainstream homosexuality

It's reported that the number of homosexual characters on television shows is doubling. This obviously highlights the social Left's influence if not control of the entertainment industry and their desire to mainstream acceptance of homosexuality in the broader culture.

2008-2009 Television Season to More than Double Homosexual Characters

By Tim Waggoner

WASHINGTON, September 24, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - America's major broadcast networks are upping their promotion of the homosexual movement, doubling the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual scripted characters for the 2008-2009 broadcast schedule since last year.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) conducted their annual "Where We Are On TV" report on the five broadcast networks - ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW. GLAAD found that the number of LGBT scripted characters appearing in this year's 88 scripted dramas and comedies jumped to 16 from last year's seven.

This finding has broken a trend, as the proportion of LGBT characters to heterosexual characters fell in the three years before the 2008-2009 broadcast year, from 1.4 percent to 1.1 percent, but increased for this year to 2.6 percent.

Fox, which had no LGBT characters in their broadcast schedule last year, has made the biggest move in advancing the gay agenda with five LGBT characters to appear in this year's schedule. ABC continues to lead the way with seven LGTB characters, while CBS has decided not to broadcast sitcoms with regular scripted LGBT characters.

Non-contract recurring LGBT characters are also becoming more prevalent, with the five broadcast networks this year airing 19, as opposed to last year's 13.

On the other hand, mainstream cable networks have reduced the number of LGBT regular scripted characters to appear in this year's broadcast schedule to 32 from last year's 40.

It's not surprising that those in Hollywood would attempt to push the envelope socially. It's also not coincidental that such efforts coincide with network television entertainment increasingly becoming a cultural wasteland. Fortunately, with the expanded access to cable television and the Internet, there are other venues for receiving uplifting entertainment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An example of imposing pro-abortion view on Christians and loss of religious liberty

As society continues to secularize, the secular Left becomes less tolerant of those who refuse to toe the Left's line on issues like marriage and abortion. An example of this is a proposed bill in Victoria, Australia which would require medical personnel to perform abortions or make abortion referrals.

The effect if such a law goes into place? Shutting down all Catholic hospital maternity wards and emergency rooms in Australia, according to the
Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart. It's estimated that one-third of births are carried out in Catholic hospitals.

Historically, churches were the prime movers behind efforts to care for the sick by establishing hospitals. Now the secular elites are apparently willing to force church run hospitals to shut down.

No doubt similar efforts will increasingly be pushed in American society if we continue in a secularist drift.

The lines are increasingly being drawn between those who seek to honor the biblical witness and those who don't. Nominal Christianity is increasingly becoming a non option.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brains, teens and casual sex -- neuroscience research provides evidence for marriage and abstinence.

The social Left and it's push for contraceptives in our schools and everywhere else in society is motivated by a desire to enable people to be sexually active whenever they want without suffering the negative consequences of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies. The proverbial - having one's cake and eating it too.

Those of us on the other side argue sex isn't a leisure activity but something with profound personal, moral, social and spiritual consequences. The purpose of sex as established by the Creator is continuing the human race and the bonding of a man and a woman in a lifelong, faithful relationship for their benefit and that of others. The Left views this as an antiquated, prudish perspective and irrelevant in today's social and moral ethos.

The problem which suggests that this traditional view of sex isn't outdated but in fact very relevant is the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases which lead to other diseases, like infertility and cancer, and out of wedlock births . None of which have been eliminated by condoms and other contraceptives.

Now there's evidence coming out of neuroscience buttressing the traditional views of marriage and abstinence. It's written up in a new book entitled,
“Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children”, coauthored by Drs. Joe McIlhaney, Jr. and Freda McKissic Bush. It highlights “the impact having sex has on the developing brains of adolescents and young adults.”

The book states that:

  • “Sexual activity releases chemicals in the brain, creating emotional bonds between partners.
  • “Breaking these bonds can cause depression and make it harder to bond with someone else in the future.
  • Chemicals released in the brain during sex can become addictive.
  • “The human brain is not fully developed until a person reaches their mid-twenties. Until then, it is harder to make wise relationship decisions.”

This new evidence is significant in that condoms and contraceptives can do nothing to prevent the emotional damage resulting from casual sex. There is no alternative other than exercising self control and waiting until marriage.

This new evidence also challenges the assumptions undergirding condom education in our schools that all we have to do is provide students with all the information and they'll make good decisions. The fact that the brain isn't fully developed in the teenage years suggests that's not the case from a biological standpoint.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's all about worldview: Biden, charity and helping others. Or is that the government's job?

There are more interesting comments coming from Vice President candidate Joe Biden. They reveal how he views the world.

In addition to ticking off Catholic bishops with his pro-abortion views espoused as a self proclaimed practicing Catholic, he's also used Catholic doctrine to support his view that people have a patriotic duty to pay higher taxes. He said, "Catholic social doctrine as I was taught it is, you take care of people who need the help the most."

He sees the answer to the social problems of the day resting squarely on the shoulders of government not private individuals and groups. The Wall Street Journal reviewed the release of his and his wife's tax returns and found that they "reported an average of $380, or 0.2% of their income, in annual charitable contributions over a 10-year period.” He doesn't believe he has a responsibility to help the less fortunate; that's the government's responsibility. That's reflected in him giving close to nothing from his personal income to help the less fortunate.

The problem with his views and actions, which no doubt reflect his worldview, are they're fundamentally wrong. Government is institutionally unable to give to the poor and less fortunate what they truly need the most -- personal involvement and moral challenge and encouragement.

It's said, "Look at a person's checkbook to see what they value." In Joe Biden's checkbook, there's nearly nothing to help the less fortunate.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Biden's, and Obama's, Catholic problem grows. Biden's guffaw problem is manifesting itself on national stage.

Pro-abortion VP Joseph Biden, self identified Catholic, is having more problems with the leadership of the Catholic Church over his efforts to justify his pro-abortion position as a practicing Catholic. On "Meet the Press", he said he believed life began at conception yet wouldn't allow that to influence his positions as an elected official.

The number of Catholic bishops who have spoken in criticism of Biden's positions has grown to 55. One columnist points out this can be problematic for Biden and Obama politically. Not that every Catholic will follow the lead of the Bishops but for those in the middle, efforts by Biden to misrepresent the Church's teaching could be taken as a personal affront. In a tight election every vote can make a difference.

What's incensed Catholic leadership is the false representation of the Church's position on abortion by Nancy Pelosi and Joseph Biden. It's bad enough they identify themselves as pro-abortion Catholics but then to misrepresent the Church's actual teaching on abortion is going too far.

Here's a description of what the Catholic Bishop in Madison, Wisconsin said.

In Madison, Wisconsin, Bishop Robert Morlino reacted angrily to Biden's televised comments, and tossed aside his prepared Sunday homily to focus on the question, realizing that this has become a topic on which Church leaders must speak forcefully. Bishop Morlino told his Sunday congregation:

Senator Biden does not understand the difference between articles of faith and natural law. Any human being-- regardless of his faith, his religious practice, or having no faith-- any human being can reason to the fact that human life, from conception until natural death, is sacred. Biology-- not faith, not philosophy, not any kind of theology; biology-- tells us-- science-- that at the moment of conception there exists a unique individual of the human species.

Bishop Morlino went on to say that while Senator Biden and Speaker Pelosi claim to be honoring the principle that religion and politics are separate realms, the politicians themselves are violating that principle by presuming to speak about Church teachings-- and stating those teachings inaccurately-- before a nationwide television audience. "They're stepping on the Pope's turf and mine," the bishop said, "and they're violating the separation of Church and state, confusing God's good people."

I found it interesting that during Obama's Saddleback remarks on abortion he noted consistency of those who believe life begins at conception and therefore want to protect life from conception. That's why he didn't want to answer the question of when life begins; it was beyond "his pay grade." He knew that if he said life began at conception he'd be asked why he didn't protect it at conception. Obama alluded to the issue of consistency when he said:
One of the things that I've always said is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception, then -- and you are consistent in that belief, then I can't argue with you on that, because that is a core issue of faith for you.
The problem Biden has is he's not consistent and he's stuck his finger in the eye of Catholic leaders. He's history of guffaws is showing itself at inopportune times now that's he's on the national stage.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Parental involvement help reduce abortion among teenagers

Research is showing that parental involvement laws have significant impact in reducing abortions among teenagers.

A study by Professor Michael New found that "parental-involvement laws reduce the minor abortion rate by 13 percent — a finding that is consistent with other research on the subject. However, state laws that require parental consent instead of parental notification are even more effective, reducing the abortion rate by an average of 19 percent. This finding held true for all age groups that were analyzed — 17-year-olds, 16-year-olds, and 15-year-olds." He also points out that parental consent laws are more effective than merely parental notification laws.

Again, one sees the importance of parental involvement in an enormously consequential decision -- having an abortion.

Of course, those who support abortion don't want parents involved in this decision, because it will result in fewer abortions. An analogous situation is contraceptives and condoms. Contraceptive advocates want to circumvent parental involvement in the dispensing of contraceptives and sexuality education, because they know parents don't support
the social, ideological agenda of the Left. And of course, another egregious example is "minor consent" laws which totally cut parents out of the loop when it comes to contraceptives and treatment for STDs, pregnancy, and drug and alcohol abuse. Under these laws, minor kids can get treatment without their parents' knowledge and keep parents out of the loop unless they, the kids, give their consent for their parents to be involved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Biden confused and more Catholic bishops speak out

VP candidate Joseph Biden went on "Meet the Press" with Tom Brokaw and said, "I'm prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society."

Biden's position is morally bankrupt and confused. On the one hand, he believes life begins at conception and yet he doesn't want to impose that that belief on others. Well, he does support imposing a belief on others, a belief he just doesn't support.

Imagine you believe innocent human life is being destroyed yet you refuse to do anything to protect it even when it's in your power to do so. That seems tantamount to having the power to protect life during the Holocaust and yet refusing to do so because that would mean "impos[ing] that judgment on everyone else" and that's "inappropriate in a pluralistic society."

Well, I'm grateful to see 14 Catholic bishops speaking out against Biden's bankrupt and confused statement.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pride comes before the fall?

Today the Dow Jones dropped over 500 today. Largest drop in half dozen years. The bankruptcy of a 150 year old investment house. Should the Fed and Congress come in and bail them out? Will this start a domino effect among other firms? The underlying issue though was touched on by a Reuter's new story entitled, "Lehman CEO Fuld's hubris contributed to meltdown." It all comes back to the fatal flaw found in the human race -- pride. Thinking we can have it our way. We aren't accountable to the laws of nature and nature's God. We're a law unto ourselves.

Some say years of living beyond our means is catching up to us. Government and personal debt is going beyond reasonable limits. Instead of thinking we need to live within our means and work responsibly, we can have it all now. It sounds like the lesson of Lehmann Brothers is they thought they could do whatever they wanted and they wouldn't need to face the consequences. The impact of their actions look like they might well reverberate on to others.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Changing election dynamics in race for Congress -- Will Republicans regain control of US House? Gallup says it's a possibility.

Going into this election, the conventional wisdom held it would be a wipe out for conservatives. Bush's unpopularity, a war, and a struggling economy all pointed to liberals picking up the White House and expanding majorities in Congress.

But things have begun to change in the last few weeks. Sarah Palin's pick as McCain's VP pick has energized conservatives. The inherent weaknesses of Obama, e.g. style over substance, lack of experience and extreme liberalness. Aggressive campaigning by a 72 year old man who makes his much younger, liberal opponent look indecisive and uncertain. All of these things have changed the dynamics of the presidential race.

Now the dynamics are changing in the race for control of Congress. Congress' approval numbers are in the tank. Over 4o percent worse than George Bush's. A liberal controlled Congress has very little to show after 2 years of majority control. In voter preference for Congress, Democrats have held double digit leads over Republicans over the past two years.
According to a Gallup poll, in February of 2008, they held a 15 point lead over Republicans among registered voters . Today it's down to 3 points. Among likely voters, Republicans actually have a lead of 5 points.

If this trend holds up, analysis from the Gallup polling people say Republicans will regain control of Congress.

If these numbers are sustained through Election Day -- a big if -- Republicans could be expected to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

As Gallup's long-term "generic ballot" trend shows, the Democrats held a sizable lead on this measure from the time they won back control of Congress in the fall of 2006 through last month. If the current closer positioning of the parties holds, the structure of congressional preferences will be similar to most of the period from 1994 through 2005, when Republicans won and maintained control of Congress.

This would be a remarkable, stunning turn of events if it holds up. Of course, there is a long time between now and Election Day. I think things will remain very fluid between now and November 4th. There's no guarantee this generic numbers will hold up for conservatives. The timing of the most recent polling was right after the Republican convention so they could be viewed in part as a convention bounce. But the trend over the past couple months has been towards narrowing the gap. This is shaping up to be a very interesting, unpredictable election year.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What Obama didn't tell you when he defended comprehensive sex education -- it is about sex and it's not age appropriate.

The McCain ran an ad highlighting Obama's support for a bill in the Illinois legislature which would have taught comprehensive ("anything goes") sex education to kindergartners. The ad asked why did Obama support teaching kindergartners about sex before they can learn to read.

In response, Obama and his media defenders argue the bill talked about "age appropriate" sex education. I've heard the line about age appropriate before -- that's what the promoters of comprehensive sex education always say. But when you look at the specifics of comp sex ed, it's anything but age appropriate.

Here's an example of what comp sex ed advocates would consider "age appropriate" based on SIECUS, comp sex ed guidelines. (SIECUS stands for "Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States" and they establish nationally recognized comprehensive sex education standards.) Here's a sample of what they recommend for kids, ages 5 to 8.

Ages 5 to 8 --

  • "A family consists of two or more people who care for each other in many ways."
  • "Vaginal intercourse - when a penis is placed inside a vagina - is the most common way for an egg and sperm to join."
  • “Both boys and girls have body parts that feel good when touched.”
  • “Touching and rubbing one’s own genitals to feel good is called masturbation.”
  • "Masturbation should be done in a private place."
  • “Adults often kiss, hug, touch and engage in other sexual behavior with one another to show caring and to feel good."
There you have it, sexually explicit and graphic description of sexual activities and practices. They also promote acceptance of homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and alternative sexual lifestyles.

Comprehensive sex education is really "anything goes" sex education and it's used to indoctrinate our kids as young as in kindergarten.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gag of pastors speaking on candidates challenged

There's an organized effort to legally challenge an IRS rule which prohibits pastors from explicitly supporting or opposing political candidates.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a social conservative, pro-family public interest law group, is working with pastors to deliver sermons in which they explicitly oppose particular candidates for political office because of their stand on the great moral issues of the day.

The religious and secular left is going apoplectic, arguing that ADF's efforts are unethical and even illegal.

I suspect what's motivating the Left's response is fear motivated by politics. They are fearful that the powerful, moral authority of pastors will be energized to speak out on the great moral issues of the day -- life and marriage -- and impact elections.

This sort of legal activity is nothing new or unprecedented. The ACLU and other liberal public interest legal groups have for decades systematically found plaintiffs and organized lawsuits to establish new legal principles advancing their agenda. Now when the conservative side does it they cry foul.

Nor, of course, is endorsement of candidates by pastors a violation of the separation of church and state myth that religiously based moral concerns have no right to be voiced in the public square. The appropriate separation of church and state is an institutional separation between the governmental and religious institutions, e.g. no state sponsored and financed churches.

The IRS regulation in question resulted from an amendment slipped into a bill in 1954 by then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson who was upset by Texas pastors who opposed him politically. Whether through the courts or Congress, the regulation should be eliminated.

Personally, I wouldn't encourage pastors to get into the "endorsement of candidates" business. Rather I'd encourage them to articulate the moral principles involved, highlight candidates stand, and encourage people vote based on moral, biblical principles. I believe public support or criticism of a candidate's or elected official's positions is appropriate. However, I think pastors should have the freedom to endorse or oppose candidates as they see fit.

Pastors can already say and do a lot short of explicit endorsements. Another problem with the current situation is the laws are so unclear, it's difficult to know where exactly the line is. The result is a chilling effect on pastors in regards to voicing their views on even the issues and candidates' positions on the issues. Striking down the ban on endorsement of candidates would clarify the situation.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Obama losing moderate evangelicals.

Here's an article suggesting Barack Obama is losing the votes of moderate evangelicals who are pro-life and moderate on other issues. It points to Obama poor performance at the Saddleback presidential forum, publicizing of his very pro-abortion record while a state Senator, running pro-abortion ads, and support for forcing faith-based organizations participating in government programs hire people who don't share their faith, and nomination of a strong, prolife VP candidate Palin.

I suspect Obama will start having problems across the board as his very liberal positions on other issues get greater public attention.

While Obama is still slightly ahead in the polls at this date, the momentum is clearly on McCain's side. While there's disapproval of Bush, Obama's proposals are nothing new - higher taxes, more government and radical social policies. That's really a continuance of the long term status quo.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin comes out swinging and hits a home run.

John McCain's vice president running mate, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin was hammered in the media the past couple of days. So her Republican Convention speech drew a lot of attention. Was she tough enough to take all the media heat? Or would she be a deer in the headlights? Well, she came across as one tough lady. She was warm and personable and yet hard hitting and assertive.

She took some major shots at the media and Washington elites in addition to Obama. The media commentators generally acknowledged she did a very good job and passed the first major test of her nomination. She can give it as good as she can take it. She dealt with attacks on her inexperience by
using sarcasm and humor to compare her experience with Obama's .

The political comparison which comes to mind is Margaret Thatcher who was known for being very tough. I get the sense that Palin has the same toughness yet she also has a likability factor which connects with people.

She has really struck a cord with conservatives who don't necessarily really know her well, but they know that personally, culturally and on the issues she's very conservative.

Contrary to past election history, Palin could have a major impact on the election by energizing conservatives to actively get behind McCain and attracting working class Independents and Democrats. The latter maybe not in a major way, but if things are tight she could make the difference.

Of course, there are a lot of opportunities for her to misstep before Election Day, but her convention speech has given her enormous credibility and momentum heading out of the convention.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The impact of Sarah Palin on the election

There's been a media feeding frenzy surrounding Sarah Palin, her unmarried daughter's pregnancy, plans to keep the baby, and other personal aspects of Sarah's life.

Obviously, her daughter's situation is unfortunate, yet her support for her daughter's decision to keep the child and her own decision to keep her fifth child even though there was the likelihood of Downs Syndrome, speaks volumes about her pro-life beliefs. I don't think her daughter's situation will hurt her politically though I'm sure it's been challenging personally.

Democrats have attacked her on a number of fronts - personally and background. From my limited exposure, I think she's a pretty tough person. In the long run, this will only make her stronger. I find it interesting that the inexperience charge was made in the context of comparing her to Obama which of course doesn't make sense, because she's the vice president candidate and he's the presidential candidate. And beyond that she's actually had more executive experience than Obama.

I think her biggest contribution to the campaign is firing up the conservative base, particularly evangelicals and other religious conservatives. It may have a marginal impact on independents, women or conservative men. But the key impact is energizing people who were probably going to support McCain but weren't overly excited about his candidacy.

Ultimately, people will vote for McCain or Obama not the vice presidential candidates. As I mentioned before, Dan Quayle's perceived weaknesses didn't hurt George Bush, Sr. who came from behind to beat Dukakis.

It should be a very interesting final two months to Election Day.