Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Christmas is All About

"And how did little Tim behave [in church]?" asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content.

"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see [Jesus]."

Then Bob proposed:
"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!

Which all the family re-echoed.

"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

--Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (London: Chapman & Hall, 1843), 91, 95.

original image source

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

This World is Not Conclusion...

Not many churches have graveyards anymore, and that is a shame. This book [Theology for the Church], like all systematic theology texts, will one day wither away into mold and dust. The library of Congress will be swept away like refuse. If one really wants to see a theology for the church in action, one might walk into an old church graveyard at night. Walk about and see the headstones weathered and ground down by the elements. Contemplate the fact that beneath your feet are men and women who once had youthful skin and quick steps and hectic calendars but who are now piles of forgotten bones. Think about the fact that the scattered teeth in the earth below you once sang hymns of hope -- maybe "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder I'll Be There" or "When We All Get to Heaven." They are silent now.

But while you are there, think about what every generation of Christians has held against the threat of sword and guillotine and chemical weaponry. This stillness will one day be interrupted by a shout from the eastern sky, a joyful call with a distinctly northern Galilean accent. And that's when life really gets interesting.

Russell D. Moore, "Personal and Cosmic Eschatology," in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (B&H Publishing: Nashville, 2007), 926.

original image source 

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Monday, November 10, 2008

And I am Appalled

I was talking to a friend who worked at a Colonial House over the summer. She informed me of an astonishing fact: most of the children who came through the house had no idea what a fireplace was for, that clothes and food can (and sometimes usually) come from animals, and did not even know who George Washington was.

My first reaction was precisely like that of Professor Digory in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie: "What do they teach kids in schools these days?"

I just have no concept of people not knowing what I consider to be elementary and common knowledge facts. What is the world coming to?

On a bright note, she said that you could tell who was homeschooled - because they actually knew these things and were respectful. It's nice to know that at least entire generations aren't losing basic knowledge. I have a lot of respect for those who homeschool, and, with the wonderful results of home education, it makes me wonder why it isn't promoted very much, and why more people do not partake of it!

original image source

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

"What an Exciting Life We Live"

Tonight I was spending time with my family, and my mother calls downstairs, "Girls, I need you to come up here so we can go through these socks" (she had just purchased them for all of us). My brother, over hearing this, remarks "what an exciting life we live!" Of course, he was being facetious. But really, think about it, shouldn't the "little" things in life be exciting? After all, there are many, many, many people in the world who would just love to own ONE pair of socks, how much more be recipients of some absolutely new socks!

And isn't it the "little" moments of which life is made? After all, "What is the end of fame?/ 'tis but to fill a certain portion of uncertain paper..." (Lord Byron, Don Juan). So take in the little moments, the insignificant, the ones you pass right by, for in the end they are what define your life. And that is exciting.

picture credit

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mr. Holland's Opus (Movie Review)

Mr. Holland's Opus was a touching movie, albeit hard to watch in places, but it contained an encouraging message that I appreciated. A word of warning: this movie is rated PG for mild language. Personally, I'd give it a PG-13 for the language as it is not appropriate for children. The story is one that I think could be very powerful in a child's life, but please use a bleeper if you show it to children. Even though there are some factual errors relating to chronology of events, I liked the way the movie was put together placing historical events within a (generally) accurate context and showing how those events effected people. While this is not a movie I plan to see often, it was enjoyable and I am glad that I have seen it.

2 out of 5 stars.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Emma {Movie Review}

I almost missed seeing this (fairly) accurate movie for its silly tagline: "Cupid is armed and dangerous!" Having actually read the book I realized why they might say something like this, but I also recognized that it would be entirely missing the broader picture of the book if such was actually the emphasis in the movie. Thankfully, the tagline misrepresented the movie, IMO. To be a regular running length the movie was surprisingly accurate. Of course there are things I would change, but in all seriousness I was impressed. The movie is definitely worth seeing.

As an aside, has anyone else noticed/does it bother anyone else that on the cover of the movie "Emma" isn't holding the bow and arrow properly?

2.75 out 5 stars.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Crusade... for the Environment?

Imagine the media reaction if a prominent American Christian leader condoned vandalism at abortion clinics. Now imagine the reaction if he went beyond condoning vandalism and agreed to appear as a witness for the defense at the trial of those vandals.

Then imagine what would happen if he decided to export his religiously motivated crusade to another country.

Well, that's exactly what just happened, except the religion wasn't Christianity-it was environmentalism.

Last October, a group of Greenpeace members climbed a chimney at a power plant in Kent, England, and started to paint the words "Gordon Bin It." The "Gordon" referred to was Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the "it" was a plan to build new coal-fired power plants at the site.

The group argued that they had a "lawful excuse" for their actions: They were trying to prevent even greater damage like "flooding from rising sea levels and damage to species" from man-made global warming.

They were charged with vandalism, and at the trial the star witness for the defense was James Hansen of NASA. That's right, NASA, an agency of the United States government.

Twenty years ago, Hansen first sounded the alarm over man-made global warming. And as time has passed, his rhetoric has escalated. In June, he called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for "crimes against humanity and nature."

These so-called crimes included spreading doubt about man-made global warming. In other words, disagreeing with Hansen.

At the trial, Hansen said that "somebody needs to stand up and take a leadership role" in the fight against global warming.

Avoiding "disintegration of the ice sheets [and minimizing] species extinction" requires "immediate action" he said-action that included getting rid of coal-firing plants like the one vandalized.

Hansen's words apparently did the trick because the jury acquitted all six defendants.

Now, reasonable people can differ over the reality of man-made global warming, but it is difficult to see how what happened in Kent met the requirements of a "lawful excuse." That standard, as the judge told the jurors, requires an "immediate need to protect property belonging to another." Even the most enthusiastic proponents of man-made global warming acknowledge that their most dire scenarios are decades, if not centuries, away.

What happened in England is further proof of what author Michael Crichton meant when he called modern environmentalism "one of the most powerful religions in the Western World"-a religion that divides the world between "sinner" or "saved," the "side of salvation" or the "side of doom."

As if to confirm Crichton's point, on the same day the Greenpeace members were acquitted, an English city council voted to impose "hefty fines" on people for using the wrong recycling bins.

So what we have here is an appeal to a "higher law"-made by a U.S. government official no less-calling for an inquisition of sorts, and zealous punishment of even the tiniest infraction.

And the media dares to call Christians "fanatics"?

Reasonable people can disagree about global warming or the role of religion in public life. But there's no excuse-lawful or otherwise-for double standards....

from THE RIGHT KIND OF FANATICISM?: Global Warming and Double Standards by: Chuck Colson, in Breakpoint's Monday, September 29, 2008, newsletter

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fireproof (Movie Review)

This is a great movie, and I encourage everyone to go see it in theaters. It's another excellent production by Sherwood Pictures, the producers of Facing the Giants and Flywheel.
The official Fireproof website. And the advertised site for helping you with your marriage.

And I didn't really think of this providing spoilers, but I guess it does. So be warned. Spoilers ahead. :-)

Pardon me for extensively quoting another, but I really cannot say it any better than she:

The classic Hollywood ending: Bride and groom kiss, minister pronounces them husband and wife, credits roll. The End implies "and they lived happily ever after."
That's the way it used to be.
In many of today's movies, such an ending might simply imply the end. As in "the end of the adventure."
And so we've had a rash of romantic comedies where the lovers ride off into the sunset, unmarried, happy and sexually satisfied. At least for now. Though their future together is murky, the implication is that the adventures will continue.
The old way left us wondering what happened once the marriage was underway; the new doesn't even bother to say, "I do." Fireproof (which appears in theaters on September 26) promises to break both molds — the happily ever after cliché as well as the notion that once the wedding is over, so is the fun. In a departure from the chick flick formula, Fireproof shows that after the wedding comes the real work of making a marriage strong enough to succeed.
Fireproof tells a gripping tale about fire captain Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) in a life-saving job who is hero to everyone but his wife, Catherine (Erin Bethea). On the job, he lives the fireman's motto — never leave your partner behind.
At home, it's a different story. Catherine, feeling the neglect of his distraction — fueled primarily by his online porn habit and desire to save enough overtime pay to buy a big, fast boat — wants a divorce. She's done, both emotionally and practically — she's in the beginning stages of having an affair with a handsome young doctor at the hospital where she works. Though letting his marriage fail would be a blow to his pride, Caleb's not sure it's worth fighting for.
Enter his parents. Especially his dad. This is where things veer from what you'd expect from the movies. Rather than agreeing with Caleb that the marriage is beyond redemption, he reveals that some years ago his own marriage to Caleb's mom had nearly collapsed. Speaking from painful experience, he challenges Caleb not to proceed with the divorce for just 40 days and promises to send him something in the mail. When it arrives, the "love dare" begins.

When asked if the Christian message would alienate non-Christians from the movie and it's message, the star Kirk Cameron replied:

The movie's for anyone, whether you have faith in God or not. This is a movie about love, trust, hope, healing. Plus, it's just a great movie. You're going to laugh and cry. It's a very masculine movie, with the firefighters, but it's also a chick flick. And the main character is not some religious guy.

I think that's a pretty fair assessment. (For the rest of the interview with Kirk go here.) The movie is definitely realistic and does not have that artificial Hollywood feel to it, while still being well done - which is definitely refreshing. There really isn't a "heart-string" that isn't played by this movie, and played well. And it's definitely not a cut and dry and predictable. I look forward to owning it when it releases on DVD and seeing what else Sherwood Pictures produces!

2 out of 5 stars.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

And the Painter Captures the Sky

I was on my commute a couple of days ago, and, as I'm up before the sun, I have the privilege of seeing the sky become lighter before the official "sunrise" begins. I wish I had my camera, but I think it was too dark to have captured what I saw anyway. The sky was a deep blue, just lighter than dark blue, which was the color of the clouds. The clouds themselves were of medium size and about the size of an average cumulus cloud, but instead of being like a fluffy cotton ball, they had the wispiness of cirrus clouds. It was if the clouds themselves were pulled and drag through the sky. The first thought through my head was "oh it looks just like a painting." Like when you use the brush and pull the paint from the central location. If the sky had been a painting that morning it oil would have been the medium.

But then I thought of my statement "the sky looks like a painting" and thought of the audacity of the claim being made. To say that God liked the work of man so much he decided to copy it is surely a contemptible position. And, of course, that is not what is meant, but that is certainly how it sounds. Would it not be more accurate to say "the painter captures the sky" and accurately portrays it in its raw beauty? For it is man who imitates the works of God, not vice versa.

So think of the phrasing you use, and how it could be connoted. And think of what you really mean, then express that aptly, without confusion. And take the time to gaze and the beauty God endowed nature with, for it is all around you. And it is breathtaking.

original image source

Saturday, September 20, 2008

All I Know to Say is ...

Here are some memorable quotes from the week:

"This shirt is not pink. It's light blood."

"I have dropped a few [pounds]. So now my clothes hang [on me] like a bowl of soup."

"So you do know a little about ancient battles."
(said to a friend after going on a five minute spiel about an ancient battle after asked if he was a little familiar with them)

"Well it knows when you're in a hurry."
(said after someone commented that computers don't think)

"I must have missed that science class. I slept a lot in high school."
(after a discussion on how our bodies are composed of completely different atoms, cells, molecules, etc, now than when we were five)

As these and other quotes struck me throughout the week I realized, once again, the power of words. The words we speak have a tendency to bypass our brains and just pour forth from our mouths, leaving the damage to be repaired later. Elizabeth Elliot Gren says something so memorable about this phenomenon, "Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut." Great advice (that I certainly need to heed more often).

After all, people may say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," but that, my friends, is a lie. A straight up lie. They may never show that your words have wounded them, but they may nurse their wound in silence for years. The fact is that words have power. How much pain and grief could we save others and ourselves if we would pause to think about what we were going to say before we said it. Once the words leave your mouth there is no taking them back. Life has no rewind. Measure your words carefully - for they can be your greatest friend, or your most powerful enemy.

picture credit

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Made Tea.

A Lesson in Creative Writing. :-) I found this linked off of another blog and found it highly amusing. Not only is it entertaining, but all would do well to see how one can become more descriptive in writing as well. I haven't even browsed his real website (which you visit after reading his tea story) but it's an interesting way to get people to visit!

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

(01/13 - Unfortunately, his website is down now, BUT the interesting way to get people to enter the website is still up. So check it out.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Great Escape (Movie Review)

First, do not see this movie if you expect a Hollywood ending. This is a realistic movie accurately based off actual events. Even though the movie stars Steve McQueen it is not a movie revolving around him. The story is about a camp, and what that camp did to mess with the Germans as they attempted a brazen escape. Expect to cry and to cheer. And don't watch this movie right before you go to bed, least not if you want to sleep. While there is surprisingly little violence that story and the effort and all of the movie stays with you and turns in your head long after the credits roll. I do recommend the movie, though. It deserves to be a classic, as it is. Hopefully you will also be encouraged to thank those who have faithfully serve(d) this country. After all, if you don't stand behind our military, maybe you should stand in front of them.

This movie was not rated when released, but I believe it would be rated today as PG-13.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

P.S. The well loved TV series Hogan's Heroes was inspired by this story.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

BBC's Pride and Prejudice {Movie Review}

This P&P was different for me than the other two versions I have watched. The most recent version is only decent in my opinion for an exceptionally abbreviated version of the lesser important parts of the book. Every time I see that version I like Keira Knightley less and less in playing Elizabeth Bennett also. It just doesn't come across as genuine to me. Mrs. Bennett definitely steals the show. I think she is the best Mrs. Bennett to date, and Mr. Bennett is also probably the best to be found. Okay, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh was excellent also.

The BBC/A&E version is essentially wonderful, and probably still my favorite of these three that I have seen. I think the Lizzy in that version is a good balance and wit and respect, and Colin Firth does a wonderful job of transitioning from cold, hard Mr. Darcy to seeing his true nature. That version is also mostly accurate to the book.

This version is also fairly accurate, and I definitely enjoyed watching it. The feel of the movie was entirely different though. I still haven't been able to put my finger on it. David Rintoul was a sensational Mr. Darcy. I think he pulled off the high-and-mighty Mr. Darcy far better than either of the others. While the transition was there in his character I felt that Lizzy did more of the transforming than Darcy in this version. I felt just a touch more warmth would have completely sold me on David being "the" Mr. Darcy... and he might be my favorite Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth Garvie did a very good job of portraying Elizabeth Bennett. I found it interesting to watch this portrayal because Lizzy was not as saucy and, while still being quite firm in her opinion, was respectful and considerate while speaking her mind. I think this version showed a more accurate version of what Lizzy probably would have actually been like in personality and disposition. Though, since I was used to thinking of her with a tad more spice I think I slightly prefer Jennifer Ehle.

I must say all of the Mr. Collins in these movies were excellent choices. The one in this 1980 version was over the top. I could not stand the man (which, of course, is good in this case). My biggest complaint about all three movies is that no one has translated Georgiana to the screen properly. That does irk me some.

I would definitely recommend this version of P&P even with its 4 hour running time. Break it up into segments if you need to, but I suggest watching it in one sitting for its full effect. I give it two thumbs up! :-)

EDIT: This is actually my favorite version of Pride and Prejudice now. It grows on your leaps and bounds each time I see it (which has only been like 2 or 3). I think that Rintoul is the absolute best Darcy, and I think his portrayal does that best at showing how, yes, Mr. Darcy grew in character, but also was misunderstood. Also, I think Lizzie is the most accurately portrayed. While the filmography certainly doesn't win any awards, I think the rest of the movie steals the show. 

4 out of 5 stars.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Hot Fairy Tale

I absolutely LOVED reading this book. And I was pleased as to the accuracy of the movie adaptation as well. I mean, I shouldn't have been surprised - the man who abridged the book is the same man who wrote the screenplay for the movie. :-) Not that some parts weren't changed, mind you, but it was satisfactory.

Goldman took out the "dry" and "boring stuff" that Morgenstern had in his book. Which basically means all the satire on Florin is gone (the stuff that the Florin history buffs love). Of course, now I want to go hunt up his enormous book and read it for myself (which I actually do plan on doing), even though apparently Morgenstern wasn't concerned about the material that makes up the hilarious "good parts" version. The book is just as quotable as the movie. (uh, wait, I already covered that, didn't I). It really is a must read.

Goldman's abridgement style is wonderful. He tells you what he is cutting out and why, and then tells the story in Morgenstern's actual words, instead of just rewriting the whole thing to suit Goldman's fancy (like so many abridgments are so uncreatively typically done).

Read the book, see the movie. Enjoy life. Unlike Westley you probably only have one to live.

(n.b. 2010 - I've been looking for the "original" book ... and I don't think it exists. I think it's just part of Goldman's style to say he edited a book to allow for some of the "lapses" - but that doesn't change the fact that I think this is a great book!)

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Tax Cut

It is not uncommon to hear people make statements such as "I'm a Reagan Republican." After all, he is probably the best president we ever had, and this is certainly the case in my life time. Why did people love Reagan so much, even though people were initially skeptical of his presidential ability given his age? He made good policies, and he understood how the economy works, to name a couple.

The "economic crisis" we currently seem to be in has people scrambling all worried and in a tizzy. What would be the way to fix our problems? How can we fix everything? What about ...

Well, before you lose another nights sleep remember that the economy is going to go up and down - it's a part of being a capitalist nation. IT IS OKAY. In fact, it is normal. And it is artificial to think raising taxes or doing some other such thing is ever going to help. What did Reagan do in a similar time? He cut taxes. What the economy do? It improved. The less government interference, the better the economy goes. Remember that in light of the upcoming election, and read this great blog post about that memorable day Reagan cut taxes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BBC's Emma {Movie Review}

You know the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover?" Well, don't judge a movie by its cover either! While this adaptation runs longer than most movies (a solid 4 1/2 hours total) it was definitely worth seeing. The length of the film gave believability and depth the the characters, and while it first seems rather theatrical in delivery, it progresses more and more naturally, and some theatrical qualities are absorbed into the personalities of the characters themselves. This was a faithful film adaptation of the book. I was exceedingly gratified. It is obvious that this is an older film (it was made in '72) particularly in the outside scenes, but it is forgivable. I must say that the most endearing character is poor Mr. Woodhouse. The old gentleman is lovably laughable, or maybe its laughably lovable. Either way, his character came across marvelously. I do highly suggest you see this film, even if it is over four hours long.

3 out 5 stars.

And, don't worry, it may be NR, but it's appropriate for all audiences.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

riding GIANTS (Movie Review)

As I mentioned in my review of Surf's Up, Riding Giants is a surfing documentary. A "Big Wave" surfing documentary that is. Aside for the language it is rated PG-13 for inappropriate language (and the language is not infrequent) it is a good watch.

I enjoyed the archival videos they put in the movie, and the spectacular scenery and majesty of the ocean. You think small wave surfin' is something? You haven't seen anything yet! I was astounded at the size of the waves and the different techniques that are used of necessity - and the utter dangerousness of surfing in the manner -- all of which is covered well in Riding Giants.

This is a documentary, so while it is a little dry in some parts it is still largely interesting. I still recommend this film (with a bleeper, of course).

1.75 out of 5 stars.

(BTW- today is 08-08-08!)

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Now is a Time for Choosing

Even though this was said decades ago, the principles still ring true. Keep this in mind when deciding who you will cast your vote for shortly.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Extreme Days {Movie Review}

Extreme Days is a great movie about four best friends from childhood and the trip of their dreams. At least, that's what they want it to be. It, of course, turns out to not turn out like they had planned as life throws them a few curve-balls along the way. Matt is by far the best part of the movie. His lines are truly memorable. There is also a sweet classic Japanese fighting scene in the film. I, of course, can't say I agree with everything in the movie, but it is very entertaining, and there is nothing particularly crude included. Guys will be guys, though, as is evidenced in the fire-ball gas scene. Word of warning though: don't watch this movie if you are looking for something serious. It is definitely all about enjoying life.\

2 out of 5 stars.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Builder discovers "priceless" Tolkien postcard

Pretty amazing! =) 

By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - A demolition man stripping a fireplace from the former home of "The Lord of the Rings" author J.R.R. Tolkien stumbled across a postcard to the writer dated 1968, and hopes to sell it for a small fortune.

Stephen Malton, who runs Prodem Demolition in Bournemouth on the south English coast, was working in the house in the nearby town of Poole before it was bulldozed to make way for a new construction project.

"Before we demolish a house we do an internal strip out," Malton said Tuesday.

"One of the main features was a fireplace, and upon removing that we came across three postcards. The third one was a postcard dated 1968 and addressed to J.R.R. Tolkien."

Malton said research on the Internet suggested that the carved wooden fireplace with marble inlay, a feature of the house when Tolkien lived there from 1968 to 1972, was already worth up to $250,000.

"To tie in both the fireplace and the postcard, we are talking about a price of around $500,000 for the combined pair," the 42-year-old told Reuters by telephone.

He contacted the Tolkien Estate, which manages the author's copyrights, and said that they had given him the all clear to sell the fireplace and postcard. The estate could not immediately be reached for comment.

Malton said he would probably sell the items at auction, although according to local newspaper the Dorset Echo, he has already had an offer from a Tolkien enthusiast in Belgium.

The postcard was addressed to Tolkien at the Miramar Hotel in Bournemouth, where he and his wife Edith often stayed.

It is from "Lin," which Malton believed could be fellow fantasy author Lin Carter who wrote "Tolkien: A Look Behind 'The Lord of the Rings,'" published in 1969.

Depicting a scene from Ireland, it reads: "I have been thinking of you a lot and hope everything has gone as well as could be expected in the most difficult circumstances."

Malton was not sure what the "difficult circumstances" might be.

Tolkien had achieved fame by the time he moved to Poole in 1968. His epic "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, already popular before the hugely successful film adaptations appeared, was published in 1954-55.
He remained in Poole until his wife's death, when he moved back to Oxford. Tolkien died in 1973, aged 81.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Researchers open secret cave under Mexican pyramid

I actually  visited Teotihuacan about five years ago. The Sun Pyramid is one of the ones I climbed. Amazing.

By Miguel Angel Gutierrez Thu Jul 3, 12:22 PM ET
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Archeologists are opening a cave sealed for more than 30 years deep beneath a Mexican pyramid to look for clues about the mysterious collapse of one of ancient civilization's largest cities.

The soaring Teotihuacan stone pyramids, now a major tourist site about an hour outside Mexico City, were discovered by the ancient Aztecs around 1500 AD, not long before the arrival of Spanish explorers to Mexico.

But little is known about the civilization that built the immense city, with its ceremonial architecture and geometric temples, and then torched and abandoned it around 700 AD.

Archeologists are now revisiting a cave system that is buried 20 feet beneath the towering Pyramid of the Sun and extends into a tunnel stretching for some 295 feet (90 meters) with a height of 8 feet.

They say new excavations begun this month could be the key to unlocking information about the sacred rituals of the people who inhabited the city, later dubbed "The Place Where Men Become Gods" by the Aztecs who believed it was a divine site.

"We think it had a ritual purpose. Offerings were placed at the very end of the tunnel as part of the pyramid's construction process," Mexican archeologist Alejandro Sarabia told Reuters.

"We want to find out why the Teotihuacan people sealed it and when," he said.

Sarabia said the tunnel was first discovered in the early 1970s but it was closed soon afterward, and most of the information about it was lost when the archeologist who found it died.

Teotihuacan is Mexico's oldest major archeological site and during its heyday in 500 AD, the city was home to some 200,000 people, rivaling the size of ancient Rome at that time, according to archeologists.

Today, it is surrounded by encroaching slums spilling over from the outskirts of Mexico City, but swarms of tourists still visit the giant 212-foot (65-meter) sun pyramid each year to celebrate the spring equinox festival marking the sun's return to the northern hemisphere.
  (Writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Eric Beech)


Monday, July 28, 2008

Surf's Up (Movie Review)

Well, I haven't done a movie review in awhile. Now that summer is almost over I thought I should do some in case you are wondering what to see before the summer is gone. What better place to start than with a surfing movie?

I almost didn't watch Surf's Up because I thought it be lame, ho-hum, and just another penguin movie...kindof along the lines of Happy Feet (which this movies does reference, much to my amusement).

Surf's Up was funny, entertaining, had good graphics, and I actually like the story/moral for the most part. Not that I can say all of the movie was entirely appropriate, and there were some parts they could have cut out, but it was certainly worth seeing. They also got the right people to do the voices (which is, naturally, a big asset). Part of what made the movie was the filming technique used to get the "documentary" feel, and the way they recorded the dialogue.

Oh, and I don't care what their little disclaimer said about none of the events or people bearing similarity to real life unless it be coincidental. I mean, two of the characters were playing "themselves." But that aside there were obvious references to real events that took place as recorded in the surfing documentary Riding Giants. And since I'd seen the documentary it made the movie that much more enjoyable.

2 out of 5 stars.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Poll: Voters Don't Know Barack Obama Pro-Abortion, John McCain Pro-Life

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 14
, 2008

Washington, DC ( -- A new poll finds half of voters don't know that presidential candidate John McCain is pro-life on abortion or that Barack Obama is pro-abortion. The survey shows that, when pro-life voters know that information, they support McCain by a three-to-one margin.

A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds voters are more interested in the 2008 election than they were the 2004 election, but they are less informed on where the candidates stand.

Pew finds that just 52 percent of voters rightly identify Obama as pro-abortion ("pro-choice" in the poll's terminology") and only 45 percent know John McCain is pro-life on abortion.

A stunning 38 percent of voters don't know where either Obama or McCain stand on the issue of abortion. Some ten percent wrongly identify Obama as pro-life and 17 percent think McCain supports abortion.

This information gap is important and a subsequent question shows whichever side of the abortion debate can frame the candidates first will likely help one of them win the election.

Among pro-life voters who know where the two candidates stand, McCain trounces Obama by a whopping 70-24 percentage point margin. Surprisingly, Obama has a one percent lead (43-42 percent) among pro-life voters who are uninformed about their abortion positions.

On the other side, pro-abortion groups will be working overtime to educate their supporters as well.

That's because Obama leads 71-24 percent among pro-abortion voters who know where the two candidates stand and he has a much smaller 48-40 percent lead among pro-abortion voters who don't.

The Pew poll also found that Democrats and Obama supporters are much more energized about Obama than Republicans and McCain backers are about McCain.

Compared with previous election cycles, voter engagement is up among all demographic groups, but has increased more among voters under age 50 than among older voters.

Uncharacteristically, the youngest voters -- those under age 30 -- are at least as knowledgeable, and in some cases more knowledgeable, about candidates' positions on abortion than are older voters.

The Pew poll found younger voters are more likely to know where the candidates stand on abortion than older voters, evangelicals were more likely than Catholics, and white voters were more likely than black voters to know -- especially concerning McCain.

One pattern that differs from previous surveys of political knowledge is that younger voters are significantly more knowledgeable about the candidates’ positions than are older voters. For example, 60% of voters 18-29 correctly say that Obama is pro-abortion, compared with just 51% of those ages 50-64 and just 41% of those ages 65 and older.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Missing MA Lighthouse Shows Up In ... CA?

Missing Cape Cod lighthouse located in Calif.

WELLFLEET, Mass. (AP) — Local historians for decades thought the 30-foot tall lighthouse that once overlooked Wellfleet Harbor had been taken down and destroyed in 1925.
Turns out, it had just been moved to the California coast.
The fate of the cast-iron tower was uncovered last year by lighthouse researchers and reported by Colleen MacNeney in this month's edition of Lighthouse Digest.
MacNeney told the Cape Cod Times in Wednesday's edition it was her most exciting discovery.
Wellfleet historian Helen Purcell says the discovery of the lighthouse at Point Montara, 25 miles south of San Francisco, was a genuine shock.
MacNeney says she discovered correspondence that proved the lighthouse, first erected in 1881, had been moved by the Coast Guard from Wellfleet to Yerba Buena, Calif., and eventually to Point Montara.
There is no known documentation explaining how it was moved across the country, MacNeney said.
But Jim Walker, chairman of the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, speculates that because it is metal, it could have been disassembled bolt by bolt, with the pieces then transported by rail.
The lighthouse is still used as a navigational aid and a hostel.

A lighthouse at Point Montara is shown in Montara, Calif., Wednesday, June 4, 2008. According to lighthouse researchers, this lighthouse was first erected in 1881 overlooking Wellfleet Harbor in Wellfleet, Mass. and had been moved by the Coast Guard from Wellfleet to Yerba Buena, Calif., and eventually to Point Montara. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)


Monday, June 23, 2008

"I Don't Want to Take Life for Granted Like I Used to"

Pretty self-explanatory. Very true. When I was a child I marveled at the world, the way things were, I wondered about life. As I grew the world became commonplace. A routine. Something to get through. I "woke up" one day. Realized what I was missing. "I don't want to take life for granted like I used to." I live. I love. I sing. I dream. I pray. I wonder. I praise. Instead of commonplace, the world is marvelous once more. I never want to lose the wonder. My friend (who has since left the blogging world) inspired me when he penned these words:

I wonder at the world I see
I marvel at its mystery
Who am I to have this glimpse of God?
Why should He reveal himself to me?

At night the outspread starscape shines
Reminding us to look between the lines
The sleeper to his sweetest dream may cling
But I must rise to [all] creation sing
Knowing not the words I simply stand amazed
And let my wonder be my greatest praise

I've been told I should always comment on a quote. I don't think it's necessary right now. That pretty much sums it up.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things to Taste:
1. Good, Pure Water
2. Sharp (and Extra Sharp) Cheddar Cheese
3. Chicken, cooked almost any way
4. Sunflower Seeds
5. Southern Casserole

My Favorite Things to Feel:
1. A Baby's Touch
2. The Wind in My Hair
3. Winter's Bite
4. The Sun's Kiss
5. Flower Petals

My Favorite Smells:
1. The Air after a Rain
2. Anything Citrus
3. An Old Book
4. A Room Full of Memories
5. Sea-Salt Air and the Brisk Mountain Breeze

My Favorite Sounds:
1. The Voices of my Family and Friends
2. Rain on a Tin Roof
3. Seashells Washing Over Each Other
4. The Stillness of the Mountains and the Crashing of the Waves
5. Horses

My Favorite Things to See:
1. An Answer to Prayer
2. The Sun Rise/Set
3. A Storm Rolling in
4. Anything "Picture Perfect"
5. Love

A Few Miscellaneous Things:
1. Edelweiss
2. Old Glory
3. Ancient Landmarks and Museums
4. Smooth Wooden Banisters
5. Watermelon

What are a few of your favorite things?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Virtual Reality

I have a problem with virtual reality many times. I usually struggle with articulating why exactly I don't care for these games, but this post I found while doing a Google search on another topic that pretty much sums up my own feelings.

I was reading an article in a recent issue of Newsweek. The article was talking about how Steven Spielberg was getting back into the video game industry. His ideas were sounding pretty cool (though I haven't played a video game in years, go figure), but then I got to a quote that made me rethink what the article was telling me.

The article quotes Spielberg saying, "The challenge is, can the game have an emotional impact on players while they are actively manipulating the world?"* Wow. The idea of one of his new games is that you have to build a relationship with the computer character in order to receive the most benefit from her skills. I find the idea that the game-designers' intent is to impact you emotionally very troubling. No wonder more and more people are getting sucked into video games and alternate realities. They can feel "social" while doing that, even though they may merely be interacting with machines. This is the reason why I had to stop playing the Sims 2 a couple of years ago. I loved the game, but for all the wrong reasons. By exerting my control over the imaginary world, I was acting out my desire to be in control of my own.

I'm not trying to bash all video games. Certainly there are many that are fine to play. But just like any other activity, we have to be careful about our reasons for playing and determine if the activity is the most beneficial use of our time.

*"Wii Can't Wait to Play," by N'gai Croal in July 16, 2007 Newsweek, page 53.

from Tale of a Kansas Girl (btw - I've enjoyed reading this blog since I found it. It tends to be very insightful and humorous.)

So am I completely against video games? Of course not. I even enjoy playing them sometimes! However, I do have a problem with preferring virtual reality to reality. We live in the real world, and nothing in an imagined one is going to really help you through life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Motherhood in America

Only women can be mothers. Have we forgotten this fundamental?

Only a woman can carry in her body an eternal being which bears the very image of God. Only she is the recipient of the miracle of life. Only a woman can conceive and nurture this life using her own flesh and blood, and then deliver a living soul into the world. God has bestowed upon her alone a genuine miracle — the creation of life, and the fusing of an eternal soul with mortal flesh. This fact alone establishes the glory of motherhood.

Despite the most creative plans of humanist scientists and lawmakers to redefine the sexes, no man will ever conceive and give birth to a child. The fruitful womb is a holy gift given by God to women alone. This is one reason why the office of wife and mother is the highest calling to which a woman can aspire.

This is the reason why nations that fear the Lord esteem and protect mothers. They glory in the distinctions between men and women, and attempt to build cultures in which motherhood is honored and protected.

In his famous commentary on early American life, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville explained:
Thus the Americans do not think that man and woman have either the duty or the right to perform the same offices, but they show an equal regard for both their respective parts; and though their lot is different, they consider both of them as beings of equal value. They do not give to the courage of woman the same form or the same direction as to that of man, but they never doubt her courage; and if they hold that man and his partner ought not always to exercise their intellect and understanding in the same manner, they at least believe the understanding of the one to be as sound as that of the other, and her intellect to be as clear. Thus, then, while they have allowed the social inferiority of woman to continue, they have done all they could to raise her morally and intellectually to the level of man; and in this respect they appear to me to have excellently understood the true principle of democratic improvement.
De Tocqueville contrasted the American understanding of women, with European sentiments:
There are people in Europe who, confounding together the different characteristics of the sexes, would make man and woman into beings not only equal but alike. They could give to both the same functions, impose on both the same duties, and grant to both the same rights; they would mix them in all things — their occupations, their pleasures, their business. It may readily be conceived that by thus attempting to make one sex equal to the other, both are degraded, and from so preposterous a medley of the works of nature nothing could ever result but weak men and disorderly women.

The War on Motherhood

America's glory was her women. de Tocqueville believed this when he wrote:
As for myself, I do not hesitate to avow that although the women of the United States are confined within the narrow circle of domestic life, and their situation is in some respects one of extreme dependence, I have nowhere seen woman occupying a loftier position; and if I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply: To the superiority of their women.
But this birthright would be exchanged during the last century for a mess of pottage. Perhaps the greatest legacy of the 20th century has been the war on motherhood and biblical patriarchy. Feminists, Marxists, and liberal theologians have made it their aim to target the institution of the family and divest it from its biblical structure and priorities. The results are androgyny, a radical decline in birthrate, abortion, fatherless families, and social confusion.

Incredibly, the biggest story of the 20th century never made headline news [i]. Somehow we missed it. It was the mass exodus of women from the home, and the consequent decline of motherhood. For the first time in recorded history of the West, more mothers left their homes than stayed in them. By leaving the home, the experience and reality of childhood, family life and femininity were fundamentally redefined, and the results have been so bad that if this one trend is not reversed, our grandchildren may live in a world where the both the true culture of Christian family life and the historic definition of marriage are the stuff of fairy tales.

Many "isms" have influenced these trends-evolutionism, feminism, statism, eugenicism, Marxism, and more. But in the end, the philosophical gap between the presuppositions of the Atheists, eugenicists, and Marxists of the early 20th century, and the presuppositions of the professing Church in the 21st century, have narrowed dramatically. The goals of the state and the goals of the mainstream church have so merged, that the biblical family with its emphasis on male headship, generational succession, and prolific motherhood are a threat to the social order of both institutions.

Less than one hundred years ago, the architects of the atheistic communist Soviet state anticipated the death of the Christian family. They explained the need for destroying the Christian family with its emphasis on motherhood, and replacing it with a vision for a "new family." Lenin wrote:

We must now say proudly and without any exaggeration that part from Soviet Russia, there is not a country in the world where women enjoy full equality and where women are not placed in the humiliating position felt particularly in day-to-day family life. This is one of our first and most important tasks...Housework is the most unproductive, the most barbarous and the most arduous work a woman can do. It is exceptionally petty and does not include anything that would in any way promote the development of the woman...The building of socialism will begin only when we have achieved the complete equality of women and when we undertake the new work together with women who have been emancipated from that petty stultifying, unproductive work...We are setting up model institutions, dining-rooms and nurseries, that will emancipate women from housework...These institutions that liberate women from their position as household slaves are springing up where it is in any way possible...Our task is to make politics available to every working woman.
In his 1920 International Working Women's Day Speech, Lenin emphasized:
The chief thing is to get women to take part in socially productive labor, to liberate them from 'domestic slavery,' to free them from their stupefying [idiotic] and humiliating subjugation to the eternal drudgery of the kitchen and the nursery. This struggle will be a long one, and it demands a radical reconstruction, both of social technique and of morale. But it will end in the complete triumph of Communism.
Lenin's comrade Trotsky played a key role in communicating the Marxist vision of what he called the "new family." Lenin and Trotsky believed in the overthrow of Christianity by destroying the biblical family. They sought to build a new state, free from historic Christian presuppositions concerning the family. This meant denigrating the biblical notion of male headship and hierarchy within the family. It meant eliminating any sense that there should be a division of labor between man and wife. This required delivering women from the burdens of childbirth and childcare. It meant adopting tools like birth control as guarantors that women could be free to remain in the workforce. Trotsky said this:
Lenin's comrade Trotsky
Socialization of family housekeeping and public education of children are unthinkable without a marked improvement in our economics as a whole. We need more socialist economic forms. Only under such conditions can we free the family from the functions and cares that now oppress and disintegrate it. Washing must be done by a public laundry, catering by a public restaurant, sewing by a public workshop. Children must be educated by good public teachers who have a real vocation for the work. Then the bond between husband and wife would be freed from everything external and accidental, and the one would cease to absorb the life of the other. Genuine equality would at last be established...

The most disturbing part of quotes like those above is how similar they sound in sentiment and spirit to voices today from individuals who claim to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Even more disturbing is how many of the anti-family social reforms are presuppositions of modern Christians in America. Presuppositions which have been fully accepted.

How America's Conscience Was Seared Toward Motherhood

But motherhood is not easily defeated. It was here from the beginning and it has always carried the Church and civilization forward. Motherhood not only perpetuates civilization, it defines it.

At first Jamestown was a bachelor society struggling for survival. But she became a civilization when the women arrived. Plymouth, on the other hand, began as a civilization-families of faith committed to fruitfulness and multiplication for the glory of God, an impossibility without motherhood.

Motherhood is not easily defeated because God has placed reminders of its importance in the very bodies of the women He created. To defeat motherhood, the enemies of the biblical family must do more than make it a social inconvenience, they must teach women to despise themselves by viewing their own wombs as the enemy of self-fulfillment. This means minimizing the glorious gift of life which is only given to womankind. It means redefining what it means to be a woman.

But even this is not enough. To defeat motherhood the enemies of the biblical family must sear the conscience of an entire generation of women. This is done through the doctrines of social emancipation from the home, sexual liberation, birth control, and abortion — all four of which cause a woman to war against her created nature. Instead of being the blessed guardian of domesticity for society, she is taught that contentment can only be found by acting, dressing, and competing with men. Instead of being an object of respect, protection, and virtue, she sells herself cheaply, thus devaluing her womanhood. Instead of glorying in a fruitful womb she cuts off the very seed of life. Sometimes she even kills the life.

Years of playing the part of a man hardens a woman. It trains women to find identity in the corporation, not the home. It teaches them to be uncomfortable around children and large families---the mere presence of which is a reminder of the antithesis between God's design for womankind and the norms of post-Christian societies.

But women are not the only ones with seared consciences. Men have them too. Consider that fifty years ago a man would have winced to think of female soldiers heading into combat while stay-at-home dads are left behind changing diapers. Today's man has a seared conscience. He no longer thinks of himself as a protector of motherhood, and a defender of womankind. He comforts himself by repeating the mantras of modern feminism, and by assuring himself of how reasonable and enlightened he is — how different he is from his intolerant and oppressive fathers. But in his heart, modern man knows that he has lost something. He has lost his manhood.

To be a man, you must care about women. And you must care about them in the right way. You must care about them as creatures worthy of protection, honor, and love. This means genuinely appreciating them for their uniqueness as women. It means recognizing the preciousness of femininity over glamour, of homemaking over careerism, and of mature motherhood over perpetual youth.

But when women are reduced to soldiers, sexual objects, and social competitors, it is not merely the women who lose the identity given to them by the Creator, but the men as well. This is why the attack on motherhood has produced a nation of eunuchs---socially and spiritually impotent men who have little capacity to lead, let alone love women as God intended man to love woman—as mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters.

Motherhood Will Triumph

There is an important reason why motherhood will not be defeated — The Church is her guardian. As long as she perseveres — and persevere she will — motherhood will prevail.

The Church is the ultimate vanguard of that which is most precious and most holy. She holds the oracles of God which dare to proclaim to a selfish, self-centered nation: "Children are a blessing and the fruit of the womb is His reward." Psalm 127:3.

The Church stands at the very gates of the city, willing to receive the railing complaints of feminists, atheists, and the legions arrayed against the biblical family, and she reminds the people of God: "Let the older women teach the young to love their children, to guide the homes." Titus 2:3-5.

It is this very love of the life of children, this passion for femininity and motherhood which may be God's instrument of blessing on America in the days to come. As the birth rate continues to plummet, divorce rates rise, and family life in America dissipates to the point of extinction, life-loving families will not only have an important message to share, but thy will have an army of children to help them share it.

The Question:

Teacher: Susie what do you want to be when you grow up?
Susie: I want to be a doctor.
Teacher: How wonderful! And what about you Julie?
Julie: I want to be a soldier.
Teacher: How commendable! And what about you Hannah?
Hannah: When I grow up I want to be a wife and mother!
Teacher: [dead silence]...

After years of society belittling the calling of motherhood, something wonderful is happening — something wonderfully counter-cultural! In the midst of the anti-life, anti-motherhood philosophies which pervade the culture, there is a new generation of young ladies emerging whose priorities are not determined by the world's expectations of them. They have grown up in homes where fathers shepherd them, where children are not merely welcome, but where they are deeply loved. Some of these women have been home educated, which means that many of them have grown up around babies and their mothers. They have learned to see motherhood as a joy and a high calling, because their parents see it that way.

And when asked about their future, these girls know their own minds. These are the future mothers of the Church. Young women who are not afraid to say that the goal of all of their education and training is to equip them to pursue the highest calling of womanhood, the office of wife and mother.

The Cost of Motherhood

Once a lady went to visit her friend. During the visit the children of the friend entered the room and began to play with each other. As the lady and her friend visited, the lady turned to her friend and said eagerly and yet with evidently no thought of the meaning of her words: "Oh, I'd give my life to have such children." The mother replied with a subdued earnestness whose quiet told of the depth of experience out of which her words came: "That's exactly what it costs."

There is a cost of motherhood. And the price is no small sum. And if you are not willing to pay this price, no amount of encouragement about the joys of motherhood will satisfy.

But the price of motherhood is not fundamentally different from the price of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. In fact, Christian mothers see their duty as mothers flowing from their calling to Jesus Christ. And what is this cost?

Christian motherhood means dedicating your entire life in service of others. It means standing beside your husband, following him, and investing in the lives of children whom you hope will both survive you and surpass you. It means forgoing present satisfaction for eternal rewards. It means investing in the lives of others who may never fully appreciate your sacrifice or comprehend the depth of your love. And it means doing all these things, not because you will receive the praise of man — for you will not — but because God made you to be a woman and a mother, and there is great contentment in that biblical calling.

In other words, Motherhood requires vision. It requires living by faith and not by sight.

These are some of the reasons why Motherhood is both the most biblically noble and the most socially unappreciated role to which a young woman can aspire. There are many people who ask the question: Does my life matter? But a mother that fears the Lord need never ask such a question. Upon her faithful obedience hinges the future of the church and the hope of the nation.

In 1950, the great Scottish American preacher Peter Marshall stood before the United States Senate and he explained it this way:
The modern challenge to motherhood is the eternal challenge — that of being a godly woman. The very phrase sounds strange in our ears. We never hear it now. We hear about every other kind of women — beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career woman, talented women, divorced women, but so seldom do we hear of a godly woman — or of a godly man either, for that matter.
I believe women come nearer fulfilling their God-given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife than to be Miss America. It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home than it is to produce a second-rate novel filled with filth. It is a far, far better thing in the realm of morals to be old-fashioned than to be ultramodern. The world has enough women who know how to hold their cocktails, who have lost all their illusions and their faith. The world has enough women who know how to be smart.
It needs women who are willing to be simple. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure. We need women, and men, too, who would rather be morally right tha[n] socially correct.

from Doug Philip's May 9 08 newsletter