Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sometimes, a Shirt is just a Shirt

The PC police have finally gone over the edge in their continued attack on Christianity.

This time, the absurdity comes from the anti-God crowd at Penn State University, where there's been an uproar over a t-shirt that was designed to be worn on "white out" day at the football stadium.

The tradition of "white out" day began when Penn State fans were asked to wear a white t-shirt as a show of support each time the football team had a home game against a ranked opponent. Penn State has the biggest college football stadium in the country with an average of 110-thousand fans showing up for each game. With everyone in white it becomes the ultimate intimidation for the opposing team.

"White Out" day has become so popular that students have started submitting t-shirt designs each year to be voted on by students and fans. The winning design is then manufactured and sold by the university.

It's this year's winner that has caused the problem at Penn State. The t-shirt was designed after the school helmet and is white with a blue stripe down the center. The words "Penn State" were added across the chest and then the holy war was on. It seems some were offended because they thought the design looked like a cross and a few of the "anti-gods" went beserk. Six student complaints as well as one from the Philadelphia Anti-Defamation League have now forced the school to stop selling the t-shirts, because a few crazies thought there was a subliminal religious message on them.

The whole mess doesn't make sense,but the fact that yet another attack on Christianity is making news is downright biblical. Yesterday, the debate about the very existence of God made headlines and today there's an uproar from a jaded few who apparently see Jesus everywhere and can't handle it. The Bible says that in the last days, attacks on the faith will become more numerous.We've seen that, but are we really prepared for this kind of lunacy? Christians have often been accused of seeing evil everywhere, but it now seems that those with nothing better to do, see crosses.

Get Real! It's a t-shirt! It has nothing to do with God, and it's mind boggling that some people are so afraid of Christianity that they'll make fools of themselves and see things that aren't there. If you don't believe, why are you afraid? Is it really logical to think that Christians have no other way to spread the message except for putting subliminal images on college football shirts? Perhaps the bigger question is that if we don't, why did we just choose one college? Why wouldn't we have covert t-shirt designers in all schools, so we can flood the world with the cross? I think some of these people have watched too many movies about conspiracies.

The Christian music and publishing industries make billions of dollars each year from the sale of religious books and tapes. There are radio and television networks devoted to nothing more than spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Bloggers (like The Christian Commentator) are posting all over the internet where millions can read their stories about defending the faith. Even conservative channels like Fox News, have begun to fight the good fight of religious freedom.

If you're one of the six who complained at Penn State, you really do need help. In fact, I'm sure hundreds of Christians will be willing to pray that you get it and that you'll soon rejoin those of us who live in the realm of reality. Believe me, we aren't out to get you, and sometimes a football shirt is just a football shirt. As believers, we really don't see the physical God in the trees or sky or even on football fans, even though we stand firm in our belief that He gave man the knowledge to create them. You see, God really doesn't need to impose Himself on the chests of beer drinking college kids and anyone can choose to reject the work His Son did on the cross. So if you're upset about this whole "white out" business you can relax. God won't be there on game day if you don't want him to be, but I sure hope no one gets caught praying, for the winning Penn State touchdown.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Are you there, God?

Christianity and whether it's beneficial to society is the subject of debate in the new documentary Collision. Written by Atheist, Christopher Hitchen, who believes God, Jesus and the stories of the Bible are all myth, Collision also presents the other side of the argument featuring Evangelical Pastor Douglas Wilson. Strangely, the two men are friends in real life, showing respect for each other's beliefs even though they go head to head with a vengeance in the movie.

Writing on the Huffington Post, Hitchens said that religion will always retain prestige because of its being the species first attempt to make sense of our own nature. The problem for him lies in the Christian viewpoint that the question can be answered on the basis of revelation and faith.

Wilson makes the counter point that the atheistic worldview is reductionistic, saying that atheists believe everything that happens is a chance driven jumble in the concourse of atoms we call time. Wilson says that from the atheist's point of view, the 1927 Yankees, Princess Di, the music of John Cage, and our current Congress have all occured by chance in an aimless fashion.

So, as a Christian how do you defend the faith? The Bible calls upon us to stand ready to give answers, but are we really willing or capable of doing so? Hitchens documentary says that 15% of Americans have no affiliation to any religion. When combined with those who don't accept Christ, millions of people then fall into our Christian definition of being lost.

How can we defend the concept of faith to a group of people who claim that we're ignorant for having it? How can we prove that the Bible is absolute truth and that Jesus actually rose from the dead? We can't. Faith is just that, and comes from the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit in the believer. We can only show faith through action by living according to the principles that Christ and his Apostles taught. We must love our neighbor, we must share God's word (without being preachy around those who refuse to hear) and we must adhere to Jesus' words in the Book of John thatsay that "He is the way, the truth and the life." We must stand ready to defend our creator even when it's not the popular thing to do.

It's mystifying that Christians are called stupid for having faith in the idea that something bigger than we are created the universe that surrounds us. I find it equally absurd when atheists make the argument that the world's existence is unexplainable and spontaneous. Intelligence is based in logic and it is only logical that nature and the human species had to be created by a divine, master designer who knew what perfection was before it existed. Chance can never be perfect, yet the intricacies of the human brain, the perfect designs of nature's seasons and the life source that is found in the world's oceansare just a few of the things that prove that faith in God is where the intelligent person puts his belief. I agree with those who say science is where the answers often lie, but even science had to have a beginning. God is the only one who could inspire mere mortals to discover the answers to many of the world's problems through scientific method. Science is not eternal. God is and hope is the "collision" point where faith and science meet.

If genuine faith was about nothing more than clinging to anything that made me feel better in the moment, then I too would be an atheist. If belief in God came only in the good times when life's ugliness was far away, then I too, would not see Christianity as anything to be concerned with. If I believed that man could walk on the moon but refused to believe that a virgin birth is impossible, then I too would call the people of faith stupid. If I believed that Christ's resurrection from the dead never happened, then I too, would be shouting my disbelief to the masses.

I do belive however, that faith is more complex than any issue that confronts mankind. It only grows through the uncertainties of the life we've been given. I believe that God is at His closest when times are hard and we can't seem to find anyway or anyone to help us out. I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that my life can only be eternal if I accept through faith that He rose from the dead. I believe that I'm at my most intelligent when I accept the fact that next to God, I know nothing at all. You see, I believe that God is very real and that He can do everything He said He can and more. I believe that He loves me and all of his children on earth, even those who refuse to accept the reality that is Him. Finally, I believe that if it makes me stupid and out of touch to have faith in God, then I am blessed, and I look forward to the day when I can personally thank Him for my ignorance.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oprah versus Sarah

Oprah has decided to have Sarah Palin on her show, in spite of her refusal to do so during last year's election race. Fox News reports, that the former Alaskan governor will appear on the talkshow November 16, to promote her new book,"Going Rogue: An American Life."

The decision is one of the "hot topics" of the day, with many "news junkies" saying Palin should refuse to do the show since she was snubbed last year. Meanwhile, Oprah continues to be criticized by political conservatives for being so public about her support of President Obama, and her ignoring Palin when she was on the campaign trail. ( It should be noted that the president appeared on the show twice, but it was several years before his white house bid.)

To be honest, I'm surprised anyone cares about this story, and I was more suprised this morning, when so many had a comment. It's obvious to most, that Oprah's support gave a huge "fist bump" to the president, but I'm not convinced that she's the reason he won. (Frankly, I don't think he would have won, had the economy not crashed last October, as John McCain called for more of the same, in regards to saving the housing industry.)

As a former radio newsdirector and talk show host, my personal policy was to take an "all or nothing" approach in regards to having political guests on my program, especially during election cycles. I usually invited "all" candidates because I think the media functions to inform the public about the people and issues who shape their world. On that point, I can understand why the conservatives are saying that it's "too little to late," in regards to Palin's appearance, because Oprah was so publically supportive of the Obama campaign.

On the other hand, Palin has a book to sell, and may very well be back in the political arena in the future, so she is sure to offer a ratings boost which is a big plus for the advertisers who sponsor the show. Basically, the election is over and Palin has a core group of supporters who would love to see her on daytime television so Oprah booking her makes sense.

Perhaps the bigger issue lies in why so many of us are flooding the network blog sites and airwaves with comments about one guest on one talk show, and whether or not we think she should be there. It's ultimately Oprah's show and she can have any guest she wants to have. Meanwhile,there is still a war going on, a healthcare crisis, and VP Joe Biden (God forbid!) meeting with Polish leaders about our removing our missle defense system from that country. These are the issues that shape our lives, not Sarah Palin being on Oprah. Even so, we get all jazzed about a former media darling who is paving the way for another run for the white house. I guess we really would prefer to live in the "glow" of celebrity, instead of dealing with the harsh realities of our troubled world.

So, mark your calendars for Nov. 16, plan to call out sick from work that day, and enjoy Palin's moment in the spotlight, that is Oprah. The war will still be going on after the fact, and it doesn't appear our domestic problems will disappear anytime soon. Remember, if anyone challenges you by asking if you really care enough to be glued to your TV that day, you can always get in the spirit, and join the millions of other Americans who will likely be saying, "You Betcha."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Up, Up, and Away to Jail!

IT'S A HOAX! Fort Collins,Colorado Sheriff,Jim Alderden made the announcement yesterday, in regards to the balloon incident that had the world watching three days before. CNN.com reports that as a tearful Colorado family watched their homemade balloon fly through the air on Thursday, they knew that their son was hiding in the attic in spite of their telling reporters that they believed the six year old boy was inside the balloon.

Authorities became suspicious of the incident on Thursday night, when Richard and Mayumi Heene appeared on Larry King Live, which was hosted by fill in anchor, Wolf Blitzer. During the interview, the Heenes asked their son Falcon why he didn't come when they called his name. (Falcon was the boy that was supposedly missing)

"You guys said we did this for the show," the boy responded.

WHAT? Ahhhhhh....Out of the mouths of babes!

As a result, charges are pending against the Heenes, who apparently thought the incident would be a great publicity stunt as they tried to market themselves to be on a reality show in the future. Police are also questioning 25-year old Robert Thomas who had worked with Richard Heene as a researcher last spring. Thomas had sold the story of his experience to the popular gossip site Gawker.com., and police believe he may have acted as a co-conspirator in this incident.

As a result of their stunt, Heene and his wife are likely to be charged with three felonies including: Conspiracy to Commit a Crime, Illegal Influence of a Public Servant, and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. If found guilty they will both be headed to jail.

In one final twist to this already bizarre story, CNN now reports, that a nearby University Physics Professor said the balloon would never have taken off in the first place as the boy was too heavy for it to get off the ground. This now gives further credence to the conspiracy theory behind the whole incident.

So what should happen to the Heenes? I hope their fifteen minutes of fame was worth the price they'll likely have to pay for it. Have we as a society gotten so hungry for fame that we're willing to risk our families and our own futures just so we can get on camera? Thankfully most of us aren't as far gone as the Heenes, but they certainly aren't alone in their quest for national attention.

Narcissism has reached an all time high (or low) in America, with many being willing to do anything to get themselves on camera. It's a disease that is permeating our culture and part of the blame goes to the producers of many of the disgusting reality shows that fill our airwaves. It's sad and bizarre that people will allow themselves to do all kinds of immoral and gross deeds, so they can have a shot at winning some money and signing their own television deal.

While the producers of the endless number of shows must bear part of the reponsibility, those who watch them are also at fault. If there were no ratings, there would be no shows that sink to the lowest common denominator. (that lowest common denominator also includes shows like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich who exploit the disfunction of people for their own publicity and ratings gain) This whole "car wreck" mentality of watching, as people are being destroyed in front of the camera, is enough to make one physically ill.

I hope the Heenes are punished severely for their crime, as many lives were put at risk including the lives of those who were trying to help save a child. I wonder if anyone didn't get to the hospital last Thursday because the crews were out trying to save a boy who didn't need saving. I wonder how many dollars were lost as helicopters and life squads fled to the scene. I also wonder if the Heenes have any idea about what they've done to themselves and their family, as they tried to get a TV contract with no thought about the consequences. Probably not. Their lawyers are already crying that they're getting a raw deal, and we're all guilty of watching as their saga continues to unfold, which is what they wanted in the first place.

When it's all said and done, the Heenes will get what they set out to get,and their names will be remembered by those of us who prayed for their child. However, I wonder if twenty years from now they'll be proud of their accomplishment as they sit childless,in jail?

My guess is that as they reflect on what could have been, little Falcon will be seeking his own fame at that point, perhaps writing a tell-all book about his horrible experience in foster care, and the suffering he had to endure because of his parents selfishness. After all, he was exposed to the camera early in life, and it may not be easy for him to give up his place in the spotlight.

One can only imagine the life that this child and his siblings will have after all of this, but one thing is sure to occur. As they grow up without their parents, be it with relatives or in foster care, I think it will be very likely that one day they'll be too busy with their own pursuits to stop by the prison on visiting day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pink Ties and American Flags, Oh My!

We've all heard the expression that oil and water don't mix, and it's apparent today, that political correctness and common sense don't either. Two separate incidents in two separate states have made it clear that those who spend their lives trying to stop people from being "offensive" are the very ones who seem to "offend" the most. Fortunately, cooler heads have prevailed and public outcry has snapped a few people back into reality.

Case in point. Fox News reports, that an Oregon apartment complex recently banned residents from flying American flags on their balconies and cars. The problem began when Jim Clausen of Portland, flew the flag from the back of his motorcycle as a tribute to his son in the military. He was told by the building management that he would be evicted if he didn't take the flag down because of its political nature. Clausen said he was stunned by the request, as were many other complex residents.

Next, longtime resident Sharron White was told to take down the flag she had been flying on her car for eight years, or she would be evicted. The management again said the flag may be offensive to some , but White said that anyone who didn't like it would just have to live with it. Good for her! Fortunately, after the outrage from Fox viewers, apartment managers with similar policies in other states have banned the no flag policy.

Meanwhile, an Illinois bus driver thought he was being supportive of his relatives when he wore a pink tie on the job to help raise awareness about breast cancer. William Jones of Springfield, said his grandmother and sister had both battled the disease, so he wore the tie on October 2, as a symbol for the kick off of Breast Cancer awareness month.

What did he get in return? A pat on the back? Praises for being a supportive family member? Of course not. He was suspended from work for one day without pay, because his employer said he violated a company wardrobe policy! In response, Jones filed a grievance against the transit system, and is waiting to collect. Good for him! (It should be noted that the bus company has now changed its position and is allowing drivers to wear the pink tie for breast cancer awareness month.)

Even thought these incidents turned out ok, the old addage is still true: "SOME PEOPLE NEED TO GET A LIFE!"

If you're " anti -American" to the point that the display of our flag is offensive to you, then there's a simple solution to your problem----GET OUT! People have fought and died for the flag, and there is no amount of diverse thought that can erase that. Two thumbs up to everyone who protested against the policy. I wonder if the wearing of flag pins will be next? (but then again, our president did start that debate when he refused to wear the flag pin in the early days.)

At the same time, how can anyone be offended by showing support for breast cancer awareness? Are there "pro-cancer" people out there that we don't know about? Is there a collection effort and literature available to help people contract the illness? As bizarre as that sounds, why else would there be a problem with showing support for the fight? I find it hard to believe that anyone would be offended by a man in a pink tie. (except the strange few that may question his masculinity for doing so, which is another blog for another day. I personally think pink is chic. :) )

While, it's good news that these situations have been resolved there are sure to be many more of them in the future. Even though informed citizens are finally starting to realize that enough is enough, we need more people who are grounded in reality to continue the protest.

Perhaps if we continue to speak out about the ridiculous nature of these types of arguments, the ACLU would go out of business, the" politically correct" junkies would get a job, and peace, at least in America, would be one step closer to reality.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS! (May God Help us All)

It's that time of year when we start hearing rumblings about which national retailers will not be using the word "Christmas" in their holiday advertisements.

The American Family Association is asking all Christians to boycott those stores that won't use the word, having been successful at changing some retailers minds in the past. The AFA reports on their website, that Sears, one of the companies who was boycotted three years ago, is now offering a Christmas Club on sears.com. Many Americans including The Christian Commentator, enjoyed last year's WalMart spots, depicting the little boy putting a nativity scene under his Christmas tree. WalMart had also been the target of a boycott a few years back.

This year, the AFA is calling on Christians to boycott The Gap, which has clearly indicated that it will not allow the term "Christmas" to be used on any of its promotional advertising. In addition, they are asking for a boycott of Old Navy and Banana Republic, which are both owned by the same company.

Are you willing to boycott stores that won't allow "Christmas" into their advertisements? If so, you can also go to afa.net, where you can buy buttons and stickers that say "Merry Christmas." They make the perfect accessory to wear into the stores where you refuse to shop, because of their lack of "Christmas" cheer.

This whole idea of retailers refusing to use the word "Christmas" is ridiculous. With 70% of the U.S. population claiming to be Christian, why would they decide to offend such a large group of people, especially in a time when retail sales are going down the drain?

The other issue that doesn't seem to make sense, is the suggestion that a "word" has the power to convert someone to a particular faith. Having been a Christian for over 40 years, I can honestly say, that my conversion moment didn't come because someone wished me a Merry Christmas.

If you don't believe in the religious connotation of the holiday, why would you be threatened by those of us who do? You can relax. You still can buy a bunch of tacky decorations, max out your credit cards on gifts nobody wants, and fill yourself with food and drink while laughing at those of us who respect the day as the rememberance of Christ's birth. Believe me when I say, we won't stop by on December 25 to spoil your fun.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what about the rights of those of us who do call ourselves Christian? We gladly stand by and offer well wishes to those who celebrate Hanuakkah and Kwanza and we tolerate those who choose to celebrate nothing at all. At the same time, it gets a bit old, to be part of the one group in America who happens to be in the majority, as far as religion is concerned, yet we are the very ones who aren't given the respect to worship our God publicly. Remember retailers, every major religion has their day, and ours happens to be the one that can make or break your year end sales goals.

So, be sure to weigh in on what you think. Merry Christmas or boycott? Protest or complacency? Spending your hard earned dollars for gifts for your loved ones, or forgetting about Christmas all together?

As for me, let me be the first to release my inner radical here in mid-October to say: MERRY CHRISTMAS! May the peace of Christ be with you, whether you worship Him or not, and may God put an end to the insanity in the New Year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let the Kid Back in School!

Lansingburgh Senior High School in Troy, New York has a zero tolerance policy in regards to kids bringing weapons to school. While that is obviously a great policy, the school district is catching a lot of negative press for suspending 17-year old Matthew Whalen for having a small pocket knife in his car.

UPI news service reports that the 17-year old Eagle Scout was suspended first for five days, then for an additional 15 under the school's Code of Conduct policy, after admitting that the knife was in his glove compartment. He said he had placed it there as a precaution in case of car trouble. The suspension was a rare mark against Whalen, an honor student recognized last year by the Boy Scouts of America and the city of Troy for saving a woman's life. He has also completed basic training for the Army and had hoped to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Appearing on Fox News This Morning, Whalen said he understood the district's policy and claimed to have no problem with the original five day suspension that he was given. What he didn't understand, was the decision to add the additional 15 days, because school leaders told him they knew he had no intent to use the knife improperly. To make matters worse, the state of New York doesn't consider the knife a weapon because its blade is only two inches long which makes it too small to classify. Sadly, this incident will likely destroy his chances of fulfilling his childhood dream of going to Westpoint.

What do you think? Is this a case of school district follow through about an important policy, or one of it's being totally ridiculous? A young man with an exemplary record, had a small pocket knife in his car and somehow the school found out. He admitted to having the knife, because first, he doesn't lie, and the state says it's too small to be classified as a weapon anyway. He's then kicked out of school for three weeks putting a black mark on his record, and now he may lose the one thing that has kept him motivated and hard working for his whole young life? OUTRAGEOUS!

While policies are put in place for the protection of all, schools exist to teach and prepare young people for life. This young man has gotten it right. He has strived for a goal and has lived a life that is so exemplary that many teenagers can't even imagine it. He isn't drinking or doing drugs. He isn't getting his young girlfriend pregnant. He isn't in a gang. He has been an honor student and a hero, and now some over eager administrator is trying to make him an example, risking his entire future for nothing.

Is it appropriate to ruin a kid's dreams over something that the state says is not illegal? Of course not! I hope the Whalen family sues the school district and I hope they collect big. We cannot expect our children to understand the difference between right and wrong if we have no common sense when it comes to enforcing the policies we have put in place. One wonders what was going on behind the school building when Whalen was being kicked off the property. More than likely there were a bunch of kids cutting class and doing the very things that Whalen has never gotten himself involved in.

Get real, Lansingburgh Senior High! Matthew Whalen is one of the good guys and you should let him back in school. It's just bizarre that you don't recognize that. Is this really a case of your being committed to enforcing a policy? I think it's a case of the inmates running the asylum, and I think that you have become so jaded and fearful of your students, that you can simply no longer tell the difference between right and wrong.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kabul 24

Kabul 24 is an amazing book that details the story of eight humanitarian aid workers who were kidnapped and imprisoned by the Taliban in Afghanistan, in August, 2001. The workers were part of Shelter Now International (SNI) and their efforts were headed by Christians from Western countries who were falsely accused of trying to convert Muslims into followers of Jesus. They faced 105 days of bad food, deplorable conditions, and the constant threat of execution before being freed by an American Special Forces Team in November of that year. Even more remarkable than their survival, was the faith and perserverance that each team member displayed in spite of their situation. Kabul 24 reminds all of us that God is with his children even in the most horrific of circumstances.

I'd strongly recommend that all Christians read Kabul 24. If you're familiar with the Biblical story that details the imprisonment of Paul and Silas, you will discover an amazing similarity between the two. The six women and two men led by German worker Georg Taubmann, display the same courage with their captors that Paul did in scripture. As a result, God sent many miracles their way, which ultimately led to their release.

In spite of the indignity of being forced to sleep on insect infested beds, and being forced to use toilets that were so filthy it was difficult to read about them, the group spent their days praying, singing hymns and reading scripture. Even in their darkest hour, each SNI worker displayed a sense of courage and faith that could only have come from God. The most amazing part of the tale comes after their release, when six of the eight decided to return to Afghanistan, so they could continue to help the country rebuild.

While it is a great read for Christians, Kabul 24 will also appeal to those who aren't strong in faith. The writers keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next, and the book does an excellent job of forcing you to look inside the war torn country of Afghanistan. It also makes one appreciate the freedom that life in a democracy ensures. From the first page, to the last, Kabul 24 is a story of faith, determination and compassion and it's a must read for anyone who likes a tale of hardship and great adventure that ultimately leads to a happy ending.

Friday, October 9, 2009

And The Winner Is.............

President Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize in what the Associated Press is calling a "stunning decision" that was designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world, and stress diplomacy. Obama is only the third sitting president to win the prize, with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson coming before him. (Former president Jimmy Carter won in 2002, long after he left office. )

While the award is an honor for the president and America, some Nobel observers say it comes too early in his presidency. The deadline for nominations was February 1, which was less than two weeks after he took office.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee lauded the change in global mood brought about by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation, but also recognized initiatives that have yet to bear fruit, such as reducing the stockpile of nuclear arms, easing tensions with the Muslim world, and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change. Former Polish President Lech Walesa, himself a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, said President Obama hasn't had enough time to act on many of these issues and he felt that he should have been given time to act and perservere before winning the award.

What do you think? Is it too soon? The award is no doubt an honor, and the president is to be commended for being in the elite club of three. I only hope that the prize encourages him to do a better job of making better decisions for America in a more timely fashion. The recent discussion surrounding the controversy over Obama's relationship with General McChrystal and the action that is desparately needed in regards to more troops for Afghanistan is the perfect example of how his past indecision has hurt America. Hopefully, the "peace prize" won't encourage him to take even longer to decide on the important issues facing this country.

No matter what your politics or opinion of the president, today is a day of honor for him, and he should be allowed to savor it. His efforts should be applauded by all of us as he reaches out to the international community in the hopes of making the world a safer place. But it is also critical that he remember the 300-million people that need him here in the U.S., and our own security, economy, and healthcare concerns must come before all of his international efforts.

While it is great to have a president who is a Nobel Peace Prize Winner , it is even better to have a president who remembers that service and dedication begin at home.

Congratulations, Sir, and be sure to enjoy your award today, because the hard work resumes tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good Kids ! Good News !

A group of children from Hamilton, Ohio get two thumbs up, a big "Way to Go", and the pride and respect of The Christian Commentator. In a time when the values of our culture have dropped to an all time low, it's great to see that the kids at one elementary school seem to "get" what life's all about.

The story began in July of this year when a local fourth grader was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma. The Hamilton Journal News reports, that as a result, Tyler Robert has not been able to return to class at Fillmore elementary.

When school began in late August, Tyler's friends started talking about making cards, and someone had the idea of taking the cards to Tyler in person. Fillmore principal Rex Bucheit decided to make the gesture even more special, by suggesting that the whole school pay a visit to Tyler's home, and that is just what happened.

On Tuesday of this week, 700 Fillmore students brought hundreds of letters, Cincinnati Bengals memorabilia, and the Bengals mascot (since Tyler is a fan) to the Robert's home. The visit was a total surprise to Tyler as all of his friends kept it secret from him. The newspaper reports that the little boy appeared to be surprised and overwhelmed by the thoughtful gesture.

In a time when the news is filled with so many stories of heinous abuse, backbiting politics, and immorality, it is wonderful to see that there are still a lot of great kids (and adults) around. One can only imagine the joy that the students brought to a very sick little boy. I hope their effort is noticed and other schools across the country follow suit when something like this occurs in their hometown. Good for you Fillmore school, and good for you, principal Bucheit. You are the true heroes in a fallen world.

From the Christian Commentator's point of view this act was not only compassionate and kind, it was the embodiment of what Paul said in Ephesians 4:32 (NKJ) "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

700 kids and one principal at Fillmore school in Hamilton, Ohio have taken kindness and compassion to a whole new level. Good Job! You have truly gotten it right and deserve a pat on the back for your efforts.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Does that Baby Have a Beer?

There's a billboard in Deep River, Connecticut that shows a baby sucking on a beer bottle. The headline across the top reads: "You wouldn't do this then (give the baby a beer) ......Why Now? (showing teen agers drinking)

The point the billboard designers were trying to make is that parents watch their infants, and they should watch their teens to make sure that they too, don't drink. The billboard has generated a lot of discussion with citizens, causing many to challenge parents who feel it's ok to drink in front of their kids. It comes as police across Connecticut crack down on teenagers who are drinking and driving.

As someone who sells outdoor advertising , I too, was initially shocked at the image of a cute baby with a beer bottle pursed at its lips (you can check out the photo of the billboard at http://www.nbcnewyork.com/ ) and my initial thought was that the billboard went too far. However, it did make me read the message, and it did make the point that while many parents would never give beer to a baby, they do encourage teen drinking by either imbibing in front of their kids or giving the alcohol to them directly.

A properly designed billboard is meant to invoke deep feelings about the subject that is being advertised, and this campaign has done just that. It does shock the reader because it's message is outrageous, but in doing so, it also makes them think about a problem that has gotten out of hand.

Perhaps we need more of this type of advertising, so adults will be forced to look at how their behavior affects the impressionable children around them. Subtlety hasn't worked, and bombarding people with the statistics showing the impact of their behavior on kids obviously hasn't either. I've been saddened, when I've seen parents who not only drink in front of their kids but who actually have their toddler be the "beer runner" for them between the 'fridge and the couch. THAT'S JUST WRONG! (yet it happens all the time)

Two thumbs up from The Christian Commentator to the advertisers and designers who came up with this concept. It will shock you, but it reminds one of the old saying: "the little children will lead them." Hopefully, the beer drinking baby on this billboard will help a few parents wake up, and will lead them to the truth about how wrong it is to encourage alcohol consumption in minors.

Check out the photo and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Saying "No" is Better than Doing Nothing

Another war of words has been launched in Washington, this time from Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Speaking yesterday, Gates said that US military officers and civilians advising President Obama on Afghanistan should keep their views private. The AFP News Service reports that in referring to White House discussions on the war, Gates said that it is imperative that all who take part should be candid with the president, but should do so privately. While he did not mention his name, Gates remarks seemed to be directed at General Stanley McChrystal who made his views on strategy known in a London speech last week.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the president's national security advisor, retired General James Jones have also joined in the criticism of General McChrystal. Jones told CNN over the weekend that he thought McChrystal was guilty of not going through the proper chains of command when discussing military strategy.

While the chain of command is important, and perhaps General McChrystal should have kept quiet until he could meet with the president, one can understand the frustration that caused him to speak out. As reported last week, the general has only met with the president once in the past seventy days and has been snubbed in his request for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan.

Time is running out and if the U.S. is going to win the war there, more troops are needed now. The wait and see policy that Mr. Obama has adopted can only mean one thing: "a bigger chance for failure with each passing day."

While the president has spent the last week preparing for and attending the Olympic Committee meeting in Copenhagen, that ultimately brought him nothing but embarassment, General McChrystal's request for more troops has been left on the table with no regard for his position or expertise.

This game of cat and mouse is uncalled for, and by refusing to address the general's request, President Obama is appearing to be stubborn and unable to make a decision. While he has been very vocal about not wanting more troops in the region, his refusal to address the issue with the general has obviously left many on both sides frustrated.

Leadership requires that the person in command is willing to put their own viewpoints aside while listening to everyone who has been given the right to speak. It also requires the ability to make a final decision even if that decision is not popular or correct.

The president should send in the troops that have been requested, and his avoidance of the issue is causing a rift between the very people who need to ban together to make our efforts in Afghanistan work.

The problem lies in the waiting, and it seems that General McChrystal is trying to get the president's attention by making his comments public. Frustration can cause one to do things that may go against their beliefs or position, so it's time for the president to call a meeting.

Even if he's convinced that the general is wrong, it's time to speak up and give his advisor an answer. Even if troops are not deployed, the decision will have been made and the general can move on. This is what we need from you Mr. President: "Effective Leadership."

So, hold the meeting with the general Sir. While we hope you make the right decision, remember, it is within the scope of your power to "just say no."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Get Thy Sick Self Away!

CNN has an interesting quiz on their website. It allows you to test your knowledge of Swine Flu, and offers suggestions about the best way to prevent the illness. Topics like which group is most affected and most likely to die. (Pregnant women in case you want to cheat) and what group is not recommended as the first to get the shot, (You're on your own on this one) are asked. The best question on the quiz was the one that asked students to determine how long it should be before they return to class after having a swine flu related fever. While you'll need to take the quiz to find out, this would seem to be a common sense question, but sadly, it's not. Why do we think we need to work or study when we're ill? It's not just swine flu that people are spreading.

All too often, students and adults in the workforce come to work sick making everyone subject to whatever they're carrying. It's especially hard for those of us who have auto-immune diseases and are subject to picking everthing up. If you're coming to work with something as contagious as Swine Flu, shame on you! It's a pandemic for goodness sakes and people are dying! (hint, hint on the quiz)

While it's understandable that having concerns over missing a day's work can mean lost pay, and it definitely can get you behind, coming to work while ill is thoughtless in regards to your fellow employees. No one is so invaluable that they have to resort to putting everyone's health at risk because they don't want to stay home. You too, will likely get better, faster if you take a day off and rest.

So, for the sake of courtesy, get your flu shot, bone up on swine flu on CNN, and if you have the sniffles, take two aspirin, call your doctor, and stay the heck away from me until your temperature is back to normal! :) By the way, you can take the swine flu quiz at cnn.com.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Make My Baby a Green Eyed, Singing Sensation Please!

Fox News reports that Asthetic Trait Selection in babies is now available at several U.S. fertility institutes. For 5-thousand dollars potential parents can have DNA testing done on embryos before they're implanted back into the mother, giving them the power to choose the baby's eye color, hair color, height, and talents such as singing ability, or athletic potential.

The Los Angeles based Fertility Institutes began advertising the pending availability of these tests last December and parents immediately began contacting them to sign up. The idea of Asthetic Trait Selection emerged after DNA testing on embryos was originally done to determine the child's potential for serious disease like breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, and alzheimers risk later in life.

Lest we think that asthetic trait selection is enticing to just a few weirdos who want to play God with their children, a New York University survey that was conducted earlier this year, said that up to 13% of those who responded said they would use the screening to determine the looks, intelligence and athletic ability of their children. 40% of Americans who approve genetic testing for disease, said they see asthetic trait selection as a natural progression of the genetic testing concept.

So, the idea of having a baby and loving it just because it's yours is a thing of the past? Why would anyone care if a child has blue or brown eyes or if they will be a future contestant on American Idol? Are we really at the point in our culture where we're willing to destroy a child just for being a brunette versus a blonde? The idea of pre-screening for disease makes some sense although I can't imagine choosing not to have a baby because eighty years from now that child may develop alzheimers disease!

This is yet another example of twisting the positive benefits of science into a freakshow for those who are so selfish and controlling that they won't accept a baby unless it meets their preferred physical criteria. How sad when you think of so many couples who would love any child but for medical reasons can't have one of their own.

Remember as the song says "Jesus loves the little children, red and yellow black and white." I suspect that also means "blonde or brunette, with green eyes or blue." If we are part of the 70% of Americans that agree that God is the creator of life, it seems to me that we should respect his title and leave the job of creation to Him.,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lost in the Sandy Beach!

President Obama gave himself an "A" for effort today in spite of the fact that his in-person plea in Copenhagen did not put Chicago over the top to host the 2016 Olympic Games. The Associated Press reports that the president and his wife learned of the news on board Air Force One while heading back to Washington. Mrs. Obama had gone to Copenhagen ahead of the president and had also been lobbying hard for the games to be held in her hometown,but the committe gave the nod to Rio de Janeiro.

In spite of the president's impassioned plea, Chicago was knocked out in the first round in what is being called one of the most shocking defeats ever in Olympic Committee voting. Meanwhile the president was quoted as saying he could not be prouder of his efforts, in spite of the loss which put his personal prestige and political capital on the line. Many Americans have said they are embarassed by the president's defeat, since no other president has ever gone in person to make a pitch for the games.

While it is sad that Chicago lost, it is also embarassing for the president that he failed. There was much criticism of his going to Copenhagen in the first place, in light of all of the problems with national defense, the economy and healthcare at home. It also gives the world the impression that the most powerful man on earth can't close the deal.

In spite of what should be the president's embarassment over the incident (although he's obviously not embarrassed) losing the deal should be good for his ego. For a man who has allowed school kids to praise and worship his name, and who has become punch drunk while basking in his own hype, getting knocked down in such a big way will hopefully help him see that it really isn't all about him. While millions of Americans have fallen for the president's charms, the loss in Denmark shows that not everyone has "Obama Fever."

Even though his world view has championed the rights of our enemies and denigrated the name of our men and women who believe that democracy is worth preserving, President Obama got to see first hand today that sometimes sandy beaches and ocean breezes are just harder to resist than a great speech

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We Must Help the Helpless!

Kudos to Florida State Congressman Ari Port for drafting a bill that will call for stricter hiring practices at nursing homes and day care centers in the state. Port introduced the legislation after a recent investigation by the South Florida Sun Sentinel turned up lax hiring policies statewide that led to many cases of patient abuse.

The Sentinel found that more than 3500 elderly and disabled patients as well as children in day care, have been left in the hands of convicted felons who were given jobs in spite of the fact that they hadn't even cleared a background check.

Examples include a cancer patient at a Pompano Beach assisted living facility who had to watch helplessly from her bed as a nurses aide, previously convicted on theft charges, rifled through her handbag and stole $165.

A video camera caught another aide at a North Miami Beach group home for the disabled shoving a cerebral palsy patient to the floor and busting her lip. The aide had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault charges yet she was allowed to care for helpless patients.

An aide at a health care center in Pahokee also fell through the cracks after the facility did a background check, but her previous charges of forgery didn't turn up. It was also not reported that she had previously attacked a patient at another facility. While on the Pahokee job, she reverted to her old ways and slapped a stroke/alzheimers sufferer extremely hard on the face, which landed her in jail, but the damage had been done.

What makes this story even more outrageous is that in Florida convicted felons cannot be a bartender and cannot get a liquor license for 15 years after getting out of jail, yet criminals who have committed serious crimes are getting hired to care for human beings who are unable to care for or defend themselves. The Sun Sentinel investigation found that over the past twenty years many of the violent offenders were granted exemptions by the state so they could work in these facilities and hundreds of criminals were given the jobs because the employer either didn't do a background check or simply ignored their previous criminal record.

One woman who was a convicted drug dealer who had served jail time in Ohio, was given a job at a Flordia seniors facility, but her out of state record only came to light when she switched jobs and began to work with the disabled in Fort Walton Beach. When her past problems did show up she was given the position anyway because the administrator felt sorry for her when she claimed to have found God and professed a love of helping the helpless. She was later convicted again, this time for dragging a mentally disabled man from a van by his feet, slamming his head on the floorboard and pavement. She now faces charges of abusing a disabled person, yet her previous record which indicated this type of violence was ignored! I've worked with convicted criminals in the past and believe me, most of them find God, but quickly lose Him again when they are back out on the streets.


While Congressman Port is on the right track in Florida and one can hope that the laws will be changed, this type of abuse is likely to be found in other states if investigations are conducted. In fact, headlines have been made here in Cincinnati in which the circumstances are very similar.

Lawmakers nationwide should start working with various agencies to ensure that this type of problem doesn't get out of control anywhere else. The media needs to do it's part (Great job Sun Sentinel!) and begin investigating facilities on their own, as I fear that this may not be an isolated problem in Florida.

While media budgets are tight, we never run out of stories about the latest celebrity drug addicition, affair or adoption, yet this type of case is often unreported and could be the tip of the iceberg for the abuses that so many innocent people must endure.

Yes we all should be outraged at the problems in Florida, and we need to take it upon ourselves to look out for our elderly/disabled neighbors by checking in and listening if they report this type of complaint. We may be busy and we may not want to get involved but for the sake of decency we need to open our hearts and care. After all, none of us is getting any younger, and we never know if a health crisis of our own is looming around the next corner. So the next time we say it's not our concern, perhaps we need to remember that if this type of problem is allowed to continue, we may someday find ourselves in the same hopeless situation.