Friday, December 30, 2005

NSA wiretapping

Ever since a leak revealed that the NSA had been eavesdropping on American citizens, the media has scrutinized President Bush to death. Was it legal? Did he have the authority to do so? A recent Townhall column asked why the media focused so heavily on President Bush, and ignored the leak itself. It’s a crime to leak classified information.

The media’s ‘righteous’ indignation over Bush’s authorization of wiretaps (a legal and not uncommon move for the president) holds the underlying assumption that the media, and Americans, have the right to know.

While some disclosure is necessary and appropriate, Americans don’t need to know everything. That’s why certain information is classified. It’s not for all eyes. It seems to me that the MSM wants to pretend to be god, and sees it as their duty to know everything, reveal some things, and lie about the rest.

There’s a good reason why the president is called Commander-in-Chief. There’s a good reason why the media is only public relations.

I don’t suppose it has occurred to the MSM that the president might actually be qualified for the job. It didn’t occur to them that America’s founding fathers established checks and balances to fight corruption.

The MSM always thinks they know better. It’s like a party they didn’t get invited to—they still want to spy through the windows and find a way to bash the party.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

when love came down to earth

Over 2000 years ago a very special person was born, Jesus Christ. However, His birth, although notable, is nothing without His resurrection.

Psalm 9:4-5
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

This Christmas, be joyful, that God saw fit to visit and deliver man. We have an everlasting hope. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

life, death, and everlasting life

The other night we watched Tuck Everlasting. Winnie, the girl who discovers the Tuck’s secret, that they will never die, says at one point, “I wish this moment could last forever.”

Jesse Tuck, who is already going to live forever, tells Winnie how great it would be to have moments like that forever. Forever. That’s a long time.

Sometimes I get caught up in the joy of life on earth, and like Winnie, I wish it would last forever. I wish I could stay 18 forever.

The Tucks ability to live forever comes from a certain spring. When a man in yellow who has been tracking them discovers the secret, he wants to sell the water to ‘deserving people’. He really seems to think it will bring great happiness.

Why wouldn’t it bring great happiness? Jesse’s father had it partly right. “What we are, you can’t call living,” he says. As the movie progresses, living forever seems less and less appealing. No change. Just ‘rocks stuck by a stream.’

There’s another reason why it wouldn’t bring great happiness. This earth is completely corrupted and to live here forever would be horrible. No escape. It would become tiresome.

To live forever, in our present sinful state, isn’t what God meant for us. In a sinless world, Adam and Eve would have lived forever.

The only everlasting life that would truly bring happiness is life with God in heaven, in a new sinless world, with our sinful natures forever banished.

The message of the movie really struck home with me. Mr. Tuck says to Winnie after she finds out that the Tuck family will live forever, “Don’t be afraid of dying, Winnie. Be afraid of the unlived life.”

The unlived life. Death is frightening. But it would be more frightening to be forever trapped in this depraved world. The movie reminded me to live my life. Change is a wonderful thing, although it may seem frightening in the moment. I must just live my life, and when I die, my sinless eternal life in heaven will truly be wonderful.

Friday, December 23, 2005

enough work for a lifetime

The other day I read a post by someone that caught my attention. She said that her perfect day involved sleeping in, going to the gym, talking on the phone, and watching Gilmore Girls. An easy day maybe, but not a perfect day.

Why? No work. Just play days are fun once in while, but tend to turn into (at least for me) a very long day of doing what I want, feeling discontent and unfulfilled. Therefore, I believe that a perfect day consists of: a completely productive work day with plenty of work, lots of loving people who are kind to me, an evening cooking goodies to eat, and maybe watching a late night romance/comedy.

I believe that work is essential to feeling fulfilled in life. For me, I believe that I am most fulfilled when I am trusting God, giving and taking love from those around me, and accomplishing a lot of work.

Adults spend most of their time working, and especially for a husband, working and providing for the family is an important task. Someone I know from school once said he didn’t want to get a job. I just didn’t understand. I wonder where that frame of mind, that working is drudgery, comes from. Habit? Laziness? Family influences?

People talk about not having enough time, and I often agree. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I don’t see that as the perfect status quo. However, being able to go to work, accomplish a lot and serve others, has its own reward. It’s a joy to come home from a long work day and know that you were needed. I have felt most fulfilled in my work when I was able to serve others, handle problems and challenges, and do it all quickly and competently.

I know that many people in this world hate their jobs, and that in other countries, people are stuck in jobs that are truly drudge work. But in America, there are many job opportunities available, and I look forward to spending many more years working.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Enemy Within

An article by the San Francisco Chronicle titled “Bush says 30,000 Iraqi civilians dead in war He says 'terrorists, Saddamists will continue violence' ”, is just one in thousands of articles that seek to undermine US efforts in Iraq.

No one should be surprised when the MSM (mainstream media) resort to stopping up their ears, spouting lies, and shouting ‘lalala we’re not listening.’ It seems to be a common malady lately.

Although the San Francisco Chronicle’s article included quotes from Bush including, “The Iraqi people are stepping forward to claim their liberty, and they will have it,'' and “Thanks to the courage of the Iraqi people, the year 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the history of the Middle East, and the history of freedom.” But no, of all the quotes they choose for their headline, they tell us how many Iraq civilians are dead, and that violence is continuing. True statements, but only a portion of the truth.

Same article, another quote: "I regret that the American people have still not received a plan that identifies the remaining political, military and economic objectives that must be met in order to succeed,'' said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Maybe Mr. Reid doesn’t understand. Political objectives? From Bush’s 35 page "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", political victory means that Iraq is, “meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions. . . with a fully constitutional government in place. . . well integrated into the international community.” Not specific enough? Further down in the document see, “The Political Track”:

The Political Track involves working to forge a broadly supported national compact for democratic governance by helping the Iraqi government:
>Isolate enemy elements from those who can be won over to the political process by countering false propaganda and demonstrating to all Iraqis that they have a stake in a democratic Iraq;
>Engage those outside the political process and invite in those willing to turn away from violence through ever-expanding avenues of participation; and
>Build stable, pluralistic, and effective national institutions that can protect the interests of all Iraqis, and facilitate Iraq's full integration into the international community.

Military objectives? Right after “The Political Track” see “The Security Track.” Economic Objectives? See “The Economic Track.” Or, if the above hasn’t satisfied your need for a plan, see Part II of "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq": Strategy in Detail. Mr. Reid? You can open your eyes now. The plan is called "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq".

Let us return to the original article. Yet another quote: “ "It's not going to get better with us over there," Murtha told reporters at a Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce reception.” Murtha, let me direct your attention to something you must have missed.

See Bush’s fact sheet: Democracy in Iraq, “Two and a half years ago, Iraq was in the grip of a cruel dictator. Since then, Iraqis have assumed sovereignty of their country, held free elections, drafted a democratic constitution, and approved that constitution in a nationwide referendum.” It already has gotten better with us over there.

A glaring error came to my attention this morning. A headline from the website says, “In Growing Numbers, Public Opposes Iraq War, While Most Congressional Democrats Play It 'Safe'. This article was published on December 9th, the same day that MSNBC’s article “Bush’s approval rating rises to 42 percent” was published.

While I was reading the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", I came across a section titled The Strategy of Our Enemies. One line in particular struck me, “The enemy's strategy, in short, is to intimidate, terrorize, and tear down -- a strategy with short-term advantage because it is easier to tear down than to build up.”

I think that one of America’s enemies lurks in the MSM. They seek to tear down, they seek to cause fear in the American people, and they seek to intimidate the American public into backing down. I can only hope that Bush was right when he said that this short term strategy will fail, “But this strategy is not sustainable in the long term because it is rejected by the overwhelming mass of the Iraqi [in this case American] population.”

Monday, December 12, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia movie review *SPOILER WARNING*

Preceded by hundreds of articles, one children’s book, and much anticipation, The Chronicles of Narnia, produced by Andrew Adamson, brought a 55 year old classic to life. The book was written by C.S. Lewis, who is famous for numerous Christian books, most notably, Mere Christianity.

The story begins when the four Pevensie children are sent to the country to escape the German Blitz in London during World War II. The four children, Peter (played by William Moseley), Susan (played by Anna Popplewell), Edmund (played by Skandar Keynes), and Lucy (played by Georgie Henley), discover another kingdom inside an old wardrobe. During their encounters with various creatures, the children learn that this kingdom, Narnia, is ruled by an evil witch who causes it to always be winter and never Christmas. Following Edmund’s betrayal of his siblings, the children are led to Aslan, a lion, the Christ figure in the story. The witch’s demands cause Aslan to give the ultimate sacrifice to spare Edmund and ultimately save Narnia.

Currently grossing an estimated $67.1 million dollars, The Chronicles of Narnia truly brings its audience a glorious movie. I have divided my movie review into three sections: differences between the book and movie that don’t affect the book’s message, differences that negatively affect the story, and my general impression.

Although the book humorously portrays Mr. and Mrs. Beaver as having amusing little spats, the producers of the movie took it one step further. Humorous lines are spattered throughout the film, including some sarcasm, and a memorable line just before the great battle. Addressing Peter’s comment about the size of the Witch’s army, a centaur says, “Numbers do not win the battle.”

“No, but I’m sure they help,” says Peter, provoking laughter from the audience. Little moments like that don’t detract from the movie’s message by overshadowing the story.

For those who have been avid Narnia fans for years (this includes those who have read the book more than ten times), they will notice minor differences between the dialogue in the movie and the dialogue in the book. One missing line in particular caught my family’s attention. In the book after all the children discover Narnia, Peter says to Edmund, “Why you poisonous little beast!”

The movie lacks the biting zest of that particular line. These minor dialogue changes don’t change the perceived intent of the text. The movie producers also added an entire ice chase scene, not a choice I would have made, but not a change that harms the movie.

I did notice three major areas where the movie producers changed or added material that I believe negatively affected the original story. The first, although it could be classified by some as a minor difference, felt very significant and memorable to me. When the Pevensie children dine with the beavers in the book, they enjoy a spectacular meal with fresh trout, potatoes, plenty of butter, and “a gloriously sticky marmalade roll.” These victuals are sadly missing in the movie, where Lucy crinkles her nose at what looks like burnt fish with their skins on and something that looked like scorched chicken feed.

The movie producers created the impression that the Pevensie children thought about returning home, as opposed to their obvious duty to stay and take their places on the four thrones at Cair Paravel. Susan whines that this battle is not their fight, and that it’s too dangerous. Peter almost takes the children back to the wardrobe.

I can’t help wondering if the movie producers were trying to relay a message about pulling out of Iraq. In any case, the ‘cut and run’ thread that runs through a part of the movie plays no part in the book. C.S. Lewis made in clear that once Edmund was in danger and the situation was fully explained, the Pevensie children had no question about their duty to stay, save their brother, and fulfill the old Narnian prophesy at Cair Paravel.

The final area where the producers took undue liberties with the book is in regard to Aslan. In the movie, Aslan says at one point, “I will do what I can.” There seems to be an attitude that Aslan isn’t in charge, and can’t handle what’s going on. He’s not enough. This flouts the intent of the book, where Aslan portrays the Christ figure.

The producers redeem themselves at the end of the movie however, because the Pevensie children do decide to stay and do their duty, Aslan does save the day and redeem Edmund, and as World Magazine put it, “Aslan's fearsome roar is still powerful enough to be heard over the din.”

Aside from these differences, good and bad, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. As I watched the movie unfold, it seemed just like I remembered from the book. I believe this speaks of the excellent job that C.S. Lewis did in portraying the story, as well as the producer’s efforts to remain faithful to the story.

Unlike some movies I’ve watched, The Chronicles of Narnia completely captured my interest, and I found myself so caught up in the story that I jumped when Maugrim, head of the witch’s secret police, snarled at Edmund. I often find myself disappointed at a producer’s choice in actors because I have imagined the book characters differently, but the four children were represented almost perfectly.

The Chronicles of Narnia truly is a masterpiece, and definitely worth paying to see in the theatre. Besides being an enjoyable story, it reminds us anew of Christ’s sacrifice.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

empty lives

It hasn’t escaped the media’s notice that The Chronicles of Narnia movie has a moral message. Not only a moral message, but :gasp: a Christian message. The Chronicles of Narnia follows the lead of three The Lord of the Rings films produced by Peter Jackson. Highly successful, LOTR paved the way for another film: The Chronicles of Narnia.

I believe that the success of LOTR and expected success of The Chronicles of Narnia points to growing dissatisfaction with content empty films. The media produces movie after movie with a poor plotline, no real message, and no real redemption. Is it possible that Americans are tiring of that emptiness?

A movie devoid of redemption and good triumphing over evil, and soaked in sexual innuendo and foul language, only serves to remind Americans of their own empty lives. It serves to remind them of the immoral world they live in, and of their own hopeless lives.

What does LOTR have that other movies lack? For starters, a solid plotline. In addition, it has real heroes, who value doing the right thing over the easy thing. The biggest thing that LOTR has is true redemption. Our brave heroes save the day, and evil is crushed.

This type of story appeals to people because life with Christ is a life with hope. A brave hero (Christ) saves the day. Death loses its power with Christ’s sacrifice. Bottom line: life with Christ is full of meaning, not emptiness.

For those Americans who live their whole life with emptiness and dissatisfaction, they may find a film that has true meaning to be relieving, and perhaps, enlightening.

Sometimes taking a step back from the truth you know can make you appreciate its true value. If I find myself amazed at what Aslan did for Edmond, then I can be truly amazed at what Christ has done for me.

And maybe, someone who doesn’t know Christ will say, “I wish someone like Aslan really existed.” I can tell them, “He does! Jesus lives today.”

Monday, December 05, 2005

the 'duh' factor

With the upcoming release on December 9th of film version of C.S. Lewis' fairytale, The Chronicles of Narnia, the media has a whole new topic to discuss. What surprised me, and probably shouldn't have, was the sheer ignorance in print.

Muswell Hill Journal's article "Thrown in at the Deep End", says,
"And interpretations of the book can be somewhat controversial. Some see the book as a barely disguised Christian parable - with brave lion Aslan cast as Jesus who dies but returns to help save the kingdom. When the film's climatic battle is over, Aslan is heard to say "It is finished" - Jesus's final words on the cross. So does Adamson worry that the film may be hijacked by certain religious groups?"

You think? Don't worry about the film being hijacked by certain religious groups, the book itself has already been hijacked. I didn't realize that the book was so hard to interpret; after all, it is a children's book.

MSNBC's article, "Disney quietly touts ‘Narnia's’ religious side", states,
"While refusing to call it a religious movie, Disney is using the same company that promoted Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” to publicize “Narnia” through churches across the country. The goal is to create the perfect Christmas blockbuster, appealing to both secular and religious audiences."

Who is Disney afraid of? Are they afraid that an allegory of Jesus Christ's sacrifice might be more offensive than the sexual undertones in their animated films?

I've read several articles than either indicated that C.S. Lewis intended for the story to be an allegory of Christ's sacrifice, or that Lewis didn't intend that. Here's where I think the 'duh' factor applies.

We have a Christian man, C.S. Lewis. He wrote many Christian books, and he writes an entire series of children's novels. The Chronicles of Narnia just so happens to talk about Aslan, who appears as the omnipotent being of the story, and Aslan is sacrificed for another's crime. Could this possibly be the story of Jesus?


Saturday, December 03, 2005

a call to action

Pastors, writers, presidents, and government officials are always calling for some type of action. Love your neighbor, consider these dangers, support your troops, conserve gas. It’s a call to action. I think to an extent we all enjoy listening to a call for action. “All right, someone’s finally coming out and saying it!” It’s easy to say rah, rah, but where’s the action? When I heard about President Bush’s call to for gas conservation, I thought, fat chance, it’s a good idea, but you’re not going to get action. I find myself thinking that a lot. Fat chance, everyone in the church isn’t suddenly going to change their ways because of your call to action.

Then I realize just what a hypocrite I am, and how ironic the situation is. I think the call to action is appropriate, I doubt anyone will do it, and I have no intention of doing it. Action requires change. Action requires humility. Action requires effort. It’s very easy to philosophize.

I think that joy is an essential part of a Christian’s life. When things are going bad? By all means. But of course, I ‘feel’ the most joyful when things are going my way. So what happens when I get hit by the curve ball? Suddenly, action is a whole lot harder.

And here I am, philosophizing. We are to rejoice when we face trials of many kinds, “because the testing of our faith produces perseverance.” [James 1: 2-4] I’ve hit a snag in my joy plan, but that shouldn’t stop me.

Action isn’t comfortable. Action is humbling, because I realize just how dependent I am on outside circumstances. But my responsibility is clear: joyful at all times, because I know that God is in control. Nothing is happening that has surprised God.

My justification for writing this is because I triumphed over my anti-joy tendency today. “Count your blessings.” Trite, but true. I have everything in the world for which to be thankful. And that leaves me full of joy.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

stereotypical judging

Matthew 7:1-2
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

I have read this verse for years, and failed to really understand it. Do not judge, blah blah blah.

Recently, it suddenly made a whole lot of sense in light of three people with whom I became acquainted. In one of my college classes, four people sit at a table with me. The first is someone who has more than a few piercings and who I immediately stereotyped as weird. The second is someone who enjoys skiing. I steretyped him as a ski dude, and assumed that he might be very apathetical. The third is a girl I stereotyped her as a cheerleader type girl. I felt disappointed that these people wouldn't really be people I was interested in getting to know.

Amazing what a little bit of first impression does to me. Over the course of the last couple months, my stereotypes have been almost completely ruined. Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink had it wrong. My 'thinslicing' proved almost 100% inaccurate.

The weirdo turned out to be one of the most polite, helpful guys I have known. He is very smart and friendly, and honestly, I barely see all the piercings now.

The ski dude turned out to also be very smart, interested in life, and someone who really takes a genuine interest in other people's lives.

Finally, the cheerleader girl, was a whole bundle of surprises. She can be very sweet, friendly, sympathetic. Although I gave her a cheerleader stereotype, she's whizzed through a bunch of college level calculus, and got a job at Mervyn's just a week after I quit Mervyn's. The kicker: some of our political views coincide. The person I had 'tagged' as someone I probably wouldn't get to know, turns out to be someone more like me than I thought.

John 7:24
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

What have I learned?

I've learned that my experience is just one of those reasons why Christians are not called to judge. I nearly missed out on three new friends.

A second major reason we are called not to judge is because pagans have no hope. Where would I be without Jesus? Where would I be if God hadn't chosen me?

James 2:13
"So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment."

Even if people are 'unlovely' and unlikely to become Christians, it is all the more reason to demonstrate love to them. They have no hope.

James 4:12
"There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?"