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Archive for June, 2009

A little help?

hey, if you’ve read Face to Face and found typos, errors, misstatements, things left out, etc., I would appreciate you letting me know. Anything that is unclear and needs to be clarified? Anything? Lemme know. Canon Press is about to do a reprint and it is a good time to clean up anything that needs cleaning.

thanks for your help.

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Meet Mr. “Am I ugly or what?”

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If you haven’t yet started listening to the Nuclearity podcasts, start today. Hugh Duncan does a great job in producing an interesting, informative, and provocative (in the Hebrews 10 sense) 15 minutes. Especially good is his “You Love a Lucy” series on marriage. Very helpful. In part 2 of the series Duncan addresses the issue of how actors and actresses protect their marriages while on stage/on camera. Most movies involve love scenes with men/women who are not married. So what is an actor to do if he is concerned to protect his marriage or avoid temptation to immorality?

Hugh interviews Eduardo Verástegui (producer of and lead actor in the outstanding movie, Bella) and Kirk Cameron (star of the movie Fireproof) on how they seek to guard themselves and the actresses they work with, from the temptation to infidelity. Both men have determined to treat all women with the respect God has commanded they be given and so they have determined not to participate in scenes that involve kissing, inappropriate behavior with women, and, of course, nudity. Can this be done without turning every film into a stiff and weird “Billy Graham” movie? Sure it can and it can be done with beauty, grace, and romance — it just takes a little more creativity to make it work.

Hugh Duncan observes that we use stunt doubles to protect the lives of actors (since preserving life is more important than any movie), so why not use “kissing doubles” in an effort to protect the marriages (and purity) of the actors? Isn’t protecting marriages more important than a movie as well?

Nowadays we’re even being assured that no injuries were caused to any animals during the production of the film. Duncan notes that he looks forward to the day when movies include the assurance that “no marriages were harmed during the making of this movie.” Great point. Give Nuclearity a listen.

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Here’s why

Some wonder why there are others of us out here on the frontier who are in favor of common citizens (hunters AND non-hunters) being allowed to carry weapons of self-defense. Here’s a video which gives part of the rationale for why we think this is a grand idea.

The video is a portion of the testimony given by Suzanna Gratia-Hupp before a congressional committee. Suzanna was eating in a restaurant with her parents when a man drove his truck through the front window, got out and started shooting. She had a gun, but because of a law forbidding citizens from carrying weapons, she had left it in her car. Consequently, both her parents were killed by the gunman. Listen to what she says.

HT: Jeff Meyers

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Easy come, easy go

And John Piper used to have such a good reputation too.

not any more.

too bad.

[register here.]

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The Chorus is a movie that has been making the rounds among some of our members but I just got to watch it a couple of nights ago — and I’m glad I did. It’s the story of a failed musician turned school teacher (Clement Mathieu) who takes the position of prefect at a French boarding school for orphans and troubled (and in trouble) young men. The name of the school is Fond de l’Etang (“the bottom of the pond” or “rock bottom”) and it lives up to its name (indeed, you expect to see “Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here” engraved above the main gate under the school’s name).

The school’s headmaster (Rachin) has succeeded in producing a depressing and soul-killing environment in the school by his indifference and cruelty. Prefect Mathieu is at first overwhelmed by the hardness and bleakness of the school and he quickly becomes the target of the students’ pranks and mocking. Things deteriorate until one night he hears the boys singing a song ridiculing him. It’s then, at his lowest point (“rock bottom”), that Mathieu gets the idea of starting a chorus and teaching the boys to sing (and, in the process, to love) music — which he hopes will open up new doors for the young men who have themselves reached “rock bottom” at Fond de l’Etang.

This movie is all the more surprising given the fact that director Christophe Barratier, made the movie with a budget under $6 million, only one camera, and a cast made up largely of amateur child actors.

The film (like others of this same type) shows the power of music to restore and transform (and if you’re thinking Mr. Holland’s Opus or Music of the Heart, you know the story). But this time the story is better told. It’s worth watching, even if, as one reviewer said, it’s a bit filled with le fromage (French cheese).

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Harold Bloom is trying to talk me into liking Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

I don’t think it’s going to work, though I’m willing to listen.

I think the book is better than my first impression, though.

Maybe I was so overwhelmed by the violence, I wasn’t able to think straight.

Maybe.

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Ok, this one is not from the “deep” but still, he’s pretty good, no? Here’s Mr. “Look at me, I look just like the obnoxious happy face you still see everywhere even though it’s not cool anymore”

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Over the past fifty years or so with the development of remote control exploration vehicles and equipment that is able to take pictures and unheard of depths in the ocean, we’ve been finding all sorts of creatures that we never knew existed. Amazing, crazy-wild, hilarious creatures who’ve existed for thousands of years without any eye seeing them except God’s. For all this time, the sole purpose of their existence, apparently, was to make God laugh.

They are scary, ugly, funny, strange, and sometimes look like one of your relatives. I want to post some pictures of a few of them. So here’s the first one: Meet Mr. “I look like a floating transparent skull with a little pea for a brain.”

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“Be sure to follow your dreams, unless your dreams are stupid.”
— Eugene Mirman

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Final notes from The Talent Code: A few random observations and quotes.

Studies show that the baby-brain DVDs don’t make children smarter. In fact, they dumb your children down. Baby-brain DVDs don’t work because they don’t create deep practice, rather, they prevent it. They prevent it by taking up time that could be used for doing something (like staggering around in the real world) that would actually contribute to their learning and skill.

“Neurosis is just a high-class word for whining. The trouble with most therapy is that it helps you to feel better. But you don’t get better. You have to back it up with action, action, action.” Dr. Albert Ellis

What’s more important, IQ or self-discipline? In 2005 psychologists Martin Seligman and Angela Duckworth studied several parameters of 164 eighth graders, including IQ, along with five tests that measured self-discipline. It turned out that self-discipline was twice as accurate as IQ in predicting the students’ grade-point average.

Rather than sitting around speculating on what gift your child has or trying to imagine his destiny, allow him to follow his interests. Carol Dweck, psychologist, says that all the world’s parenting advice can be distilled to two simple rules: pay attention to what your children are fascinated by, and praise them for their effort.

Always praise for effort (“Dude, you really worked hard for that!” “Really great effort, that’s what I’m looking for!”) rather than praising intelligence (“Wow, you must be very smart.”). The reality is that success is based more upon struggling to succeed and learning to do it the right way, than it is upon mere native intelligence or innate talent. When you’re just starting out, you don’t “play” tennis; you fight at it. You struggle to hit the ball correctly, accurately, in the proper way. It is a battle to learn to “play.” And if you’re not willing to put forth the effort to fight at tennis, you will never experience the joy of playing tennis.

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Once again, more notes from The Talent Code: After studying some of the world’s most successful coaches in various fields, Coyle has devised a list of the “skills” needed to coach effectively. He calls them the “Four Virtues of Master Coaches”:

First: The Matrix — A great teacher has the capacity to always take his student deeper into the skill. Most master coaches are older (in their sixties or seventies) but all have spent decades learning how to teach others to excel. Many of them were once promising talents who failed to succeed and then set about to figure out why they failed.

Second: Perceptiveness — Master coaches seek to know each of their students so that they can customize their instructions to fit the personality and patterns of the student’s life. This is taken quite seriously. Coyle says “the coaches I met approached new students with the curiousity of an investigative reporter.”

Third: The GPS Reflex — Most master coaches deliver their instructions in short, vivid, high-definition bursts, rather than through long lectures. They never begin their sentences with “Please, would you” or “Do you think” or “What about.” Rather, they speak in short imperatives, “Now do this” or “Not that way, this way.”

Fourth: Theatrical Honesty — Great coaches take different approaches to different students (raising their voices (or lowering them), asking questions to see how the student reacts, being mean, tough, or easygoing and laid back). This is not mere hokum but a serious and honest effort to make a connection for the purpose of assisting the student to grow in his ability.

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Ok, just one more thing regarding the stuff swirling around the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Time magazine reports that a portrait of the famous abolitionist John Brown occupies “a place of honor” at the state capitol in Topeka. Really? huh and whaddayaknow.

You know John Brown, right? John Brown was that really crazy guy back in the 1850s who had a novel idea. He thought he could provoke a slave uprising by killing innocent people. In 1856 Brown took a tour through Kansas where he killed a number of innocent people in the name of compassion, justice, and immediate emancipation (and it’s probably important to note that none of the people Brown murdered owned slaves). Brown did his work brutally, in cold blood, forcing the horrified wives and mothers to watch while he and his gang hacked their husbands and sons to pieces before their eyes.

You would expect such a brutal murderer to be denounced. But surprisingly, John Brown was lionized, acclaimed a hero, a compassionate defender of the weak, a martyr to the holy cause of freedom and humanity and one who would be welcomed into heaven as a saint. When he was tried and condemned to die for his crimes, it was claimed that John Brown would make the gallows as glorious as the cross.

Dr. Tiller was a self-confessed murderer who boasted of his willingness to kill late term babies. And his boasts were anything but empty. Some say Dr. Tiller killed upwards of 60,000 children. Killed them brutally, in cold blood. And he was proud of his work.

You would expect a man who single-handedly killed 60,000 babies to be denounced. But surprisingly, Dr. Tiller was lionized at his funeral last Friday as a man who was “a modern day hero, compassionate, courageous, caring, generous, a friend of women and children,” and someone who would surely make heaven a better place by his presence there.

What is odd about this is that while Dr. Tiller and John Brown are honored, Scott Roeder (the accused murderer of Dr. Tiller) is denounced as a “domestic terrorist” and as an unfeeling, cold-blooded killer. I doubt the first charge and while I have no idea whether Mr. Roeder was unfeeling or of the particular temperature of his blood, there is no question that he is a murderer and, like John Brown and Dr. Tiller, deserves to be put to death for his crime.

But my question is this: Why is Scott Roeder demonized and John Brown and Dr. Tiller lionized? Why this inconsistency?

Oh, wait. Maybe it’s not inconsistent. Maybe the way to be honored nowadays is to kill a whole bunch of innocent people.

Yeah, that must be it.

Crazy world, eh?

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I haven’t said anything here about the huge flap over the murder of the notorious late-term abortionist, Dr. George Tiller. Really, I had nothing to add that hadn’t already been said (and said better than I could have) by many, many others. Of course “vigilante” justice is wrong and contrary to God’s law. Rather than trying to take our own vengeance against those who get away with murder, we are to submit to God, crying out to Him to bring justice, praying and singing imprecatory psalms against those who oppress (and kill) the innocent. So, yes, of course, we can’t condone Dr. Tiller’s killer any more than we can condone Dr. Tiller’s method of becoming rich and famous.

But Ann Coulter nailed a point in her recent column that I did want to make — but since she has pretty much nailed it flush to the board, I can just quote her:

For years, we’ve had to hear about the grave threat that Americans might overreact to a terrorist attack committed by 19 Muslims shouting “Allahu akbar” as they flew commercial jets into American skyscrapers. That would be the equivalent of 19 pro-lifers shouting “Abortion kills a beating heart!” as they gunned down thousands of innocent citizens in Wichita, Kan. Why aren’t liberals rushing to assure us this time that “most pro-lifers are peaceful”? Unlike Muslims, pro-lifers actually are peaceful.

According to recent polling, a majority of Americans oppose abortion — which is consistent with liberals’ hysterical refusal to allow us to vote on the subject. In a country with approximately 150 million pro-lifers, five abortionists have been killed since Roe v. Wade.

In that same 36 years, more than 49 million babies have been killed by abortionists. Let’s recap that halftime score, sports fans: 49 million to five.

Meanwhile, fewer than 2 million Muslims live in America and, while Muslims are less murderous than abortionists, I’m fairly certain they’ve killed more than five people in the United States in the last 36 years. For some reason, the number “3,000” keeps popping into my head.

So in a country that is more than 50 percent pro-life — and 80 percent opposed to the late-term abortions of the sort performed by Tiller — only five abortionists have been killed. And in a country that is less than 0.5 percent Muslim, several dozen Muslims have killed thousands of Americans.

But the killing of about one abortionist per decade leads liberals to condemn the entire pro-life movement as “domestic terrorists.” At least liberals have finally found some terrorists they’d like to send to Guantanamo.

The hypocrisy of the present administration and their public relations department (the major media) is at gag level. It’s nice that someone notices.

[you can read Ann Coulter's column here]

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Obama on Islam

This morning President Obama gave an speech at Cairo University in which he proposed “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” Along the way, he gave out some real eyebrow raisers:

In speaking about the history of Islam, Obama said: “And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.” say whaaaaa?? What history is he speaking about? We would be interested in hearing precisely how Islam has ever “demonstrated through words and deeds the possibility of religious tolerance”? And, would you mind telling us once more, the name of that planet you’ve been living on, Mr. President?

He says a number of other things that give reason to gasp, but I want to focus upon the common myth that has been shoved down everybody’s throat since 9/11: the myth that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and it is only a small minority of extremists who view violence as acceptable.

The President repeated it again today. In referring to Islamic “extremists” he says: “They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths but, more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Quran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as — it is as it if has killed all mankind. And the Holy Quran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.”

“Well now,” says the average American, “the Qu’ran says that? That sounds pretty good!” Yep. This sounds very noble — and the Qu’ran does in fact say this. It is a quote from Surah 5.32 and is talking about how God forbade the murder of the innocent, in response to Cain’s murder of Abel (Cain killed the innocent one and it was an effort to murder mankind). Unfortunately, this statement in no way affirms what Obama implies in his speech (i.e. respect for the “rights of human beings” or the right of “religious freedom” or tolerance).

Islam is devoted to extermination of the “unbeliever” (i.e. the non-Muslim). The very next verse (Surah 5:33) says, “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion. Or the cutting off the hands and feet from opposite sides. Or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.” Waging war against Allah is equivalent to refusing to believe in and submit to Allah. Any who oppose the will of Allah are subject to being killed by believing Muslims wherever and whenever they may be found (as the Qu’ran says over and over).

This is not just the view of Muslim extremists, it is the view of every Muslim who believes the Qu’ran. It turns out that our President knows the Qu’ran about as well as he knows the Bible.

Now, of course, there are liberal, neo-orthodox Muslims who re-interpret the Qu’ran to support non-violence; and there are those who ignore these sorts of statements that are found nearly on every page of the Qu’ran; there are probably many who are largely ignorant of what the Qu’ran teaches; and without doubt, only a minority actually take part in violent attacks on innocent civilians and have devoted themselves to the violent extermination of Christians and Jews. But that doesn’t change the fact that these things are taught in the Qu’ran.

Islam, as set forth in the Qu’ran, is a religion of violence and intolerance. It always has been and, in the minds of the faithful, it still is.

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