Friday, November 25, 2005

DVD Review: Left Behind: World at War

It's been eighteen months since the mysterious disappearance of millions of people. The world has managed to recover from what the Bible refers to as the Rapture and 172 world governments have consolidated power in one Global Community under the leadership of Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie) . On the surface, everything appears to be peaceful as nations have willingly laid down their arms in the name of world peace. President Gerald Fitzhugh (Lou Gossett, Jr.) has led the United States into this alliance - a decision he will soon regret. Vice President John Mallory (Charles Martin Smith) informs the President that Carpathia is about to unleash a biological weapon on the United States. Fitzhugh barely has time to let the news sink in before Mallory is assasainated and the United States is plunged into war. Fitzhugh turns to reporter Buck Williams (Kirk Cameron) and militia member Carolyn Miller (Jessica Steen) for help in trying to stop Carpathia before it's too late.

This third installment of the Left Behind movie series was surprisingly well done. The action is taught and the movie left me on the edge of my seat even when the characters would stop to pray. Christians are portrayed realistically without resorting to overused stereotypes. They are not fearless warriors of faith but rather human beings that are struggling to understand how God can allow war and death to continue to persist.

This installment also cleary benefits from the financial backing of Sony Pictures which was willing to support the film and provide the larger production budget necessary to create many of the special effects so well utilized through the film.

The filmmakers were also not afraid to also deal with the spiritual content which is clearly at the heart of the novels. The characters (particularly Fitzhugh) are on a spiritual journey that causes them to face danger head on and evaluate their lives in very spiritual terms.

Overall, this is a well-produced film and probably the best of the series thus far. Left Behind: World at War not only entertains but presents the truth of the Bible squarely in front of the audience and will no doubt cause careful self-examination by anyone who watches the film. Even those viewers unfamiliar with the books or previous films can still find this movie enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving

As families all across America prepare this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, it's worth pausing to reflect on why we celebrate the holiday. This essay from Mark Alexander at the Federalist Patriot traces the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and why we should stop and thank God for the blessings we all enjoy.

From our family to yours, may you have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Douglas Gresham on Homeschooling

The Fall 2005 issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine includes an interview with Douglas Gresham, stepson of C. S. Lewis. While much of the conversation focuses on the upcoming Narnia movie and Gresham's relationship with Lewis, there is some frank discussion about Gresham's own strong support for homeschooling. Here is what Gresham had to say about homeschooling:

Homeschooling and why I advocate it is not a matter of whether the schools are good or bad, though obviously I would rather children went to good schools than to bad ones, if go to school they must. It is that, as someone who has been trained and works in the field of post-childhood abuse trauma, and has devoted considerable thought to the mattter, I have formed the opinion that the entire concept of school is flawed. In fact, it is a terrible mistake.

Look what we do: we observe what God has designed, a pair of parents, one of each
sex, and two pairs of grandparents, often with a few aunts and uncles thrown in. In fact, a Family. This is the unit designed by God Himself for the specific purpose of ministry of raising each new generation.

Then what do we do? We take the child and remove him from this carefully designed support group of parents and close family members, all of whom share a genetic bond with the child, and plunge him into a mass group of his peers, all of whom are as ignorant and as demanding as he is, with one adult stranger supervising. In terms of the psycho-emotional development of the child, this is complete madness.

A child is best nurtured by having the one-on-one attention from each of the two parents for a specific period of time each day. Ideally, a child should be homeschooled by both parents sharing the task equally, though I do realize that this is not always possible. Bear in mind that I am not referring to idiotic parents, criminal parents, drug-addicted parents, or self-indulgent, self-obsessed parents, nor to anyone else who should never be graced (in my view, not God's, of course) with progeny in the first place. I am referring to normal, well-adjusted, good parents. And with our modern habits of sending children away from their home and families for the better part of every day these [well-adjusted parents] are becoming more and more scarce as the vast majority of people are damaged or scarred emotionally and intellectually themselves by being exiled from their home and parents and placed in the hands of strangers at a young age.

It is a trans-generational progression exacerbated by the fact that those who are damaged very often are not even aware of it. If I had known back then what I know now, my children would never have gone to school until they were at least 18 years old. Satan hates what God loves and God loves us, Mankind. The basic unit of Mankind is the family, so Satan has targeted the Family, and he has been pretty successful, mostly by using "good intentions." I think that "School" is one of his very clever inventions. As far as I am concerned, schools are for fish.

(The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Fall 2005 issue, page 57)

Well said.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Review: The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - Fall 2005

I just received the latest issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and once again have been impressed by the depth and breadth of articles that they manage to put together in each issue. The Fall 2005 issue is packed with features that will be an encouragement to every homeschool family.

In this issue, there are a number of great features to help families become better homeschoolers. One of the main sections deals with "Finishing the Race" and focuses on how to homeschool your high school student. Another feature tells the story of one family's encounter with a social worker and offers tips on what to do when social services comes calling. There's encouragement for new homeschoolers and tips on how to get started and not be bound to old ideas of what school should be like. There are holiday craft and gift ideas as well as how to intergrate school with the holiday break. Best of all, there is an exclusive interview with Douglas Gresham, stepson of C. S. Lewis on the upcoming movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is a valuable resource to any family who has chosed to educate their children at home. Packed with tips and product information as well as other resources, this quarterly magazine is a great tool that every home educator will want to have. I highly recommend this to anyone who has taken the initiative to educate their children at home.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is available at major bookstores or can be ordered through their website. No consideration was received for this review apart from the complimentary magazine.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Final Salute

Jim Sheeler and Todd Heisler at the Rocky Mountain News have published an incredible article entitled "Final Salute" that gives a close-up look at the task of the Marines' casualty assistance calls officer. This is a moving account well worth reading. Thanks to Tony in Boulder for the tip.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Congratulations Aaron

Please join me in congratulating my Two or colleague and fellow Mind and Media reviewer Aaron Earls who has just joined the fine group of bloggers at the World Magazine blog. Aaron also has The Wardrobe Door blog and is well deserving of this honor.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Judge Alito's Conservative Credentials

The Washington Post has a front page article today that tries to ease liberals fears about the possibility of Roe vs. Wade being overturned. But in fact the article only reinforces Judge Alito's conservative credentials. First, here's the misleading lead paragraph of the article:

Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. has signaled he would be highly reluctant to overturn long-standing precedents such as the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling, a move that has helped to silence some of his critics and may resolve a key problem early in the Senate confirmation process, several senators said yesterday.

At first glance, it would seem that Alito supports Roe. Reading further, it's clear that Alito is merely showing respect for the rule of law:

In private meetings with senators who support abortion rights, Alito has said the Supreme Court should be quite wary of reversing decisions that have been repeatedly upheld, according to the senators who said it was clear that the context was abortion.

"He basically said . . . that Roe was precedent on which people -- a lot of people -- relied, and been precedent now for decades and therefore deserved great respect," Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) told reporters after meeting with Alito yesterday. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she had a similar conversation about an hour later with Alito, who has made clear that he personally opposes abortion.

"I asked him whether it made a difference to him if he disagreed with the initial decision but it had been reaffirmed several times since then," Collins told reporters. "I was obviously referring to Roe in that question. He assured me that he has tremendous respect for precedent and that his approach is to not overturn cases due to a disagreement with how they were originally decided."

Collins, Lieberman and others cautioned that they did not directly ask Alito if he would vote to overturn Roe, and that his comments should not be seen as a guarantee of how he may rule. But the conversations appear to be building Alito's resistance to what might be the biggest impediment to his confirmation: liberals' claims that he is a threat to legalized abortion, which most Americans support, according to opinion polls.

One of the hallmarks of conservative jurisprudence is the respect for precedent. This does not mean that every case decided by the Supreme Court is set in stone and can never be overturned. However, it also does not mean that cases can be overturned based on the whims of the judge, either.

Liberal judges are notorious for ignoring precendents and deciding cases based on their own agenda rather than on the facts and the law. Ironically, it's liberals who are making the case that precendents need to be respected especially when it fits their political agenda. Once again, the hypocrisy of the Left is apparent.

But conservatives, especially pro-lifers, didn't help their cause during the debate over Harriet Miers' by insisting on a judge that would state they would overturn Roe. Judicial activism that ignores precedent is never justified even if the goal is admirable.

Respect for the rule of law is what helps maintain an orderly society. Judge Alito clearly respects the rule of law. He should make a terrific Supreme Court Justice.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Election Day 2005 - Virginia Governor's Race

Much is being made of today's gubernatorial election here in Virginia as a bellwhether of the 2006 and 2008 elections. The Virginia electorate is almost evenly divided between urban and rural areas and as a result is thought by many to be a good predictor of national electoral trends. Since the state went for President Bush last year by nine points there is a feeling that this election will be a referendum on his presidency. Whether that's really the case is at best debatable.

If Democrat Tim Kaine wins today, it will be in part because of help he has received from popular Governor Mark Warner. Warner is himself a possible 2008 Presidential candidate. And while he is on the surface an attractive candidate, his popularity is in part due to a Republican-controlled General Assembly that worked closely with him to get his legislative agenda enacted. That will likely allow him to portray himself as somone who can work with both parties in the general election. Given these factors, Kaine should have been able to build a large lead. However, the race remains a statistical dead heat.

Whoever wins today will claim that this result will somehow show how next year's congressional elections should play out. I wouldn't bet on it.