Tag archives: Culture

Praying for Our Leaders

by Peyton Holliday

March 12, 2019

Here at Family Research Council, we have been reading through Carter Conlon’s book It’s Time to Pray. Prayer has been a focus at FRC since the beginning, but we are renewing that focus this year. In Conlon’s book, he highlights stories of how people’s lives have been changed by prayer. He shows us how people live out the verse in James: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (5:16).

We as Christians in the United States should be praying for our leaders in authority over us. In the book of 1 Timothy, we are told to pray for our leaders: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” We need to pray that our leaders will have wisdom (Proverbs 3:13) and will surround themselves with counsellors (Proverbs 15:22). Here are some great scripture passages to pray over our leaders from the book of Proverbs:

  1. Lord, may our leaders guide our nation in what is right, just, and fair (1:3).
  2. May they understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (2:5).
  3. Above all, may our leaders trust in God with all their heart and not lean on their own understanding (3:5).
  4. As they interact with those around them, may they avoid all perverse talk and a deceitful mouth (4:24).
  5. Lord, may our leaders not be afraid of sudden disaster (3:25) and make wise decisions in the face of a disaster.
  6. As our leaders make both life and political decisions, may they ponder the path of their feet (4:26).
  7. I pray that our leaders will not be wise in their own eyes, but fear the Lord and turn away from evil (3:7).
  8. Lord, may they find favor and understanding in the sight of God and man (3:4).
  9. As our leaders make national and local decisions, may they listen to wisdom and be secure without fear of evil (1:33).
  10. May our leaders do their work pure and right (20:11).
  11. Thank you, Father for those that you have placed in authority over us. May you remind us to pray for them and never give up remembering that our leader’s hearts are turned by you and you turn them however you please (21:1). Amen.

It is our duty as Christians to respect the authority over us (Romans 13:1-7). I think we would have an easier time respecting those in authority if we prayed for our leaders on a daily basis. Prayer, as small of a task and as insignificant as many think it to be, can change the world. If more Christians would daily, hourly, and without ceasing pray for our leaders, our nation and the world would be a different place.

Peyton Holliday is an intern at Family Research Council.

Women: Achieving Balance from the One Who Gives Us Worth

by Patrina Mosley

March 8, 2019

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Balance for Better.” Interestingly enough, achieving a better balance in the way we as women are thinking about cultural issues today may be the cure for feminist woes against God, men, and the world.

#MeToo and “Every Woman Deserves to Be Believed”

For some women, the #MeToo movement has been a blessing. But when taken to its extreme form of “every woman deserves to be believed,” it has been a curse. Just ask Ashley Kavanaugh, who had to watch her husband get accused of sexual misconduct on national television with no corroborating evidence. The blessing of the #MeToo movement is that it has exposed sexual abuse and helped bring long overdue justice to victims. However, saying “every woman deserves to be believed” does not make up for all the years when women were not believed, and it certainly hurts women who have husbands, fathers, and sons who are wrongfully accused. A better balance could be achieved by going after the truth so that there can be justice. Without that, we get people with personal vendettas seeking vengeance against someone who might be innocent.

Biology

Women: if we don’t get biology right, we can say goodbye forever to womanhood. “Anything you can do, I can do better” seems to be on a never-ending loop when it comes to modern feminism—even to the point of denying science. Adding and taking away body parts or hormones will not change the XX and XY chromosomes that God put in place and called good. Researchers have already discovered that we have thousands of genomes in the body that act differently based on our sex—from muscle mass, fat tissue, heart activity, reproductive functions, diseases and treatment, metabolism, and so much more.

There is nothing wrong with being distinct. In fact, when it comes to matters of strength, there are some women who are definitely stronger than men, but on average that is not the case—and that’s okay! A balance for better is valuing the diversity men and women bring to the table. We all love diversity, right? I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the ability to give life to the world than be able to bench press 400 pounds or carry a man on my back in combat any day.

Womanhood

Playing the “anything you can do, I can do better” game does not make us better or more valuable. In fact, studies show that it doesn’t even make us happier. While we may want to glamorize weekends of one-night-stands, independence, corporate-climbing, and the legal right to kill our children, none of these things make us equal with men. All we are doing is emulating the sins and misplaced priorities generally associated with men. A better balance can be found in applying the standard of what is right, not what we think is equal.

Sex is for marriage, and sexual fulfillment for both men and women is at its greatest in the context of a committed relationship. When it comes to independence, could it be that women are not happier because they alone shoulder the burden of working, taking care of the kids—and oh yeah—finding time to sleep? Two people are better off than one because they can help each other succeed, whether that be at home or in the workplace.

With abortion, we rage against our own nature to nurture and thereby give men free sex with no responsibility. As politicians seem to endorse infanticide, can we silently stand by and not protect our littlest ones? Their birthday should be met with love and care, not death. You can advocate for their lives and send a message through efforts like the “End Birth Day Abortion” campaign.

From Disney princess movies to even Fifty Shades of Grey, we all want a man who is enamored by us, committed to us, and would die for us. But giving our consent to the hook-up culture, abortion, and being married to our jobs is a great deal only for the man who doesn’t want to stick around, not for us.

We ultimately achieve a better balance when we remember that men and women alike have equal access to God through Jesus Christ, pointing us toward what is good and right instead of opaquely “equal” as we define it. In fact, there are currently many legal protections and practices in place for women not based on generic “equality” but on what is right. Do we really want men (who identify as transgender women) in battered women’s shelters, on our school sports teams, and in our public bathrooms and showers?

The Heart

At the heart of it all, this is a heart issue. Are we filled with such bitterness and anger in the era of #MeToo that we neglect the pursuit of justice and take the short cut to revenge? Do we desire to be the ruler of our own lives—instead of seeking God—to the point where we believe science is bigoted? We don’t need to focus on our differences to the point of self-hatred, nor do we need to exalt ourselves and roar with pride to make men feel low.

Ultimately, we should acknowledge and use our differences to pursue those things that are right, such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Only then will we truly be able to discern a better balance.

The Art of Disagreement

by Travis Weber

March 6, 2019

In the New York Times, Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has an interesting piece on the polarization and fracturing of America today. Of note:

Political scientists have found that our nation is more polarized than it has been at any time since the Civil War. One in six Americans has stopped talking to a family member or close friend because of the 2016 election. Millions of people organize their social lives and their news exposure along ideological lines to avoid people with opposing viewpoints. What’s our problem?

2014 article in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on “motive attribution asymmetry”—the assumption that your ideology is based in love, while your opponent’s is based in hate—suggests an answer. The researchers found that the average Republican and the average Democrat today suffer from a level of motive attribution asymmetry that is comparable with that of Palestinians and Israelis. Each side thinks it is driven by benevolence, while the other is evil and motivated by hatred—and is therefore an enemy with whom one cannot negotiate or compromise.

Brooks continues:

People often say that our problem in America today is incivility or intolerance. This is incorrect. Motive attribution asymmetry leads to something far worse: contempt, which is a noxious brew of anger and disgust. And not just contempt for other people’s ideas, but also for other people. In the words of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, contempt is “the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.”

Quite alarming. Nevertheless, this is confirmed by what we see in our slice of social discourse—whether in reference to people holding to historic Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, or merely seeking to protect their ability to hold to such teaching.

A recent study in The Atlantic discusses how such intolerance is cemented as beliefs become more siloed within certain groups and communities. The worst offenders? “[T]he most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”

Brooks’ solution for all this?

Not eliminating different ideas, but embracing them. “What we need is not to disagree less, but to disagree better,” he says. When treated with contempt, we should not return it upon our opponent’s head. Instead, we must choose to respond with grace.

Of all people, Christians should most eagerly embrace this idea. Our faith itself is based on God not responding to our contempt with contempt, but by sending his Son to die in our place on a cross.

We should be the first to embrace the idea of showing grace to neighbors and those around us. There is much we cannot control in our society today, but let us seize one of the few areas we can change—our individual choice to respond with grace when treated with contempt.

A Civil War general, a Wyoming storekeeper, and a Vietnamese businessman: A story of America

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 29, 2013

A Civil War general, a Wyoming storekeeper, and a Vietnamese businessman tell an extraordinary story of patriotism and opportunity.

John Buford was a Union general who held the line against the Army of Northern Virginia on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863. He died, possibly of typhoid, in December of that same year. Abraham Lincoln, moved by Buford’s heroic service and premature loss, promoted him to major general on Buford’s death bed.

In 1866, the town of Buford, Wyoming was named after the late general. Over time, it grew to a population of 2,000 and was visited by such notables as Ulysses Grant and Franklin Roosevelt. The notorious Butch Cassidy is reported to have robbed a store there in the 1880s.

The town went into gradual decline. Over time, everyone moved away except Vietnam veteran Don Sammons, who in “1992 … sold his moving business and bought Buford. He moved into a three-bedroom log cabin a few hundred feet from the trading post and turned an old schoolhouse next door into an office. He refurbished a store built in 1895 into a four-car garage.”

Recently, Sammons decided to put his one-man town up for sale. It was purchased not by fellow Bufordites (OK, there are none), a Wyomingite or even another American. It was purchased by a Vietnamese businessman named Nguyen Dinh Pham who plans to make Buford the distribution center of rich Vietnamese coffee throughout America.

About a dozen American flags fly in front of the store, now named the PhinDeli. After the sale, Sammons says he “wanted to put Vietnamese flags out” in front of the store. “But the new owner didn’t want locals to think he was trying to change this into a Vietnamese town. It’s a Wyoming town and it always will be.”

An American who fought against Communists in Vietnam lands in one of the most obscure places in North America and then sells his store to a Vietnamese coffee merchant, who insists on flying U.S. rather than Vietnamese flags in front of his store: The poetic symmetry of this sequence of events is remarkable, and speaks to the kind of America of which all of us can be proud. It is a country where honorable people can live decent lives in peace and freedom, prosper and thrive, and, ultimately, work to achieve their own economic and personal destinies without intrusive, patronizing intervention from the government.

When, at the beginning of the war, the governor of Kentucky offered John Buford any position in his state’s military he wanted, Buford had a ready answer. “I sent him word I was a Captain in the United States Army and I intended to remain one!” A patriot like that would appreciate what Don Sammons, Nguyen Dinh Pham, and the people of rural Wyoming are doing with his civic namesake.

Albrecht Dürer Unsequestered

by Robert Morrison

June 10, 2013

I must applaud The New York Times’ review of the Albrecht Dürer exhibit recently offered at Washington’s National Gallery of Art. It is heartening to know that the great Sequestration—about which there has been so much hype and hubbub—did not shut down this amazing exhibit.

Exhibit organizers refer to Dürer’s famed Praying Hands as the most famous painting in the world. Can it be? Can we really say that of this devout artist’s most beloved work?

There is nothing idealized in these hands. They are rough, veined, wrinkled, hard-worked hands. They tell a story in themselves.

The Martyrdom of St. John the Evangelist is a work of the young Dürer (1496-98). It shows the death by boiling oil, supervised by a ruler dressed as a Turkish sultan. No political correctness here. (Or, historical accuracy, either, since these martyrs died centuries before the Ottomans came on the scene.)

Adam and Eve are depicted as ideal human forms, part of Dürer’s lifelong effort to get the human body right. (My theologian friend notes the strategic placement of the leaves, saying that this was chronologically incorrect since Adam and Eve had not yet fallen. Or, Fallen. And thus they had no need to feel shame. But I’m not sure those are fig leaves.)

I especially like the great German artist’s rendering of lions. He drew some of them from the stone lions of Venice, which he had seen on a youthful trek to that fabled republic. But then, in 1521, the mature Dürer sees a real lion for the first time in a Netherlands zoo.

The contrast is startling. One wonders whether we will react the same way when we see the real savior for the first time. Is he safe? Certainly not, but he is good.

I come upon Dürer’s “Head of an African.” The Museum text tells us he probably encountered this young black man during his Venetian sojourn. It’s a powerful portrait, rich in empathy.

You have to think: If all Europeans had seen this drawing could the African Slave Trade ever have existed? Well, all Europeans (and Americans) today have seen incredible pictures of unborn children and yet the abortion traffic still exists.

Albrecht Dürer depicted himself as Jesus in a work titled “Man of Sorrows.” We might think this egotistic, but it was no less a Reformation figure than Martin Luther who said we should each strive to be “little Christs.” Albrecht and Agnes Dürer were childless and they doubtless knew what sorrow was. Dürer announced his sympathy with Luther and grieved when he thought the Bible scholar had been kidnapped and might face the flames of martyrdom.

It is interesting to see Albrecht Dürer as a Medieval figure in his religious sensibilities and also as a bridging figure in his commercial striving and obvious yearning for fame.

By comparison, the great artisans of the High Middle Ages often left us no record of their names. They who carved the statues at the magnificent Chartres Cathedral in France pointedly did not sign their work. It was all done for God, in devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, so why would you need to sign it?

Dürer, faithful as he is, wants the credit. He signs everything. He even makes a signature block print of his initials “AD” and places them where lesser artists might have placed anno domini (in the Year of our Lord).

One Dürer work not included in this exhibit is one I had hoped to see—The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand. The painting is a vast tableau, an incredibly complex and vivid visual representation of a mass killing dating from the earliest days of Christendom. Dürer has portrayed himself and his friend, Konrad Celtis, in the center of the painting. They are clad in funereal black, as if in mourning, as if they are mere witnesses to the massacre of innocents.

The story of this martyrdom is a part of what is called the Golden Legend, a work familiar to Christians in Dürer’s day, filled with stories of the true cost of discipleship. Ten thousands Roman soldiers converted to Christ are killed in one act of vengeance and persecution. The killers are Persians and local forces aligned with the pagan emperors of Rome and acting upon their direction, just as the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate felt he was remembering Caesar when he sentenced blameless Jesus to death.

Dürer depicts those ordering the killings as Oriental despots, arrayed in Turkish attire. We know from the legend itself they are not Muslim Turks. Still, it makes one wonder if a public display now of Muslim Ottomans killing Christians would be considered too inflammatory to show.

Will future painters dare to depict the martyrdom of the ten thousand Copts? Will artists memorialize the murder of Christians in Pakistan? Or Northern Nigeria? Maybe Drummer Lee Rigby’s beheading in broad daylight on a London street will be the subject of an artist’s heart’s desire to witness to the truth.

We are living in the times of the Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand. We need to witness to these truths, as our ancestors in the Faith did unhesitatingly. Or will these truths be sequestered?

Albrecht Dürer is at once quintessentially German and a wholly universal figure. Like Johann Sebastian Bach, he exemplifies that broad Christian humanism, that caritas that embraces all mankind.

An Era Ends: Sheet Music Magazine Publishes Its Last Edition

by Chris Gacek

March 23, 2013

David R. Sands of the Washington Times recently published this article about our changing cultural landscape entitled “Sheet Music’s Last Note.” In it, he informs us that the last issue of America’s only magazine providing its readers with piano sheet music expired last autumn.  In thirty-six years years, Sheet Music Magazine had printed nearly 3,000 songs.  At its height, the magazine had 150,000 subscribers who received a copy every two months. 

What killed the Sheet Music?  Accordingly to the publisher, Ed Shanaphy, his magazine…

…couldn’t survive a perfect storm of factors gathering in recent years, from a bad economy, falling piano sales and the rise of online downloading services for sheet music to the decline of a generation that played piano for fun and the rise of a generation that gets into music through earbuds and prefers its musical scores auto-translated into audio online.

That is quite a combination of technological and social change. 

The article has some fascinating figures on piano sales in the United States.  In 1909, 360,000 pianos were sold in America with a population of 90.5 million.  In 1969 (see diagram), there were 220,000 sold (pop. 220 million).  Finally, in 2007, there 315 million people in the country, but sales totaled only 62,500. 

The 1909 figure is useful because it represents a time when there were no/few recorded music players, no radios, etc.  If you wanted to have musical entertainment, you had to do it yourself or pay someone to play it live.  More instructive is 1969 when we had high quality FM radio and very good stereo recordings for sale.  Since then, piano sales have really plunged.

What does it mean?  Are we watching a decline of cultural literacy.  Perhaps, it just represents a decline of the piano relative to other instruments, but I doubt it.

As a consumer of music, I know that what I listen to – just in terms of the sound quality – seems greatly inferior to my parents’ high fidelity stereo.  People used to spend a fortune on sound equipment.  That doesn’t seem to happen now.  There has been a huge shift to video technology with ever-better formats like blu-ray.  Does an audio analog (ha-ha, no irony intended) of blu-ray exist?  The world seems to be moving in the opposite direction.  MP3 files aren’t even as good as the much-criticized recordings on CDs.  Now I listen to classical music using the speakers on my Kindle.  Sound quality may not matter with rap, but it matters if you want to hear the percussion instruments in Carmen.  True that, but I just paid $1.99 for 13 hours of some composer whose music is play by the Latvian Symphony Orchestra and sits on my cloud.  I can listen any place that has wi-fi.  That enhances my cultural literacy.

I have no great theory, but David Sands’ article will make you think a bit.  How has your appreciation and interaction with quality music changed?  For better, worse?  Do you care?

The Oscars and the Sad Truth about Media Culture

by Family Research Council

February 26, 2013

There has been some concern about the crass humor displayed at the Oscars last Sunday. I did not watch the Oscars, but I have read enough of what was said to know it was a moral debacle. When even children are the subject of coarse jesting, it becomes even more troubling. When a culture treats sex as a joke and uses lewdness to attract attention, it is a sign of that culture’s weakness. Why does an emcee at a major media awards event feel it is appropriate to make comments about a young actress’ sexual appeal to George Clooney? It is because our culture has lost its moral footing.

Hollywoodoften expresses outrage at the very things it promotes. Violence, sexual licentiousness, the objectification of women and children, and bullying (especially the “Christian right”) were all part of what was celebrated and joked about at this year’s Oscars, yet all are things Hollywood would argue against in other contexts. When will the moral decay in media cease? Perhaps, it will cease when Americans stop paying for it at the box office.

What would I do to encourage peace, love, the honoring of women, and the protection of our children in media? I would recommend adopting the Christian moral ethic that treats sex and marriage as sacred and that admonishes us to love our neighbors as ourselves. It may be called old-fashioned, but it is exactly what our culture needs.

Young Evangelicals, Common Ground, and the New Social Witness

by Family Research Council

November 5, 2012

How do we expect young Evangelicals to vote? With Election Day tomorrow and every vote in the balance, the question remains: Are these millennials the reliable moral majority of their parents generation? Or have they called a truce on the culture wars?

On October 16, I joined a panel of seven young Evangelicals behind the microphones of the National Press Club. We hailed from a diverse set of policy organizations and came, in part, to answer that very question. What are the political priorities for todays young Evangelicals?

More specifically, we discussed the results of a recent survey, conducted by Sojournersa Christian advocacy organization dedicated to promoting social justice, often in collaboration with progressive political means. The Sojourners blog post suggested that we all had agreed to call a truce on cultural warfare and settled on a new common ground. But are the culture wars over?

On August 15, an armed gunman entered my workplace. He confronted my colleague, announced his profound disagreement with my organizations politics, and proceeded to fire his weapon three times. Thankfully, he only wounded my colleague in the arm. The suspect was carrying Chick-fil-A sandwiches and 50 rounds of ammunition. He has since been arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill and committing an act of terrorism while armed.

If these are the culture wars, I sincerely hope they are over. That said, I and other young Evangelicals must face the uncomfortable and undeniable reality: our nation remains deeply divided on our social ethics. And some of us young Evangelicals have accepted the uncomfortable but compelling call to advocate for the most vulnerable human lives, promote a biblical and natural view of marriage, and use the freedoms given by God and articulated within the Constitution.

Even the numbers within the Sojourners study suggest that a majority of young Evangelical millennials have not abandoned the principles championed by their parents. My fellow panelist, and Executive Director for the Manhattan Declaration, Eric Teetsel has already written to this point. His blog post titled, Evangelicals on Common Ground is well worth the read.

I personally dislike the label of culture warrior. If my aversion is naive and semantic, age and faithful, hard work will cure me and Ill carry the badge. But I suggest that there is a growing cohort of cheerful young Evangelical advocates. We may, perhaps, have a gentler tone than the cartoon version of our parents advocacy. But many of us promote and prioritize the principles that our parents did.

This may be the common ground that Sojourners celebrates. If it truly is common ground, I suggest that (like any common room in my living experience) it requires upkeep. If we have truly entered such a cultural moment, I offer the following guiding principles:

An unconfused civility:

I invite us to show greater grace and civility in our public conversations. Such civility would steer us away from assuming each others motives. It would keep conservatives from assuming that progressives intend to bankrupt the nation and shred the Constitution. In turn, progressives might refrain from suggesting that conservatives hate the poor and relish the thought of perpetual warfare.

Such civility might slow us down a bit, restore our respect for each others humanity and motivations, and lend itself to more intelligent collaboration on specific issues. In the absence of such all-or-nothing advocacy and bombast, a politically diverse group of young Christians might begin to make authentic progress on specific concerns such as welfare reform, education reform, and human trafficking. It may not be the most effective fundraising technique for individual advocacy organizations. It may move us toward more authentic reform.

Clarity on our -ologies:

Even under a shared umbrella of Evangelical commitment, we would be wise to address how our theology, anthropology, and eschatology inform our social agenda. Volumes could and have been written on each -ology and its implications for public service. But just a quick glance at what this might mean for todays Evangelicals.

Left, right, or centerare we more concerned about having God in our political camp, rather than being on his side? In contrast, will we refuse to cherry-pick bible verses for our own political agendasto the exclusion of other calls to holiness, humility, and compassion? Our theology inevitably shapes our priorities.

A biblically-informed anthropology encourages us to protect all humans as image-bearers of the living Godcradle-to-grave. But progressive/conservative disagreements regarding social and economic policies often stem from our different theological understanding of brokenness and evil. I believe that my progressive friends more readily locate the problem of evil primarily in situational variables, rather than in personal responsibility. But when we fail to dignify the needy by holding them accountable, our good intentions may serve to exacerbate the need. However, my conservative and libertarian friends run the risk of ignoring the social contexts into which so many are born. When we ignore the devastating implications of victimization, (fatherlessness, abuse, a failed educational system, etc) we similarly fail to offer authentic hope and suggest that the Christianity is a graceless thing.

We are, indeed, called to be Matthew 25 Christians. In addition to caring for the poor, imprisoned, and persecuted (Matt. 25:40), we usher in the kingdom of God through small faithfulness like investing the masters money (Matt. 25:14-30), and waiting with our lamps full (Matt. 25:1-30). I caution Christian friends of all political stripes to be avoid immanentizing the eschatonor confusing ones role as Christs hands and feet, with bearing the weight of ushering in the kingdom of God.

Knowing the length of your arm:

We are the Facebook generationtrying to be faithful and relevant amidst the clutter of an active Twitter feed and 24/7 news cycle. We may know more about the worlds events and needs than did our parents at our age. But I suggest that we are also more distracted and fragmented. In this dizzying swirl of information and friendships we run the risk of detaching ourselves from authenticin-the-flesh communities. We are tempted to find our own churches, families, and neighborhoods too small for our grand ideas. I suggest that the rising generation of Christians, regardless of political affiliation, should place a higher priority on individual relationships, hidden faithfulness, and commitment to a local body of believers.

God has used his peoplelike William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther Kingto organize great social resistance to social evils. But it is the paradox of the Christian life: God often uses individuals who are prepared to be small, hidden, faithful, and accountable to other believers. We may be called to wrestle with monumental injustice, but we will be most effective when we remain attentive to the challenges at our doorstep and the efforts already being made to alleviate such problems.

A new social witness:

Has the rising generation abandoned the culture wars? I hardly know. I, personally, am prepared to cross partisan lines to address genuine human need and offer authentic freedom. But more fundamentally, I aim to follow Christs call to follow him both in private and in public life. In a recent lecture, Dr. Owen Strachan called upon todays Christian leaders to a disciplined vitality and a new social witness. I close with his words:

This movement… refuses to be seen as the religious wing of a given party. It is, however, grounded in the public witness of Christians offered in the past 30-40 years, and it is grateful for the sacrifices made by those who have gone before. This movement does not consider the church a PAC, nor America the new Israel. Its tone is charitable and courageous, because this movement derives ultimate confidence and identity not from the city of man, but from the city of God.

Lets bring that new social witness to our churches, our families, our jobs, and our polls.

Trials and Tribulations of Girl Land

by Krystle Gabele

January 26, 2012

Caitlin Flanagan recently released a new book, Girl Land, which takes a look at the world of todays adolescent girls and the issues they are facing. Of course, Flanagan has again enraged feminists everywhere with her perspective.

In Girl Land, Flanagan looks at how culture has changed over time and how it has become focused on viewing girls as sexual objects and denying them the privacy, daydreams, and crushes that normal girlhood provides. In other words, they are losing their sense of self.

However, Girl Land is also drawing some criticism from those who might agree with Flanagans point of view. In a recent RealClearBooks op-ed by Heather Wilhelm, Girl Land received some criticism as painting things too broadly. Wilhelm brings up a great point that this book fosters ambiguity toward men, as well as making excuses for the boys will be boys mentality.

On one hand, Flanagan seems to buy into the all men are predators narrative, speaking of the pervy uncle and the drunk father hitting on the babysitter as if they are prototypes, not anomalies. Perhaps this stems from an assault Flanagan endured when she was younger, which she details in the book. But its an odd quirk, particularly in a girl culture better represented by the aggressive, love-struck babysitter in Crazy, Stupid, Love (in the movie, she harasses her charges clueless father, leading to mortifying results) than anything else.

But then, on the other hand, Girl Land exhibits a strange sense of boys will be boys that excuses even the crassest behavior. If I were to learn that my children had engaged in oral sex outside a romantic relationship, and as young adolescents I would be sad, Flanagan writes. But I wouldnt think that they had been damaged by the experience; I wouldnt think I had failed catastrophically as a mother, or that they would need therapy. Because I dont have daughters, I have sons.”

Wilhelm also argues that girls are facing a society that promotes promiscuity over abstinence. Girl Land did not mention anything about respect for this critical moral choice.

Kids need to know how their behaviors will impact them in the long run, and the implications of not making the right choices behaviorally. Shouldn’t Girl Land be focused on holding both sons and daughters to high moral standards? Our society needs these standards now more than ever.

One builds, and one tears down: This Old House vs The Daily Show

by Family Research Council

December 9, 2011

There’s something interesting going on here. The Washington Post is reporting the top show for conservatives is the long running home improvement franchise, This Old House. Meanwhile, the tops for liberals is the irreverently humorous and oh so snarky, “The Daily Show” (The analysis does not include news, sports or music programming).

Now I don’t lean Jon Stewart’s way politically, but I’ve seen enough of his show to catch the appeal. If you like shooting fish in a barrel, and you already believe conservatives are those unfortunate fish, then Jon’s your guy. He’s in the tear-down business, and supplies a lot of Americans (young people in particular) with what passes for news. Not surprisingly, I’m not one of them.

On the other hand, after Saturday cartoons wrap up, my boys and I will often watch This Old House. Or as they like to call it, “The Man Show.” I’ll never forget the day we were watching the program and my oldest son asked me, “Dad, who are the bad guys?” He’s four, so I didn’t tell him, “Jon Stewart.” Only kidding, Jon.

As anecdotal as media choices may be, the contrast between these two shows is stark indeed. It reminds me of Proverbs 14:1: The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

I think it says something that out of all the programming choices available, conservatives favor a family-centric, home building show hosted by a genial group of working class dudes. It’s reflective of our values: we’re builders of families, homes and businesses. We’d much rather focus on our own hearths than those on K street, Wall street or Pennsylvania Avenue. We’re not looking for a fight except when one lands on our doorstep, and we’re really not that into politics. We tend to believe the family is the primary vehicle through which good culture is communicated, and have much lower expectations when it comes to government. Please don’t ask me to explain “The Bachelor.” Aside from its obvious nod to sexuality, there is no explanation for such a show.

It’s interesting, too, that of all the programming choices available, our liberal neighbors favor a biting political comedy-entary. (I don’t think that’s a word yet, but it probably should be.) What values is this reflecting? Perhaps: government is the center of public life and the highest of man’s achievements, or maybe, it’s good fun to tear down those who disagree. That’s all conjecture, of course, as I don’t really watch the Daily Show. I can think of plenty of counterexamples in my own life to these extrapolations, but itd be hard to argue that the growth of leviathan doesnt undermine the family. One neednt look further than family formation and fertility rates in Western Europe to see how this plays out.

In any case, I’ve got to go fix some electrical issues at our new old house. I’ll see if my boys want to help.

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