Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Why I Didn't Love Rogue One


(Warning: There are Rogue One spoilers below!  Read at your own risk.  Also this is me at the theater last night.)


Before I start into my opinions about the new Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, you should know that Star Wars pretty much runs in my blood.  My dad saw the movies as a young teen and when my siblings and I reached an appropriate age, we all gathered around the TV, and a new family tradition was born.  We watched those movies countless times growing up, and I will always remember going to see Episode One when it came out in the theaters.  We watched the movie as a family, went to Taco Bell and discussed it endlessly, then drove straight back to the theater and watched it again.  There are many Star Wars enthusiasts, and dare I say even experts, in my family.  They may not all share my opinions, but this is what I thought of the latest installment.

First, when I say I didn't "love" it, I don't mean I hated it either.  I thought the plot was really well done, and I loved all the references that tied into Episode Four (the Star Wars movie that comes right after Rogue One).  I thought the connection between Jyn and her father was well-formed and added a sweetness to that part of the story.  The ending was bittersweet, as was fitting since we knew from Episode Four that “many fighters died to bring us this information”.

There were a few small irritants in this film, such as the lack of backstories and making the Force too “religious”, but there were a couple things that bothered me more, and I think are a reflection of some of the ways our culture is changing, so I want to talk about those here.

The first point may seem petty, but I think it’s worth discussion - and that was the flatness of the characters in this movie.  Do you remember the variety of personalities in the original Star Wars trilogy?  We had Princess Leia, with all her spunk and conviction.  We had Han, with his arrogance and recklessness and lovably absurd connection to his ship.  We had Luke, the whiney farmer turned introspective brooder turned indispensable Jedi.  What tied it all together, what made these movies classics, was the color of their personalities, the sense of history, the development of relationships.  It was their tenacity in the fight, their grit, the conviction that the Empire was evil and must be stopped, but it wasn’t only that - their personalities were what made it fun, their flaws were what made us laugh, and you got the feeling that they couldn’t have finally defeated the Empire without being exactly who they were, flaws and all.

I didn’t get that in Rogue One. I was disappointed that many chances to give the characters more depth were not taken.  Not only did we get too much Luke Skywalker brooding and not enough Hans Solo reckless and arrogant determination, but the characters in this movie didn’t even really seem to know why they were fighting (except for a brief speech from Jyn on the need to fight against an Empire “this evil”, a mark in her favor).  The scene that was most frustrating to me was the monologue from Cassion that was supposed to be inspiring as he pulled all his buddies back into the fight, but the whole speech was really rather depressing.  

“We’ve all done terrible things in the name of the rebellion - without the rebellion all those terrible things will be in vain.”  

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the whole speech goes against the reason why my family got hooked on Star Wars in the first place.  I’ll tell you why I have loved Star Wars so long - and it’s because Star Wars has always been about good versus evil, and there was no confusion between the two.

In the original trilogy (Episodes 4-6) we have the classic fight between good and evil.  It was the dark side and the light side, tyranny and freedom.  In that world, you either gave in to the draw of power at the expense of the innocent, or you fought against those who would oppress others for their own gain, or you were one of the countless rabble of spineless bystanders.  It made you want to choose what was good, and never give in and let evil win.

In the second trilogy (Episodes 1-3) we see how good intentions aren’t enough by themselves, how you need a strong grounding in what is right and wrong to avoid being seduced by the desire for power.  How a hunger for control can twist easily to justify terrible evil, and how governments can slide so easily into tyranny when too much power is willingly put into one man’s hands.

In Rogue One, we have an evil Empire willing to destroy planets to reach it’s ends, and we have a well-established rebellion…who apparently has no idea what they are fighting for, except to make past “atrocities” worth it.  And I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it.  I don’t want to see a movie of people who are just fighting to justify past misdeeds.  

I resent the attempt to muddy up the side we all want to root for.  I resent the attempt to give Star Wars shades of grey.  I resent the attempt in our culture to remove heroes and cut them down to size.  They do it with historical figures all the time, and now apparently we can’t even have fictional characters that are good and right and true, and know why they are fighting.  I resent the segments of our culture that say there are no more heroes.  Because I don’t buy that.  I think there are still heroes who take risks because they believe in what is right - and they don’t have to be perfect but they should know what they are fighting for and believe in it’s goodness.  I think there are heroes hiding down in many, waiting to come out when they find something good that is worth fighting for. 

I want to see a movie where the good guys know that there is right and wrong, good and evil, and they fight to defeat that evil and preserve all that is good in the world.  They fight precisely because they recognize that good and evil exist.  That is what Star Wars has always been about to me, and it resonated so much because I think it touched down on that truth in the human heart.

In Rogue One some of the main “heroes” are muddied up and cut down to size, and die simply to undo their own or other’s mistakes or to assuage their own consciences.  Some may say that is more true to real life, but the reason I watch movies like Star Wars is for moral clarity, not moral ambiguity.  It was not inspiring, it was disappointing.

Will Rogue One ruin Star Wars for me?  No, because it’s only a Star Wars story, a side plot.  I can dismiss or overlook the parts I don’t like.  Should you still go see it?  Yes, because there were a lot of tie-ins and themes that were worth the time.  But will it be a Star Wars favorite for me?  No, because it missed the boat on portraying why I love Star Wars in the first place.  I just hope Episode Eight doesn’t continue down this same path, because in a culture where morals are muddied, Star Wars has stood out for making good and evil crystal clear.

P.S. I reserve the right to change my mind, but this is my initial reaction.  What did you think of the movie?

On The Election



I believe some of you follow me on Twitter, so it will be no surprise to you that I am pretty into politics.  I typically find the whole thing exciting and interesting, and I love to analyze.  My love for following the political process has eroded some over the past week though.  I think it is starting to get frustrating or overwhelming for a lot of us.

I had written this in a different way when I first published this post, but I'm trying agin because I don't think I explained myself very well the first time.  Right now I see a lot of argument among the Christian community about whether it is morally right or wrong to vote for Trump.  I don't know what each person's specific reasons are for wanting to avoid voting for Trump, and God knows everyone's heart, but I did want to just share where I am coming from on the matter, to possibly encourage those who may need it.  The thing that I am remembering this election is that I do believe we hold some responsibility for what happens to the country as a result of how we did or didn't use our vote.

The thing is, even a choice not to act has consequences.  And as Christians, if the country becomes completely godless because of the church's inaction, do you think we will be rewarded for that?  Do you think we can escape responsibility?  I don't believe we can.  Unless we are actively fighting against evil, we are complicit in it.  When God judges our nation by giving us over to our own choices, don't we have some part in that judgement, in bringing the nation to this place by doing nothing when we might have tried to prevent it but remained silent?  Our hands will not be clean.  

I have to choose, I have to take a stand for, or against, one of the two inevitable directions the country will go, because I don't think as a part of this nation we will escape moral responsibility before God for what we may have allowed.

All of that, believe it or not, was an introduction to an article that I REALLY want my brothers and sisters in Christ to read, especially if you are on the fence.  Eric Metaxas is such a good writer, and says everything much better than I can.  He expressed my feeling about the whole sorry thing so perfectly.  Please read here:

"Should Christians Vote For Donald Trump?"

(Some people seem to be having trouble with the link, so I linked to a Tweet wth the link instead because clicking through that way seems to work.Click through my tweet here.Oh, technology.

And just to end with two things that I think we will all agree on as sisters in Christ - first, when we stand before God's throne someday, those of us who believe in Jesus's sacrifice for us on the cross will have HIS righteousness - and that covers any way we may get it wrong in this election too.  And second, no matter who wins next month, God will always be sovereign over what happens, and that will always give me comfort.


Abolishing Abortion (A Review)



The pro-life movement is something I feel very strongly about, and it is something that has been weighing on me especially this year.  If you haven't been paying attention to the news, you need to look up the video series that has been released over the last couple months by the Center For Medical Progress, exposing the illegal trafficking of aborted baby parts by Planned Parenthood.  The videos are enlightening and disturbing, and they hit me especially hard since they came out during the last couple months of my pregnancy with Clarice.

When I saw the book Abolishing Abortion: How You Can Play A Part In Ending The Greatest Evil Of Our Day by Rev. Frank Pavone, I knew I had to read it, especially in light of everything that has happened with the pro-life movement this year.  It is my biggest prayer for this country that abortion will come to an end, and I of course want to play a part!


Is It All A Waste?




I sat in church this past Sunday, and all I felt was heavy.  My pastor was speaking about a story in 1 Kings 22, about an obscure prophet named Micaiah who took a stand against overwhelming pressure, and told King Ahab the truth.  Even when he didn't want to hear it.

I hate writing these words that I know no one really wants to hear.  Goodness knows much (and probably too much in some cases) has been said about the ruling last Friday.  But the thing that kept coming to mind as I sat listening to a sermon about Micaiah was an article I read by a Christian who said that the efforts of the church to stand up for what we believe God says about right and wrong were wasted.  

As was pointed out to me, the author didn't specifically use the word "wasted".  But the idea that was conveyed was that all the money spent trying to prevent the normalization of sin that we see happening now could have been better spent on humanitarian efforts, helping the sick and poor.

While I can appreciate his zeal to reach those in need (and I agree we should certainly be giving to those causes) what people need even more than having physical needs met is the Gospel (and I noticed a call to spread the Gospel to those in need, along with physical help, was conspicously absent from the article).  It is true that there are many who are in desperate physical need around the world, but I cannot agree that the efforts and money given to standing for biblical principles are all for naught.


Three Ways To Help The Christians In Iraq


Saysomething


Something has been weighing on my heart over the last week, and I felt like I needed to write about it today.

I'm sure many of you are aware of what is happening right now in Iraq and Syria.  But for those of you don't know, a militant Islamic organization called Isis has been taking over many cities in Iraq and Syria.  Many minorities, including Christians, are being driven out of their homes, and people are being captured and forced to convert to Islam.  If they refuse, they are being beheaded.

The media has been picking up on this and reporting more on it, especially since a reporter, James Foley, was captured and beheaded by this same group.  But what has been somewhat disturbing to me is how little I have seen about this on social media.

I remember when the Tsunami hit in Haiti, and how many blog posts I read about that.  I read even more blog posts and tweets about some of the shootings that have occurred in recent years.  These things were tragedies, and they certainly deserved the attention they received.  And I imagine part of the response was due to the extensive media coverage and the fact that some of these tragedies hit so close to home.

But I have read next to nothing on social media about this genocide in Iraq.

I had a hard time tracking down any specific numbers of people who have been executed so far, but I did find that at least 1,900 were killed in June  - and things have only escalated since then.  I found that 400,000 Christians have been driven from their homes and now have nowhere to go (via).

I listened to a Focus On The Family broadcast on this subject last Friday, and they interviewed a Christian who is on the ground in Iraq - and you could hear the sorrow in his voice as he talked about a five year old boy, whom he had recently baptized.  The boy and his family were captured by ISIS.
And they killed them.  They beheaded a five year old boy.

That hits close to home for me.  Maybe because my son is not much younger than that boy.  But really, this should hit home for all of us, especially for those of us who follow Jesus.  This isn't just some distant conflict between people who have nothing to do with us.

These are our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being slaughtered.  

These are our brothers and sisters in Christ who are crying out for someone to help.

Frank Wolf is a congressman who has been speaking out about this atrocity for months, and he sent a letter last week to President Obama (before the President approved targeted US air strikes in Iraq) reminding him of the President's own words that "preventing mass atrocities and genocide is . . . a core moral responsibility of the United States Of America".  Wolf's letter ends with words that haunt me.

"Mr. President, say something; do something."

I want to pass that challenge on to all of my American brothers and sisters in Christ.  We can't stand by while Christians are persecuted in such hideous ways throughout the world, and specifically in Iraq and Syria right now.

Say something.  Do something.

------

I think one reason I've heard so little in the blogging community (at least in the corner of it that I'm a part of) about the genocide that is going on in Iraq and Syria is that we feel helpless.  What are we supposed to do to help?

I know I have felt pretty lost on what to do about this, but I have put together three ideas for things we can do for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted in Iraq and Syria.  This is what I've got.

------


1.  Write your congressman.  There is obviously not a lot that we can do physically to help stop this genocide unless our government steps up.  Thankfully the President did authorize targeted air strikes in some areas last week, but I think it is important to let our representatives hear from their constituents that we want them to act on behalf of these minorities who are being killed.

I feel like writing your congressman can be a bit intimidating - maybe that is because I feel like my words have to be super-eloquent.  But it doesn't have to be hard - just a basic letter will do.  Here is what I wrote (feel free to copy my words or adjust them however you want):

To Congressman _______,

I am sure you are aware of the genocide that is being performed against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIS.  This is an atrocity, a gross human rights violation.  Religious liberty is one of our foundational freedoms in this country, and I believe it is our moral duty as Americans to speak out against and put a stop to such horrific violations of that liberty.  President Obama also recognized this in a 2012 speech when he said that "preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America."  I urge you to do what you can to put a stop to the genocide in Iraq and Syria, and to support any action on behalf of those who are being slaughtered there.  Thank you for your attention to this crisis.

Sincerely,

Name
Address

You can visit this website to find your representative and get a link to your representative's website - typically each representative's website will have an email link somewhere on the first page.


2.  Donate to help the 400,000 Christian refugees in Iraq.  Focus on The Family announced last Friday that if you donate to their office in Egypt, they will make sure the funds go directly toward relief efforts.  I trust them to get my money where it supposed to go.

You can donate by calling 1-800-A-FAMILY, and telling them you want to give to help the Christians in Iraq.

American Christians are probably the Christian group that has the greatest resources for sending help, and I think that means we also have the greatest responsibility - so if you are a believer, prayerfully consider donating to help our brothers and sisters in Christ!


3.  Pray.  Sometimes I feel like I'm not really doing very much by praying, but in reality, prayer is one of the best things we can do.  We may not be able to see the effects, but it is making a difference.

Rev. Canon Andrew White, a guest on the FOTF broadcast asked for prayers for three things specifically, and I thought this was a great guide to use.  Here they are.

-Pray for protection.   Pray for the Lord to put his hand of protection over the Christians who are being persecuted in Iraq, to rescue those who are in captivity, and to protect those who are fleeing ISIS.  I love to pray through Psalm 91 for protection, especially the following section:

"Because he loves me", says the Lord, "I will rescue him.  I will protect him for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him.  I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation."

Psalm 91:14-16

Let's pray those verses over our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

-Pray for provision.  Pray that organizations will be able to get relief to those refugees in Iraq.  Pray that God will put it on the hearts of His people to provide monetary help to the refugees (and consider donating yourself, if you haven't).

-Pray for perseverance.  One of the saddest things to me was hearing that many in Iraq are losing hope.  Pray that the Lord would be with those Christians in Iraq, and make His presence obvious to them.  Pray for Him to strengthen their hearts and give them courage to stand.  Pray for Him to fill them with peace and hope in the midst of this horrific trial.

Will you join me in praying daily for our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering right now?

-------

I'd love to read about any other ideas or resources you might know about - comment below!

On The Election


I usually don't post twice in one day, but I thought I'd address the elephant in the room - last night's election.

Am I happy with the outcome? No. Am I surprised? Not exactly. It's really hard to oust the incumbent president, and though I thought it might happen this time, it's not overly surprising that it didn't.

I wrote this post four years ago after Obama won that first election (it may be a bit melodramatic, but then again, considering where the country is headed now, maybe not). And I thought I'd repost the sentiment now to encourage all of you who are as bummed about the outcome as I am.

Hebblog

First off, let me just say that I cringe when Christians use this verse as an excuse not to care about politics.  As my friend Leanna said on Twitter last night "I am certain my hope isn't in any human being . . . but it is foolish to think the choices of mankind do not affect all humanity."  

I agree with that, and I think as Christians we are supposed to care about doing what we can to promote biblical principles here on earth.  That means caring about "politics", at least as far as it relates to our faith.  It means fighting for those who cannot defend themselves.  It means voting.

But at moments like this?  I think it is important to also remember that as Christians, we may love our country dearly and think it is a privilege to live here (because it is!), and it is discouraging (rightly so) to see it going the wrong direction . . . but in the end, America isn't our real "homeland".  When it all seems to be going down the tubes?  We are still not without a home, because we don't belong here (or anywhere on earth) in the first place.  We belong in Heaven.  

We do what we can for the Lord here, on a political level and on a personal level, while still knowing that this isn't all there is.  And we're not doing it for the here and now - we're doing it because our true citizenship is in Heaven, and even while we are here as Americans, we are still living as citizens of that Heavenly Country - which is always intact, because God is King there.

The thought of the next four years here might scare me, and you can bet I'll be happy when the next election rolls around and we have another shot at this, but it is a comfort to me at times to remember that no matter who is president, I am a stranger here.  I am glad this world is not my home.

 


Last Launch

I don't have much to say today, and I'm typing on my iPod, which is not easy, so I'll keep it short.

But did you hear about the last space shuttle launch today? I'm not able to watch, because I'm at work, but I wish I could be there for the launch. Is it really the last space shuttle ever? I find that very depressing. I think space exploration is important - and now it's over? Boo! I hope our next president starts the shuttle program back up again (if we can ever afford it again, with the crazy national debt).

Do you know how many advances in technology came as an indirect result of research done for the space program? Pretty much anything worth having. And they just ended it.

Needless to say, I'm not happy about this. But when you spend trillions of dollars in three short years you have to cut somewhere, right? It makes me sick.

Today could mark the end of an era.

But I'm not giving up hope yet. This could still turn around, right? I'll give up hope when I'm fifty and there's still no space program.




Vote For Us @ topbabyblogs.com!

The Death Of An Evil Man

I have some thoughts floating around in my head on Osama Bin Laden's death today, and I want to get them out there while they're fresh, so excuse the second post in one day.

There have been alot of conflicting reactions to Bin Laden's death from what I've seen on Facebook, Twitter, and the blogging world. Some people have been rejoicing at the death of this man, and some people have been stating their belief that it's wrong to celebrate the death of anyone.

I'm not going to say anything on the reactions of people who don't know the Lord, but for those of us who follow Jesus, how should we react?

Personally, I think there is an appropriate reaction, and an inappropriate reaction.

Did Bin Laden deserve to die? You bet. In the Old Testament, the Lord required the death penalty for far fewer crimes than all the atrocities that Osama Bin laden committed (just read Deuteronomy). (You should know that I am for the death penalty, but that is not what this post is about, so let's not go off on a tangent here.)

Did Bin Laden deserve to go to hell? Absolutely. But he deserved it no more than any of us do before we are saved through the blood of Jesus (Romans 3:23).

Should we rejoice that he is suffering in hell? Definitely not. Even the Lord isn't pleased that Bin Laden is in hell. He does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Do we have to mourn his death because he went to hell? No. The Bible acknowledges that the people will celebrate when the wicked perish (Proverbs 11:10), and there is no place saying we have to dredge up some sad feelings when an evil man dies.

Can we be "happy" in the sense of being satisfied that justice was done here on earth? I think so, because our God is a God of justice (Psalm 50:6). And through Bin Laden's death, justice has been done for all those whom he killed.

Those are my thoughts on the subject.




Vote For Us @ topbabyblogs.com!

Agenda


The other night Derek and I watched a movie called Agenda. It is a documentary produced by Curtis Bowers.

Many people in America, especially Christians like myself, are unhappy with the direction that we are headed, not only politically, but also culturally. The culture in America is entirely different now than it was 50 years ago, and not in a good way.

There is more crime today than ever before. Most people are more concerned with saving the earth than saving unborn babies that are dying every day. Congress has attempted to classify any words spoken against the homosexual lifestyle as a "hate crime". Promiscuity is actually encouraged among our children, and 40% of babies born in 2007 were born to single mothers.

When you look at the good 'ole "Leave It To Beaver" days, and then you look at our culture today, it's just baffling. Where did we go wrong?

I think there is a strong spiritual warfare component. One of America's greatest assets has traditionally been the morality of it's people and the fact that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values. And I'm sure Satan just hated that, so it makes sense that our basic value and morality system would be the first thing he'd go after.

Agenda addresses our cultural shift and examines the influences that have led to it. Curtis Bower provides some startling evidence of how the agenda of the Communist party is behind the shift in our culture, and how they have used many popular political movements to facilitate that shift and ultimately weaken America. It also showed the connections between the Democratic party and left-wing ideology to the socialist/Communist agenda (and I know how controversial that statement is - you just have to watch the documentary).

If you are at all concerned with the way our culture seems to be headed, I'd highly recommend seeing this documentary if you get a chance. It will not only open your eyes to things that you may not have thought of before, it will also get you thinking about practical ways to fight against this shift.

Some of the researchers and authors interviewed suggested that one of the most powerful things that we can do for our country is to pray. I know I don't pray enough for our country and it's leaders, but I was inspired to make more of an effort to fight this war with prayer. The power of prayer really is our best defense against a spiritual attack such as the one we are facing today, and I hope after watching Agenda you will be inspired to pray more as well.




Image from NationalMovieNight.com.

Update And Other Stuff

Thank you, ladies, for all your prayers for that girl who is pregnant with twins and was scheduled to have an abortion yesterday morning - she didn't end up showing up to the clinic at all, so she did not have the abortion yesterday, thank the Lord!

I don't know anything else about her mind processes or decisions, so keep praying that she would continue to choose to keep these babies, and that she'll find Jesus. Thanks to everyone who offered a prayer on her behalf, I know it made a difference, wherever she is!

I'm looking forward to reading more from 110% Surrendered Blog on her experiences outside the clinic . . . check out her blog if you're interested.

I'm afraid I don't have a post prepared for today, yet again. I had a really rough day at work yesterday - and not because the patients were terribly difficult. It was just me. It wasn't anyone's fault, except maybe mine, and I don't even know what I did to make the day difficult. Maybe it's just an attitude problem. I'm not looking forward to today - I just feel drained.

Enter the food items that make me happy, which right now is fruit. Especially citrus fruit. Mmmm.

Tomorrow we are officially setting up our Christmas decorations! Yes, before Thanksgiving. And I have no problem with that - it's our tradition to set them up the weekend before Thanksgiving. As my dear friend Chloe pointed out to me recently, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, so why not stretch it out as long as possible?

Enter the Christmas posts, probably starting next week! I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!


The End Of The America As We Know It

I'm still sick. Not really sick - I can get out of bed and do things around the house. Just the sort of sick that makes your head start to hurt if you attempt to do anything other than watch TV or read a book for more than fifteen minutes. For that reason I haven't really been in the blogging mode for the last couple days, and I do apologize for slacking.

So they passed the healthcare bill on Sunday. I can't tell you how infuriated I am at that. All the Democrats in Congress just spat in the face of the majority of the American people.

It's just a mess. Goodbye to the formerly best healthcare system in the world.

What gets me most is that they cheated! They just "deemed" it passed by the House, without letting the House of Representatives actually vote on it. Um, that's called unconstitutional and dishonest.

I know there are scores of lawyers ready to file lawsuits against it, and I hope they succeed. But honestly, the only surefire way to get this reversed is to vote the Democrats out in November. Every last one.

Rush Limbaugh said on Monday that there are no moderate democrats. They are all far left - some of them are a little farther left than others, but there isn't one in the middle. I completely agree.

We need to vote them out in November, People! At least then there will be a chance to get this repealed. If we don't get them out, I just don't know what's going to happen.

After I heard that they actually had this passed, I couldn't help but think back to a post I wrote right after Obama was elected president ("The Day After: Remembering My Sojourner's Heart"). I felt like the world was ending then too (for good reason, as I'm reminded of now).

But I had to just remind myself then, as I am now, that this world is not my home. America is the best country in the world to live in, even now, but it's not my Home Country. I'm on my way to someplace better, and even though governments and countries here on earth rise and fall, no one can touch my real Homeland. Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps me sane.

But until Jesus returns to take us Christians Home, I say we fight, fight, fight! We need to do everything we can to get this repealed, and that means voting Republican in November.

Are you with me?


Our Republican Caucus

Last night I attended our precinct's Republican caucus with Derek.

I hope all you American's that are reading this actually vote, because if you don't this post won't mean anything to you. Being able to vote on what direction our country is taking is one of the greatest privileges we have in America, and I've never been able to understand why some Americans don't vote. It's a privilege and, especially for those of us who are Christians, it is also our duty to do our part to keep our country moving in the right direction.

Caucus's (or would that be cauci?) are the real grassroots of politics in America. When you vote you are choosing between different issues or people that are already on the ballot - but the caucus is the beginning of the process of deciding what goes on the ballot.

I don't know nearly as much about the process as I'd like to, but I'm learning.

Last night we voted to choose delegates to attend the county assembly for the Republican party. If you go to the assembly you get to directly vote on which of the local candidates you want to be on the ballot for the Republican party. From there they also vote for delegates to the state assembly, which is the same thing as the county assembly except for the entire state.

Derek and I were both able to be delegates to our county assembly! I'm so excited. During the last election year I was an alternate delegate (meaning I could fill in for a delegate if they didn't make it), but this time I get to be an actual delegate! I'm excited to get to decide which Republicans I want to be in the running for the county positions that are open this year.

If you've never been to a caucus for your political party, I'd encourage you to go the next time they have one - it's a great way to actually get involved in the political process.

It's really unfortunate that so many Americans take these things for granted - very few countries allow their people to be so directly involved in the decisions of the country. Being able to vote, and being able to be involved in the political process at this very beginning level is an honor, and I wish more Americans treated it as such.

So yes, if you've never been, definitely try to attend a caucus for your county in 2012 - it's even more interesting during a presidential election year anyway! Maybe you'll get to be a delegate to the county assembly like we did this year as well (which is even more exciting)!

Oprah Giving Bristol Palin A Hard Time

Yesterday I was listening to Laura Ingraham and I heard about the interview on Oprah with Bristol Palin that aired last Friday. Have any of you heard about this?

Basically Bristol Palin has made the decision to abstain from sex from this point forward until she's married, and Oprah gave her a hard time about it. Basically acting like it can't be done. Here's a video clip from the The Daily Beast News Website:



Can you believe Oprah's nerve? Who does she think she is? How insulting of her to insinuate that she doesn't think Bristol can do it; I don't think Bristol Palin would have said anything in the first place if she didn't think she could stick to that goal. It's Bristol's decision, not Oprah's, and to try to talk Bristol out of her pledge to wait for sex until she is married is just ridiculous.

Everyone can make mistakes, but we don't have to let those mistakes affect our future decisions. Bristol made a mistake, but she's decided to start fresh and do her best to abstain from now on. I think she's really courageous to make that public commitment when she knows she's going to get ridiculed for it, and good for Bristol Palin!

Oprah acts like it's impossible to wait to have sex until you are married. New's flash, Oprah. It's not impossible - plenty of couples wait until they are married to have sex. Derek and I both abstained from sex and saved ourselves for each other alone on our wedding night - it wasn't always easy, but it's not an unrealistic goal, and we are so glad we chose to wait. It's much smarter for many different reasons to wait. For Oprah to try to discourage Bristol Palin from making what is really a healthy commitment like that is just disgusting to me.

This is why I have never, nor do I ever plan on watching Oprah.

,

March For Life

I wish I could be in DC this evening.

The March For Life is being held tonight in Washington.

If you all remember, Derek and I went on vacation to Washington DC this past summer. It would be pretty cool to be there for this huge Pro-life rally. I can just imagine all the people filling the spaces in this picture. It would be a sight to see.



For those of you who are also Pro-life and would participate in the march if you lived anywhere near Washington DC, I discovered this cool little website: www.virtualmarchforlife.com, where those of us who can't actually be there can sign up and pretend that we are.

It's a way to let our voices be heard since we can't actually be in Washington. Check it out!

Also see the March For Life website for information on the march.

,

Senate Votes On Obamacare Tomorrow - Contact Your Senator ASAP

The senate is voting on Obamacare tomorrow. This plan will be disastrous for healthcare in America. A new study by Price Waterhouse Cooper on "The Potential Impact of Health Reform On The Cost of Private Health Insurance Coverage" came out this past week, and this plan is scary. Get ready for healthcare costs to at least double if this bill passes. Also read this article by Ernest Istook from The Heritage Foundation on how "'Reform' Means You Pay More For Healthcare" for a brief summary of the study.


If you are against this new healthcare plan you need to contact your senators tonight before they go in to vote on this plan tomorrow! Hugh Hewitt has a list of "Democratic senators that need to hear from you" along with their contact information. If your senator is on the list, call or e-mail them ASAP! Even if your representative is not on the list they still need to hear from you. We need to stop this bill now.

Here's what I wrote to my senator:

Senator,

I am against Obamacare in all it's forms, including the so called "moderate" plan. I just heard about the new Price Waterhouse Cooper study, and I cannot afford Obama's healthcare reform plan. Please vote no on Obamacare, or I will do everything I can to get you voted out of office when you come up for re-election.

Sincerely,

Callie, RDH

Short and sweet. That's all it takes, but make sure they know that they are out of office next year if they vote for this.

I Did Some More Research . . .

Yes, I'm addicted to research. I need to know all the facts before I can really make a decision. Please see the addition to my previous post, because it is in answer to the thought that the available research is inconclusive on the birth control issue.

I agree that it is somewhat inconclusive, because a specific study hasn't been done to show what happens after breakthrough ovulation when on the pill. But based on the information that is available, I think the chances are significant that birth control pills could have an abortifacient effect, and until a study is done that could show otherwise, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Please see the added information in my last post, because it's important to know everything, and I spent alot of time finding all that stuff for you guys! Just consider me your own personal research assistant.

Important Information About The Birth Control Pill

I haven't written alot of posts this week, because something came up on Wednesday that required some research and prayful consideration.

On Wednesday evening I was browsing through all of the new blog posts, and I came across a new post on my friend Amber's blog. If you'd like to read her post, check it out here.

Amber wrote saying that one of her friends had recently brought to her attention a fact about the birth control pill that she had not been previously aware of. She wrote that the pill works in three ways to prevent pregnancy:

1. Prevents ovulation (we all knew this one, right?)

2. Thickens the cervical fluid to make it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg.

These first two effects are contraceptive - they prevent conception, that is, the joining of the egg and the sperm. However, there is also a third effect that I had not heard of before.

3. Thins the lining of the uterus so that if an egg is fertilized, the feritilized egg will not be able to implant in the uterus. The fertilized egg would then die and be lost with the next menstrual cycle.

I am very pro-life, and I believe that life begins at conception. But this third effect means that the pill can cause a fertilized egg (which I believe to be a human being) to be lost. It's an abortive effect.

This information sent me reeling. I hadn't ever heard of this before, and I was pretty skeptical. I knew some methods of birth control, like IUDs (intra-uterine devices), caused fertilized eggs to be lost, but I had never heard of the birth control pill doing the same thing.

I'm very scientifically minded, so I decided to do some research on this before making a decision. Here's what I found out.

First I tried to find other resources that would give me information on whether or not this effect actually occurs, or whether it was just one of those theories that some anti-birth control person had come up with that didn't have alot of supporting evidence.

Every medical website that I checked listed all three effects of the pill. I checked out my specific birth control, and though the website for my birth control didn't list that third effect, it was confirmed to me by the other medical websites I checked that said low-dose hormonal birth control (which is what I take), does thin the lining of the uterus. I couldn't find one website that said that the pill does not thin the endometrium - every website either listed that as one of the effects, or didn't refer to it at all, but I couldn't find a source refuting it.

In addition, the statement that the lining of the uterus is thinned with hormonal birth control made sense to me. Don't most birth control pills broadcast that they can give you shorter, lighter periods? The lining of the uterus, or endometrium, is what is shed during your period, so if the period is lighter, the lining of the uterus must have been thinner.

I found a good paper on this topic written by a couple pro-life doctors, as well as an abbreviated version of the information in a book entitled Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? by Randy Alcorn. Please see resources 1 and 2 for links to those resources.

I was pretty disturbed by this information. I didn't want my birth control to have that effect. I like the pill - my periods were extremely irregular and heavy before I started the pill, and I liked the lighter periods and knowing when my period would be.

I wondered how often "break-through ovulation" occurs on the pill. I mean, the pill makes your cycles regular, and if ovulation almost never occurs on the pill, Derek and I could just guess the time that I would ovulate, if ovulation were to occur, and we could abstain during that period.

However, after a little more research I found out that in a study performed by Dr. Don Gambrell, JR. 4.7% of women on high dose birth control had breakthrough ovulation (meaning they ovulated even though they were on the pill), and 14% of women on low-dose birth control (50 mg or less) had breakthrough ovulation (see Resource 3). And apparently the only hormonal birth control that is really available today is of the low-dose variety. That means that you'll probably ovulate a couple times a year, even on the pill. If you ovulate and don't get pregnant, it's because one of the other two mechanisms kicked in. If the sperm never reached the egg, there's no problem, but if it did reach the egg and there was no pregnancy, then the egg was unable to implant and was lost.

What about staying on the pill and just trying to guess when you ovulate and abstain during that time? Unfortunately it seems that it is possible to ovulate any time during the month (see Resource 4). Even if you try to monitor ovulation through taking your basal body temperature or cervical mucous, those methods really can only tell you when ovulation has already occurred, or when it is imminent. In order to ensure that the egg isn't fertilized you have to stop having sex about seven days before ovulation, because sperm can survive for up to seven days inside the woman's body. I couldn't find a reliable way to predict ovulation that far in advance.

My conclusion from all this information hunting was that, yes, hormonal birth control of any kind (ring or pills) can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, which, in effect, is very early abortion. Breakthrough ovulation can and does occur on hormonal birth control, and it is difficult to determine if and when ovulation occurs until after the fact, making the option of abstaining when ovulation is suspected to occur unreliable. *(Note: See update to this information after the Resources section.)

Update 8/2010: Since writing this post I have done alot more research on the signs of ovulation and how to predict ovulation in order to prevent , which appears to be alot more do-able than I originally thought. However, I still think it would be difficult to predict ovulation when taking the birth control pill, because of the additional hormones that the pill introduces to the body and the effects of those hormones on the quality and amount of cervical fluid (see the above list of the effects of the birth control pill). Changes in cervical fluid consistency must be observed in order to predict ovulation and prevent the fertilization of the egg. It would be very difficult to identify changes in cervical fluid when taking hormonal birth control because the pill causes a dry-up of cervical fluid, and that sign would then be obscured. Therefore, my previous concerns with adequately predicting ovulation when taking hormonal birth control are still valid.

I thought all you married, pro-lifers out there had a right to know this information. Each couple has to evaluate the information and decide for themselves. Hearing about this has resulted in a few restless nights, a ton of time spent researching, and quite a bit of prayer, but we finally came to a decision.

Knowing all this information, Derek and I could not justify continuing to use hormonal birth control. If the abortive effect of the hormonal birth control were to occur it would most likely be extremely rare, and may not even happen at all; however, there is a possibility it could happen, and there is no way to reliably prevent an egg from getting fertilized, should breakthrough ovulation occur.

If there is even a chance that a human life could be ended because of our choice to take birth control, can we really justify it? Derek and I couldn't. And believe me, I tried. I researched every avenue and excuse I could think of, but nothing can assure me that losing a fertilized egg won't happen. I really don't want to stop taking the pill - it makes my life so much easier and better, and I honestly don't think I'm ready to be a mother.

But do I want to answer to God someday for continuing to take the pill, even though I knew there was a possiblity that I could be losing babies by taking it? I don't want to be judged for that someday.

I believe every human life is precious, and I believe human life begins as soon as that sperm fuses with that egg. I have to try to do what is right, even though it's not what I want to do right now.

I prayed before I even began my research that the Lord would show us the right choice, that He would make the choices so clear that there wouldn't be a way that I could pick the wrong one. And I feel like He made His opinion on it pretty clear to me.

To be honest with you, I'm absolutely terrified! I don't want to get pregnant right now, and even though Derek and I have a pretty good plan for not getting pregnant, the chances are certainly higher that we might. But there was a fork in the road - choose my own way, follow my own desire and stay on the pill? Or do what I know is the right choice, take a leap of faith, stop taking the pill, and trust in the Lord to take care of us? If I really call myself a follower of Jesus, I have to choose the second. And I think my Jesus will continue to take care of me, whether we get pregnant right now or not. He's never let me down so far, and I really have no reason to believe He will now!

For a little more information on how we plan to try not to get pregnant, check out Resource 5 and 6. I'll do another post ASAP on our game plan, just in case any of you are interested.

My original post stopped here, but another question was brought up in the comments section which I spent some more time researching. My response and conclusions are below.

Brittany, my dear blogging friend, brought up a point in the comments section that referred to how some doctors think the research is inconclusive on whether the thickness of the endometrium in pill-users can cause fertilized eggs to be lost. So yes, I did more research! Here's some more stuff I found out.

I did a little more research on why some doctors think the research is inconclusive for the third effect. I found a research paper (see Resource 7) that stated that some doctors think that if breakthrough ovulation does occur in women who are taking birth control, the associated increase in estrogen will help to thicken the lining of the uterus at that time. There are no studies that show that the endometrium does thicken after breakthrough ovulation, but there's no studies that show that it doesn't either. That's why some pro-life doctors are okay with birth control, because there hasn't been a study done to see what the endometrial thickness is in women on birth control after breakthrough ovulation.

I did a little more research on the average pre-ovulatory endometrial thickness in women who are not on birth control. If the difference in thickness between women who are in the pre-ovulatory phase and women on birth control is pretty significant, that would be some information that I would consider helpful in my own decision-making process.

The average pre-ovulatory endometrial thickness in women who are not on birth control is anywhere from 3-8 mm (I found one page that said it could be 3 mm, but I lost that page - one resource I found says 4-8 mm usually before ovulation - see Resource 8). In the ovulatory phase (right before and after ovulation) it is usually 6-10 mm thick, and post-ovulation it increases again to anywhere from 7-14 mm thick.

I found a study (see resource 9) that measured the uterine thickness in pill users and non-pill users, and concluded that "Endometrial thickness was significantly smaller in the pill-using group, correlating with the well established fact that oral contraceptives cause atrophy of the endometrium". "In the pill-using group, endometrial thickness was 1.1 mm in both phases . . ."

In women on birth control the thickness starts out at about a third of the thickness of the lowest number I could find in a pre-ovulatory, non-birth control estimate (1.1 mm compared to 3 mm). The minimum thickness for implantation to occur can be anywhere from 5 mm to 9 mm to 13 mm (see Resource 1 again).

Since the thickness starts out so much thinner, and stays that way throughout both phases of the cycle, it seems to me that it would be questionable whether it would increase in thickness to the point that it could support implantation after breakthrough ovulation, if the thickness increases at all (remember there are still no studies on what happens after breakthrough ovulation on oral contraceptives).

The third effect of birth control seems to be pretty well accepted in the secular community (and why shouldn't they accept the evidence as it is - it doesn't affect their belief system like it does ours). The debate on whether that third effect does indeed happen seems to be mostly within the pro-life community - because it affects our pro-life belief system so much, I think it's harder for us pro-life people to be totally objective on this. But the secular community can be pretty objective, because they don't care if it inhibits implantation or not. I think more research should be done on the thickness of the endometrium in pill users after breakthrough ovulation. Until more studies are done, there is just no way to be sure what exactly happens.

I think the secular community to be more objective (as much as it pains me to admit that) on this topic because of their lack of belief that they need to change their behaviour depending on whether or not the third effect happens. So I'm going to go with the thought of the group that I would think to be a little more objective on this issue, until more research is done.



1. Larimore, Walter L.; MD. Stanford, Joseph B.; MD. "Post fertilization Effects of Birth Control and Their Relationship to Informed Consent." Arch Fam Med. 2000;9:126-133. Link: http://archfami.highwire.org/cgi/content/full/9/2/126

2. Alcorn, Randy. "A Condensation of Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?" Link: http://www.epm.org/artman2/publish/prolife_birth_control_pill/A_Short_Condensation_of_Does_The_Birth_Control_Pill_Cause_Abortions.shtml


3. Schibler, Ann. "Growing debate over abortifacients: abortifacients, drugs or agents that cause an abortion, are commonly sold to women who think they are getting substances that prevent conception altogether." The New American, January 21, 2008. Link: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-33824001_ITM

4. Grunebaum, Amos; MD. "Ovulation Issues", MedicineNet, WebMD Live Events Transcript, February 2, 2004. Link: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=54668
Quote:
"Member question: Is it possible to ovulate the day after you stop bleeding?

Dr. Amos: It is possible to ovulate any time in your cycle, even the day after you stop bleeding. Most women usually ovulate around CD 14 or so, but much earlier and much later ovulations are possible."

5. A website on information on pregnancy. Check out this link for some good information on how to prevent pregnancy when you are not on the pill. Link: http://www.epigee.org/guide/natural.html

6. TheBump.com's Fertility Chart. Link: http://images.thenestbaby.com/tools/pdfs/fertility_chart.pdf

7. Johnston, James P; D.O. "Do Oral Contraceptives Cause Abortions?" Updated january 7, 2005. Link: http://www.prolifephysicians.org/abortifacient.htm.

8. Daiter, Eric; MD. The New Jersey Infertility Treatment Center. "Procedures Tutorials" page. Link: http://www.thenewjerseyinfertilitytreatmentcenter.com/ultrasound_cases.php

9. McCarthy, Shirley; MD, PhD. Tauber, Cheryl; RT. Gore, John; PhD. "Female Pelvic anatomy; MR Assessment of Variations During the Menstrual Cycle With Use of Oral Contraceptives". Radiology, Volume 160, Number 1. 1986. Link: http://radiology.rsnajnls.org/cgi/reprint/160/1/119


*Update 8/2010: Since writing this post I have done alot more research on the signs of ovulation and how to predict ovulation in order to prevent or achieve pregnancy (see the post "The Fertility Awareness Method" for more information). Predicting ovulation appears to be alot more do-able than I originally thought.

However, I still think it would be difficult to predict ovulation when taking the birth control pill, because of the additional hormones that the pill introduces to the body and the effects of those hormones on the quality and amount of cervical fluid (see the above list of the effects of the birth control pill).

Changes in cervical fluid consistency must be observed in order to accurately predict ovulation and prevent the fertilization of the egg. Hormonal birth control causes a dry-up of cervical fluid. It would be very difficult to predict ovulation by identifying changes in cervical fluid when taking hormonal birth control, because that sign would be obscured as an effect of the pill. Therefore, my previous concerns with adequately predicting ovulation when taking hormonal birth control are still valid.

If You Ever Plan On Seeing A Doctor Again . . .

Hey Guys! My blogging friend Larissa found this petition against Obama's healthcare plan. Please sign it - this is an important issue, my Friends! To read more about why we are against Obama's "reform" plan, check out Larissa's post, or this post (A Healthcare Disaster Waiting to Happen) I wrote on health care not too long ago.
Here's the link for the petition: www.freeourhealthcarenow.com.

The Value of Fathers


I wanted to post this to combat the assumption by some people that men are unnecessary, especially as we approach Father's Day. ( I don't think any of you, my dear Followers, are of this persuasion, but I'm sure other people occasionally stumble upon my blog).


"Startling Statistics
Results of a recent Men Against Domestic Violence Survey indicate that:

85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.

71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.

75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes.

70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes.

85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in fatherless homes.

80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes.

90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.

These statistics translate to mean that children from a fatherless home are:
20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders

9 times more likely to drop out of high school

10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances

9 times more likely to end up in state operated institutions

20 times more likely to end up in prison

10 times more likely to commit rape ... and

32 times more likely to run away from home"
This info taken from geocities.com.


If that doesn't prove that fathers are important, I don't know what does.


"Forty percent of our nation's children are living in a home without their own father."
From "What Have Feminists Done To America's Fathers?" by Phyliss Schlafly.


The Lord instituted marriage and the traditional family structure for a reason. These statistics are scary, and we need to spend some serious time in prayer for our nation's families, and work against the under-valuing of our nation's fathers. Let's remember to thank the Lord for our fathers this weekend, and go buy something nice for your dad for Father's Day! Another Father's Day post to come . . .


P.S. As I was looking for stats on fatherless homes I found this website: www.humanevents.com. Their tagline is "Headquarters For The Conservative Underground", and it looks like they have alot of great articles and stuff; go check it out!

Image from Leaveittobeaver.org.

A Healthcare Disaster Waiting To Happen

Lately there has been alot of talk about healthcare reform on Capitol Hill. They try to make it sound like reforming our healthcare system will be a good thing - everyone gets free healthcare, everything is hunky-dory, right?
Wrong! Obama is trying to make our healthcare system more socialized, like Canada's system or any Eurupean country. What some people may not realize is that goverment-controlled healthcare translates into ridiculously long waiting lists for medical care, so long that many people die while they are waiting for treatment. It also means the government gets to decide exactly what care you are going to get - if a patient is too old, or the odds are against them, or the medication they need is too expensive, the patient doesn't get that treatment.
I recently found out that in Canada they have a law against patients actually paying out of pocket for the treatments they need. They are forced to wait on the list, and even though many patients would glady fork out the money for the medication or surgery they need to relieve their pain or even save their life, they are forbidden to do so. Many of the patients who find themselves in these terrible situation actually end up crossing the border into the United States to get their treatment, because here they can pay and get the treatment they need right away. Our doctors are allowed to be doctors and acutally give the patients the treatments they need.

When patients from countries with socialized medicine are having so much trouble with their country's healthcare system that they end up coming to America for their treatment, why in the world would we want to change our healthcare system so that it is the same as the failed systems of other countries?

The American healthcare system right now is about as close to perfect as any system is going to get - if any industry should be dominated by private companies and fueled by competition, it is the healthcare industry. Competition and making a profit is what drives our medical knowledge forward and results in advances in medical science that end up saving lives. Medical care may be expensive, but the fact is that patients in our country usually do get the care they need, and in a timely manner; unlike countries with socialized healthcare, we don't have waiting lists for treatment for terminal illnesses or limitations on what treatments a patient can actually recieve.

I recently found this wesite that has alot of good information on what's going on in Washington in regard to healthcare. You can sign up to get updates by e-mail on this issue, and gives you a list of your local elected officals so you can e-mail them and tell them what you think. The website is for the organization Conservatives for Patient's Rights (www.cprights.org).
There is also another website associated with Conservative's for Patient's Rights that has several good interviews with patient's who have suffered as a result of their government-controlled healthcare, as well as interviews with doctors and other people involved with the medical feild speaking about the problems with the systems. The videos are really interesting, I encourage you all to go watch them Here's the link : www.facesofgovernmenthealthcare.com.
This is a serious issue, guys, and if Obama gets his way it will result in a much lower quality of life for all of us. Take a look at the website, and maybe send an e-mail to representatives - this is too important to just do nothing.

© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.