Archive | December, 2012

Reflections on a day that will live in infamy

15 Dec

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My head has been spinning since I first heard the news yesterday of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. I truly could not believe that something like this could happen. I wandered in a daze at work last night, the wall-to-wall TV’s in the background blaring the breaking news updates. My customers were somber. Can you believe it? No, I can’t. I can’t believe 20 innocent children have been slaughtered. This is America. It simply can’t be true. And then the inevitable, How could this happen?

As a Christian, I of course subscribe to the notion of original sin. Evil has existed in this world since it first slithered its way into Eden. And just as God’s love and mercy knows no limits, so the evil one’s hatred and destruction are boundless. I believe this. It makes perfect theological sense to me. But when it manifests itself in the face of a murderer of innocent children, I am shell-shocked. I cannot imagine the evil in someone’s heart that would allow him to look twenty children in the eye and murder them.

I’ve read that the parents of these children are trying to find out if their children’s last moments were painful. What a heart-wrenching question. It is despicable that these babies’ last moments on this Earth were filled with violence and chaos. But I think what these parents need to hold onto is that we can rest assured that their Heavenly father has erased every last painful memory and is holding them safe in His steadfast love. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). We can move forward with the confidence that these babies are no longer in pain. But what does that mean for the ones left behind to pick up the pieces?

It means that they will mourn, and that during their grieving process they will seek answers. Some will want to try to stop this from being allowed to happen again. So gun control laws will be brought up in conversation, as they always are when this kind of thing happens. By no means do I want to go into a political rant on gun control on this somber day, but I do think a short discussion on our culture is appropriate.

Evil is real, yes. As a Christian, I believe it is a living, breathing, spiritual force that is battling for the heart of man. While I recognize that this is a part of it, I think that we as a society have made it much easier to latch onto us and influence us. We have made it a part of our culture to accept that basically any movie we go to will probably contain violence, and that it will be graphic. I mean, I’ll admit that two of my favorite shows to watch are AMC’s Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. But I honestly had to build up a stomach to watch Walking Dead. The first episode almost made me throw up because it was so disturbingly graphic, and after that I had to build up an immunity to seeing zombies’ limbs being torn off and their entrains being devoured by fellow dead people. Breaking Bad is one of the best shows on television right now, but in the last season, the main character has completely lost his sense of humanity and orders the systematic murder of ten people. In other seasons, we have witnessed him murder his enemies and dissolve their bodies in acid in order to cover his tracks. Once, this was done to an innocent young boy who had witnessed part of their operation. Although I think the show is well written and I enjoy following it, the inclusion of this kind of violence and disregard for human life disturbs me. Similarly, while I understand the social commentary being made in The Hunger Games series, I was thoroughly disturbed in the theater witnessing Hollywood’s portrayal of children murdering each other. And the fact that this series is aimed at young adults is quite unsettling to me.

We have created a culture where it is normal to expect graphic violence in our TV shows, movies, music, and literature. I’m one of the more sensitive of my friends when it comes to this, and am usually the one to make a stink about there being too much blood and gore when watching something. I haven’t yet been desensitized enough to not be disturbed by these things when I see them. My boyfriend is a wonderful and perfectly normal person, but he grew up on the video games and shows I never participated in as a kid, and, like most of the people I know, these things don’t bother him to watch. I am almost always the odd one out for reacting the way I do.

I bring up all of this to say that I don’t know of any empirical evidence that says our violent culture inspires these kinds of tragedies. But these mass school shootings have mostly occurred in my generation and the one before. Columbine in ‘99, Virginia Tech in ‘07, and now Sandy Hook Elementary in ’12 make up three of the five deadliest mass murders committed on school campuses. The other two are the Bath School murder in ’27 and the University of Texas murder in ’66. It would be hard for me to believe that our entertainment culture that continuously portrays a sense of disregard for the sanctity of human life has no influence on these horrible atrocities. You can only say “It’s just entertainment” for so long. There are consequences for constantly advocating the portrayal of evil for the sake of entertainment.

I think these are the things to think about when the question of change comes around. The fact of the matter is that everything the shooter did was already against the law – unlawfully taking his mother’s legally registered weapons, breaking into the school, etc. Evil people will continue to break laws in order to do evil things. It’s not an issue over what is legal and what is illegal, but over what is moral and immoral. What we perpetuate amongst ourselves via our social culture and our entertainment industry will not leave us untouched as a society. We reap what we sow, and we must become conscious of what we are normalizing to our children and fellow citizens.

I am fervently sending prayers and thoughts to the families in Connecticut, and I sincerely hope that they will somehow find a way to make it through this impossible tragedy. God has a way of bringing miraculous healing through the hardest of times, and bringing understanding into the inexplicable questions of our lives.

Rambling of the Day: Free to be gay

11 Dec

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Okay, yes, I’m finally going to talk about gay marriage. It seems an appropriate time, as it has just become legal in Washington state. So here’s my take on it in a nutshell. I am fairly confident that within the next decade, gay marriage will be federally lawful.

I am not going to go deeply into my personal views on the concept of homosexuality. Simply, I take the Bible as God’s word, and I dare not disagree with my Creator. That being said, I do not believe my personal opinions about the morality of homosexuality have any place in the conversation about individual liberty and the American dream. America was created as a land free from the oppression of a government that wanted to force the people to believe a certain way. So how have we created a land of equality if we tell people they can’t get married to whoever they please? It’s fairly simple – we have not. (Edit: “Whoever they please” to include only people, weirdos. And only people of legal age, obviously.)

Now, that being said, I don’t actually agree with the idea of having federal law in place that says yay or nay to gay marriage. As a firm advocate for the Constitution of our country, I believe in the sovereignty of states to determine what they will allow. However, I do believe it will be considered by the Supreme Court very soon and a decision will be made that will determine federal law.

So here is the other part of the equation. Regardless of what the law of the land is, I know a good portion of the country will still not be in agreement as to the morality of homosexuality – not just gay marriage, but the entire concept of homosexuality. Honestly, though, I really urge that if you don’t agree with the personal choices of these individuals, that you simply refrain from participating in what you do not agree with and teach your children accordingly. Your home is your domain – that is where you can either teach your children that homosexuality is right or wrong. This all comes back to the individual’s freedom to raise his children the way he chooses. It is about your personal choices in your own home – not about forcing your way of life on others.

Before someone misunderstands me, let me clarify that I am in no way advocating intolerance. That is a whole different topic itself. But when I say teach your kids accordingly, I do not mean that if you don’t agree with homosexuality you tell your kids to shun gay people or go all Westboro Baptist on them. Not at all – part of the American dream that goes along with individual liberty is tolerance for the individual liberty of others. You can disagree with someone’s beliefs and practices and still respect him as a person. You can even – gasp – be friends with him! I know, crazy concepts here.

And to touch upon one last concept… people always bring up the idea of gay couples raising children. Firstly, there’s no real evidence that concludes that being raised by gay parents damages a child. And secondly, if you’re having trouble with that concept, ask yourself which is worse: being raised by gay parents or having no parents? Gay people cannot procreate, which means a lot of them will opt to adopt children. And guess what? That’s a good thing. Two moms is highly preferable to no moms. Ask the thousands of kids in the United States waiting to be adopted.

Mama Talk: Going against the grain

6 Dec
Bratz! dolls: Or, how to teach your innocent daughter how to dress like a slut.

Bratz! dolls: Or, how to teach your innocent daughter to dress like a slut.

So, I’ve been noticing a lot of buzz recently from people genuinely worried about what their kids are learning in school, being indoctrinated with from the media, and hearing and experiencing in their social culture. There are a lot of things that have become “normal” that some of us old-fashioned parents find questionable. I’d like to start a mini-series within this blog to touch on some of these issues that I, as a young and fairly new parent, certainly worry about as well. These issues will undoubtedly affect our children, and, as parents, we need to be the ones kept on guard to make sure we are the ones raising our children. Some topics I will be covering will include health and nutrition, public education, media exposure, and the initiative to introduce sexuality to our children at the youngest ages possible. Today I’m just going to briefly touch upon the way our culture is attacking traditional methods of parenting.

First off, I have to say that I believe the most important thing we can do as parents is to remember that we, ultimately, are the ones in charge. We are responsible for the upbringing of our children. It is our job to make sure that they are growing up the way we believe is right. That’s the beauty of individual liberty in this country – or it has been, up until recent decades. We may not always agree with the way our neighbor is raising her child. We might think it’s kind of weird that her kid has a cell phone at the age of 8 and is allowed to stay up past 10 p.m., but, while we may be clucking our tongues, we recognize that our neighbor’s child is the responsibility of our neighbor. Right?

I used to think so, but I’m not so sure that’s an acceptable form of belief in this country anymore. It seems that at the moment a parent does something that seems off, perhaps not politically correct, CPS is knocking at the door and demanding the parent take a class on how to be the government approved version of a parent.

The fact of the matter is that your child is your responsibility. Not the government’s. Not the school system’s. Not MTV’s. If you don’t want your child to be taught that it’s okay to totally reject his gender, use free condoms from the nurse’s office without consenting you, and decide on his own “free will” whether or not he will embrace the faith you have tried to instill in him, you have the freedom to do something about it. Parents do not simply have to bend over and accept that whatever’s going to happen to our kids is just going to happen and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Today more than ever, it is going to take guts to raise a kid right. It takes a parent willing to go against the grain, and perhaps piss some people off, in order to ensure her child is going to make it. Almost all parents have their kids’ best interests at heart. I think what some refuse to realize is that the world around them often does not. The advertising campaigns for unhealthy foods don’t have your kids’ best interests at heart. Do you think MGA Entertainment, the manufacturer of Bratz dolls, cares if your eight-year-old daughter is being over exposed to sexuality by playing with their scantily clad dolls (who look suspiciously like cross-dressing hookers)? No. Most of these companies are not looking at the future of your children as the issue. They are looking at your wallet.

My daughter is almost three, and I have already begun to see the things I am going to be up against as a parent. I walk around the mall and wonder what these ten year old girls are doing wandering around unaccompanied, mini skirts hiked up to an absurd height, as they nearly bump into other shoppers because they are too busy looking down at their touch screens to bother watching where they are going. And it makes me nervous. It makes me wonder how much I can really do to protect my child from the many poisons that will inevitably surround her as she grows up. And I can only pray that I will have the strength, wisdom, and understanding to fight for her all the way, never losing sight of the fact that she is my responsibility, and it is my job to show her the way.

Rambling of the Day: A war on… men?

1 Dec

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Suzanne Venker has recently written an opinion piece for Fox News that has upset quite a few “strong” women. The article? “The war on men.” Venker explores the trend that shows women’s interest in getting married going up as men’s is decreasing. Seem weird? The reason, she says, is nearly always the same: “Women aren’t women anymore.” Here’s a quote that pretty well sums up the point:

In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs (Venker Article).

Now, if you’re one of those women who just, like, totally hates men cause they’re horrible, sex-obsessed, animalistic beasts, go find another website, because I’m sure I’m about to make you really angry.

Venker is right! She’s right because men are NOT equal to women. There, I said it. We are not the same. Our DNA is not programmed to make us want, feel, and do the same things.

Let’s back it up for a second and allow me to clarify. I do not think women need to be barefoot and pregnant and preparing dinner for their husbands by 6 p.m. every night. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been working toward a career since I first discovered the world of the written word. I’ve had a job since I was 14 years old. I’m a 20-year-old working mother going to school full-time. I am by no means a kept woman.

But I am a woman. I put the desire to nurture, love, and care for my child miles ahead of my desire to make something of myself. And I don’t expect my significant other to behave the exact same way. Why? Because we’d be broke! And he’d be bored. He loves us both very much, of course, but his first instinct is not to cuddle up and sing lullabies all day long – it’s to provide.

Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them (Venker Article).

Why? Why do we have to feel like we’re exactly the same as men to feel worthy as women? And, perhaps more importantly, why do we act as though we can have it all, never questioning the consequences of the way we have destroyed and demonized gender roles? Women are the ones who want to get married! The Pew Research Center reports that since 1997, the percentage of women who say a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose from 28 to 37 percent. But this percentage dropped for men, from 35 to 29 percent. More women want to get married; less men do.

Since the dawn of time, men have been the providers. They have been the pillars of strength. They have had to work hard to earn the respect of other men, to advance their careers, to make something of themselves – ultimately, to provide for their families. That is not to say that women are not strong and can’t provide for their families, because they are and they can. But women who want successful relationships with men must understand the intrinsic needs of their partners. They are not programmed to lie down and allow the woman to do all the work. Back in the day they had a name for that kind of man – deadbeat. Nowadays, he’s just a “stay-at-home” kind of gentleman.

We have gone so far off track it is going to be incredibly difficult for a lot of women to figure out how to get what they want out of their lives and their relationships. It’s not about being better than men. It’s not about one-upping them. I mean, would you want to be with someone constantly trying to outdo you?

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