Category Archives: Holidays

The Day of the Son

Every year since 1997, people in North Korea have celebrated April 15th as “The Day of the Sun”. It’s apparently the most important holiday the nation has where they celebrate the anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birthday.  He was the founder of North Korea and its former president, who—were he still alive and kicking—would be 105 years old.

The citizens of North Korea go all out for The Day of the Sun with a big parade where children get candy. But don’t look for floats made of paper flowers or clowns from the Shriner’s Club trying to get some laughs out of spectators by driving around in tiny cars.  This parade is highlighted by showing off its weapons of war.  Lots of them. Current president Kim Jong Un was there and he’s all about the fire power.

As all this took place yesterday, Christians here and around the world prepared to celebrate a different kind of power—the resurrection power of Jesus Christ—on this day, Easter Sunday.  After remembering his suffering and violent death on Good Friday, we wait through the silence of Saturday to get to the joy of Sunday morning.

What a striking contrast of two celebrations.  One that remembers a man who started a communist nation and celebrates by flaunting its military might that could wipe out millions of lives in mere moments.  The other, held in gratitude and remembrance for a man who was God in the flesh—Jesus, the Son of God.  Believers all over the world celebrate not so much the death of Jesus, but His life.  What makes it so different is the empty tomb.

The man celebrated by North Koreans this weekend died and he stayed dead.  His bones are still lying in his grave. But, with the power of God His Father, Jesus the Son rose again on the third day, and the Good News is—He’s alive and His Spirit lives in anyone who puts their faith in Him to forgive their sins.  Jesus, the One Who Saves, beat death once and for all…and because of Him, so can we.

Now that’s real power—and that’s something to celebrate.

Happy Easter!

For Christmas Geeks Only

It’s almost Christmas and nothing’s more fun than being with family, baking, eating and watching all those old Christmas movies.  In the spirit of the season, here’s some Christmas trivia, mostly from films, to impress/ entertain/ bore your friends and family over the holidays.

It doesn’t get much better than It’s a Wonderful Life (1946):  Proving that even a director with incredible talent can overlook some things, Frank Capra missed this one:  when Clarence is showing George Bailey what life would have been like without him, he takes him to his younger brother’s grave, telling him that Harry fell through the ice and died at the age of nine.  However, on the tombstone, Harry Bailey’s years of life are shown as 1911-1919, which means he could have been no older than eight when he died.

A Christmas Story (1983):  One of the most famous scenes from this classic film is when one of Ralphie’s school pals, Flick, is “triple-dog-dared” into putting his tongue against a frosty flag pole to prove that it will stick.  In order to make Flick’s tongue stick to the pole, a hidden suction tube was used to safely create the illusion that his tongue had frozen to the metal.  Another bit of trivia:  director Bob Clark makes an appearance as one of the neighbors who comes out to gawk at The Old Man’s “major award” in the hilarious unveiling of The Leg Lamp.  He’s the guy who says, “Damn, hell- you say you won it?”

…which brings us to Elf (2003) where Peter Billingsley, who played young Ralphie in A Christmas Story makes an uncredited appearance as Ming Ming, the Head Elf.  Also, if you ever thought, while you watched this movie, that certain things looked very familiar, you were onto something.  The design for Santa’s workshop, all of the elf costumes and most of the animals in the North Pole were mirror images of those from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the much-loved Christmas special that has aired every year since its debut in 1964.

But Rudolph’s story had been around since 1939 when it was created for an advertising campaign for Montgomery Ward.  The song about Rudolph was first recorded by Gene Autry and hit #1 on Billboard’s pop chart during the week of Christmas in 1949.

Gene Autry recorded another Christmas classic, “Here Comes Santa Clause” that gets featured toward the end of Christmas Vacation (1989) when the Clark Griswold home is ransacked by the S.W.A.T. Team.  Earlier on, when Clark gets locked in a cold attic while everyone’s out shopping, he passes the time watching old films from family Christmases past.  Look closely and you can see the front of the house from the 1960’s series Bewitched in Clark’s home movie.

Chevy Chase was just one of many actors considered for the part of Kevin McCallister’s (Macauley Culkin) dad in Home Alone (1990).  That part eventually went to John Heard.  In the scene where Kevin grabs his brother’s pet tarantula in order to scare bungling crook Marv (played by Daniel Stern), they were originally using a mechanical spider.  It was decided the fake bug looked too fake, so Stern agreed to do just one take with the real thing, which Kevin drops onto his face, causing him to scream like a girl.  Stern made the wise decision to mimic the scream so as not to spook the spider, and his scream was added in during post-production.

Perhaps no other story of Christmas has been told more often or in more ways than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  His tale of redemption just celebrated its 170th anniversary (it was published on December 19, 1843).  An interesting piece of trivia is that Dickens himself had some things in common with Mr. Scrooge.  Like the famous miser, Dickens lost his favorite sister Fanny, who died, not in childbirth as Scrooge’s sister did, but of tuberculosis.  Her son, Henry was crippled and was Dickens’ inspiration for the character of Tiny Tim.

What better way to close out this stocking full of Christmas trivia than with some tidbits from what many people, myself included, consider to be the most-loved Christmas special ever.  When its director saw a rough cut of A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), he was sure he had a flop on his hands.  There was no laugh track, as was typical of animated specials of the day, and director Bill Melendez had tried to get Peanuts creator Charles M Schultz to take out the Biblical references—particularly Linus’ speech from Luke 2.  Reportedly, Schultz won him over by asking, “If we don’t do it, who will?”   CBS executives were also nervous at the prospect of an animated Christmas special with such a blatant message.  In spite of all this, the message remained, and that scene with Linus has become highly acclaimed, with multiple generations still enjoying this classic year after year.  Only Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer can top it in longevity as far as television Christmas specials go.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

…and as Linus said, “That’s what Christmas is all about.”

Merry Christmas, everyone!

A Charlie Brown Christmas- 1965

A Charlie Brown Christmas- 1965

Interview With a Songwriter- “One Nation Over God”

One Nation Over God grfx

As we celebrate the 240th birthday of the U.S.A., we’re standing on the brink of another presidential election, terrorist threats now loom regularly here and abroad, and many feel like there’s no reason to trust that God’s got this anymore. Have the American people—as a whole—declared their independence from what our Founding Fathers often referred to as “Divine Providence”?

Recently, Nashville singer and songwriter Stephanie Layne took a few minutes to answer some questions about a song she co-wrote titled “One Nation Over God” that talks about this very idea of our nation being much different than what the Founders had in mind in 1776.

Liberty Bell Blog: How did “One Nation Over God” come about?

Stephanie Layne: Heading into a presidential election year, we were discussing the political and moral climate in which we found ourselves. When we got around to throwing out potential song ideas, I said, “What do you think about One Nation Over God”?  It was one of those rare moments when there was no hesitation for any of us. That’s the song we wanted to write!  There are a lot of people in this country who have a growing sense of loss, sadness, and even outrage that the fundamental ideals upon which this country was founded and became a great nation have slowly eroded– and now are even being brazenly cast aside.  We wanted to take a stand with Americans who believe we are headed down the wrong path. This song is our way of letting our voice be heard, but is also offered in the hope of stirring the voices of so many in this country who want to speak up and stand up for the ideals and values that have characterized America for almost two and a half centuries.

LBB: Who was involved with you in writing this song?

SL:  Debbie Hall, Jason Wyatt, and Monte King, all Nashville songwriters. I’ve been writing with these great friends and songwriters for years.

LBB:  What kind of reception has the song gotten so far?

SL: “One Nation Over God” resonated so much with the message of North Carolina Congressional candidate Chris Hardin’s movement that he adopted the song as an official campaign to rally supporters. Sadly, he recently lost in the primary.

LBBThere’s one part where it says “under-educated, making choices we can’t take back” that really stuck with me…I’d be interested to hear what inspired that part?

SL:  We were concerned about some of the bad choices our government has made that could jeopardize the safety and security of American citizens.  Also the school systems are not up to the standards of other countries.  Many Americans are uninformed, being taught political correctness and socialistic ideas rather than hitting on math and history, and especially ignorant of the U.S. Constitution.

LBBWhat do you hope will happen with this song?

SL:  This song is my ministry. Our goal is to make people think and understand that morally, spiritually, and ethically we’re headed down the wrong path…that we need to get back to being a country that is One Nation Under God. We would love a commercial country or Christian cut.  To hear it on the radio as a number one single would be an amazing dream come true.  The song has been pitched to Franklin Graham, Ted Cruz, Sean Hannity, Garth Brooks, Martina McBride, Chris Tomlin, Darryl Worley, and Andy Griggs.

LBB:  Any plans for a video? 

SL:  U.S. Congressional candidate Chris Hardin made a campaign YouTube video in his hometown that has received almost 9K views.  Jason Wyatt’s church in Texas made a lyric video that has received almost 8K views.  We have plans to produce our Official “One Nation Over God” music video in the near future.

LBBWill you be performing it this summer anywhere?

SL:  I will be performing it at the National Day of the Cowboy in Humboldt, Kansas this month (July 22-23).  RFD-TV show “Best of America by Horseback” will be on location and filming the event.  Horse enthusiasts from all over the country will ride the trails and enjoy western music from Del Shields—co-host of the show—and as I said I’ll be there too.

LBBIs there anything else you would want readers to know?

SL “One Nation Over God” is available on all worldwide digital distribution companies–iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, etc. Also, there are two versions of the song.  The male version was sung by my co-writer Jason Wyatt, with my harmonies.  I recorded the song on my newly-released album, Eclectic.

NOTE:  Stephanie Layne’s music is available at www.stephanielayne.com, all worldwide digital distribution companies, and—if you’re in the Nashville area—the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Store. Visit the “One Nation Over God” Official Website at www.OneNationOverGodSong.com.

Thanks to Stephanie and the other writers of this moving song for your hard work and inspiration. I encourage everyone to check it out, download it and share it. Have a Happy & Safe Independence Day!

 

Everyday Heroes

dadsday2

Fathers sometimes get the short end of the stick.  After more than a couple of decades where popular culture has often made them look like know-nothing chuckleheads, or an accessory—instead of a necessary part of a child’s life—the image of fathers has taken a beating. That could be partly because of the culture, and partly because of the fact that some people don’t have a positive experience with fathers.  Maybe they had one who was absent, either physically or emotionally.  After all, most men can father a child but not all men can be a Dad.

Those are the fathers that are celebrated this weekend:  the fathers and father figures in our lives, who raised us, guided us and protected us as we grew up.

Marine Captain Jeff Kuss was a father of two young children.  He grew up wanting to fly fighter jets and saw his dream come true.  He was a member of the Blue Angels, an elite team of Navy and Marine aviators who perform in airshows  A couple of weeks ago, while practicing for a Blue Angels performance for an airshow in Tennessee, his jet crashed and Capt. Kuss lost his life.  It’s believed that he did not eject himself from the aircraft on purpose in order to save the lives of innocent people on the ground.  The area of Smyrna, Tennessee where Capt. Kuss was flying was a heavily-populated area filled with apartments, offices and people who were just there to watch the Blue Angels practice.  In staying with his plane, as fighter pilots are trained to do when the possibility of hitting civilians exists, Capt. Kuss died a hero.  A dad and a patriot doing what comes naturally to dads—sacrificing and protecting.  But most would never call themselves heroes.  They’re just doing what good dads do.

Your dad may never have flown a fighter jet. Most likely, he earned his living doing things the world sees as less spectacular and less heroic than a Blue Angel.  If your dad was an accountant, a plumber or a farmer, it doesn’t matter.  Great dads and heroes can be found in humble places.

My dad wasn’t a pilot, though he did serve his country honorably in the Air Force during the Korean War.  But to me and my six brothers and sisters, he was a hero.  He worked very hard—at times working multiple jobs—to provide for us.  Later in life, once he got his first computer and taught himself to use it, he became a writer.  He never would have called himself a writer (I don’t think), but he wrote short opinion pieces to his local newspaper from a conservative viewpoint.

I always told my dad he should start a blog, but he wasn’t interested.  So after he passed away in 2012, I wanted to share some of his wisdom from those articles on the Liberty Bell Blog, and a couple of those have been posted here and here over the years.  I encourage you to read them because it’s amazing how much he could see of where the country was headed.  I have a notebook of my dad’s that he kept near his computer where he wrote down websites and notes on things he was researching.   But most of the pages in the notebook are filled with quotes from famous people, mostly of our nation’s Founding Fathers.  Here’s one from Samuel Adams that he must have found important at the time, and I think speaks volumes about where we are now:  “The general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.”

Dad’s notebook isn’t much to look at—it’s really only a part of a notebook that doesn’t even have the front cover on it, and slips of paper with other random notes falling out of it.  It could have easily been thrown away as a list of websites that may or may not still exist.  To me it’s priceless.  What makes it valuable is what’s inside, because it has things written in Dad’s own hand that were important to him:  his notes for his articles, websites he used for his research and ones he just liked to visit regularly…and the quotes.  Wisdom from the Founding Fathers that my father found noteworthy.  That reminds me of a t-shirt that he used to wear that had one of his favorite quotes on it from the Bible, from Ecclesiastes 10:2:  “A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left.”  Sounds like a conservative blogger to me.

I keep that t-shirt and the unassuming, partial notebook written by my hero who’s now in heaven…  but I would have kept it even if it had only been a list of websites that may or may not still exist.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Forgetting the Dream

While many school children around the country spent yesterday outside their classrooms enjoying the extended holiday weekend, at least one high school remained open for business. You would think maybe they decided to spend the day studying or watching select speeches and celebrating the great gains made by Martin Luther King, Jr, the slain Civil Rights Leader whose life is remembered at this time every year.

You would be wrong. The two campuses of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, an upscale suburb of Chicago, held a day of seminars that school administrators claimed was to carry on the legacy of King, but really were nothing more than day-long indoctrination seminars on topics that would make any far-left college professor they encounter in the future very proud. Here are just a few of the choices that were offered to students:

-“Reconstructing Race”: Race is an influential concept in our society, but one
that’s not often questioned. How do we figure out what race someone is? And what do we mean when we say someone is white, black or any other race?
-“Why Do I Have to Feel Guilty for Being White?”: Talking about race doesn’t usually feel good for anyone. White people often walk away feeling guilty and thinking, “But I didn’t do anything!” In this workshop, we’ll explore how white guilt can become a roadblock in our journeys toward becoming white allies.
-“Yer’ A White Wizard, Harry: Whitewashing in Cinema”: This is a discussion about white dominance in the film industry. We are going to be taking a look at different cases where the voices of People of Color were silenced by the industry and how we can change it.

The day also included seminars on Islamophobia to discuss stereotypes of Muslims and the Middle East in pop culture and a look at Disney films and the racial stereotypes there. So much for focusing on Dr. King’s dream of a society where people could be judged not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.

Several parents, who were rightly concerned about these seminars, reached out to Breitbart News via email expressing their disapproval. One parent noted the school district was in violation of its own policies of maintaining an unbiased educational environment: “These ‘workshops’ and ‘classes ‘seem likely to breed within the kids a sense of guilt and shame–as if they are at fault for the misfortune in the world and it is their responsibility to make amends. Several classes are designed to teach them to be, in essence, ‘community organizers.’…It all seems like there is a political agenda underlying it all.”

That seems to be more true each day in education across the nation, and not just in liberal enclaves of the Northeast and West. From the Fairfax County, Virginia schools that last year implemented lessons on homosexuality and gender identity for students as young as 4th grade, to the revisionist portrayals of Islam in Tennessee schools—parents have their hands full when it comes to helping their kids separate fact from fiction.

The New Trier administrators stand by their choice to stay open and made yesterday’s seminars mandatory, with any absences treated as they normally would be any other day. According to the schools’ website, “The MLK Seminar Day on Race is part of New Trier High School’s ongoing work toward equity and global citizenship”.

Glad they cleared that up…as long as it’s not political.

MLK statue in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham. AL

MLK statue in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham. AL

 

Who Are We?

Today is the last day of Hanukkah, and since this is a place where both “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” can still be spoken side by side, I thought it was a good time to share an interesting bit of trivia that I found in a book I read a while ago. On each of the 8 nights of Hanukkah, a candle is lit and prayers are recited. One prayer is a blessing, which begins with the phrase, “Barukh atah Adonai”, which means, “Blessed are you, Lord our God”. Then it went on to explain the word “barukh” means “blessed”, and the Hebrew word it comes from is “barakh” (“to kneel to bless or to kneel to make rich”).

If these ancient words look vaguely familiar, it’s where the African language got its word for “blessed”…”Barack”. This may make you want to scoff and I wouldn’t blame you a bit. Oh, the irony that we should have a president who has a name that means, not only “blessed” but one who kneels down to bless or to make rich. This implies an intentional action to bless.

I would say our president doesn’t live up to his name. The average household has less expendable income than before he was elected. More people are on food stamps. Race relations are worse than they’ve been in many decades, and his idea of “leading from behind” has led to a leadership vacuum here and especially in the Middle East.

Since nature hates a void, it left the door open for the true believers of political Islam such as ISIS to take hold of large swaths of that part of the world, and it remains to be seen how our own lack of real leadership will unfold here in the U.S. Whenever a tragedy strikes, such as the terrorist attack in California, Obama takes that opportunity to lecture us on “who we are”, usually by using the phrase, “That’s not who we are”. Pay attention, and you’ll notice: he says that A LOT.

The truth is, he really has no idea who we are. A married couple, who are now believed to have been part of a terrorist cell, shoot up an office Christmas party and somehow it’s the fault of the guns, or the lack of gun laws…or it’s the internet’s fault. The media and political gymnastics that have occurred in the days since the shooting have been amazing and disgusting to watch. Blaming anything other than the two people and those supporting their attack makes them into victims themselves rather than vicious jihadi Islamists fighting infidels for allah.

So we are told we have to have more gun laws or government restrictions on the internet because “it’s not who we are” to allow mass shootings to keep happening. We’re told we have to open our borders wide to let in more people, even though terrorists have admitted that they have planned to infiltrate the refugee program in order to get here to do us harm. But we can’t ask them too many questions, especially about their religion because that too, is “not who we are”.

Who we are, if the president or any other ideologue cared to ask, is a people who are the first ones to help whenever there is a man-made or natural disaster anywhere in the world. Americans give more than any nation, and have done more than any nation in the history of the world to reach out to poor and oppressed people all over the world. We’re not racist, bigoted people who need lecturing from a person who doesn’t live up to his own name to serve and bless other people. It might be wise for all of us, as we prepare to go into an election year, to remember who we are, where we’ve been, and where we want to go. American exceptionalism isn’t just a platitude used by conservative talk show hosts or an idea denied by liberals—it’s a fact supported by history.

Later this week, I’ll share an example of what every day Americans are doing to go beyond words to action when it comes to saving lives in the Middle East—-and they’re doing it without a lot of fanfare. (check back Thursday afternoon…)

The Lost Holiday

Merry Thanksgivoween

A couple of days before Halloween, I went into a grocery store and noticed they already had snowflakes painted on their windows. The frost is barely on the pumpkin before snowmen and colored lights greet us at every turn.

But wait—isn’t there another pretty important holiday in there somewhere?  The one with the guys in funny black hats with big buckles on them—you remember—the Pilgrims. What about those cute turkeys made out of hand prints?    Somewhere between feasting on candy corn at the end of October and the feasting on everything else at the end of the year, lies another feast.  This feast, in the earlier days of our country, had nothing to do with parades, football, food…and certainly not shopping.

Like so many things in history, this day has a colorful—and at least at one point in time—a controversial story. A feast wasn’t always part of the day…just the opposite, in fact.

When the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation first celebrated, it was after a treacherous beginning in this new land. Many of them had not survived that first winter of 1620 due to illness, exposure and hunger—and a disastrous experiment with socialism. The Patuxet Indians had once inhabited the same area, but had been wiped out by a plague. There was, however, a lone survivor of the Patuxets named Squanto, who had been captured by an English explorer in the early 1600’s and taken to England where he learned to speak English. Captain John Smith took him back to New England in 1614, but he again was captured and sold into slavery in Spain.

As Divine Providence would have it, Squanto was then bought and rescued by some local friars in Spain who introduced him to Christianity. He ended up back in his homeland by 1619 to find his people were gone. Squanto adopted a new tribe, the Wampanoag Indians, and this was the tribe the Pilgrims partnered with to learn to make their way in a new environment. Chief Massasoit introduced them to Squanto, due to Squanto’s ability to speak English well. He was able to help the Pilgrims adjust, and Plymouth Governor William Bradford credited Squanto as being “an instrument of God” in helping the Pilgrims.

By the time the harvest of 1621 rolled around, things were much better, so Governor Bradford declared a day of Thanksgiving to give God His due for a successful harvest and for their friendship with the Wampanoag Indians. On that day Chief Massasoit and 90 of his men feasted with the Pilgrims on the fruit of the land. They enjoyed such delicacies as deer, eels (yuck!), fish, berries, popcorn and yes—turkey.

It wasn’t until 1863, when our young nation was in the midst of a civil war that President Abraham Lincoln established that the last Thursday of November should be set aside as a day of thanksgiving and fasting—not feasting—to humble ourselves and seek the face of God for direction and repentance. That’s quite a difference from today’s Thanksgiving. The holiday remained on that last Thursday for quite some time— until 1939, in fact.

It was then that Progressive Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (during his 3rd term in office) decided that there needed to be more time for shopping in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so bowing to complaints from retailers, he moved it to the 3rd Thursday. Leave it to a Progressive to take the focus off of thanking God for His many blessings to shopping and commercialism. It’s interesting how the Republicans are always the ones that are said to be focused on money and gain, while the Democrats (in the minds of some) are for “the little guy”.

Back when President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving, so many people were against it that the new day became known as the “Democrat Thanksgiving”, while the traditional 4th Thursday was referred to as the “Republican Thanksgiving”.   Some states refused to celebrate it on the new date, while some followed suit. This confusion continued until 1941 when Congress declared that Thanksgiving should fall on the 4th Thursday of November.

So, I guess we can blame President Roosevelt for the insanity that became Black Friday, and the evolution of that in recent years to stores opening earlier and earlier to where many of them are not even closed at all on Thanksgiving Day.

If we really want to do this Thanksgiving thing right, we’ll take the feasting and thanksgiving of the Pilgrims and mix it with the prayer and humility of Lincoln’s time. Bringing these things into our own traditions would make us less likely to bypass this wonderful holiday. If anything, it can prepare us for the joyful celebration of Christmas and Christ’s birth to close out the old year, and usher in New Year’s Day with a new hope for the future.

  Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

harvest

Scrapping Traditions

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Oct 15 2007 "These colors don't run"

How do you celebrate Veterans’ Day without those pesky displays of patriotism? Just ask the powers that be at Seattle Pacific University. In an effort to refrain from offending anyone…hmmm…it was announced that the Christian school would not have the presentation of the colors or the reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance during their chapel this week when they hold their Veterans’ Day remembrance.

After this news came out last Friday in the conservative student-run website The College Fix, the school—one day later—reversed their decision and now the Veterans’ Day service at the chapel will include The Pledge and presentation of the colors. The SPU Military & Veteran Support Group launched a Facebook campaign to get the word out about their school’s stance that “a few people” would be made “uncomfortable” if The Pledge were recited during a Christian service.

Of course, that makes no sense at all, given that our nation as founded began as a place where people (the Pilgrims) escaped to so that they could specifically practice Christianity and where they would be free to read the Bible without having to go through the Church of England (the King) and accept whatever interpretation came down from him. So, reciting The Pledge, especially during a Veterans’ Day service, would be entirely appropriate at a Christian university.

But that involves knowing history. Today’s college campuses are more interested in ridiculous speech codes and protecting students from “micro-aggressions”. Instead of being hotbeds of new and diverse thinking, most college campuses today are run by far-left professors and administrators who believe the only people that it’s okay to offend are Christians…and apparently the military. Many campuses today are filled with children in adult bodies who feel threatened and “uncomfortable” if they encounter beliefs that challenge their own.

The Constitution—when taught at all— is presented as a “living, breathing document” that should change with the times and be molded to the whims of whomever is in power. Students don’t learn any longer that our Constitution was meant to be a firm foundation of eternal truths upon which the strongest most influential nation in world history was built.

To even introduce the idea that displays of patriotism are inappropriate on Veterans’ Day—at a Christian university, no less—is a little ominous. People in a free society should expect that at some point, they may encounter something that will offend them. The chapel service at Seattle Pacific isn’t even mandatory for students, so anyone who thinks they would be offended by what happens there could just not show up.

But that would be too easy. It’s much better (in the minds of some) to strip away every patriotic vestige from true American holidays for everyone else…and give a slap in the face to those who served our country in the process.

 

 

 

Smashing Pumpkins

Some time ago, I posted about “The Greening of Lent”, where environmentalists gave people the charge to reduce their “carbon footprint” during the 40 days before Easter. Now, the kooks have moved their attention to Halloween costumes and fall festivities to deliver their politically correct message. If the thought of skeletons, zombies and angry clowns coming to your house tonight for free food makes you tense, you’ll be happy to know there are some new creatures that may be coming to your door.

The Department of Energy is encouraging potential ghosts and goblins to dress as alternative energy sources. It’s true. As if they have nothing else to concern themselves with, you may get to see kids dressed as wind turbines, solar panels and maybe even as the head of the department, Ernest Moniz. Not sure what’s scarier: a child who would want to dress in these costumes, or a child who actually knows who Ernest Moniz is.

The Department of Energy even has instructions on its website for kids who decide to take the environmentalist message into their Halloween costumes. The agency also made news this week after it claimed the most famous icon of Halloween—the jack-o-lantern—causes global warming. According to the website, once your happy or scary pumpkin face gets old, it will end up in a landfill, “adding to more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year… At landfills, MSW decomposes and eventually turns into methane—a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide (CO2).”

However, they do mention some actual good news. This waste can be used as bio-fuel that could help the country become less dependent on foreign oil (as if we really have to be anyway with all of the natural gas we have), but that’s another topic for another time. The Department of Energy doesn’t seem to discourage the carving of pumpkins, however. As with the costumes, they just encourage you to carve something energy efficient into them, such as the previously-mentioned wind turbine, a curly CFL light bulb or the shape of an atom. So if dressing up as a windmill doesn’t interest you, maybe you can just carve one into a pumpkin, set it out on your porch and then all your neighbors will know that you care about the planet.

This is confusing…like the jack-o-lantern, the “Energy Pumpkins” too will end up in a landfill until such time as the technology and resources are in place that can convert them into the bioenergy of which the bureaucrats at the DOE speak. So, given the choice between some boring costume or pumpkin carving, most of us prefer to stick with tradition…so fire up the jack-o-lanterns!

Halloween humour

For Those They Left Behind

Flag presented to tearful child

With tomorrow being Memorial Day, it’s important that we all take the time sometime during the course of this weekend to remember those who have given their lives in defense of freedom. While it’s a good idea to appreciate all veterans for their service every day—and we have Veterans’ Day in November as well–Memorial Day is a particular time to salute the ones who never made it home.

One of those was Special Operations Chief Aaron Vaughn, a Navy SEAL who was highly decorated for his service during his many deployments around the world—including several to Afghanistan and Iraq. He was among 30 servicemen killed in action in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011 when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down. He left behind a wife and two very young children—his youngest, a daughter, was just 8 weeks old at the time of his death. She’ll never remember being held by him or get the chance to walk down the aisle with him by her side on her wedding day.

Such is the case with thousands of children whose parents (usually their fathers) are taken away as they bravely defend our freedom in foreign lands. As a way to honor SOC Vaughn, his family started a non-profit organization that reaches out to these fatherless children in a meaningful way. Operation 300 holds camps in Florida for children who lost their dads in war. For a few days, the widows can meet with other widows while the kids go and have extreme adventures with mentors—men who provide them with guidance and memorable adventures such as riding horses, archery, shooting guns, sailing and surfing. According to the family, Aaron was fun and adventurous, and these are the kinds of things he would have loved doing himself. He was also a man of deep faith, who knew from the time he was a little boy that he wanted to be a Navy SEAL, and these camps give the kids more than just a chance to have fun. The camps give them the opportunity to create memories with men of integrity.

Operation 300 Founder and President, Tara Vaughn Baldwin (Aaron’s sister) said, “It is only fitting that to honor him, we give kids who have lost so much the opportunity to live like Aaron…if only for a short time.”

The organization has big dreams for the future. They are hoping to buy property of their own in order to establish a permanent home for Operation 300. They hold at least 4 camps each year, which benefit about 100 children, and all expenses for the children of these fallen heroes and their mothers are paid for by the organization. If you feel inclined to do so, donations can be made here.

You can learn more about Aaron, his family and his legacy by going to his parents’ website (forourson.us), and check out their Open Letter to Obama, reposted here last September.

“Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13