Sunday, June 28, 2009

Radical Environmentalism – Congress Gets Radical (Part 6)

I decided to buy a new house yesterday. Normally, I would research houses and neighborhoods and make sure that I purchased one in an area that had the potential for a good living environment and increasing value. And I would typically go look at the house first – you know, walk around inside it and make sure that it was in good shape and was the style that my family wanted. But instead, I just picked up the housing section of the paper, picked one out, and made a call to my realtor with the instructions to buy it. No big deal.

Okay, okay – so that’s not true. But before you make a judgment about how stupid and unlikely such a decision would be, consider this - two-hundred and nineteen Congressman did something even more radical than that, with consequences far more reaching.

The Waxman-Markey energy bill made its way through the House of Representatives this week, by a vote of 219-212. Investors Business Daily called it an anti-stimulus package that in the name of saving the earth will destroy the American economy”. I won’t go into many details about it here, except to say that it will 1) likely cost each taxpayer hundreds or thousands of additional dollars each year through a new energy tax, 2) create new “green” jobs, but will likely kill twice as many “non-green” jobs at the same time, as has happened in Spain through similar legislation, and 3) will cause America to become more uncompetitive in the global marketplace by hamstringing our industries who use energy to create things. You would think the federal government might learn a lesson or two from the budget crisis going on in California – a state which leads the nation in economy-stunting environmental legislation (and home of the bill’s sponsor Henry Waxman). And at a time when the government has essentially taken over the US auto industry, they should be aware how such a bill will further cripple our chances of competing with other countries who haven’t adopted such severe energy restrictions. Hmmm, maybe the government isn’t very good at running a successful corporation after all.

But the real travesty is that Congress didn’t even read the whole bill before they voted on it. When the original bill came out of the House committee, it was right at 1,000 pages. Earlier this week, the House added another 201 pages – post-committee approval – to the whole thing. And then, the night before the vote, the Rules Committee added another 300 pages to the overall bill. Henry Waxman slapped the 300 pages down on the podium and called for a vote the very next day.

Does that sound like responsible government? Should we just roll over and assume that our Congressman have our best interest in mind when they wrote the 300-page amendment? The consequences of this bill are far-reaching, both to individual pocketbooks and to our overall national economic health. Shouldn’t we expect there to be time for both study and individual opinions to be heard?

You see, except for the voting process, we individuals have been effectively removed from our government. There was a time when federalism (state’s rights) overshadowed the national government. Individuals could influence their local government, who would then instruct their national representatives exactly how to vote. It’s true! See this previous article for examples of US representatives who quit their job in Congress because they were in conflict with how they were being told to vote by their constituents.

Did we get a chance to read the energy bill and advise our representatives on how we want them to vote? There was no time for that. Most of our federal representatives now get themselves elected to office, and then abandon us. We are no longer involved in the process. Their motivation is to 1) please their party leaders, and 2) get re-elected. How could we not be given the time to read the 300-page amendment before going to a vote? How could our representatives vote on it without reading it? Is it any different than my example of buying a house without researching it? It is different in the aspect that the consequences of what Congress did are much greater. I can always put an unwanted house up for sale and get something out of it. Can Congress do the same with our economy once they wreck it and send our wealth and prosperity to China and India?

I am exceptionally angry at the folly of our government. I want to completely disconnect from these dishonest, selfish, deceptive men and women who are driving our nation into decadence and poverty. Part of me is ready to board the next Mayflower and sail away to a distant island where we can start over with the sane, Christian principles that our founding fathers adopted. Does anyone want to go with me?


P.S. - If you’d like to do something about the climate change bill, please write your US Senators and ask them to read the bill…and then vote against it. The bill is not yet made law, and it will have a much tougher time making it through the Senate. But we need to make sure that it doesn’t see the light of day to cripple our economy. Tell them to vote “No” on the bill, or else you’ll vote that way when their name comes up for re-election. Here are some tips on how to write a short, meaningful note to a Congressman or Senator. The bill number you should reference is “H.R. 2998”.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Don’t Even Know Who Jon and Kate Are

Typically, when I write about a topic, I do my best to research it thoroughly. Most of these installments take me about two to three hours of pondering, research, and word-smithing before I’m satisfied.

Not tonight. I’m going to try for a new record.

Here’s the deal. I’ve been hearing from various people that Jon and Kate are getting a divorce. I’ve been told it’s sad, and at the same time I’ve watched how thrilling the news can be for some people. I’ve seen their pictures recently in the tabloid newspapers at the grocery checkout stand. And I’ve been told by multiple sources that this whole thing might just be a ploy to gain some television ratings during a slow summer season.

But I don’t even know who Jon and Kate are.

Normally, I would feel compelled to research who they are, whether or not the stories are true, and then try to look at the situation from a Christian worldview in an effort to publish a side of the story rarely put forth by the mainstream media. But this time, I feel compelled to…. avoid that effort.

By asking only two or three questions of some acquaintances, I’ve been able to piece together that Jon and Kate are a real couple, with a bunch of young kids, who are on a television show where they are constantly having a camera thrust into their “normal” lives. I even had to ask someone if the picture I posted at the top of this entry is the real Jon and Kate. To tell the truth, I really don’t want to know any more.

I made a fairly unusual decision many years ago never to have cable television in my house (though I’m not even sure if this show is on cable or on the regular networks – it doesn’t matter). More importantly, my family and I have all decided that we won’t focus our time or our conversation around the television. It’s very rarely turned on in our home, and when it is, it is usually tuned to a live sporting event or to get the weather report (though to be completely honest with you, I’ve developed a liking for the “Lost” series on TV – but that’s it).

From the little I’ve been able to gather, it sounds as if television has hit a new low in subject matter. Following a family around with cameras, while enticing them with fame, paying them money to intrude on their personal time, and usurping that extremely valuable stage when they should be playing with and instructing their kids to mature – this all sounds like malevolent voyeurism. Don’t forget – every single one of those kids lives are being impacted by this decision from their parents. It’s no laughing matter to me, and it certainly doesn’t sound like good television – in my humble opinion.

I don’t know who Jon and Kate are. What I do know is that they are real people, and they are getting a divorce. To put a Christian perspective on it, it sounds like I should be praying for the family. Am I being naïve? Maybe. But that’s what I pledge to do every morning this week. I don’t need to know any more.

Seventeen minutes – I might re-think how I do this in the future.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Radical Environmentalism – Abandoning the Scientific Process (Part 5)

Let’s talk about the scientific process. Wait, don’t click the back button! I’ll mention Al Gore to ensure that this stays interesting!

When I was in junior high and high school, we were taught the scientific process – repeatedly. You start with a hypothetical statement, such as “Do potato skins contain more vitamin C than potato flesh?” Under no circumstances are you able to draw any early conclusions without first proving your assumption. I would have been graded down severely if I had just assumed that potato skin contained more vitamin C and moved onto a follow-up question (I would have been wrong, too, as potato flesh actually has a higher concentration of the vitamin than the skin – I got to perform this experiment in Chemistry).

But science class back then never taught us that there will be times when science will mix with politics. This dangerous combination often throws aside the deductive process in favor of principles more akin to marketing (which some people will say is the same as lying). Making bold statements without the backing of facts becomes necessary in order to divert funds to pet political projects. It’s all about the money.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of environmental “science”. Environmental “experts” and prominent politicians make claims which go largely untested – all for the sake of scaring people into spending money on potentially useless programs. Here are a couple of examples.

Al Gore intimates in his film An Inconvenient Truth that we only have about ten years to act on global warming before it will be too late to make a reversal. This statement was so presumptuous that Rush Limbaugh started a ten-year clock on his website – counting down from ten years so that we will be prompted to evaluate just where things are at the end of that time period. Look at Gore’s statement in light of the same facts that he presented in the very same movie – that the average recorded temperature has risen less than one degree Celsius over the last 140 years (see his graph at the left)! It seems ludicrous to draw the conclusion that at this rate, we will be headed for an irreversible torching of the planet in just ten years time. But the statement was made by Mr. Gore, and he was lauded as a great environmentalist (and, incredibly, they gave him the Nobel prize).

Where was the scientific mistake made? There are two that I can see. First, Gore assumes that a 140-year trendline showing a rise of less than one degree Celsius will continue to trend in the same direction at the same rate, unless something is “done”. Now, 140 years may seem like a lot, but it is not nearly enough to build a case of irreversible global warming. For example, a trend chart of General Motors stock price value would show a healthy and fairly steady increase over time, from 1933 to 2006. A well-meaning investor might look at that chart and conclude that the trend must continue. They would be wrong. GM stock has dropped from a value of $40 per share in 2006 to just over a dollar today in 2009 (that was true when I originally wrote this entry, now it’s worth nothing). Did anyone see this coming before the shares started to dive? Few people had the foresight to avoid this loss. It was a wholly unexpected event, and there were factors involved which were much more complex than a simple algebraic linear rise.

Gore’s second mistake is assuming that we know the cause of global warming. He pins the warming trend as being relative to the carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and he assumes that carbon dioxide is primarily caused by human activity. Both assumptions are specious, and are not proven fact – not by a long shot. Do we claim to understand all of the factors that affect global temperatures? Here are a few – sunspot activity, ocean currents, El Niño, La Niña, the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, and the Maunder Minimum. Now, please show me the study that proves that human activity swamps out these factors, and is the prime contributor to global warming. I would listen, truly I would, if the claim could be supported. The science simply isn’t there.

But lack of scientific evidence doesn’t stop people like Ted Danson from saying, in 1988, that “we have ten years to save the world's oceans”. Do the math – that was twenty-one years ago. So are we too late to do anything now? Or was Ted Danson wrong?

If you want to win me over to an idea or a cause, here is what you must do. To begin with, give me unimpeachable facts upon which to build a case – in the global warming debate, I need to see global temperatures from around the globe, not just in a few select locations, and preferably hard evidence over several hundred years. Next, from this data you must build models which duplicate the behavior seen in the data. For example, a good global warming model needs to be able to match the data obtained in the first step. To model the hype distributed by the environmental crowd, a good model would be able to relate the Industrial Revolution over the last hundred years to carbon dioxide levels during that period, and could correlate global temperature rises to the carbon dioxide level. If mankind is the greatest influence on warming, then I would expect to see a relatively flat global temp profile for the last several hundred years, followed by a sharp rise over the last hundred years. There should also be direct correlation to unusual events in history, such as volcanic eruptions which may cause temporary spikes in the data.

Finally, it is important to put the model to the test in the future. Does it accurately predict events over the next few years and on into decades? If not, then the model may be incorrect, and require revision. Some, like Ted Danson, will say that we have no time for this rigor, but it is equally irresponsible to radically alter public policy and business plans based on nothing more than rash statements and “feel-good” ethics.

For me, I personally believe that other factors, such as sunspot activity, overpower any changes that man makes to the climate. But I also am willing to concede that this is not yet proven. Will the other side make the same concession and work to follow the scientific process? Somehow, I think that is just a dream.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Radical Environmentalism – The Words Change, the Game Remains the Same (Part 4)

Only a couple of years ago, nearly any “science” magazine which you might read, along with most news magazines, made reference to the (mythical) crisis of global warming. Elections of public officials have pivoted on the subject, and millions of dollars of our tax money have been spent to understand the topic.

But read almost any article or watch the news today and you will notice that the words have changed. Where the phrase “global warming” was used a short time ago, you can now replace it with the new phrase “climate change”. It actually escaped my notice for a while, until I wrote an article about National Geographic and its slant toward radical environmentalism. While I was looking for the “global warming” phrase, I actually had a hard time finding it. “Climate change” was the common reference, and since making note of the new phrase, I now tend to see it everywhere.

The substitution is almost laughable. When I was in high school, the accepted fear was that the earth may be entering another Ice Age period, and global cooling was being put forth as a very real and dangerous threat. Twenty years ago, the concept of greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere became popular (and made a convenient scapegoat out of heavy industry and manufacturing by those who wished to see its end) and global warming was suddenly seen as the problem. Check the science articles today, though, and the idea of potential global cooling (again) is becoming more popular. Since scientists can’t make up their mind what is happening, it’s easier just to change the problem statement to include “climate change”, and to also assume that any change from the current climate must be bad.

To help prove the point that modern science does not possess a reliable climate model, only one month after I posted my article about National Geographic, they posted their own article with the title, “Sun Oddly Quiet -- Hints at Next "Little Ice Age"? (thanks to Darren Duvall for pointing me to this). The text of the article makes the observation that sunspot activity is at a low point, with some scientists pointing to very chilly temperatures as a possibility. Lower temperatures such as this were seen back in the years 1300 – 1850, when Iceland spent some time completely locked in by ice. Scientists are clearly swinging wildly back and forth in their predictions of the future – precisely because they do not understand all of the climatic elements that make up long-term weather patterns.

In one place, the article attempts to negate the conclusion that sunspot activity is relevant to global temperature. It quotes a solar terrestrial physicist by the name of Mike Lockwood, who tries to downplay the sun’s effects in comparison to man’s footprint on climate change. He says, “I think you have to bear in mind that the CO2 is a good 50 to 60 percent higher than normal, whereas the decline in solar output is a few hundredths of one percent down. I think that helps keep it in perspective.” This is an exceptionally misleading statement. Lockwood initially attempts to compare the effect of man’s carbon dioxide output as if it were comparable – percent to percent – to that of solar output. He is attempting to imply that the greenhouse global warming effect of carbon dioxide far exceeds the negative effect of reduced sunspot activity. But the author of the article later added a correction by Lockwood, pointing out that while a 50% increase in carbon dioxide output has had a small effect on global temperature, a 50% change in solar output would kill all life on earth. Clearly, the two cannot be compared, though the only scientist in the article attempted to do just that in his initial statements.

To make a good prediction about something such as weather or global temperatures, you need a good model – typically an extrapolation of past temperatures combined with some assumptions and calculations. Then, you test the usefulness of the model by using it to predict future events – then stand back and see if you are right about what is going to happen. And even then, it’s only a prediction based on the limited data that you have and the assumption that your model has not missed any critical long-term variables – see the previous Black Swan article. Again – predict, model, test. Any science teacher will tell you this.

There are so many elements that contribute to the weather and temperature of our planet – solar activity, heat load on the Southern Hemisphere versus the Northern Hemisphere, the Maunder Minimum, El Niño, and the latent heat content of the ocean. It’s a model of such complexity that it is very likely that we will never grasp it completely, even given hundreds of years of research grants and tax dollars. Modern science (and modern news media) abhor the possibility that they might not understand something, and so they cast aside good scientific method in favor of spouting things that bring them self-glorification…and research dollars.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Songs I Can’t Sing Anymore – Part 4

I grew up listening to rock and roll from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I have always maintained that there is no era of music that I prefer to listen to more, and I listened to a lot of it in college and during the years before my wife and I had children. I amassed over two-hundred albums on vinyl over the years, before compact discs took over. I have spent a great deal of time over the last couple of years transferring this music to my iPod. As I’ve recently begun listening to this music again, I have been struck by the lyrics of many of the songs – seen anew from a refreshed Christian perspective. I believe that I listened only to the music back in my younger days, but today I actually pay attention to the lyrics. This is a continuation of a series of articles discussing the possible hidden (or overt) meaning in many songs I used to sing out loud -- without actually listening to what the words were saying.

It might surprise those of you who know me well that I like listening to the music of The Doors. As I have explained before, when I listen only to the music, I really like this band. But when I sort out the meaning of the words that they wrote, I fear that I am no longer a fan.

Like so many bands of this era, The Doors quite often wrote lyrics that make no sense. Oh, they want you to believe that they make sense, and books have been written purporting the genius of the lyrics – but the fact is that most of these words likely came out of a drunken haze, written by someone who was very likely demon-possessed. One look at lead singer Jim Morrison’s life is enough to convince me that his tirades, depression, drug use, and bitterness were the result of much more than a heavy tour schedule. Morrison was known for his extremely heavy alcohol abuse, and he eventually died of a likely heroin overdose in Paris. If you read the history of this man, there is a sense of lurking evil about him.

A good example of nonsense lyrics is from the song Stoned Immaculate. Here you go:

I'll tell you this...

No eternal reward will forgive us now
For wasting the dawn.

Back in those days everything was simpler and more confused
One summer night, going to the pierI ran into two young girls
The blonde one was called Freedom
The dark one, Enterprise
We talked and they told me this story

Now listen to this...

I'll tell you about Texas radio and the big beat
Soft driven, slow and mad
Like some new language
Reaching your head with the cold, sudden fury of a divine messenger
Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of god
Wandering, wandering in hopeless night
Out here in the perimeter there are no stars

Out here we is stoned

Okay – can you tell me what it means? I mean what it really means – not just trying to fit your ideas to lyrics that are almost forty years old. Even the very title of the song is just two words smashed together that don’t belong. On reflection, these words echo as if from a soul bound for eternity in hell. “Heartache and the loss of god” is a perfect description of how I picture hell to be – a never-ending state for those who find their way there.

My wife and I had the good fortune to visit Paris on vacation twice in the last ten years. On one of those trips, we visited Père Lachaise Cemetery, where Morrison is buried. Many famous people are buried in this 118-acre cemetery, including Oscar Wilde and Frederic Chopin. The place is absolutely packed with tombs and graves and is really a wonder to behold. While I was there, I was determined to find the burial place of Jim Morrison.

It was not easy to find – walking this cemetery with the goal of finding a particular name is a lot like walking through the world’s largest junkyard in search of a specific radio knob – it’s that imposing. After a couple of hours, we finally found the spot. Imagine my surprise to find that it was a simple, unattractive plot crammed behind a much larger tomb. There was nothing special about it. See our photo of Morrison’s burial place at the right.

My greater surprise was to find so many others – mostly young people – gathered around the gravesite, mourning their loss. Most of them were not even alive at the time of Morrison’s death. And most of them were consuming alcohol. Jars of various alcoholic beverages had been left at his tomb as a sort of token or gift. My wife and I looked at each other in confusion – was this the legacy that Jim Morrison intended to leave? If he could look over the site today, would he be pleased, or would he beg these people to see something greater in life?

Like many of the lyrics of The Doors, this scene left me confused. These young people were worshiping a dead, drunken rock star. And these words fill my head - “wandering, wandering in hopeless night”.
Next in the series - The Beatles

Back to the first entry in the "Songs I Can't Sing Anymore" series...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Communion Meditation – The Secret Stash

Two years ago, our family nearly moved to Kansas City. My wife and I spent the better part of three days scoping out houses all over town. It was a painful process in many ways, as we really didn’t want to leave the house that we already owned in Colorado. Fortunately, we ended up staying put and we haven’t regretted it for a single moment.

I was intrigued as we went through the house-hunting process. We lined up as many as ten homes in a single day and our realtor navigated us through them as efficiently as possible. We saw homes of various ages, and with many different styles and layouts. Some homes were dismissed by us immediately, for one reason or another. A few homes made the short list, and we visited a couple of them more than once.

But what really struck me was the overall sense of neatness and order in nearly every house that we entered. I often spend time in other people’s houses that are not for sale, and it seems to me that the average American does not live the way these show homes would have me believe. Rooms were devoid of toys or papers, beds were neatly made there were no clothes lying around in children’s rooms, and every home seemed as if it were just recently built and furnished. I found out later – as we went to put our own home up for sale – that this practice is called staging. Some people even rent special furniture to put in the home for sale to make it appear more opulent.

One house caught our eye. Here is one picture of the inside. This is a sitting room in the house that we nearly bought. You will note that there are several flat surfaces in the picture, but for the most part, there is very little to be seen on top of them. They hold a single plant, a couple of carefully angled magazines, and absolutely nothing on the fireplace mantle. There are no Legos on the couch cushions! And the blanket that is draped on the chair in the center of the picture looked almost like art the way it had been placed.

At right is a view of the kitchen. If you look carefully, you will see that there is no food visible anywhere – there wasn’t even a hint of crumbs to be found anywhere. The sink was empty and clean, and the gas stove burners looked like they were brand new. Finally, the little desk nook at the right was completely devoid of any paper at all – it only held a candle and a knick-knack or two. It made me wonder if they have mail service in Kansas City!

We continued exploring the house, with every room looking perfect. I was ready to move in right away! In the basement we found a room that had three built-in desks – seemingly made for our three homeschoolers to set up shop. Things were looking very, very nice.

And then, we opened the final door in the basement, and saw this.

It was a far cry from what we had observed in the rest of the house, but not totally unexpected. These people had kids and pets, and it only made sense that we would eventually find an area that testified to that fact. While the rest of the house had been “staged”, we eventually found “the secret stash” that gave witness to the fact that somewhere, there had to be an “overflow of junk”.

Sin is like that. We may spend a great deal of time convincing others that we have our life in order – we may even have to spend time convincing ourselves of it! But for many of us, there is a secret room where we keep our mess hidden from prying eyes. We work hard to keep it locked up and out of view, but sometimes we simply can’t hide it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live a life that has no secrets and where everything is open and known by others? Be assured – everything is open before God. Psalm 90:8 says, “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” And likewise, Jeremiah 23:24 tells us of God’s all-knowing qualities – ‘“Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord.’

Our weekly time of communion is a time to reflect on the sacrifice that Christ made for us. And while nothing we can do will ever pay for our sins, we can glory in the fact that Christ’s sacrifice took the burden of our sin. Are we not sometimes motivated to make his burden lighter? Confessing our secret sin is one way to make our lives more pure – not to make them appear “staged”. Finally, 2 Corinthians 4:2 reminds us that “…we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Taking Back The Culture – Part 2

My kids were playing with some other children the other day, when in the midst of playing a game, one of the other kids let out a bad word. The child’s sister looked over at him and said, “Hey, don’t you remember? Mom told us not to talk that way around the Metzger kids!” Before any of you wonder if it was your kids – please believe me, it wasn’t. I’m pretty certain that this family doesn’t read my blog.

I’ll admit that it makes me happy that our kids have this reputation with others. Without making it a source of pride, I feel gratified that my own children get that level of respect.

Bad language among children is nothing new. I have to admit that I participated in it when I was very young – my parents never knew (I think - right, Mom?). But other aspects of our culture have definitely changed since I was a kid. This erosion of the culture has been executed in steps, gradually overtaking the godly principles that used to be evident in families in this country. We now look back at television examples such as the Cleavers on Leave It To Beaver or the Bradys on The Brady Bunch with ridicule – as if no family could be so goody-goody and naïve. You know what? Our family is actually like that in many ways – and I love it.

There is constant pressure from all sides to “adjust” to the new culture – as if our society is constantly maturing and has become superior to anything that came before. Think on this - would the culture of today have been possible fifty years ago? Not a chance. For example, we now see some parents buying games for their children which reward players for killing innocent bystanders, police, and prostitutes, while using a wide range of weapons, including baseball bats. Would that product have sold at the same time as when I Love Lucy was being aired on television? I simply can’t believe that there was a market for it back then. But there certainly is today. That is culture shift.

What’s the difference between 1959 and 2009? It’s not just technology or the availability of video gaming systems. I believe it is the parents. As I pointed out back in Part 1 of this series, many parents have suddenly accepted the belief that their children have the right to make their own decisions about nearly anything. I’ve had parents tell me, “I want my children to learn about life on their own. That’s how they will prepare for being independent.” I cannot subscribe to this philosophy. I firmly believe that my children must be led and directed by godly principles – which come from God and the family, not from the culture.

This may offend some people. No one wants to be told that their parenting technique is not the best one. But consider this – there is no parent-designed technique that is right or perfect, because there is a bigger concept in play here. And it gets back, once again, to the culture.

No matter how hard we try, we cannot create a proper man-made culture. Though our society tries over and over to remake our way of life, we must realize this – our culture will always be broken if we have a hand in it. The only culture that survives is a God-made culture. Thankfully, that is exactly what we are awaiting – a day when all things will be made new.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Taking Back The Culture – Part 1

I took my oldest daughter across town to buy a used iPod yesterday. The iPod had belonged to a 13-year-old girl, who had thought she lost it, bought another, and then found the original one. As we discussed the sale with the girl and her mother, the mother leaned over to us and said, “You’ll probably want to wipe the songs off of that before you use it, as I’m sure there is a lot of inappropriate music loaded onto it.” I started to smile, but then thought better of it.

What struck me about her statement is not so much that the mother did not have control over her daughter, but more importantly, she didn’t seem to think she should exercise that control. It seemed strange to us, since her daughter was right there listening to the conversation, that she could tell us that the inappropriate content should be erased, but she couldn’t turn and tell her own daughter that same thing.

That seems wrong to me. I was raised in such a way that I did not have free reign over what I did, what I viewed, or how I behaved. Similarly, I control what my own children are exposed to – movies, music, television shows (what little we watch), and books. My kids know, without having to wonder, that everything they do is subject to the approval of me and my wife. Curiously, it has rarely caused any arguments in our family. In many areas, my kids are even more conservative that I am (see “We Moo At Bad Words” for a funny application that our family shares). They have even been known to politely refuse to watch an inappropriate movie at a friend’s sleepover – based on principle, not because they fear that they will get into trouble.

Our family was privileged to attend two different high school graduations this past weekend. My wife and son traveled to Indianapolis for the homeschool graduation of our lovely niece, Abby Richardson. And the rest of us were here in Fort Collins attending the homeschool graduation of our friend, Ally Chase. Both of these girls are beautiful examples of godly teenagers and they have a bright future. And what they both have in common is that their parents taught them well – by first teaching them to love the Lord. This love is evident in their lives to everyone who knows them. Their parents were not afraid to pass on this devotion, and they are being rewarded for it. Both of these girls have the desire to change the world for Christ.

Here are some truths I’m learning as I watch the world around me, and work to raise my own children in the same way as the Richardsons and Chases:

1) Children do not have the right to listen to or watch whatever they want,

2) Our culture is constantly moving farther from God’s principles,

3) Parents are the ones who should direct their children’s cultural involvement until such an age where the child can make good decisions – left to their own judgment at too early an age, the impression of the world’s culture may leave a permanent mark.

This has truly shaped up to be a spiritual battle – for the very souls of our children. We should never forget that Satan is using the constantly-shifting culture to facilitate an increasing departure from God. As the culture erodes, we are tempted to erode with it. If we erode God’s principles, even at a slower pace than the culture, we are still moving away from God. He does not change (Hebrews 6:17), even though the world around us does. We have to pick a path – the unchanging one of God, or the ever-changing one of the world - down which to steer our children.

And that requires parents to stay anchored to the unchanging principles of God.
Jump to Part 2.