Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thanks to “The Greatest Generation”

In honor of our fallen heroes on this day of remembrance…

One of the finest books that I have ever read is The Winds of War by Herman Wouk. It is a fictional account of a Navy family set in non-fictional World War II. Wouk has written many excellent books that I heartily recommend – The Caine Mutiny and War and Remembrance being his major works that I have enjoyed.

My wife and I both enjoy reading novels set in history, and we recently decided to relive some old times by renting The Winds of War mini-series (about ten hours to watch in total, and it only gets you to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 - there is also a War and Remembrance mini-series sequel that followed).

One cannot help but be drawn to the central figure in the story – Pug Henry – played exceptionally well by Robert Mitchum. Pug is a gritty, determined Navy captain, who is smart, resourceful and protective of his own family. He is a classic military man, willing to sacrifice his own life and dreams for the service of his country. His career goals are constantly frustrated, as he is continually passed over for sea captaincy in favor of dealing diplomatically with the central figures in the war story – Hitler, Roosevelt, Churchill and Mussolini. His toast at a banquet hosted by Josef Stalin is one of the best scenes in the movie.

Pug finally gets his battleship command of the U.S.S. California, only to arrive in Pearl Harbor a few days after its destruction by the Japanese attack. His son is serving there aboard an aircraft carrier, and Pug displays his typical, reserved demeanor in dealing with the overall situation.

At the end of the movie, Pug stands on a hill overlooking Pearl Harbor, as his son sails away toward the unknown aboard the carrier. He lifts his eyes to the heavens, and says these incredible words (they brought tears to my eyes):

"Oh, Lord, in a world so rich and lovely, why can your children find nothing better to do than to dig iron from the ground and work it into vast, grotesque engines for blowing each other up? Is it because Abel's next-door neighbor was Cain? Is it because if my enemies make deadly engines, then I must do it better or die? Maybe the vicious circle will end this time. Maybe not. Maybe it will take Christ's Second Coming to end it. Maybe it will never end. But it is 1941 and I know this. Until the life is beaten out of the monster Hitler, the world cannot move another inch toward a sane existence. There is nothing to do now but win the war."
I admire the men and women of that era, and the sacrifices that they made. Their firm resolve to do what was right, at all costs, is unparalleled. It is truly difficult to watch this scene without tears welling up in your eyes. Many times, I have longed to have been born during that era, if for no other reason than to have experienced the hearts and minds of “the greatest generation”. Their unselfish attitude, and their willingness to give up their dreams for a time in order to win a bitter but necessary war inspires me to be involved in great things. How I wish for the chance to be involved with people like them, working for a cause that is great and good.

If you know a WWII veteran, please forward this to them. For those World War II veterans and families who might read this, let me thank you for the sacrifice of time, pain, and even family members if you were called to make such a forfeit. You are truly heroes, who gave up so much in order for our nation (and other nations, as well) to continue in freedom and serve the Lord without fear of punishment. I long for a nation that stands ready to do it again if called upon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rite of Passage

It was hard to just walk away.

But yesterday, I put my twelve year-old son on our riding mower, blade turning, and did just that. I know, it sounds silly, but this was a big deal for me. Because images of my dad doing exactly that same thing don’t seem like that long ago.

I recall that day, over thirty-five years ago when my father entrusted me with the duty of mowing part of our large lawn in Louisiana. It felt like freedom to be driving a piece of machinery – and part of me couldn’t believe that he was letting me do it. I understand that more now, because I almost ran down the family dog that day (hey, it was an accident!). I wonder if he remembers running across the yard waving his arms at the dog to get out of the way… I sure do.

Nevertheless, as I am now on the downhill side of seeing my children through their years in my house (a fact which deeply saddens me), I get a little emotional when these little milestones are met. Just like watching my oldest daughter Molly drive a car for the first time, seeing my son carefully cruise around the lawn on a sixteen-horsepower piece of power equipment makes me proud – and fearful – all at the same time. Which is why it is hard for me to let him go around the corner, out of sight, all on his own, boy against the world. And that is an analogy for what my wife and I will do when we let him go out on his own in just a few short years.

Until then, I want to spend every moment preparing him for service in God’s creation – to glorify God above all, and serve others in a meaningful way – to make his life count for something eternal. These few years that we have with him under our roof will fly by. I want to make sure he is ready to go around the next corner.

Noah – congratulations on a job well done, and a rite of passage that is now at least two generations old in our family. You did a great job on the lawn, and didn’t cut off any fingers. What’s next?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Brought To My Census – Part 3

One final point of irony needs to be made regarding the census and the American Community Survey that I’ve written about so far. I appear to be one of a very few who is bothered by the personal intrusion of the questions asked in the survey. But the one that confuses me the most is that no outcry has been raised over the following question, found on page eight of the ACS:

Is this person a citizen of the United States?, with the possible answers given as:
· Yes, born in the United States
· Yes, born in Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Northern Marianas
· Yes, born abroad of U.S. citizen parent or parents
· Yes, U.S. citizen by naturalization
· No, not a U.S. Citizen

In essence, the question allows the federal government to ask me about my immigration status. And guess what? That is exactly what Arizona’s new controversial immigration law does! The Arizona law allows police to query a person’s immigration status, with possible deportation being the result. Since being passed into law, Arizona bill SB 1070 has garnered huge protests and raised a cry from people all over the country (though a Pew Poll shows that 73% of people surveyed favor requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status – where is that in the media?). The city of Los Angeles voted to boycott the state of Arizona over the issue. And President Barack Obama called it “misguided”.

Has anyone read his American Community Survey back to him?

It appears that the federal government believes it has the right to ask the immigration question of any American household, but decries a state doing exactly the same thing? Perhaps the “left” hand doesn’t know what the “right” hand is doing…

Friday, May 21, 2010

Brought To My Census – Part 2

In the first article on our family’s census experience, I talked about my opposition to any census questions that go beyond my name and the number of people in my family. My resistance to this practice is that the questions are racist – they are certainly not blind to skin color or ethnic heritage. Also, I believe the questions go far beyond the reach of what the Constitution allows in Article 1, Section 2. I’m probably in a very small minority who is offended by the direction of the questions. But I am not going to answer them.

So it is ironic that the government chose my family to receive an additional set of questions to answer this year – the American Community Survey. Every month, on a rotating basis, 250,000 homes are randomly selected to receive the survey. The survey itself is a whopping twenty-eight pages long – and if there are five people in your household, there are potentially 272 questions to answer! Some of the questions include date of birth, race, where you were born, and if you are a citizen of the United States. And then the questions go on to ask (and I’m not making these up):

· What year was your house built?

· How many rooms in your home are bedrooms?

· Does your house have a flush toilet?
(!!!) A stove? A refrigerator?

· How many cars do you own?

· What was your previous month’s electricity bill?

· How much do you think you could sell your house for?

· How much is your home insurance payment? Your monthly mortgage payment?

· What is the highest degree of schooling that you obtained?

· “Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?”

· What is your marital status?

· At what location did you work last week (provide the address)?

And on, and on. The personal nature of many of these questions is alarming. But even with all of this intrusion into my privacy, the real problem for me is this:

The government tells me that I am legally required to answer every one of these questions.

I know this because they have now visited me twice at my house, and called me three times (twice during evening hours) to tell me so. They have been pushing to get these answers from me or my wife, and the last two phone calls have been downright threatening. My name, and the number of people in my household is all that I am giving them. In fact, I didn’t give them my telephone number, but they told me that they worked with the telephone company to match my address and obtain it (I mean, hey, it’s right there in the White Pages, but they went out of their way to tell me that they had “worked with the phone company”).

They proceed to tell me that Title 13 of the United States Code, Sections 141 and 143, gives them the authority to demand my response, and makes it mandatory. I tell them that Title 13 is unconstitutional. They don’t have an answer for that, except to say “Okay”, and put me back on the calling list for next week.

I found the answer to fix this as well. The person calling you will tell you that they cannot take you off the calling list – that you will be put back on the call rotation for an indefinite period until you answer the questions (or they finally give up). The secret? Ask for a supervisor. Unlike the typical census call person, the supervisor can mark you down as a refusal, and take you off the list.

Or at least that is what they told me this week. We’ll see.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Brought To My Census – Part 1

Article 1, Section 2 of The United States Constitution allows for the enumeration of our citizens every ten years. Specifically, this section says, “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” This clause is specifically called out in the section devoted to the House of Representatives – it doesn’t appear in the adjacent section on the Senate. The reason for this is clear – the 435 representatives decreed by the Constitution are apportioned by population within each state. So, the purpose behind the census is that we may apportion the correct number of representatives in the House, and the adjustment is made every ten years. This seems like a fair deal.

So, I was a bit surprised when I received my census form in the mail and read the questions which appeared. Of course, there were the standard questions“What is your name?”, or “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?” Those seem perfectly acceptable and within the bounds of what our Constitution requires.

But can someone please tell me why the government thinks it has the right to ask:

· Is this house, apartment, or mobile home: owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent?
· What is Person 1's race?
· Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?

In my estimation, those questions are none of the government’s business. Oh, I know why they are asking such things. It has to do with the verification and implementation of special programs designed to divert money to groups of a certain ethnic heritage or financial position.

And that is one of two things - socialism or racism.

Imagine for a minute that I decided to hire some neighborhood kids to do some yard work around my house on a weekend. Would I be within acceptable bounds to ask them what their race is, or what the value of their parent’s house is – because I plan to pay each of them differently, based on their answers? Of course not. There would be a cry of outrage from the community, and I would probably get written up in an article in my local newspaper. But that is exactly what the federal government is doing – diverting tax money unfairly, based on skin color or financial status. Let’s be honest – the government’s questions are not color-blind or fair, and they certainly exceed the power given to them by the United States Constitution.

So, instead of sending it in, I held on to my census form and awaited the promised visit from the hired census worker. I left instructions with my wife and children to hand over the census form should they call - filled out with only my name and the number “5” only. I attached a brief note explaining why I was a “census conscientious objector”. I even told my kids to be nice and offer the worker a cookie and something to drink. But by no means should they provide any other information. Sure enough, just a few days into the census period, we received a visitor. And my daughters gave her only the answers as instructed.

Perhaps this seems like no big deal to many people. But I am genuinely offended at the blatantly racist questions asked on our census form. A business owner is disallowed by law from distributing money unequally based on a person’s race – why is it considered okay for the government to do the same thing? It’s time to bring the government back in line with their original charter. Maybe I should have had my kids attach a copy of the Constitution to the survey, as well…


Unfortunately, this is not the end of our census story. We next began to receive phone calls from the Bureau, with increasing rudeness – detailed in the next installment…

Friday, May 7, 2010

What Is Missing From A Government-Funded Reading Program?

The local paper article I read today was almost too fantastic to believe.

The Colorado state legislature passed an initial proposal to implement a “Pay To Read” program this week. Under this law, over $1 million of taxpayer money would be used to pay low-income children $2 for every book they read. It’s an effort, theoretically, to get children to read and, thus improve their test scores (based on a Harvard study showing a connection between the program and superior test results).

There is so much I could say about this legislation. Such as why our government feels it can use tax money to bribe children to read? Or why the reward is offered only to low-income children? Or the fact that public libraries full of free books are available to kids whose parents are in any income bracket? Or how such a program puts those low-income children on the government dole early in life? Let’s be honest – one of the lessons that many kids will learn is that the government will pay them just to “show up” or do the minimum required when they become adults. And a lot of those kids will go on to live their lives with exactly that expectation – and find themselves part of the welfare spiral.

I’m tempted to write on all of these topics, but the real issue for me was summed up by the bill’s sponsor – Democrat senator Chris Romer from Denver. He believes that researchers at Harvard “cracked the code” for child motivation and then defended his position with this heart-ripping statement - “It's much cheaper to build children than to repair adults."

“It's much cheaper to build children than to repair adults."…

Why do I think that statement is against all that is right and good and godly? Because Mr. Romer has plainly stated the depths which our society has plumbed. That is – that the parent-child relationship is irrevocably broken, and so we have turned to something else to replace it – the government, acting through federal programs. Rather than fix the very root of the issue, we have decided to spend great amounts of money on an inferior solution. The government believes it now has the duty to “build children”.

In Malachi chapter 4, the Bible tells us that a prophet will be sent to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” That is the most desirable state for a family to be in. This verse is one of the primary reasons that my wife and I homeschool our children – not because they get a superior one-on-one education, but because it gives us far more hours in a day to turn our hearts toward each other. And it has been a tremendous blessing to our family for these past six years.

The idea of a government paying kids to read because society has given up on good parenting is at the farthest extreme from God’s design. The problem of uninvolved or uncaring parents cannot (and should not) be fixed by a government program. The verse in Malachi tells us that the source of the issue lies in the heart of the individual. And the heart is best changed by one thing – God’s gift of the Holy Spirit actively working in a person’s life.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Worldview Class #2 – Part 11 – Biblical Christian Biology

While teaching a Sunday morning class on the topic of various worldviews, I plan to share some of the more significant findings which our class is learning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.


The theory of evolution is losing momentum. When I was in high school nearly thirty years ago, I was sometimes ridiculed for questioning this concept in my biology class. Arguing against evolution and in favor of divine creation was deemed by many (my teachers included) as being old-world thought. To them, the science of evolution was settled.

Advancements in scientific understanding have been made since that time, and though many scientists continue to put forth evolution as “fact”, there are many who now see purpose and design in the things they study. They are beginning to question whether or not evolution might only be a “theory” after all.

The Biblical Christian worldview espouses creation as the origin of species. The Christian belief is that the creation story in Genesis is a literal description of how the earth, plants, animals and humans came to be. God created it all, with a purpose in mind, in only six days. The pull of evolutionary theory has been strong in the last few decades, however, with some Christians accepting the concept of theistic evolution. This theory speculates that God started the spark of life in the universe, and then allowed evolution to work over millions of years, creating new species and ultimately resulting in the creation of man. This allows many Christians to breathe a sigh of relief, enabling them to accept scientific preaching about evolution, while still holding on to their concept of a loving God behind all of it.

But theistic evolution cannot be the Biblical Christian viewpoint – because it is neither Biblical, nor Christian. The Bible tells of a six-day account of creation, and a seventh day of rest for God. Many Christians have called into question the real length of a “day” in these opening Bible chapters, saying that perhaps the creation story is an allegory for millions of years. But if creation is a metaphor, then what is the allegorical explanation for God’s seventh day of rest? And why not question the meaning of the word “day” in verses such as 1 Corinthians 15:4 – “that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”? Simply put, many Christians have bowed to the whims of “science” in our modern age. Rather than questioning the theory of evolution, they have tried to make a bad theory fit the Biblical account.

The creation account must be literal for far more important reasons than the simple meaning of words. It is absolutely necessary to believe in Adam and Eve and the perfection of the Garden of Eden for God’s overall plan to have any meaning. The fall of man is critical to the entire Bible story, and most importantly, the story of Jesus Christ. Without Adam’s fall from a perfect, sinless state there would be no need for Jesus Christ to come to earth and accomplish an amazing thing – live a perfectly sinless life. Jesus came to undo everything that was lost by Adam – and he chose to take our sin on himself. The Bible story is clear – there is one man on each side of the story:

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…..Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” Romans 5:12, 18
It is vitally important that the Christian worldview contain the creation story, as it literally happened in the opening chapters of Genesis. Without it, the whole meaning of God’s plan for salvation is watered down and lost.

Science – real, high-quality science – declares a creation beginning of the universe, much more than an evolutionary one. For example:

1. Scientists are uncovering a design in nature, one that cannot be random. Even prominent evolutionists such as Paul Davies have stated – “Every advance in fundamental physics seems to uncover yet another facet of order.” Such statements are a blow to evolutionary theory.

2. DNA – the structure of DNA is so complex and fundamental to life that evolution has yet to explain how it could have “evolved”. It’s an “all or nothing” type of design. DNA is found in the lowest of life forms – fully functional and operating. Without its design in place from the moment that life began, there would be no continuation of life. Creation uniquely answers the question about how life could come about at the same time as DNA.

3. The inability for science to recreate spontaneous generation is a blow to evolutionary theory. Even non-creation scientists admit that they have been unable to recreate the process of life springing from non-life. Scientific arguments suggest that life and ozone in the earth’s atmosphere must have formed at the same time – a concept that points directly to the viability of creation.

4. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that the amount of useful, constructive energy in the universe is lessening with each moment. But an extrapolation of this law, backwards in time, would suggest that in an infinitely old universe this amount of energy would approach infinity – which violates the First Law of Thermodynamics. Modeling suggests that the universe has a finite existence and just “happened” at some point in the past – again, agreeing with the idea of creation.

5. Gene pool barriers must be crossed in order for one species to evolve into another. For a bird to become a dinosaur, or an ape to become a man, there must be a significant genetic “crossing”. Yet science cannot demonstrate the occurrence of a crossing between species – not in the lab, and not in the fossil record.

6. The fossil record condemns the idea of evolution and supports creation. The sudden appearance of all levels of life in the Cambrian period point to a created world. The lack of transitional forms between species cannot be explained by a rational theory (the theory of punctuated equilibrium, while convenient, has no basis in scientific experimentation). And there is no fossil record supporting the idea of beneficial mutations helping one species along into the formation of another. Again, the overwhelming evidence of fossils points to creation and the Genesis flood.

These specific points will be covered in a future series – “Seven Reasons Why Science Points To Creation”.

In the end, the question of worldview biology comes down to this single question – Where will you put your faith? Both evolution and creation require a measure of faith. In many ways, scientific evolution requires more, because so many things remain unexplained. Creation, on the other hand, is rooted in the one absolute truth that cannot be ignored – THERE IS A GOD.

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