reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.

8/31/2005

24 Tips For How To Write Good (Like Me)

[silliness]As Alex and my fame as writers has spread throughout the blog world, we have been barraged with requests to share our writing secrets. What makes The Rebelution one of the easier reads in the blogosphere? Why do words flow from our fingers like water from a punctured water bottle?

Today, we share these secrets. The truth is that Alex and I are no more than the beneficiaries of an anonymous word wizard. His wisdom we share with you today in hopes that excellence in writing will spread to all corners of the globe.

HOW TO WRITE GOOD!

1. Avoid alliteration always.

2. Prepositions are no words to end sentences with.

3. Avoid clichés like the plague.

4. Employ the vernacular ad nauseam.

5. Eschew ampersands & abbrev., etc.

6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

8. Contractions aren’t acceptable.

9. Foreign words are not apropos.

10. As Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

11. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

12. One should never generalize.

13. Don’t be redundant; it is highly superfluous to use more words than necessary.

14. Be specific, more or less.

15. Understatement is insipid.

16. Exaggeration is infinitely worse than understatement.

17. One word sentences? Simple. Eliminate!

18. The passive voice is to be avoided.

19. Bad analogies are like feathers on a snake.

20. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

21. Who needs rhetorical questions?

22. Colloquialisms are grody to the max.

23. Abjure polysyllabic obfuscations.

24. Finally, chech for pselling errors and typeos.
There you have it! 24 principles that are sure to improve your writing. Follow them faithfully, our dear readers, and maybe someday you will write rules of your own.[/silliness]

8/30/2005

Lord, Have Mercy...


Cross-posted from The Dawn Patrol:

Louisiananian James T. Freeman III:

From an emergency notice put on WWL-TV's Web site, which mirrors a bulletin they just had on TV (I'm watching online):

****ALL RESIDENTS ON THE EAST BANK OF ORLEANS AND JEFFERSON REMAINING IN THE METRO AREA ARE BEING TOLD TO EVACUATE AS EFFORTS TO SANDBAG THE LEVEE BREAK HAVE ENDED. THE PUMPS IN THAT AREA ARE EXPECTED TO FAIL SOON AND 9 FEET OF WATER IS EXPECTED IN THE ENTIRE EAST BANK. WITHIN THE NEXT 12-15 HOURS****

As all of us native Louisianians know, the "entire East bank" constitutes all of New Orleans, Metairie, etc.

The question of New Orleans' survival as a city was in some question an hour ago. Now, I think the question may have been answered. New Orleans will not be habitable for a very long time, and then only after the expenditure of unfathomable treasure.

May God have mercy. Lord have mercy. I am out of words for prayer other than that. Lord have mercy.

I think I am going to go cry now.

Please do not fail to pray for the victims and their families. Prayer is the most powerful donation you can make.

TWIF (Part 3): World Champions Of Triviality

I find it hard to respect intelligent, humanitarian-minded women who resort to prancing around on stage in bikinis to gain recognition. Nevertheless, Natalie Glebova was dubbed Miss Universe for doing precisely that.

And though the organizers of the world’s largest beauty pageant insist that contestants are judged for their intellects and attitudes as much as for their figures, it is very probable that Miss Glebova has been declared the most beautiful woman in the universe primarily for showing off parts of her body that most beautiful women I know keep appropriately concealed.

Still the fact remains that Glebova is the world champion of her particular silly activity. And though I don’t watch beauty pageants—never have, never will—I must admit that her preening is no sillier than a myriad of other activities whose competitions we follow and whose champions we idolize.

Regrettably, we have formed a culture of the trivial. We all want to be champions of our own silly activity. Just ask Emily Fox, the current world-record holder in the fast-paced sport of cup stacking, or champion eater Takeru Kobayashi, who downed 83 streamed dumplings in eight minutes during an August 13th contest.

Yet these champions are no sillier than Tiger Woods who is idolized for hitting a little white ball with a certain metal club so that it goes into a special little hole in the ground. They are no sillier than Misty May and Kerri Walsh who are recognized for wearing little more than their underwear while batting a cushy ball back-and-forth over a net. And they are no sillier than Barry Bonds, who is paid millions of dollars for hitting a ball with a stick and then running around in circles.

Although it concerns me when young competitors at the World Cup Stacking Championship speak of making a career out of it, I am equally concerned that a majority of American young people long for nothing more than to become kings and queens of their own particular triviality. It might be Hollywood that beckons them; it might be the NBA, or it could be American Idol. Whatever it is, the sad truth remains that America has prioritized entertainment and celebrity over true service and heroism; and our young people have taken the cue.

The tone of this article shouldn’t be taken as condemning, only concerned. I am not against the existence of these ‘silly activities’ that make life more enjoyable for many and bearable for some. I enjoy the thrill of watching Emily Fox stack cups faster than the eye can see and rooting for American athletes at the summer and winter Olympics. I’ve had 15-minute crushes on my own share of movie actresses and even voted online during last season’s American Idol competition. But then, after my niece was born with an extremely serious heart defect, I found myself in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at OHSU; and I met true heroes.

Shaun, Pam, and Colleen. They are nurses. They are heroes. And they symbolize millions of people across the globe who sacrifice, who serve, and who receive small thanks next to the Michael Jordans, Marilyn Monroes, and Elvis Presleys of our day. It often takes catastrophes to remind us of these people. September 11th did. It was policemen and firemen; rescue workers and soldiers who lifted our nation back up. And we honored them for it.

Even so, nearly four years later, my generation is still pursuing triviality at the expense of true service. Everyone wants to be the cherry on top, but no one is making ice cream. It is as if we have completely forgotten the steady, shining glory of heroism, because of the glaring, flashing glamour of celebrity.

Until we take the time to re-examine our ideas of what’s important we will continue to choose lesser professions and America will keep getting weaker. As our culture continues to embrace the trivial we will become increasingly incapable of responding to the significant.

Continue Series with Part Four: The American Idol Syndrome

8/29/2005

Tolerance: A Christian Virtue

After reading the above title, I would expect many Christians to cringe, and most liberals to scoff. Evangelicals will proceed to scold me, saying that tolerance is a distinctly relativistic concept. Liberals will then ridicule me, saying that Christianity is the most bigoted of worldviews. Yet I persist. While the liberal may tell you that the modern principle of tolerance is unchaged from that of the classical view, nothing could be further from the truth. The classical principle of tolerance is a distinctly Christian virtue, very different from the twisted definition given to the word today.

According to the classical principle of tolerance, a person holds that his moral view are true and that his opponent's are false. This person has a duty to tolerate a different moral view, not by thinking it to be equally valid or morally correct, but rather by continuing to value and respect his opponent. Strictly speaking, the classical view dicates that one tolerate persons, not their ideas. We do not persecute those with differing views, but we can denounce and combat their beliefs. As philosophy professors J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig point out:

"In [the classic view of tolerance], even though someone disapproves of another's moral beliefs and practices, he or she will not inappropriately interfere with them. However, it is consistent with this view that a person judges his opponent's view to be wrong and dedicates himself to do everything morally appropriate to counteract those views, such as using argument and persuasion."
This duty to counteract opposing viewpoints stems from the Christian belief in ultimate justice. Though we should tolerate people, we have no duty to tolerate their beliefs. Indeed, it would be un-loving, both to them and to others, for us to do so. Rather we are called to lovingly attempt to persuade them in order to save them from the consequences (whether temporal or eternal) of a false belief. Classical tolerance necessitates morally appropriate negation.

The modern notion of tolerance argues that it is bigoted to judge differing viewpoints to be false. The trouble with such an understanding is that if a person does not believe that an opposing viewpoint is morally wrong, what is there to tolerate? Surely, it is not just the fact that one doesn't like the particular view, but that he judges it mistaken. It is only in a world where truth is absolute and morality is objective that tolerance is even necessary. Tolerance is true tolerance only in the classical interpretation, and therefore, tolerance is a distinctly Christian virtue.

Here on The Rebelution we readily tolerate people with viewpoints opposed to our own. However, we also hold that beliefs have consequences. While we will love and respect you despite our religious or ideological differences, part of that of that love and respet requires that we dedicate ourselves to do everything morally appropriate to counteract what we deem to be false.

For further explanation of this blog's 'rules of engagement', please see the Harris Protocol.

8/27/2005

What Happened?!? Announcing The Merger.

NOTE: We have been juggling the posting times to keep this post on top. Please reference the "Current Series" feature on the sidebar to your right to keep up on any new posts.
In a very cruel trick on the dear Dawn Eden (author of The Dawn Patrol) Alex and I timidly announce the merger of Conscientious Contemplation and Rebelution. After discussing the possibility with our parents, we came to the conclusion that it was in our own interest, and in the interest of our readers, to consolidate our entries to a single blog. We also realized that the longer we waited, the harder it would be to make the switch. This afternoon featured a flurry of activity as all the posts on Conscientious Contemplation were cross-posted to their new home here. The Rebelution is now the home of both Brett and Alex Harris.

Unfortunately, while the timing was as perfect as it would ever be, some confusion will most likely result. In an incredible act of kindness, Dawn decided to feature us in her weekly column Blog On! in the New York Daily News. While it will not appear until Sunday (the 28th), the interview, writing, submission, and finalization of the column was all accomplished before our decision to merge.

As it is, all of the entries that Dawn cited in her column can be found here (be sure to check out the "Current Series" feature on the sidebar to your right). Her column was correct in every detail. The purpose of this post is only to alert you that all future entries by both Alex and myself will be made here at The Rebelution.

TWIF (Part 2): America's Career Choice Gap

“Close games for the Americans were rare in previous Olympics,
but now it appears to be something the Americans should get used to.”


From an August 17, 2004, AP article from the Athens Olympics titled “U.S. Men’s Basketball Team Narrowly Beats Greece”
There are few examples that more thoroughly sum up the rest of the world’s ability to compete head-to-head with the America than the mediocre performance of the U.S. Olympic basketball team in 2004. The U.S. line up—composed completely of NBA stars and all-stars—returned home with the bronze medal after losing to Puerto Rico, Lithuania, and Argentina. Going into 2004 the United States basketball team had lost only one game in the history of modern Olympics. Remember when America sent only NCAA stars to the Olympics? And they dominated the competition! Then once they were challenged we sent our NBA stars; who once again, dominated the competition. Now our NBA stars are being successfully challenged and—though it’s hard to accept—beaten.

Believe it or not our NBA All-Stars were beaten by technology. Coaches in other countries can download our coaching methods off the web, watch our games on TV, and study ESPN’s highlight reel. In other words, they studied us so that they could beat us. And guess what? It worked.

Even so, when considering the leveled playing field created by technology Olympic basketball is important only as a metaphor. It symbolizes something much bigger and much more serious: America has failed to sufficiently invest in our future by neglecting to prepare our young people for the race ahead.

The crisis is happening on many different fronts, yet this post focuses on what I call the Career Choice Gap. American young people nowadays would rather be movie actors than scientists, pop stars rather than engineers. The generation of scientists and engineers who were motivated by the threat of Sputnik in 1957 and by the inspiration of John F. Kennedy are reaching the age of retirement and are not being adequately replaced.

An analysis of NASA records conducted by the newspaper Florida Today (March 7, 2004), showed that nearly 40 percent of the 18,146 people working for NASA are age fifty or older and 22% are fifty-five or older. Most astonishingly NASA employees over sixty outnumber employees under thirty by a ratio of nearly three to one! Only four percent of NASA workers are under thirty years old.

The National Science Board (NSB) reports that the number of American eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds who received science degrees has fallen to seventeenth in the world, even though we ranked third 30 years ago. Furthermore, the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showed that American twelfth graders finished 15th out of sixteen countries in advanced mathematics and dead last out of sixteen countries in advanced science.

Don’t think for a moment that the up-and-coming world is sitting still. Of the 2.8 million bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering granted worldwide in 2003, 1.2 million were earned by Asian students in Asian universities. Only 400,000 were granted in the United States. Shirley Ann Jackson, the 2004 president of the American Association for Advancement of Science explains, “the proportional emphasis on science and engineering is greater in other nations.”

Science and engineering degrees now represent 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned in China but only 31 percent in the United States. When you factor out science degrees the figures are even further removed; 46 percent of Chinese students graduate with engineering degrees vs. 5 percent of American students.

According to Friedman “these shortages could not be happening at a worse time—just when the world is going flat.” According to the NSB “the number of jobs requiring science and engineering skills in the U.S. labor force is growing almost 5 percent per year.” In comparison the labor force as a whole is growing just over 1 percent annually.

The world is speeding up and America—specifically the next generation—is falling behind. Blame could be placed on our parents but accomplishes nothing. Chinese young people are motivated and ambitious. I cannot stress enough that young Chinese and Indians are racing us to the top. They don’t want to work for us. Heck, they don’t even want to be like us. They want to dominate us. They are not content where they are and they're studying us carefully in order to beat us. And guess what? It’s working.

A Chinese-American who works for Microsoft accompanied Bill Gates on his visits to China. He said that Gates is recognized everywhere he goes in China. Young people hang from the rafters and scalp tickets just to hear him speak. Same with Jerry Lang, the founder of Yahoo!

Contrast this obsession with the American youth culture’s preoccupation with Hollywood stars, hip-hop and pop artists, and reality TV shows such as American Idol. Our preoccupation with the “New American Dream”—namely getting rich by entertaining (sports star, movie star, pop star, etc.) has caused us to ignore traditional, foundational, and critical professions. Mr. Friedman, whose book supplied the quotations and statistics I’ve cited closes the issue:
In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears—and that's our problem.

In Christ, Brett Harris


Continue Series with Part Three: World Champions of Triviality

8/26/2005

The World Is Flat (Part 1): Competition On Our Plateau

The world is flat. Do you know what that means? It means that this generation of young Americans is facing challenges and opportunities that were never faced by our parents or our grandparents. Metaphorically, it means that Hispanic Pedro Sanchez can run for high school president against All-American Summer Wheatley, and win, even without Napoleon Dynamite’s amazing dance skills and sweet moon boots. You know why? Because when Thomas L. Friedman titled his book "The World Is Flat." he meant to say that America no longer holds a vice-grip on greatness, and now “lesser” countries that are working harder and faster can and will pass America up, and he was right.

The convergence of technology and events over the past several decades have allowed India and China—as well as many other countries—to become major players in the global supply chain of services and manufacturing. In other words, the playing field is being leveled. There are a few new “big kids” on the block.

Most importantly, as Mr. Friedman puts it, this whole phenomenon has taken place “while we were sleeping.” We might all recognize the “Made in China” label on the cheap toys accompanying McDonald’s Happy Meals, and on that yellow silicone bracelet we’re wearing, but we probably missed it on the consumer electronics, eyeglass frames, auto parts, computer screens, and mobile phones we use daily.

Though many of us have recognized the thinly veiled Indian accent of the young man walking us through our computer glitch, not many of us know that this Microsoft employee is actually working from a cubicle in Bangalore, India. As a matter of fact, there’s a good chance that if you were to dial the customer service number for a product from Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Wal-Mart, Texas Instruments, etc. etc. etc. you would end up talking to someone working the swing shift on the other side of the world and keeping awake with a good strong cup of Chai tea. (On a side note Chai tea actually makes me feel sleepy, but I’m sure the experienced swing-shift operators in India make it work somehow.)

You see technology has multiplied the possibilities for international collaboration. Call center operators and assembly line workers can be hired, paid, and put to work wherever it is cheapest and most efficient to do so. Doctors can scan handwritten medical reports, diagnoses, and prescriptions at night before heading home and receive them back the next morning as transferable digital files, carefully transcribed by workers in India, and peer reviewed; most likely from doctors in India or Australia who operate in the opposite day/night time zone.

This means that China, India, Australia, etc. are gaining the ability to do work that they wouldn’t have been able to do 10 years ago! Why the change? Technology. Fiber optic cables run to the far corners of the earth, carrying anything that can be digitized (and you’d be surprised by how much that is), as countries that were far behind us just a few years ago, pick themselves up by feeding on the scraps from our table. They do our manufacturing, they man our call centers, and they wait their turn.

For now many of them seem to accept the old order; namely, that the United States paves the way and then everyone else follows. But others seem ill content to remain inferior. As one Chinese businessman put it, “First we were scared of the wolf, then we wanted to dance with the wolf, and now we want to be the wolf.”

Unfortunately, the average American is only just becoming aware of the significance of these developments, while my generation—which has the most to gain or lose from all that takes place—is either completely ignorant or completely apathetic.

Nevertheless, these countries have been pushing themselves to compete with the US and have now been granted the technology to stand on our plateau. The question is, “are we ready for them?”

Continue Series with Part Two: America's Career Choice Gap

Learning From The Past: A Change In Plans

I'm sorry for the short break between posting. I'm currently helping my older brother move and have had little time on the computer. Despite these difficulties I hope to be getting a post up no later than tomorrow morning.

With that said, I want to announce a slight change in direction. I started out this blog with my "The World Is Flat" series. These posts were intended to inform my generation of the changes occuring in the world around them and were foundational to anything I planned to say later on. Unfortunately, I wasn't getting much traffic during that series and much of that foundational material has found its way into the archives, away from all but the most dedicated reader.

It has also come to my attention that my original "The World Is Flat" series lacked the organization and direction I would normally demand of myself. For these reasons, and more, I am pleased to announce that I will be returning to the issues addressed in the original series (with a few interesting additions) in an effort to inform the new readers that are finding their way to my blog due to recent and upcoming publicity. The posts will be re-written, re-organize, and re-infused with pertinent information and tips for immediate action.

We will return to our current series on the cry for Character, Competence, and Collaboration, once the foundational material has been firmly established in the minds of my current and future readers. Thanks for understanding.

In Christ, Brett Harris

8/25/2005

A Guest Post by Our Father

In the comments section of The Myth of Adolescence (Part 2), fellow blogger Jan (The Happy Homemaker) requested that I share about the environment in which Brett and I were raised. There are few better ways to accomplish this end than to share the following article by my father, Gregg Harris. Originally published in TABLETALK magazine in August of 1999, these words capture the heart of my father's approach to raising his children. Long a reformer, my father was a leading member of the home-school movement, and has more recently turned his focus to the reformation of the church. He currently serves as a teaching elder of Household of Faith Community Church. The church was planted in our family's living room in August of 1998, when Brett and I were 9 years old. Besides his study, writing, and teaching, my father still occasionally travels and speaks around the country, and is actively involved in the raising and instructing of his remaining (at home) 5 children. Serving as Brett's and my manager, advisor, and visionary, our father is our hero. Now, without further ado, I present my dad:

Priceless Treasures: My Reasons for Home Schooling
by Gregg Harris

C.S. LEWIS ONCE OBSERVED that God is not so much offended that we want too much as by the fact that we are satisfied with so little. Though He offers us the highest of adventures in our Christian life, we settle for the stale mediocrity of our lukewarm religious routines.

The parental counterpart to this idea is that most mothers and fathers actually want too little for their children - they settle for success in this world's terms. But God would have us aim higher, not like an ambitious stage mother pushing her mildly talented children into the spotlight, but like a fine jeweler making the best possible use of each bit of gold, silver, and precious stone he has. My children are priceless treasures, and I want God's highest and best for them.

What does it mean to aim high in this way? What am I really trying to accomplish in the education of my children?

Is it enough that they read well? No, not for me. I want them to commune with great authors from throughout the ages and be able to comprehend the profound ideas and truths that God has used to change the course of history. Let them be voracious readers of truly great literature.

Do I want my sons and daughters only to write and spell correctly? No, I want them to correspond with fellow enthusiasts in their chosen areas of endeavor. If they have the gifting, let them eventually author intelligent, superbly written works concerning the important issues of their day. Let them be prolific writers, whether privately or publicly

Do I want them merely to know enough history to pass a written test? No, I want them to understand the times in which they live and to be able to pass the real tests of life they will face in voting booths and on battlefields. Let them be like the sons of Issachar ("who had understanding of the times," 1 Chron. 12:32) in the unfolding dramas of future events.

But education is so much more than mere academics. It is primarily matter of character development. Self-discipline may be out of style, but it is never out of work. Do I want my children simply to be nice, well-behaved, and safe from peer pressure? Not at all! Aslan, in Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, is not a tame lion, but he is good. I prefer my children to be like that - good but not tame, men and women of integrity, not conformity. Let them be so influential and contagious in their faith that they turn the hearts of their companions toward God. Let the world grieve that its best and brightest have become Christians.

What about marriage and children? Are these things only a matter of personal comfort and enjoyment? Is a lifelong marriage aiming too high? Is the average number of 1.5 children per family enough? No, I want each of my sons and daughters to have a marriage and a family like that of Jonathan Edwards - enduring, large in number, and deeply devoted to God. Let each future household be devoted as a team for ministry as an effective embassy of the kingdom of God.

On an economic note, will it be enough if my children manage someday to find good jobs, regardless of how restrictive and disruptive their work schedules may be? No, I would like to see my adult sons provide for their wives and children through family business ownership and entrepreneurial stewardship. Contrary to the best efforts of the ACLU, there are still millions of public school students praying secretly to find decent jobs someday. Why not prepare our homeschool students to hire them?

Ultimately, neither academics, nor character, nor a strong marriage, nor a large family, nor financial freedom will matter if my children are still dead in sin and alienated from the promises of God. God help me never to raise up "civil men, lost in sin," as the Puritans would call them. Salvation in Christ is more than merely foundational. It is everything.

Deep within the secret counsels of God's sovereign decretive will lies the very real responsibility I bear as a father to train up my children in the way that they should go (Prov. 22:6). Only God can save my children. Will He do so? The very fact I care at all for the salvation of my children is good evidence that God is already at work on their behalf. Our God is a covenant-keeping God and His sovereign election is the norm, not the exception, when parents respond in faithful obedience to His Word.

As I read the biographies of great men and women, I notice that godly parents often do make a difference. "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." Our sovereign God, working by concurrence through His created order of parents training their children and children obeying their parents, has ordained that special instruments of His grace will be forged on the anvil of a mother or father's heart. If I am both wise and diligent in my child training, it may be evidence that something extraordinary is brewing in the heavenlies - perhaps my children will be special gifts to Christ's church in their generation.

But if, like Eli of old, I am passive and negligent in this matter, it bodes eternal ill for me and my children. Insight is not action. Knowing is not the same as doing. Faith without works is dead. Think about it. Taking the easier path of conventional schooling is by any measure taking unnecessary chances with the souls of my children. Willfully sending them off to an institution that denies my authority, where the dominant social life is ungodly, where God is not feared and His Word not taught, where I cannot protect my children from falling into dangerous activities that could ruin a young life in one casual act of foolishness, where I cannot even vouch for the moral character of the teachers and administrators, seems to me an odd way of being diligent. The spirit of Eli is upon our nation and our churches as we rationalize with all our rational lies. That is why I ask God for grace to understand and obey Him in all of my obligations. Then, strong in the grace of God, I exert myself to do what He has commanded, even when it is not easy.

But salvation must lead to sanctification, and as a father I have a part to play in that as well. It is not enough that my children confess faith in Christ and go to church. Luke-warmness will not do. I want to see the fire of passion for the presence of God safely burning in the doctrinal fire place of each child's Reformed faith. A perpetual state of spiritual childhood, or even of spiritual adolescence, is not acceptable to God. Why should it be acceptable to me? I want my children to grow up to full maturity in Christ. I want them to bear the fruit of the Spirit and one day be qualified to serve as elders and deacons in a strong local church, with the courage and faith to roll up their sleeves and plant that church themselves if they have to.

To those who ask, "But what about socialization?" I can only weep. Socialization has always been a double-edged sword; it cuts both ways. "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm" (Prov. 13:20, NASB). What my wife and I are doing in our home school is positive, biblical socialization that makes our children become wise. My children walk with me, and though I definitely have a long way yet to go, I try to be an acceptable companion to my children.

Most of our modem school-based socialization is of the foolish, harmful sort. Pooled ignorance leads to poor taste in clothing, music, films, and TV - the kind of people who read the grocery store tabloids and believe them. But the harm is far more than cultural. Disinterest in school, disrespect for teachers, rapacious dating, promiscuity, substance abuse, and gang violence also come in waves-- pounding waves of youth culture that erode moral standards. Even a small population of these poor creatures requires that high schools be run like youth prisons.

Good socialization is primarily age-integrated. It occurs when the young are included in the lives of older and wiser people, especially parents and other family members at home and the spiritual family of one's local church. Walking with the wise is a lifestyle, not a program. It is a club of fellow enthusiasts, not a class of uninterested age-mates. It includes working together, eating together, playing together, worshiping together, and studying together, This is where God placed the responsibility for child training and education, and it works very well in aiming children at God's highest and best targets in every area of life.

That is what I want for my children - God's highest and best - and that is my purpose in homeschooling them. Forgive what may seem my audacity, but I don't want my children to be merely counted among the Reformed. I want them to stand with the Reformers.

8/24/2005

A Definition of 'Sin'

What is sin? This was the question posed by young collegian John Wesley in a letter addressed to his mother. Wesley’s goal was to get a clear, cut-and-dried formula for what comprised "sin." After all, such technical definitions are easy to get around; stretched and bent for the allowance of things that our consciences (except when mollified by sinful rationalization) could never justify.

Wesley woefully underestimated his mother. The response given by this wise and godly woman was far different from what he expected... And it changed his life:

“Would you judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of pleasure, of the innocence or malignity of actions? Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind; that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”

8/23/2005

When Is Enough, Enough? The Time Is Now!

Nathan Winslow, a young man at my church, shared this word at the open mike days before he left for college. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a recording of it so that I can reproduce it in its entirety for you. Be challenged.

In Christ, Brett Harris
Hebrews 11--I’m gonna cry. I’ll tell you that now--it speaks of men of faith, and it says in Chapter 11 verses 13-16 “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed they were strangers and exiles on the Earth. For those who say such things make clear they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed, if they were thinking of the country from which they went out, they would have had the opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

I have a challenge for my generation: When is enough, enough? We’ve grown in the faith of our parents and many have made it our own. But we are not called to merely make it our own. We are called to live and die for a country that no one has ever known. We are called to put off the ways of this world. And the time is now.

I believe it is Isaiah who says “seek the Lord while He may be found.” He may be found now. Do not be comfortable being with your Christian friends; and knowing you love the Lord but not earnestly pushing each other to know Him, and to live for Him, in new ways.

We don’t have the time to waste to be petty, to exalt ourselves and to be prideful because we don’t want to humble ourselves. I desire for us to step up and to be bold, not even bold as our parents were, but to be bold in new ways--to stand on their shoulders! To be people who will humble themselves and pray.

I’m leaving for college in eight nine days or so. I’ve already contacted some of the people there that I’ve gotten to know, that I can identify as men of God. And I’ve emailed them telling them that enough is enough in my life. I’m not gonna waste another year of my life being petty, pursuing the things of this world, valuing material things, and not be willing to step forward in faith and be bold and preach the name of God. We are called to that, and we must realize that now!

Time is passing we are a vapor, we are a sand slipping away. And we cannot let another day pass before we get people around us and tell them that we want to take the time to make God our all. To be willing to tell our friends things that may cost us, may cost them, because it’s for the kingdom of God.

When is enough? The time is now!

8/22/2005

Character (Part 4): Choosing The Bible And The Bullet

Read this story. It could change your life.

The Communist soldiers had discovered their illegal Bible study.

As the pastor was reading from the Bible, men with guns suddenly broke into the home, terrorizing the believers who had gathered there to worship. The Communists shouted insults and threatened to kill the Christians. The leading officer pointed his gun at the pastor’s head. “Hand me your Bible,” he demanded. Reluctantly, the pastor handed over his Bible, his prized possession. With a sneer on his face, the guard threw the Word of God on the floor at his feet.

He glared at the small congregation. “We will let you go, “ he growled, “but first, you must spit on this book of lies. Anyone who refuses will be shot.” The believers had no choice but to obey the officer’s order. A soldier pointed his gun at one of the men. “You first.”

The man slowly got up and knelt down by the Bible. Reluctantly, he spit on it, praying, “Father, please forgive me.” He stood up and walked to the door. The soldiers stood back and allowed him to leave. “Okay, you!” the soldier said, nudging a woman forward. In tears, she could barely do what the soldier demanded. She spit only a little, but it is enough. She too was allowed to leave.

Quietly, a sixteen-year-old girl came forward. Overcome with love for her Lord, she knelt down and picked up the Bible. She wiped off the spit with her dress. “What have they done to Your Word? Please forgive them,” she prayed.

The Communist soldier put his pistol to her head. Then he pulled the trigger.


~ Jesus Freaks, by dc Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs ~
I have a question for you: was this girl’s sacrifice worth it? I mean, it’s one thing to lay your life down for a family member or friend or instead of denying Christ, but all she was asked to do was spit on the Bible for goodness sake! If I were in her shoes, with Communist soldier’s invading my Bible study, I’d be praising God that they came up with such an insignificant requirement! I don’t intend to be crude, but if you’ve ever sneezed or coughed when you were doing devotions, you’ve probably already gotten spittle on there. So what’s the big deal?

If you are inclined to agree with the last paragraph, I beg you to realize that her decision was one of extraordinary significance. She chose the precious Word of God over her own comfort and safety; a decision you and I make every single day, but almost always in the opposite direction.

Her sacrifice was worth it because it symbolized something much greater than simply a leather-bound Bible and a quarter-teaspoon of spit. It was a choice between her earthly home and her Heavenly Home, between her persecutor’s threats and her Savior’s promises. She had nothing to lose and everything to gain by choosing God’s Word over earthly comfort. Are we ready to make the same choice?

The answer is that we do make that choice, and we almost always choose comfort. We choose to “spit” on rather than sit under the perfect instruction of Scripture. You and I are constantly “spitting” on the Holy Word of God when we aren’t willing to sacrifice our meaningless comforts for some truly meaningful guidance. And I don’t care if that offends somebody. We offend God, my friends.

A sixteen-year-old girl in Asia laid down her life rather than neglect God’s Word. Are you willing to lay down your magazine? Pray to God that He will grant you the grace to be faithful to His Word. Because, honestly, most of us are too weak to shut-off our computer in order to have some distraction-free devotional time. It won’t get easier till we work harder.

You could say the Bible is “Chicken Soup for the Christian’s Soul.” It feeds our spiritual well-being and our strength of character. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word.” (Psa. 119:9) We will leave our souls starved and our character unguarded if we fail to make the Bible top priority.

Do you want to impact this world for Christ? Do you want to be a Godly young man or woman? Sidney Howard said, “One-half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” What are you willing to sacrifice? When will you stop offending God by neglecting one of His primary means of grace in your life, His written Word?

Do not let the opinions of your friends or the customs of your family get in the way. Make the change today.

Start asking yourself the questions, "What does priority mean to me?" "What does it look like when something is top priority in my life?" "What does neglect look like?" "What other means of grace am I neglecting?" and most importantly, "What does the Bible have to say about all this?" Start with Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:1-2. Ask yourself, "What are these verses saying? What do they mean for me?"

Was that girl’s sacrifice worth it? You can bet the world it was.

In Christ, Brett Harris

8/21/2005

You Read It Right: Complete Blog Commenting Guidelines

For the purpose of facilitating logical and respectful argumentation and discussion, the lovely Dawn Eden of The Dawn Patrol commissioned us (Alex and me) to write out the complete blog commenting guidelines. We are now pleased to present:

Commenting for "Newbies"
(A "Reminder" for the Rest of Us)
About the Authors: Alex & Brett Harris have competed for four years in high school speech & debate, including policy and value debate, persuasive platform speaking, limited preparation categories, and even interpretative events. Over the past two years they have combined for 5 national titles, making it into final rounds over 18 times. They have been contributing authors to several debate sourcebooks and have coached high school speech and debate clubs in Oregon, Washington, and Maryland. They currently co-author the blog The Rebelution.
You Have Entered “The Comment Zone”
It is crucial to a vibrant and healthy comment section for participants to understand the purpose of discussion, and to possess a proper respect for their fellow contributors. Whether you maintain your own blog, comment on other blogger’s posts, or both, you have most likely been frustrated by the lack of proper argumentation and the seeming epidemic of disrespect, primarily among your opponents (Insight #1: They feel the same way towards you).

The truth is that we all can use a helpful reminder every so often as to how we should conduct ourselves in the high-intensity role of “the commentator’s commenter.”

For that reason we present, “Commenting For ‘Newbies’ (A ‘Reminder’ For The Rest of Us),” as an invaluable resource for bloggers and their readers; an aide-mémoire, if you will. Yes, logic, evidence, and respect still exist and can be realized—even in your comment section.

The Purpose of Argumentation
Critical to proper argumentation is an understanding of why we argue; we argue in hopes of persuading dissenting opinions to conform to our own. If we disagree, it is because we think we are right and others are wrong. We take the time to discuss our disagreements in hopes of proving the validity of our views. It is frustrating, therefore, when we find ourselves perpetually clashing with our opponents, while making seemingly no headway towards our goal of changing their minds.

In fact, at times it can feel as if, were we to publicly claim that rabbits exist, our opponents would deny it; even if one hopped up, said, “What’s up, Doc?” and starting burrowing into their heads. How do we get past these confounding doldrums and arrive at a place from which the discussion can progress in an intelligent manner?

Here are three steps to improve your skills of argumentation:
Step One: Remember that your opponents have come to their conclusions using more or less the same rational process you have. The difference is not necessarily their intellect, but rather the information they had at their disposal and the values they hold.

Step Two: Understand that this means your opponent feels just as confident about the accuracy of his or her position as you do about yours, and will only be persuaded otherwise if you prove that their information or values are out of line.

Step Three: Realize that successful argumentation will only take place when you make it your goal to inform and persuade, by supplying additional bits (or chunks) of information and by addressing the values behind your opponent’s conclusions.
8 Principles For Logical & Respectful Discussion

The key to respectful, profitable argumentation is to respect others and to be respected. You respect others by acting civilly and arguing reasonably. You cause others to respect you by not acting like a fool in your manner or in your argumentation. Here are eight principles that allow you to do both:

NUMBER ONE: Understand the ‘classical’ view of tolerance.
The classical view of tolerance lends itself much more readily to intelligent argumentation than does the modern view. It teaches that, while we may strongly disagree with dissenting opinions, we still treat the person behind those opinions with respect.
DO feel free to disagree, even strongly, with other people, and say so!
DO feel free to permanently demolish opposing viewpoints. (Good luck!)
DO NOT attempt to demolish opposing “people.”
NUMBER TWO: “No ‘ad hominem’ attacks, you moron!”
Nothing more quickly degenerates a discussion than when people start attacking those making the arguments rather than refuting the arguments themselves. Remember that the character, circumstances, or political ideology of the person has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the proposition being defended.
DO NOT stoop to name-calling (moron, idiot, etc.)
DO NOT imply negative monikers onto people simply because they disagree. (i.e. “Anyone who’s even slightly intelligent will believe that cows are people too.”)
NUMBER THREE: Eschew Obscenity & Prohibit Profanity
The use of inappropriate language and shocking statements is a sure sign that the author lacks the ability to communicate their position in a calm and reasonable manner. It shows tremendous disdain for others and will not be allowed on respectable blogs.
DO NOT be upset when your comment is deleted for inappropriate language.
DO NOT be upset when you IP address is banned for multiple offenses.
NUMBER FOUR: He who asserts must prove.
This is one of the most critical aspects of proper argumentation and requires that you carefully guard yourself from making groundless statements. Every proposition should be supported by either logic or evidence.

Logic includes everything from complex syllogisms to plain ol’ cause-and-effect. Evidence can take the form of examples, statistics, and/or quotations from authorities in the field. Supported arguments stand until refuted. Unsupported arguments do not deserve a response and might as well not exist.
DO feel free to confirm other people’s points without providing additional support.
DO NOT make additional arguments or publicize your disagreement with someone else’s position without providing adequate support.
NUMBER FIVE: Respond to the argument, not to the spelling.
There is no surer sign of inadequacy on the part of a debater than when they take issue with some small “error” on the part of their opponent, while ignoring the main point/s their adversary is trying to make.

If you are unable to refute your opponent’s position, don’t insult his or her spelling, grammar, or insignificant deviations from fact. Your opponent is most likely correct, and their small errors have nothing to do with the overall truth or falsity of the proposition they defend. Don’t make a fool of yourself by being a sore loser.
DO feel free to point out significant errors that impact the validity of a claim.
DO NOT point out errors solely for the purpose of embarrassing your opponent.
NUMBER SIX: Debating When Less Is More.
A common tactic adopted by inexperienced debaters is to ask a long series of questions that place an enormous burden on their opposition, without actually making any particular point. Such an approach is not only unfair to your opponent, but it really isn’t argumentation at all. These kinds of “question avalanches” can hardly be responded to in the confines of a comment section, but will often foster animosity.

The same is true of those with too much time on their hands (or a gift for speed writing) who present far too many arguments at one time in hopes of “burying” their opponent under the supposed “empirical” weight. Both of these abuses inhibit true argumentation and inevitably degrade the quality of a discussion. Respect yourself and your opponents at all times by using moderation in your argumentation and questioning.
DO feel free to ask pertinent and probing questions about your opponent’s position.
DO NOT expect answers for loaded questions.
DO NOT ask loaded questions.
DO feel free to make powerful and relevant arguments against your opponent’s position.
DO NOT expect answers to your 5 page tome.
DO NOT write 5 page tomes.
NUMBER SEVEN: Do your own research.
Remember that your opponents are busy people who are taking time out of their day to discuss relevant issues with you. Do not place an excessive burden on them by requiring them to go “off-site” to read lengthy articles or study ancient philosophers, scientists, etc. If Aristotle makes “your” point then “you” should be able to make the argument. Your opponent certainly will not (and shouldn’t have to) make it for you.
DO feel free to provide links to outside sources for your opponent’s consideration.
DO NOT expect your opponent to read them unless you make them want to. (i.e. “If you go read Maxwell’s five-foot bookshelf, then you’d agree with me!” never works)
DO feel free to support your arguments with outside resources. Just make sure you summarize what the resource says. Otherwise your opponents will consider your argument unsupported until they go read/see the support. Which they most likely never will.
NUMBER EIGHT: The fallacy of the majority.
When the majority of participants in a discussion hold your position, it is common to start acting as if the last seven principles no longer apply to you. You feel you can destroy the dissenter, along with their position, since you have so many like-minded chums. However, the majority has no more right to silence the opinion of a minority through disrespectful, improper argumentation, than the minority would have, if it were able, to silence the opinion of the majority using the same methods. Victory by means of respectful, logical argumentation is true victory. Victory by any other means is no victory at all.
DO feel free to destroy dissenting opinions using respectful, logical argumentation.
DO NOT silence dissenting opinions by majority “piranha attacks.”


NOTE: Provided that proper credit is given to my twin and me, the preceding guidelines are freely available for use by any bloggers wishing to do so. May they serve you well. Soli deo gloria!

The Washington Examiner Lambasts "Superhero for Choice" Cartoon

As recently announced on 'The Dawn Patrol', our efforts to alert the media regarding Planned Parenthood's "Superhero for Choice" cartoon have resulted in an unexpected editorial in The Washington Examiner.

In the editorial, entitled "Planned Parenthood Takes Low Road," PPGG is taken to task for its film depicting violence against pro-lifers.

The Examiner's editors write:

Apparently, the lesson to be learned [from "A Superhero for Choice"] is that abortions are OK, especially if it means less welfare payments later. The animation ends on the high note of referring to the Rev. Jerry Falwell as a "schmuck."

The video is a shameful and disrespectful take on the very sensitive issue of abortion and reproductive rights, where good, reasonable people disagree for good and reasonable reasons. By taking the low road and appealing to the lowest - and juvenile - common denominator, Planned Parenthood demeans its opponents and, even more, its supporters.
As Dawn points out, the fact that this is a Washington, D.C., paper is particularly exciting, because it will most likely be read by those on Capitol Hill.

If you have not seen the film, please visit my detailed synopsis, which includes a comprehensive list of links of where the video and transcripts are hosted.

As promised, here is the screenshot of "A Superhero for Choice" as featured on PPGG's Web page before being removed by the organization several days ago (without comment or apology).

Myth of Adolescence (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote of the great elephants of India, who, although they have the physical capacity to uproot trees during the day, can be restrained all night long by a piece of twine and a twig. How is this possible?

The elephant’s training begins when it is still young and considerably less powerful. Removed from its mother, the elephant is then shackled with an iron chain to a large tree. For days and weeks on end, the baby elephant strains against its restraints, only to find that all exertion is useless. Then slowly, over a period of several weeks, sometimes months, smaller chains and smaller trees are used. Eventually, you can use a piece of twine and a small branch, and the great beast will not budge. Its mind is fully committed to the idea that it cannot go anywhere when there is something around its right hind leg.

And so I ask my generation, individually and corporately, “What is holding us back?” History demonstrates that we are far more capable than we think we are. Our failure to realize substantial achievement at early ages is due, not to any innate inadequacies on our part, but rather to our social conditioning. American society, with its media-saturated youth culture, not only follows trends and fads, but it creates them. Classrooms, TV shows, magazines, and websites, are not only addressing us at the level of social expectations, but they are in fact dictating those expectations. They tell us how to act, think, and talk; they tell us what to wear, what to buy, and where to buy it; they tell us what to dream, what to value, and what to hate. We are being squeezed into a mold where there is no room for Christian character or competence. And as the famous proverb goes, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

In what could be considered the most maddening aspect of this crisis, not all areas of maturity are being stunted. In a powerful demonstration of teenagers’ ability to meet the expectations set before them, we witness young people today reaching unprecedented levels of technological proficiency and sexual experience. It is ironic that many teenagers, while fluent in multiple computer languages, are not expected to carry on an intelligent conversation with an adult. It is heartbreaking that so many young girls, while constantly pressed to become more and more sexually alluring, are not expected to attain any notable level of character beneath the surface.

Our world cannot last another generation of Christian young people who fit in. The shackles of society are on our minds and hearts, not our ankles. We are held back only by the myth of adolescence and the lies of social expectations. If we would only recognize that our restraints are illusory, and then let God’s Word and all of history govern our sense of what we are capable of, we would be a force this world could no longer ignore.

We face a crisis and an opportunity. A crisis, in the sense that we can no longer afford to slowly drift towards adulthood, viewing the teen years as a vacation from responsibility, and an opportunity, in the sense that we can embrace life now and make a difference for the glory of God, and for the good our family, our nation, and our world. Look down at your “ankle” and see the pathetic contrivance that has been restraining you. Now renew your mind in the light of God’s Word and take a step forward.

[Continue to My iPod Is My Best Friend.]

8/19/2005

Character (Part 3): Rebelutionary, Meet Your Commander N' Chief

How do we strengthen our character? What methods should we utilize in order to be men and women of integrity? There are few answers as fitting as this: become acquainted with Jesus Christ.

It is wonderful for us to understand and embrace doctrines of faith, grace, justification, and sanctification. They all provide strength to resist sin and a steady arm to help us back up when we fall. But it is much, much better to be familiar with Jesus Christ Himself, to see His face, and to catch a glimpse of His splendor. This, according the J.C. Ryle, “is one secret of eminent holiness.” If we wish to become stronger in resisting sin, what better way than to study Him “who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15)?

Here we are, lacking in strength, courage, and patience. Lacking the power to stand, to move forward, and to make a difference in our evil world. We find it so easy to conform to this world and so very difficult to go against the flow. We seem to fall back two steps for every one step we take forward and all our “firm” resolutions turn out short-lived and useless.

This is the beauty of Christ’s sufficiency! In Christ alone “all fullness dwells” (Col. 1:19)—in Him alone do we find all that we need to successfully combat sin. We are strong Christians only in proportion as we lean on Him. It is only when we stop hoping in our own strength and place all our confidence in Christ that we will accomplish great things.

To know Christ and the power of His resurrection is the true secret of spiritual strength. Then only are we armed for life’s battles. Then only are we ready to journey through life, and move forward. Then only will we overcome the world and cause change. “I can do all things,” says Paul, “through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Our own weakness highlights the power of Christ to strengthen our will! He promises “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) Let us, as the Apostle Paul did, boast all the more gladly in our weaknesses so that the power of Christ might rest on us.

With this in mind what better way is there to fortify our character than to dwell on Jesus Christ? Yet how do we do that? Here are two ways:

1.) Read the Gospels: It would be so beneficial if Christians studied the four Gospels more than they do. Of course, all Scripture is profitable (2 Tim. 3:16), and I don’t mean to esteem the Gospels at the expense of other sections of Scripture. But it would be good for those who are very familiar with the Epistles to become more acquainted with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Why do I say this? Simply, because the Gospels were written that we might familiarize ourselves with Christ. Think about it for a minute, the Holy Spirit has told and retold the story of His life and death, the things that He said and the things that He did, four times over. Four different witnesses have drawn a picture of our Savior and our Helper. Four different inspired hands have communicated to us His ways, His manners, His feelings, His grace, His patience, His wisdom, His love, and His power. How can we ignore such an open invitation to study and internalize these attributes and qualities?

2.) Talk With Him: How many of us wonder that our relationship with Christ isn’t strong when we neglect to invest the time and effort necessary to any friendship? I would challenge you, pick your closest human friend and then imagine what would happen if you invested the same amount of time and effort into that relationship as you do in your relationship with Christ. Would you be just as close? Closer? Or would you barely see each other, barely talk to each other, and barely care that you weren’t? Think of it this way: closeness with Christ will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from getting close to Christ. You decide.

I would encourage you, don't hesitate to run to Christ this day. He is “a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24), who understands your weaknesses and turns them into strengths. We must be consumed with Christ or we will be consumed with this world and by this world.

J.C. Ryle, “Holiness”

“Ought not the patient to be familiar with the Physician? Ought not the bride to be familiar with the Bridegroom? Ought not the sinner to be familiar with the Savior? Beyond doubt it ought to be so. Surely we cannot know this Christ too well! Surely there is not a word, nor a deed, nor a day, nor a step, nor a thought in the record of His life, which ought not to be precious to us.”

In Christ, Brett Harris

Note: I have kidnapped J.C. Ryle. By force I took him as my co-author, and together we wrote this post. I cannot more heartily recommend his writings—especially “Thoughts For Young Men” and “Holiness.” Furthermore, I’m probably not going to release him until we finish this section on Character. Finally, if you see Kris Lundgaard, author of “The Enemy Within,” please warn him that I plan to kidnap him as well. Ransom notes will be coming soon.

Empirical Proof: Operation Lars

UPDATE (3:30 PM, PST): I (Alex) just got off the air with Lars for the second time today. When confronted with additional evidence, he gave me a somewhat broader explanation than what I received earlier. He said that he and his people looked into the cartoon when it first came out and called Planned Parenthood, who denied any knowledge of the film. He then admitted that the cartoon has been traced back to the Golden Gate affiliate, but that he didn't think it was that big of a deal. That struck me as odd, because earlier he said that he would definitely "take Planned Parenthood to task" if they were behind it. Unfortunately, people like Lars don't feel that such a news item is worthy of their time... Despite the fact that PPGG gets 53% of its funding from taxes and that a similar cartoon by a pro-life group would spark uproar and lawsuits. Larson is someone I respect and admire, but I am disappointed.


Announcing Operation Lars, a project aimed at alerting conservative men and women of influence, like talk show host Lars Larson, who (by no fault of their own) have been fed misinformation by those sympathetic to Planned Parenthood's agenda.

Empirical Proof:

1.) As of now, Plannned Parenthood Golden Gate still hosts the cartoon on their server, though the link and image from their main page has been removed. Dawn Eden, who originally broke the story, has screenshots of the home page (as it was just a few days ago) on her computer. They should be available for posting soon. If the cartoon was really created by a third-party and uploaded via "hacking" or an "inside" job, wouldn't Planned Parenthood have removed the cartoon immediately and issued a statement of explanation?

2.) Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's annual report includes multiple images of characters found in the cartoon, including title character Dianysus. These are Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's characters... The art is identical to that found in the film.

ATTENTION: This post will be updated throughout the day as evidence comes in.

Technical Difficulties: Overcoming The World

Hey Guys, I'm really sorry that I didn't get a post up yesterday. My computer is experiencing technical difficulties. I'm hoping to get things fixed in time to post tonight. Feel free to point out how ironic it is that technology is failing me as I attempt to communicate the tremendous possibilities and challenges it offers. Actually, it's quite funny.

In the meantime, I would encourage those of you who haven't yet read my "The World Is Flat" series, to do so. Not only do I address issues that are extremely relevant to our generation, but I also set the stage for our current series.

The World Is Flat:

Part 1: Competition On Our Plateau

Part 2: Ready Or Not, Here China Comes!

Part 3: The Crisis Facing America's Youth

Part 4: America IS History (Leaving Behind Our Heritage)

Part 5: The Scam of Higher Test Scores

Part 6: What I'm NOT Saying, And What I Am

Misconception #3: IT'S ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE

In Christ, Brett Harris

Planned Parenthood Spreading Lies?

I (Alex) just got off the phone with Lars Larson. He said he had heard about the "Superhero for Choice" cartoon, but that his understanding was that it was made by a third-party and then attributed to Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. I have no idea where he got that from. If that was true, you would expect that PPGG would have removed the snapshot image from its front page last week when the story broke and released a statement denouncing the film and explaining that someone had hacked their server. Conveniently, the snapshot image is gone now. I'm kicking myself for not taking a screenshot. If anyone did, please let me know.

Lars said that if Planned Parenthood was really behind this, he'd take them to task for it. Conveniently for them, he's heard things that neither Dawn nor I (nor anyone else in the blogosphere) have heard... Things which don't line up with the facts, but effectively keep him from using his national radio show to alert people around the country. All these "convenient" happenstances seem a little too fishy. Planned Parenthood seems to be trying to get away with not apologizing, by silencing (with more false information) those with the potential of threatening them.

Myth of Adolescence (Part 1)

The trained elephant of India is a perfect picture of the power of psychological captivity. Tamed and utilized for its enormous strength, the great beast stands nearly 10 feet tall and weighs up to 5 tons when fully grown. Its tasks may include uprooting full-grown trees, hauling great boulders, and carrying enormous loads on its shoulders. And yet, when the day’s work is done and this powerful beast must be kept from wandering off during the night, its owner simply takes a piece of twine, attaches it to a small branch embedded in the ground, and ties it around the elephant’s right hind leg. Reason dictates that the elephant can easily snap the twine or pull the twig from ground, and yet the owner does not worry, fully confident that when morning comes he will find the animal exactly where he left him. And he does.

I’ll admit that upon first hearing of this practice, I couldn’t decide which was harder to believe: that the owner was confident, or that his confidence proved justified. A beast that can uproot trees is suddenly unable to pull up a twig? What is it about the piece of twine and the small branch that allows them to subdue all of the elephant’s power? I soon discovered that it had little to do with the twine around the elephant’s ankle, and everything to do with invisible shackles around its mind.

My contention is simple: The young adults of our generation are the elephant. Our twine is the 20th century concept of adolescence. Our twig is societal expectations. We stand restrained as a hurting world burns around us. Yet our twine and twig are of a recent origin. Young adults of the past were not so encumbered.

David Farragut, the U.S. Navy’s first admiral, became a midshipman on the warship Essex at the age of 10. At the age of 12, a mere boy by modern standards, Farragut was given command of his first ship, sailing a capture vessel, crew, and prisoners, back to the U.S. after a successful battle. Young David was given responsibility at an early age, and he rose to the occasion.

The father of our country, George Washington, though never thought to be particularly bright by his peers, began to master geometry, trigonometry, and surveying when he would have been a 5th or 6th grader in our day and ceased his formal education at 14 years of age. At the age of 16 he was named official surveyor for Culpepper County, Virginia. For the next three years, Washington earned nearly $100,000 a year (in modern purchasing power). By the age of 21, he had leveraged his knowledge of the surrounding land, along with his income, to acquire 2,300 acres of prime Virginian land.

These examples astound us in our day and age, but this is because we view life through an extra social category called ‘adolescence’, a category that would have been completely foreign to men and women just 100 years ago. Prior to the late 1800s there were only 3 categories of age: childhood, adulthood, and old age. It was only with the coming of the early labor movement with its progressive child labor laws, coupled with new compulsory schooling laws, that a new category, called adolescence, was invented. Coined by G. Stanley Hall, who is often considered the father of American psychology, ‘adolescence’ identified the artificial zone between childhood and adulthood when young people ceased to be children, but were no longer permitted by law to assume the normal responsibilities of adulthood, such as entering into a trade or finding gainful employment. Consequently, marriage and family had to be delayed as well, and so we invented ‘the teenager’, an unfortunate creature who had all the yearnings and capabilities of an adult, but none of the freedoms or responsibilities.

Teenage life became a 4-year sentence of continuing primary education and relative idleness known as ‘high school’ (four years of schooling which would later be repeated in the first two years of college). Abolished by law were the young Farraguts and young Washingtons, who couldn’t spare the time to be children any longer than necessary. Cultivated instead was the culture we know today, where young people are allowed, encouraged, and even forced to remain quasi-children for much longer than necessary.

The effect of this seismic shift in America’s philosophy of education is not limited to students in the public schools. As homeschoolers we may feel as though we have escaped the danger, but an honest evaluation proves that, as a whole, we also fall short of realizing our potential. After reading the examples of great men of our country’s past, we should recognize that there is no reason why a 13 to 18 year old cannot behave as a responsible adult. History proves it is possible. Diverse cultures confirm its validity. The only thing holding young people back in America today is the twine of this perpetual recess called adolescence and the twig of lowered social expectations. We expect immaturity and irresponsibility, from ourselves and from one another, and that is exactly what we get.

[Go to Part Two...]

8/17/2005

Character (Part 2): Building A Character House

I had never heard Mother’s voice like that, and I had never heard her call Father “Charles.” I thought my heart would pound itself to pieces while she was telling him what I had done. Hard as Father could spank, he never hurt me so much with a stick as he did when Mother stopped talking. He cleared his throat, and then he didn’t make a sound for at least two full minutes.

When he spoke, his voice was deep and dry, and I knew he must have been coughing a lot on the way home. “Son, there is no question but what the thing you have done today deserves severe punishment. You might have killed yourself or the horse, but much worse than that, you have injured your own character. A man’s character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth.”


~ LITTLE BRITCHES, BY RALPH MOODY ~
As I read that excerpt, I can’t help but thinking that we are building today the character houses we’ll live in tomorrow; that what each of us will become later in life largely depends on what we are now. J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) wrote in his book, Thoughts For Young Men, “Youth is the seed-time of full age, the molding season in the little space of human life, the turning-point in the history of man’s mind.” Are we taking that seriously?

We must understand that there’s a tsunami of “advances” coming that will profoundly damage all but the sturdiest character houses. We’ve got to be working now so that when the wave comes, we’re ready for it. Robert Freeman once said, “Character is not made in a crisis—it is only exhibited.” The crisis is coming, what we need to ask ourselves is, “What kind of character will this crisis reveal? Am I strong enough to resist sin? Am I consistent in saying no to temptation? Or do I only get by when there is nothing there to tempt me?”

Remember, the time is coming where it will become more and more difficult to avoid sin and more and more necessary to develop the strength of character to resist it, fight it, and conquer it.

The landscape is changing rapidly. We must turn to God and plead with Him to grant us the grace to strengthen our character now, before it’s too late. What would you think of a soldier who decided to learn to operate his AK-47 on the battlefield? Or of the parents that wanted to teach their baby to walk on a tightrope? You’d think they were crazy, right? But are you hoping to do something equally extraordinary by putting off the development of your character until you’re in the middle of the storm?

It is now that we must become acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is now that we must make the Bible our intimate guide and adviser. It is now that we must get a clear picture of the evil of sin. If we don't get serious about these things today it won't happen. Do not underestimate the power of habit—especially the habits of youth.

J.C. Ryle put it well when he said, “Habits are like stones rolling downhill, the further they roll, the faster and more uncontrollable is their course. Habits, like trees, are strengthened by age. A boy may bend an oak, when it is a sapling. A hundred men cannot root it up, when it is a full-grown tree.”

The prophet Jeremiah made the same point when he asked, “Can the Ethopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may you also do good, who are accustomed to do evil.”

If you can get anything out of this post, please, come away believing that you will become what you are and that you will live in the character house you build today. It will never be easier to serve God than it is right now.

In Christ, Brett Harris
Continue to "Rebelutionary, Meet Your Commander-In-Chief"

8/16/2005

Character (Part 1): The Special Challenges of the 21st Century

On August 9th, 1995, Netscape, the first mainstream web-browser, went public; and the world has never been the same. But the incredible benefits provided by the Internet are accompanied by lethal dangers. It took three years for the Internet to even begin to take off, but there were already 14 million pornographic Web pages. From 1998 to 2003 that number jumped to 260 million; a 2,000% increase in just five years.

This post is not about pornography; but it is all about how technology presents tremendous new challenges to Christian character; and about what we need to do about it. I strongly believe that it is foolish for my generation to assume that the next ten years will treat them the same way the last ten have. If we think technology has peaked and that things will remain largely the same with just a few added “conveniences,” we are gravely mistaken. Think of any ten-year-olds you know. The Internet is ten years old.

Technology itself and the challenges it presents are in their nascent form.
Over the next 5-10 years advances in technology will allow pornography and the sex industry to push so far into mainstream culture that they will no longer be generally considered dirty or taboo. Yet this is only one of the challenges our generation faces. According to Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies from the World Futures Society, medical knowledge and development are currently doubling every eight years. The speed of change in the medical field is outpacing the public’s opinion on the ethics of things such as stem cell research, genetic engineering, cloning, DNA mapping, surrogate motherhood, infertility solutions, selection of a child’s sex, use of fetal tissue, artificial organs, organ cloning, and life support.

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, writes: “Technology will continue to reshape people in such a way that their attention spans will be shorter and they will have difficulty distinguishing truth and lies, and the deluge of information will become so great that separating the useful from the trivial will be laborious. [Furthermore] the tsunami of information and services customized to please individual people will create a culture of self-absorbed, narcissistic people consumed with themselves and unconcerned about serving other people.”

These are barely the tip of the iceberg; but their magnitude and scope are unique to our generation. Which is why you must be aware of them. In a world that continues to celebrate debauchery and advance technologically the moral challenges facing our generation will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

I am convinced that as our world continues to change it will become more and more difficult to actually avoid exposure to sin and will become more and more necessary to develop the strength of character to resist it, fight it, and conquer it.

I’m calling you to be the kind of young men and women who are willing to fight the fight against sin. I’m calling you to cut off your hand or gouge out your eye rather than lose your soul (Matthew 5:29-30). Character is a victory, not a gift. It requires war, not diplomacy.

The time for lukewarm Christianity is behind us. This country will not survive another generation of Christians that fit in.

In Christ, Brett Harris

8/15/2005

Double Standard: There's the Left, and Then There's the Rest of Us

UPDATE: Links fixed... Sorry, about that.

Over the past week, I have debated with myself over whether or not I should use my blog to alert people regarding Planned Parenthood’s latest exploits. Finally, I came to the conclusion that this is what blogs are for… Prepare to be informed.

WARNING: The following content, while not particularly explicit, does contain information not suitable for younger children.

Early last week, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG) posted an eight-minute cartoon entitled “A Superhero for Choice”. The cartoon features Dianysus, PPGG’s CEO-turned-superhero Dian Harrison, who begins the short as a mild-mannered African-American woman in a blue suit rejoicing over the headline “Planned Parenthood Says: Safe is Sexy!” that just happens to adorn a sidewalk newsstand.

Soliloquizing for a moment, Dian speaks of food preferences, sport team loyalties, obeying the law, and presumably, sexual practices and abortion, in the same breath. Transforming into Dianysus (a play on the Greek god, Dionysus, the god of wine and debauchery). Complete with red suit, condom-shaped jet pack, and a mask that reminds one of devil horns, she then flies off to “fight for choice.”

Her first stop is in a back alley, where a short and square man in a purple suit and a high hat (somewhat reminiscent of a Snidely Whiplash/Boris Badenov-type character) preaches abstinence to a group of teens (an Asian female, and two males, Hispanic and African-America). Defending themselves with lines they’ve learned from the Planned Parenthood instructor who visited their high school, the teens explain that there are lots of ways to practice safe sex, like condoms and contraceptives. When warned of STDs, the girl replies, “Yeah, but I don’t plan to get any sexually-transmitted diseases.” Of course, as we all know, if you don’t plan on something, it won’t happen.

However, before anything else can happen, Dianysus appears on the scene and demands to know what’s going on. The man in the purple suit replies that he is informing the kids about the truth, to which Dianysus responds, “The only truth here is that you’re ugly, and your mama dresses you funny.” She then proceeds to fill an empty trashcan with Aqua Slide (I assume this is in reference to ‘Astroglide’, Planned Parenthood’s lubricant for teens engaging in pre-marital sexual activity), tosses the abstinence advocate in it and clamps on the lid. After burbling for a while, the man is silent.

I find it interesting that even in a cartoon bashing abstinence advocates and portraying them as slimy, misinformed, rude, and old-fashioned, the teens still need Dianysus to intervene. What’s even more interesting is that when she comes, she presents nothing in the form of argumentation (unless, of course, insults and violence are considered as arguments). Even when Planned Parenthood writes the script, the abstinence advocates are still more convincing. They just don’t drown you in a tub of lube.

Having deposed the enemy of Planned Parenthood’s propaganda, Dianysus makes sure the kids know where to go for all their health care needs and reproductive advice (I don’t believe their parents were an option). The kids respond, “Planned Parenthood Golden Gate.” Why? “Because,” they say in unison, “we have a choice!” Triumphant, Dianysus tosses the kids a ‘safe sex kit’ to remember her by, before taking to the skies once again.

Dianysus’s second stop takes her to a Planned Parenthood facility surrounded by greenish-blue, zombie-like, pro-life demonstrators who are chanting, grunting, moaning, and carrying “Christian” signs, unlike any I’ve ever seen, that say, “Pray for Thy Sins.” Taking the time to speak to her viewers for a moment, Dianysus explains that such demonstrators are allowed to express their views under the first amendment, but that sometimes they can get unruly and come a little too close. She then wishes out loud that they would just disappear, which gives her an idea. Taking a condom gun, she shoots at the protesters, who are subsequently enveloped by condoms. The condoms slowly expand before exploding in fire and smoke, leaving no trace of the demonstrators. “That’s more like it,” exclaims Dianysus. “Now everyone that needs low-cost and confidential health care may enter freely, without intimidation or violence, and acquire information about reproductive issues, and obtain professional health services that each of us deserve, be they women, men, or teens.” I guess that Planned Parenthood doesn’t categorize blowing up peaceful pro-life demonstrators as violence.

Moving from San Francisco to our nation’s capitol, a helicopter flies across the screen and drops a large pink condom over the Washington Memorial with our national anthem playing in the backround. We then see a pro-life senator stirring a green, bubbling stew in a large iron pot. He tosses in several stacks of papers: “Bill of Rights,” “The Constitution,” “First Amendment,” and “Civil Rights.” The screen then cuts to an odd depiction of the scales of justice, which tip to the side of “ignorance,” as opposed to “choice.”

When confronted by Dianysus, the white, southern senator explains that the laws of the United States do not apply to him. After engaging in a “do not-do too-do not” type argument, the senator tosses Roe. v. Wade into the stew. That gives Dioaysis an idea; she picks up the senator and submerges him in the boiling liquid, holding him there for several moments. When she pulls him out he is kneeling on a platter, naked, with an apple in his mouth, like a roasted pig. When asked how he feels now, he replies, “Great! I feel cleansed! I no longer have the stench of misinformed conservatism. I want all women everywhere to have the ability to choose what they do with their bodies.”

“That’s more like it” says Dianysus, who then proceeds to inform him that money spent now on family planning will save billions of dollars in future social expenditures. His eyes light up with flashing dollar signs. A newspaper is then shown that reads “Planned Parenthood Wins Again,” and the scales of justice tip to the side of “choice” as the hallelujah chorus plays. I found this section particularly chilling. Kill children now, so you won’t have to take care of them later. Great plan.

Having finished her “political” work, Dianysus is off to Ethiopia to check up on Planned Parenthood Golden Gate’s local reproductive health agents. Landing in front of a small grass hut in a small village, she addresses a female doctor standing with a couple and their young child. The doctor fills her in on Planned Parenthood’s mission statement: Terminating unintended pregnancies, preventing women from having children for anything other than the “right” reasons, and making sure unwanted children never see the light of day.

Just then, Dianysus remembers that she has a meeting with Dr. Jerry Falwell. “That schmuck,” she says. After filling her bio-diesel jetpack with coffee bags grown on trees (which carry the label “Morebucks” and possess logo very similar to that of Starbucks), Dianysus flies through a rainbow and into the sky. She speaks to her pre-teen and teenage viewers as she goes, telling them that she hopes they learned a little something.

“Planned Parenthood welcomes everyone, regardless of race, creed, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age or income. After all, we’ve been around for 89 years. We must be doing something right!” This closing statement is a perfect example of the incongruous “logic” used throughout the film. The Ku Klux Klan has been around for even longer, so they must be doing something even more right. For that matter, Christianity has been around for nearly 2,000 years. I’d be interested to see if Planned Parenthood lasts that long. The truth is, Planned Parenthood has been around since Margaret Sanger and her fellow eugenics advocates founded it in the early 1900s.

With this we come to the credits, which have their own interesting moments. They begin with the words, “You too can be a superhero for choice!” spray-painted on a brick wall. I can only suppose that means that anyone can drown people, blow them up, and commit other acts of violence in order to promote Planned Parenthood’s agenda.

The credits feature a condom that stretches across the screen to display the names of different contributors. At one point, the condom comes across and decapitates a pro-life demonstrator, whose body slowly slumps out of the screen (see frame-by-frame images here).

The best part is that our taxes paid for this. Planned Parenthood Golden Gate’s annual report shows that 53 percent of its revenue comes from “government fees and contracts.” Even giving them the benefit of the doubt (i.e. that all of that money was put directly into services), it stills frees them up to use donor money to make “educational cartoons” like this one.

The most amazing aspect about this whole thing, in my mind, is the incredible double standard displayed by both Planned Parenthood and the national news media. While pro-life activists are often accused of violence and bigotry, pro-abortion activists are applauded for similar actions when done in the name of choice (see, at your own risk, AbortionViolence.com). Imagine, for just a moment, what would happen if a conservative group, like National Right to Life, or the Family Research Council, were to release a cartoon depicting pro-choice advocates being drowned, blown up, or decapitated. There. Would. Be. Uproar.

Planned Parenthood (not to mention the ACLU and the liberal media) would come after us with everything they had. It would be on the front page of every major newspaper across the country, featured on the nightly news, and discussed on all the talk radio stations. However, Planned Parenthood does the same thing, and what happens? No one ever hears of it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way this time, and you can help. Dawn Eden (who deserves incredibly mad props for her amazing work) at ‘The Dawn Patrol’ has, over the past week, fired up the pro-life blog community and put the heat on Planned Parenthood. Through her efforts the story has been covered by several smaller, online news outlets and referenced on multiple talk radio shows, including Michael Savage. She is already heading up a grassroots effort to blow this cartoon up in Planned Parenthood’s face (find out more about Project Max).

We have to move fast. Planned Parenthood will waste no time in covering its tracks if they fear that the cartoon will receive national attention. Already, they have removed the link of the animation from PPGG’s main page. Several bloggers, at risk of a lawsuit, are hosting the film on their own servers to keep it accessible to the public:

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate’s Hidden Direct Link: Quicktime (streaming)
SaintKansas: Windows Media (3 MB, zipped, small)
CSNews: Windows Media (with disclaimer)
ArrMatey at Court Zero: Windows Media (direct link)
Joel Helbling: Window Media (streaming)
Catscape: Windows Media (zipped)
Shoutlast.com: Multiple Video Formats (.mp4 [90 MB], .zip, .wmv)
Shoutlast.com: Carton Transcripts (.txt, .rtf, .hqx)

Again… Go here and do what you can to hold Planned Parenthood accountable. There’s the left, and then there’s the rest of us. It’s time the rest of us played offense.

DISCLAIMER: The author bears no responsibility for the content of PPGG’s cartoon, nor the content found on the different sites listed. Please explore at your own risk.

Before I close… I believe it is important for us, as Christians, to learn what we can, even from PPGG’s cartoon. The many men and women I know who have participated in peaceful abortion protests are the exact opposite of what Planned Parenthood would have the public believe they are. And yet, there is an extremely small handful (while nothing compared to that of the other side) who do commit violence and who bring a reproach upon the name of Christ. Let us recommit ourselves to a high standard… That of love. We can and must combat organizations like Planned Parenthood, but to do so, we must not stoop to their level.

God bless you all! Soli Deo Gloria!