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

11/28/2005

Your Honor, My Honor: Meeting Justice Thomas

On November 11, 2005, I (Brett Harris) had the incredible honor of accompanying Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker to the sixth Albritton Lecture at the University of Alabama School of Law, delivered by United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. (This is just one of the many perks intern life with Justice Parker provides.)

Afterwards I was privileged to attend a special dinner in honor of Justice Thomas, as the guest of Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals Justice A. Kelli Wise. During the course of the evening I had the opportunity to speak with Justice Thomas, shake his hand, and of course, get a picture with him.

Who Is He?

Justice Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948), has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991. Considered part of the "conservative wing" in the current court, Justice Thomas is the second African-American to serve on the nation's highest court (Justice Thurgood Marshall was the first) and, until the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005, was the youngest justice. [Dates and Facts Courtesty Wikipedia]

Interestingly, in January of this year, Justice Clarence Thomas presided over a private swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court for Tom Parker after he won election to the Alabama Supreme Court. In a statement issued on the day he was sworn in, Justice Parker said, "I requested to be sworn in by Justice Thomas because if anyone symbolizes courage under fire, it's Justice Clarence Thomas. He is a man who stands up for what he believes and defends our Constitution even when viciously attacked."

Where Did You Go? (A Picture Is Worth...)

Inside the Room 287-288 at University of Alabama School of Law.
The absolutely beautiful Yacht Club.
Notice a marine-type theme?
What's The Big Deal?

For those who attended the sixth Albritton Lecture, and for all of you reading, Justice Clarence Thomas has given us a very special gift. As he put it, "most of you probably aren't interested in hearing a lecture on the dormant commerce clause," so instead, "what I really want, is to open up to your questions . . . [and] to respond to the things that you're interested in."
"I will try to answer as many as I can. If I don't have an answer, I will tell you that I don't have an answer. If I don't wanna answer, I will tell you I don't wanna answer. You say, "Why?" Well, I say, "I don't feel like it." [Audience Laughter] Now that's a full explanation! [Audience Laughter] But the chances are, if I can answer I will try to answer."
After saying that, Justice Thomas, one of the most powerful men in the world, spent two-and-a-half hours answering any and every question law students, state judges, and other guests had for him.

Justice Thomas answers a young lady's question regarding the court's role in protecting the rights of minorities.
As you might gather from the quotation above, Justice Thomas is friendly, funny, animated, down-to-earth, and tremendously approachable. The atmosphere was so casual that you felt you were sitting in your living room have a one-on-one conversation with your grandfather. Only this man was a member of the United States Supreme Court.

Justice Thomas invited everyone there to take a peek into the inner dynamics and workings of the Supreme Court, and that invitation alone spoke volumes about the approachability and personability of these seeming Kings and Queens in an Ivory Tower.

Towards the end of the Q&A session, Justice Thomas remarked, "I do believe, and my hope is, that I have brought some of the Court to you all, as more than a newspaper article or an issue you're interested in."

You would expect a Supreme Court Justice to answered questions on hot-topics like judicial activism, stare decises, the new Chief Justice, and Roe v. Wade; and Justice Thomas did. But what impressed me the most was that this great man was willing to tell a twelve-year-old girl what his favorite subjects in school were; to share his opinion on athletes getting paid; to tell the story of his early life; and to share, on request, the most painful aspects of his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

These are just a few of the many questions, personal and judicial, that Justice Thomas answered over a two-and-a-half hour period. And if that is not special, then very few things are.

What Did He Say ...

... About the CONFIRMATION PROCESS?
"The whole process of trying to ferret out the personal agenda during the confirmation process is an effort that I think isn’t worth the price that we’re paying. It’s just not happening.

And I think the only thing it does is it rats out the agenda of the people asking the questions. [Audience Laughter]"

--------------------------------------

"In the game of football, the judges are the referees. Now you're going to have a big game tomorrow, suppose we had to vote on who should be referees, and we had a record of all the calls they'd made against Alabama, and all the calls they'd made for Auburn in the crucial games, or all the calls they'd made for LSU, all the holding calls they've made against Alabama. Now we all know that if we are avid Alabama fans we will vote against the referees who have made calls against us, whether they were valid calls or not, because we are fans.

The sense of what’s happening to your judiciary is that people who want certain outcomes are now in a big debate about who should be making the calls about our constitution.

But none of that has anything to do with whether or not a judge is qualified or has the integrity or character to do the job. It is about whether I will get my way. And as fans in a football game tomorrow, we want our way.

I’m a huge Nebraska Cornhusker fan, and in every game we have been robbed this year. [Audience Laughter] I have no idea what these referees are thinking, not calling holding against Texas Tech or all these other teams who run up and down the field on us. It’s clearly holding, I didn’t see the game yet, [Audience Laughter] but it was clearly holding, I heard it on the Internet. [Audience Laughter]

But my point is that, that is no way to select good referees, and we know it. But if it’s not a good way to select good referees, based on outcome and what we think the outcome ought to be, then how is it a good way to select judges?"

--------------------------------------

[This is a famous statement made by Justice Thomas during his confirmation process in 1991. It was not made during the Albritton Lecture] "This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It is a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity-blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that, unless you kow-tow to an old order this is what will happen to you, you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree."

... About the THE MEDIA/COMMENTATORS?
"I think that when a lawyer comments on the judiciary and judicial decisions, they should do so as lawyers and professors. Not as people with personal agendas for personal outcomes. If you require judges not to have personal agendas then I think the respected commentators should also not have agendas.

Now, when I say that I think ESPN has an agenda against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. [Audience Laughter] That’s just a footnote. [Audience Laughter] But the point is simply this: people have a lot of opinions, people who have particular reasons to have outcomes, who want particular outcomes from the court, [and] say a lot about the court as though they are objective observers, or impartial observers. They are not impartial observers.

I think that as a good lawyer or a good observer of the court you should try to do what we ask the law students to do: to think through the decision or the methodology that we’re talking about, and try and explain it and then come to a rational conclusion as to why we disagree with it.

I have to do it. No matter how upset I am I have to take a walk around the block and do it. And I tell my law clerks, I will tell them in a minute what my biases are. You know, I said to my law clerks, “I don’t think people ought to have dope, grow dope at home and smoke it.” That’s right. That’s my view. Now, what does the Commerce Clause permit? In my view the Commerce Clause permits the lady in California to grow her dope and smoke it. That’s up in California. And that’s different from my bias.

So if I have to work to sort out the biases the gentleman up there is referring to, and you do work at it, then I think that the people who comment on what we do should make a similar act, particularly if they consider themselves a responsible commentators."
... About the ABORTION DEBATE?
"I joined the [former] Chief Justice in his dissent in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, saying we should overrule Roe v. Wade, for a variety of reasons. Basically, to me it has no basis in the Constitution. Now that doesn’t have anything to do with whether as a matter of policy you’re for it or against it abortion, I don’t see how it’s in this document. And if it’s not there, if you honestly believe it’s not there, then you have to come out that way. That doesn’t mean it’s good policy or bad policy, it’s just not there."

--------------------------------------

[Justice Thomas made the following statement regarding the confirmation battles that were fought over his own nomination, Chief Justice Robert's nomination, and that will be fought over future nominations to the Supreme Court.] "I think we all should be honest with one another that the only issue, the central issue in all of this, is abortion. It's not the other things that people throw out. The whole judiciary now is being held, in a sense, hostage to that one issue."
Oh, I Almost Forgot:

I was very fortunate to not only meet Justice Thomas, shake his hand, and get a picture with him, but also to speak with him for a few minutes, thank him for his service to our nation, and share with him about the work Alex and I are doing. Upon hearing how old we are Justice Thomas became very enthusiastic, "Seventeen is a good time to start." He repeated, "That's a good time to start. Excellent."

Announcing: Homeschool Blogger Awards 2005

Attention rebelutionaries! It has been requested that we spread the word about the first annual Homeschool Blogger Awards, hosted by SpunkyHomeschool. The nomination process begins today and goes through the 11th of December. Voting for the winners will occur from the 12th of December until Christmas.

You may nominate blogs in as many -- or as few -- categories as you wish. For those wishing to nominate The Rebelution for any of the awards, it is my preliminary understanding that we are eligible for the categories of Teen Blog, Group/Team Blog, Inspirational Blog, Informational Blog, and Current Events Blog.

As with all such awards — which, I might add, Brett and I had never heard of before a few weeks ago — the more involvement, the better. For now, go nominate your favorite homeschool blogs. Then, don't forget to vote come December.

Brett's and my nominations:

Best Homeschooling Mom Blog: SpunkyHomeschool
http://spunkyhomeschool.blogspot.com

Best Homeschooling Teen blog: Agent Tim Online
http://www.agenttimonline.com

AND

Spunky Junior
http://spunkyjunior.blogspot.com

Best Team / Group Homeschool Blog: Beauty from the Heart
http://femininebeauty.blogspot.com

Most Inspirational Homeschool Blog: Fearlessly Feminine
http://fearlesslyfeminine.blogspot.com

Best Homeschool Blog Design: Agent Tim Online
http://www.agenttimonline.com

Best Canadian Homeschool Blog: Oneway Purpose
http://blog.seekingtreasure.org

Best Current Events Homeschool Blog: Legal Redux
http://ledux.blogspot.com

Best Homeschool Arts Blog: Rhetorical Response
http://rhesponse.blogspot.com
To submit your nomination/s click here.

[Note: The banner on this post was inspired by SpunkyHomeschool's banner.]

11/26/2005

Post Updated: David Ludwig and Kara Borden

Be sure to check out the most recent update (Saturday, November 26, 4:15 P.M., CST) at the end of the post 'Teens In The News: David Ludwig and Kara Borden'. There, reader manthano shares his personal, "inside" take on the tragedy surrounding 18-year-old David Ludwig.

Click here to read the update.

Teens In The News: Michael Sessions

Two weeks ago The Rebelution covered the impressive "rise of Michael Sessions" into the national spotlight following his apparent victory in the Hillsdale, MI mayor's race. However, we updated that post with the news that Michael's victory was pending a recount.

Today we would ask all of you to join The Rebelution as we congratulate 18-year-old Michael Sessions on his successful and official election as mayor of Hillsdale.

Two months ago, Michael was not old enough to vote. But on Monday night, in a City Council chamber packed with reporters from as far away as Japan and Russia, he was sworn in as mayor of Hillsdale.

In his only speech of the night, Michael thanked his family and friends. "I'm honored to have the opportunity to serve as mayor of Hillsdale. I am prepared to serve for each and every one of you," he said.

Michael's 670-668 victory was not final, pending a recount, until his opponent, 51-year-old incumbent, Mayor Douglas Ingles, conceded the election last Saturday.

"I wish Mayor-elect Sessions good luck and much success and offer my support in every way that I can," Mr. Ingles said.

Michael who turned 18 in September, was too young to get his name on the ballot, and had to run for mayor as a write-in candidate -- meaning voters had to remember his name and add it to the ballot by hand in order to support him. Young Mr. Sessions launched his campaign, just one month before the election, with the $700 he made from his summer job. That's only slightly less than the $67 million Mayor Bloomberg spent to be reelected in New York City.

Michael Owes Everything To His Parents:

And we don't even mean that in the traditional, "raised-me, fed-me, bore-me," sense. Rather we're referring to a very interesting point Keith Olbermann, Anchor for MSNBC's "Countdown," brought up in a November 10th interview:

OLBERMANN: So, now, obviously, 670 is a lot of people in a town of 8,200. But do you think of those two votes that put you over the top as the ones your mother and father cast for you?

SESSIONS: Most definitely. It had to have been.
There you have it. Anyone want to argue that point?

Not-So-Covered Side: More Young People Involved:


Michael isn't the only young adult who deserves The Rebelution's attention. On the night of the swearing-in ceremony, Brandon Thomas, the mayor's 17-year-old campaign manager, demonstrated a knack for good politics as he explained a downtown clean-up campaign he and Michael organized on Sunday.

"His appearance on Letterman and everyplace else reinforced the stereotype that he's just in high school and not taking this seriously. [Mike] wants the people of Hillsdale to know that he is taking it seriously. He's going to bring more energy to the city," Brandon said.

Michael had appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman" to read the Top Ten list titled "Good Things About Being an 18-year-old Mayor."

Another young adult involved was Meghan Scholl, 17, who helped Michael hand out signs and write campaign speeches. It has become evident that Michael's campaign, as witnessed by these few examples, was largely driven by young people and that its message is clearly for young people.

More-Not-So-Covered Side: Michael Is Serious:


"My parents thought he was joking around," Meghan said, "We didn't think he would win, but then he started talking and he really knows what he's talking about."

Meghan explained to reporters that Michael began studying how similar communities pay for economic development and funding models for fire and police departments when he started campaigning.

Steven Brower, a government and economics teacher at Hillsdale High School, shared that "there are too many kids today who laugh at government," but said Michael, by carefully researching issues before taking a position, will serve responsibly in his four-year post.

"He was a real go-getter during his campaign," said Mr. Brower, "he acted like he was running for president."

At one point, five days before election day, Michael spent so long out on the streets knocking on the doors, ignoring his mother's pleas for him to wear a coat, that he ended up in a hospital emergency room with bronchitis but, by then, his momentum had become unstoppable.

Some of Michael's friends said he began talking about running for mayor a few years ago.

Jeff Maxfield, a Hillsdale High School classmate who helped him campaign for mayor, said he remembers that Sessions wanted to become mayor before he could drive.

"When he was sophomore, he said that he could run for mayor when he was a senior," said Jeff, one of many supporters in the audience at Monday night's council meeting. Jeff wore a campaign T-shirt that said "Need Experience? Get Some ... Get Involved" on the back.

The Important Thing: Michael's Message:

"Age has nothing to do with ability," said Valerie G. Van Opynen, a 49-year-old artist. "He's done more good for this city in his first 15 minutes than the (last) administration ever did. This is the most excited I've seen this town in the five years I've been here."

"Age has nothing to do with ability."

Thank you, Mr. Sessions, for making that powerful point.

A Message From The Rebelution:
Dear Michael,

The Rebelution is extremely excited for you for many reasons. Bur primarily because you are one more example of how our culture doesn't quite know what to do with young people who take initiative and "Do Hard Things."

The media blitz that you've faced has granted us small glimpses into the mind of a young man who wasn't about to run a half-hearted or half-way campaign. And we are sure that your faithfulness in smaller areas prepared you for the larger task as Hillsdale's new mayor.

We applaud you Mr. Sessions, but we would also like to offer you the following counsel:
  • Don't Stop! Keeping "Doing Hard Things" in public and, more importantly, in private.
  • Remember that despite the blatant abdication of modern "celebrities" and leaders, you are a role model. Live like one.
  • Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
  • Remember that in our "Fast-Breaking News" society, you can be picked up and dropped again by the media in the twinkling of an eye. Don't let it upset you.
  • Fight Pride Constantly! I recommend that you read the short article, "How To Fight The Sin Of Pride Especially When You Are Praised," by Pastor John Piper, as well as C.J. Mahaney's new book "Humility: True Greatness."
  • Realize that nothing would be a greater shame than for the highlighting of your competence to be the undoing of your character.

    In Christ Our King,
    Alex & Brett Harris
Disclaimer: The Rebelution applauds Michael Sessions for his competence and character, as evidenced by his initiative and drive during his campaign. However, at this time, our readers must understand that -- to our knowledge -- Michael has made no reference to God, in gratitude or otherwise, and his political leanings are largely unknown. Because of that we encourage our readers to use discretion by only admiring, as we do, the positive, known characteristics of Michael Sessions. Please keep him in your prayers.

11/24/2005

Thanksgiving: Thanks Be To Whom?!?

While browsing Google Blog Search this morning for the term "Thanksgiving," I stumbled across an incredible example of our secular culture's mere tolerance of what it sees as an unnecessarily "religious" holiday. The following entry was found on the blog, "Rossputin.com: Rational Thinking About Our World." I cannot recommend this blog, but I do wish to give proper credit for the material.

"I don't want to sound like the Thanksgiving equivalent of the Grinch, but I've always had a hard time getting into this particular holiday.

I suppose the feeling is made even stronger by the tendency of a fair number of Christians to go to church on Thanksgiving, giving it an even more religious overtone. (Maybe it is just a convenient time to go to church in an otherwise busy schedule.)

There's some interesting info at Wikipedia about Thanksgiving, [most] typical is this quote of Sarah Josepha Hale, 1863:

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
Now, not all of her quote is as religious as that sentence, but still religion permeates the modern discussion of a holiday which I would prefer to be more American and less sectarian.

I appreciate the day off, and of course I always like opportunities for the family and friends to get together. Yet somehow Thanksgiving continues to feel strangely foreign to this American.

Whatever the holiday means to you, I wish you and yours a great Thanksgiving.

Questions that immediately arise in my mind are:
  • What does the author mean, "I would prefer [Thanksgiving] to be more American?" It seems that the author equates the term "American" with secularism and tolerance (i.e. "less sectarian"), an unfortunate glimpse into the mindset of our nation.
  • How widespread are these views? The author states, "somehow Thanksgiving continues to feel strangely foreign to this American." But how many "Americans" feel the same way?
  • How much longer can we expect an increasingly secular society to continue to celebrate an intrinsically Christian holiday?
Please take the time to at least think about these questions, if not share your thoughts in the comment section. With that, I leave you with the following thought:
Inherent in the idea of "thankfulness" or "gratitude" is a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

In Psalm 116:12-13 the author asks, "What can I give back to God for all the blessings He's poured out on me? I will lift high the cup of salvation -- a toast to God! I will pray in the name of God."

And that's what Thanksgiving is all about. It is "a toast to God" to thank Him for life and breath, for family and friends, for growth and prosperity, for His faithfulness and mercy, for the Cross and our Salvation, and for His promise never to leave us or forsake us.

Notice that in all of these things we are unable to repay Him. That's why the Psalmist cries, "What can I give back to God for all the blessings He's poured out on me?" Praise is the only thing we can offer back to God for His blessings.

I understand why non-Christians feel uncomfortable celebrating this Christian holiday. They might "feel" thankful, but thanks be to whom?!?

If thankfulness includes a readiness to somehow repay kindness or blessing, the very real questions become, "To whom are they repaying?" and "Isn't it inconsistent to feel thankful on Thanksgiving when you have rejected the existence of the very person who's blessed you?"

11/23/2005

Teens In The News: David Ludwig and Kara Borden

Make sure you read the most recent update made at the end of this post (updated Saturday, November 26th, 4:15 P.M. CST).
Big hat tip to fellow blogger and rebelutionary, Agent Tim, for bringing this story to my attention.

After a frenzied, weeklong media blitz by television, radio, newspapers, and blogs, nearly anyone who regularly reads/watches/listens to the news will recognize the names of David Ludwig, Kara Borden, and Lititz, Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, November 13th, following a heated, hour-long argument with 14-year-old Kara’s parents over his physical relationship with their daughter, David Ludwig, 18, pulled out a .40-caliber handgun and shot both parents in the head. As Kara’s 15-year-old sister, Katelyn, hid in the bathroom, and her 11-year-old brother, David, escaped to a neighbor’s house, Ludwig took Kara and fled in his parent’s car. The following day, after a brief, high-speed car chase, police officers in Belleville, Indiana, apprehended the two teens, who had traveled approximately 600 miles from the scene of the crime.

Yesterday morning, it was reported that Ludwig has admitted to two counts of intentional murder, while it has also become clear that Kara was not kidnapped, but fled with David of her own free will. Whether Miss Borden was an actual accomplice in the murder of her parents remains unclear, though her willingness to leave with her parent's murderer raises questions regarding her loyalties.

However, without going into more detail — as that is not our purpose in bringing the story to your attention — there are several notable aspects of this tragic situation that are of particular importance to rebelutionaries. David and Kara, you understand, are churchgoers, youth group attendees, from Christian families, with Christian friends. They’re also homeschooled.

Both of these facts, particularly the latter, have provoked flurries of heated discussion among those on both sides of the issue. On the far left of the spectrum, a handful of liberal commentators, primarily bloggers, have pounced on the opportunity to demonstrate the “idiocy” of Christian parents who homeschool their children. On the other hand — seeming to have learned their lesson from the backlash that followed the effort two years ago by CBS News to link homeschooling and child abuse — no mainstream media outlet has attempted to draw a clear connection between the teens' education and the crimes that launched them into the national infamy.

This decision, whether conscious or otherwise, has prompted some on the left to decry the mainstream press as “hypocritical” or “biased,” pointing to the media’s “lack of emphasis,” and arguing that whenever a homeschooled student does something good, like wining a national spelling or geography bee, their education takes front and center. Not to be outdone, some homeschool proponents have taken issue with the media’s decision to emphasize the children’s education at all, claiming that the fact that Kara and David were homeschooled bears no special significance to the story.

Still another viewpoint, courtesy of Paul Chesser of The American Spectator, argues from the goodness of homeschooling to conclude that Kara and David’s education was an appropriate emphasis for reporter’s covering the story:
“[T]he media [should] play up Ludwig's and Borden's educational background. The fact that they were homeschooled makes the murder even more significant. Why? Because the nature of the news is that when certain types of people act in ways that are inconsistent with what the public traditionally expects from them, it makes a story more newsworthy. [The media] did the right thing by recognizing the significance that the two teens were homeschooled. This was out of character from what most Americans have come to expect from homeschooled children: that they are mostly intelligent, polite, respectful, well-behaved, quiet, and mind their own business.”
I would agree that David and Kara’s education deserves a reasonable amount of attention — as I am now giving it — however, I would be most hesitant to label the story, as Mr. Chesser seems to do, as nothing more than a “newsworthy aberration.” Is that really all it is? Is that really all we can take from it? I would say not.

As I read through Kara, David, and their friends’ posts and comments on their respective blogs (most which are still available, if you know where to look), I am struck by how un-abnormal they are; how similar they are to people I know; how similar they are to me.

If I may be blunt for a moment: I’ve never had premarital sex, never murdered anyone, or made a decision that resulted in my life falling apart before my eyes, but as I familiarize myself with the now-public “private” lives of these fellow teenagers, I shudder, because I see the same potential in my own life – in my own heart.

My mind is repeatedly drawn back to a post that Kara made on her blog less than five months ago. I’m slightly surprised that no bloggers or news outlets – at least, none that I can find – have mentioned it, but it engrained itself in my mind:
Psalm 28… I would type it out..but I think you guys can read it for yourself...when I read it I broke out in tears...God is truely and wonderful amazing..Hey to everyone if you guys could pray for me..That would be very cool!! Thank you all for your prayers already..And Im praying for you all too!! I love you all! I would just like to say thanks for the support yesterday my brothers and sisters in christ! I love you all! AND THANK YOU MY AMAZING LORD!!! I LOVE YOU SOO MUCH!!But really I have to give all the thanks to my Lord!!!!!SO THANK YOU MY LORD!!

Your Sister In Christ
Kara
Or consider the following words by David Ludwig, posted less than four months ago:
Ok people, here it is! The xanga site for The Barn...for lack of a better name I think at least for now we shall call it that. If any of you feel any leading at to what we should call/name this place please voice your suggestions!

Basically we are in desperate need of finances and time right now and although it looks kinda hopeless for a human standpoint I have faith that God is going to work all this out according to HIS good pleasure!!

For those of you who have abosolutely no idea what the heck I'm talking about here is the scoop, basically about 3 weeks ago both Sam Lohr and myself (David Ludwig ) felt led to clean up the upstairs of my (the Ludwig's) barn to create a place that we could come to after our Monday night and Friday night youth meetings or at anytime to worship and dilligently seek Gods face. The amazing thing about that is neither Sam or I knew the other was thinking/praying about that till about a week later. Since than a bunch of us have gotten together twice to work on the barn and just amazing things have been accomplished...it truely is a miracle!! God has enabled far more to be completed than any of us ever imagined! Glory! So now the need is to finish this project Lord willing before next monday. Anyone is welcome to come once it is finished we only ask that you seek Gods face before you come to see if He wants you to be there. If so, be welcome and come! May God bless you all!!

~ David
Shocking words for two teens facing the possibility of execution or life behind bars for murder? How about for two young, homeschooled teens from Christian families? Not quite so shocking, is it? But which are they?

They’re both.

And that is what’s so important for us to realize, as young people, as homeschoolers, as rebelutionaries, and as Christians.

Being homeschooled did not prevent this tragedy; growing up in a Christian environment did not prevent this tragedy; bearing many signs of apparent faith and an understanding of the Gospel did not prevent this tragedy; these are harsh, but necessary truths that demand humility. Hard to swallow as it is, what happened in Lititz, Pennsylvania, is not an exception, it’s fallen man’s default.

We should all be asking ourselves the question: What is it that separates me from a David Ludwig or a Kara Borden?

And we should all be answering — in the words of Protestant Reformer, John Bradford — “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
“No man’s really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he’s realized exactly how [little] right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about ‘criminals,’ as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he’s got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he’s squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees…” — G.K. Chesterton, The Secret of Father Brown
Let us not fail to remember Kara, David, and their families, in our prayers. May God have mercy.


UPDATE (11/23): I am reminded of Noah Riner's words in his September 20th, convocation speech at Dartmouth College. The universal nature of the truth he shared that night — truth for which he was viciously attacked — is proven valid by its perfect applicability to the story of David Ludwig and Kara Borden. Please read it carefully and notice the parallels. Note that a limited number of these parallels are indicated in brackets:
[I]n the past few weeks we've seen some pretty revealing things happening on the Gulf Coast in the wake of hurricane Katrina. We've seen acts of selfless heroism and millions around the country have united to help the refugees. On the other hand, we've been disgusted by the looting, violence, and raping that took place even in the supposed refuge areas. In a time of crisis and death, people were paddling around in rafts, stealing TV's and VCR's. How could Americans [homeschoolers?] go so low?

My purpose in mentioning the horrible things done by certain people on the Gulf Coast isn't to condemn just them; rather it's to condemn all of us. Supposedly, character is what you do when no one is looking, but I'm afraid to say all the things I've done when no one was looking. Cheating, stealing, lusting, you name it - How different are we? It's easy to say that we've never gone that far: never stolen that much; never lusted so much that we'd rape; and the people we've cheated, they were rich anyway.

Let's be honest, the differences are in degree. We have the same flaws as the individuals who pillaged New Orleans. Ours haven't been given such free range, but they exist and are part of us all the same.

The Times of London once asked readers for comments on what was wrong with the world. British author, G. K. Chesterton responded simply: "Dear Sir, I am."

Not many of us have the same clarity that Chesterton had. Just days after Hurricane Katrina had ravaged the Gulf Coast, politicians and pundits were distributing more blame than aid. It's so easy to see the faults of others, but so difficult to see our own. In the words of Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "the fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves."

Character has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger. The best example of this is Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That's character.

Jesus is a good example of character, but He's also much more than that. He is the solution to flawed people like corrupt Dartmouth alums, looters, [teenage murderers,] and me.

It's so easy to focus on the defects of others and ignore my own. But I need saving as much as they do.

Jesus' message of redemption is simple. People are imperfect, and there are consequences for our actions. He gave His life for our sin so that we wouldn't have to bear the penalty of the law; so we could see love. The problem is me; the solution is God's love: Jesus on the cross, for us.

UPDATE (11/26):
One of our readers, manthano, commented this afternoon and alerted us to his personal — and particularly meaningful — observation into the past of admitted murderer David Ludwig. Read full post here, selected excerpt below:
I try to keep up with the news while I'm here at school, and it was with sadness and disgust I read the story of David Ludwig and the double murder of the parents of his girlfriend Kara Borden. Then this story hit a little closer to home, when I found out that I had met David 3 years ago. Since then a particular verse from the Bible has taken on a whole new meaning. I Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (ESV). Why this verse basically whacked me upside the head this week, is because of the story of what happened to someone else who knows this verse, David Ludwig, now under arrest for a double murder committed last week. How do I know he knows this verse? Read on...

I know he knows this verse, because of where I met him. Yes, I've met an alleged double murderer. We met at a Bible quiz between about 5 churches in our area. The Bible quiz was over the book of I Peter. In order to effectively compete in this competition, you basically had to have the entire book memorized, and be able to quote word-perfect any verse in it. He and I were on two of the top 5 teams that year, so I that's how I know he had that verse memorized.

So how does a bible quizzer become a murderer? It's really not as difficult as you might think. To quote our former school president, "Anyone is capable of committing any sin, given the proper provocation." "Who me," you ask? "I'll never murder anyone!" I didn't say you would, I just said we were capable of it. I pray that no one that's reading this will do such a thing, but it's not impossible.

Be sure to read the rest of manthano's post here.


Read the update by clicking here...

11/22/2005

Are You On The Rebelution Map?

Be sure to check out our new post below: The Rebelutionary Entrepenuer - An Inspiration! ~ Alex & Brett
In case you haven't noticed, The Rebelution has an official Frappr Map (see sidebar to the right). This means that anyone and everyone who reads our blog--whether it's their first and only visit or one of many more--can add their name and zipcode to be represented on the Rebelution Map.

If you're not on there yet allow us to encourage you to sign up. They do ask for your email address but that information is kept entirely confidential, even from Alex and me. You can upload a picture of yourself to go along with your "tag," but that is entirely optional.

All that aside, if you really want to understand what I'm talking about, just go check it out. It only takes seconds to sign up:
Hat Tip to David Linton for finding and recommending Frappr!

The Rebelutionary Entrepeneur: An Inspiration

Several weeks ago, our good friend, and fellow blogger, Caleb Hayden, made an excellent post about young men and entrepreneurism. In response, a reader of both his blog, and ours, sent the following email, which we have been given permission to re-post it here on The Rebelution:

Caleb,

I am writing to comment on one of your recent blog posts, entitled Starting Young. Although I scarcely know you, after reading your blog post I decided to share a little about my semi-involuntary plunge into entrepreneurialism at a young age. My parents had a vision to teach my sister and me practical business skills. It all started with our tree nursery 10 years ago. We planted over 3000 trees as part of a multi-year plan to profit financially and grow entrepreneurially. As a family we learned how to work hard, serve customers, perform marketing, and many other practical, hands-on business skills.

My father specifically wanted to impart to me his business knowledge and experience. (He did leave it open if I was led in another direction) I started working with him in his professional advisory practice at the age of 15, although I kind of grew up in it with going to conferences and meetings with him.

As I gained experience, I decided to work with my father for at least a season of life. As I met the requirements for becoming certified in my profession at the age of 17, I became the youngest person in the world to hold that designation. I say this not out of boasting, but rather to encourage other young men that many things can be done very young, especially as a product of an apprenticeship-type situation. Anyone else whose parents have home-educated them and raised them in the fear and admonition of the Lord can attain mature accomplishments in their youth.

In February 2005, when I was 17, my father died of cancer with only a couple months notice. After finding out about his illness, he told me that I was not obligated to operate the business, but if I wanted to, I was ready. My decision was to run the business. By the grace of God, the year since I have been the running the business has been a fantastic year surpassing all expectations. This was largely due to some projects that my father started in 2004, and I completed in 2005. It has been extremely challenging, but as the Rebelution blog exhorts, "Do Hard Things".

I would highly encourage Christian young (and older) men that entrepreneurialism can be a rich blessing. Having a family business promotes and fosters large amounts of time invested in intergenerational family relationships. It promotes the passing of business and spiritual knowledge and wisdom.

I would encourage you with two points my father and other godly businessmen have charged me with
  1. Don’t let your age, as such, hinder or restrict you.
  2. You can afford to take risks and possibly fail when you don’t have a family so embrace entrepreneurialism when you are young.
From a grateful son,

B.
This is a wonderful example of a young man "doing hard things." As Caleb observed, "Although the task of owning and operating a business seems daunting and there are many naysayers, let us each be encouraged by this testimony of a diligent, industrious young man who owns his business. He was discipled by his father and is carrying forward his father's legacy. Very few sons and fathers desire this, no matter their age. In our society, we never hear of 17-year-olds like this, but this young man is a notable exception."

Take these words to heart, and let them inspire you to follow God's call on your life, even in the face of challenges and seeming obstacles. God bless you all!

11/18/2005

TWIF (Part 3): World Champions of Triviality

As an encouragement to our new readers to take advantage of our "past series" on the sidebar, we post the following installment from our series "The World Is Flat." Enjoy.
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
Begin Series with Part One: Competition On Our Plateau

Teens In The News (Part 3): Young Filmmakers

This morning's cover story from the Montgomery Advertiser's Lifestyle Section features none other than Colton Davie, a 17-year-old rebelutionary and one of Alex and my newest and best Alabama friends. Colton collaborated with Alex and me last Saturday to create our Save The Wheel short, "Reinvented: The Dinner Table." Now, the young Mr. Davie is garnering media attention for a greater accomplishment: snaring the Best Young Filmmaker Award at the Second Annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

Enjoy the following feature article that honors 17-year-old Colton Davie and 16-year-old Tyler Litton for doing hard things, at a young age, and for the glory of God:

Let there be light, camera, action
Christian films on the rise

By Darryn Simmons
Montgomery Advertiser

November 18, 2005

In today's movies, the comedy, horror and action flicks tend to dominate the marquees and lead at the box office.

But a new genre of films is starting to gain a foothold in the market, and some of the upcoming movies in that genre just may come from Montgomery and other spots in Alabama.

With the success of films like "The Passion of the Christ," "The Gospel" and the "Left Behind" series, Christian films are starting to show they can do as well as the biggest summer blockbusters.

The success of those films has inspired young filmmakers to try their hand at making them, with the hope of making the next big Christian film.

Christian film festivals have continued to build momentum. The second annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival drew 1,200 participants from all over the world, from New York to Romania. At this event, held earlier this month, the state of Alabama was well-represented.

Seventeen-year-old Colton Davie from Matthews was awarded the Best Young Filmmaker prize for his 55-minute film, "Bluestate: Tolerance for All," and Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church in North Mobile, and his 16-year-old son Tyler were awarded Best Political Film for a film they wrote, produced and directed called "Intent."

"Alabama is taking over," said Doug Phillips, the founder of the festival and one of the competition's judges.

Phillips said more than 130 film submissions at this year's festival show there are those who want to make good Christian films that give glory to God.

The rise in the independent Christian film market can be attributed to a number of factors, Phillips said. The biggest may be that filmmakers no longer have to go through Hollywood to get a film produced or distributed, thanks to the digital technology and innovative distribution methods now available. The "Left Behind" series, for example, was marketed largely through churches.

He also said people are looking for more positive material in their movies and wholesome messages that differ from the usual Hollywood fare.

Davie said he was inspired when he attended last year's festival. He went to some of the seminars there, and they motivated him to want to do a film for this year's festival.

He started the script for "Bluestate" in December of last year and finished the film in August.

The movie tells the story of one family's sacrifice in a world where tolerance has been mandated by law.

"People think it's a political movie, but we weren't doing that," Davie said. "I just wanted to challenge ideas and show people what happens when you do things like take public prayer out of schools and what could happen if you continue to do things like that."

Phillips called the movie a "major film which demonstrates incredible promise."

"There was an overwhelming sense (among the judges) that 'Bluestate' should win," Phillips said. "It is an excellent example of what is possible for a young man to do."

Davie said it was exciting to win the award and that the festival itself was a great experience.

Ed Litton's half-hour film, "The Wall," was runner-up for Best Political Film last year, the inaugural year of the festival. The film focused on educating Christians on the meaning of the First Amendment.

"Intent" is an 18-minute film that explores the current crisis in the federal judiciary.

"Our hope is that 'Intent' will help break down barriers between Americans and their courts," Ed Litton said. "The average citizen is key to keeping the courts in line and preserving government by the consent of the governed."

Davie said he hopes to continue to make Christian films. While there are no current plans to have an exhibition of the films here in central Alabama, he said the success of recent movies shows there's a desire for them on the part of moviegoers.

There is a special kind of film Davie wants to make.

"I want to make movies with good stories that people will enjoy, but I especially want to do it for the glory of God and to do films that glorify him," he said.
There are many reasons why Alex and I are thrilled at the recognition our friend Colton is receiving. First, he just one more example of how young people that "Do Hard Things" will be honored. Our readers must understand that a very favorable article about Christian films from a reputably liberal newspaper is rare. But Colton's age demanded attention. And not only his age, but the enormous task he undertook and completed.

But even more than that, we are thrilled at the attention Colton is receiving because he used it to glorify God and to address important issues. He earned a stage and used it to speak the truth. Now that is rebelutionary.
To view original article: Click here.

11/17/2005

The Exhaustive List: RSS/XML Subscription for The Rebelution

No matter how you prefer to keep track of the blogs you read, this one-click Rebelution subscription list for multiple RSS and XML feed services should make keeping up-to-date on The Rebelution a whole lot easier. It's not pretty, but it's long overdue:

Plain ol' XML:



Plain ol' RSS:



BlogLines:



My MSN:



My AOL:



Pluck:



Newsgator:



Newsburst:



Feedster:



My Yahoo:



BlogFlux (Email Updates):



Rojo:

11/15/2005

Teens In The News (Part 2): Paris Riots

With torched cars, violence, and unrest filling the streets of Paris, Louis-Vincent Gave provided some particularly insightful analysis in his article, "The Arab Street Erupts: Why Paris and Why Now?" In the article Gave outlines the failure of government schools to assimilate poor and diverse ethnic groups into French society and persuasively points to the elimination of the military service as a primary cause of France's current riots:

To explain what I mean, let me backtrack ten years. At the time, I was an officer in French infantry. Every year, our battalion, just like most battalions across France, would get a fresh batch of new conscripts. Our job, as officers, was to train these young men, usually aged 18 to 21, and make soldiers out of them....

The young men we had to train came from all sorts of background: young kanaks from New Caledonia, young Arabs from the ghettos, farmers from the Cantal... Most of them came in dragging their feet. Some of them were afraid. Others defiant. Some of them could hardly read and write. Some were bright. Others less so... But by the time the Army was done with them, most of them had become true Frenchmen. They knew their national anthem. They knew how to salute the flag. They knew how their forefathers had died in battle; and they had learnt to respect that self-sacrifice (the Tirailleurs Senegalais, the Algerian Harkis, the Moroccan Zouaves... often covered their units in glory on behalf of France).

Sometimes, after a year, though the Army was done with them, some of these young men were not done with the Army. Some volunteered for extra service because they knew that a return to the ghettos would see them dead, or in prison. Others had learnt tasks (truck-driver, cook...) which they could take into the private sector for gainful employment.

For many young men, the French Army had become a last chance. And this last chance was extremely valuable for all the young immigrants, who, as mentioned above, are simply not being integrated into French society through school, or their environment. The Army taught these men that one did not need to be born French to be French. After all, the unofficial motto of the Legion is "français par le sang verse" (French by the blood spilled).

Finally, the mandatory military service rendered one more function: it took off the streets each year a number of 18-21 years old and focused their natural aggressiveness on military training. And as we know, most crimes are committed by 18-21 year olds. So getting the young men off the streets and into military barracks, helped maintain crimes rates lows.

So the idea that the "stick" does not work is absolutely wrong. It works. We've used it. And we have seen the wonders it can do to young men of 18 who had, until then, never been given a taste of discipline. The problem with the stick, of course, is that it can't be given in short bursts. One doesn't teach discipline in a few hours...
I. Gave is on the right track, but is not all the way there:

Gave makes some brilliant points, but his argument also raises an issue of particular concern to rebelutionaries; the issue of discipline. While Gave recognizes the importance of discipline, and the consequences of its absence, he traces the root of the problem only as far as to the elimination of military service. To put it simply, in Gave's eyes, the fault rests on the government.

Now it is true that the government schools are failing miserably. It is also true that a seemingly beneficial government program was discontinued. Gave is on the right track, but should we conclude that this the extent of the problem? I would say not.

II. The Government is not solely or primarily responsible for our discipline:

It is emphatically not the civil government's responsibility to "make good citizens." The role of the state is not to teach self-discipline (though, if it would lead by example, that would be nice); rather, this responsibility has been given primarily to the family. Gave writes, "[T]he "stick"... works. We've used it. And we have seen the wonders it can do to young men of 18 who had, until then, never been given a taste of discipline." I would hope that any thoughtful person would respond to this statement by asking the obvious question, "What was going on for the first 18 years of their lives? Where were their families?"

Those familiar with the current situation in Western Europe will tell you that the institution of the family has long been crumbling. This alone can explain young men who receive their very first taste of discipline at the age of 18. Therefore, I would argue that, by itself, a reinstatement of the military service would not solve France's problems. When the family abdicates its God-given responsibility, and the government extends its control to areas in which it has no proper jurisdiction, the result will always be the degradation of society as a whole. What should concern all of us, is that America is headed in the same direction (albeit several decades behind) as Western Europe. As young people, and as rebelutionaries, the question we must ask ourselves is this, "What do we do to combat this?"

III. We must recognize the necessity for self-government:

The very first thing we must recognize is that, as teenagers, the only sphere of government over which we have direct, personal control is that of self government. While we can biblically exert differing levels of influence in order to bring about reform in our families, churches, and civil governments, our foremost responsibility is to govern ourselves personally according to the Word of God.

IV. Circumstances are no excuse for a Christian:

Even if all earthly institutions were to fall short of their God-given duties to train us and our fellow rebelutionaries, that must be no excuse. We would still enjoy the privilege of having God as our Father (family), our Prophet/Priest (church), and our King (state) and of having His written Word as our guide and counsel. Let us never use those circumstances beyond our control to excuse ourselves from fulfilling what we have been called to do in those areas of life He has placed under our command.

V. Prepare for your future. Expect to be involved in many spheres:

The second thing, for which young men must particularly prepare, is the responsibility of being a husband and father, a deacon, an elder, or an elected official at some point in the future. It is not unlikely that you will find yourself being many, if not all, of those things over the course of your life. As young men we must prepare to lead our families, to lead our churches, and to lead our civil governments as God grants us influence in each distinct sphere of government. Likewise, young ladies, any young man with these godly ambitions will need a wife who has prepared herself to be the helpmeet God created her to be for her husband.

These are noble callings, my friends. Each one requires the grace of humility and wisdom, boldness and courage, as well as patience and endurance. Each will require us to "do hard things" over the course of a lifetime, and especially, during this preparatory season of our lives. Do not be deceived, the character and abilities needed for these callings cannot be developed overnight. As Louis-Vincent Gave noted, "One doesn't teach discipline in a few hours..."

VI. Developing character, a place to start:

Things like duty, honor, sacrifice, faithfulness, commitment and service, cannot develop fully during a marriage engagement, the week before ordination, or during the primary election. Our preparation for the areas of family, church, and government begins when we start taking responsibility for our chores without being reminded, when we begin practicing leadership and taking initiative, when we stop saying "It broke," and start saying, "I broke it." Whether they sound simple or difficult, these things make a man.

The same qualities must be cultivated in the lives of our young ladies. They must prepare to assist their husbands in raising families, guiding congregations, and leading nations. They must practice honor and faithfulness, learn to sacrifice and serve, develop a spirit of encouragment as well as an ability to advise and instruct. This preparation begins as you respect and serve your father, encourage and advise your brothers, and sacrifice and serve your family, church, and community. This may sound difficult, but they make you more than a woman; they make you a prize.

VII. Developing competence, a place to start:

Competence in any area besides procrastination, dilly-dallying, and sloth, will contribute to competence in every other area. This is because the mental, physical, and sometimes spiritual exertion necessary for one hour of piano practice, developes mental physical, and spiritual muscle that can be flexed on Algebra. That is the whole point of our post "A Lesson From The Vikings: Do Hard Things."

What this means is that you can gradually develop the "muscle" for bigger, better tasks by faithfully "exercising" the muscle you already have on the tasks you already have. Whether you are mowing yards or babysitting toddlers, if you do the best job you can possibly do, you will be miles closer to a bigger job and a greater responsibility.

Competence in anything, even small things, is the first step towards competence in big things. Don't expect to head up the Hurricane Wilma cleanup operations if you can't do a thorough job cleaning your own bathroom!

VIII. That's all for now, rebelutionaries:

Character and competence require concerted and focused preparation over an extended period of time. But great will be the reward for those who persevere; for those who, when the world seems to be sinking into darkness, do not simply curse that darkness, or set cars aflame, but rather, ignite a fire in their own hearts for the glory of God.

Save The Wheel: Reinvented - The Dinner Table

Last week, Brett and I collaborated with our new friend here in Alabama, Colton Davie, winner of this year's Best Young Filmmaker award at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival with his film Blue State: Tolerance For All, to produce a short film for Save The Wheel dot Com. This we accomplished over the course of several hours on Saturday evening, and were quite pleased with the result. The short film is now available online, and we would encourage all of you to go watch it and give us your feedback.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Save The Wheel website, allow us to explain that the purpose of these short films is to exemplify the age old truth that some things shouldn't be reinvented. Our goal was to create an entertaining and aesthetically excellent film (relative to the time available) and to prove, metaphorically, that just like the dinner table, God's Truth, God's Word, and the Gospel, don't need to be reinvented.

Go watch the film now... Then come back and read the rest.
A Lesson To Be Learned:

This film is a great example of the value of collaboration among Christian young people (and among all Christians, for that matter). Quite simply, despite the fact that Brett and I have wanted to make a film for Save The Wheel for a long time, we could not have made one on our own. Not only did we not have the equipment we needed here in Alabama, but we also did not possess the amount of experience required to reach the level of audio and video quality we wanted. By working alongside Colton, we were able to pull all of our strengths, resources, and ideas together. All of us were surprised at how quickly we were able to put the movie together (just a few hours), and at the quality we were able to achieve in such a limited period of time. You can't always be good at everything, but when you are willing to work with others, you acquire the strengths of the whole group.

11/12/2005

Jiffy N' Lou: Installment #106

In response to a concern voiced by one of our readers (which can be followed in the comment section), and after prayerful consideration + discussion with family and friends, we have decided that the Jiffy N' Lou comic we just posted was particularly ineffective in communicating a positive message and have therefore removed it. However, we also recognize that there is a simple difference of opinion between our readers. There are many who have been helped and encouraged by Jiffy N' Lou, and there are a few who have been offended and feel Jiffy N' Lou has had a negative influence. We feel very badly for the offense but we don't see evidence of the negative affects.

To promote understanding I would like to share the explanation I posted in response to one of our reader's concerns:

Dear Marcia,

Thank you for your feedback. We are always in need constructive criticism, especially from those who are older and wiser than we are. Allow me to respectfully explain the theme and/or message of the comic strip and why we are hosting it on our blog.

Jiffy and his friend Lou are misguided, but they are clearly misguided. Their justifications for listening to the music you refer to, as witnessed in Installment #100, and their attempts at conscience appeasement, as witnessed in installments #102 and #104, are portrayed as immature, foolish, and sometimes even downright ludicrous. Their actions are not presented as appealing or admirable.

On the other hand, their immaturity sometimes reminds us of ourselves. And I have found that the best way to discover that my face is dirty is to look into a mirror. That is one of the reasons we include these comic strips.

Furthermore, you must realize that this comic strip's intended audience is young people who are just being introduced to ideas such as courtship vs. dating, homeschooling, godly standards for movie-watching and music-listening, etc. The comic strip is designed to help those young people laugh at what their going through rather than sulking and/or rebelling.

Finally, I hope that the existence of this comic strip will not subtract from the other resources we have provided that speak very highly of teenage responsibility, respect of parents and authorities, and love for God, family, and country. For the reasons stated above, we do not view Jiffy N' Lou as a contradiction to those messages.

Thank you again for your feedback. Please keep us in your prayers as we try to please the Lord and serve the brethren.
Please note how the following Jiffy N' Lou strip exemplifies the qualities I outline above: we do not admire them, but we learn from them. We can laugh at our silliness. We can be entertained and taught.

[Note: In Firefox the image may be enlarged a second time by clicking on it again, once it is in its own window.]

This comic makes me uncomfortable. Not because it encourages rebellion in me or glorifies superficiality (it does the opposite!), but rather because it demonstrates so clearly one of the primary problems with the "Christian" music industry. It also convicts me regarding my own "comformity" to the world. I do not wish to trigger a debate on "rock music" (so everyone, please attempt to remain as general, rather than specific, as possible) but I would ask our readers to consider, and attempt to answer, the following questions:
1.) What is the correct response to Lou's mother's questions: How can anyone know if a band is Christian? (Hint: Matthew 7:16)

2.) What, in your opinion, would this (see above) look like? Can you provide any real-life examples?

3.) To what extent, if at all, is it appropriate to "emulate" non-Christian artists, whether in music, or any other form of art?

4.) What is your response to Larry Norman's question: "Why should the devil have all the good music?"

11/11/2005

Teens In The News (Part 1): Michael Sessions, Mayor of Hillsdale, MI

After votes were counted on Tuesday, 18-year-old Michael Sessions was named mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan. Michael was too young, prior to the filing deadline, to get his name on the ballot, but after turning 18 on September 22, launched an energetic door-to-door, write-in campaign, knocking off 51-year-old incumbent, Doug Ingles. A senior in high school, planning on attending Hillsdale College, Sessions funded his campaign with the $700 he made working a summer job.

Sessions elected Hillsdale mayor
By Leah Wild, Hillsdale Collegian, November 10, 2005

.... Michael Sessions will be the youngest mayor in Hillsdale’s history, and perhaps the youngest ever recorded.

[Michael's cousin] Jeremiah Newsome said the family is researching the matter and has not found a mayor younger than Sessions’ 18 years and 47 days.

Sessions was 17 and not yet qualified to get on the ballot in the spring. But on Sept. 22, one day after his birthday, he registered to vote.

The next day, he signed up as a write-in candidate.

Sessions’ political experience consists of job shadowing his cousin and the American Legion’s Boys State Program held on the Michigan State University campus. He said he plans to eventually expand his political career beyond mayor.

“I’d like to [go to school] at Hillsdale and study politics,” he said. “This is just a stepping stone,” Sessions said of the recent election.

Sessions said he hopes his new responsibilities will not hinder his high school career, and he said that school will come first.

“I’m a student from 7:50 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. I’m the mayor of Hillsdale,” Sessions said. “I think I’m going to be able to juggle this just fine.”

Read the entire article here. You can also watch Session's interview with Keith Olbermann. Or, if want to know everything, check out the search results from Google News.

UPDATE: Session's lead has shrunk to two votes, with a recount remaining a possibility.

UPDATE #1: Please read this post for The Rebelution's full coverage of Michael Session's victory.

11/10/2005

Odds and Ends: Alex's Turn

A SideTracked Focus: First Chat Tomorrow!

If you haven't already checked it out, get going! Fellow rebelutionaries Agent Tim, Spunky Junior, Jake of Mission 3:6teen, and Coie Igarashi have unveiled a project they've been working on for months: A SideTracked Focus (ASTF), what looks to be a dynamic and exciting online Bible study for Christian teens. The first chat is scheduled for tomorrow evening (the 11th) from 5 to 6 P.M. (EST). Don't miss it!

UPDATE: The chat will be held on Homeschool Blogger Chat, Room 1.

New Blogs For Your Consideration:

One of the things Brett and I have regretted about being so busy here in Alabama, is that we haven't been able to keep our blogroll up-to-date with all of the great new blogs we've discovered. A few have been added recently, however, and we would encourage you to check them out. Newcomers include:

Daughter of the King: This wonderful new blog just recently included several excellent posts on evangelism. Lindsey has a heart for God and good writing ability. Keep it up, Lindsey!

In the Great Sculptor's Shop: We're very excited about the subject of this blog: perhaps the world's most-loved Christian author, C.S. Lewis.

Jennifer's Musings: This American patriot expresses her gratitude to our country's troops.

We're Not Identical Or Fraternal: We're Half-Identical!

This evening, at the age of 17 years and 13 days, Brett and I were thrilled to (finally) conclusively discover our true identity as twins. This is a very big deal, because it has been an issue of deep mystery ever since we were born. You see, the doctor told my parents that we were identical. That means that after the egg was fertilized, it split, and two separate persons, with identical DNA, were eventually born.

For a short period of time, my family contented itself with this explanation; after all, Brett and I certainly looked similar, especially all wrapped up in blankets. However, the older we grew, the more distinct our differences became. In fact, those who have met us will quickly verify that we do not look identical. But while it may just seem as if the only explanation is that we are similar-looking fraternal twins, hold one moment; we'll never buy that idea. First of all, there was only one placenta. With fraternal twins, there would be two. Second, we are of very similar build. Our eye and hair color is the same. Our height and weight are also nearly the same. Quite simply, our similarity is much greater than that of any of other siblings we know. We aren't identical, but we were almost positive we weren't fraternal either. Unfortunately, the books from the library on twins shed no light on our dilemma.

With that understanding, imagine our delight when we discovered a more recently identified type of twins; the polar body, or half-idential twins:

Polar body twinning is very unusual and very rare. The process is quite complicated. The polar body appears when the egg has been developing, even before fertilization. It is a small cell that does not function and will usually degenerate and die. It is thought that in some cases, when the egg is old, the splitting off of the polar body takes place in an abnormal way. It then becomes larger, receives more nourishment, and does not die as it usually does. Instead, it acts as a second egg. The polar body and the egg share identical genes from the mother, but they may then be fertilized by two separate sperm from the father. This will result in twins who share half their genes in common (from the mother) and the other half different (from the two sperm). They share some features of identical twins and some features of fraternal twins and thus are so-called half-identical twins. — National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, "Twinning Facts"
This Is Where We Work:

A picture of the Alabama Supreme Court room for you all:

And the view from our office window this evening:

Alabama weather reminded us of Oregon today... Very strange.
Finally, We Have A Rebelution Button!



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