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

12/31/2005

Announcing: The Rebelution Tour

If God wills . . .
Click on the image below to download the teaser ad.
What you see above has been taking up a lot of our time lately. We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we prepare. God bless you all!

If you live near Sacramento, we hope to see you in March!
Visit us at www.rebelutiontour.com

12/30/2005

Blowing Dust Off Last Year's Resolutions

Every time New Year's Eve rolls around, I have this incredible urge to make resolutions. Fortunately, I'm not alone. Millions of people around the world view the New Year Holiday as an opportunity to throw off the disappointments and struggles of an old year and replace them with the possibilities and hopes of a new one.

This post, however, is dedicated to looking back. We're going to blow the dust off my last year's resolutions in hope that they might serve you in developing your own resolutions for 2006. Looking back at these resolutions fills me with gratitude and regret. There was victory and defeat for me in 2005 (more defeat than victory). But God was, is, and will always be faithful.

Disclaimers:

  • The reason I write New Year's Resolutions is because I believe God's Word when it says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:3) You will see that my resolutions reflect a dependence on divine strength.

  • This list of resolutions is more exhaustive than most people's. I decided to be thorough when I wrote them, and I was. This year, however, I don't have to write so much. I'm still working on following these!

  • New Year's is not the only time we can have the extraordinary feeling of leaving the past behind and starting with a clean slate. Such freedom is available every day, in much fuller measure, from Christ our Savior. His mercies are new every morning.

  • New Years is also not the only time we can resolve to make changes, and to improve ourselves. For Hebrews 3:13 tells us to "encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."

1.) I resolve to know only Christ and Him crucified. This means I am, in all things, dependent on Christ and the sacrifice He made for me. Therefore, I impose the following resolutions:

  • I resolve to begin every task with an acknowledgement of my weakness so that my “faith might not rest on [my own] wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:5)
  • I resolve to speak “as one speaking the very words of God,” and to serve “with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11)
  • I resolve to cultivate humility; acknowledging that neither eloquence nor superior reasoning, neither wise nor persuasive words can accomplish the Lord’s purposes. Only a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)
  • I resolve to continually remind myself of Psalm 16:2, “apart from [the Lord] I have no good thing.”
2.) I resolve to invest in my relationship with God as I would in the relationship of human friend; by increasing the time spent in conversation, by poring over His Word as I would over a letter from a close friend, and by thinking of Him when I am not otherwise engaged. In all these activities I remind myself that without Christ’s sacrifice I am unable to draw near to God.

3.) I resolve to draw closer to my family; knowing that the family is God’s ideal environment for the development of the fruits of the Spirit as well as the ability to communicate, empathize, and support. I recognize that in my preparation for marriage and family I will find no better field for practice than is provided by my parents and siblings, and that God has placed me under the authority of my father and mother for my good and His glory.
  • I resolve to obey my father and mother promptly and cheerfully. In this I practice obedience to my Heavenly Father and obtain His blessings. (Deuteronomy 5:16)
  • I resolve to set an example for my siblings in devotion to God, in industry, and in service.
  • In response to my siblings requests I resolve to say “yes” twice for every one “no”.
  • I resolve to maintain an “open-book” policy with regards to my parents; knowing that their wisdom will doubtless shed light on any situation I find myself in.
  • I resolve to cultivate a servant’s heart in regard to my family. Performing no less than one necessarily inconvenient, time-taking act of service daily for a member of my family.
  • In all these activities I remind myself that without Christ I can do nothing but with Him nothing is impossible. (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37, Luke 18:27)
4.) I resolve to subdue my body; knowing that “he who would see the face of the most powerful Wrestler, our boundless God, must first have wrestled with himself” (Arozco), and that I cannot give God my heart and keep my body for myself. (Discipline: The Glad Surrender, by Elisabeth Elliot)
  • I resolve to be faithful in physical exercise. Knowing that my body is the temple of God.
  • I resolve to be faithful in spiritual discipline. Knowing that “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) This discipline is of the heart and mind.
  • I resolve to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • I resolve to guard against my heart. Knowing that it is “deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • I resolve to be faithful in physical discipline. Gaining mastery over private vice and guarding against indulgence and sloth. For it is God’s will that “each person should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” (1 Thessalonians 4:4)
  • I resolve to maintain sleep habits that afford me adequate rest and that follow the adage, “early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
  • I resolve to maintain eating habits that nourish and sustain me. Careful not to develop tastes that are too high, rendering me hard to please, or tastes that are too low, rendering me tasteless.
  • In all these activities I rejoice that Christ’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
5.) I resolve to develop a teachable spirit and to accept correction with humility. (Proverbs 12:1, Proverbs 29:1)

6.) I resolve to inculcate diligence and industry in work and studies; knowing that I am in the season of preparation; that this season affords me the greatest convenience and ease in which to better myself; and that this season is passing quickly and will soon be gone.
  • I resolve to apply myself heart, soul, mind, and strength, to the curriculum and activities I have before me. Knowing that great blessing comes from doing the little things well and that “he who is faithful over a little will be set over much.” (Matthew 25:21, 23, Luke 19:17)
  • I resolve to put off childish things and become a man. Yet I also resolve to prevent manly duties of marriage and labor to distract me from my current season. In both ways I will endeavor to focus on the time at hand.
  • I resolve to set high-goals for myself. Despising wasted potential and could-have, should-have excuses.
  • In all these activities I persevere; knowing that what God requires He also provides.
7.) I resolve to be honorable in my interaction with my sisters in Christ. Respecting and appreciating their purity and innocence. Knowing that in our culture innocence isn’t retained by accident. (A Real Man, by Lori Hainline & Rebecca Chandler)
  • I resolve to know the value of a woman’s heart that I would not ask for it lightly.
  • I resolve to never arouse or awaken love until is so desires.
  • I resolve to ever act the gentleman. Cultivating the heart attitude of a servant and protector.
8.) I resolve to maintain order and cleanliness without just as within; knowing that both are necessary extensions of each other and that neither can exist apart from the sustenance of it’s counterpart.
  • I resolve to maintain a clean and orderly bedroom, bathroom, and working space.
  • I resolve to maintain a consistent schedule of exercise, study, and grooming.
  • In all these activities I submit my schedule to God’s reworking. (James 4:13-15)
9.) I resolve to strengthen my current friendships; making allowance for new bonds, but understanding that I am moving past the season of gathering and am entering the season of structuring. I have gathered my choice logs and now I am building the raft that will carry me through life’s storms.
  • I resolve to continue focusing on my male friendships while still investing in my female friendships; understanding the great insights and unique perspectives available from my sisters in Christ.
  • I resolve to spur my friends on to love and good deeds, to motivate them to know God in new ways, and to serve Him boldly. (Hebrews 10:24)
10.) I resolve to set an example and to be a leader.
  • I resolve to lead by example. (1 Timothy 4:12)
  • I resolve to lead as a servant. (Ephesians 5:25-28)
  • I resolve to lead others as I follow Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
These resolutions do not glorify me. I haven't kept one of them consistently. When I wrote them I was reaching for the stars, not out of hope that I'd actually reach them, but certain that by trying I wouldn't end up with a handful of mud. Alex and I challenge all of our readers to pursue holiness with the understanding that it will be a lifelong battle.

We're fighting too.

12/23/2005

Well, We're Back: Sweet Home... Oregon

Brett and I have just returned home to the Northwest after completing our two-month internship with Justice Tom Parker of the Alabama Supreme Court. The opportunity to work with Justice Parker and his staff was a gift beyond what we had imagined beforehand.

Justice Parker is a great example for rebelutionaries of a godly leader. Our admiration and respect for him and the work he is doing in Alabama greatly increased during our time under his leadership. Not only is he a justice who fears God more than man, but he has also surrounded himself with staff members who share his vision to combat judicial activism, to restore the historic foundations of law, and to raise up future generations to do the same.

The privilege of working alongside such powerful Christian legal minds — men whose credentials are too lengthy to mention here — was a tremendous blessing. We have no doubt that the knowledge, understanding, and ability that we gained through our time at the Court will prove invaluable as we continue to seek God's will for our lives.

We were also blessed during our time "down South" through fellowship with many godly individuals and families, each of whom God used to deeply impact both Brett's and my life — and particularly through the godly counsel and care of the family whose household we joined while in Montgomery.

God used our time there to convict us of many inconsistencies in our own lives, to expose gaps in the way we thought about many things, and to reveal weaknesses and build strength. The entire trip was truly a life-changing experience.

Another significant impact of the trip was in regards to The Rebelution. Many of the messages written about here — particularly our slogan Do Hard Things™ — are still in the developmental stages. Although neither of us has had time to post much over the past few weeks, we have been giving a great deal of study, thought, and prayer to the many aspects encompassed by a genuinely rebelutionary mindset.

It's exciting how much clearer our vision and understanding has become over the past two months. Now that we're home, we have to decide how to best communicate that understanding — and more importantly, how to change our own lives to be more consistent with that understanding.

Our specific plans for the next year are quite "up in the air." There are a lot of very exciting possibilities, but nothing is 100% confirmed. For now, Brett and I have decided to take a break from blogging for the remainder of the year — to spend time with our family, to discuss the future with our parents, and to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Please be praying for both us and our parents as we seek God's will in making several life-shaping decisions for the next year. We look forward to resuming regular posting in 2006. We also predict that there will be several exciting announcements made next month that you will not want to miss.

For now, we encourage all of you to focus your gaze on the "reason for the season" — Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, come to earth as a ransom for our sins. To Christ — the rebelutionary's Commander in Chief — be all honor and glory and might forever and ever.

God bless you all! Merry Christmas!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Alex and Brett Harris

12/22/2005

BREAKING NEWS: Meeting In Nation's Capital

Leaders of movement meet in DC

Washington, DC — Sources have reported a meeting in Washington, DC, last week between several national leaders of "the rebelution" — a worldwide movement of Christian young people rebelling against what they call "society's low expectations."

The three young men, Alex and Brett Harris, natives of Oregon, and Tim Sweetman, a DC area resident, were spotted last Friday night in a Ruby Tuesday restaurant downtown. While sources differ on the topic of their conversation, reports include "blogging," "future plans," and "seeking God's will."

Our photographers were able to snap the above photo by blending into the crowd during a private photo shoot. Further coverage as events warrant.

Copyright © The National Scoop 2005

12/19/2005

It's That Time Of Year: Homeschool Blogger Awards

Click on the banner to cast your votes for the first Homeschool Blogger Awards. Hosted by Spunky Homeschool. The link now works.
Here are Brett's and my recommendations:
Also, be sure to cast your vote for The Rebelution in the Best Teen Blog category, the Best Group/Team Blog, and in any of the other categories for which it was nominated (see this post for a full list).

Each person can vote once per category, and you must supply a valid email address. Make sure you get your eligible friends and family members to vote before December 26th!
God bless you all! Merry Christmas!

12/18/2005

Friends, Its Official...

Brett and I are very pleased to announce that The Rebelution has been voted by its readers as the Best of 1001-1750 in the 2005 Weblog Awards.
Brett and I were truly blown away by the enthusiasm and support The Rebelution received from its readers during the competition. Each of your willingness to vote — day after day, week after week, on multiple computers — was beyond what we ever expected. Brett and I really didn’t win this award, you did.

God has greatly blessed Brett and I through the blog — particularly through each of you, our readers. In a rapidly growing blogosphere, even good content does not guarantee readership. It has been amazing to see God's sovereign hand work through our parents and friends, through the generosity of established and successful bloggers, and through the faithful readership of rebelutionaries around the world — to take The Rebelution from 'brand new blog' to a 'Weblog Award winner', in little over four months. To God be the glory. Soli deo gloria!

As promised, we would now like to individually recognize our top supporters — those who voted most, and those who petitioned their readers to vote for The Rebelution as well. However, much information is lacking, particularly regarding individual vote totals. Please take advantage of the comments section to let us know how many times you voted so that we can recognize and thank our top five voters.

For now, we would like to give a big thank you to each of our fellow bloggers who alerted their readers of the competition and encouraged them to cast their vote for The Rebelution. We owe you all a large debt of gratitude.

Our Top Five Voters:
  1. HannaH (Recordari) — 29 votes
  2. TIED: Hannah (Uncomformed) AND Jason — 22 votes
  3. Marshall (Advancing His Kingdom) — 19 votes
  4. Kaitlin (Mission Amare) — 15 votes
  5. Dale Stoltzfus — 13 votes
Blogs Who Linked:*
Please alert us to anyone we missed. Thank you all again! God bless you... And Merry Christmas!
* Necessary Disclaimer: Just as with the blogs we link to on our sidebar — the content, views, and opinions found through the above links are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of, The Rebelution or its authors.

12/13/2005

A Flurry of Announcements

Click on the banner to vote for the Rebelution in the Homeschool Blog Awards.
Dear rebelutionaries,

You are amazing. Thank you all so much for your continued enthusiasm and support for The Rebelution. Be sure to keep voting every day.

With that said, there are a few important announcements that need to be made.

First, Brett and I are in Virginia for the rest of the week and do not have Internet access unless we take 30 minutes out of our "lunch break" to walk to the Apple store in the freezing cold weather. Suffice to say, we will most likely not be able to post in as timely manner as we would like.

Second, I want to address something that Brett and I are very concerned about. There are several of The Rebelution's readers who have visited Right Wing Sparkle's blog and left very mean-spirited comments. While we appreciate the enthusiasm of these readers, such comments are inappropriate and unacceptable. Remember that you are representing The Rebelution, Brett and me, your fellow rebelutionaries, and most importantly, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I would ask each of you — you know who you are — to go and apologize to RightWingSparkle. Thank you.

Third, Brett and I have been nominated in multiple categories in the first annual Homeschool Blog Awards. You can only vote once in this competition, per category. Be sure to enter your email address when you vote. Please cast your vote for The Rebelution in the following categories:
Best Teen Blog — Best Team/Group Blog — Best Current Events Blog — Best Photo Blog — Best Informational Blog — Best Inspirational Blog
Brett and I would be honored to be awarded any of these categories, but if we had to choose one, we would choose Best Homeschool Teen Blog. It is a highly competitive category with many incredible blogs. Please vote for us in all of the categories — but Best Teen is most important, due to the quality of the competition.

Important: If were planning to vote for us in the Best Inspirational category, please do us a favor and vote for our sister's excellent blog, Fearlessly Feminine, instead. She's a true rebelutionary, fighting against what our culture claims are "high" expectations, but are really increasingly low expectations of young ladies today.

On the same thread, two other blogs Brett and I are really pushing for are Agent Tim Online for Best Design, Rhetorical Response for Best Arts Blog.

Soli Deo Gloria! God bless you all!
Go and Vote for the Rebelution

Weblog Awards 2005: Vote Every Day!

This post will stay here until voting ends. Be sure to check below for new posts!
Remember, you can vote once, per computer, per day. If you keep track of your votes, we'll recognize our top five supporters here on the blog. Feel free to be creative (i.e. email relatives, call through your church directories, :wink: etc.) Thank you all so much!

UPDATE: As another incentive, we will also recognize (including a link) every blogger who posts encouraging their readers to vote. From what we can tell The Rebelution is the only homeschool blog, and one of only two teen blogs in the entire Weblog Awards.
Go and Vote for the Rebelution
What's all this about?

12/08/2005

Hard Things™ Come In Small Packages

Here on The Rebelution, our “trademark” slogan is the phrase Do Hard Things.

We really like it.

It’s the exact opposite of what our media-saturated culture — from public schools to church youth groups — tells its young people. It flies right in the face of the prevailing notion that the teen years are a vacation from responsibility.

And yet, it also holds the possibility of great misunderstanding. Short statements often require long disclaimers, but while we’ve devoted entire series to the ‘myth of adolescence’ and the ‘rise of the kidult’; the Rebelution's slogan, ‘Do Hard Things’ has only one post to its name — primarily due to our hectic schedule since coming to Alabama.

Because of this, we were thrilled to receive the following guest post, written by fellow-rebelutionary Alex King of SmartHomeschool. He has done an absolutely excellent job, communicating many of the thoughts that we have been thinking, but which we have just not had time to write out. As it is, I think he put it better and more concisely than we would have ourselves. Please pay close attention to this very important article on Do Hard Things:
I think we’ve all spent a good deal of time pondering the Rebelution’s challenge to “Do Hard Things.” It’s a motto that any young person would be wise to adopt as his own. But as I’ve considered this concept, I’ve always had one significant question: what are these hard things?

The tasks that first come to mind for me have always been big things. Things like changing the world, making feature films, and rowing across large stretches of European ocean - great accomplishments that are inspiring and exciting. They’re examples that have been used by the Rebelution, and they’re great ones. A lot of times, however, I have caught myself thinking that Hard Things are limited to big things like these.

Take the illustration that the Rebelution originally used: the Vikings. These men would get in their boats and row for huge distances to far away places, have a battle, and then row back with their ships full of plunder. This initially looks like a very noble occupation, and it was. What we tend to forget, however, is that this huge accomplishment of rowing across the ocean was actually made up of thousands and thousands of small strokes with an oar.

The Vikings could have easily lost their enthusiasm with these little strokes, discounted their importance, and procrastinated. Needless to say, this would have slowed them down significantly. Instead, they were diligent to make each stroke, realizing that these small tasks were synonymous with their big goals.

Another example we can look at is that of makers of the film “League of Grateful Sons.” The movie was created by a single family, the Botkins, who did the filming, special effects, CGI, score, and other elements of the production. This is amazing in itself, but I particularly want to look at the example of their 16 year old son who wrote the music for the film.

From the Rebelution’s coverage of SAICFF:
Benjamin (16) played a major role in the composition of the score. Anna and Elizabeth have kindly remarked that their "little brother" has greater talent in the area of composition. Indeed, Benjamin was not only competent, but he was diligent. Every night at 2:00 A.M. he would get himself out of bed (Mr. Botkin says they never had to wake him up) and take a five-hour shift at the computer, arranging the score for the film and improving the sound quality of each note and instrument. At 7:00 A.M. he would be relieved by Anna or Elizabeth, who would take the day shifts in a long and hard cycle. Such sacrifice characterizes the Botkin's approach to this film.
Hopefully this young man was somewhat of a morning person, but I don’t know anyone who could hear an alarm clock going off at that time of the night and feel like getting up 100% of the time. I imagine there were many times when, half asleep, he weighed the pain of getting up against the benefit of those extra hours composing.

Faced with that decision, most people would quickly decide to slam the alarm clock, go back to sleep, and remember to change it to 8:30 in the morning. Instead of giving in to what he must have felt like doing, however, he was able to look past the present: cheerfully investing in the future accomplishment of a finished film.

For a final example, let’s examine Hillsdale’s 18-year-old Mayor. Against all odds, precedent, and even sickness, he managed to become one of our country’s youngest civic leaders. Once again, however, we tend to forget how he accomplished this incredible hard thing: through many small hard things.

We forget the slice of time spent at a job, raising the $700 needed for campaign money. The knocking on an individual door, rallying the 670 votes he needed to win. The execution of each step, bringing the campaign to its final victory. Each was difficult and seemingly small, but without them, his bid for mayor would have remained where the bids of most other teens remain: as nothing more than a novel idea.

Unfortunately, the pull of an oar doesn’t tend to inspire us in the same way rowing across the ocean does. Getting up at 2:00am doesn’t have the same excitement as making a film. And being polite to our family just doesn’t have the same feeling as being a world leader. But this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Instead of having an attitude like this, we should find the same inspiration and excitement in the small things, keeping our eyes on our destination.

This is important because doing hard things that are large consist of doing many hard things that are small. Without doing these small things, we can’t achieve those huge goals. Look at this line from the parable of the talents in Luke 19:17, "And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities."

This isn’t simply a kingdom principle that Christ is talking about; it’s also a logistical principle. Yes, for our own good, God will hold back the cities until we can handle the little. But we should also realize that if we didn’t do the little, then we’d never accomplish the cities anyway.
Doing hard things means being diligent in the small. Getting across an ocean means many strokes of rowing. Scoring a film means many mornings of getting up early. Changing the world means changing our everyday actions. These are the hard things that we need to be doing if we really want to make a difference - the small, seemingly unexciting tasks that we so often procrastinate on, or ignore altogether.
So when you run into something small and unexciting, and you feel like procrastinating or ignoring it, don’t! Get up that extra hour earlier to work on that project. Reply to that email that could wait, but shouldn’t. Write that blog post that you’re simply not in the mood for, but need to do. Change the way you behave around your family for the better. Do those little things that don’t seem important, exciting, or enjoyable at first – but that can get you to your goals.

We all want to accomplish Hard Things, but we often forget to get excited about small ones. If we can do the small things, then we’ll be on our way to the large ones, and ready when we get to them.
Be sure to express your apprecation to Alex King for writing a guest post for The Rebelution. Appreciation can be expressed by 1) leaving a comment, or 2) visiting his excellent blog.

12/05/2005

Teens In The News: Michael, Glenn, and Graham

Seen any teens in the news? Let us know! If we post about it, we'll give you credit for the tip. Email us at rebelution [dot] blogspot [at] gmail [dot] com.
Michael Viscardi - Science Champion: 16-year-old Michael Viscardi, a homeschool student from San Diego, California, has been making headlines for his victory in the prestigious Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology, winning a $100,000 scholarship.

The Associated Press reports: [HT: Hannah and The Insomniac.]
Viscardi tackled a 19th century math problem known as the Dirichlet problem, formulated by the mathematician Lejeune Dirichlet. The theorem Viscardi created to solve it has potential applications in the fields of engineering and physics, including airplane wing design.

Glenn Wolsey - Online Entrepeneur: At 13 years old, New Zealander Glenn Wosley is the founder, owner, and contributor to Macs N Pods, an website devoted to news, reviews, articles, discussion, and how to's for Apple products. Started only four months ago, the site already has 1.2 million hits, and international advertisers are paying to take space on Wosley's site.

Homeschooled since he was nine, Wosley is also the reigning champion of the New Zealand Schools Web Design Challenge, beating out over 2,500 entrants last month with a site he designed about the sport cricket.

Wosley's story is a good example of the importance of both personal intiative and networking. The Manawatu Standard reports:
Wolsey is self taught in web design, but has had help from US online innovator Tim Robertson, whose own site gets 20 million hits a month. "I found Tim through Google, told him how much I liked his site and what I was doing, and he has become a mentor to me," Wolsey said.

Graham Bensinger — Sports Broadcaster: At 18 years old, Graham Bensinger is already making his mark as one of the hottest sports broadcasters in the nation. Host of "The Graham Bensinger Show," a weekly sports show carried each Saturday on ESPN Radio 1380 AM in St. Louis, Missouri, Graham started his preparation during his early teen years.

A sports fan for as long as he can remember, Bensinger launched an Internet radio show in January 2001, at the age of thirteen. To get his first interviews, Graham sent out fifty letters to former professional athletes, many of whom were baseball Hall of Famers. Out of the fifty, four responded, and Graham got his first interviews. From there, he began contacting the agents and publicists of potential interviewees, and slowly but surely worked his way up.

In August 2003, his show began airing on Sporting News Radio, and a year later he signed a contract with ESPN Radio. While seemingly a rookie by industry standards, because Graham prepared throughout his teen years, his experience is that of a seasoned veteran. His list of interviews include icons like John Madden and Bob Costas; legends like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Dan Marino; talents like Terrell Owens and Serena Williams; as well as two interviews with OJ Simpson.

In a November feature article on CNN.com, we are told: [HT: The Homeschool Revolution]
Bensinger says his age can be both a help and a hindrance when going after interviews, noting that when he started, some athletes did not want to have anything to do with him...

"I think as I've continued to get interviews," he says, "people see that I'm working hard, that I'm doing my homework, [and] the age doesn't have as much of an effect..."

While other teens may spend their free time hanging out with friends, Bensinger devotes hours to research, arranging and confirming guests, preparing questions and reading the latest sports headlines...

"Sure, you sacrifice some valuable time with friends," he says. "But on the same note, I love what I'm doing, and I know where I want to be in life and know where I want to get in life..."

"I think the difference between those who are successful in life and those who aren't is whether or not you have the drive and motivation and follow [your dream]," Bensinger says.

"Sure, people are going to say 'No,' and say, 'You can't do this' and 'You can't do that.' ... But if you work hard, in the end you will succeed."
Notice how these excerpts confirm and enhance principles we've spoken about on The Rebelution:
  • Many people in our society do not expect young people to be capable of quality work.
  • The way to success and accomplishment is hard work (i.e. "doing hard things").
  • Young people who are willing to do hard things prove that preparation — not age — is the deciding factor in a person's ability to perform a responsibility.
  • When you have a calling and a vision, you have to sacrifice. But it's worth it.
You'll notice that none of the above teens appear to be Christians — at least, not so far as I can tell from the articles I've read. However, like Michael Sessions, these young men turn our society's expectations of teenagers upside down. They demonstrate how capable young people can be if they apply themselves. They prove the power of a young person dedicated to a dream.

Friends, as Christians we have a calling that is higher than any earthly dream. People like Graham, Michael, and Glenn prove our potential, but the question is whether we are willing to take the principle and apply it to our own lives and to matters of eternal significance. Are we? Because that's what it means to be a rebelutionary.
"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found hard and left untried." — G.K. Chesterton

Do Hard Things™

Weblog Awards 2005: A Finalist

The 2005 Weblog Awards

Brett and I were honored for The Rebelution to be nominated for several awards in this year's Weblog Awards, hosted annually by Wizbang. Today it was announced that we have been chosen as a finalist in the category of Best of the Top 1001-1750 Blogs in the TTLB Ecosystem.*

We would be most appreciative, and greatly honored, if each of you would be willing to take the time and vote for us. You can vote once, per computer, per day (24 hours) and — in a competitive category like this one — every vote counts. Voting ends Thursday, December 15th.
Go and Vote for The Rebelution!
* Nominations were based off of early November's TTLB rankings.

Dear Rebelutionaries: An Apology

It has come to my attention — through the loving rebuke and wise counsel of my father — that I included a careless falsehood in my recent response to Deputy Headmistress's comment regarding the original post about David Ludwig and Kara Borden. In it I wrote:

...[Y]ou will notice that I never claimed that either David or Kara were saved. My first reference to Christianity was to say, "David and Kara, you understand, are churchgoers, youth group attendees, from Christian families, with Christian friends." Later, I referred to them as "homeschooled teens from Christian families." However, I did not claim that they themselves were born again.
This was not true. Though the post has been edited several times since it was first published — with the current version most clearly reflecting my conclusions on the matter — the original wording actually read, "David and Kara, you understand, are Christians, from Christian families..." This was soon changed, nevertheless, my claim that I had never labeled David and Kara as Christians was false. Even though I was not intentionally seeking to deceive, my statement was wrong — both literally and morally — and I ask all of your forgiveness.

I bring this up, not to spark a debate about David or Kara's salvation, but only to apologize for my lack of journalistic integrity. Although my response was not originally intended as a post, my failure to accurately represent the truth through my words certainly gave the appearance of dishonest revisionism — even while that was not my intention.

While small, this is still serious. Both the original post and my comment to Deputy Headmistress were accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. I want the apology to be as well. Even if nobody noticed, I would rather tell the world, and apologize, than to leave it unaddressed. Once again, please forgive me.

In closing, I would like to take this time to thank each of you for your faithful readership, encouragement, and support. Please remember us in your prayers. God bless you all!
A Debtor to Mercy, Alex Jordan Harris

12/04/2005

Up Again: Noah Riner Video Available Online!

Noah Riner, 21, sparked national controversy on September 20th with his speech to incoming freshman at Dartmouth College's annual convocation ceremony. In the speech, Riner did the unthinkable: extolling character while pointing to Jesus Christ — not only as the best example of character, but as the solution to man's inherent corruption.

Unsurprisingly, Riner's speech has received a great deal of media attention, by traditional media outlets, both secular and Christian, as well as by countless blogs. Alerted in early October by David MacMillan III of In Rejection of Mediocrity to a hosted video of the speech, The Rebelution, along with Agent Tim Online, became one of the first two blogs to link to it. However, within the next month the video was removed from the server on which it was hosted, and has been unavailable online ever since... That is, until now.

With the generous assistance of Eric Rice of Wright Film Association, The Rebelution is pleased to announce that the video of Noah Riner's convocation speech is back online. Links contained in previous coverage have been updated, so if you haven't read about this incredible display of Christian courage, go read and watch.

To just download the .wmv file, right-click here and save to your hard drive.

12/03/2005

Request: Hosting For Noah Riner Video

As some of you know, The Rebelution was one of the primary sources in the blogosphere for commentary on Dartmouth University student Noah Riner's convocation speech to incoming freshman two months ago, as well as being one the few sources on the Internet that provided a link to a video of the speech.

Unfortunately, since that time the video has been removed from the site on which it was hosted — and to my knowledge — is no longer available anywhere online. I have the .wmv file on my computer but do not have a decent place to host it. That's where you, our readers, come in.

Here's my request: Would anyone — with hosting capabilities and decent bandwith — be willing to permanently host the .wmv file?

If you would be willing to help The Rebelution make this powerful speech available to the public in video format, please email us at: rebelution [dot] blogspot [at] gmail [dot] com.

UPDATE: Eric Rice of Wright Film Association has kindly offered to host the video file. The URL will be made available within the next 24-48 hours and the links in past posts will be updated.

Soli Deo Gloria!

12/02/2005

Teens In The News: Patrick Armstrong

In a chilling reminder of the lessons being learned from David Ludwig and Kara Borden, news broke yesterday morning that — for the second time in less than a month — a homeschool teen has been arrested for murder.

Patrick Armstrong, a 14-year-old homeschooler from Fayette, Maine, has been charged with killing his neighbor, Marlee Johnston, 14. Both teens lived in the same neighborhood where, last Saturday, Marlee's body was found in a nearby pond, after she failed to return from a walk with the family dogs.

The Morning Sentinel reports:

Maine State Police are being extremely tight-lipped about the case. They have not released a cause of death, outlined a motive for the killing, or detailed the types of interactions the two teenagers might have had. The Medical Examiner's Office said the office is withholding the cause of death at the request of the Attorney General's Office.
It has been reported that certain personal websites published by Armstrong, which are not publically accessible, demonstrated a troubled and angst-ridden teen.

A troubled and angst-ridden homeschooler? That's right. And yet another who is likely a murderer.

This is tragic. And yet, it is also sobering. As we have discussed over the past few weeks: homeschooling, by itself, is not enough to prevent tragedies like this from happening. Going to church, by itself, is not enough to prevent tragedies like this from happening. Both of those things are good, but while many things are used by God as means of imparting His grace, they are not grace itself. To claim otherwise is to make homeschooling, or church, or a book, or a blog, or a method, or a mere human being — rather than Christ — our god.

The past month has been a wake-up call to the homeschool community and the body of Christ as a whole. Let us firmly resolve not to slip back into complacency.
May God have mercy.
Other bloggers covering the story: SpunkyHomeschool, Agent Tim, and Spunky Junior.

12/01/2005

David Ludwig and Kara Borden: Revisited

Make sure you read the most recent update made at the end of this post, in response to several of our reader's comments (updated Thursday, December 1st, 9:45 P.M. CST).
The following comment was posted in response to our recent post, "Teens In The News: David Ludwig and Kara Borden." Due in part to the attention our article has received, as well as the excellent opportunity for clarification it provides, we felt it was wise to share this comment with you and then respond.

We would like to reiterate our great appreciation for the wise words this reader shared. We have turned this exchange into a post only in order to clarify the message we're sending.
DeputyHeadmistress said: This is a good post, and I agree that we all need to look to ourselves and not be coplacent. But I think it's interesting how different people can read the same thing and come away with different ideas about it. I also read David's blog (and their friends' blogs) and I was struck by his view of God as a vending machine on high. I wasn't favorably impressed by either Kara or David's expressions of faith- they were not much different than expressions of delight over a rock band or a new and very cool shirt, IMO.

In reading those blogs I was also disturbed to see that for most of those kids murder and premarital sex were 'making bad choices' and nobody should judge those who indulged in those bad choices. But letting somebody's parents know what was going on was worse than a bad choice- that would have been a very, very *bad* thing for them to do. These kids have, at best, a very twisted sense of values, right, wrong, sin, and good and evil.

You might read this (and other news reports on the same site):
http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/18786

Did David Ludwig use his Christian faith to manipulate and get close to girls? John Powers, of Long Island, N.Y., has written about the case on his “Action Report” Web site.

In an interview today, he said that an anonymous source gave him access to Ludwig’s e-mail account and that Ludwig’s e-mails show Ludwig had another relationship with a girl he met while on a trip to Hawaii last summer.

Ludwig had contact with several other girls around the same time, Powers said.

In the e-mails, Powers said, “He starts off preaching the word. It’s a level of communication they all could understand, something they all have in common.”

The girls responded in the same vein, and the relationship developed, Powers said.

Ludwig had gotten into trouble locally and, it appears, in Hawaii, for his actions in the past year, according to news accounts and the Web sites.

The pastor of Ludwig’s church told a reporter last week that Ludwig took a girl to Ludwig’s family’s cabin in Juniata County without her parents’ permission last spring, but that the girl’s parents did not contact authorities about it.

In a story posted on Court TV’s “Crime Library” Web site, writer Steve Huff said, “David Ludwig, at least, seemed to use his ‘faith’ in the same way other men use sports cars — as a ‘hook.’ ”

I would also note that looking at a timeline of events, the 'spirit led' initiative to fix up The Barn as a place where the kids could go to 'seek God's face' (because, naturally, David adn his pals could not seek God's face at home or in their churches or with adult supervision) only took place after the family cabin was off limits to David because he took at least one girl there without her family's permission.

None of this negates your broader points, I would just be careful about taking those public confessions of faith as expressed by Ludwig and people like him at face value.
Alex Harris said: To begin, let me thank you for your input. Even from reading your (relatively) brief comment on our blog in response to my post on the subject, I appreciated the fact that you have diligently researched the issue. I too had been to Lancaster Online, reading the articles, and many of the lengthy comment sections. I had also frequented Crime Library and the Action Report, and read the released excerpts from the emails allegedly written by David and his various female acquaintances. All this to say, I was aware of the information you cite, before I wrote my post.

With that understanding, I would respectfully defend my position on a few of the points over which we disagree, but primarily, just clarify several areas of misunderstanding:

As you recognized, the message of my article was simply, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." You see, regardless of the differences between David Ludwig, Kara Borden and myself, the only thing that separates me from them is the grace of God. Remove His grace, and I would be no better. In fact, I would be worse.

To continue, you will notice that I never claimed that either David or Kara were saved. My first reference to Christianity was to say, "David and Kara, you understand, are churchgoers, youth group attendees, from Christian families, with Christian friends." Later, I referred to them as "homeschooled teens from Christian families." However, I did not claim that they themselves were born again.

Our reason for disagreement, even if it is ever so slight, I would assume, stems from a different statement: my claim that David and Kara, quote: "bore many signs of true faith and an understanding of the Gospel." In retrospect, perhaps I could have clarified this statement more explicitly by saying something more to the effect of: "bearing the outward appearance of faith and seeming to have an understanding of the Gospel." However, the purpose of the statement was only to recognize that — for a majority of their lives, and to most people around them — David and Kara appeared to be saved.

Now, bear in mind that when I say this, I do not necessarily refer to the several days, weeks, and months immediately prior to the murder of Michael and Cathryn Borden, but rather to the broader picture of Kara and David's lives. I think it would incredibly assumptive for us to say that — had we met David Ludwig or Kara Borden three to six months in the past — we would not have thought them to be pretty normal Christian kids. David we are told was involved in Bible Quizzing and probably had the entire book of 1 Peter memorized (and most likely, had other books memorized as well, since that was just one competition). As one of our readers aptly noted, David had memorized more Scripture than most of us have. Furthermore, a fellow employee and college student who was interviewed in the aftermath of the murder said, "I considered [David] to be a good Christian — he brought his Bible and read it during breaks."

Suffice to say that — during a significant portion of his life — David Ludwig showed more signs of being a Christian than many people who will never commit a crime. His familiarity with Scripture means he probably had a much better understanding of the Gospel than your typical youth group-attending, faith-professing Christian. 'The Barn Project' was described as the fulfillment of his father's vision for their barn to be used as a church ("7 years ago Greg Ludwig had a vision that this place would be used for "church." now 7 years later, God is beginning a work that is going to produce greater fruit than we can ever imagine; 30, 40, 50, a hundred fold! Our prayer is that The Barn may be a place of worship, where God is glorified, brothers and sisters in Christ are fed the meat of the Word, Jesus is worshipped, and God's will is advanced in His time.").

To be frank, based upon the evidence that is currently available, I would reject the theory that David used his "faith" as a hook to manipulate girls. At the very least, I would issue a strong word of caution. The truth is that, in many ways, the effort to label David as a "sexual predator" is distinctly Darwinian in nature; attempting to label criminals as sub-human or somehow less developed (or 'further depraved') than we are ourselves.

The quote by G.K. Chesterton, which I included in my original post, is appropriate again here: "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…”

Without expounding further at this time, and without claiming that David was nothing more than "starry-eyed and bushy-tailed," I would caution all of us to guard our hearts from the tendency of our secular culture to preoccupy itself with coming up with some sensational explanation for sin, when the real answer is given clearly in Scripture, and applies to each and every one of us: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

As Kathrynne said, the "Christian"-like actions performed by David and Kara are not enough, by themselves, to change anyone's heart. What this means is that we cannot be complacent or lacksadaisical about the state of our souls. If all we do is go to church, read the Bible, memorize Scripture, and say 'God bless you' in our personal correspondence, it's not enough. And let's face it, we don't even do all of those things consistently.

In conclusion, it all comes back to grace. We all are born with sinful and wicked hearts, and no matter how vast the distance between us and any given criminal... That difference is God's mercy, and not our merit.


UPDATE (12/1): My response to several issues brought up by our reader's in the comments section:
Jamie: You are right in observing that I am very hesitant — as the evidence currently stands — to say that David was only using the appearance of Christianity to feed an abnormal sexual obsession. I am very uncomfortable with the tendency to paint David's entire childhood and teen years — the Bible quizzes, the lifeguarding, the Bible reading, the emails, 'The Barn', the prayer huddles — as nothing more than a facade to lure impressionable girls.

I do not deny that David took a significant turn for the worse over the past few months, and a more subtle turn over the past year or two, but I do disagree with the theory that all the things that caused people to identify him as "a caring person," and as "a good kid" with "a strong faith," were just an act to hide a murderer waiting for an opportunity. I would never support releasing David, even if he repents, or consider him "safe," but I do believe that a 14 or 15-year-old David would have been surprisingly similar to a majority of young men in the church today.

Concerning the theological issue: Nightfly was right on when he said that the point is not whether David and Kara were/are/can be saved or not. I appreciate many of the things that have been shared by our readers on this subject, but I'd prefer it not turn it into a debate. For now, I will only say this: If David and Kara were/are truly saved, I would expect repentance. If they weren't/aren't truly saved, they are by no means beyond the reach of God's saving grace. I pray for repentance.

Tim: You're right when you say we have a serious problem. In fact, that was one of the very things I hoped people would start realizing when they read my post. The truth is that a majority of what we classify as "normal Christian teens" are Christians in name only... It's just the environment they happen to be in... It's their parent's faith, not their own. In fact, I think it's highly probable that this was the category into which David and Kara fell. This is of great concern.

Again, we should all take this opportunity to examine our hearts and exhort our fellow young people. Do we go to church just because our parents make us? Just to see our friends? Do we read our Bible, memorize Scripture, and talk the talk, just because that's what expected and admired in the environment in which we live?

This is really a message that goes to the heart of The Rebelution. Our actions should never be dependent on cultural expectations, whether it be church culture, homeschool culture, or pop culture. Our authority is Christ and His Word, and He does not change.

Let's be honest, guys. Have we ever tried to impress the opposite sex by our spiritual maturity? If we have, I think we should be cautious in labeling David as some sort of predator... At the very least, we should take great care to ensure that our attitude does not even hint at self-righteousness.

A debtor to mercy, Alex Jordan Harris

Nation Wide Wi-Fi and Where It Will Take Us

As an encouragement to our new readers to take advantage of our "Popular Independent Posts" section, located on our sidebar, we re-post the following October 6th article:
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who became internationally known for his campaign a year ago to legalise gay marriage, said on Monday he considered wireless Internet access a fundamental right of all citizens.

"It is to me a fundamental right to have access universally to information," Newsom told a news conference at San Francisco's City Hall, "this is a civil rights issue as much as anything else."

Though Newsom stresses that this is nothing more than his personal opinion, (i.e. "It is to me a fundamental right...") he continues his history of imposing personal views on others and plucking previously non-existent civil rights out of the air.

Nevertheless, this post is not a critique of Mayor Newsom or his history. Neither is it an evaluation of Wi-Fi as a civil right. Rather, I intend to convey two concerns I have regarding constant access to the Internet: intellectual isolation and societal stupidification.

Social isolation is universally recognized as a symptom of technology. Yet intellectual isolation is less well known—partly because it requires nearly constant access to the Internet. Quentin Schultze in his book, Habits of the High-Tech Heart, argues that the constant "collection and dissemination of information" offered by the Internet teaches us to be "impersonal observers" of the world, rather than "intimate participants." And because of this, "[w]e become informational voyeurs of life rather than responsible participants in the knowing of our own cultures and communities."

In essence Mr. Schultze is arguing that constant Internet access allows us to know all about people or things (think celebrities, sports teams, vacation spots, iPods, etc.), but without actually knowing them. It allows us to possess the superficial "knowing" that information provides without the deeper knowledge that "experience" provides.

This isolation is augmented once we begin fully relying on the Internet for information and cease interacting with people.

However, my greatest concern is the potential for societal stupidification. Constant access to information will create people whose brains are on the Internet. In other words, the storage space in our minds will be reserved for knowledge of "where-to-find-what" on the web, with little actual content retained. Once Internet access becomes constant the logical question becomes, "Why commit anything to memory when I can just Google it?"

Why bother to teach yourself how to replace a tire if step-by-step instructions are constantly available using nation-wide Wi-Fi? If your cellphone and laptop become constant sources of all necessary information, why memorize anything but your girlfriend's name?

The truth is that we only memorize what we fear we'll forget. Constant access to the Internet eliminates the need to remember anything—accept how to find information on the Internet.
The scary question becomes: When these high-tech luxuries are taken away, perhaps as the result of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, how will we cope? And more importantly, what will we really know?