Response to suggestions about movies

     Nancy Picogna’s comments about a couple of current PG rated movies from yesterday’s blog provoked some response. Natalie Bishop wrote, "I second Nancy’s thoughts and message here. I listened to the Marley and Me cd (picked up at a Cracker Barrel) on a long trip by myself and was disappointed in the amount of swearing. Based on the book reading, I knew the movie would disappoint. I do want to recommend a movie I got at the library recently which was wonderful for a family movie. (especially girls!) It is a Hallmark movie called Follow the Stars and we all enjoyed it."   Karen Diestelkamp wrote, "Our family recently watched a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Front of the Class. (Some friends recorded it for us when it was shown on television a few of weeks ago.) We thoroughly enjoyed it and we recommend it. It is based on the real life story of a man now living and teaching school in Georgia. We give it a rating of excellent!"   Wayne Goforth wrote, "Don’t forget that there are the online moivie reviews from a ‘christian’ perspective.  http://www.pluggedinonline.com/movies/movies/a0004412.cfm ."  And charles0322 posted on the blog (see below), "You sure can’t trust them. My sister was watching Beetlejuice from the 80’s and swore she heard the F word. We rewound and sure enough this PG movie had that word! You can not even trust the G movies!!!! Look at Cars from Disney Pixar. While a really great movie, it does have a cussword where he says , ‘Somebody get me out of this Hillbilly H***,’ and there is an attempt at using Christ’s name in vain. At the end one car goes, "Oh, for the love of Chrysler." Depending upon your view of taking the Lord’s name in vain, this was a veiled attempt." I am not a "movie buff," so I have never started doing movie reviews but content myself with book reviews. But I do wish to pass along information that you can use.

FYI about some current movies

     Our friend Nancy Picogna, who is a homeschooling mom in Cullman, AL, reported the following. "Just wanted to share a concern… I was looking up a movie for Laura on Screenit and thought, while I was at it, I’d look at a couple of current movies that are out there that are being portrayed as seemingly ‘innocent’. Before you take your children (or yourselves!) to see Marley and Me or Bedtime Stories, please look carefully over the parent reviews. I certainly don’t want to feed my mind or my children’s minds on the words, phrases, or situations in these films. They are both rated PG and, from what I read, it wasn’t long ago that they would have been rated PG-13. My conclusion is that ‘PG’ isn’t safe anymore (actually, we haven’t trusted the PG rating for a LONG time…)."   It is not the place of this blog to tell you what movies you can and cannot see, just as it is not the goal of the book reviews to tell you what you can and cannot read. However, it is our aim to give as much information as possible so that parents who are trying to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord can make informed choices.

Good reading

     The Nov., 2008, issue of Imprimis, a free monthly publication of Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI ( www.hillsdale.edu ) which prints as articles speeches delivered at the college’s activities, has a great article by Dinesh D’Souza entitled "Created Equal: How Christianity Shaped the West." The new breed of "village atheists," such as Richard Dawkins, Chrisotpher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, contends that the world would be better off if Christianity had never existed. D’Souza answers their arguments. The Dec., 2008, issue of Imprimis has an article by Larry P. Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, that makes a good case for limited government under our Constitution; it would make a great resource for high school government classes. The Nov./Dec., 2008, issue of Home School Legal Defense’s The Home Schol Court Report ( www.hslda.org ) is a special issue that tells the untold story of the recent California homeschooling case; in addition to the cover article by homeschool graduate and freelance journalist Heather Terwilliger, there are articles on the subject by Chairman Michael P. Farris, President J. Michael Smith, and others. The Jan./Feb., 2009, issue of No Greater Joy ( www.nogreaterjoy.org ) contains an editorial by Michael Pearl entitled "Dogs, Cats, and Kids," and the Pearls’ 2009 calendar, along with other interesting information.

the incoming administration, homosexuality, sex education, and abortion

     What we can expect in the field of education from the Obama administration: Laurie Higgins, Director of Illinois Family Institute’s DSA, reported that Obama searched the nation for the best candidate to serve as Secretary of Education, and, lo and behold, he found just the person in his home state of Illinois: Arne Duncan, current CEO of the Chicago Public School system. To be fair, Duncan has earned praises from some quarters for his support of charter schools, his willingness to close failing schools, his support for greater student accountability, and his promotion of merit pay for teachers. Even conservative educational policy expert, Chester Finn, president of the non-profit Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is pleased with Duncan’s appointment. That said, however, Duncan also recommended approval of the proposed Chicago Social Justice High School-Pride Campus that was committed to affirming, and therefore normalizing, homosexuality. This publicly subsidized high school, which the proposal designers have promised to reintroduce next year, would have had homosexuality-affirming curricula. Duncan’s approval of this highly controversial proposal was foolish, irresponsible, unethical, and pedagogically unsound. His recommendation necessarily required that Duncan arrive at conclusions regarding the nature and morality of homosexuality and then required that the taxes of hard-working Illinois taxpayers subsidize the promotion of views that many believe hurt teens and undermine marriage, the family, and the public good.

     More concerning Arne Duncan: Lauri Higgins also said that perhaps Arne Duncan’s appointment as Secretary of Education is a good time to revisit the wisdom, ethics, pedagogical soundness, and efficacy of comprehensive sex education–yet another misnomer in the field of education. In 2006, under Arne Duncan’s leadership, Chicago Public Schools, adopted comprehensive sex education curricula. According to the Windy City Times, "On April 26, the Chicago Board of Education unanimously passed the Family Life and Comprehensive Sexual Health Education policy submitted by Chicago Public School ( CPS ) administrators, according to a press release from the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health ( ICAH ). . . . A CPS task force worked with youth leaders from around the city who were affiliated with ICAH to shape the policy." The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health held its Spring 2006 fundraiser at the Playboy mansion, which is understandable because who cares more deeply about sexual ethics than Hugh Hefner and his daughter Honorary Event Chair Christie Hefner. Educators, with their voracious appetites for the hearts and minds of other people’s children, continue to gobble up increasing areas of life. Their apparently insatiable hunger to remake the world in their own image blinds them to the arrogance of their quest. And their manipulation of rhetoric blinds taxpayers to the inappropriateness of both their means and ends. "Comprehensive sex education" is education-speak for sex education curricula that, among other things, teach students subversive views of sexual conduct, abortion, and homosexuality. Illinois Family Institute has a counter-cultural concrete suggestion for all parents of children in public schools: for just health class, homeschool your children. Co-ed sex education classes further undermine the virtue of modesty that our culture is doing a remarkable job already of undermining. Modesty is not to be confused with shame or prudery. Separating adolescent boys from adolescent girls for discussions of sexuality reinforces the idea that sexual activity and sexual anatomy are intimate and private. Co-ed classroom discussions about sexual matters only serve to break down natural sexual barriers of modesty that cultural institutions should be strengthening. Perhaps if enough parents opt to homeschool their students for health class, the decline in enrollment, which would in turn affect staffing, would lead public school administrators to rethink the wisdom of co-ed comprehensive sex education curricula. If, however, enrollment is little affected and schools maintain co-ed comprehensive sex education curricula, at least those parents who opt their children out will have escaped yet another attempt at indoctrination. Of course, we would recommend that god-fearing parents take their children out of public schools altogether and homeschool them. Also, while those of us who already homeschool do not have to worry about these problems, it is still important to know about them so that we can be aware of the direction in which our culture is headed.

     Something else that we can expect from the Obama administration: One News Now reported that the Obama-Biden Transition Project posted a report on its website that calls for dramatic policy reversals on abortion, including $1 billion in taxpayer money for international abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. The report, titled "Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration," also calls for a 133-percent increase in funding for the Title X program, which funds Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, is hoping a Republican-led effort in the Senate will block Obama’s plan to substantially increase taxpayer funding of the abortion industry. "This billion-dollar bailout of the abortion industry comes at a time, number one, when the economy is suffering dramatically with true need. And number two, it communicates an incredible depth of arrogance, especially when you consider that the vast majority of Americans — men and women, no matter who you talk to — they don’t believe that people who don’t believe in abortion should be funding it," she contends. "Most Americans don’t believe that we should be funding abortions, especially in a time of economic crisis." The Susan B. Anthony List has started a "Stop the Abortion Bailout" campaign designed to recruit thousands of activists to send letters to their senators "with the goal of securing the 41 votes necessary to sustain a Senate filibuster of the abortion bailout." As you know, it is the rabidly pro-abortion Planned Parenthood that has helped to develop the values-neutral (aka pro-immorality) sex education programs that are used in many public schools.

Jesus ‘not banned’ from public schools (or is He?)

     Again, not necessarily to endorse the religious celebration of Christmas, but just to point out how some public school teachers view any and all "religion," Pete Chagnon of OneNewsNow reported on 12/19/2008 that a religious rights advocate is troubled by a recent occurrence of censorship at a Mississippi school. Hattiesburg, Mississippi, sixth-grader Andrew White was given a creative expression assignment as part of his language class. Students were allowed to choose from three topics, and Andrew chose "What Christmas Means to Me." Andrew wrote a poem titled "A Great Christmas" that reads: "The best Christmas ever is when everyone is there. It is when everyone is laughing here and there. That is the Christmas I want to share. Christmas is about Jesus’ birth. About peace on Earth. This is what Christmas is about. It is when He lay in a manger. And the three wise men come to see. That’s what it means to me." After Andrew referenced Jesus in his poem, his teacher Latasha Atkins docked his grade and told him that mentioning Jesus was not allowed. She then instructed him to write a new poem. Matt Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, disagrees with Atkins’ point-of-view. "The good news is that the principal, Carrie Hornsby, eventually sided with Andrew and his parents, changing his grade to a 100 and conceding that there was nothing improper in using the name of Jesus," he notes. The most horrifying part of the story, according to Staver, is that this sixth-grader was told that Jesus is not allowed in public school. "I think some educators need education that the story of Christmas, and the birth of Jesus, is not banned from our public schools," he points out. Principal Hornsby did, in fact, tell school teachers to write letters home to parents informing them that religious expression is permitted under federal guidelines. However, Andrew’s paper was supposed to be displayed at the Winter’s Writers Board, and it was not. "I think there is still work that needs to be done," Staver concludes. "I think that this school needs to hear loud and clear from people around the country that this is not going to be tolerated, that in fact they should not censor, they must not censor, the name of Jesus or the essence of Christmas." Andrew’s mother Leah White contacted OneNewsNow and said this particular situation has frustrated her and her husband, James, to the point that they will be looking into home-schooling options (editor’s note: YEAH!!! WSW.]. According to Leah, she would not have known about the situation had her son not been late in turning in the rewritten project, and she wonders what else is going on in the classroom without her knowledge. Leah also stated that she will be contacting her state representatives and urging them to pass legislation protecting religious freedom in school.

Here’s what to expect in our society if the atheists ever get in control

     First, let me say that the purpose of this item is not to endorse the religious observance of Christmas. However, even though my family does not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, it riles me that there are those in our nation who would try to take away the right of our society to acknowledge its traditional Judaeo-Christian heritage. An IFI E-Alert headlined "Atheists Attack Religious Displays in Springfield" by David E. Smith, Executive Director with Illinois Family Institute, said that a Nativity scene went on display in the Illinois Capitol Building in Springfield on December 2nd. Standing in the Rotunda, the manger scene-a symbol of our Savior’s birth-is a celebration of Christmas which is both a state and federal holiday. A Menorah and a Christmas tree are also displayed, both of which represent the hope and joy of this very special time of year. But inevitably there are citizens who are offended by any reminder of the Creator, and are compelled to promote their unbelief by attacking the religion and faith of others. So now, alongside the Nativity scene in the Rotunda, there has been erected an atheist sign in celebration of, uh, nothing. This atheist sign, sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin, points to and celebrates nothing, but in doing so, it deliberately and explicitly disparages the beliefs of people of faith. Why then, would the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, which issues display permits, allow a hateful and intolerant sign to stand in close proximity to positive religious exhibits and why now? The atheist sign reads: "Our message at this season of the winter solstice is may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." The question regarding the placement of the atheist message a few feet away from the Nativity Scene is the issue of propriety, civility, and respect. IFI believes it is both an inappropriate place and time to erect this mean-spirited sign critical of the deeply held convictions of millions who observe Christmas or Hanukkah. Ironically, the atheist group that sponsors this confrontational display, and who have erected a similar confrontational display in Washington State, claims to want freedom from religion while actively promoting what are, in truth, religious beliefs. The dictionary defines "religion" as a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects. The beliefs that "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds" are all unproven, faith-based claims for which there is no evidence. So, while the group’s leaders claim that religious messages should not stand in public places, these atheists from Madison are plunking their religious message smack dab in the center of a public place. The issue is not whether the faith-based organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation, should be permitted to erect their display. The issue is where and when they should be allowed to erect it. The timing and location seem clearly designed to be provocative and confrontational rather than merely to express an idea. It seems that another location and/or another time would be a reasonable, respectful, and wise response to their request to post their anti-Christmas, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-theology, and utterly faith-based message. Such a decision would accommodate their religious freedoms while respecting the beliefs of those who celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas. (May I suggest October 31st or April 1st?) Aren’t there enough negative messages in the world? Let us, during this time of joy for so many, preserve religious freedom and equality while demonstrating true tolerance and generosity of spirit.

When friends quit homeschooling

     (On Monday, December 15, 2008, HomeSchoolBlogAwards had the following blog from Spunky Homeschool).

     Recently, I ran into a homeschool friend that I hadn’t seen in a few years. As we began to catch up with one another, the inevitable question came up, "Are you still homeschooling?" With a downward glance and slight shuffle of her feet, she responded, "No. We had to give it up last year because…." But before she could continue with her explanation, I gave her a hug and interrupted, "Please don’t feel like you owe me an explanation. You’ve made your decision and I’ll support you in whatever way I can." Her face brightened, the tension eased, and we were able to continue our conversation and, more importantly, our friendship. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t always been so gracious. Very early in my homeschooling journey, I would have pressed in and tried to "help" her see why that can’t possibly be the best choice. But it never worked and it usually killed what little hope there was of retaining the friendships. If you’ve been around homeschooling as long as I have, you will probably encounter families along the way who will decide that homeschooling is no longer the right choice for them. Change is never easy, but that doesn’t mean I have to make it harder on them. The worst thing I can do as their friend is stamp a judgment on them, make them feel that they are a failure, or destroy the friendship because they have changed the way they educate their children. Once the decision has been made, it’s time to move on and allow God to lead them in the way that they should go. If that’s back to homeschooling then I’ll be there to help them along; if not, then I’ll still be around as their friend. Friendships are more important than homeschooling. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way, but at least I finally learned it.