Fox’s ‘Choice’

This past Saturday night, the Fox News Channel aired a compelling one-hour program titled Facing Reality: Choice“. 

In the program, Fox followed a trio of women as they went through their own particular “choice” process after learning that they were pregnant.

The women, their circumstances, their attitudes, and finally their choices could not have been more heterogeneous.

Kayla is a beautiful woman in her low-20’s, born and raised in a practicing Christian environment by her strongly pro-life mother. As a teenager, she took the “chastity pledge” and wore a “purity ring” to acknowledge her commitment to remain a virgin until marriage.

She herself was strongly anti-drug, and like her mom, thought of herself as strongly pro-life. Then she went to college, turned into a partier, experimented with drugs, met a guy, got pregnant.

Her unmarried roommate was also pregnant, and they had frequent girl-chats about how fun it was going to be having their kids at the same time, and raising them as friends.

Big problems popped up though (imagine that) when Kayla’s “partner” (read: baby’s daddy) didn’t want to raise a child. Suddenly Kayla was preparing to become a single mother.

With her future on the line, she was after all trying to graduate from beauty school, Kayla made the “difficult” choice to have an abortion, against everything that she had previously believed in as a theory. She even was able to enlist her mom’s support in the project, and mom attended the actual abortion procedure with her.

It was here that mom learned, lo and behold, that it was not Kayla’s first time. She had a previous abortion within the same year! She is apparently ostracized by many in her church community. Oh, and her roommate decided to also have an abortion.

Jeanne is a 30-year old woman, like Kayla she is an attractive blonde, and single. But Jeanne also has the hardened look of what she has been for the past decade and a half: a drug addict.

In addition to being an addict, she has given birth already to five children, and is now pregnant with her sixth. She goes through men, and pregnancies, like Sherman through Atlanta. The angle with Jeanne is that she is an immature, irresponsible person, but that she can’t or won’t make the choice for abortion.

She has had her first few kids taken from her by their grandmother, without a fight as she acknowledges it is for their best under her circumstances. She then decided on adoption as the best for another child. Finally, she may have (the facts are a little murky, as is much of her real story) miscarried another child.

Now with her current pregnancy, she agreed to adopt out this child to the same couple who had adopted her previous one. The couple agree to pay for her support completely, including of course medical costs, up until six weeks following the birth of the child.

One gets a sense that Jeanne may be in it for the financial “benefits”. But she meets yet another guy, and is considering making a go of it with him and the upcoming baby. The show leaves us with the knowledge that the baby is due in February of ’08, but that Jeanne has disappeared from their radar.

Brooke is a young wife and the mother already of one healthy child, but she desperately wants another and the couple has been trying to get pregnant for some time. Finally, she and her husband are happy to learn that she is indeed pregnant.

However, something is wrong, and tests reveal that her baby has a fatal birth defect. If she goes through with the pregnancy, the baby is not likely to live for more than a few hours.

The initial devastation of this news for the couple is replaced by the resolution of their choice: to have the baby and leave the rest in God’s hands. They want to hold their child, to look into it’s eyes, to give it the completion that it was meant to have from conception.

Brooke goes through with the process, getting to see her baby in ultra-sound procedures right up until the last days. Thanks to the clarity of this modern technology, the couple is even able to determine that the baby has the husband’s nose.

However, their daughter ends up still-born, having passed away approximately twenty minutes before her birth. The family buries her and goes through a normal grieving process, but only after they get to hold her and let her know that in her brief existence, she was indeed loved.

Three women, three varied circumstances, three incredible choices in the women’s lives.

The show does not present political arguments, does not show pro-life protests at abortion clinics, does not show pro-choice feminists or humanists defending Roe vs. Wade.

With the exception of talking about Kayla’s upbringing and background as a contrast to her own eventual decision, the show does not take on any religious angles.

From a medical angle, an abortion doctor is interviewed and states that he doesn’t “kill babies, I save women’s lives.”

Fox bills it as taking no position: “there are no experts and no politicians, only three women telling their very personal stories“.

However, in the telling of the stories in the women’s own words, it is hard not to come to some conclusions that would be considered as polarizing judgments, and my bet is that the folks at Fox get plenty of feedback on this show.

Here is my take:

Kayla is the typical person for whom values and morals are great and preferred, until it comes down to their having to personally stand up for them. Despite her Christian upbringing, she makes the wholly un-Christian decision to kill her baby. Twice.

She defends her “choice” (the babies, of course, never got to make one) to move on with her life as a beautician. The Kayla who opened the show seeming so much like a model young woman deteriorates into a selfish, vain, immature excuse-maker.

Jeanne is easily the most openly irresponsible of the trio, her lifestyle exposing her children to difficult circumstances. But for whatever reasons, she chooses to have the children, thus at least giving them a chance.

Her earlier kids are being raised by their grandmother, and another is adopted to a solid couple, and all seem to be fairing well to this point. They are not out of the woods, and there is another sibling on the way, but they are all alive.

Brooke has the most difficult of the circumstances. She makes the emotionally wrenching decision to go ahead with a pregnancy that she knows will end in the death of her baby. But the decision turns out to be easy for her, because she recognizes the baby within her as life, one that has as much value as her own.

Brooke’s baby girl dies. Kayla’s babies are dead. The difference is, Brooke’s child got to live out her natural life, short as it was. Kayla’s were basically painfully sucked out of existence by a scraper and vacuum cleaner.

I have some personal experience with this issue. It has touched my own life in the distant past. Like most men, I didn’t have much say in the ultimate decision. It still haunts me, and the experience has absolutely colored my current position to staunchly defend the life of any unborn child against all but the most serious threats to the mother’s physical well-being.

How anyone can say that the intentional killing by a healthy mother of an unborn child is a “choice” is beyond me.

For giving us this well-made glimpse at the decision-making process of these prospective mothers, Fox once again deserves kudos.

Narrowing the 2008 Republican field

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Busy as this particular American’s life is, I had to record this week’s debate among the current Republican candidates for President in 2008.

After finally getting to watch the debate in it’s entirety last night, I can say without any trepidation that it is time to narrow this field.

So having heard their positions and judged the pulse of the party to this point, and with apologies to these men, each of whom would be a better President than either of the Democratic party front-runners, it is time to say goodbye to the campaigns of Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, and Ron Paul, good men all.

This would leave the field consisting of, in alphabetical order by last name: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson.

The following is my own brief take on where these candidates currently stand with me, an average Republican, as they move forward looking for my vote:

Rudy Giuliani: the former New York mayor proved his mettle in the aftermath of 9/11. During this time, and in his previous years as NYC mayor, Giuliani showed that he is an outstanding manager of challenges and motivator of people, and showed after 9/11 that he can lead in times of crisis.

His book “Leadership” gave an outstanding look into what makes him tick, and revealed an exceptionally skilled politician. He understands the security and economic issues completely.

However, I remain concerned about his public position on life, his support for abortion. Moving forward, he will need to continue to show his strengths, and will somehow have to prove that he is a defender of our most vulnerable children, the unborn.

Mike Huckabee: the former Arkansas governor is emerging, at least in my mind, as a strong dark-horse candidate. Fact is, when this process began, I could not have told you a thing about him. But with each and every publc appearance and debate, he gets more and more attractive as a candidate.

Huckabee is far and away the leading “Values” candidate, and his position on the life issue is second to none. He shows a strong grasp of all the other issues as well.

He needs to keep impressing, and needs to find a way to build his candidacy stronger financially to compete with the big boys, but there is no doubt that he has struck a serious chord and is a player that I now take seriously and watch closely.

John McCain: for some reason, I just cannot get over my dual impression of the Senator from Arizona. On the one hand, there is no doubt that he is a true American hero. A graduate of the US Naval Academy, he was nearly killed at least three times.

As a young fighter pilot, his plane crashed in training. Again as a fighter pilot on-board the USS Forrestal, his plane was accidentally struck by friendly fire while still on the deck of the ship. And finally, he was captured and held in Vietnam as a POW for five and a half years during which he was repeatedly tortured without bowing to interrogations.

On the other hand, I am concerned that he comes off, at least to me, as one-dimensional: a strong military man and one who would absolutely defend our country well. Is it just me, or does he seem to be aging rapidly? I have concerns over his ability to physically last four years, let alone eight.

Mitt Romney: the former governor of Massachusetts, businessman, and savior of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic games, he has shown the most personality of any candidate. He is handsome, charming, articulate, knowlegable, and has the requisite leadership and business skills and experience. There is almost nothing to dislike about the man.

If he were religiously Protestant, or even Catholic, he might already be the rock star of the Republicans. Only his Mormonism seems to strike a hesitant chord with some voters. However, the man is a Christian to me, and that is all that matters in the end.

The fact that he has changed positions over the years on some key issues is of no concern. This is what happens in many folks lives, they become more conservative as they age and understand the issues better. It is what happened in my own life. I like Romney, and simply desire to see him continue to grow as he faces off against this experienced field over the next few months.

Fred Thompson: until this most recent debate, he was easily the biggest disappointment to me personally. There is no doubt as to his conservative bonafides. He earned a strong conservative record in the US Senate from Tennessee. He has been a popular TV actor and in his bit roles in motion pictures over the past decade or so, and so is familiar to and popular with many people.

But in his early campaign, he just seemed like he was coasting, possibly disinterested. That was obviously not the case in this Florida debate. Thompson slightly worries me in the same age way that McCain does, and I would still like to see more energy from his appearances. Perhaps Florida was the start of his making this impression.

Every one of them understands that America must remain sovereign, strong, competitive in business and militarily.

Every one seems to understand that judges need to be solid constructionists, rather than trying to legislate from the bench, and would appoint these types to the courts, especially to the Supreme Court.

Every one holds that God is vital to their own lives and to the nation, and that He needs to remain as a publicly recognized influence, the greatest influence, in our society.

In the end, every one of these candidates is head and shoulders above both Hillary Clinton
and Barack Obama as an American Presidential candidate.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain

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Most everyone has heard of Jesus’ unforgettable lessons taught at what has become known as the “Sermon on the Mount“, what I believe to be the greatest single speech or teaching ever given.

On that day, as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer and the Golden Rule.

He told us that we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world“, that we should love our enemies, and taught mankind on a wide variety of issues from divorce to money to managing our anger.

But lesser known was his “Sermon on the Plain”, as described in Luke’s Gospel.

After beginning with some blessings similar in many ways to the Beatitudes, Jesus goes on to warn us of our own greed and selfishness:

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”

Bummer, huh? I mean, this Jesus was some tough guy to please, huh?

We can’t make good money, eat well, have a sense of humor, win friends, and influence people? What does he expect, everyone to sit in a cave naked, eating crickets and praying solemnly for our entire lives?

Not exactly.

What Jesus was warning of was something that has taken root in American society today. A “me-first” culture, sometimes a “me-only” one. He was warning us that focusing on our own ego gratification was a sure way to miss out on a place in Heaven.

Jesus was not saying that it is bad to be rich, but that those who are blessed with wealth need to manage it responsibly, share it willingly, and use it’s benefits well for the betterment of mankind.

He was not saying that it was bad to enjoy good meals, but that we should do nothing to excess, and that we should share any excess with those who have little or none.

Christ was not saying that we should not laugh. On the contrary, a good sense of humor is a blessing. He was saying that we should not laugh at the plights of others, putting down and shutting out those less fortunate in life than ourselves.

Finally, he was not saying that it was bad to wish to be thought well of, but that we should not be so consumed with needing to feed our ego with the approval of others that we neglect to love our neighbors.

If God has blessed you with excess, there are many ways that you can heed Jesus’ warnings. You can donate material wealth to charities. You can volunteer in service to worthy causes. You can put a smile on another’s face. You can help call others to the Lord.

Provide well for your family and yourself. Enjoy the finer things in life when they come to you.

But always remember that health, wealth, happiness, and peace of mind are all gifts from God, and that you are expected to share them with and spread them to others as much as possible.

You and me against the world

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Many Sundays here at the old Blog are going to be, barring some major story that needs attention, our chance to present and discuss religious and/or spiritual matters. It is, after all, the Lord’s day, so the topic is most appropriate.

Though I am a practicing Roman Catholic, I try to keep myself open to any positive Judeo-Christian influences, and that is where the topics and inspiration will be drawn from.

Today will be about some of the worldly things that we who are believers find ourselves up against in the struggle to not only strengthen our own beliefs, but evangelically spread them to others.

In a recent article for the Christian Post, guest columnist and best-selling author of “The Purpose-Driven Life” pastor Rick Warren presented Six Worldviews You’re Competing Against“.

Warren listed these: 1) The one with the most toys wins, 2) I’ve got to think of me first, 3) Do what feels good, 4) Whatever works for you, 5) God doesn’t exist, and 6) You are your own god.

In his article, Warren briefly presented each view, and then presented a Biblical refutation of each.

When we consider the six worldviews above, for the vast majority of Americans the last two are already defeated.

According to an ABC News poll conducted in 2002, among the American adult population an overwhelming 83% consider themselves as Christians.

For more than 4 of every 5 adult citizens of the United States, God does indeed exist, and certainly as Christians these folks understand that they are not their own gods.

However, the battle comes as we move around the world, after all these are worldviews that we are struggling against.

Research from the same poll presented that while 85% of the world population is religious, only 33% of these are Christians, resulting in a wide variety of opinions regarding just how these people feel it is best to serve God.

This splintering of religion leaves believers open to attacks by the 15% of the people who are not religious at all. Many of these secularists belong in positions of media, information-sharing, and entertainment power.

In his recent book “Culture Warrior” (an absolute “must-read”), pundit and Fox News lead man Bill O’Reilly presents this battle, particularly here in America, as being between Traditionalists and Secular-Progressives (SP’s).

The “Traditionalists” support classic American values of church and patriotism, and see America as a basically good country and a force for positive change in the world.

The “SP’s” are fighting to break down that American culture, and see us as a negative force both here and around the world. They are basically anti-Americans living here and pushing their agenda through the media.

This battle is quite obvious to anyone paying attention, and folks like you and me who belong to the Traditionalist side recognize what Rick Warren and Bill O’Reilly have to say as truth.

Forces in the world are saturating our kids in the media: television, movies, music, video games, the internet, etc with images, sounds, and ideas that they should worry about “me first”, go after “more, more, more” at whatever expense, and “if it feels good to you, who is anyone else to tell you to stop”.

The recent invasion of a Catholic church in San Francisco by a couple of gay priders in costume is a perfect example of who and what we are up against.

These are dangerous ideas, folks, and with 83% of Americans as Christians, you would think that we would have the strength, courage, will, and ability to make some true positive changes and win this culture war.

It all begins in the church of the home, where parents need to step up and be more insistent with their spiritual teaching to their kids, particularly from the youngest ages.

We also need to start being a better personal example ourselves. It is not enough to “talk the talk”, we all need to better “walk the walk”. God bless.

LOST at sea

In what has been described as the United Nations greatest power-grab in history, US President George W Bush is about to sign on to the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which would cede control of the worlds oceans to a new International Seabed Authority.

All the “fairness” and “international cooperation” bloviating is just smoke-screen for what is yet another in a series of actions in which the Bush administration is supporting the ceding of United States sovereignty.

President Ronald Reagan warned way back in 1982 when he declined to sign the U.S. on to the treaty at that time that it did not satisfy the objectives sought by the United States”.

Of course, the Clinton administration, always eager to embrace the One World Government crowd, came up with a parallel agreement and pushed for it’s ratification. The issue became buried in a Senate committee, but has been resurrected and now appears to be getting fast-tracked by Bush.

Today, in response to the renewal of efforts to hand over control of 3/4’s of the globe’s surface to an international body, many prominent citizens continue to fight against LOST, including Colonel Oliver North, who states the enforcing body would act as a “world IRS” and be an end-run towards US support for the Kyoto Protocol. Pat Buchanan states that the treaty would syphon off national rights, national sovereignty, and national wealth.

One thing seems certain, that if the Senate makes the catastrophic mistake of ratifying LOST, then the Bush administration and Presidency will be remembered long-term for a true tragic and far-reaching mistake, one that is much worse than that which his Iraq war critics want to hang on him, and even possibly worse than his failure to secure our southern border.