Winning Culture Wars: Putting Jesus Christ back in Christmas

Winning Culture Wars:

Putting Jesus Christ back in Christmas

About a decade ago, many stores and businesses began quietly dropping the word “Christmas” from advertisements, store decorations and the employee lexicon. AFA and others began to notice.

Of course, it was entirely possible that many business people were motivated more by a desire not to offend those who do not celebrate Christmas, rather than an impulse to expel religion from the public realm. In fact, that was the reason most companies gave for dropping references to Christmas.

AFA didn’t buy that explanation, however. For one thing, the vast majority of people in America celebrate Christmas. In 2010, the trade magazine Ad Age cited a National Retail Federation survey that found that 91% of consumers were planning Christmas festivities.

Moreover, no one really seemed to mind the Christmas trees, Nativity scenes or retail well-wishers who said, “Merry Christmas.” Very few customers complained that a store was selling “Christmas trees” rather than the ludicrously named “holiday trees” that some stores were selling in the parking lot.

Ellen Davis, a vice president at NRF, told Ad Age that in 2009 retailers began returning to the emphasis on Christmas. The result? “[T]here wasn’t much push back,” she said. “There wasn’t a huge outcry from groups offended that retailers were saying Merry Christmas.”

Following the actions of AFA and others, the tide is turning back. Randy Sharp, director of special projects for AFA and spearhead of the ministry’s Naughty-Or-Nice campaigns, said over the past decade “our research shows 80-90% of companies have again embraced Christmas.”

He said, “We’ve had a complete flip in perspective. Companies are beginning to see that people who buy from retailers at Christmastime don’t think there’s anything wrong with everyone being open and honest about why that’s happening.”

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Christmas Stories: Gift of the Magi and the Savior Jesus Christ

Christmas Stories:

Gift of the Magi and the Savior Jesus Christ

Of sacrifice and the Savior

Alex Mac Farland

gift-of-magi-christmas-hairchain2December 2016 – As I was growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina, my grade school education included learning about one of the town’s more famous past residents, William Sydney Porter. Perhaps you’ve heard of his pseudonym, “O. Henry.” Porter (1862-1910) left employment in his family’s drug store to establish himself as a writer.

He is best remembered for crafting “The Gift of the Magi,” one of America’s best loved short stories. The story has captivated readers around the globe. A young husband and wife are deeply in love but financially poor. Yet each secretly sacrifices greatly in order to buy the other an extravagant Christmas gift – combs for her hair and a chain for his pocket watch. Their sacrifices provide the irony that climaxes this tender Christmas classic.

Their actions certainly demonstrate sacrificial love, but as a child, I was frustrated by it. It was years before I understood the ultimate act of sacrificial love on which O. Henry’s story was based.

The Old Testament book of Isaiah points to the coming Savior in a number of key passages. Isaiah famously speaks of the one who would someday be “led like a Lamb to slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7), and “by Whose stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24). Writing around 750 BC, Isaiah prophesied events from the Savior’s time on earth that we would later read about in the Gospels: He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:34). The Messiah would be God incarnate (Isaiah 9:6, Mark 14:61, John 10:30-33). He would be beaten beyond recognition before being put to death on the cross (Isaiah 52:14, Matthew 27:26-31).

Jesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887Here is where the facts about Christmas might seem to be as hard to reconcile as the ending of an O. Henry tale. Clearly, the Father loves and cherishes His unique and only Son, Jesus. So much so that when Christ was suffering for the sins of the world and dying on the Cross, the Father looked away. Though no one fully understands how, for the first and only time in all of eternity, the Father and the Son were separated. As Christ’s horrific betrayal, woundings, and death culminated, it is a wonder that the wrath of God didn’t erupt onto the entire globe.

The irony is that Isaiah 53:10 says, “It pleased the Father to bruise Him” (literally, “to crush Him”). How can this be? How could God possibly have been pleased with the vicious execution of the One called “His beloved Son”? How could the hateful and brutal treatment of Jesus been pleasing to the Father?

jesus-rock1The wording of Isaiah and similar passages such as John 3:16 show the compassionate heart of the Father: If it means that you would be saved – restored in this life and saved from hell in the next – the Father’s heart in Isaiah 53:10 is essentially saying to all of us, “I did all of this because I love you.”

Unlike the best human writers, God leaves no holes in the plotline of His amazing drama! Think of it: In Jesus’s coming to earth, the Author wrote Himself into the play. And He invites you, through faith in Christ, to enter into the story. Christ’s presence in the Bible and His work through history truly are the greatest story ever told. In love, God sent His Son. In love, the Son died and arose. And in love, we meet Jesus personally.

What makes this more than just a great story is the element no other author could include: The cliffhanger story of Jesus happens also to be…reality.

Alex McFarland is co-host of Exploring the Word heard daily on American Family Radio. He is author of 17 books, and speaks regularly around the U.S. Learn more at alexmcfarland.com and purchase his books at afastore.net.
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Read “The Gift of the Magi” at https://americanenglish.state.gov

Judeo-Christian Culture: White House Christmas Tree Lighting—President Trump Honors Jesus Christ, Importance of Family

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Merry Christmas!

White House Christmas Tree Lighting—President Trump Honors Jesus Christ, Importance of Family

President Donald Trump Lights National Christmas Tree: “The birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life forever changed the course of human history.”

Onan Coca

President Trump delivered an amazing speech earlier this week when he and the First Lady lit the National Christmas Tree and welcomed in the Christmas season.

“The Christmas Story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all—the gift of God’s love for all of humanity,” the President said. “Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life forever changed the course of human history.”

From the White House:

Throughout the years, the Christmas tree lighting tradition has withstood the test of time and served as a symbol of hope through moments of hardship. In 1945, President Harry Truman delivered a Christmas message of optimism during a time consumed by the despair of World War II.

“This is the Christmas that a war-weary world has prayed for through long and awful years,” said Truman. “With peace come joy and gladness. The gloom of the war years fades as once more we light the National Community Christmas Tree.”

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Judeo-Christian Culture vs. Multiculturalism—Western Values Win

Culture Wars: Judeo-Christian Culture vs. Multiculturalism—Western Values Win Christmas Message: Christmas Is About Jesus Christ by C.A. Davidson CHRISTMAS IS NOT multi-cultural. Christmas is unique to Biblical Culture, for without Christ, there would be no Christmas. It is called Western … Continue reading

Judeo-Christian Culture: Moral Support for Nativity Scenes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Moral Support for Nativity Scenes

Anonymous donor behind campaign to install Nativity scenes nationwide

‘It is critical that Christians proclaim the Gospel message to their fellow citizens’

Bob Unruh

An anonymous donor has joined with the activist group American Nativity Scene and the Thomas More Society in a campaign to provide free Nativity scenes to display at or near statehouses across the nation.

The organizers say now is the time to prepare for the displays because of the process required to obtain permission.

“Indeed, these are for Christmastime display, but October is the time of year to start finalizing plans for a privately funded Christmas display as is legally allowed in traditional public forums such as state capitols, county complexes or city hall lawns,” explained Ed O’Malley, president of American Nativity Scene.

“We are giving away free Nativity scenes. It’s not really a Halloween treat, but it’s definitely not a trick. We are seriously committed to our goal of keeping Christ in Christmas.”

Tom Brejcha, the Thomas More Society president, said atheist groups “may mock our message, but we will not be silent as it is critical that Christians proclaim the Gospel message to their fellow citizens.”

 

http://www.wnd.com/2017/10/anonymous-donor-behind-campaign-to-install-nativity-scenes-nationwide/

Judeo-Christian Culture: Christmas Quotes about Jesus Christ

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Christmas Quotes about Jesus Christ

Theme Quotes for December: Christmas is about Jesus Christ

Without Jesus Christ, there would be no Christmas. He is the Reason for the Season.

Wise men still follow Him.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare him room. ~Isaac Watts

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful, joyful and triumphant! Come and behold him, born the King of angels; Oh, come let us adore him; Christ the Lord. ~John F. Wade

Jesus Christ is the Gift from God. For God so loved the world, He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16

I challenge you to …return to [your] Christian faith and to the strong religious foundation that is so essential for peace of mind and real happiness. ~L. Tom Perry

Sometimes the most precious and sacred things are right in front of us, in plain sight, but we cannot or will not see them …I promise that if we unclutter our lives a little bit and in sincerity and humility seek the pure and gentle Christ with our hearts, we will see Him, we will find Him—on Christmas and throughout the year. ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

At the meridian of time, in a place so obscure and humble that it was overlooked by the wise and mighty of the world, our Redeemer was born. If this same small, innocuous event occurred in our time, we might well wonder if our own eyes would know what to look for; if we would see our Friend, and open the doors of our souls. ~C.A. Davidson

Truth about Net Neutrality and Freedom of Speech

Truth about Net Neutrality and Freedom of Speech

If net neutrality had been the law of the land in 2007, the iPhone could never have come to market. But because there was no net neutrality, Jobs had the option to create the best operating atmosphere and circumstances for his product — and look what happened, with zero regulation additional. ~Rush Limbaugh

Net neutrality is another liberal idea that stifles Freedom of Speech

There have been some compromises made in the “political spectrum,” and they have turned out badly. We’ve seen the Equal Time Rule and the Fairness Doctrine, for instance, create chilling effects, freducing freedom of speech.  They were supposed to produce more, and more balanced, political discussion. What we got instead was a tax on controversial speech. ~Thomas W. Hazlett, The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology

The government does not mean cheaper. The government has never meant cheaper. The government doesn’t mean equal. The government doesn’t mean fair. It never has. What the government means, in this context, is reduced services and less competence. It is competition that makes prices lower. It’s competition that enables innovation, better services. And this is a classic example of liberals succeeding in making people believe that corporations and industry are the enemy of people, that they are out to harm people, that they’re out to financially screw people. In the case of the pharmaceutical business, they’re out to kill their customers.

“Bureaucrats are not visionaries. They reflexively deter new ideas, protecting the existing industries.” ~Thomas W. Hazlett

And the government is the great fixer, government is the tamer of these wild financial beasts who want to deprive you of your Netflix and your Hulu and whatever else you watch. It’s classic how they have succeeded in making people believe that only the government can fix problems and make things fair. When you look at anything the government has its hands in, it isn’t efficient, it isn’t cheap, and it doesn’t work!

“You want unlimited data for a cheap price? Fine. You’re not gonna get HD quality.” When that was learned, all hell broke loose and T-Mobile had to modify their plan. But speed is like anything else; it’s like anything else you buy. You pay more for the best! There’s nothing new about it. There’s no fairness about it nor equality. That’s not even a factor. They love the UPS example. They love the FedEx example and Amazon. They love pointing out that Amazon ships its packages through FedEx and they’re all treated the same.

But they’re not! They’re not… In the first place, FedEx isn’t even regulated. Number two, you can buy any kind of speed delivery you want. The faster you want it delivered, the more you’re gonna pay for it. There is no equality and sameness in terms of FedEx or UPS delivery. You pay for faster delivery. Or, if you don’t want to pay for faster delivery, you don’t pay as much, and you don’t get it as soon. Imagine if somebody proposed delivery neutrality and claimed that all packages would be delivered at the same speed.

What incentive would any company have to get your package to you quickly if there’s something called delivery neutrality, where you can’t buy faster delivery speed and you just have to deal with whatever they want to do? If there’s no competition and if there is literally no pressure on the providers to get that package to you for any reason, you may never know when it’s gonna show up! And this is what they’re proposing for internet service? I don’t know. I just… I think this is not that complicated to understand. It’s that people aren’t taking the time.

Prices are rising now.

Prices have been rising since prices were established.

Net Neutrality stifles Competition and Free Market

“It turns out that the more competitive we get, the better off we are.” ~Thomas W. Hazlett

The idea that net neutrality’s gonna stop price increases is folly. Net neutrality is not gonna mandate that Netflix can’t raise prices or throttle delivery speeds. You know, even now with Netflix you have to pay more for 4K. If you want to stream in 4K, you’ve gotta pay more per month than what you would regularly pay for standard HD picture quality. How did that happen if net neutrality is designed to stop them from doing things like that? We’re living under net neutrality now. How come Netflix charges more for 4K? I thought everything was gonna be equal.

RUSH: Look, folks, it really isn’t that complicated. Net neutrality is a liberal idea just like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a liberal idea, just like Planned Parenthood’s a liberal idea, just like Obamacare’s a liberal idea. What’s good in it? What’s good about it? Why not be suspicious of it? Why not let the market work? Let the market work. Why have the government — the people that don’t know anything about any of this — start regulating it? ‘Cause you know what’s gonna happen: Whoever gives politicians the most money is gonna determine how the internet operates and where the power is there, not the market.

You know something else? If net neutrality had been the law of the land in 2007, the iPhone could never have come to market. Do you know why? Many of you iPhone owners may have forgotten, but the iPhone for the first two or three years was an AT&T exclusive. You know why? Steve Jobs had demands. He was not gonna let the carrier name be on the front or back of the device. He was not gonna let the carrier put any of their own stupid, gum-up-the-works apps on the phone.

Apple was gonna control the whole process: the manufacturing, the marketing, the customer service. AT&T is the only telecom that would do it, that would give up total control. Now, if net neutrality had been the law of the land, that would not have been permitted. Apple would not have been permitted to only offer the phone to AT&T customers. That would have been discriminatory. That would have been unfair to Verizon subscribers and Sprint subscribers. But because there was no net neutrality, Jobs had the option to create the best operating atmosphere and circumstances for his product — and look what happened, with zero regulation additional.

America’s Anchorman Answers Your Questions on Net Neutrality

What You Need to Know About Net Neutrality

Sean Moran

Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler refused to released his proposed net neutrality regulations ahead of the agency’s vote. In contrast, current Chairman Ajit Pai released his proposed “Restoring Internet Freedom” order ahead of the agency’s vote to repeal net neutrality.

FCC Chairman Agit Pai

FCC Chairman Pai unveiled his proposed “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” that will repeal the agency’s net neutrality regulation; the agency will vote on the measure in December.

Chairman Pai once said that the internet prospered before net neutrality was enacted. Pai said, “The internet is the greatest free-market success in American history.”

 

Christian Books: CS Lewis, and Mere Christianity

Dinner Topics for Thursday

keyExpert Children’s Book Reviewers tell us there is a great dearth of good literature for children and young adults. They are not being taught about God in schools, or even the Universal Morality that Lewis refers to. If we want our children to have good character, which is founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, we need to teach them ourselves. C S Lewis’ work  will bless families for generations to come.  Let’s start today to strengthen our families—turn off the TV and reach for these timeless classics.  ~C A Davidson

Related post on moral compass

From Wikipedia

C.S._Lewis,_BelfastClive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly called C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as “Jack”, was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. Born in Belfast, Ireland, he held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College), 1925–1954, and Cambridge University (Magdalene College), 1954–1963. He is best known both for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. Both authors served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and both were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings“. According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had been baptized in the Church of Ireland (part of the Anglican Communion) at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England“.[1] His faith had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

In 1956, he married the American writer Joy Davidman, 17 years his junior, who died four years later of cancer at the age of 45. Lewis died three years after his wife, from renal failure, one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal; he died on 22 November 1963—the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the same day another famous author, Aldous Huxley, died. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis will be honoured with a memorial in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey.

Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularized on stage, TV, radio, and cinema.

Christian apologist

In addition to his career as an English professor and an author of fiction, Lewis is regarded by many as one of the most influential Christian apologists of his time; Mere Christianity was voted best book of the twentieth century by Christianity Today in 2000.[58] Due to Lewis’s approach to religious belief as a sceptic, and his following conversion, he has been called “The Apostle to the Skeptics.”

Lewis was very interested in presenting a reasonable case for Christianity. Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Miracles were all concerned, to one degree or another, with refuting popular objections to Christianity, such as “How could a good God allow pain to exist in the world?”. He also became known as a popular lecturer and broadcaster, and some of his writing (including much of Mere Christianity) originated as scripts for radio talks or lectures.[59][page needed]

According to George Sayer, losing a 1948 debate with Elizabeth Anscombe, also a Christian, led Lewis to reevaluate his role as an apologist, and his future works concentrated on devotional literature and children’s books.[60] Anscombe, however, had a completely different recollection of the debate’s outcome and its emotional effect on Lewis.[60] Victor Reppert also disputes Sayer, listing some of Lewis’s post-1948 apologetic publications, including the second and revised edition of his Miracles in 1960, in which Lewis addressed Anscombe’s criticism.[61] Noteworthy too is Roger Teichman’s suggestion in The Philosophy of Elizabeth Anscombe[62][page needed] that the intellectual impact of Anscombe’s paper on Lewis’s philosophical self-confidence should not be overrated: “… it seems unlikely that he felt as irretrievably crushed as some of his acquaintances have made out; the episode is probably an inflated legend, in the same category as the affair of Wittgenstein’s poker. Certainly Anscombe herself believed that Lewis’s argument, though flawed, was getting at something very important; she thought that this came out more in the improved version of it that Lewis presented in a subsequent edition of Miracles – though that version also had ‘much to criticize in it’.”

Lewis also wrote an autobiography titled Surprised by Joy, which places special emphasis on his own conversion. (It was written before he met his wife, Joy Gresham; the title of the book came from the first line of a poem by William Wordsworth.) His essays and public speeches on Christian belief, many of which were collected in God in the Dock and The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, remain popular today.

His most famous works, the Chronicles of Narnia, contain many strong Christian messages and are often considered allegory. Lewis, an expert on the subject of allegory, maintained that the books were not allegory, and preferred to call the Christian aspects of them “suppositional“. As Lewis wrote in a letter to a Mrs. Hook in December 1958:

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim’s Progress] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality however he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, ‘What might Christ become like, if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?’ This is not allegory at all.[63]

“Trilemma”

Main article: Lewis’s trilemma

In a much-cited passage from Mere Christianity, Lewis challenged the view that Jesus, although a great moral teacher, was not God. He argued that Jesus made several implicit claims to divinity, which would logically exclude this:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.[64]

This argument, which Lewis did not invent but developed and popularized, is sometimes referred to as “Lewis’s trilemma“. It has been used by the Christian apologist Josh McDowell in his book More Than a Carpenter (McDowell 2001). Although widely repeated in Christian apologetic literature, it has been largely ignored by professional theologians and biblical scholars.[65]

Lewis’s Christian apologetics, and this argument in particular, have been criticized. Philosopher John Beversluis described Lewis’s arguments as “textually careless and theologically unreliable,”[66] and this particular argument as logically unsound and an example of false dilemma.[67] Theologian John Hick argues that New Testament scholars do not now support the view that Jesus claimed to be God,[68] New Testament scholar N. T. Wright criticizes Lewis for failing to recognize the significance of Jesus’ Jewish identity and setting – an oversight which “at best, drastically short-circuits the argument” and which lays Lewis open to criticism that his argument “doesn’t work as history, and it backfires dangerously when historical critics question his reading of the gospels,” although he believes this “doesn’t undermine the eventual claim.” [69]

Lewis used a similar argument in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when Digory Kirke advises the young heroes that their sister’s claims of a magical world must logically be taken as either lies, madness, or truth.[61]

Universal morality

right-wrongsignOne of the main theses in Lewis’s apologia is that there is a common morality known throughout humanity. In the first five chapters of Mere Christianity Lewis discusses the idea that people have a standard of behaviour to which they expect people to adhere. This standard has been called Universal Morality or Natural Law. Lewis claims that people all over the earth know what this law is and when they break it. He goes on to claim that there must be someone or something behind such a universal set of principles.[70]

These then are the two points that I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.[71]

Lewis also portrays Universal Morality in his works of fiction. In The Chronicles of Narnia he describes Universal Morality as the “deep magic” which everyone knew.[72]

In the second chapter of Mere Christianity Lewis recognizes that “many people find it difficult to understand what this Law of Human Nature … is”. And he responds first to the idea “that the Moral Law is simply our herd instinct” and second to the idea “that the Moral Law is simply a social convention”. In responding to the second idea Lewis notes that people often complain that one set of moral ideas is better than another, but that this actually argues for there existing some “Real Morality” to which they are comparing other moralities. Finally he notes that sometimes differences in moral codes are exaggerated by people who confuse differences in beliefs about morality with differences in beliefs about facts:

I have met people who exaggerate the differences, because they have not distinguished between differences of morality and differences of belief about facts. For example, one man said to me, “Three hundred years ago people in England were putting witches to death. Was that what you call the Rule of Human Nature or Right Conduct?” But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did – if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbours or drive them mad or bring bad weather, surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did. There is no difference of moral principle here: the difference is simply about matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there. You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house.[73]

Lewis also had fairly progressive views on the topic of “animal morality”, in particular the suffering of animals, as is evidenced by several of his essays: most notably, On Vivisection[74] and “On the Pains of Animals.”[75][76]

Legacy

Lewis continues to attract a wide readership. In 2008, The Times ranked him eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.[77] Readers of his fiction are often unaware of what Lewis considered the Christian themes of his works. His Christian apologetics are read and quoted by members of many Christian denominations.[78] In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis will join some of Britain’s greatest writers recognized at Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey.[79]

Lewis has been the subject of several biographies, a few of which were written by close friends, such as Roger Lancelyn Green and George Sayer. In 1985 the screenplay Shadowlands by William Nicholson, dramatising Lewis’s life and relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham, was aired on British television, starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. This was also staged as a theatre play starring Nigel Hawthorne in 1989, and made into the 1993 feature film Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. In 2005, a one-hour television movie entitled C. S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia, starring Anton Rodgers, provided a general synopsis of Lewis’s life.

Read more about C.S. Lewis

 

Character Education: Faith, Decision, and Charlie Brown

Character Education: Choose Wisely

Quentin L. Cook

keyold“Refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15).

 

My desire this evening is to share some counsel about decisions and choices.

Lucy Rationalizes

charlie-brown-lucy-baseballWhen I was a young lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, our firm did some legal work for the company that produced the Charlie Brown holiday TV specials.1 I became a fan of Charles Schulz and his creation—Peanuts, with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and other wonderful characters.

One of my favorite comic strips involved Lucy. As I remember it, Charlie Brown’s baseball team was in an important game—Lucy was playing right field, and a high fly ball was hit to her. The bases were loaded, and it was the last of the ninth inning. If Lucy caught the ball, her team would win. If Lucy dropped the ball, the other team would win.

charlie-brown-lucyAs could happen only in a comic strip, the entire team surrounded Lucy as the ball came down. Lucy was thinking, “If I catch the ball, I will be the hero; if I don’t, I will be the goat.”

The ball came down, and as her teammates eagerly looked on, Lucy dropped the ball. Charlie Brown threw his glove to the ground in disgust. Lucy then looked at her teammates, put her hands on her hips, and said, “How do you expect me to catch the ball when I am worried about our country’s foreign policy?”

This was one of many fly balls Lucy dropped through the years, and she had a new excuse each time.2 While always humorous, Lucy’s excuses were rationalizations; they were untrue reasons for her failure to catch the ball.

Decisions Determine Destiny

It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

freewill1During the ministry of President Thomas S. Monson, he has often taught that decisions determine destiny.3 In that spirit my counsel tonight is to rise above any rationalizations that prevent us from making righteous decisions, especially with respect to serving Jesus Christ. In Isaiah we are taught we must “refuse the evil, and choose the good.”4

I believe it is of particular importance in our day, when Satan is raging in the hearts of men in so many new and subtle ways, that our choices and decisions be made carefully, consistent with the goals and objectives by which we profess to live. We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. When we allow rationalizations to prevent us from temple endowments, worthy missions, and temple marriage, they are particularly harmful. It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.5

Some young people profess their goal is to be married in the temple but do not date temple-worthy individuals. To be honest, some don’t even date, period! You single men, the longer you remain single after an appropriate age and maturity, the more comfortable you can become. But the more uncomfortable you ought to become! Please get “anxiously engaged”6 in spiritual and social activities compatible with your goal of a temple marriage.

Some postpone marriage until education is complete and a job obtained. While widely accepted in the world, this reasoning does not demonstrate faith, does not comply with counsel of modern prophets, and is not compatible with sound doctrine.

I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face.7 He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My concern is not only about the big tipping-point decisions but also the middle ground—the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

Everyday Decisions

A wonderful example of the need for moderation, balance, and wisdom is the use of the Internet. It can be used to do missionary outreach, to assist with priesthood responsibilities, to find precious ancestors for sacred temple ordinances, and much more. The potential for good is enormous. We also know that it can transmit much that is evil, including pornography, digital cruelty,8 and anonymous yakking. It can also perpetuate foolishness. As Brother Randall L. Ridd poignantly taught at the last general conference, speaking of the Internet, “You can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential.”9

Frivolous Distractions

When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals.

RushSocialMedia2PIXDistractions and opposition to righteousness are not just on the Internet; they are everywhere. They affect not just the youth but all of us. We live in a world that is literally in commotion.10 We are surrounded by obsessive portrayals of “fun and games” and immoral and dysfunctional lives. These are presented as normal conduct in much of the media.

Elder David A. Bednar recently cautioned members to be authentic in the use of social media.11 A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks, has emphasized this point. He observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”12

Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?”

When we rationalize wrong choices, big or small, which are inconsistent with the restored gospel, we lose the blessings and protections we need and often become ensnared in sin or simply lose our way.

Erosion of Judeo-Christian Values

But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.

apathydudeI am particularly concerned with foolishness13 and being obsessed with “every new thing.” In the Church we encourage and celebrate truth and knowledge of every kind. But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.14 In our day, despite unprecedented gains in many areas, especially science and communication, essential basic values have eroded and overall happiness and well-being have diminished.

When the Apostle Paul was invited to speak on Mars Hill in Athens, he found some of the same intellectual pretension and absence of true wisdom that exist today.15 In Acts we read this account: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”16 Paul’s emphasis was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the crowd realized the religious nature of his message, some mocked him; others essentially dismissed him, saying, “We will hear thee again of this matter.”17 Paul left Athens without any success. Dean Frederic Farrar wrote of this visit: “At Athens he founded no church, to Athens he wrote no epistle, and in Athens, often as he passed its neighbourhood, he never set foot again.”18

Subtle Influences

Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

bigbenclockI believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s inspired message distinguishing between “good, better, best” provides an effective way to evaluate choices and priorities.19 Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

Even worthwhile endeavors need evaluation in order to determine if they have become distractions from the best goals. I had a memorable discussion with my father when I was a teenager. He did not believe enough young people were focused on or preparing for long-term important goals—like employment and providing for families.

Meaningful study and preparatory work experience were always at the top of my father’s recommended priorities. He appreciated that extracurricular activities like debate and student government might have a direct connection with some of my important goals. He was less certain about the extensive time I spent participating in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He acknowledged that athletics could build strength, endurance, and teamwork but asserted that perhaps concentrating on one sport for a shorter time would be better. In his view, sports were good but not the best for me. He was concerned that some sports were about building local celebrity or fame at the expense of more important long-term goals.

Given this history, one of the reasons I like the account of Lucy playing baseball is that, in my father’s view, I should have been studying foreign policy and not worrying about whether I was going to catch a ball. I should make it clear that my mother loved sports. It would have taken a hospitalization for her to miss one of my games.

I had decided to follow my dad’s advice and not play intercollegiate sports in college. Then our high school football coach informed me that the Stanford football coach wanted to have lunch with Merlin Olsen and me. Those of you who are younger may not know Merlin. He was an incredible all-American tackle on the Logan High School football team where I played quarterback and safety and returned kickoffs and punts. In high school Merlin was recruited by most football powers across the nation. In college he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. Merlin was ultimately the third overall pick in the National Football League draft and played in an amazing 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.20

The lunch with the Stanford coach was at the Bluebird restaurant in Logan, Utah. After we shook hands, he never once made eye contact with me. He talked directly to Merlin but ignored me. At the end of the lunch, for the first time, he turned toward me, but he could not remember my name. He then informed Merlin, “If you choose Stanford and want to bring your friend with you, he has good enough grades and it could probably be arranged.” This experience confirmed for me that I should follow my dad’s wise counsel.

cook-choices-192x192My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.

However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.21 We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God.22 We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.

My prayer . . . we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms.23 We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

 

  1. Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez Production TV Specials.
  1. From the moons of Saturn distracting her to worrying about possible toxic substances in her glove, Lucy always rationalized why she dropped the ball.
  1. See “Decisions Determine Destiny,” chapter 8 in Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas S. Monson (1973), 57–65.
  1. Isaiah 7:15.
  1. “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces” (William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, act 1, scene 2, lines 12–14).
  1. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27.
  1. See Adjusting to Missionary Life (booklet, 2013), 23–49.
  1. See Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Dealing with Digital Cruelty,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2014, SR1.
  1. Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 56.
  1. See Doctrine and Covenants 45:26.
  1. See David A. Bednar, “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” (speech delivered at BYU Campus Education Week, Aug. 19, 2014); lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/to-sweep-the-earth-as-with-a-flood.
  1. Arthur C. Brooks, “Love People, Not Pleasure,” New York Times, July 20, 2014, SR1.
  1. Unfortunately, one diversion that has increased in our day is pure foolishness. When the Savior enumerated some of the things that can defile man, He included foolishness (see Mark 7:22).
  1. This happened in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Book of Mormon civilizations.
  1. See Frederic W. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul (1898), 302. There were philosophers of all kinds, including Epicureans and Stoics, rival groups who some described as the Pharisees and the Sadducees of the pagan world. See also Quentin L. Cook, “Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 41–44; Liahona, Mar. 2003, 21–24.
  1. Acts 17:21.
  1. Acts 17:32.
  1. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul, 312.
  1. See Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 104–8.
  1. Merlin Olsen was a hall of fame football player, actor, and NFL commentator for NBC. He won the Outland Trophy playing football for Utah State University. He played pro football for the Los Angeles Rams. On TV he played Jonathan Garvey opposite Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie and had his own TV program, Father Murphy. Merlin is now deceased (Mar. 11, 2010), and we miss him very much.

 

History Facts vs. Censorship of Thanksgiving History

History Facts vs. Censorship of Thanksgiving History

Why the Pilgrims matter

Jordan Chamblee

Painting above, The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscomb, 1914

Painting above, The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscomb, 1914

November 2016 – Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and all the trimmings. It’s almost here – the national holiday America takes pride in, and one that is intricately woven into the very fabric of American identity. But in recent generations, it seems the substance of the holiday has been watered down or replaced altogether in order to appease perceived social sensitivities.

In general, public school students are taught an entirely different Thanksgiving narrative than the one their grandparents grew up understanding. In today’s progressive version, the Pilgrims are no longer staunchly faithful pillars of Christian ideals, nor are the Wampanoag natives helpful and willing friends of the Pilgrims in times of trouble.

Stephen McDowell, president of Providence Foundation and prolific author, speaks to this decline in honesty and watering down of the true story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.

censhorship-1st-amendmentAFAJ: What is the greatest threat today to the truth about the Pilgrims and their history?
McDowell: While some books and educators directly lie about the Pilgrims and their primary Christian motive for starting a new colony in America, the greatest threat to the truth about their story is what is left out when their story is told.

Revisionist history gives a false picture of these devoted Christians. For example, one elementary public school textbook gives 30 pages to present the story of the Pilgrims without once [making] any reference to religion; thus at the end of [the Pilgrims’] first year, they “wanted to give thanks for all they had.” But there is no mention it was God they were thanking.

Teaching about the Pilgrims without referencing God causes people to think that Christianity was not important to them. Revisionist history is a primary reason for the secularization of America. People are taught our history without mentioning Christianity, or if it is cited, it is often presented in a negative light, when in reality it is the most important influence in the birth, growth, and development of the nation.

AFAJ: Why do some contemporary educators revise U.S. history, particularly the story of Thanksgiving?
McDowell: Most teachers in our schools today are ignorant of the true story of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. They never learned it in school and few search out primary source documents so as to get to know the Pilgrims via their own writings.

William Bradford

William Bradford

William Bradford, governor of the Pilgrims for 33 years, wrote their history – Of Plimoth Plantation – which is one of the great historical and literary works of all American history, but few teachers have even heard of it, much less read it. You only need to read a few pages to see the sincere and deep faith of these men and women who served as “stepping stones” for those who would follow.

Some educators who know the history yet ignore it, evaluate the Pilgrims through their own secular bias – that is, the Pilgrims may have had a deep faith, but God is a construction of the human mind and consequently is not relevant, so they do not need to mention God when recounting their story. Or they have such a dislike for God that they do not want to give Him any place in history.

AFAJ: Why is it important that we remember and pass on the truth about the Pilgrims?
McDowell: The Pilgrims’ story teaches us many lessons. We learn of the great sacrifice they paid to exercise their freedom of religion and to plant the early seeds of our nation. Half of them died the first winter after arriving at Plymouth, and most of the others suffered from sickness and hunger. At one time, only six or seven could get out of bed, but they toiled night and day to assist their brethren.

In the words of Bradford they “fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed their meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them. In a word, they did all the homely and necessary offices for them which queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named – and this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least.” Their care for one another reveals their Christian character and practical love, “a rare example and worthy to be remembered.”

Their motive to spread the gospel is evident from Bradford’s words (which are inscribed on his monument in Plymouth): “A great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world.”

Mayflower-compact-hero2-AThe Mayflower Compact, a document the Pilgrims drafted and signed before going ashore, shows their ability to reason biblically regarding civil affairs: “Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith … [we] do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic.”

Learning the unique covenant nature of our founding political documents is an important lesson in understanding why America was founded as the freest nation in history.

AFAJ: What is the most important aspect of the Thanksgiving story that parents can teach their children?
pilgrimprayingresizeMcDowell: The most important thing parents can teach their children about the Thanksgiving story is the most obvious: We call it Thanksgiving for a reason. Our Pilgrim forefathers, who are reflective of most of the founders of America, were firmly devoted to Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ. In recognition of His gracious hand upon them, they set aside regular public days to give thanks and glorify Him.

This was not done merely once or twice but regularly throughout their entire lifetime. They set an example that was followed by those who came after them, even up until today. Throughout most of our history, Americans understood thanksgiving days were to thank God. The Pilgrims’ love and devotion to God, and their reliance upon Him in abundance and lack, are evidenced not only by their private lives but also by their public days of thanksgiving.

McDowell recommends:
Of Plimoth Plantation by William Bradford
Available at online and retail booksellers
Monumental, Restoring America as the Land of Liberty by Stephen McDowell
Available at providencefoundation.com
America’s Providential History by Stephen McDowell
Monumental, documentary DVD hosted by Kirk Cameron
Available at afastore.net or 877–927–4917