Month Archives: November 2011

Islam in Our Midst - A Review

by Alexander Marcus-New

November 15, 2011

Ancient Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero once said that, A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. It seems to me that this quote greatly exemplifies what is happening in the United States currently in regards to Islam. In his book Islam in our Midst, author Patrick Sookhdeo informs the reader of what is happening within the walls of the United States and its threat to Christianity. Sookhdeo keys in on four different areas that are being affected by Islam: Understanding the Public Square since 9/11, Western and Non-Western Worldviews, and the impact of Islam on Society. By looking at these three areas, it can be seen that this book is a must-read for those concerned with what is happening within the United States in regards to Islam.

First, Sookhdeo looks at the public square since 9/11. Two key areas that I believe are very important that Sookhdeo talks about in his work would be Interfaith Dialogue and the Lack of Self Confidence in the U.S.A. It seems to me that within these two areas, some interesting points are raised. Interfaith dialogue is most certainly an important area to look at, because in the years since the 9/11 attacks, there has been an urging by those in power for those of different religions to find common ground. At the end of this section in his book, Sookhdeo poignantly poses the question (in regards to these interfaith dailogues) Is this merely another aspect of dawa, Islamic mission to bring about Islamic transformation? While the area of interfaith dialogue is certainly an important one, another that is analyzed is the Lack of Self Confidence in the U.S.A. Sookhdeo points to the long delay in apprehending Osama Bin Laden, the limited success in Iraq, problems in Afghanistan, resentment towards Americans from around the world, and the financial crisis as reasons that lead to a lack of self confidence in the United States. One prime example of this would be abundance of criticism of the United States by those in Hollywoodl. For instance, in 2003, actor Johnny Depp threatened to leave the United States unless the political climate changed. Depp called the U.S. a big, dumb puppy…with teeth..that can bite you…and hurt you. Depp currently lives in France while still making his millions thanks to the wallets of American moviegoers.

Another area that Sookhdeo looks at in his book is Western and Non-Western worldviews. Pointing to the cultural views of both Islam and western cultures, Sookhdeo points to key differences. One of these differences is the aspect of diversity. In the second section of the book, the author states The U.S.A. is both a unity and a diversity.. It seems as though the United States is a unity in the fact that the country, for the most part, stands together in times of crisis and depicts itself as the United States of America. However, while unified under the flag, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and other key elements to our countrys success, the U.S. is also one that is very diverse - culturally, religiously, geographically, socially, etc. This diversity has been key in the survival of this nation (it was the Pilgrims that left Europe to escape a state-run religion). While the United States celebrates diversity in these areas, the Islamic worldview is not as open to such views. As Sookhdeo states, The communalism of Islam, as opposed to the individualism of American society, leads to a very different attitude to private space and public space. Another frightening thought that Sookhdeo points to is that For Muslims, divine unity means that there can be only one god-approved law, sharia, andone right poltical model for human society. With views like these, tension between Muslims and the societies in which they have acclimated themselves into within the United States.

Finally, Sookhdeo looks at the impact of Islam on United States society. Throughout this entire chapter, he points to the various ways in which Islam has impacted the United States. While many Muslims come to the United States and try to convert U.S. citizens to the religion of Islam, they seem to get offended when Christians try to convert them, and in many Muslim countries across southwest Asia (the Middle East), Christian mission and evangelism to Muslims is prohibited. Sookhdeo points to an event in 2010 when Christians were arrested and jailed on counts of disorderly conduct for distributing Christian materials outside of an Arab International festival in Dearborn, Michigan. By having a number of small impacts on different areas throughout the country, such as these two, Islam can certainly make quite a large impression throughout the entire societal makeup of the country.

In all, this work is certainly informative for anyone whoi is worried about the Islamification of certain aspects of society in the United States. Sookhdeo shows his knowledge of this area of study and gives examples for the claims he makes. For me, the book is certainly an eye opener as to what is currently happening in regards to Islam and its presence in the U.S, and after reading, only one quote came to mine. While this quote came about in regard to World War II, it certainly has its application here:

Niemoller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Martin Niemoller

In our country, many may not want to hear about the dangers of Islam. However, George Orwell once said that Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. We have that right. Speak up. Sookhdeo certainly has.

Why We Fight

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 11, 2011

During the Second World War, the great American film director Frank Capra was tasked by General George C. Marshall with developing a series of documentary films that, as he later wrote in his autobiography, would “explain to our boys in the Army why we are fighting, and the principles for which we are fighting.”

Capra’s films captured beautifully the reasons America was fighting Nazism and Japanese imperialism. They remain classics of honest and compelling documentary film-making. They explained to young men about to go to war, and to their families, the essential issues at stake in the great conflict. They explain them well to all of us still today.

Mark Salter, John McCain’s former senior aide, has written a gripping article on how college sports can become an obsession so great that both personal and professional ethics - not to mention common decency - can be thrown-out. As he observes about the firing of legendary football coach Joe Paterno at Penn State, “Penn State fans rioted in support of Joe Paterno, who could have ensured that justice was done but didn’t. They are only concerned with the football program and their loyalty to a legendary football coach. Their outrage over the forced departure of an old man who made a damnable moral choice is greater than their outrage on behalf of the children who were allegedly raped by another once-beloved icon of Penn State football.”

To do nothing in the face of great evil is not a morally neutral action. It is simply a passive way of allowing that evil to continue. That’s why FRC continues to battle for the unborn, for orphans, for the traditional family, and for religious liberty. Not to do so would be to accede to the steady extension of monstrous conduct in the home, society, and public policy. And that we will not do. That’s why we fight.

On Veterans Day, 2011

by Robert Morrison

November 11, 2011

Its an unlikely inscription, to be sure. British Professor David Starkey leads off an episode of the 2003 documentary, Monarchy, with a scene from Bayeux, in Northern France. Hes walking amid the headstones4,000 of themof British Commonwealth soldiers who died during the World War II invasion of Normandy. But the inscription he reads, carved above the classic columns of the war memorial, brings us backfar backinto the mists of time:

Nos a Gulielmo

Victi Victoris

Patriam Liberavimis

(We, Conquered by William,

Have Liberated the Conquerors

Native Land.)

Now, that is a sense of history! Nine hundred years after William the Conqueror invaded England from that same French coast, men from England, that Blessed Plot, returned to free France and Normandy from the Nazi yoke of oppression.

England has not survived without a deep sense of history. The whole world watched last spring when Williamwho may be one day King William Vwed Kate Middleton. They took their vows in Westminster Abbey, not far from the very spot where William the Conquerorthat cruel and despotic rulerhad had himself crowned in 1066.

America has never been conquered. We have had no cruel and despotic rulers, except, of course, those same British who tried to lord it over us in the 1760s and 70s. We broke all ties with the British and their monarchs in our own immortal Declaration of Independence.

Yet, for the sake of British liberties and our own, for the liberation of France and a suffering humanity, we Americans led the D-Day invasion in 1944. General Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded the combined American, British, Canadian, Indian, Australian, New Zealand and South African troops who hit those cold, windswept beaches in Normandy that June morning nearly seventy years ago.

I keep on my office wall a photo of a landing craft on D-Day opening its gate to let our GIs storm ashore. What a forbidding view. Many of those young men faced certain death from withering German machine gun fire. I keep that framed photo as a tribute to our brave American ancestors and also as a reminder: We dont want to have to do this again.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill was no regular churchgoer. He told one young vicar of the Church of England you may count me, not as a pillar of the church, but as a buttress; I support it from outside. Be that as it may, Churchill rallied the English to defend their island home and to stand against the Nozzie threat to Christian Civilization. Gen. Eisenhower unblushingly referred to his invasion as a Crusade in Europe.

Today, some of the elite leadership here is at pains to deny our Christian heritage. Some judges want to bulldoze all the crosses on public lands. These would include not just those by the side of Utah highways, but also those that mark the graves of our fallen soldiers in Normandy. Somehow, judges and other rulers, often unelected ones, feel emboldened and empowered to sandblast all evidences of Christianity from our public square.

Surely, not all the brave men who have defended our liberties for nearly two-and-a-half centuries have been Christians. In Normandy, there are white Stars of David every few yards, a tribute to the American Jews who honorably laid down their lives for our sake. Those Stars of David are in jeopardy, too. Wherever jihadists today menace Christians, they menace Jews, too. And the atheizers menace us all. These militant secularists think that an Empty Public Square can stand alone. They think that when all signs of Christianity and Judaism have been eradicated, that they will themselves be kept safe from harm. They will not.

President John F. Kennedy was a proud veteran of World War II. His heroic feats in the South Pacific were a major factor in his political success. In the speech he prepared to deliver on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, President Kennedy said we Americans are the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.

He was not embarrassed to speak publicly of our Jewish and Christian roots. Nor should we today allow the atheizers to silence us. President Kennedy ended his prepared remarks with a quote from the Psalmist: Unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. For all Americans this Veterans Day, 2011, I pray that the Lord will keep our City.

Three Education Articles

by Chris Gacek

November 11, 2011

I have read several more education articles in the past couple days. Each is worth a look and some consideration:

The first, a news story in the Washington Times, discusses the latest installment of [President Obamas] we cant wait campaign against Congress in which the president issued new executive orders dealing with the Head Start program;

The second article by Michael G. Morris, CEO of American Electric Power, makes note of a looming worker shortage needed to fill millions of skilled jobs being vacated by retiring baby boomers that, in many cases, might not require debt-inflicting college degrees;

Finally, Michael Barone has a thought-provoking column about student debt and an Occupy Wall Street protester who acquired $35,000 in debt to study puppetry. Yes, puppetry. Barone defends his choice and considers him to be something of an entrepreneur. Read it.

 

 

Is the Prestige Worth It?

by Krystle Gabele

November 10, 2011

On Tuesday, an interesting article appeared in my news feed from The Wall Street Journal, which showed that more students are choosing to attend public universities over Ivy League institutions. Why, you may ask? Students do not want to be saddled by the excessive loan debt.

An average Ivy League student is expected to pay approximately $55,000 per year in tuition, room, board, fees, etc. Upon graduation, a student would be saddled with over $220,000 in college loan debt. Pair the debt with the fact that employment offers are hard to come by in this economy, and this could easily factor into the reason why many students are making the decision to attend public universities.

Is the huge debt worth it in the long run? While these schools may offer a large alumni network, the overall debt should leave one to question their decision. Higher education is expensive, but the same opportunities are available at state colleges and universities.

When I graduated from high school in 2000, I chose to attend a small four-year college near my hometown in Maryland. While I had some scholarships, I still had to contribute through student loans. The opportunities I was presented were similar to the ones my friends experienced at Ivy League universities, but I ended up with less student loan debt. I do not regret the decision to attend my college, and in fact, I consider myself lucky to have saved for the same experiences.

While the students in the Wall Street Journal piece may be questioning why they didnt attend Boston College, Stanford University, and Cornell University, they will learn in the long run that opportunities present themselves on merit and the connections they will make in the real world.

Not to Miss: “A Special Mother is Born” Book-signing Event Next Week

by Family Research Council

November 10, 2011

Leticia Velasquez, author of the recently published “A Special Mother is Born” on parenting a child with special needs, will be Washington, D.C. for a book signing, on Tuesday, November 15th, at 12:30p at the Catholic Information Center: 1501 K Street, NW.

Leticia is a wife and mother of three daughters, one with Down Syndrome. She writes professionally, has her own blog, Cause of Our Joy and is a co-founder of the support group, Keeps Infants With Down Syndrome (KIDS).

A Special Mother is Born” is a beautiful anthology of stories from parents with children who have special needs. Contributors include Rick Santorum, Mary Kellet and Dr. Gerry Nadal, among others. This will be an opportunity (and a book) you will not want to miss.

Martin Luther: 10 November 1483

by Robert Morrison

November 10, 2011

Lutherans are Evangelical Catholics. Thats how the late Richard John Neuhaus described our church body, before he entered into communion with Rome and became a Catholic priest. He never said he converted. Why? I suspect the answer may have been engraved on a handsome bronze medallion then-Pastor Neuhaus gave me in 1983. It is a Martin Luther 500th anniversary commemoration. On the obverse side is a quote from the man we call the Blessed Doctor: I believe that there is on earth throughout the whole wide world no more than one holy common Christian church.

Thats what I believe. Pastor Richard Neuhaus had welcomed me into the fold when I joined the Lutherans for Life national board. He encouraged me in my pro-life advocacy. And, oddly enough, when I had the honor to meet him, I was working for the Roman Catholic Bishops of Connecticut. They had consciously chosen me, a non-Catholic, to head up a pro-life office in the Constitution State. The joke one priest told me about my unorthodox selection was from a popular ad of the time. You dont have to be Jewish to love Levys real Jewish rye. In the same way, the good father said, you dont have to be Catholic to be pro-life.

He was right. When a hostile reporter from the Hartford Courant demanded to know what percent of the Catholic Churchs money went to pro-life activities, I answered mildly: All of it.

I was in a quandary when I first came to faith in the mid-1970s. The Catholic Church was then, as now, the leading voice in the world for the sanctity of human life. Many of the leading Mainline Protestants were outspokenly pro-abortion. Tragically, they still are. Only now, there are millions fewer of them. I could never have joined one of them. What part of the readings about King Herod and the slaughter of innocents had they missed?

Even though I admired the Catholic Churchs brave stance, I knew that I was from the Protestant half of my family. We were, truth to tell, unchurched. But if we had gone to a church, it would have been Protestant.

So, what an exciting thing it was for me to discover The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synods (LCMS) strong biblical stand against the unjust taking of innocent human life. When I studied more about Martin Luther, I learned he had been schooled as an Augustinian monk in Saxony. In fact, young Dr. Luther had earned a degree in theology at a time when doctorates were rarer than Nobel Prizes are today (and more deserved, too.)

Luthers courage appealed to the warrior in me. He was warned not to go to the Diet of Worms. That was a legislative assembly of German petty princes and church prelates presided over by the Holy Roman Emperor. You might be betrayed by the Emperor and burned at the stake, as the reformer Jan Hus was burned, his friends cautioned.

Luther would not be deterred. I would go, he said, if there were a devil on every roof tile. And so, in 1521, he went. Ordered by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to recant his writings on the authority and primacy of Scripture, Luther refused. Here I stand, he boldly proclaimed, God helping me, I can do no other.

Instead of being burned, he was kidnapped. Actually, the young doctor was taken into protective custody by knights loyal to the Elector of Saxony, a lesser magistrate. Frederick the Wise, as the Elector was known, hid Luther away in the Wartburg Castle.

While there, the monk translated the New Testament into German. It was this translation of the Bible that was said to be for the German language what the King James Bible and Shakespeare are for English.

It wont do to brush over the centuries of violent hostility between Catholics and Protestants in Europe and around the world. One-third of Germany was wiped out in the Thirty Years War.

Happily, though, in America, this home of freedom, religious conflict has been minimized by the wisdom of our Founding Fathers. In Washingtons great words, this government gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. Until recently, anyway.

Today is a day we can celebrate the birth of the great reformer. Martin Luthers life and work brought new life to the church and made great things possible. When we see the reforms of Vatican II, like celebrating the Mass in the language of the people, we can see the foundations that were laid nearly half a millennium ago, in Saxony.

Last weekend, I was honored to be a pallbearer at the funeral of a dear family friend. Our daughters godmother, at 58, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on a Thursday and died five days later. Under cold, gray, grim and blustery skies, we processed into the sanctuary and up to the altar of St. Pauls Catholic Church in Portsmouth, Virginia.

As the priest sprinkled holy water on our friends casket, a sudden shaft of sunlight broke through the stained glass window, brilliantly lighting the figures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ child. The congregation was in awe. As we departed the church, the organ music swelled with the tones of Martin Luthers great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God. He is bringing us together now and using our common defense of life to do it.

New Technique Reveals that People Categorized to be in Persistent Vegetative State May Be Fully Conscious

by Family Research Council

November 10, 2011

Last night, Rob Stein of the Washington Post published a fascinating piece on new technology that can potentially measure a persons level of consciousness by examining electrical activity in the brain.

Disturbingly, those conducting the research have found that numerous patients diagnosed to be in a persistent vegetative state are in fact, fully conscious according to their brain electrical activity. This obviously begs many bioethical questions about the capacity to diagnose persistent vegetative state. The article is worth reading in full, but below are a few quotes capturing the main points:

[In the experiment] All the patients had the same terrible diagnosis: brain damage that marooned them in a vegetative state alive but without any sense of awareness of themselves or the world around them.

But then an international team of scientists tried an ambitious experiment: By measuring electrical activity in the patients brains with a relatively simple technique, the researchers attempted to discern whether, in fact, they were conscious and able to communicate.

…[O]ne man, and another, and, surprisingly, a third repeatedly generated brain activity identical to that of healthy volunteers when they were asked to imagine two simple things: clenching a fist and wiggling their toes.

You spend a week with one of these patients and at no point does it seem at all they know what you are saying when you are talking to them. Then you do this experiment and find its the exact opposite they do know whats going on, said Damian Cruse, a postdoctoral neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada who helped conduct the research. Thats quite a profound feeling.

In 2006, Owen [a senior researcher in this study] and his colleagues described a young woman thought to be in a vegetative state. Her brain responded identically to a normal brain when scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as researchers asked her to imagine playing tennis or exploring her home. The case electrified neuroscientists. But it remained unclear whether it was a fluke… [I]n February 2010, Owens team reported similar testing on 23 vegetative patients and 31 minimally conscious patients. Five repeatedly fired their brains in precisely the same way as normal volunteers as they underwent

fMRIs while being asked to imagine hitting a tennis ball and wandering through their homes. One patient was able to answer yes or no to a series of questions by thinking about tennis for yes and touring his home for no.

The research inevitably raises questions about patients such as Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman in a persistent vegetative state whose familys dispute over whether to discontinue her care ignited a national debate over the right-to-die issue and congressional intervention in 2005. Schiavos brother, Bobby Schindler, said the new study highlights the limits of medicine in providing an accurate diagnosis.

Regrettably, Terri was never afforded these types of exams, Schindler wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post. Such testing could not have hurt Terri but could have helped her. Schindler and others called for a reconsideration of such diagnoses. These findings only reinforce our familys contention that the PVS diagnosis needs to be eliminated particularly given the fact that it not only dehumanizes the cognitively disabled, but it is being used in some instances to decide whether or not a person should live or die, as it was used in Terris case. None of us deserves to be deprived of food and water, he said.

Start a Church Adoption Fund

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 9, 2011

November is National Adoption Month, which is why FRC today was proud to host Ryan Bomberger for his lecture, “Adoption: Be the Hope.” Ryan was himself adopted and, with his wife, has adopted two children. You can watch his moving presentation here. To learn about the pro-life, pro-adoption ministry of Ryan’s Radiance Foundation, go to www.theradiancefoundation.org.

One of the most daunting obstacles to adoption is its up-front cost, which can be as much as $40,000 per child. Although the federal adoption tax credit is very helpful, it does not cover what can be, for families of ordinary means, a great financial challenge.

It’s for that reason that the adoption ministry Lifesong (a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) has set-up a program to help churches develop adoption funds. An adoption fund is a designated line-item in a church’s budget that helps church members pay for their adoption costs, either through a direct financial gift or low-or no-interest loan. As the beneficiaries of one such fund, my wife and I are eternally grateful for the generosity and selflessness of God’s people in helping us adopt our three children.

This creative ministry is designed to fulfill one of the greatest elements of the Gospel — to love those in need for the sake of, and in the power of, Jesus Christ. No one better fits that description than orphaned children who need a loving Christian home. Lifesong provides a great way of meeting a great need.

To learn more about adoption and related ministries, go to FRC’s www.RealCompassion.org, through which you can link to many organizations helping children at home and abroad.

Pro-Lifer Bill McGurn Gets It (Mayor Bloomberg Doesnt)

by Robert Morrison

November 8, 2011

Bill McGurn formerly headed the Asia bureau of The Wall Street Journal. An experienced and perceptive journalist, he is also a pro-life writer. Thats interesting, since the vast majority of his professional colleagues are pro-choice.

In his most recent column, McGurn never mentions the issue of abortion. Its not what hes writing about when he scores New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for hizzoners feckless response to Occupy Wall Street.

What, for Heavens sake, does the trashing of Zucotti Park have to do with taking the lives of innocents in abortion? A lot. The first right we possess is the right to be free from bodily harm. The unborn child is that person with the greatest need for such protection.

Bill McGurn understands this. Its not surprising, therefore, that Mayor Bloomberg, who has been a pro-abortion militant and who led the charge to abolish marriage in New York State, fails in his first duty: the protection of the lives and property of New Yorkers through the enforcement of just laws that safeguard the rights of all.

Anyone who has visited Lower Manhattan knows the many small shops and restaurants there. Donut shops. Coffee shops. Chinese take-outs. Pizza joints. There is a densely packed world of commerce taking place there at a frenetic pace. Lunch hour on Wall Street makes the yelling and shoving on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange look tame.

For all the noise and clamor, it is a fun place to go. I am thinking of all those employees of all those little shops and of the police and sanitation workers who have to contend with the spoiled brats of Occupy Wall Street.

A decade ago. I joined a group from FRC that went to New York City. We were there to urge the UN not to kick out the Vatican delegation from the world body. Cardinal Martino, the Vatican delegate to the UN, thanked Family Research Council warmly for our supportive statements. He was most gracious to us. And he seemed especially to appreciate the fact that most of us wereas Catholics term usseparated brethren.

We werent separated that day. We were fighting together to fend off a premeditated attack by international Planned Barrenhood and by the secular Left. The group urging the expulsion of the Vatican delegation even enlisted some front groups with Catholic in their name to cover their real designs.

Apart from our meeting with the Cardinal, what stands out most in my memory was the quiet encouragement we got from UN employees. One of them said the place was Hillarys sandbox and it was about time we got there to represent normal people.

Those who work in the day-to-day operations of the UN are likely to be New Yorkers and Jerseyites, regular folks, strap hangers who have to contend with daily commutes in the Big Apple.

They are our natural allies in New York. They are the ones much more likely to be pro-life and pro-marriage. They are the ones who gave us high signs when they saw the simple message of our UN-blue buttons. The words The Family in white were all that our buttons said. Its all they had to say.

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