In the movie Braveheart, Mel Gibson’s character, Sir William Wallace, boldly declares:
“Fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… our freedom!”
We continue to pray for the brave warriors in Ukraine:
- The Brave Resistance to Putin is an Inspiration and Lesson to the World
Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine invasion isn’t going according to his script, and for that the world owes a great debt to the heroic people of that besieged country of 41 million. Their resistance against fearsome odds is an inspiration and has awakened the world to the menace of the Kremlin autocrat. Ukraine deserves more support to raise the costs of war for Mr. Putin with arms, the toughest sanctions, and global ostracism.
Despite the good news, Ukraine’s position remains perilous. Russian forces are still besieging several cities, including Kyiv. Mr. Putin is ruthless, as he showed in a Chechnya campaign that reduced cities to rubble. He could do the same in Ukraine if he feels defeat would jeopardize his political control inside Russia.
On Sunday Mr. Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert in response to what he called threatening comments from NATO leaders. But no one is threatening Russia. It’s tempting to dismiss this as more of Mr. Putin’s intimidating talk, except the Russian’s public statements have been erratic and extreme.
The threats shouldn’t stop the growing support for Ukrainian resistance. The stakes of this war are very high, including for American interests. Mr. Putin is trying to restore Greater Russia and make himself the dominant European state and a global power. He wants a new world disorder.
If he succeeds in Ukraine, breaking NATO will be his next ambition. The people of Ukraine are showing a too complacent West what it means to fight for freedom.
The Human Cost of Russia’s War on Ukraine
From The Daily Citizen:
As Russian forces continue their illegal onslaught against Ukraine, casualties on both sides are beginning to mount.
Shocking images of the battle in and around Kyiv have begun to emerge as the people and armed forces of Ukraine fight for their very survival.
But unlike wars of recent memory, like Iraq and Afghanistan, where American forces did their best to avoid civilian casualties, it appears the citizens of Kyiv are not being afforded the same consideration by Russian troops.
Early Friday, the Kyiv Independent reported that Russian rockets had struck a kindergarten in the town of Okhtyrka, resulting in casualties and severe injuries, including among children.
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted, “Today’s Russian attacks on a kindergarten and an orphanage are war crimes and violations of the Rome Statute. Together with the General Prosecutor’s Office we are collecting this and other facts, which we will immediately send to the Hague. Responsibility is inevitable.”
The human cost in Ukraine will continue to rise in the coming days and weeks. Homes will be destroyed. Families will be separated. Children will lose parents; mothers will lose sons and daughters.
So perhaps there could be no more important time for people of all faiths to unite in prayer and support for the people of Ukraine. Pray for peace.
The Ukrainian Church: ‘We Need More Bibles’
From Christianity Today:
As the head of the American Bible Society, I’ve been in close contact with my friend and counterpart, Anatoliy Raychynets, who serves as the deputy general secretary of the Ukrainian Bible Society. Over the past few months, he has shared reports that are hard to read: mothers wailing for their sons outside the hospitals; children who won’t remember their fathers’ faces; thousands of people feeling hopeless and afraid.
But Anatoliy has noted something else too: church leaders working together for peace, and people seeking out the hope of Scripture.
Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine need Bibles for people searching for comfort in troubled times. They need trauma-healing resources to provide the balm of Scripture. And they need us to intercede for them.
2. President Biden Nominates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as Next Justice of the Supreme Court
From The Daily Citizen:
In a tweet from the White House on the morning of February 25, President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who will step down at the completion of the court’s current term at the end of June.
“I’m proud to announce that I am nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court. Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, she is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice,” the president wrote.
The president later held a press conference where he introduced Judge Jackson as his nominee.
Jackson, 51, is a native of Washington D.C. but grew up in Florida. Jackson graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School. After law school, she worked in the private sector and also did a stint as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. She served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2010 to 2014, before her appointment to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2013 by President Obama. She served on that court until 2021, when she was appointed to the DC Circuit Court by President Biden to replace Judge Merrick Garland, who the president selected as his Attorney General. Jackson was confirmed by the Senate in a 53-44 vote.
She also clerked for several federal judges, including Justice Breyer, whom she will be replacing.
How a High School Debate Team Shaped Ketanji Brown Jackson
From The New York Times:
Decades have passed since Judge Jackson, 51, was a stellar student at Palmetto, a large public school nestled among the palm trees of the South Florida suburbs. But the school held outsize importance in her life, thanks to a competitive speech and debate team led by a famed coach who molded her protégés into sharp-tongued speakers and quick critical thinkers.
“That was an experience that I can say without hesitation was the one activity that best prepared me for future success in law and in life,” Judge Jackson said at a lecture in 2017.
From the tightknit and wonky debate team emerged accomplished professionals who remain unusually close 30 years later. (Judge Jackson’s prom date? A guy who would become a United States attorney, the chief federal prosecutor in Miami.) Now the team offers a glimpse into how Judge Jackson’s early life led to a Supreme Court nomination — and how her success is inspiring a new generation of debaters to dream big.
“I learned how to reason and how to write,” she said in the lecture, “and I gained the self-confidence that can sometimes be quite difficult for women and minorities to learn at an early age.”
3. New York Magazine Writer: To Empower Parents ‘Would Put Children in Danger’ From ‘Household Tyrants’
From The Daily Citizen:
Sarah Jones, a senior writer for the Intelligencer/New York Magazine, is taking heat for a recent column, titled “Household Tyrants,” where she states that the Florida legislature’s push to empower parents “would put children in danger.”
Jones was referring to Florida House Bill 1557, a “Parental Rights in Education” bill which, as we reported in The Daily Citizen, would give parents more control over what their children learn in school and ensure schools are transparent about sex ed conversations teachers or administrators have with students.
The writer, who has no children of her own, said that conservatives want to take away children’s freedoms, stating that as “they long for a strong figure in power, they imagine the same figure in every home. Subject of a household tyrant, the child has no freedom.”
Yes. That’s exactly what conservatives want. We long for tyrants in office, a tyrant in every home and little child-slaves to do our bidding.
Jones said the push for parental rights legislation comes from “the conservative fringe” and “is associated historically with some Christian homeschool activists.” She added that the parental rights movement, “with the Christian right behind it, would restrict them [children] further, even if it places them in danger of neglect or abuse.”
4. Former ESPN sportscaster condemns cancel culture, says ‘being offended is a choice’
From the Christian Post:
Michele Tafoya appeared at CPAC Friday, alongside American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp. This year, the annual gathering of conservative activists took place in Orlando, Florida.
Tafoya stepped down from her role as an NBC Sports reporter after last month’s Super Bowl. She insisted at CPAC that it was “completely my choice” to step down, maintaining that she faced no pressure to do so.
“I wanted to add my voice to the world that needs more voices of courage, I think, that are willing to say, ‘I do not apologize for what I stand for,’” she said. Tafoya told the crowd, “don’t apologize,” adding, “I just want people to know it’s OK to be yourself and speak your values and live your values and not apologize.”
During the panel discussion, Tafoya announced that she was no longer using social media, which she described as “a dangerous way to try to communicate with people because no matter what you say, you will be twisted and taken out of context, guaranteed, by people who want to.”
Schlapp weighed in on the subject of apologizing, noting that he would support apologizing if their purpose was to tell someone, “I just want you to know I didn’t mean to offend you.” Instead, he lamented, “The apology is, ‘See, I told you, you have privilege. … You don’t have a voice here. Shut up.’”
The former sportscaster responded to Schlapp’s suggestion of telling people, “I didn’t mean to offend you,” proclaiming, “People can choose to be offended by whatever they want.”
Tafoya added: “Being offended is a choice that you make. You read something, you see something, I say something and you go, ‘I’m so offended.’ Well, why? … If you disagree with me, disagree with me. But if you decide you’re going to be pained by it or aggrieved by it, that’s you making that choice.”
5. Brain surgery for addiction?
From World Magazine:
Drug and alcohol addiction affects many Americans, with 40.3 million people ages 12 and up struggling with a substance abuse disorder in 2020, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. More than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States over a 12 month period ending in April 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The research team at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute hopes its experimental surgery will restore healthy brain function to areas damaged by addiction. Deep brain stimulation has already successfully treated symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. To qualify for the $50,000 procedure, patients must have completed several rehabilitation programs without a successful recovery and overdosed multiple times. Funded by a $750,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the clinical trial now includes four patients.
Buckhalter’s surgery, which took place 2½ years ago, appears to have had success: He’s been sober since then. He also goes to counseling, takes medication, works a steady job, and receives support from a sober living home. A second phase of the trial with more than a dozen people will further test its ability to keep people off drugs.
But the surgical approach raises the question of whether brain stimulation replaces a person’s own ability to overcome addiction. Anthony Duk, a Christian psychiatrist with Inland Psychiatric Medical Group in Southern California, argues the procedure is only effective if the patient can eventually live life without the probe. If not, doctors are only switching the object of his addiction. They haven’t helped patients become a whole person, but have “shackled them to us,” Duk said.
Duk prescribes medication for those suffering from addiction, but does so with a plan to taper them off and change their lifestyle. Medication is a small part of a healing process that includes therapy, community accountability, exercise, and journaling, he said.
- Are Smartphones Serving as Adult Pacifiers?
From the Washington Post:
Smartphones are ubiquitous. It’s rare to see someone in public who isn’t scrolling, texting or talking on one. Most of us already know their risks and annoyances: distracted driving and walking, meal interruptions and the irritation that comes from hearing a persistent ringtone during a concert, play or film. Research also has found that we tend to suffer cognitively when our phones are nearby — we do better on tasks when we aren’t tempted to use them.
But scientists studying the relationship between people and their smartphones also have come up with additional insights in recent years about how people behave when using them, including discovering that people can draw needed comfort by their mere presence.
Individuals hold a deep personal connection with their phones, according to researchers. This leads phone users to express their views more freely when using their phones, often in exaggerated ways, and with more honesty, disclosing personal or sensitive information, for example, compared with laptops or tablets, experts say. They are portable and they have haptic properties that stimulate our sense of touch. And we regard them as much more personal than computers, which are closely associated with work.
“Smartphones allow people to be themselves,” says Aner Sela, associate professor of marketing at the University of Florida, whose ongoing research suggests that people communicate with more emotion on smartphones than with other devices, seeing them as a safe space to do so. “When we are engaged with our phones, we feel we are in a protected place. You feel like you are in your own private bubble when you use them. We get into a state of private self-focus, looking inward, paying attention to how we feel, and less attuned to the social context around us.”
7. A record number of weddings is expected in 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted millions of Americans to put plans, including weddings, on hold.
As 2022 unfolds and, we hope, the worst of the pandemic is behind us, nuptials are expected to take place in record numbers.
The Wedding Report, a wedding market research firm, projects there will be 2.5 million weddings this year, the highest number since 1984. That’s up from 1.9 million in 2021 and 1.3 million in 2020. The average engaged couple is expected to spend $24,300 on their wedding this year.
8. How Entertainment Deprives a Soul
From Desiring God:
When we, as a society, stopped reading and started watching, we began thinking and talking less — at least with the same substance or effectiveness. That was the bright red flag Neil Postman began waving in the sixties, captured for future generations in his classic work, Amusing Ourselves to Death. The book was published in 1985, the year before I was born.
With the introduction of the television, Postman observed, entertainment did not merely become a bigger and bigger part of our lives — it became our lives. And everything else in our lives — news, politics, education, even religion — was increasingly forced to perform on its stage. Suddenly, everything had to be entertaining. Newspapers gave way to “the nightly news”; classroom lessons made their way to Sesame Street; worship services transformed into televised concerts with TED talks.
The television slowly taught us that nothing was worth our time unless it was entertaining. And anything entertaining, almost by definition, requires less of us — less thinking, less study, less work. Entertainment, after all, isn’t meant to be taken seriously. But when everything is entertainment, doesn’t that mean little, if anything, can be taken seriously?
For those who take the glory of God seriously, and our joy in him seriously, that becomes a very serious question.
The medium is not the enemy — television and YouTube and Instagram are not the enemy. But if Postman was right, the medium can be wielded by our world, our flesh, and our enemy when we soak up entertainment and ignore the consequences. What, if any, of your entertainment habits need to be curbed or redirected for the sake of your soul? What are ways you are seeking to cultivate the spiritual gift of your mind — slower Bible study or memorization, reading substantive books, meaningful conversation with friends, more time in unhurried reflection and meditation?
As we learn to guard and nurture our minds as our God-given pathways to God, the kinds of mindless entertainment that are undoing millions today will be far less appealing and far less dangerous. And we will find pleasures deeper, and far more enduring, than what we see on our screens.
9. Daniel Pink has 19,000 regrets and counting. What can we learn from his research?
From the Deseret News:
In sorting through thousands of self-reported regrets, Daniel Pink noticed a trend. The moral transgressions that people regret, he says, read “like the production notes for a Ten Commandments training video.”
There’s the infidelity. The sacrilege. The theft. And yes, even homicide if you see abortion as such. These are among the regrets that Pink has cataloged in the years that he has studied human regret, both in the U.S. and worldwide. His database is a poignant collection of memories that still cause pain for people even decades after the events occurred.
Some examples from Pink’s new book, “The Power of Regret”:
A 51-year-old woman who regrets not having her mother present at her marriage ceremony: “I could have given her the happiness of seeing me married, and I selfishly didn’t work to make that happen.”
A 34-year-old woman who regrets an abortion: “I was young, in college, and scared, but it has haunted me ever since.”
An 84-year-old man who regrets not kissing his wife more: “I regret every kiss I could have given to my wife but didn’t because I was too busy during our 62 years of marriage before she died of COVID.”
10. Mom Whose Facial Tumor Left Her Barely Able to Eat Now Lives Normal Life Thanks to Mercy Ship
A mother whose massive facial tumor left her barely able to eat or breathe is now living a normal life, thanks to the charity work of surgeons aboard a ship.
Mabouba first noticed the facial tumor in her teenage years and, as she grew older, her condition rapidly worsened.
By 2014, the tumor was so big that it began blocking her esophagus and windpipe—leaving her unable to swallow anything more than bits of rice, egg and bread, and struggling for air during the night.
Sadly, emergency surgery in Ghana didn’t help, after the 29-year-old nearly lost her life on the operating table.
But, thanks to the arrival of Mercy Ships, a charity which provides medical care, she is now living a happy life.
Mercy Ships operates the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, transporting hundreds of volunteer health professionals to more than 57 developing nations. Since 1978, the Christian-based charity has performed over 100,000 life-saving surgeries—and trained 42,000 local nurses and doctors in modern procedures. while the ship at port.