Monday October 18, 2021 

Good Morning! 

According to G.K. Chesterton, “Jesus promised His disciples three things: they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.” 

Seventeen of Jesus’ disciples are in trouble in Haiti this morning. Please join us in praying for their protection and safe return: 

1. Haiti gang kidnaps US missionary group, including children 

From Fox News: 

A group of 17 U.S. missionaries including children was kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, according to a voice message sent to various religious missions by an organization with direct knowledge of the incident. 

The missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage, according to a message from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. 

“This is a special prayer alert,” the one-minute message said. “Pray that the gang members would come to repentance.” 

The message says the mission’s field director is working with the U.S. Embassy, and that the field director’s family and one other unidentified man stayed at the ministry’s base while everyone else visited the orphanage. 

2. Texas House Passes ‘Save Women’s Sports’ Bill 

From The Daily Citizen:

The Texas House voted 76-54 to pass House Bill 25 (HB 25), “An act relating to requiring public school students to compete in interscholastic athletic competitions based on biological sex.” 

The Texas Tribune reported that the “Save Women’s Sports” measure will now head to the Senate, where it is likely to pass. 

The act defines “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female as determined by the sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous profile of the individual at birth.” 

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT activist organization in the U.S., decried the decision, calling it “discriminatory” and saying, “Transgender young people deserve the opportunity to play sports with their friends like any kid. Texas legislators are putting the second-largest LGBTQ+ population in the country at significant health and safety risk.”

3. 2021 School Board Elections – Fighting for the Next Generation

From The Daily Citizen: 

Think school board elections aren’t important? 

You might want to talk with parents and teachers in the Leander Independent School District (LISD), near Austin, Texas. The Daily Wire reported (caution: disturbing language and descriptions) that LISD administrators decided to “deemphasize traditional canon literature in favor of more ‘diverse,’ contemporary literature, which featured what many parents complained were ‘adult themes.’” The books included disturbing, explicit descriptions of violence and sexual activity.

Or you might to talk with parents in Ames, Iowa, who found out early this year that their school district was planning a “Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action” the first week of February. The plans included teaching children – from kindergarten to 12th grade – principles such as: “We are committed to fostering a queer‐affirming network,” “We are committed to embracing and making space for trans siblings to participate and lead,” and “We are committed to disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure requirement.”

4. ‘Souls to the polls’: Virginia churches to air pro-McAuliffe ads featuring Kamala Harris

From the Washington Examiner: 

Hundreds of churches across Virginia are set to air a political ad starring Vice President Kamala Harris — a move that has raised eyebrows regarding the legality of bringing political campaigns into houses of worship. 

Between Oct. 17 and Nov. 2, a video featuring Harris will play during the morning services of over 300 black churches across Virginia. In the video, Harris encourages viewers to vote for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in the upcoming election, according to CNN 

The announcement generated controversy on social media, with many questioning if playing the video at church violates laws against political partisanship by religious institutions. 

Twitter users critical of McAuliffe pointed to the prohibitions the IRS has set for churches and asked if McAuliffe and Harris were risking the income tax exemption that any or all of the churches enjoyed. Since 1954, Congress has prohibited all 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, from participating in political campaigns in order to maintain their exemption from income tax.

5.   The secret Supreme Court: Late nights, courtesy votes and the unwritten 6-vote rule

From CNN: 

The justices have nearly full discretion over what cases they accept, and they tend to look for matters in which lower courts have announced conflicting rulings, so that the high court can bring uniformity to the law nationwide. 

Breyer highlighted two core practices, passed on to him from now-retired Sandra Day O’Connor, the country’s first female justice, who served from 1981 to 2006 and is now living in Arizona. 

“Sandra O’Connor told me there are two unwritten rules that are probably as important as any that are written. The first one is that in the conference no one speaks twice until everyone has spoken once,” Breyer said. “I was a junior justice for 11 years and I spoke last, and so that was a rule that was very favorable to me. But everybody feels you’ve been treated fairly. The second rule is no trading of votes. It’s not like Congress.” 

Late-night orders have been a staple of capital cases, as condemned inmates tried to fight off scheduled evening executions. But the justices increasingly have released after hours, even at midnight, orders in noncapital cases, too. On September 1, a five-justice majority rejected a request from abortion clinics in Texas and allowed a state ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to take effect.

Breyer was among the four dissenters in that case, which continues to play out in courts. The Texas law conflicts with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal nationwide. 

When queried about the process that had led to the midnight order, Breyer said, “Why was it so late? Because probably people didn’t get finished writing … until the afternoon. … It has to get printed. There are a number of administrative steps that are taken.” 

He chalked up the middle-of-the-night action not to the justices themselves, perhaps furiously writing the majority statement and the multiple dissenting opinions, but to the court’s publications team and an administrative process. 

He said the justices’ work is reviewed to ensure there are no typographical errors and that case citations are accurate. 

“It isn’t because we’re sitting at the desk writing until midnight,” said Breyer, in his characteristically upbeat way. “We probably finished several hours before.”

6.   How to Help Children Who’ve Experienced Trauma

From the Gospel Coalition: 

While the specific responses children need will vary, there is a wealth of general advice to help parents and caregivers respond well and help children heal. These recommendations are geared toward situations in which the traumatic event has ended and children are in a reasonably safe environment. 

  • Provide children with safety and reassure them that they’re safe. Give them examples of what you’ve done to help protect them at home or school. This might include walking them to their classroom every day, remaining within earshot whenever you’re at home, watching them play outside so they’re not alone, and waiting for them at the entrance of the school or the bus stop to pick them up. 
  • Help children feel connected and loved. Tell and show them you love them and will try your best to take care of them. This includes being emotionally and physically available (hugs, time together as a family). Reassure children it’s normal to have a lot of different or strong feelings after a traumatic event.
  • Let children know that what happened was not their fault, and be an attentive and nonjudgmental listener. Allow children to process their experience and express their feelings. This could mean helping children find words or encouraging opportunities for them to express themselves through talking, writing, playing, music, or other activities. Don’t be dismissive of children’s feelings or encourage them to simply get over the traumatic event. 
  • Pray with children. Because in Jesus Christ we have a great high priest who sympathizes with us (Heb. 4:14–16), we pray and ask God to act, heal, comfort, bring justice, make things right, and more. This captures the sadness and loss of trauma and our hope and confidence that God will hear and help.

7.   The Woke, Elvis and America’s Great Awakening

From the Wall Street Journal: 

I propose that the country’s periodic Great Awakenings should be referred to as “Elvises.” Each such epoch represents an intense wave of religious emotion passing through American democracy. 

The First Great Awakening—the First Elvis—occurred in America between 1730 and 1740, the time of Jonathan Edwards’s “sinners in the hands of an angry God” and of the evangelist George Whitefield’s mass revivals. The Second Great Awakening, from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, preached hellfire and damnation; upstate New York—seedbed of crackpots and ecstatic conversions, became known as the Burnt-Over District. The Third Great Awakening, from the second half of the 19th century to the early 20th century, brought forth the Social Gospel movement and Progressive politics that are an antecedent to the wave of ardors that has swept over the early 21st century. 

The Fourth Great Awakening represented, so to speak, the Elvis Elvis—the stirring of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll and political protest: the 1960s and ’70s counterculture. Popular culture, celebrity saints and demons replaced the old religious forms. 

We live now at the epicenter of the Fifth Elvis—a sweeping revival movement that has penetrated American society and institutions more deeply and comprehensively than any of the earlier waves. The Fifth Elvis devotes itself especially to race and sex—the latter now understood to be an entirely subjective and discretionary thing called gender. 

Each Elvis tends to accomplish something in the way of transformation—but then is apt to go too far and make itself either sinister or ridiculous. Every Great Awakening may become a Burnt-Over District at last. The French Revolution led to Robespierre’s Reign of Terror and the Thermidorian reaction. 

It is my suspicion that the Fifth Elvis has lately hit a wall with the dogmatic insistence on the right and the rightness of men having babies. Part of the woke project, of course, is to transform language—to bully it into political conformity, so that not long ago, for example, the British medical journal, the Lancet, referred to women as “bodies with vaginas.” The adepts of wokeness have talked themselves into the idea that word “woman” won’t do. It is anathema. The idea of women—half the human race, or more than half—is declared to be offensive to the esoteric theologies of the transgender Taliban.

8.   Lament For The Pickup Truck

From The American Conservative: 

The market is flooded with big boy toys. Men aren’t focused on starting families and buying property the way they used to be. That makes owning a truck (and a gun) harder for folks who need them. They’re more expensive and more heavily regulated. They also carry more of a “stigma” as the kids would say. 

Too often, this Americana becomes a substitute for the American values they’re supposed to represent. It’s “performative,” as the libs would say. We want the strength, stability, and independence that the yeoman farmer represents—but that’s too hard, so we’ll just roll some coal on a Prius instead. 

It’s easy to forget that neighborliness and modesty are small-town values, too. Just like it’s easy to forget that a nationalist loves, not only his country, but his countrymen

Not for nothing, but truck and gun sales both spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 election. These big boy toys make you feel safe and strong as the world slips out of control.  

9. Giving Billy Joel His Due

From First Things: 

Joel never chased political relevance. His peculiar iconoclasm manifested in not being political just at the moment when all his peers were. At a multi-artist event in seventies Cuba, he watched them walk out and deliver carefully prepped pro-communist speeches in Spanish, to minimal crowd response. When he took the stage, he shrugged and said, “No hablo español,” then launched his set. In an instant, kids were rushing the stage.  

Granted, Joel had moments like the famous “keyboard flip” in glasnost-era Moscow, where the audience was lit up so police could remove any fans displaying an “excessive” response. But it was all about the music, even in Moscow. He once recalled another night on that tour where the press asked him political questions while he sat cross-legged and bored on the stage, finally cutting them off with, “Does anyone have a question about music?”  

Unlike some contemporaries, Joel’s musical gifts extended beyond writing and performing to teaching, something I grew to appreciate as I became a teacher myself. Through the decades, he became known for “masterclasses” where he would take audience questions, share insider knowledge, and break down the writing process for fan favorites.

10. ‘Trip down memory lane’: man buys back his late mother’s car decades after her death

From ABC: 

Berry’s mother died when he was 15 years old, and his father sold the car shortly afterward. It didn’t seem significant to Berry at the time, he said. 

As he got older, he began to realize how central it was to his memories of his mother, his siblings and his childhood. 

“I remember my Mom getting in, putting the top down, putting a scarf around her head and putting her sunglasses on and going for a ride,” he said. 

So he reached out to the man who’d purchased the car from his father. Initially — decades’ worth of initially — the new owner didn’t want to sell. Berry was persistent. 

“For about 20 to 22 years, I stayed in contact with that gentleman,” he said. 

And this year, the new owner said yes. 

“He’s a gentlemen who’s 81 years old, and he said, ‘I got to thinking about your desire for the car and the number of years that I’ll be able to drive it and enjoy it,’” Berry said. “And he said ‘I think it was time to let it go.’”

He was reunited with the vehicle on Sunday. Some of his mother’s things were still in the glovebox. 

“In the glovebox, there was a pair of my mother’s sunglasses, some papers she had written maps on, and some earrings and stamps that she had kept in there,” he said. “So that was another trip down memory lane.”