Friday, December 21, 2012

Our Country’s Crisis

The shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut one week ago, on Friday, December 14, 2012, rocked my world. It was supposed to be a good day. My dad stayed home to work on a plumbing issue, and I was excited to see the day’s possibilities unfold. I never imaged how awful those possibilities might end up being. I came up that morning to see coverage of a news story I had seen before. It seemed like such a normal day. Seconds later, they switched to some of the initial reports of the shooting, and my world came crashing down.

I didn’t plan to spend my day hovering in this weird zone between pain, listening to and watching the news; and focus, working on my schoolwork. But that’s what happened. I needed to know what was happening, even though each new report brought tears to my eyes. I think that without my schoolwork to pour my energy into, I would have completely lost control of my emotions. I was so sad. The news reports just kept getting worse. And when the final numbers came in, we as a nation reeled to discover twenty-six people had been murdered.

The death of every single one of those six courageous adults and twenty precious children is a tragedy. Each life, so full of potential, of hopes and dreams, was snuffed out in a horrific act that we all struggle to comprehend. And as a nation we grieve with the families who have lost so much and the community that may never be the same. But the fact that our government and the media are using this tragedy as a tool to further their agenda sickens me. A grieving town is no place for the President to talk about his liberal ideas, and this story should certainly not be used by the news networks to draw conclusions supporting those same ideas. But that’s what is happening. As life marches on, the media says this act has ignited a national conversation. Interesting that this “conversation” so nicely dovetails with the liberal focus.

What do they want to talk about? More gun control! In light of the fact that a man just killed twenty-six innocent people, many legislators want to impose stricter laws upon the sale and use of guns. But has it occurred to any of them what might have happened had one of those teachers been carrying a gun? Instead of mourning the loss of so many young lives, we could have been honoring a tremendous hero. Maybe, just maybe, no one at that school would have gotten hurt, and life in Newtown could continue as normal.

However, it can’t. No one was carrying a gun there. They had nothing to fight back with that could match the killer's weapons. But how can we think that making it harder for honest citizens to get ahold of and to carry guns will somehow stop criminals from doing the same thing? Explain to me how making things illegal has stopped drug violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking. All these things are huge problems and they’re all illegal. It’s a simple fact that  criminals do not respect laws. That’s why they’re criminals. So if we think our laws are going to protect us from gun violence, we might want to think again.

There’s more to the gun issue, though. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, part of our almost sacred Bill of Rights, says very clearly, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”* “Infringe”, according to, means, “to encroach or trespass.” And Webster’s 1828 dictionary says that infringement is an “act of violating; breach; violation; non-fulfillment.” Our government has a duty to protect our right to bear arms. That means we’re allowed to carry and use our guns, and the government should be protecting that right, not scheming on how to get rid of it. Quite simply, trying to restrict our use of guns is a huge infringement on a mandatory right guaranteed by our Constitution.

The Founding Fathers and patriots of our early days had strong views on guns and our right and need to possess them. After all, they were the ones who created the Second Amendment in the first place! Thomas Paine, the famous author of Common Sense, a pamphlet that helped launch the American Revolution, said this in an article that appeared in the Pennsylvania Magazine in 1775:
“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms , for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation[or person, in our example] refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.”**
I realize that was long, and no one said that the Founding Fathers are always the easiest to understand. But Thomas Paine makes a very important point here. It’s when we are silent and seem weak that bad men seek to harm us. The person who is well-armed and makes no secret of the fact that he or she will use the weapon makes a criminal think twice before attacking. As I read this quote, I couldn’t help but think of the fact that so many of these tragic shootings occurred in “gun-free zones.” I find it interesting that since the implementation of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, some of the most tragic shootings in history have occurred. Columbine in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007, and now Sandy Hook. We have to realize that the weak are prime targets for the powerful, and without weapons in our possession, we are exceptionally weak.

Liberals don’t want to listen to the Founders’ words, though. The liberal agenda is all about getting away from those words and the people who said them. So we really shouldn’t be surprised at this attack on the Second Amendment by the man who said he wanted to “fundamentally change America.” Our fundamentals are the very things our Founders fought for. But our President and the modern progressives, despite their constant references to the American Dream and American ideals, are engineering a complete shift from our Founding principles, including the Constitution.

There is another element that the media has been throwing out there since the shootings, and this is the issue of mental health. It is indeed true that mental illnesses are a problem in America. It is also true that many perpetrators of these horrific crimes are mentally unstable. But I have my doubts about any of the proposed fixes. Medication, to me, is overused and not helpful enough. Yes, there are people who benefit from medicines that target their mental disorders, but there are many others whose conditions are not helped or are even worsened by the dozens of medications prescribed for them.

The problem comes from the fact that we’re trying to treat a symptom, not the root cause. Both violence and mental issues are symptoms of a much larger problem we have in our country. We are turning farther and farther away from God. In the end, we can talk about as many solutions as we want, but God is the only answer that will fix the problem. Our country was built on the principles of God, family, and freedom. Our problem today is that we want freedom without God or family. The strength of family is traditional marriage, which was instituted by God. In 1950, for every four couples who got married, one couple got divorced.*** By 1990, one couple divorced for every two couples who got married.**** The divorce rate has doubled in the last half-century. We have a growing number of people living together before marriage, teenage girls getting pregnant, and babies being aborted. And we think this is okay?! This is not the way God intended us to live our lives.

I think there are many causes of the mental health issues we have in this country. I believe that our health choices play a part, as do our societal standards. But more than anything else, I truly believe that the breakdown of the family and replacement of God directly lead to the problems we see today. Just think about the thousands of children who grow up without a father in the home or without God in their lives. Today we are reaping the results of a generation that deliberately chose to turn away from God and embrace life without Him.

So, yes, we have a huge crisis in our country. But it’s not a crisis that needs gun control to fix. It’s not even a crisis that requires more mental health treatment. Instead, we face a crisis of morality that will only be fixed when we return to God and to family. So, as I pray for the families who lost their children and teachers last weekend, I also pray that God would awaken the hearts of Americans and that we would return to the principles that made us great.

**,%20Volume%202.pdf – note: this is a large pdf and will take some time to download. If you want to visit the site where it is found instead, here is the link:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

One of Those Little Quirks…

I know that I said I was shooting for weekly posts, and I’ve already failed. I’m sorry, but I will certainly try and do better in the future.

I recently read Inkheart for the first time, and it thoroughly entertained me. I saw the movie a couple of years ago, and while there are many who dislike it, I personally enjoyed the film. Now, having read the book, I can see why some fans were upset. But, in my personal opinion, the movie was still a fairly good cinematic rendering.

Nonetheless, I’m not here to go on about the differences between the movie and book versions of Inkheart. My purpose isn’t even really to remark on the story itself. I will say that it’s an excellent book, and I’m excited to read the rest of the series. However, I want to pull something from the book. Fenoglio, the author of the fictional Inkheart, which is a part of the story, continually remarks upon how pleased he is with his villain, Capricorn, and Capricorn’s various henchmen, brought to life by Silvertongue’s unique talent. The other characters in the story, and I’m guessing most readers, are vaguely disgusted by the odd pleasure that Fenoglio takes in those characters who are, well, less than appealing.

As a writer myself, though, I can understand Fenoglio’s reaction. Would I have reacted the same way he did? I don’t know. Still, I can empathize with his strange enjoyment.Writers are an odd breed in some ways. While we enjoy reading too – in fact, it is nearly impossible to be a good writer without being a heavy reader – we tend to read our own works with a very different view than our readers do. Those scenes that our readers can’t stand are often our favorites, and those characters that our readers wish didn’t exist make us delirious with excitement. For example, in one of my books, I wrote a few particularly sad scenes. Many of my friends who read the book were upset with me after reading those parts. And yet, they are some of my favorite scenes in the entire book.

Why is this, you ask? What possible reason could I have for enjoying my characters’ pain or discomfort? Let me clarify and say that I don’t enjoy their suffering. The reason that I enjoy the two scenes I’m thinking of in particular are because of one word – emotion. They are two of the most emotion-eliciting scenes in the story. And since the point of any book is to create emotion, I consider my job done when I’ve wrung the correct emotional response from my readers.

So, for those of you who do write, I encourage you not to worry when you find yourself pleased with the page that makes you cry. If it’s a sad page and you react that way, then you are most likely writing a good story. As long as you don’t take a morbid pleasure in death and destruction, then I would say that your reaction is pretty normal. And for those of you who don’t write and don’t understand writers at all, I hope I’ve enlightened you a bit. See, we’re not weirdly pleased with those parts of our stories that make you cringe because we like them; we’re happy because they are some of our best writing. Those villains that genuinely scare our readers, those death scenes that cause tears to stream down their cheeks, those goodbyes that rend their hearts in two – those are our finest moments, because they bring out emotion in our readers. They show that the reader is connected to the story. And therefore they will always bring us the greatest pride.

I realize that I started this post off talking about Inkheart, and I’d just like to take a moment and recommend it to those of you who haven’t read it. Inkheart is a very gripping, well-written tale that had me captivated, and if you haven’t read it, I definitely encourage you to do so. Anyway, now you not only know one of those odd little quirks that writers have, but hopefully you understand why we have it too.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

As a Little Child

Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3) Become like little children? What a concept! Of course, many Christians think they understand what Jesus meant. Children have an innocence and trust that most adults have lost. Kids have a bigger dose of faith than the rest of us, generally. And while this is of course an excellent application of Jesus’ wisdom, I think there is more to it.

I left my water bottle in the car the other night, and the next morning, as I contemplated the cold air outside, I didn’t really want to go get it. So, I asked my little brother, who’s five, if he wanted to retrieve it for me(yes, I was being lazy, but that’s not the point here). He didn’t protest even a little bit. Instead, he quickly said, “Okay!” and happily set to it. And it was so adorable to watch him clomp out there in his pajamas and rain boots to fetch me my water bottle. I felt so loved.

We often consider little kids to be selfish. And they are, it’s true. Children can be the most self-centered beings on the planet. One of their first phrases is “I want.” They scream and throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want. They can be the bane of a parent’s existence. But they also have a huge capacity to give of themselves. Every now and then, family members get the joy of glimpsing a little piece of Heaven in their children. Every child, I think, has a purity in their soul that comes out in a desire to please people. Children really and truly love to make others happy.

As I watched my brother bring me my water bottle that morning, cheerfully remarking that he was cold, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this is part of what Jesus meant. Maybe part of becoming like a little child is truly giving of ourselves. Perhaps it’s learning to love unreservedly. Could it be that part of being childlike is forgetting our own happiness for a moment in order to focus on others?

Jesus said that you must become like a small child in order to enter His kingdom. So perhaps we need to stop thinking like adults sometimes and remember that “me” does not need to be our first thought. There are many others out there in this big world besides you and I, and, like my brother, maybe we all need to learn to look for ways to please. Maybe we need to love people with pure hearts and no expectations.

Hello, Everyone!

I can’t help but feel a bit odd posting this, since few people will probably ever see it. But that’s how it goes with first posts, right? Still, I’d feel even more odd just jumping into my posts without a single word of introduction. So, here I go!
As the description of my blog up there says, I am a writer. I believe that God has gifted me with some ability to create stories and put words together in a pleasing manner. I hope that this blog will give me a chance to share that with all of you. For now, I hope to post at least once a week. I would like to be more frequent than that at some point soon, but for now, I’ll just stick with that. Baby steps can be a good thing, right? I have all kinds of ideas for posts ranging from lessons I’ve learned about God and life to snippets of my stories to literature and movie critiques. My hope is that in that broad range of topics, you’ll find something that interests you.
This blog will be a journey for me, I’m sure. But it’s a journey that I’m excited to start. I hope and pray that through my journey, you will be blessed. So, as they say, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Maybe you’ll join me for these first steps, and, who knows? Perhaps you’ll decide to walk along the journey too!