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He is Risen!

March 26, 2016 | By | No Comments

Sharing a repost from one of our family’s most treasured Easter memories — Over a decade ago now in 2005, we took a trip with all of the children to the Grand Canyon for Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday. At the time, since they were small, I used pseudonyms for each child. Hannah was the Dreamer; John was the Dude; Helena was the Diva; Sarah was the Dancer; and James was Baby Boo. Happy Easter and God’s richest blessings to each of you and your families!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

The alarm went off at 3 AM. Could we manage to rouse five tired children and make it to the sunrise service at the Grand Canyon 90 miles north? Having come this far on our westward adventure, we wanted to try. But the Penta-Posse got themselves up, into the ski clothes we’d laid out to combat the cold, and beat me into the truck. (They may have been eased along by the chocolate and jelly beans the easter bunny left. . .)

In fact, they were in such high spirits that they wanted our progress up Arizona Rt. 180 through the Coconino Forest to turn into a race with the lone hatchback we encountered along the way in the dark. As the little car left us in his wake (Dad, c’mon, let’s go!!) Jack told the posse that we would let the hatchback “hit the cow” for us and tried to refocus their attention on seeing who could guess how low the temperature would go. The Dreamer “won” when the thermometer dropped to 17 degrees. I worried about the wind-chill on the canyon rim. Then, we crested a hill and came up suddenly on the hatchback, which was stopped dead in front of us as a herd of six or seven deer charged acrosss the road.

The mountains to our right, capped in snow, glowed with the reflected light of a full moon. We reached the canyon at 5 AM just as the faintest light began breaching the eastern rim. We parked along the shoulder near Mather Point; the Dancer had fallen asleep again and didn’t want to venture into the cold — we wrapped her in a blanket and joined the others who were streaming in the direction of haunting music playing on a loudspeaker at the outlook. We were early enough to be among the first there; eventually around 1600 people arrived, filling up the platform, the stairs to the outlook, and lining the rim looking out over Mather Point.

The Dreamer, the Dude and the Diva scrambled up to a perch atop a large boulder, while Jack and I settled in to lower seats along a rocky wall with the Dancer and Boo. By now, a faint pink light was spreading along the horizon. We had made it! My eyes filled with tears as my apprehension and tension from the press to get there was replaced with a sense of awe at the majesty in front of me.

Then the cold started to seep in. The Dancer started to cry. She settled in to Jack’s lap and buried her face in his chest. A little later, the Dreamer came down to take her so that they could warm each other. Boo slept on.

Half an hour left until the service and now the light was spreading and we could see the growing crowd around us more clearly. My worst fears about the wind-chill never materialized, but it was very cold. A stranger came over to the Dancer and the Dreamer, and wrapped them in a blanket. “Here,” he said, “you look cold. This is an extra.” It wasn’t an extra. We were among friends.

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

The service started and Boo began to cry. Then he settled quickly into my shoulder. . . The sun broke over the northeastern rim with a brilliant glow, revealing the colors of the canyon in all their glory. Red, green, pink, orange. Deep clefts of darkness and shadow. The Colorado silently running in dizzying depths below. A raw wood cross on the edge appeared to hang in the air, silhouetted with the vast expanse of the canyon behind.

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!

Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!

Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!

Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!

Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!

Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!

Hail, the resurrection day, Alleluia Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!

Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!

Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!

Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Afterward, the Dude and I stood and looked over the canyon. “This is awesome,” he said.

He is risen. He is risen, indeed.

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Originally published on March 28th, 2005.

The Walk of Atonement

June 17, 2015 | By | No Comments

Interesting how often the Lord’s protection is described to be like the mountains.

IMG_4903-0.jpgThis strikes me in particular this morning because last night we finally had the chance to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones. The theology of the show, such as it is, should serve as a reminder of what an awesome God we serve. After Cersei’s pride breaks and she confesses her sin, she is sentenced to a Walk of Atonement. She’s stripped naked and forced to walk through throngs of people, with a nun behind her crying out “SHAME. SHAME.”

With echoes of the Via Dolorosa, her hair is chopped off; her feet are bloodied; she’s mocked and spat upon.

What a dramatic contrast to the reality of our faith. We serve a God who took our shame upon Himself. He Himself is our Atonement.

We serve a God who promises to surround us with His protection, who will not allow us to be followed and defeated by Shame. “Those who trust in Him will NOT be defeated.”

I’m sure the analogy is unintentional, but perhaps Game of Thrones doesn’t get it all wrong: after her walk of shame, Cersei is carried away by a character called, The Mountain.

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Happy Mother’s Day

May 10, 2015 | By | No Comments

Anna-Jarvis

Anna Jarvis, founder of Mother’s Day

I’ve never really liked carnations. But I may have to change my opinion.

It turns out that the woman who founded Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, chose the white carnation as the emblem of the day because it was her mother’s favorite. Anna wanted the white flower ‘to symbolize the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love…”

This weekend is the 101st anniversary of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis’ labor of love in tribute to her own mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. During the Civil War, Ann Jarvis cared for the wounded from both sides, and after the war organized “Mothers Friendship Days” to work toward healing and reconciliation between families of the North and South. In her honor, Anna Jarvis worked to create Mother’s Day on the anniversary of Ann’s death.

Early feminists embraced Mother’s Day as a celebration of the unique contribution that a mother provides – not only to her family – but to the broader community as well.

At its heart, Mother’s Day is a recognition of the power of motherhood. Tragically, the modern feminist movement has rooted feminine power in abortion, the ultimate destruction of motherhood.

And because motherhood does have such significance for binding together families and communities, this shift in worldview has far-reaching effects. As the abortion mentality has taken hold and metasticized, the value of life in other contexts has eroded as well.

Just a few years ago we witnessed the spectacle of so-called academic “ethicists,” who contended that killing a baby after birth is no different than killing before birth.

Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argued in the Journal of Medical Ethics: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.” Without a right to life, death is an option, and not only for newborns.

The two authors took tremendous criticism for their article on “after-birth abortion.” However, we’re seeing a continuing rise in the implications of the Culture of Death. This year, AUL’s legal team tracked bills in more than 20 states where legislators sought to make it easier to kill the elderly and sick through assisted suicide. Without respect for life, from conception to natural death, all are at risk.

Protecting life begins with showing respect for those who choose every day to do the wonderful and hard work of parenting. Mother’s Day is a lynchpin of rebuilding a Culture of Life.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend celebrating the mothers in your life. I think I’m going to make a point of buying my mother carnations. They might just become one of my favorite flowers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The Colosseum Cross

May 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

Even though it is crumbling, the sight of the Colosseum is still remarkable.  No picture fully conveys the power of the imposing size of the massive structure.  The official name is the Flavian Amphitheatre — in ancient times, the Colosseum was a theatre, intended to entertain the people.  The Roman emperors cannily used it as a political tool.

With tourists cycling in and out wearing tennis shoes and carrying their cameras, it’s hard to imagine tens of thousands of ancient Romans filing into the arena, climbing the steep steps in high spirits for a day of performances.  The Emperor even provided the picnic so that they could settle in and enjoy the show.  The sub-level labyrinths were full of exotic animals and famous gladiators whose purpose was to create an elaborate and entertaining play.

Some of that entertainment included fights to the death.  And the martyrdom of Christians, mauled by wild lions.

All entertainment, set to the soundtrack of the cheers of the people.

With that history, the bustle of tourism that surrounds the Colosseum today cannot fully obscure a poignant and haunting spirit that seems to infuse the vast space.   A simple, rustic cross planted in the center of the arena, provides a moral rebuke, bearing silent witness to a culture and time nearly impossible for the modern person to imagine.

How could they have cheered while people were slaughtered right in front of them?  It seems barbaric.

And yet today we still have a modern amphitheatre of death. Every single day in our country, over 4,000 babies are killed in abortion clinics.  Every day.

One of the exhibits at the Colosseum noted that the people eventually became bored with their gruesome entertainment.  It is worth remembering that even a death pageant can become commonplace.

Similarly 50 million babies lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade is just a number.  For the cynic, it is just a statistic, signifying nothing.

Nevertheless the abortionist is on the wrong side of history.  Today it is the cross, not the sword, that speaks into the silence of the Colosseum.

And someday, the cheers will end for abortion too.  This gruesome barbarism will join gladiatorial contests, and slavery, in the category of those things that are unimaginable.

The Colloseum Cross

The Colosseum Cross

Ambassador in Chains

May 2, 2014 | By | No Comments

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.

From Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, verse 28.

Just a quick post from Rome to share a 30 second video from the Mamertine Prison where legend has it the Apostles Paul and Peter were held prisoner.  Paul called himself an “ambassador in chains” and yet still called us all to “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice!”  Philippians 4:4

Feminine Genius

May 1, 2014 | By | One Comment

We were walking through the Roman Forum, trying to take in the enormity of the ruins surrounding us.  Glancing around, a beautiful young woman walking nearby happened to catch my eye.  I watched her as she approached, and was stunned when I overheard her conversation:  she and her companion were discussing which one of them was thinner.

Surrounded by one of the world’s great wonders, her mind was consumed with an utter banality.  Made particularly grievous by its falsehood.

I wasn’t really surprised.  But very saddened.

None of the things I would have wanted to say about being young, beautiful and in Rome would have made a dent in her negative self-perception.  Reality for young women (and young men) is shaped by a culture that has made a shimmering and photo-shopped representation of physical perfection omnipresent.

There are other women walking the streets of Rome this week who are striking in their radiant happiness.  Groups of nuns from all over the world have been here.  All different ages and nationalities, and even apparent personalities, but strikingly similar in the joy they project.  Without exception, the nuns that I have met are winsome and engaging.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the concept of “feminine genius” that I mentioned in my speech on Friday. What does it mean to be fully feminine?  To be joyful in being a woman? 

What does it mean to be fully feminine?  To be joyful in being a woman?

  So much of today’s conversation around “feminism” is hostile and argumentative.  There’s a sense of accusation and finger-pointing.

By contrast, the nuns seem at peace and utterly self-possessed.  I am sure there are nuns who struggle with normal human emotions of depression and fear and anger.  And perhaps a more serene personality is drawn to a cloistered life.  Nevertheless I am challenged and inspired by the beauty I see in their faces, that reflects a life centered on service, a mission focused outside the self, and a passion directed toward praise.

I snapped the picture above of these beautiful nuns who were marching together down St. Peter’s Square the night before the canonization Mass.   Just after I snapped the picture, one of the nuns saw me, and I was instinctively afraid she would express disapproval.  Instead she looked directly at me and grinned infectiously.   I felt warmed and cheered. . . and knew I had witnessed a moment of true feminine genius.

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We Still Need Heroes

April 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

We woke up Sunday morning to the sound of bells across the city. Then followed by helicopters overhead. The city of Rome was preparing for the canonization ceremony for Saint John Paul II and Saint John XXIII.

The night before we’d walked through St. Peter’s Square to see policemen welding manhole covers closed for security, and young people roaming in groups strumming guitars and singing hallelujahs. The city was alive with celebration. The joy was palpable, and most impressively among students. While my feet were sore from walking all day, one group of young people had formed a large circle and were dancing.

I’ve come to see that we live in a world hungry for true heroes.

Sunday morning as we walked toward St. Peter’s Square, we saw a series of RV’s parked along the Tiber River, with their radios blaring the sounds of the lead-up to the Canonization Mass.

So many different languages! Probably the most memorable image in my mind is the little boy on a bridge, still a mile away from St. Peter’s, kneeling next to his mother, hands folded, eyes tightly shut in prayer.

What is an evangelical to make of this adoration? As I’ve listened to my Catholic friends talk about the canonization of these two men over the last several days and observed the celebrations, I’ve come to see that we live in a world hungry for true heroes. photoIn lifting up these two men, the Church gives us examples of people who lived lives of devotion to God and service to mankind. I want to set aside differences in theology and the question of what it means to be a saint for this reflection: I am impressed by the elevation of someone based on a spiritual measurement, rather than the temporal ones of power and beauty with which we are oh so far more familiar.

We still need heroes. Men and women of faith and selflessness whose example calls us to make hard choices. People who demonstrate that a deep joy exists in a life invested in learning and committed to spiritual discipline.

That kind of inspiration leads a small boy on a bridge to dream of being a great man. And that could change the world.

Michelangelo’s Pieta: Inspiration for LIFE

April 16, 2014 | By | No Comments

This Easter, as I’m preparing to travel to Rome for an international pro-life conference, I find myself drawn to the Pieta, perhaps Michelangelo’s most famous work, that is on display in the Vatican.

It occurs to me that in that extraordinary work, we can be inspired for life, and the potential that all of us born and unborn carry in us.

And you can’t always imagine, in those dark days, how brighter days lie ahead.

The anguished face of Mary, holding her son Jesus, crucified and dead, reminds us that motherhood does hold sorrow and difficult days. But Mary’s most difficult day was not the end of the story. It was not the only day of her motherhood. Easter is a celebration of life, of Jesus raised from the dead with a message that we have hope and a future. Mary’s love for her son, physical even spiritual, is mirrored in the passion that we can have for own children, no matter what comes.

And you can’t always imagine, in those dark days, how brighter days lie ahead.

Even the story of how the Pieta came to be inspires with life’s potential. Michelangelo came from a family of modest mean, of no real prominence, carving the Pieta at only 24. He received that commission from a French Cardinal known to live a very faithful life during dark days in Rome, who wanted to leave behind in that great city something of beauty, something inspired. He took a chance on a young unknown… but not he alone.

A man named Jacopo Galli guaranteed the wonder of the Pieta as he drew up the contract between the man of God and the unknown artist. Galli put his reputation on the line, for the hope of something great to come. And it did.

We in the pro-life movement share that message with the world that every life has potential; that taking a chance with hope is worth it. People’s extraordinary potential comes from inside, not bound by family of origin or circumstance, and not diminished by the realities of hard times and dark days.

I will have the great opportunity to visit the Pieta in the Vatican later this month, thankful that a few took a chance on a young man, believing he could be great. And thank you for supporting the work of Americans United for Life, where we believe the same of every child.

Palin Is It!

August 29, 2008 | By | 12 Comments

UNDER THE C-4 ORG.

We are in Minneapolis — worked on the GOP platform — getting ready for the convention.

GETTING READY FOR PALIN.

Jack is contacting Arlington county government to learn of the biggest signage we can put in our yard.

This is a great pick. Brilliant, brilliant strategy.

She is solidly pro-life. McCain-Palin is a ticket we can all get behind with enthusiasm.

18 Feb

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4 Comments

The Diva at Disney

February 18, 2007 | By | 4 Comments

diva_disney.jpg

The Diva and I are in Orlando for the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters. So our first stop when we arrived Friday evening: Disney, of course. There’s a section of the Disney Empire called Downtown Disney that is just shops and restaurants where you can walk around for free, so that’s where we headed. Fortunately, our cab driver suggested dropping us off by the Lego store — outside were tables with a bin in the middle full of legos and kids building all kinds of creations!

What I found most interesting though was how amazingly upscale everything was.

What happened to Everyman Disney?

For dinner we dropped in to the Wolfgang Puck cafe. . . and had four-cheese pizza, complete with little dollops of goat cheese. The Diva looked at me skeptically and wrinkled her nose, but she did eat it. We got a side order of the best cole slaw ever. I think I tasted horseradish in the dressing.

To top it off, we headed over for hot fudge sundaes. No Hershey’s syrup, here, no sirree. Ghirardelli’s natch.

charmaine_diva_ice_cream.jpgI’m certainly not complaining. It was a lovely evening. And I was very happy to have grown-up food. But still.

And that isn’t even addressing the merchandising! What happened to cheap, overpriced Mickey ears?

Now Disney is hawking “Classic Pooh” bone china. And tastefully monogrammed golf shirts by Greg Norman. I really wanted to get the one with Grumpy breaking his golf club over his knee. . . but a quick call to your Business Blogger verified that yes, indeed, he would not wear it no matter how funny I thought it was. No fun at all.