A Community of Light and Life

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:11-14 (NIV)~

“Today the individual has become the highest form . . . The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other’s eyes and yet deny each other’s existence. We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster’s whim and the purest ideal.” Ingmar Bergman~

Two religions prevail in America today. Christianity provides community. Modernity imposes isolation.

I had occasion this week to peek at life in a small liturgical church whose traditions I’d not witnessed before. Beauty dwells in that place. A beauty different from the magnificence of grand cathedrals. Natural light pours through clear windows; from within, lit candles stand tall around the altar area and above on a chandelier.

The natural forms of light bring opportunity for contemplation and an appreciation for the preparation before we arrive. Someone lights all those candles. That’s not our usual way today as we expect modern amenities along with efficiency to accompany our worship.

And we expect comfort as well. At this church, while a few benches line the wall, most people stand. Families worship on their feet. Parents carry babes in backpacks or belly slings.

Older children stand, sometimes moving around to light a candle or use the bathroom. No special children’s program separates them. No clenched teeth shushes and admonitions to SIT STILL dampen their affinity for the place and the rites.

Mothers stand holding babies within themselves.

I remember an old British literary work (but I can’t remember which one) in which a character commented that Christianity was for old women and the vulgar.

Yet in this candlelit place, the ratio of men to women is pretty even. The age demographic is nowhere near old. This church is young and burgeoning with life.

As SCOTUS continues to ponder Dobbs and Roe, we see the contrast between an encouraging community and our outer society of atomized individualists walking in circles and denying each other’s existence.

Even to the point of denying each other’s right to exist.

“Abortion long ago became a natural symbol for the loss of a spiritual center. Not divine law, but individual will is the measure, and rejecting the child within the body becomes its expression. Challenging Roe v. Wade is not a matter of standing in judgment against women, but of changing a culture of death.” Glenn Arbery~

By example, the young men and women in this small community of faith challenge this culture of death. As they accept the children they bear, as they take Communion, they renounce modernity’s cry for me, myself, and I.

“Abortion is the Antichrist’s demonic parody of the Eucharist. That is why it uses the same holy words, ‘This is my body,’ with the blasphemously opposite meaning.” – Dr. Peter Kreeft~

This small church is not an ideal community. There aren’t any. God doesn’t expect any church to be perfect, just humble.

There is a way to overcome the darkness of atomization and present the light of Christ’s community to the world.

Such a way begins in small communities loving each other and shining light to the rest.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Celebration of Mother

It started with the ancients honoring mothers even though ancient cultures did not regard women as equal citizens. Lauding Mother has rung throughout the ages.

America’s celebration of mothers began on a dark note more than a century ago. It was a day for mothers to mourn sons lost in World War One and work toward peace. As wars came and went, the day became a time to honor all mothers. It became a happy day.

The day’s original crafters would want you to know that it’s not Mothers’ Day–in celebration of all mothers. It’s Mother’s Day–when you’re supposed to visit and thank your own.

Some still hold the babes, wipe the noses, and change the diapers. Others joust with school-borne illnesses, sibling rivalries, and picking up Legos after stepping on one in bare feet. It’s the little ones that hurt the most.

For some of us, the babes grew up and had their own–may still have more. And some of those babes have grown and had their own now too.

Life is a sacred passage. Being a child turns into becoming a parent. The seasons pass too quickly from sleepless nights to piles of laundry on college weekends. Then weddings, then children–we hope.

Over the years, we forget the exhaustion that comes with fussy babies and sick children. We remember our lack of patience and wonder whether what we gave was enough. But even our mistakes don’t have to be wasted.

“Good parents use the mistakes they did in the past when they were young to advise the children God gave to them to prevent them from repeating those mistakes again” (Israelmore Ayivor).

But the next generation will stumble also. And so the seasons unfold. Imperfect humans pass on the stamp of imperfection. Yet we stamp each other with love and understanding too–and the eventual realization that our mothers did their best–and in spite of our exhaustion or fear or life circumstance, we did too.

We have to forgive ourselves and each other for our stumblings.

The stamp of imago Dei–the image we bear–makes it all sacred.

Celebrate your mother–in life or in memory. Celebrate those you hold, those you’ve held, and, if you’re a mom, those who hold you in their hearts for all you’ve done. Celebrate your part in the seasons of bringing others through to their grown-up time.

Celebrate Mother’s Day every day you can.
 


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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Born and Preborn

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16~

“Born and preborn.” That’s how my friend ended the Pledge of Allegiance every time she said it.

In January of 1979, she answered the phone when I called to reserve my seat on the bus for my first March for Life. We’ve been dear friends ever since.

She resides in a home now. I hope she is aware of the news of the day.

It’s sad that someone leaked the decision draft for Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. I hope SCOTUS moves quickly to officially release the decision. If it is as it appears, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth from the other side.

Yet the abortion business will continue in states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and others who prepared for this day by codifying Roe and Doe (Roe‘s companion case)–enacting unlimited abortion until birth for any reason.

Other states have prepared in the opposite way for Roe‘s fall. Pro-abortion entity the Guttmacher Institute says 26 states are ready to “ban” abortion (with limitations).

Our Pennsylvania governor takes pride in his previous service as an abortion escort. He walked pregnant women from their cars and talked to them so they couldn’t hear pro-life people offering alternatives to death for their children.

He is a guaranteed veto on any pro-life bill our majority conservative legislature will pass. His successor must be pro-life if we are to provide any measure of protection for unborn children who are still suffering across our stand and at the hands of experimenters at the University of Pittsburgh.

We have marched and talked and prayed and marched some more since Roe and Doe came down in 1973. We felt devastation in 1992 when Casey (a very different Pennsylvania governor) v Planned Parenthood came down too. But now this day has arrived.

Even so, the fight for life goes on. While it appears that the generation calling itself the pro-life generation may finally have succeeded, every generation must stand to protect life.

Dred Scott, Roe, Doe, and Casey were bad decisions. Justice demanded they be overturned. Justice is late for 62 million children, the inconvenient, the imperfect, the wrong gender.

Perhaps today, justice is here. For born and preborn.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Every Day

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20 NIV)

On Thursday, He blessed and broke the bread.
On Friday, the Bread of Life let Himself be broken for us.
On Sunday, He defied death, sin, and oppression.
He rose.
Rise and stand for Him.
Bread of Life.
Living Water.
Messiah,
Lion of Judah.
Lamb of God.
Savior.
Returning King.

The King of kings is coming again.
The King of kings is with us yet.
Remember.
Worship.
Celebrate.
Easter is here.

The tomb is empty.

Not just Sunday. Every day.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Easter Is Coming

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3~

“I remember too how spring came, just when I thought it might stay winter forever, at first in little touches and strokes of green lighting up the bare mud like candle flames, and then it covered the whole place with a pelt of shadowing green blades and leaves. And I remember how, as the days and the winds passed over, the foliage shifted and sang.” (Wendell Berry)

The last part of winter brings Lent, which can be a harsh season–even if you don’t choose to sacrifice something. This March brought us a medical emergency for my husband. Yesterday, not unusual for the first half of April in central Pennsylvania, it snowed.

The chill seems even worse since warm temperatures weeks ago fooled us into thinking spring was already here. Winter lingered. It seemed entrenched. We continue to feed the woodstove, but the time of piling blankets on the bed at night will soon end.

In a few days, the lavender-blue hills will reappear awaiting spring green soon to follow.

Life is a series of seasons. Some are beautiful, warm, and easy. Some are cold and trying. All hold the purpose of drawing us to God and shaping us for eternity, shaping us to live in a beautiful place outside time without sacrifice, without pain.

Shaping us for eternal spring. The Lenten season is short. Warmth and new growth lie ahead.

Easter is coming.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: No Other Way

Published in the Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, April 23, 2022

“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction,” Malachi 4:6 (ESV).

“A society based on ‘agape’ [sacrificial love] alone is all very well, but it will not reproduce itself: nor will it produce the crucial relation–that between parent and child–which is the basis on which we can begin to understand our relation to God. Hence, the redemption of the erotic lies at the heart of every viable social order.” Roger Scruton~

Charles J. Chaput includes the above Scruton quote in his book Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living. Earlier in the book, Chaput explains that the word sacrifice “derives from the Latin sacrum facere–to make sacred; to set aside as holy.”

In his chapter on the family, “The Ties that Bind,” Chaput provides four factors that work against the process of strong families forming a strong society.

The first is political: The Christian view of what a family is–mom, dad, and the kids–is “a magnet for ill will” in a society informed by a “pervasive and permissive mass media–permissive toward some causes; bigoted toward others.” Chaput asserts that the independent-mindedness that democratic government fosters ultimately leads to this ill will since the “biblical authority of the Christian family is, finally, undemocratic.”

A family that functions with father and mother, equal in status, wielding authority, and filling different roles, is anathema to today’s liberal thinkers. Even so, the institution of the family is the primary factor in societal stability.

The second factor is economic: “Globalism has served America’s wealthy top tier quite well. But as lower-skilled jobs disappear, middle- and working-class wages have stagnated–or worse, declined . . . [forcing] both parents out of the home . . . [and keeping] many families from saving even for emergencies.” In such an environment, “the liberty and power of most individuals has declined.” We are now “free to make very few significant choices.”

The shift from local production to worldwide manufacturing has made the American Dream, family-sustaining independence, a memory for many.

The third factor is technological advances: “[C]oncern for electronic diversions and their impact on the mental health and development of children is now widespread.” Addiction to screens, addiction to porn, and mental passivity result from our devotion to daily screen time.

Even more concerning are “family-related technology issues” such as “mitochondrial replacement therapy–i.e., in vitro fertilization (IVF) with genetic material from three different adults.”

Chaput quotes Brendan Fohr: “The willingness of the fertility industry to use experimental technologies like three-parent IVF to satisfy the kinship desire of prospective parents, even when it means putting the health of the child at risk, bodes ill for how they will use the even more powerful technologies of genetic engineering now on the horizon.”

We have embarked into a Brave New World in which sex and reproduction continue to lose connection. That connection is the primary tie that binds, the “crucial relation” Scruton cited as a foundation for our understanding of God. The melding agape to eros (romantic, physical love) in families is how God created us to reproduce–physically and spiritually.

Finally, the fourth factor circles back to the first and echoes the third–hostility toward the family and pursuit of increased distance between sex and reproduction. Nineteenth-century “revolutionaries, like Marx and Engels, wanted their economic policies to dissolve the need for traditional families. Where they failed, feminists like Shulasmith Firestone (1945-2012) have not.

She explains: “The end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege, but the sex distinction itself.” She proposes artificial reproduction–“Children born to both sexes equally, or independently of either,” eliminating “the dependence of the child on the mother,” and thereby breaking “the tyranny of the biological family.”

Over the last few decades, society has deprived innumerable children of their fathers. Firestone would remove the influence of mothers as well leaving children to an institutional parent or a set of parents distorting the family model designed to point us to God.

Chaput: “Eros produces the family. Agape sustains it.” Western culture wants to sweep married eros under the carpet, telling us that only our desires matter. Our responsibilities to each other are secondary–perhaps not even worthy of consideration.

Firestone’s radical ideas have become more deeply entrenched as we find ourselves battling public entities over sex education, especially for young children. We’re watching this battle play out as politicians and “educators” sometimes demand the power to overrule the influence of parents.

Roger Scruton tells us that “a society based on ‘agape’ alone” is not enough to turn things around. His statement implies that agape is necessary, but more is needed. Chaput provides this answer:

“Renewing family life will require a healthy skepticism toward the secular culture that surrounds us, an appropriate caution regarding its tools, and an active, convicted Christian witness of courage, intelligence, and love. And that demands a faith rooted in one thing that finally matters: a living relationship with Jesus Christ.”

That relationship often requires sacrifice–something many of us with our independent-mindedness, economic struggles or standing, technological comforts, and aversion to necessary conflict with those who hold “ill will” against our faith would prefer to avoid.

Committed marital physical love forms families. Sacrificial love builds and sustains families. Both sanctify families.

Each generation builds or destroys the foundation of society. We build by committing to pure eros and sacrificial love. We destroy with a sledgehammer of selfishness.

There is no in-between. There is no other way.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Mother’s Miracle Touch

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139: 13-14 (ESV)~

I remember the wonderful feeling on my belly–the squirming child who was recently inside me was now wiggling on me.

That happened four out of five times. One of my babies came so quickly I didn’t have a sterile drape on me to receive the child. (I warned them, but did they listen?)

None of my five were premature. But a preemie (and sometimes a full-term baby) born today is likely to receive “Kangaroo Care”–their parents will hold them skin to skin. This practice provides warmth and connection for the babe. Mother’s (or Father’s) body heat, voice, heartbeat are all conduits to connection.

The practice began in Bogota, Columbia, when incubators were scarce and babies in distress were in great supply. After implementing the skin to skin care, the mortality rate plunged from 70 to 30 percent. Since then, Kangaroo Care has become more widespread–even when incubators are readily available.

The most interesting aspect of the ensuing research I’ve found is that, during skin to skin time with the baby on or between the mother’s breasts, the breasts change temperature to accommodate the baby’s needs–even going so far that, with preemie twins, one on each breast, the breasts achieve different temperatures to accommodate each baby’s thermal need.

How amazing!

One mother reports using Kangaroo Care with her adopted newborn daughter–allowing the baby to get used to the mother’s body rhythms–to feel and smell her new mother–to get used to the sound of this previously unheard voice.

But the benefits aren’t just for the babies.

One study discusses the effects of Kangaroo Care (KC) for adopting parents. “During KC the mother’s perception of her infant changes: She feels more competent as a care provider, more responsible for her infant, and more in control of her situation.”

Now I think back nearly 38 years to the last time I felt my youngest one on my abdomen–warm and wet through the drape.

These were the days when it was still okay to dispense aspirin even to infants and put them to sleep on their bellies. In spite of all we’ve learned, perhaps there is more yet to learn.

We may just be on our way to discovering how healthy human connections begin at the beginning.

One of those ways–Kangaroo Care–highlights the deft hand of a loving Creator. The Creator who installed a heating and cooling system in the breasts of mothers–the mother’s miracle touch.

We are indeed wonderfully made.

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his –Psalm 100:3a~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Never the Same

These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also (Acts 17:6b KJB).

Their lives were set. They had worked at their jobs all their lives. They thought they knew which way life would turn for the rest of their days.

There was a hope for a political savior–to free them from the Romans. But mostly there was routine, the everydayness of work and home.

Then they met Him. Perhaps He was the one–the one who would save them from the oppression of Rome.

They were fishermen, a tax collector, others with occupations we don’t know. Simple men.

Disciples.

They listened. They followed. They believed.

Then one betrayed Him. Another denied Him. One stayed close to the end. The rest scattered.

They thought it was over.

The fishermen returned to their boats.

Life would be as it was before.

Then He arose.

Rome stayed, but His followers changed.

They received fire from heaven.

And they turned the world upside down.

His rising, a lie?

You may say so, but who dies for a lie?

Only one would not be killed for believing Him who said, “Follow Me.”

That one would suffer exile and write of encounters with Him. That one followed at the cost of all else–all else but eternal gain.

This story remains today.

To inspire us.

To show us how to follow Him.

To make us never the same.

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HEADlines: The Seed, the Root, and the Poisonous Fruit of the Overpopulation Myth

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel March 26, 2022.

I walked through the local mall one day in 1979. I was large enough with my third child for her presence to be obvious. I wore my favorite maternity shirt, red and stating in bold letters: “Yes sir, that’s my baby!” with an arrow pointing down toward the child in utero.

I pushed a grocery cart carrying three other children, my two already born and my nephew, a few months older and larger than my son but with hair the color of my daughter’s. She was the tallest of the three.

It was conceivable for observers to assume the three children in the cart were all mine born in quick succession. The eyes of many observers told me they assumed exactly that.

And such an assumption was not a positive one.

I could almost hear them thinking: “She has too many children.”

Nineteen seventy-nine, you may recall, came eleven years after Paul (and Ann) Ehrlich published The Population Bomb assuring us that we would soon be starving because the earth would not be capable of feeding so many. Most ominously, according to the Ehrlichs, it was already too late.

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970’s and 1980’s (sic) hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

By 1979 people had so embraced apocalyptic premonitions that they perceived me as immoral for seeming to have produced four children in short order.

Thomas Robert Malthus planted the seed of the fear of overpopulation in 1798. He calculated that the population would grow more quickly than food supplies. The world didn’t check his math, and didn’t seem to notice the failure of his prediction that “there would be standing room only on this earth by the Year of Our Lord, 1890.” Perhaps more than any other philosophy, Malthus’s assertions that too many babies cause disaster became assumed “truth”.

Preventing overpopulation and certain starvation became a moral imperative.

It proved to be a convenient imperative for governments wanting to blame births rather than natural disasters or government decisions for food shortages.

China was one country whose government bought into the Ehrlichs’ theories, completely, officially, and expediently. In the aftermath of a deadly famine, the government looked to shift the blame from unwise policies that caused the deaths of as many as 45 million.

The One-Child Policy China adopted in 1980 required couples to get permission to give birth. With rare exception, the government would grant permission only once.

That’s when the law of unintended consequences kicked in.

Because of the cultural preference for sons, sex-selection abortion became pervasive, and a population imbalance ensued.

Zhuang Pinghui:

“The gender gap only started to soar in 1982, when . . . [China] started to strictly implement the birth control policy that allowed families to have only one child. The preference for boys over girls – boys could perform hard labour and were favoured in inheritance of land in rural areas – encouraged selective abortions that pushed the ratio of boys from 108.47 in 1982 to above 115 since 1994. It peaked nationally in 2004 with 121.2 boys born to every 100 girls, and some provinces even recorded ratios of 130. Demographers estimate that between 20 to 34 million more boys than girls were born in the past three decades.”

The population imbalance in China ignited the exploitation of North Korean women by the tens of thousands. “Women”, by the way, includes girls as young as 12 who have endured forced marriages or a form of conscription into the prostitution or porn industries.

It would take less than 40 years for China to realize its population policy mistake. By 2015, people would be not only allowed but encouraged to have two children, and now, three.

Today, countries like Finland, Estonia, Italy, Japan, and Australia are paying couples to have children. China is considering following suit. But despite the incentives, people are choosing to have fewer children.

Throughout history, children were a blessing although, aside from Judeo-Christian and Islamic cultures, parents often rejected baby girls and the handicapped.

In mostly rural America until the late nineteenth century, children were helpers who would eventually inherit the land and work it with their own children.

During industrialization, much of America’s population transitioned from the countryside to the city.

Instead of families inhabiting tracts of land where having many children was beneficial, they occupied overcrowded tenements.

Abortion shifted from being a rare device of desperate single women who’d been abandoned to a common tool for married women.

Society also responded with laws prohibiting abortion. That effort happened because feminists and physicians lobbied for laws to protect women and children from the exploitation of abortion. By 1900, every state in the US had outlawed abortion.

A century earlier, Malthus proposed a different solution:

“Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all, we should reprobate [i.e., reject] specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and restrain those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders. 2

Malthus saw people as an affliction on the world the way Hitler described some as “useless eaters.”

A root of the fear of overpopulation assumes people don’t produce; they only consume.

Terence P. Jeffrey:

“You don’t need to be an economist to see it is a myth that man is a net consumer of material wealth. History proves the opposite. The world is brimming with physical and intellectual improvements made by successive generations of human inhabitants. Its so-called carrying capacity has been determined not by the width of its continents, but by the wit of man.”

We need young people to come up with ideas of how to produce more food more efficiently, how to develop medicines, and how to solve environmental challenges. We need what has happened since the 1970s regarding the development of food production, medicines, and environmental solutions to continue into the next generations.

The poisonous fruit of the fear of overpopulation is the abortion movement, a monster with a voracious and never-satisfied appetite for death.

In the US many states have few or no regulations on the procedure, allowing it until birth.

Legislators were planning to consider a bill in the Maryland House of Representatives that would completely dehumanize the unborn child leaving abortion survivors without protection from death by neglect and/or experimentation.

Under the original, vaguely written bill, not only abortion survivors, but also “peri-natal” children would have no protection. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines the peri-natal period as lasting through “the 28th day after birth” (emphasis mine).

In the wake of push-back for his proposal to legalize infanticide, the bill’s sponsor canceled a committee hearing so he could rewrite the proposal removing references to peri-natal children.

It’s reasonable to assume that all unborn children and abortion survivors will still be subject to a death sentence under whatever is next proposed.

Most of us don’t live on farms today. Most people limit the size of their families. Dangers reside in believing that having a certain number of children is good, and exceeding that number is bad. And that any means to prevent those children from competing for our resources is acceptable.

Fear of overpopulation causes us to excuse the inexcusable as people reject the inconvenient child, the surprise, the one less than perfect.

When modernity made it possible to control our family size, we took that control, and we didn’t look back.

It’s time to look back to where we came from. To look up to the God who creates and controls. To ask forgiveness for our blatant disregard for human life. To show love in restoring a culture of life around us.

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Enough or Too Much Time?

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28~

Some of us get more of it than others. None of us knows exactly when it will end for us. We complain that there is not enough of it. Or that there is too much between where we are and what we want.

Some people even say it’s an illusion. But illusory or real, it binds us all.

Time never seems to do what we want it to do. But how to use it is up to us–even in the worst of circumstances.

Natan Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prisons and camps. He experienced many days in a punishment cell–with little food or warmth. He underwent hunger strikes that weakened his heart.

He endured.

Sharansky filled his solitary time thinking. He devised chess strategies. He filled his mind with memories of loved ones. He resisted the urge to trust those who had taken his freedom.

Consistently, doggedly, he refused to cooperate with the KGB. He did nothing that would ease or shorten his time in captivity. He understood that cooperation was a snare that would never end.

Sharansky watched others. One worked to shorten his time but worked too well. He did not receive his promised release. He had bought a lie and kept doing time.

“During these years, I have met people who have been weakened from constant disappointments. They continually created new hopes for themselves, and as a result, they betray themselves. Others live in the world of illusions . . . in order to prevent real life from ultimately destroying it.”

Sharansky came to a conclusion:

“It’s best if you are left with only one hope–the hope of remaining yourself no matter what happens” (Sharansky 370-71).

Sharansky realized early on in his experiences with the KGB that “nothing they did could humiliate me. I could only humiliate myself–by doing something I might later be ashamed of” (8).

Later on, in freedom, Sharansky realized a great irony:

“In the punishment cell, life was much simpler. Every day brought only one choice: good or evil, white or black, saying yes or no to the KGB. I had all the time I needed to think about these choices, to concentrate on the most fundamental problems of existence, to test myself in fear, in hope, in belief, in love. And now, lost in thousands of mundane choices, I suddenly realize that there’s no time to reflect on the bigger questions” (418).

Each of us today will make a thousand mundane choices.

For the most part, we have spent our lives distracted by a world filled with such choices–voices drowning out the important.

What will we choose today?

Today, ponder the big things. Test yourself in fear, hope, belief, love.

Jesus tells us not to fear those who can kill our bodies. To find our hope and belief in Him. To follow Him, loving Him and all around us.

He holds time. He knows how long our time is. He knows what is real, what is illusion.

In our allotted time, we face challenges and sacrifice. With our trust in Him, we can find purpose and peace.

Peace no one can take away.

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A Smaller Church in a Fresh Blossoming

—and blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me!” Matthew 11:6 NET~

In the 1960s, Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Ratzinger predicted the following:

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.”

“She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . .”–from Faith and the Future ([published online]).

Christianity is in decline in America. Fewer than half of us belong to a church now with attendance having dropped 20 percent over the past two decades.

What might be the social privileges Benedict referred to? Tax-exempt status for religious entities in America comes to mind since most churches couldn’t maintain ministries in their current state and support missions while carrying a heavy tax burden.

In our communities as well as our nation, Christian social influence is ebbing even as we see results from years of toil. On what looks like the eve of the end for Roe v Wade, some states like Texas have already passed effective limitations to protect the unborn. More than half of US states are set to restrict abortion if or when the Supreme Court overturns Roe as many expect, giving the power to regulate abortion back to the states. That would seem like a supreme victory for the Judeo-Christian ethic.

At recent March for Life events, however, we’ve seen tremendous Christian presence accompanied by a growing portion of the crowd representing a Secular Pro-Life position–the stance that all human life deserves civil rights including the right to life, even in the womb, but without the idea that human life is sacred because God created us and endowed us as His image.

If America sees a rebirth of protection for the unborn, will we be able to keep it with a shrinking Church and even with secular allies for life?

We can, but only if we become and remain the Church of old.

Mike Aquilina and James Papandrea write about “Seven Revolutions” Christianity produced causing “radical change in the way human society thought of the individual, the family, work, religion, community, attitudes toward life and death, and even government.”

“For example, in the ancient world, a person’s worth was based on what he or she might produce, or how he or she might be a burden to others.  It was Christianity that would give the world a sense of the intrinsic value of every human being.  In other words, in the worldview of ancient cultures, some people were expendable, and some people were property.  Furthermore, in the Roman Empire the enjoyment of quality of life (along with the freedoms and free time that make that possible) was a luxury afforded to the rich.  Both religion and government existed to serve the ruling classes, which created a hopelessness in the lower classes and a tendency toward selfish hedonism in the upper classes.”

Nearly 50 years of unrestricted abortion (abortion throughout pregnancy for any reason) has done much to affirm the view that some people are expendable based on their limitations, lack of abilities, or inconvenient timing.

Now, more than ever before in America’s history, we see selfish hedonism among the elite and hopelessness growing in every population sector.

With Roe gone, it will be up to the Church to reach out to minister to families, women, and children in need. If we claim victory and celebrate that the fight is over and go home to rest from the conflict, the door will be wide for Roe to be reinstated–and even expanded.

Even with shrinking churches, ministry will have to grow. Christians will have to do more to reach out to those in need of loving service rather than the exploitation abortion offers.

Ministry itself is already taking a different shape. We can expect to see fewer large churches and more pastors managing a church along with an outside job. The number of bi-vocational pastors is now at 40 percent.

Ministry will be more difficult but perhaps more accessible, more real. We may look at the coworker next to us and find he is a pastor.

That sounds harder. More work to provide effective ministry.

Harder sounds bad. But harder isn’t always bad.

More from Benedict:

“It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification [of essential doctrine] will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek.”

And the Church becoming meek will be the seed of awakening in the culture around us.

“. . . . Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.”

Today in the West, authentic churches of all denominations are seeing Benedict’s words come true.

Can we know and explain what it means to be Christian in a way that holds to truth and shows love and grace? Are we willing to let our churches become materially poor in order to stand in truth, love, and grace?

“The real crisis has scarcely begun,” Benedict continued. “We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

We already see loneliness manifesting itself in the totally planned world Benedict spoke of.

We know the source of life and hope.

As the Church grew through the centuries, stained glass windows and beautiful artwork told the story of Christ to the literate and illiterate alike.

We must now be those story-telling windows letting light shine into lives dwelling in the darkness of their loneliness.

We can ask God to use us to bring about a fresh blossoming of His love in our world.

We can be the seed of that blossoming.

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
    and rejoice with joy and singing. Isaiah 35:1-2a~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Via, Veritas, et Vita

“You walk into this room at your own risk–because it leads to the future. Not a future that will be, but one that might be. This is not a new world. It is simply an extension of what began in the old one. 

“It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. . . . It has one iron rule. Logic is an enemy and truth is a menace.” Rod Serling, The Obsolete Man

It’s one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.

The story centers around a librarian (Burgess Meredith) named Wordsworth. Since books and religious faith have been outlawed, the librarian faces execution. According to his society, he has become obsolete.

In this situation, he finds a way to teach the world. He shows them that humans cannot violate each other without violating themselves.

He reads his illegal Bible. He asserts that there is a God. He has peace even in the face of death. The one who condemned him dies pleading and begging. It is the second man who has become obsolete.

It’s fascinating to consider how much the world and network television have changed since that episode first aired in 1961.

The episode was a reaction to, not only the war of those days, the Cold War, but also the previous war, World War II.

The reverberations of Hitler’s institutionalized, horrific, and unjustifiable atrocity still rocked the world. They remained fresh in the minds of those who had lived through that war and its aftermath. Those who knew of the testimonies at Nuremberg.

The world was wide awake to the dangers of those who would overrule logic and truth in favor of oppression and death.

Even in the face of terrorism and today’s political rancor, we have comfort. We have little fear. We sleep.

Ministries offer cruise packages, and families can book Christian vacations. Everyone needs a break. But a vacation isn’t usually ministry minded.

Ministry looks more like sacrifice. People who sacrifice for a greater good are not asleep.

Once, Germany’s people–and the countries Germany occupied–woke up to learn that they had much to fear.

Germany came to oppression by believing the world had oppressed them. The unfair treaty from the previous war had cheated them. They would show the world. They would rise and be a great people once more.

But they trusted a liar who gave them a twisted sense of justice. He defied logic and denied truth. He seemed great, this author of great horror.

In the meantime, others would rise to greatness. Not other countries. But individuals who lay under the “ripping imprint of a boot” Serling references.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maximillian Kolbe, Corrie ten Boom. Examples. They were awake.

Bonhoeffer and Kolbe died standing for truth. Corrie ten Boom lived to write and speak the truth of that time.

They endured great suffering and loved their enemies. In simple essence, they lived for Christ.

Meeting at the intersection of justice and truth, they pursued holiness.

And prevailed over evil.

Ego sum via veritas et vita. ~I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6a~

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Christians Speak Up! Podcast

I recently had the honor of appearing on the Christians Speak Up Podcast hosted by Eddie Jones. We had a great conversation! Enjoy!

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/join-us-for-a-conversation-with-nancy-head/id1611619225?i=1000552864263

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Washing Blood Off Our Hands

When World War II ended and the world realized all the Nazis had done, Western Civilization determined never again to go back to what happened at Auschwitz or Buchenwald. Never again would the world see mass genocide based on race or human experimentation without regard for the wellbeing of human subjects. The Nuremberg Code states in part: “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent . . . . “The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.” Many today have forgotten Nuremberg, or never heard of it. In our ignoring or ignorance, we have slid back to a dark day. Late-term whole manual abortion (extraction of the child without ripping or crushing) produces living subjects for experiments. It happens more often than you might realize. The CDC estimates that in 2018, 50,000 abortions happened after the baby had reached the gestational age of 14 weeks; 6,200 of those were after 21 weeks. If their mothers “donated tissue” for research, these children were subject to experimentation.  Babies are not capable of consent, and the supposed “fruitful results” of such experiments have proven to be elusive. Melanie Israel writing for The Heritage Foundation in 2019: “Proponents of fetal tissue research claim that it has led to advancements such as creating the polio vaccine, while omitting important details about the difference between historic fetal cell lines (which do not require ongoing abortions) and fresh fetal tissue (which does require ongoing abortions). “The original polio vaccines used monkey tissue and fetal cell lines. No current vaccines are made with fresh fetal tissue.” [That includes COVID vaccines.] Israel points out that fetal research is a $100 million “industry . . . with little to no oversight.” The gains are big, but they don’t land in the realm of improving public health. They land in the wallets of the perpetrators. Societies are not comprised of wallets alone. We are hearts and souls as well as stomachs. When those with deadened souls hold power, society will only increase the level of horror. Kyle Christopher McKenna writes: “Without careful oversight, the fetus could become, like fetal tissue cell lines, merely cells, cultured within the uterus for scientific exploration. All people of good conscience have the responsibility to voice opposition to the use of fetal tissue from elective abortions in order to promote development of alternatives, affirm the value of all human life, and limit scandal.” The scandal is the deadening of our souls to the kinds of practices the Nuremberg Code was supposed to prevent. In promoting alternatives that respect the humanity of the born and unborn, we can be people of good conscience. Where to begin? We follow the money. There is recently acquired government funding from the Biden Administration. Without a new Congress and a new president, it appears that will continue. And there is funding from NIH, credited with paying for a horrific “experiment” in which infants of the gestational age of five-months (23 weeks) are scalped. A mouse or rat receives the new skin with hair. We are left to wonder what “fruitful results” for humanity could possibly follow. The scalp transplant experiment happened at the University of Pittsburgh, which ranks fifth among the top recipients of federal dollars. But cutting the the skin and hair off the heads of late-term abortion victims to see what happens when you attach them to rats and mice is not an aberration. Newsweek, which does not have a conservative, pro-life leaning, published David Daleiden’s account of a “scientist who developed a nightmarish “protocol” for harvesting the freshest, most pristine livers from five-month-old aborted babies in order to isolate massive numbers of stem cells for experimental transplants [none of which has worked]. This technique calls for aborting late-term fetuses alive via labor induction, rushing them to a sterile laboratory, washing them and then cutting them open to harvest the liver.” The majority of those babies were minority children. Intentionally. That also happened at the University of Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania law makes experimentation on a living fetus and failure to provide immediate medical care to a born-alive infant third-degree felonies. Before we ask where law enforcement is, we must wonder where the outrage is from our legislators who market themselves with pro-life slogans every election year. Pennsylvania pays Pitt $151 million currently with our governor asking for a $7.7 million increase in the next fiscal year. It’s ostensibly not money that goes to the labs for fetal experimentation. Perhaps it pays for instructors, secretaries, and janitors. Withholding $151 or $158.7 million would stop the vivisection of those legislators promised to protect. Yet a majority of legislators voted to fund Pitt even after the uncovering of this illegal experimentation. Pitt is among the four state related (as opposed to state owned universities) in Pennsylvania. Legislators fund these institutions with four separate bills. Refusing to fund one, until the killing stops, will not deter the flow of cash to the others. Perhaps Pennsylvanians will convince ourselves that what the right hand does (live fetal experimentation) has no effect on what the left hand does (college classes in English, sociology, chemistry, and sadly misguided ethics). If we do, nearly three-quarters of a century after the Nuremberg Trials, we will relegate civilization’s call for “Never again!” to an unmarked grave. Instead, we can remember that right and left hands wash each other. Some hands marinate in blood. And coming clean only happens when we refuse to continue the horror and cleanse our souls in repentance. Wherever you live, find out what’s happening around you. Call your representatives. Ask how they voted. Act accordingly on Election Day.

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Canada’s Tienanmen

In 1989, Shengde Lian was a college student studying computer science when Hu Yaobang died. Yaobang had been one of China’s highest-ranking officials, having lost his power and influence for supporting reforms like free press and assembly.

After Hu died in April, Lian headed to Beijing as thousands of students gathered to memorialize Hu and ask for the reforms he’d supported.

When the tanks came in on June 4, thousands died. Eventually, Lian was arrested. He served six months before learning his charges, at least one of which was a capital offense. After 18 months, he was released only to learn later that his rearrest was imminent.

At that time there was a covert action in China called Operation Yellowbird, “an underground railroad [to get the Tiananmen dissidents to safety] run by an odd alliance of human-rights advocates, Western diplomats, businessmen, professional smugglers and the kings of the Hong Kong underworld.”

Having escaped through that railroad, Lian now lives in northern Virginia with his wife and children.

In 1998, I was a local reporter for a small town newspaper. Because President Bill Clinton was about to visit China, my editor was interested in stories about China.

Watching CSPAN one afternoon, I came across Lian speaking on behalf of an umbrella organization for Chinese dissidents in the US.

During our interview Lian explained that Tiananmen Square wasn’t the only location for protests in the wake of Hu’s death. That no one knew the fate of the man who provided the most famous image of the protests by blocking a row of tanks.

And that the government had negotiated with the protesters in Beijing–for a time–before moving the military in to take the lives of thousands.

Agree or disagree with the protesters in Ottawa, but realize that their government never talked with the protesters. They just sent in their equivalent of the tanks of June 4, 1989.

The death toll won’t reach that of Tiananmen’s proportions. Machiavellian leaders in the West know that it’s unpopular to use violence beyond its need. But the injustices of Ottawa otherwise reflect that of the Chinese Communist government.

Like the Chinese government of then, Canada will hunt down the truckers who peacefully left Ottawa. Our neighbor to the north has confiscated finances and even threatens to euthanize the pets of those who participated.

For many in the West, Canada’s response to the protests is a surprise. First, that Canadians would rise up in such numbers. Next, that the government would come down with such force.

Before Tiananmen Square, young Chinese revered their leaders as a Confuscian culture had taught them to do. When China turned its army against its own people, the young looked elsewhere for leadership causing Christianity to flourish in China. One protester explains:

“I was raised to believe in our government, but the government shot me in my legs,” [Qi Zhiyong] says. After June 4, “a lot of people lost confidence in the education, policy and ideology of the Communist Party. People no longer had any beliefs.

“As a result, they rushed to church.”

The Chinese government is powerful, but there are now more Christians in China than there are Communist Party members.

The Canadian government has exerted its own power against a people, who like the Chinese students of 1989, wanted to begin a conversation that would lead to reasonable conditions and freedoms.

It remains to be seen whether Canadians will encounter Christ as the Chinese did.

I don’t expect a covert plan to help truckers escape Canada. We can be certain, however, that many Canadians won’t trust their government the same way they did a month ago.

Canadian leadership might benefit from remembering a motto, an old Chinese saying, the leaders of Operation Yellowbird embraced:  “The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the yellow bird behind.”

When a predator stalks prey, another watches.

May the One who watched over Chinese dissidents and brought them to truth, prevail in Canada as well.

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Manhood Does, Womanhood Is

“Manhood must be demonstrated. It is largely an action. Womanhood is an essence. Manhood does. Womanhood is.” (Qtd by Stanton)

That’s a statement many would challenge today. That there is a difference–and that the difference is significant.

Some might challenge the statement as religious. After all, it is largely in the orthodox corners of Christianity that such discussion happens at all today.

But this statement comes from a secular person–one who did not advocate biblical marriage and sexual purity.

Margaret Mead was a cultural anthropologist and an advocate of “loosening social strictures on sexuality . . . [which]  could lead to more pleasure, and less pain and suffering.”
Hardly a puritanical perspective. Even so, according to Mead, the differences between men and women are innate–born into us; they matter in our daily lives, and they are universal.

“In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things which he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food [and protection] for some female and her young. . . .

“[E]very known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men. . . It is the precise opposite for women. They must be ideologically and politically pressured, with great potency, to abandon and ignore their children.”

There is no lack of ideological and political pressure on women to pursue lives that contain minimal involvement with children–especially their own. Our society has few structures in place to support the essence of women and pass on the model of manliness. This passing on of manliness is not religious pablum.

More from Mead:

“[T]his behavior [manliness], being learned, is fragile and can disappear rather easily under social conditions that no longer teach it effectively.”

And no society that works as hard as ours to ignore the differences between men and women can effectively teach manhood.

Teaching manhood requires a traditional view that effectively works in various cultures. We see it in primitive cultures. In the postmodern West, the Christian perspective is a lone voice in a technological wilderness.

The orthodox corners of the Church are where manhood mentoring can and must still occur. Solid families headed by fathers and mothers can pass manhood’s tasks and womanhood’s essence to their own–and perhaps to others around them.

Neither public education nor industry has the impetus nor the freedom to launch such an effort. We in the Church can pass along the truth science now ignores.

Christ calls us to this work in every generation.


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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Turning Bad into Good

For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. II Corinthians 1: 5-6 (NABRE)

Earthquakes, wildfires, floods, mudslides, blizzards–and war, poverty, abuse, and hunger. If there were a God, atheists claim, such bad events would never happen. Because bad things happen, there cannot be a good God–they claim.

But how good would people be if no one ever had to be a hero? If everyone escaped tragedy, there would be no heroes to celebrate. Without bad things happening–how could we be good?

When bad things happen to us, they help us sympathize with other people who suffer the same fate. No one understands a mother who has lost a child better than another mother who has been through the same experience.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that only survivors of floods can help those facing the duress of rising waters. It does mean that bad events can have meaning. It means a good God can use bad things to turn us into helpers and heroes.

Take Zach Bolster, who lost his mother to cancer.

While she was battling the disease, Zach saw the hardship other patients suffered just trying to get a ride to the hospital.

“My family was shocked by how many cancer patients had difficulty getting to their chemotherapy treatments. We soon realized what a huge financial and family burden transportation during cancer treatments can be. Some patients resorted to riding the bus, others, unfortunately, missed their treatment altogether.”

So Zach and his then-fiancee (now wife) founded ChemoCars to help those in need get to the hospital for their treatment. In only eight months, they had provided 2,000 rides. The ministry continues today.

Cancer is an awful disease. And Zach would prefer his mother had never gotten sick. But his work pays tribute to her. His hardship and hers make other lives better today.
His work brings something good out of something bad.
 
God once took a bad day–Good Friday–and turned it into redemption for us. The Cross was the bad thing for Christ that became the ultimate good thing for His followers.
Heroes who walk around on earth remind us of the greatest hero–the One who gave Himself to a bad thing to bring us to the best thing–Himself.

Revised from 1/29/18


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The Power of One Life

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14.

One cell. And no one knows you are here yet. No one except God.

Eternity has shifted because you are.

All that you will be is within this one cell, you–your cocoa brown hair, your sea green eyes. Your stubborn temperament that will eventually mellow but never become too passive, too gullible.

You will love dancing, playing the piano, and writing stories you think are silly for the brothers who will come after you.

You will not like peas.

In this early part of your life, you are tuned to your mother’s heart as you never will be again.

You reside within her rhythm, the sound of her song, the silence of her musing and her sleep.

You are wonderful.

You are small.

But the world needs you.

Pieces of this life will try to convince you that you are only the dust of your form, an imbalance of chemicals. A misplaced cog in a machine that chugs, spurts, and smokes ugliness and purposelessness.

You are not ugly. You are beautiful.

And you have a purpose.

And just as God is the only one now who knows you exist, He is the only one who can see your purpose.

You are small.

But the world needs you.

In forming you, God has crafted. He has created. He formed you so you could create too. We all have the capacity to reflect that aspect of Him, even if we only teach others to see it in themselves.

You are ideas and smiles, memories yet to be made and lessons to teach. The memories and lessons are for you to carry and bestow to others as a gift.

You are part of the eternal tapestry.  Crimson, azure, and golden threads–that is what your life looks like from above. No one else can see the rich colors of your life yet.

You have power to bring balance and beauty as you live out His plan for you.

You are small.

But the world needs you.

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Revised from January 2016.

HEADlines: Carrying the Torch for Life

Published on January 22, 2022, in the Mustard Seed Sentinel.

In January of 1979, I had two children, a husband and a house, and cable television. The cable company ran scrolling public service announcements, and for the first couple of weeks of that New Year, one announcement, in particular, kept catching my eye.

The message declared that buses would be heading toward Washington, DC, to mark the sixth anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the US Supreme Court decisions that eradicated every abortion regulation in every state.

Two phone numbers ran along the bottom. I called one or the other at different times, finding out what was involved, what I’d need to arrange for my children for the day, what I’d need to wear and bring with me, and how much it would cost. I learned that the two numbers led me to sisters with multiple children, (They would have 14 between them, one or two not yet born).

On January 22, I got on the bus while it was still dark. I had a sandwich and most of a large bag of M&Ms in a brown paper bag. I had on my new boots and coat and thought I looked great.

When we arrived, we walked from the Ellipse to the Capitol where we heard many inspiring speakers. It was a balmy 50-something degree day. I carried one or two of the layers I’d piled on to protect me from the expected cold.

We visited our legislators and walked back to meet our bus—late, even though, or more likely because, one of the organizing sisters Anne was leading our way.

We sat down on the bus physically exhausted. Remember the new boots? I wanted to chop my own feet off.

But we were internally energized.

Over the years, Anne became a mentor to me. My own mother had passed away in 1975. This woman was a wise sage who walked with me through my adventures of young motherhood, held my hand through my years as a single mom, and celebrated with me as I married again.

Her house was a must-stop for me and my kids on trick-or-treat nights. Halloween came before Election Day, which made for enlightening conversation and the chance for me to gather poll working materials.

But Anne was not one-dimensional. She was a fully engaged mother who made amazing homemade pierogis and, with her children, designed elaborately painted (not just dyed) eggs for Easter. She was a Registered Nurse.

And she was our community’s spokeswoman for life. Despite the plates she kept spinning at all times, she was humble.

When I would ask her: How do you do it all—eight kids, a husband, a house, a job, along with volunteer work? She would say, “Sometimes, not very well.”

For anyone who knew her, she led the way by example, sponsoring refugees from Vietnam and housing unmarried pregnant girls.

On January 22, 1980, I stayed home with a new baby. Iranian radicals had invaded the US embassy in Tehran capturing the diplomatic staff. Like today, inflation was high, in double-digits. That winter brought the Miracle on Ice—the 1980 Olympic hockey victories that garnered the gold medal for the US team. I adjusted to having three children, attended the March again in 1981 with my baby, missed 1982 caring for another new baby, attended in ’83, and carried my unborn son, my youngest, there in 1984.

Most of the following years, we attended, various children and I. One year when I had to work, Anne took my younger daughter with her.

When my kids went along, they knew the trip involved a long walk followed by hot chocolate in a legislator’s office. They learned about peaceful protest. They learned about life.

As my children grew up and got busy with school, jobs, and their own families, I began to take students to Washington for the March. In 2002, that meant a few phone calls from parents wanting reassurance of safety in the wake of 9/11 the previous September. The trip came off without incident.

I write as we plan another trip to DC, this year on January 21—the Friday closest to the anniversary—a change from the vision of Nellie Gray, the March’s founder who insisted the event be held on the 22nd every year. This alteration allows for an extended program, helps those who travel from afar (and many do), and more easily facilitates visiting legislators.

Except this year.

Because of COVID, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has forbidden Marchers from entering legislative offices. We are to be allowed inside public buildings only to use the restrooms.

So be it. We go anyway.

It’s been a few years since Anne has gone. Her years of activism were a flaming torch she has passed to those of us still able to make the trip. May we carry it well.

From our private school, we’re to be a small group, my husband and me, several students, a parent, and grandparent or so.

COVID and perhaps the aftermath of January 6 cancelled the March last year.

Pro-lifers head to DC this year with renewed hope, unprecedented hope of seeing Roe and Doe turned into their own grave. Anticipating this turn of events, 15 states are said to have “codified” Roe. Three have absolutely no restrictions “throughout pregnancy.” That means a woman could be in labor, change her mind, and have her baby killed before birth. Others allow abortion until viability, a slippery definition reliant on guesswork and subject to “exceptions” that allow the killing of the allegedly less than perfect.

Further, nineteen states allow “caregivers” to refuse treatment to newborn abortion survivors. Living, breathing little ones, left to die.

Perhaps Roe and Doe will die this year.

There is still much work to be done.

We March on our feet.

We pray on our knees.

We carry the torch of life to the next generations.

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Praying the Pledge

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen for His own inheritance
(Psalm 33:12 NASB).

On January 7, 2021, I was leading eight 10th graders in the Pledge of Allegiance. Not only could I not finish, I had begun to weep. I felt awful for crying in front of my students and upsetting them.

“What happened?” one of them asked.

I composed myself and explained as best I could. A few of them were aware of what happened the day before, what some call insurrection and others called a large protest, a portion of which became a riot.

I’m not here to argue the terms of that day (and won’t approve argumentative comments about it). I write to propose a way to say the Pledge without hesitation in these days of division.

Over the summer, I mentioned my difficulty to a friend. I told her I was having trouble saying, among other phrases, “One nation, under God, indivisible.”

She gave a simple reply. “Say it as a prayer.”

Oh.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State of America,

and to the republic for which it stands,

one nation, under God,

indivisible,

with liberty and justice for all.

I add a phrase inspired by a friend. For her, it was a statement, spoken from her heart, from conviction. For me, it’s a tribute to her, still a prayer, spoken softly, not for the ears of those around me.

Born and preborn.

As January 6, 2021, showed us, the United States has divisions that go deeper than issues like abortion. But abortion is part of our bleeding wound of strife and separation.

Say the pledge. Say it as a prayer. Silently pray about the divisions God lays on your heart.

Pray for our nation to honor God and be indivisible in that quest. Pray for the babies, their parents, their families whom we will remember this week as we mark the 49th anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion in all 50 states until birth.

Pray those decisions will be overturned soon. Pray America will indivisibly turn to the Creator who blessed us to be here in this time.

Pray for liberty. For justice. For all. For America.

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Reading in a New Year

It’s been my New Years’ resolution for the past several rotations around the sun. Every year I build a stack of books in no particular order. Some fall by the wayside displaced by new texts that call my name.

This year’s stack seems a bit more solid. Most I waited to obtain. One was a surprise.

It may help that our television rendered itself useless last summer, and we’ve committed to adding more seating in its place for conversation, including the silent kind that moves from writer to reader.

At the top of the pile sits Dante, an ambitious–perhaps even a bit afflictive commitment. A grandson and I began last summer with his youth version and my noteless translation. In the previous school year, we had read middle school versions of Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid in the classroom.

Dante seemed like the next place to go for a youthful foundation in the classics, but I struggled to keep up while googling the confusing parts. So much for a noteless rendering. As the weeks of summer passed, we remained in the infernal regions. I want to climb higher this summer.

For Christmas, his mother found me versions of Inferno and Purgatorio with notes by Anthony Esolen. (His annotated but difficult-to-find Paradisio arrived yesterday. Apparently, it’s an elusive text on the more well-traveled sites of book vendors showing that everybody really does want to go to heaven.

I plan to walk further into Dante’s vision with this grandson when the school year ends. Perhaps we can find Paradise before the start of another academic year.

In the meantime, I rang in the New Year finishing A Canticle for Leibowitz. Sci-fi, post-apocalyptic–even post-post (far after) the flame deluge otherwise known as nuclear war. Dry in spots, hilarious in others, vastly profound overall, Canticle is worth your time. I punctuated my reading of Walter M. Miller Jr.’s final few pages of the text with frequent exclamations of “Wow!”

Toward the bottom of the pile sits my first foray into the works of Isaac Asimov. I’m not quite halfway through Foundation, the first in a series. Both Asimov and Miller emphasize the importance of recording and remembering history.

The men’s divergent worldviews are apparent. Miller’s text presents a secular world in which a Christian remnant champions the effort to rescue literacy and preserve the past in the hopes of preventing humanity’s self-destruction. Miller invites us to remember what the world is, and is not.

Asimov’s text makes no allusion (so far) to faith. His depiction of the political is apt, some may say accurate, others, cynical. Asimov is the easier read. Miller is worth the work.

The rest of the stack is non-fiction. Ross Douthat presents our society, The Decadent Society: America Before and After the Pandemic. He offers us two possibilities for COVID’s ultimate outcome: catastrophe or renaissance. We are truly at a crossroads.

Carl R. Trueman offers The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to the Sexual Revolution. It’s another study of how we got where we are.

The Final Pagan Generation: Rome’s Unexpected Path to Christianity by Edward J. Watts provides insight into what the world was like as the power structure of an empire was turning upside down, from pagan to officially Christian. That seems pertinent in our world as a form of paganism, at least in the West, displaces Christianity.

Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind by Grace Olmstead discusses the ramifications of the uprooting many (most?) Americans have experienced today.

I remember the local communities of my youth, neighborhoods within our city. The second and third generations removed from immigrants felt a connection to the motherland and to our locale. The grandparents and great-grandparents came here but kept close ties through the fellowships of the Sons of Italy social hall or the Unter Uns (German) Society.

Some of those ties still bind smaller communities together. Many have scattered. Olmstead calls them home, truly and virtually.

The cover jacket calls the book “part memoir, part journalistic investigation.” It promises Olmstead will help us cultivate “rootedness.”

In a similar vein, Sohrab Ahmari’s work The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos proposes a way to find happiness, not in a self-crafted identity, but in pursuing virtue and accepting limits. Ahmari emigrated to the US from Iran and, among other job titles he holds, is a contributing editor for the Catholic Herald. He calls himself a “radically assimilated immigrant” and invites us to examine our lives to “live more humanely in a world that has lost its way.”

Ahmari’s book is the surprise in the pile, a gift from a son who often finds gems I’ve not stumbled over yet.

Finally, Christopher Hollingsworth has crafted The Poetics of the Hive: The Insect Metaphor in Literature. I don’t like bugs, but I anticipate the delight of following a thread of metaphor through literature.

As I write, I realize that, including the bugs, these books are about the importance of remembering history, understanding our own culture, and urging society toward renaissance instead of catastrophe.

Reading can be easy or hard depending on the text. The remembering, understanding, and urging are hard work. But important work, work with eternal purpose.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58 ESV).

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The Great Relearning

“Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.” Numbers 15:37-41~

At the end of the twentieth century, novelist Tom Wolfe recalled efforts to start at zero, to go back to a time before we knew what we now know and try again–and do better. The hippies of the sixties, he pointed out, decided to relearn rules about personal hygiene. What they learned was what non-experimenters already accepted. Wash your hands often, and don’t share someone else’s toothbrush.

It’s a defiance of the common definition of insanity–repeating an activity and expecting a different result. The result in the laboratory communes of San Francisco was a resurgence of long-dead diseases.

In the age of COVID, we wash our hands more often than ever. But we still lean toward this idea that we can begin anew without looking back. Perhaps history is a cycle of such experiments punctuated by remembering, a recurrent remembering that we are not yet in Eden.

Wolfe wrote:

“[T]he painful dawn began with the publication of the Gulag Archipelago in 1973. [Soviet dissident Alexander] Solzhenitsyn insisted that the villain behind the Soviet concentration camp network was not Stalin or Lenin (who invented the term concentration camp) or even Marxism. It was instead the Soviets’ peculiarly twentieth-century notion that they could sweep aside not only the old social order but also its religious ethic, which had been millennia in the making (‘common decency,’ Orwell called it) and reinvent morality . . . here . . . now .”

Modern society continues through a cycle of trying to recreate culture, to turn it into something new. The West won the Cold War in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But we didn’t turn back. Our train of civil movement continued on the same track.

The battle between decency and its opposite has been ongoing. We now tilt toward a social order that is not order but rather its opposite. From newscasts to our personal interactions we see a culture that lacks memory–and manners. History has returned to a day when everyone is doing “what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25).

In the 1950s, another novelist Walter M. Miller Jr. reminded us that it’s hard to get back what we once knew but now ignore. He wrote about civilization beginning again after apocalypse, starting from zero.

“In the beginning . . . it had been hoped–and even anticipated as probable–that the fourth or fifth generation would begin to want its heritage back. But the monks [preservers of history] of the earliest days had not counted on the human ability to generate a new cultural inheritance in a couple of generations if an old one is utterly destroyed, to generate it by virtue of lawmakers and prophets, geniuses or maniacs; through a Moses, or a Hitler, or an ignorant but tyrannical grandfather. . . . But the new ‘culture’ was an inheritance of darkness,” A Canticle for Leibowitz.

In urban or rural American communities, we see crime, drugs, and lagging education. Mark R. Schneider points out that American literacy rates are lower than those of our 1840s counterparts, “well before the imposition of compulsory public education.” (Note: the figures Schneider sites are pre-COVID.)

Literacy in the America of 1840 included classical and biblical texts that conveyed more than an ability to decode the letters into words and thereby discern meaning. Literacy, faith, and freedom are a three-fold cord, not easily broken. Contemporary culture has undermined all three.

Around 1900 we began education anew. The goals of learning were no longer those of John Adams for his son: “to make you a good Man and a useful Citizen.” Today, school is largely the means to a job, preparation for a career leading to personal fulfillment and material enrichment. It is no longer the formation of character.

I sat in a classroom for a parent-teacher conference not yet 20 years ago when a teacher told me the purpose of his course was that the students would know their rights. I asked if he might tell them their duties.

We will relearn what we have lost. We will learn it by choosing the wisdom of those who came before us or by continuing to reject it and experiencing the consequences of that rejection.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

“Over a half century ago [under communism in the USSR], while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” . . . [I]f I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’”

From Miller’s Canticle:

“What did you do for them . . . ? Teach them to read and write? Help them rebuild, give them Christ, help them restore a culture? Did you remember to warn them that it could never be Eden?”

Solzhenitsyn, Wolfe, Miller, and we who remember hold a key to the future. We hold the wine of truth from the past. Chaos offers a sweet purple Kool-Aid reminiscent of another failed experiment.

Offer wine. Speak truth. Remember.

And remind.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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A Gift Prepared Ahead of Time

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (I Timothy 1:17, ESV)

It was a work of Providence I might have missed. I have no idea how long the book sat on the shelf waiting for me to buy it. But I do know it was there just for me, for us, just for the moment we would need it.

That moment would be one every mother who has watched her son go to war knows. It’s an indescribable emptiness. But an almighty God can reach down to fill a heart’s void. And He can use any little nook or cranny to do so.

My daughter and I were in an antique store passing time as we waited to see my son off. He was deploying to Iraq.

While we shopped, his unit was on base packing equipment. Families would see our soldiers later that evening for a short time before they left for their departure point.

A yearlong deployment lay ahead.

But there on the shelf sat his favorite book. It cost only a couple of dollars. The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. How good it would be to give him a book he loved.

But there was more.

As we were helping him pack later and preparing to say farewell, my daughter picked the book up and read the back cover flap.

“This book can be sent to a serviceman anywhere in the world for the price of a postage stamp.”

The book was copyrighted in 1942. Published for soldiers during World War II–when my father served–it landed in the hands of my soldier son decades later.

I wondered where it had traveled and who had already read it.

Buck’s masterpiece is about a man who battles hunger and injustice. Not quite war–rather wars of a different sort. He had moments of glory, times he didn’t do the right thing.

He was, in short, like all of us.

Even before my son read it, it was a book I had come to love. I’d read it because it was my husband’s favorite book. Paper ideas about important things in life. Paper becomes glue connecting those who’ve read a book and discussed its meaning.

When my son left for war, he carried a piece of home and history with him.

I still had moments of emptiness, moments of worry during that year. But a great God had put a book on a shelf for us to find that day–to remind us that He sees. He cares. He loves.

This time of year is when we celebrate His coming.

He came to give us more than “chance” literature on a shelf. He came to give Himself to us and for us.

Emmanuel—God with us.

Merry Christmas.

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Renewing Traditions

Last year, I didn’t bake cookies for Christmas. I came down with COVID just before mid-December.

Since neither my husband (He had it too.) nor I could taste our food, and other family members were concerned about contagions, I didn’t have much reason to make treats.

Paul and I found it odd that we could imagine flavors based on the texture of the foods we put in our mouths.

The buttery saltiness of creamy mashed potatoes was a mental conception, an abstraction of memory. As the New Year dawned, our sense of taste began to return.

Twelve months later, I’ve returned to cookie baking mode.

Baking cookies and I go way back.

When I was ten, my mother let me lose on my own in the kitchen. In the cooler weather of fall, I’d bake on Saturday afternoons. She watched football. I have the sense she considered cookie production a chore and was glad to have me step into the role.

When I became a mother, my own little ones took their responsibility to taste-test seriously. As they grew, they developed favorites, and traditions took shape.

What hadn’t improved much over the years was the kitchen.

After my children had grown, one of my daughters realized a local home improvement company was sponsoring an “ugly kitchen” contest. She photographed the room where she had taste tested cookies hoping we could win some free renovations. (Some other poor soul won, apparently having endured a kitchen worse than mine.)

Even so, I remember the wonderful feeling I got entering the “ugly”, poorly equipped heart-of-home to bake cookies one holiday season. I thought, “It feels good to be here.” Good memories overcame limited resources.

In years since, my husband has made significant improvements. Counter space is now sufficient. The children gifted us with a larger mixer to replace my hand-held device. The room is still a pleasant place in which to bake, now convenient and not in danger of qualifying for an “ugly” contest.

After last year without baking, I was eager to get back to it. First out of the oven were cookies to go to the troops through our local Armed Forces Mothers chapter, an event COVID cancelled last year. The Monday after Thanksgiving, packed boxes winged their way to those serving our country. Last week, my great-niece notified me that her box had arrived much to her delight.

Next, I moved to the eight cookie trays for Christmas Day. One for each family household, one for the Christmas gathering, and one for our own table.

Certain recipes are the norm, but this year I added chocolate chip oatmeal at the request of a granddaughter. Something different mixed in with our traditions.

Traditions call us to memory and wonder. The flavors and aromas of Christmas remind us of our early realization of what Christ’s birth means. I go back to the Christmas Eve service of a particular year, to the manger scene under the trees of my childhood, back to the home where I first bowed my head in prayer, when I first began to seek Him.

We wonder at this holiday, part of history now for more than 2,000 years, transformed, to be sure, from its early days to a commercialized version of gadgets and trinkets.

But only if we let it become so.

Every Christmas reminds us that our Savior came as a baby to grow into a Man who would save us from our sins. Christmas calls us to remember all Christ has done for us.

Memory. Hope. Tradition. Christmas.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Merry Christmas!

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Remembering 80 Years

My mother would often tell me the story. It was a Sunday morning. She was sweeping the basement floor and listening to the radio when the announcement came that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

She shut the radio off as if that would make the news go away.

I’m sad to realize I never got Dad’s story–where he was when he heard.

My parents hadn’t married yet. He joined the navy. She joined the Coast Guard. Dad shipped out as a corpsman to the South Pacific. Mom, ironically, served in Oklahoma, a state that has no coast to guard.

Today, one of my great-nieces is in Texas training to become a navy corpsman.

Eighty years of history have come and gone. There are so few today alive to tell us where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor.

And we are now at the point where students only know of 9/11 because of their elders explaining where they were when they heard.

It’s an effective way to pass history along. When the young hear our stories, those of our own or those passed down to us, they remember. History becomes real to them.

We must pass along history, for “History is a story written by the finger of God.” (Lewis)

“Lord of hosts be with us yet,

“Lest we forget–lest we forget.” (Kipling)

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HEADlines: Collateral Damage from Abortion

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 11/27/21~

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20~

The cities of Boston, Pittsburgh, and Portland, Oregon, are now providing 12 weeks of paid parental leave for women who have abortions and for men too. It’s an interesting “perk”.

The ironies abound.

In Boston, the revised benefits plan amends one that provides paid leave for parents who will parent their children and couples who’ve suffered “loss of pregnancy” through miscarriage.

Imagine private companies trying to compete with public entities for employees. A business could enhance the benefits package by adding paid abortion leave and beefing up company IRA contributions.

Remember that supporters of “choice” marketed legal abortion as the way women would be on equal footing with men. Apparently, that’s why men get leave for abortion too.

Also remember, the choice movement promised legal abortion would be safe and not a big deal. If abortion is so safe and simple, why would anyone need 12 weeks to recover?

Planned Parenthood assures readers that surgical abortions are “safe, simple,” and “common.” Such assurances regarding chemical abortion are harder to find. Chemical abortion appears to be a do-it-yourself-in-the-privacy-of-your-home kind of procedure. Just take a few pills as directed, and after some bleeding and cramping, your “problem” is gone.

Simple, right?

Many women are learning the hard way that chemical abortion is far from simple.

For Lifenews.com, Abby Johnson describes her experience enduring and recovering from a chemical abortion.

“Ten minutes later [after taking Mifeprex, an abortion inducing chemical] I started to feel pain in my abdomen unlike anything I had ever experienced. Then the blood came. It was gushing out of me. I couldn’t wear a pad…nothing was able to absorb the amount of blood I was losing. The only thing I could do was sit on the toilet….

“After several hours on the toilet, I desperately wanted to soak in the bathtub. I was hoping that would make me feel better. Maybe the warm water would help the cramping. Certainly it would make me smell better. I had vomit all in my hair and on my legs, not to mention how sweaty I was. I filled the tub and climbed in. It actually did feel pretty good. I remember closing my eyes and leaning my head back. I felt exhausted. The cramps kept coming, but the water helped soothe them somewhat. I opened my eyes after 15 minutes and was horrified. My bathwater was bright red.”

But more and greater pain was ahead. Johnson wasn’t having just the “heavy bleeding and period like cramping” her Planned Parenthood counselor had assured her would be the case. After passing a “lemon-size blood clot” then several more clots of similar size, she believed her experience must not be normal.

She had spent 12 hours in the bathroom and decided to sleep on the tile floor rather than bleed in her bed. The next morning, she would call PP and report her extraordinary experience–if she survived the night.

She did survive to call the PP nurse who assured her that her experience was not at all uncommon.

She was astonished that what the abortion counselor had told her would happen was so different from what came about.

Mary Szoch of the Family Research Council reports: “Disturbingly, the physical trauma that happens to a woman’s body as a result of a chemical abortion is a sign that the ‘treatment is working.’ According to the Mifeprex medication guide:

‘Cramping and vaginal bleeding are expected with this treatment. Usually, these symptoms mean that the treatment is working…Bleeding or spotting can be expected for an average of 9 to 16 days and may last for up to 30 days [For Johnson, it was eight weeks.] …You may see blood clots and tissue. This is an expected part of passing the pregnancy.'” [Szoch’s text includes endnotes for this information and what follows.]

According to one study Szoch sites, in one out of 10 chemical procedures, incomplete abortion occurs, requiring surgery to finish the process and prevent infection in the mother. These numbers are bad enough until we remember that they include only statistics “voluntarily reported” to the FDA.

In 2019, Nancy Flanders reported that nearly half of US states don’t require reporting of complications. Yet complications happen for both surgical and chemical abortions.

“Lakisha Wilson, 22, died after her abortion at Preterm abortion facility in Cleveland when she suffered uterine atony and hemorrhaged. Tia Parks, 26, died after a first-trimester abortion at the same abortion facility. A 21-year-old woman in Rhode Island suffered a perforated uterus during an abortion at the Providence Health Center this year. Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood in New York City recently hospitalized nine patients within just eight months. And the abortion pill [chemical abortion], which is hailed by the industry as the safest way to kill a preborn child, has also killed at least 24 women. The true number, however, may never be known since abortion groups advise women who suffer complications from the abortion pill to tell ER doctors that they are having a miscarriage.”

Even voluntary reporting indicates that complications from chemical abortion are “four times” higher than those of surgical abortion. And that’s what the abortion industry calls the “safest way.”

Maybe the “perk” of leave after abortion isn’t such a perk. Maybe it’s a necessity for a procedure that really isn’t so simple after all.

Remember the pro-abortion mantra of the 1990s? Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare?

Those who support abortion have thrown their motto of safe, legal, and rare out with the bathwater and, of course, the baby. The Heritage Foundation reports that the percentage of chemical abortions goes up every year, having risen 120 percent over the last ten years.

Along with the new employment perk of paid leave after an abortion, it seems the powers that be are promoting abortion as it becomes less safe for women.

Safe? Legal? Rare?

Legal is all that matters. And the casualties are just collateral damage.

About the Author

Author Nancy E. Head was a single mother with five children under the age of 14 when many in the Church came to her aid. Her story illustrates common problems in our society such as the fracturing of families and communities, reflecting a splintering Church.

Alienated families and a riven Church cannot minister as effectively to their own members or others until they find accord. Nancy is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord. She leads a small group ministering to the needy in her community.

Photo Credit: Ewelina Karezona Karbowiak in Unsplash.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Returning a Favor


CBN reposted my devotional on 11/19/21.

When I moved into my home in 1977, I salvaged an old table my father was discarding. Our family grew from four to seven around that table.

Then we shrank. When their father departed, we were six.

The years began to show on the table. One of its legs began to wobble. Without warning, it would collapse to the floor leaving all the work for the other three legs. We would laugh. But after a while, one of us found the falling leg not so funny.

When my youngest son was eight years old, he found a hammer and some very long nails and played carpenter. He reattached the errant piece, permanently joining it to the table. The repair was effective, but not pretty.

A few years later, I got a “new” dining room table—also recycled. This table was better. It expanded. And our family was expanding. I had remarried. Some of the children had grown and married and had children of their own. 

So the table could be small for everyday dinners, and it could be large for family celebrations. Plus, it was reliable–for a time. Then one of its legs turned mutinous too.

This time, my husband Paul played carpenter, and unless you peeked underneath, you didn’t know the difference.

But our family continued to expand. Eventually, even our stretched out table was too small. Our range of motion became cramped. From fork to plate, to mouth and back. We yearned for extra room for side dishes and elbows.

So last year, Paul and I bought a new table. An Amish carpenter constructed it. 

This table is even more expandable than the last one. And it’s rectangular rather than oval. Now we have room for baked corn, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and a host of elbows. 

The table was ready just in time for Thanksgiving. 

But in order to use your furniture, you first must get it into the house.

Paul heaved and I pushed. But even in its smallest state, the table was too wide for our front door. It would have to come in through the back door. To accomplish that, we would have to hoist the table over the back rail deck. And that seemed impossible unless we could get someone else to help.

The best candidate seemed like the young man who had just moved in next door. He seemed strong and he was home.

As Providence would have it, he is a mover by trade. God had placed the perfect workman right next to us.

Moreover, there are many workmen with you, stonecutters and masons of stone and carpenters, and all men who are skillful in every kind of work. (1 Chronicles 22:15 NASB95)

All we had to do was ask.

The old table went out the back door and the new table came in.

We had planned to put the old table on the sidewalk with a “Free” sign on it. But Paul found out that this very neighbor and his wife had no table. Now they do. We would never have known their need if we had not asked for his help.

So I’m thankful for my new table. I’m thankful for the craftsman who made a table with legs unlikely to wobble in my lifetime. I’m thankful for the help of a neighbor and that we could help him in return. 

I’m thankful for all the elbows to occupy our table this holiday and those we hope will arrive in coming years. 

Most of all, I’m thankful for the Master Carpenter who places us in each other’s lives and gives us opportunities to help each other.

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
 For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:26 NASB95)

Copyright © 2017 Nancy E. Head. Used by permission. [CBN]

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A Few Steps from Normalizing Pedophilia?

You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:21~

The proscription in Western Civilization against sexual activities outside God-ordained marriage goes back to the Old Testament. Leviticus, the primary book containing Jewish law, includes in chapter 18 God’s admonition against sex acts with close relatives, within homosexual relationships, and with animals.

Within the 30 verses of that chapter resides verse 21: “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.”

A portion of scripture about sexual behavior contains this decree forbidding child sacrifice. And this admonition comes, not at the beginning or the end ,where we might relegate it to a different section. Sandwiched between proscriptions against incest and adultery in the early part of the chapter and homosexuality and bestiality at the end is this law forbidding child sacrifice.

It’s important to remember that, at this point, the Jews were the only culture with rules limiting sex to husband-wife relationships. Only Jews and later Christians held to the ideas of sexual exclusivity between husband and wife and of heterosexual marriage as God’s ideal.

For other cultures–those in the Middle East, Greece, and Rome–sex was a free for all. Women had little to say about what happened to them sexually. Children had no voice at all.

Writing for Crisis magazine, Dennis Prager explains:

“When Judaism demanded that all sexual activity be channeled into marriage, it changed the world. The Torah’s prohibition of non-marital sex quite simply made the creation of Western civilization possible. Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can largely be attributed to the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism and later carried forward by Christianity.

“This revolution consisted of forcing the sexual genie into the marital bottle. It ensured that sex no longer dominated society, heightened male-female love and sexuality (and thereby almost alone created the possibility of love and eroticism within marriage), and began the arduous task of elevating the status of women.”

Along with elevating women came the protection of children.

It’s surprising to those of us who grew up during the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s, to consider this idea of an ancient “revolution” of morality.

The 1960s didn’t ring in a new way of living never before seen. The revolution marked the return to pagan idolatry–without statues and flames. The general acceptance of such practices is nearly complete. Aside from bestiality, the last moral pillar to remain standing holds proscriptions against sex with children.

How long can it stand nearly all by itself?

The American Conservative commentator Rod Dreher quotes Allyn Walker, a “non-binary assistant professor at Old Dominion University,” who writes that “there is evidence to show that attractions to minors can be considered a sexual orientation. . . . MAPs [minor attracted people] often report becoming aware of their attraction to children during adolescence, a trend that is typical of other sexual minorities.”

Notice the change of term from pedophile to MAP and the language that presents the attraction to children as something akin to an awakening rather than a disorder and the notion that pedophiles are part of a “sexual minority.”

We might be tempted to dismiss this view. But seeds planted at the university level often take fruit in our neighborhoods over time.

Dreher comments:

“Surely there must be some way to get these suffering people the help they need without moving towards considering pedophilia just one more ‘sexual orientation.’ Because if it ever should become that, we are halfway to legalizing it, following the same path that standard homosexuality took. If sexual desire is the equivalent of identity, and if to sexually desire minors is at the core of one’s identity, then how can we stigmatize or otherwise suppress pedophiles if we recognize that other kinds of sexual minorities have civil rights?”

The sexual revolution of the 1960s has been a runaway freight train tearing through the years since, leaving pain and trauma in its wake.

It’s time to ask ourselves how we can stop the train. It’s time to get the suffering people help instead of enabling them to harm others. It’s time to stop profaning the name of God by allowing children to be victimized in the name of self-idolatry.

It’s time we stopped the destruction of our very culture through acceptance of sexual sin.

It’s time.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Prophecy of the Coming King

“To the Old Testament belongs more fear, just as to the New Testament more delight; nevertheless in the Old Testament the New lies hid, and in the New Testament the Old is exposed.” Augustine

The history of man is that God created him, formed a woman-companion from him and for him, and provided a way for the man and the woman to return to God when they rejected Him in sin.

God was clear from the beginning that He would send a Way–the Messiah–to allow rebellious people to return to Him. And the Messiah’s kingdom would last forever.

The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his. Genesis 49:10
, NIV

Israel had big ideas about what that kingdom would look like and what kind of king would garner the obedience of the nations.

Christ was born into a world of darkness and oppression. Israel’s big ideas at this time included a king who would free them from Rome. In their thinking, such a king would not be of humble birth. But prophecy said otherwise.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times. Micah 5:2
, NIV

Seven hundred years before Christ was born, Micah prophesied that the King would be born in Bethlehem.

But which Bethlehem? There were two towns of that name in Christ’s time. The Old Testament foretold Bethlehem, Ephrathah, the Bethlehem that was King David’s home town. The smaller, more obscure town.

The Creator-God came in the most humble of ways–born, not only in a small town, but in a dwelling place for animals.

Throughout Christ’s earthly life, some would reject Him because of his modest beginning. Many wrote Him off as “just the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55).

A question for us today: How often do we expect Him to be who He is not?

He is the same as He was in Micah’s day. The same since Creation. But not always what we expect.

He came through a humble birth, grew with a small-town upbringing, died on a tortuous cross, and walked with His followers outside an empty tomb. Nothing like what Israel expected.

Today, we find Him where we look for Him in spirit and in truth. We find Him when we are willing to let Him surprise us. We find Him in the New Testament and the Old.

Seek Him today.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Going Down the Rabbit Hole on Purpose

I remember an assignment in a graduate English class for which I purposely did not follow the directions. The teacher had called upon us to analyze a portion of Alice in Wonderland in light of Sigmund Freud’s thinking. It was to be a short paper–just a page or two–the kind of assignment that was due once a week in that class on literary theory.

Most of my graduate classes provided intriguing challenges that engaged my mind and sparked new ideas. More often than not, this work resulted in theory-driven writing assignments, presumably intelligently argued, but inevitably dry.

I wanted to exercise some creativity.

So I wrote a diary entry in Alice’s voice. Alice expressed her frustration at being too big to play in the pretty garden but then too small to reach the key to unlock the door to get to the garden. When the cake she ate made her too large, she expressed her frustration that every calorie she consumed attached itself to the wrong place on her body while her sister could freely eat all she cared to without consequence on the scale. She wondered at the white rabbit whose presence reminded her that she had to grow up.

I enjoyed completing the assignment. Throughout the writing process, I repeatedly reminded myself that I was taking a risk, but I was having too much fun to stop.

I determined not to regret my creativity even if it cost me points.

When the time came to get our graded papers back, the instructor mentioned mine. “I was going to make you do it over, but then I read it again and realized everything you needed was there.”

Life can feel like we’re tumbling down a rabbit hole. We don’t know where we’ll land or how long until we hit the bottom. And we’re often wondering why it’s hard to go back to the small places and, no matter our age, when we’ll grow enough to reach the keys to doors we want to open.

Alice’s great puzzle to solve was to figure out “who in the world” she was.

It is the great challenge for all of us.

Jump down the rabbit hole every so often. Engage in the wonder, Take the risk.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Will We Let Freedom Slip Through Our Fingers?

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, October 23, 2021.

“I cannot help feeling that Tocqueville hit the nail on the head, as he often did, when he wrote that the type of despotism democratic people have to fear will in no way look like the despotism and tyranny our ancestors endured: ‘It would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them,’ he wrote in 1840. And, in a way, the fact that it happens more gradually is what makes it arguably even more dangerous. After all, a people that do not realize they are losing their freedom will not fight for it. They will simply let it slip through their fingers.” Eva Vlaardingerbroek~

Freedom is like a plant we hold in our hands. We must be diligent to care for it, or it will fall through our fingers and be gone forever.

The battle for the heart and soul of America challenges every generation. Sometimes, the enemies are readily identified—World War II’s fascism and genocide, the Cold War’s communistic atheism, nuclear threat, and genocide.

In Vietnam, we had trouble identifying the enemy. Those loyal to the North did not have “Viet Cong” tattooed across their foreheads. We faced the same challenge in Afghanistan and anywhere else war plays out in terrorism.

We’ve spent the last 20 years at war, never losing, but never quite winning either. The final act of our tragedy included no semblance of victory. Only capitulation and betrayal.

For those at home, the war remained far away. It required no material sacrifice. Some families saw sons and daughters go who never returned. But for most of us, life went on as usual. We never really felt war’s threat, its reality.

Our prosperity and comfort lulled us to sleep.

As we stew like frogs in our proverbial pot of water that is coming to a full boil, inflation akin to that of the 1970s abounds. A new push to raise taxes comes as we already feel the pincers of higher costs and less availability of goods.

Our country is roiling in fury over COVID regulations and vaccine mandates, which have contributed to empty store shelves and an uneasiness that Soviet-style shortages loom ahead.

Add to that a refusal on the part of many prosecutors to prosecute crimes—to do the job entrusted to them. The ensuing uptick in crime has caused stores to close, cutting law-abiding citizens off from needed goods.

The government suggests a cure-all that will work as all others always have and always will. The cure will spread, not COVID, but emptier shelves and more suffocating costs.

Government intervention has crippled our world-class healthcare system. Bureaucratic vaccine mandates now threaten to finish it off altogether with personnel shortages. Top-notch medical care will be a thing of the past as we come to understand experientially what it’s like to live in a third-world country with Venezuelan inflation, food shortages, and insufficient healthcare.

But some are waking up.

When Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAulliffe stated, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they can teach,” many parents disagreed.

Battle lines formed as parents protest Critical Race Theory and what they consider COVID overreach.

Following outcries at local school board meetings (note, local), the National Association of School Boards has asked the US Department of Justice to intervene. The DOJ readily agreed to step in and determine “how to use federal resources to prosecute offending parents.”

Notice that the organization representing local school boards didn’t suggest climbing a chain of authority starting with cities’ mayors or even the governors of states. They didn’t ask for increased security in the face of what they perceive to be threats, but what reasonable people would define as caring, concerned, albeit angry parents.

An organization representing local school officials went straight to the feds.

And the feds were quick to sign on to the task at hand—shutting down speech that disagrees with the already configured program.

In the meantime, Citizens are fleeing the high taxes and over-regulation of California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois and are voting with moving vans on their way to Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, and Arizona.

And even as inflation increases, more parents are placing their children in private schools.

How will events unfold when entities like the DOJ and FBI crackdown on protesting parents? (Note the application of the phrase crackdown to the US, not, as is more typical, China.)

We won’t like the answer to the previous question if we ask Retired Navy Lieutenant Commander Tom Caldwell. Caldwell went to Washington, DC, on January 6 to hear President Trump speak. Caldwell did not enter the Capitol. He did not engage in destructive or violent behavior. He led no group of insurrection-minded agitators.

DOJ now concedes that they were wrong in accusing Caldwell of the crimes listed above, imprisoning him (including solitary confinement for 49 days) and depriving him of life-sustaining medications during his incarceration.

He is “free” (for now) but on the edge of bankruptcy.

We cannot trust those who promised to uphold the Constitution and are supposed to protect us and our God-given freedoms. They betray us at every turn.

When Rod Serling wrote the script to “The Obsolete Man” for The Twilight Zone series in 1961, he may have been looking back to Nazi Germany or around the world to the Soviet Union. Instead, perhaps, he was looking into a crystal ball and seeing us—the boiling frogs who fell asleep.

The speaker quoted below from “The Obsolete Man” episode is a government official sentencing a “useless” librarian to death.

“But their [the oppressors of the past] error was not one of excess it was simply not going far enough! Too many undesirables left around and undesirables eventually create a corps of resistance. Old people for example, clutch at the past and won’t accept the new. The sick, the maimed, the deformed, they fasten onto the healthy body and damage it. So WE eliminate them! And people like yourself, they can perform no useful function for The State, so…we put an end to them.” Rod Serling.

We now know that there are more ways than one to eliminate someone and silence others. How many like Tom Caldwell will the government push toward or into bankruptcy? We may never know since corporate media will not give them a voice.

Those who work to end freedom will not stop while we still sleep.

We must wake up and speak up now, or freedom will slip through our fingers and be gone forever.

Photo Credit: Pexels on pixabay.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Broken Supply Chain Christmas?

The Christmas season comes earlier every year. But this year, a panic seems to be setting in. Will there be toys under the tree? Will we still have Christmas?

Or will all our presents remain in ships off the coast of California?

Our lives have been abnormal for the last two years. Is there a new abnormal coming that we fear even more than a virus? Has America ever seen a time like this one?

Few people are still alive who remember the Great Depression and the joy of getting an orange for Christmas. Just an orange.

In the years since the Depression and World War II, the expectations of many Americans have grown for that one day a year when we know very good things are sure to come. Lots of them.

But we don’t always appreciate the good things in front of us.

I remember the Christmas when I was nine, and it didn’t snow. The weather was unseasonably warm. And Mother baked a ham instead of a turkey.

I didn’t handle it graciously. “It’s like there just wasn’t any Christmas at all this year.”

At least one of my brothers also complained. The other, the eldest at 19, may have had the maturity to show a bit of grace even though turkey was his absolute favorite.

She couldn’t do anything about the weather, but Mother never served ham again on December 25.

I was a young mother when the year of the the Cabbage Patch Doll Christmas occurred. The toys were a big hit, but I’d never stood in line in the dark and cold at 4:00 am, and there was no guarantee that braving the Black Friday ordeal would get me two, one for each daughter.

Well before Christmas, we told the girls that having to wait a year for their Cabbage Patch dreams to come true was likely. With their expectations reduced, they weathered the trauma of waiting until the next year when the dolls were plentiful. They seemed to suffer no harm from the trial of delayed hopes.

Christmases come and go. We’ve had quite a few with turkey but without snow. One recent year, the temperature reached into the 60s. I wore my open-toed red shoes to the Christmas Eve service. Neighbors sat on their front porch as they do during warmer seasons. The unprecedented conditions during that holiday season offered new options, possibilities for making Christmas memorable in a way unlikely to happen again–at least for a long time.

Christmas dinner now includes both ham and turkey. I do the turkey. One of my sons-in-law cooks the ham.

We work together to fulfill expectations that have grown through our varied traditions.

For this year, I’ve already begun to shop, but not any earlier or with more vigor than other years.

Maybe we’ll see more than the usual Black Friday craziness of crowds lining up early and trampling others to get to a hot deal.

Maybe we won’t. Perhaps some will adjust their expectations.

Maybe this year, some will tell kids they might have to wait. With adjusted expectations maybe they’ll see Christmas in a new light.

Maybe we’ll still do the things we usually do. Decorate the tree, play music, hang the lights we already have if we can’t find new ones, wrap the presents we’re able to acquire, cook special foods even if they don’t match our traditional menus, and celebrate with our families.

Maybe we’ll watch Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and sing along to “Welcome Christmas . . . dahoo dores.” Perhaps our hearts will grow larger.

Maybe we’ll watch George Bailey and realize our lives really are wonderful, despite the trials going on around us.

Maybe we’ll watch Little Women (I recommend the Winona Rider version) and remember that there are Hummel families in our communities too. Maybe we’ll put more in the red kettle this year because we know times are harder for some folks than they are for us.

Maybe we’ll ponder the Babe in the manger whose birth in humble Bethlehem rather than kingly Jerusalem, discovered only by shepherds and foreigners, didn’t meet expectations.

His life disappointed many by ending, not in an earthly kingdom, but in tragedy on a Friday afternoon.

The disappointed and despairing did not expect a Sunday morning unlike any other in history before or since.

But that’s what came to be.

This Christmas will be one to remember for good or for bad. It’s up to us to decide. We can work to remember and honor Christmas as a day much greater than our expectations can dream.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Lesson of Dystopia

One evening during the mid-1970s, I was a young homemaker cleaning the kitchen in my mobile home as the television buzzed along airing Soylent Green (1973). The movie, based on the book Make Room Make! Room! by Harry Harrison, is set in 2022 in New York City. Charlton Heston plays Detective Thorn. Crime and unemployment are rampant.

Apartments come with ‘furniture’ (a woman) if you think she goes with your decor. In this society, women serve no other function but providing pleasure for men. In the 1970s, women were protesting their objectified status as housewives and sexual subservients.

Today, women are the working and sexual equals of men. But do our lives have more purpose and meaning than they once did?

And what is Soylent Green?

Starving masses riot in the streets to get their share of it–a form of food.

That evening, the movie was background noise–a sense of company in the otherwise quiet trailer with my child sleeping and her father at work. Then Thorn began to yell. The volume came up on the background noise. (Spoiler alert.)

“It’s people!  Soylent Green is made of people!”

The moment froze for me. Was human life truly to become commodified?

Since my late-night encounter with cinematic dystopia, I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of the written form. Some of my middle-school students will delve into Lois Lowry’s The Giver soon. My high school students are getting ready to read Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. They’ve already read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.  

I teach the high school course every other year. Each time as I approach back to school in an odd-numbered year, I’m astonished at how much more relevant the course material is than the last time I taught it. How much closer we’ve come to some feature in each of the societies these authors have depicted.

Each writer saw humanity’s future lack of meaning and purpose in a different light.

In 1966, Harrison saw the idleness of unemployment (voluntary or otherwise) and how it can lead to rampant crime.

Most of the people he depicted strive to find food to live, but in another way, they’re just waiting to die. They have survival instincts but no purpose.

In 1993, Lowry saw our disregard for life. Jonas’s father dispatches an infant who doesn’t fit in. This “caregiver” doesn’t even realize he’s committing murder. Life in Jonas’s world is about overcoming individuality, filling a role, doing a job. There is an outwardly imposed purpose, but no intrinsic meaning.

Today, we identify people largely by what they do. And we “send away” the children who don’t fit in via handicap or inconvenience to their deaths.

Writing in 1947, Orwell depicted Winston Smith, an everyman whose job is to revise history. He fills a role and is allowed to remain alive as long as he stays in his life lane. Winston experiences the ultimate in cancel culture by going his own way.

Culture-shapers cancel many today; the truth is hard to determine.

Bradbury wrote in the 1950s, imagining a time when no one reads. People view stories on their walls.

We don’t have rooms with television walls that surround us as Mildred Montag yearned to own. But we have televisions and screens in multiple rooms, separating ourselves from those closest to us.

We no longer talk about how much time children watch TV. We talk about their screen time as various devices engage their minds endlessly.

Huxley, writing in the 1930s, best depicts the role of women in a falsely egalitarian society. Sex is for fun as women work side by side with men. Forming families is outdated, even profane. Children are not born, only hatched in assembly-line factories. They are commodities, specially designed to fulfill a predetermined function. Citizens riot to get more Soma, a drug that deadens their sense of worthlessness.

Huxley’s work is an exaggeration of what occurs today. Surrogates produce children as we discard others in abortion. Production is not on a mass scale. The family unit is fading fast. The opioid crisis plagues our communities.

We live 37 years after 1984, mere months before the setting of Soylent Green, 32 years before Fahrenheit 451, and 429 years before Brave New World. Lowry didn’t specify a time when we would all be the same.

These writers were only off on their timing.

Today’s students will grow to be the citizens of tomorrow–a tomorrow fast approaching.

They will live, understanding their immense value, pursuing their purpose, or disregarding both. Seeing themselves as distinct, unique creations or as commodities, trading their time and bodies for paycheck and pleasure.

Comprehending the uniqueness of the children entrusted to them–or failing to do so.

Pursuing truth, or manipulating it to suit their own ends or the goals of others.

Finding their purpose. Or seeking Soma to deaden their hearts and minds.

Demanding equality of their own pleasure and thereby missing out on life’s meaning altogether.

Perhaps without choosing, they will live in a world of constant surveillance, a world where oppressors observe every act.

In each book, characters decided whether to live lies and fit in or to pursue truth and find their own purpose.

No matter the conditions of the world around us, we all choose how we will live this life.

The lesson of dystopia is to choose wisely and well.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Texas Abortion Update

Federal Court blocks Texas heartbeat bill as expected. Pray for the mothers, babies, families, and those whose hearts are wounded by participating in the killing.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Is Texas the End of Roe or a Temporary Reprieve?

Early in the pro-life movement, I attended a rally for a Pennsylvania bill. A reporter asked one of the bill’s authors if he thought his proposal was discriminatory. The question implied that such a law would make abortion more difficult for low-income women since wealthy women have always been able to travel freely–to go wherever abortion is readily available.

The legislator’s response still rings in my mind.

“Yes, it’s discriminatory. It’s highly discriminatory. It discriminates against the children of the rich whose slaughter will continue unabated.”

That bill eventually ended up before the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

While SCOTUS gutted much of the bill, some of the provisions stood.

Now Texas is trying to nearly eradicate abortion. And SB 8 has been largely successful–so far, saving an estimated 100 babies every day since September 1.

Roland Warren is the President of Care Net, a pro-life umbrella organization comprised of 1,200 affiliate pregnancy centers, 82 in Texas. Warren says in Texas, “The call volumes are up 30% or so.” Pregnant women are seeking help from those who can provide it for mother and child.

SB 8 is the recently passed legislation that allows someone to sue the physician and anyone who aids and abets in an abortion after six weeks’ gestation. That includes Uber and Lyft drivers (whose companies have promised to cover legal expenses for employees involved in an abortion situation).

The minimum cost of a judgment against an abortion purveyor or abettor is $10,000.

In The American Spectator, Ellie Gardey cites a source who says 20 of 23 Texas abortion clinics are still open despite the new law but doing fewer abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood’s open clinics are concentrating on “other missions . . . providing birth control, STD testing, and transgender hormone treatments.”

Even so, some clinics struggle to keep the doors open. Gardey explains that one of the largest Texas clinics saw a staff reduction of more than half when nine of 17 staff members quit the day before the law took effect.

The effort to protect the unborn is not new to Texas.

“In 2010, Texas had more than 40 abortion clinics, but more than half closed altogether during the legal battle over a 2013 Texas law that required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and for clinics to qualify as ambulatory surgical centers. The Supreme Court struck down the law in a 5-3 decision in 2016.” 

The composition of SCOTUS has since changed. The court’s new conservative leaning has resulted in the current Texas law going into effect despite an “emergency” plea from abortion advocates in late August. The high court did not pass judgment on the law itself. They merely allowed it to go into effect while the arguments make their way through the appellate system.

In the meantime, Gardey says, abortion appointments in nearby Oklahoma have seen a big jump as Texan women travel out of state to get around the law.

Sometimes discrimination works geographically rather than just economically.

Yet, the vast size of Texas does make it more difficult to obtain abortions for those who don’t live in the vicinity of Oklahoma. SB 8 is indeed saving unborn children from death and their mothers from trauma.

The saving of some unborn, and the travel out of state, may only last for Texas until a federal judge (an Obama appointee) hears the first appeal sometime this month. We can expect the Texas case to go back and forth until it reaches SCOTUS for a final determination.

Again in the meantime, before the Texas case can reach the high court, SCOTUS will meet in person to hear the dispute over Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act that has been working its way through appeals since 2018. That law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except for medical emergencies and severe fetal deformities.

At some point, perhaps in December, the court may choose to make clear the degree of severity fetal deformities must attain to warrant abortion.

In these situations, discrimination isn’t just geographical and economic. It’s based in an ideal of human perfection. An ideal that operates on a sliding scale, condemning some and protecting no one.

At last in the meantime, the US House of Representatives last week fueled the flames of debate by passing the misnamed “Women’s Health Protection Act.” The vote came mostly along party lines with one Democrat lining up with every Republican in opposition to the bill that “codifies Roe” and Doe, the primary and companion 1973 cases that effectively allowed abortion for any reason at any time in pregnancy. Now the bill goes to the Senate.

David Morgan and Richard Cowan write about the bill’s chances in the upper chamber:

“It is not expected to pass the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to support it. Republican Senator Susan Collins, [R-Me] a moderate who supports abortion rights, has said she opposes it. She said the House bill would weaken exceptions provided to healthcare providers who refused to perform abortions on moral or religious grounds.”

If the bill dies in the Senate, we may consider America to have dodged a bullet. Not only would children continue to die and mothers continue to be traumatized, but already over-extended medical professionals would be forced to decide between their conscience and their paychecks.

Abounding discrimination would expand to a new population.

If SCOTUS overturns Roe, the chatter about bloating the high court with an unprecedented number of new appointees will become a roar from a minority that is merely loud, not vastly populated.

No matter how many children have died, how many abortion purveyors repent and turn from killing, no matter how many women regret their abortions, this radical, minority voice that calls for unlimited abortion keep singing their song of death.

Even if they have to twist the nation’s arm by forcing medical personnel to participate or get out. Even if they need to add justices to the court that has remained at nine members since 1869.

Imagine new presidents stacking the court every four or eight years.

Those in support of life do not have the ear of the media as do those who sing death. We must raise our voice. We must sing the song of life.

Sing in love. Sing often.

Never stop singing life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Farewell: a final tribute

We say farewell to Boomer with tears in our eyes today. Thirteen years as part of our family.

He waited faithfully for his master through two deployments.

Here is a tribute post dedicated to Boomer in his “voice” during one of the deployments.

———-

They say he’s coming back soon–my master. It’s that word soon. They keep saying it.

I’ve been here for a long time. Time. It’s a word like soon. Time seems always to be just ahead of us. But we never catch it. Soon never seems to arrive.

It’s been a long time for the humans too.

Since the last time I addressed you, it’s been good. The humans and I get along fine. I’ve made a second home here. I have beds all over the place. The people here think a couple of them are for me. What they call a dog bed sits beside their bed, and a blanket sprawls on the floor in the office. I make do with them when I must.

There are couches downstairs and beds upstairs. When no one else is around–all is mine.

But someone new has moved in upstairs to a bed that had been there just for me. They say he came from far away. He is an exchange student. But he doesn’t seem to exchange anything. They say he is here to study. Aren’t we all? He says he has two homes. That I understand.

My favorite part of any day happens outside. They take me on walks. Sometimes just him or just her. Sometimes both. And now that new kid comes along in the evenings.

When we walk, she carries this big stick. I was afraid of it at first. She’s pretty klutzy. Every so often she drops it when I’m not looking. It’s alarming. So far, no one’s gotten hurt.

She uses the stick to help push herself up the hills. But once when we were strolling down an otherwise quiet street, this big beast of my own species yelled and screamed–you call it barking–and ran at me. I tried to scurry away–but that darn leash!

Get this! She wasn’t running. She just stood there. I tried to say–“Uh, let’s go.” But she stood there and held the stick out–kind of like Charlton Heston pretending to be Moses. Then she yelled back at the beast–“NO!”

And the beast stopped! His master came out and got him. They both looked ashamed. I was dumbfounded. I felt as though the Red Sea had indeed parted.

The rest of our walk was unremarkable.

I’m not afraid of the stick anymore. Well ok, unless she surprises me, dropping it when I’m not looking (as I said–she’s a klutz). But now, I see its purpose. I had been afraid it was there to hurt me. But it’s really there to protect me–and push her up the hill, of course.

So my very own human is expected home soon. Maybe he’s at a second home. Maybe he is pondering time and soon and all that is life.

Maybe he knows that sometimes people drop sticks when you don’t expect them to. You’re afraid, but nothing happens. And when you actually see something to be afraid of, your Protector stands His ground. Stands between you and the big ugly thing trying to scare you.

And you can’t run away because then you wouldn’t understand how the Protector works.

Soon you’ll be home where it’s supposed to be safe. Even if you’re with people who drop a big stick and make loud noises but really take care of you.

Soon.

———

Boomer’s master safely returned to spend years with his faithful companion.

Farewell, Boomer.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: God Calls Us to Cultivate Peace in a Barbarian World

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 9/25/21~

“The [Benedictine] monks went into barbarian areas to evangelize, and if the barbarians killed them off, the mother house would send more brothers out. Slowly, these men laid the ground for the rebirth of Christian civilization in the West,” Rod Dreher.

I’m waiting for cold weather. Summer hangs on. But the birds are gathering. Earlier this week, my husband pointed out the first foliage he saw that has begun its transformation from green to glory.

Cold is coming, but there is a warm feeling in the frosty cold. Oxymoronic, I know. A chill allows me to wrap a blanket around myself or warm the kitchen with sweets from the oven. Warm cookies and hot tea and maybe a movie or a book. Peace and comfort. Sounds nice.

The world swirls around us in chaos and violence. We find peace when we shut it all out.

God calls us to peace. But He doesn’t call us to dwell in silence and solitude. He calls us to the barbarian world.

To the world of people who are hungry, lonely, or cold in a way that is unpleasant and seemingly unending. He calls us to take our peace to the chaos. To take Him to the lost. To light a candle in the darkness.

There is a time to go to the world and speak truth. And sometimes the world comes to us. Once, part of the world came to my friend.

Years ago, Anne was working in her office, a storefront pro-life presence near her home, when a young couple walked in and asked for help. They had spent the last of their resources to come to our city for a promised job that fell through. They found themselves without the means to obtain a place to live. Anne let the couple stay in her office while she worked on finding housing for them.

She paid the security deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment and gave them some provisions until assistance benefits began. Eventually, the couple moved to a new area and found solid financial footing. Their problem was temporary, and Anne’s companionship carried them through it. Her investment of some household supplies and two months’ rent got this couple back into the mainstream of society.

Anne had long since grown from taking in lost puppies to housing unwed pregnant girls and sponsoring Vietnamese refugees. Over the years, she welcomed many road-weary travelers into her home. When my husband Paul first came to Altoona to meet me, he was a guest at Anne’s house.

Anne was the face of the Church extending her hand to those in need. She didn’t just look for people to help. They came to her. She served the ones God placed in her path.

One afternoon, my phone rang. Another friend of mine Cindy had encountered a homeless couple who had come to her office seeking help. Cindy and her husband, and my husband and I split the cost of a hotel for a week for the couple.

It had been 19 degrees Fahrenheit the night before they came to see Cindy. They had been out in that all night. I thought of how easily I could escape the cold and how awful it would be to be trapped outside in it.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn asked: “Can a man who’s warm understand one who is freezing?”

We wanted to be among those who understand.

We helped them a few more times before they disappeared. I don’t know what happened to them. But I do know that, for parts of a harsh fall and winter, they could feel warmth.

When we go to bed tonight, 17 more (on average) Americans will be homeless than were yesterday. And 17 more will become homeless tomorrow. And on it goes.

Long-term homeless people have a life expectancy of 50 years.

And today, tens of thousands of college students are homeless.

A few years ago, I learned that one of the students sitting in my classroom was living in her car. She disappeared before I could offer help.

Many people around us are homeless. Some will escape from the poverty they experience. Some will disappear to the streets for the long-term, to a shorter lifespan, to a prison of the elements—too cold, too hot, too wet.

We may not single-handedly be able to help them out of homelessness the way Anne helped the couple she encountered. But we can bring them encouragement. We can be a light along their way.

Every homeless person is a prodigal or a wounded traveler. Each one is our neighbor. Individuals can help. The church, acting as a local congregation and in union with others, can offer the companionship and community the homeless need to give them a chance to escape the net of poverty.

Portions of this article are excerpted from Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord.

Photo Credit: Kevin Schmid, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Lie of Doing Wrong to Do Right

“[T]his is the great Western idea: the proper route forward for the redemption of the individual and for mankind as a whole is as a consequence of the redemption of each individual.” Jordan Peterson

In The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn writes that, in classical works, villains “recognize themselves as evildoers, and they know their souls are black.”

Real people aren’t that honest, even within ourselves. We work to convince the innermost part of our being that, even if we’re doing something others would consider wrong, we’re doing it for a good reason, so that makes it right.

“[T]o do evil,” Solzhenitsyn says, “a human being must first of all believe that what he is doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law.”

Solzhenitsyn dates himself with his mention of natural law–a concept now lost to America–to most of the West. (See Robert Bork.) But Solzhenitsyn was writing in the 1950s about great and obvious evil–the oppression of millions in the Soviet gulag system. And in that day, most still embrace the concept of natural law–of an innate human understanding of right and wrong.

We can credit the existence of natural law with producing the classical villains, the Iagos of Shakespeare, the Bill Sykeses of Dickens, and the Jokers and Riddlers of more modern times. Their authors/creators couldn’t conceive of them not acknowledging their evil.

In reality, clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson asserts, as we prepare to do wrong, we either heed or ignore an inner sense that what we are conceiving is wrong.

Peterson has evaluated why we ignore that small voice inside ourselves and has come to a conclusion he believes is universal: We know what’s right, what’s wrong. But we have the capability to convince ourselves that what is wrong can become right.

He warns that we engage in a “very, very dangerous supposition” when we assume that we would choose differently from the way others have in the past. When we assume we wouldn’t kill millions, that we could handle power correctly. That we can do evil but avoid replicating results the past produced when others decided to do evil.

Peterson says, “I came to believe that the problem was as Solzhenitsyn said . . . that the line between good and evil runs down every human heart.”

Any one of us can and will choose wrong–grave evil–unless we guard against it.

Peterson: “[T]he way to stop such things from happening, to remember [them] properly, is to understand that you could do it, that you could do those terrible things because the people who did them were like you.”

In order to avoid doing the evil we are all capable of we must stop telling “yourself lies you don’t believe in.”

Redemption, for Peterson, occurs through “adherence to the truth and courage in the face of being.”

Peterson won’t talk publicly about his beliefs about God. Perhaps those beliefs are still fluid, still taking shape.

Sometimes people come to a moral code for good through God. Sometimes they come to God by recognizing a moral code and our propensity to violate it.

Redemption comes through truth. Christ is truth.

But we can never come to truth by lying to ourselves about who we are and what is good. We can only come to truth by acknowledging the truth about ourselves.

We need to listen to the still small voice that only speaks truth.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Restoring the Ruins

“‘The West’ . . . was born from the telling of one sacred story — a garden, an apple, a fall, a redemption — which shaped every aspect of life: the organisation of the working week; the cycle of annual feast and rest days; the payment of taxes; the moral duties of individuals; the attitude to neighbours and strangers; the obligations of charity; the structure of families; and most of all, the wide picture of the universe — its structure and meaning, and our place within it.

The West, in short, was Christendom. But Christendom died. If you live in the West now, you are living among its ruins. Many of them are still beautiful — intact cathedrals, Bach concertos — but they are ruins nonetheless. And when an old culture built around a sacred order dies, there will be lasting upheaval at every level of society, from the level of politics to the level of the soul. The shape of everything — family, work, moral attitudes, the very existence of morals at all, notions of good and evil, sexual mores, perspectives on everything from money to rest to work to nature to the body to kin to duty — all of it will be up for grabs. Welcome to 2021.” Paul Kingsnorth~

It might be hard to find a portion of work that better sums up our part of the world at this place in time than the above two paragraphs. Kingsnorth hits a bullseye as he sums up what the West was, and what we are today.

We wonder how we got here, how we got here so fast, but the decline was subtle and slow. From my childhood, I remember dressing a certain way for church or school, having no trouble finding movies that reinforced the ideas of good and evil, watching evening newscasts that rejected ugly, slanted, or illogical discourse, hearing political commentary capable of reaching an audience of broad perspectives. Our milk cartons advised us to attend our church or synagogue this weekend.

We point to moments. It was that election. It was this event. But the starting point of decline is impossible to pinpoint. History moves from moment to moment as we plan what’s for dinner, what to do on Saturday evening, and where to go on vacation next summer.

Yet, here we are among the ruins of our previously Christian culture.

Where to begin to rebuild?

We begin by feeding souls.

The Gospel is the obvious place to start. But the foundations that once helped Americans easily comprehend God’s truth have crumbled away. That bridge needs rebuilding, restoring.

To begin that rebuilding, churches and individuals can help families, single parents, kids struggling to find their way, perhaps with no one showing them a functional way forward.

That way requires some training–us showing others how to do things. I don’t mean an education that leads to specific employment later on. But learning leading to a satisfying life of doing, of action.

Cultivating relationships, developing skills like cooking, playing a sport or a musical instrument–work of a sort that someone can point to and say: “I can do that.”

Some people can’t say that very often today. Being able to say that is important.

And what can we do to enhance literacy around us? And why does literacy matter?

John Wesley opined that “A reading people will always be a knowing people.” Henry Peter Brougham said, “Education makes people easy to lead but difficult to drive.”

Knowing where we’ve come from helps us understand where our place and time will lead us. The past shows us how we got to our place today and how to get to a new place, a better one.

What can we do?

We can ask God to show us whom we can help, who wants to learn, who is searching for help. His answer may call me to help a neighbor and you to volunteer. He may call us both to donate books to a ministry that reaches out to those in need of soul-feeding–to donate food–to feed soul and body.

It’s up to us to show people “the wide picture of the universe — its structure and meaning, and our place within it.”

Civilizations build bridges–and rebuild them–one stone at a time.

Where will you place your piece of rock to rebuild the ruins around us?

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Until Unity–Drawing the Church Together

“When love is shallow, all it takes is something as trivial as a disagreement to divide us.” Francis Chan, Until Unity~

Christian accord–another word for unity–is something my heart has pursued for years. Now Francis Chan writes from his heart about the necessity for Christians to set aside our differences and move forward as the one Church Christ prayed we would be in John 17.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me,” John 17: 22-23.

But that hasn’t happened. Instead, over the years, centuries even, we have continued to divide ourselves over our interpretations of scripture.

Too often, we point to others as the problem. Maybe, Chan points out in his new book, the problem is us.

“In many ways, we have lost a sense of the true holiness of God, and that has caused pride to grow and fester in the church. Everyone seems to start out with the assumption that his or her opinion of God is right, rather than recognizing that all of us have an incomplete, flawed knowledge of God.”

Scripture permeates Chan’s text. He supports his assertions with God’s Word at every turn.

And Chan is stalwart in his devotion to essential Christian doctrine. He does not promote a false, Kumbaya awakening where we discard the basic tenets of faith for a superficial connection to nominal “believers”.

I recommend a great many books in this space. But this book presents, more than an intriguing read. As Chan points out unity is crucial to the future of the Church–and the eternity of many currently outside the Church.

Christ prays for us to be one “so the world may know.”

For us, unity is “not optional.”

Read this book.

Pray for unity among Christians. Love other Christians who are faithful followers even if they aren’t of your tradition.

Turning our corner of the world around may just be that simple.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Love or Lust

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, August 28, 2021~

Covenant: “a formal agreement or contract, between God and humans or between two human parties to do or refrain from doing something. Sometimes only one party was responsible to carry out the terms (a unilateral covenant, which was essentially a promise). At other times both parties had terms to carry out (a bilateral covenant).”

Commodify: “to turn (something, such as an intrinsic value or a work of art) into a commodity–a good interchangeable with other goods.”

We were unhappy with our cell phone carrier. The pricing was erratic, sometimes shocking. “Customer service” was a frustrating, time-sucking vortex.

When our contract was up, we jumped.

We’d ended the relationship with a business that didn’t seem so interested in serving our needs. We found a business that would serve us better. Much better.

So we begin and end business relationships.

And so, as Dr. Tim Keller explains, do we often treat our romantic interactions today, making them more accurate reflections of business dealings rather than lifetime commitments.

In his sermon/podcast “Love and Lust,” he draws a distinction between the virtue of love as seen in covenant relationships, and the vice of lust, manifested in a business-like approach to romance.

Committed love is a covenant relationship. “Sex is supposed to be a symbol of what you’ve done with your life,” Keller says, that you have fully committed to another person, way beyond a physical relationship.

“You must not do with your body what you’re not willing to do with your whole life.” The language sounds limiting, binding. It is. Yet living love this way provides amazing benefits.

“In a covenant, when you have made a promise, sex becomes like a sacrament . . . . an external, visible sign of an invisible reality. . . . That’s why it’s so meaningful. “

In this way, sex reflects the intimate love God has for our souls.

“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.” (Ezekiel 16:8, ESV).

Covenant, Keller says, provides a “zone of safety where you can be yourself.”

Covenant produces deeper feelings. “When you are committed to a person in spite of your feelings, deeper feelings grow,” Keller says. As in parenthood, covenant marriage requires giving without regard to receiving, thereby producing “a deeper, richer kind of feeling.”

“Covenantal relationships bring freedom.” He references Kierkegaard who claimed non-covenantal relationships make us slaves. Commitment brings freedom. Freedom from commitment is oppressive. That can seem counter-intuitive in these days, but it’s true.

Lust, however, is a transaction. Sex outside of marriage is “marketing.” Marketing is anything but meaningful.

Keller says couples who live together outside of marriage are trying to figure out “whether this person is good enough to marry or whether I can do better . . . It’s not trusting. It’s not resting. It’s not giving.”

People who live together before marriage are learning how to live together as consumers.

As we’ve moved further down the highway of consumer/transactional sex, we see the results of sexual self-seeking instead of sexual (and otherwise) self-giving.

Our culture has almost completely abandoned any sign of covenantal love. We are becoming a strictly commodified society. Therefore, fewer are buying into marriage.

Edward Davies in “Forget Race or Class, Marriage is the Big Social Divide,” writes that marriage rates in the UK have “been steadily collapsing since the 1970s. Not just declining but falling off a cliff. Even at the height of the second world war, (sic) one of its previous lowest points, the male marriage rate was almost triple what it is today.”

America’s rates show a big drop too.

Link for graph

As my mother so aptly put it many years ago: “Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?”

Especially when the metaphorical cow you’re renting is trying harder to close the deal.

Many of us have been that metaphor. We sold ourselves short.

In the meantime, many have turned to pornography, primarily men, but women too. Porn is an enormous form of commodification, second only to prostitution.

Keller says pornography is “so focused on yourself, you don’t even have another person. . . . [It] is everything the Bible says is not what sex is supposed to be.” He says porn affects all our relationships, porn influences social aspects from fashion choices to marriage rates, asserting that the drop in American marriage rates is largely due to porn.

Keller quotes Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker’s book Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying:

“People who use pornography have crushingly unrealistic expectations regarding physical appearance and sexual performance. . . .

“A significant number of male porn users experience a diminished tolerance for the difficulties of real relationships . . . shrink[ing] the marriage pool for women. . . .”

Pornography is “why the number of people getting married is going down.”

That’s easy to see. But fashion trends?

Regnerus and Uecker assert that “All women . . . are increasingly being forced to accommodate sexual behaviors and their appearances to the images and style of pornography.”

The fashion industry influenced by porn? That seems far-fetched.

But Andi Zeisler agrees with Keller, and Regnerus and Uecker. “Porn is now not only represented in, but an indelible part of, everything from high culture to fashion magazines to college curricula,” she writes.

The discussion comes full circle when Zeisler references Naomi Wolf who predicted nearly two decades ago that “far from turning men into the raving, sex-mad predators that anti-porn crusaders . . . once warned against, [porn] is turning them off of regular, nondigital women.”

Marriage rates support Wolf’s thesis. But not all porn watchers are rejecting sex with a partner altogether.

Ponder this: Rod Dreher’s citation of The Telegraph: “A GP [general practitioner physician] let’s call her Sue, said: ‘I’m afraid things are much worse than people suspect.’ In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries [caused by frequent deviant sex] . . . not, as Sue found out, because she wanted to, or because she enjoyed it – on the contrary – but because a boy expected her to. “I’ll spare you the gruesome details,” said Sue, [I will too.] “but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that.”

What else is porn doing to women and girls?

We imagine the stereotypical porn user as a man sitting in his basement (perhaps his mother’s) in the dark in front of a flickering screen (his phone or computer). He is glassy-eyed and probably unemployed.

But Zeisler cites Adella O’Neal, publicist for Digital Playground, pointing out that “in 2000 roughly 9 percent of the company’s consumers were women; four years later, that figure . . . bloomed to 53 percent.”

Fox News reports: “Women aren’t excluded from this heavy porn-watching either. Pornhub released information in 2017 that revealed women spending more time watching porn than men, reports anti-porn advocacy group Fight the New Drug. Women were also more likely to search for harder versions of porn than men.”

That may be how we moved from the idea that porn exploits and victimizes women to the emerging notion that sex work empowers them.

Sadly many in the Church have been drinking the poison too.

Fox News continues: Covenant Eyes [a porn addiction recovery organization]” reports that “64 percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women report watching porn at least once a month.” Take note: Christians.

Porn gives us a distorted view of ourselves and others. And this distorted vision is downloaded into the minds of a majority of Christian men and a significant percentage of Christian women–at least monthly–often daily.

Also this from Dreher: “At a conservative Christian college not long ago, a campus minister told me that every single young man he works with, helping them to prepare for seminary after graduation, is addicted to pornography (meaning that they use it compulsively, and find it impossible to stop, even though they want to). Sixteen young men — conservative, churchgoing men who want to serve God and others as pastors — caught in that trap.”

In Pure Desire: How One Man’s Triumph Can Help Others Break Free from Sexual Temptation, Ted Roberts writes: “Sexual addiction is not just a struggle over a mental perspective; it touches God’s very image, as well as the depths of a man’s soul.”

Here’s an ironic reality. Psychology Today quotes a scholarly study that shows porn use actually lessens sexual satisfaction rather than enhancing it.

“Notably, under no circumstances was pornography use associated with greater sexual satisfaction. These findings, while correlational, suggest that even infrequent use of pornography has negative effects on sexual satisfaction.”

Satan’s counterfeits never match up to what God intended in giving humans the gift of sex.

Where is hope for us?

As mentioned above, Covenant Eyes is a good place to start.

But first, we must recognize the problem. And it’s much more pervasive than we want to think it is.

It’s a heart issue.

We want what we want. We’ve bought so far into materialism and pleasure that we have lost sight of who we are. Of who every other person is.

Each one, imago Dei, the image of God. Each one, His poiema, God’s masterpiece.

Every one.

The child in the womb. The person on the street, homeless, alone, and hungry. The woman on the screen.

And everyone who sits on the other side of the screen.

No one is ever a commodity.

From Ted Roberts: “Numerous authors have written books concerning the clinical aspects of sexual addictions, and even more books call for believers to seek holiness. But our [ministry’s] ultimate focus is more specific . . . . [We want to] persuade the Church to become a place of hope and healing rather than of shame for those fighting sexual battles. .

“We need ruthless honesty that exceeds our comfort zones and pursues God’s heart, no matter the cost.”

Individuals and ministries need to pursue God’s heart. Such pursuit comes with a great cost.

The cost of ignoring this issue is much greater.

“Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body,” I Corinthians 6: 18-20.

Photo Credit: Ben White, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

From Appalachia to the Seat of Government?

“Whatever talents I have, I almost squandered until a handful of loving people rescued me.” J.D. Vance~

He has become the voice of an unheard America. A part of America that has lost the American Dream. The dream that, if you work hard, you can make a good life.

J.D. Vance grew up in Rust Belt, USA. His grandparents had migrated from Kentucky to Ohio–but never escaped their hillbilly roots–until Vance graduated from Yale Law School.

Yet he doesn’t seek to disassociate himself from his forebears. He carries with him lessons they taught.

His journey to Yale is remarkable. But many of his peers remain in Appalachia living unremarkable lives. Their dreams are not remarkable. They have lost hope.

Many analysts blame the economic downturn for this lack of hope. But as with every sociological phenomenon, there are many factors. 

The economic downturn coincided with the sexual revolution, which coincided with a freer availability of drugs–marijuana, heroin, crack, then opioids.

The Soma of Huxley’s The Brave New World became reality for too many.

There are not only few good jobs, there are also few fathers–fewer male influences to pass down a concept of hard work and traditional manhood. And since the military draft ended, few young men enlist. Few learn, as Vance did in the Marines, what their true capabilities are.

Vance points out that there is “a lack of agency”–“too many young men immune to hard work.”

Small-town America changed too. Gone are the locally-owned mom-and-pop stores. Those places where everyone knew your name.

But there is always someone who does know your name–or at least someone who can find it out.

What made the difference for Vance? A handful of loving people–a few who cared. There were his grandparents; one was an alcoholic. They divorced, but never severed themselves from each other or the rest of the family. While Vance had a series of father figures, his own father was largely absent.

But his father took him to church–at least briefly. And his grandparents pushed him to work hard.

And the Marines made sure he knew how to balance a checkbook. How to buy a car. How to choose healthy food. How he could go to college. Basically, they taught him how to function in life. How to move beyond his limited background.

He navigated the Marines; he accelerated through college; he realized low-income people get a tuition break at Yale Law. He dreamed big; he applied.

And he worked hard. Teachers encouraged him. He met a girl.

She was the one he called once when he needed an answer fast. He was attending a high-stakes dinner where prestigious law firms sorted through prospective associates at Yale.

From the men’s room, he asked her what to do with so many forks beside his dinner plate. She gave him a quick lesson on how to work through his place setting.

That’s something you don’t learn in a typical household in Appalachia.

But in other ways, he was smarter than his Yale peers.

He and some friends went out to dinner. He and another student from a modest background were appalled at how their group had left the table. Vance knew what it was like to clean up after people who were careless and sloppy. Some never fathom what it’s like to do a dirty job.

The elite students grew up knowing they would go to college. They assumed success in the world. They learned how to fit in with other elite crowds. They knew which fork to use. They had table manners.

Vance and his friend helped clean up the table. They had courtesy.

Now Vance is a latecomer to a crowded Ohio US Senate Republican primary race for 2022. It remains to be seen whether his quest to bring the American Dream back to Appalachia will bear electoral fruit.

Ohio may or may not elect Vance. Our nation’s future doesn’t hang in the balance of primary election results. Perhaps it doesn’t depend as much on those who will choose between a life of dependence on feel-good life-numbing strategies or rising above these standstill ways to reach to fulfill their potential.

J.D. Vance blazed a trail of success and kindness.

But let’s remember that loving people helped him along that trail. Perhaps our nation’s future depends on them.

On us, if we are willing.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Freeing Our Children for Excellence

“What’s always struck me about Huxley’s novel [The Brave New World] is that, even amid all this license, the savvier characters still recognize that they aren’t in fact free. Bernard Marx at one point refers to himself as “enslaved by my conditioning,” while the Savage contrasts “freedom” with the World State’s enforced “comfort.” This is the first thing to understand about what we’re doing to our children today: it isn’t liberty so much as the opposite. Huxley’s point is that even liberation can become subjugating if it’s turned into ideology and inflicted upon the young,” Matt Purple~

I remember sitting in a classroom in 1993 for parent-teacher conferences for my then-12th grade daughter. The class was health. I was the parent. The teacher was a woman who’d grown up down the street from my childhood home. We had played with our Barbie dolls together. Now we sat on opposite sides of a desk.

My daughter had told me that this teacher had the class line up, each student holding a placard with the name of a male body part. The supposed goal was to get the students to learn the correct order of placement for male sex organs. The class was co-ed.

An unintended (or not) result of such a classroom activity would be a diminishing of natural self-consciousness among the students, a self-consciousness I would argue is God-given and protective.

Twenty-eight years later, sex education in many districts occurs earlier and is often more graphic than placards with words for male body parts lettered on them.

Now we must ask why some people are working so hard to make sure children (now much younger than my daughter was then) understand all there is to understand about sex, sexuality, and sexual identity while others have ceased to ensure that said children can read, write, and calculate at a functioning level or beyond.

Sharon Slater, co-founder and president of advocacy group Family Watch International, [explains the] ‘harmful elements’ in the United Nations-developed, U.S. government-sponsored Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), including its graphic, pleasure-focused approach toward teaching children about sexual behavior.

“’The publication, ‘It’s Perfectly Normal,’ . . . is in many libraries and school libraries across the United States. [At least one state mandates CSE for classroom use.] It’s very graphic with depictions of children engaging in . . . various sexual acts,’ said Slater.”

Soak that in–children depicted in sex acts. Drawn images, we presume. Otherwise, how would it differ from the kind of pornography explained on our newspaper’s front page last week informing us that the guy who possessed it is now in jail?

And we must note the reference to “pleasure-focused.” Be sure to dust off your copy of Huxley’s The Brave New World, referenced above by Matt Purple. Huxley presents a culture steeped in–and controlled by–pleasure. Oppression through excess of pleasure.

As Purple points out, we have to ask how we got from #metoo to this stuff.

And again, why?

But now to the part most of us assume is the purpose of schools–education, which again, most of us assume is largely comprised of reading, writing, and math. We must be careful not to assume what has previously seemed reasonable to assume.

The state of Oregon is suspending reading, writing, and mathematics requirements for graduating students for at least the next three years.

Perhaps some sort of pleasure indicator will replace the academic requirements.

Maybe other states will follow Oregon’s lead. Even as America continues our decades’ long inquiry into why Johnny still can’t read.

Many dissatisfied parents are moving their children out of such classrooms. As record numbers of families become homeschoolers, private schools are also seeing big enrollment increases.

Newcomers to homeschooling have perhaps found during COVID shutdowns that teaching their own children is positive, effective, doable, and within their control.

Many pilgrims to private schools may just be looking for in-person learning as some shutdowns continue. But Kerry McDonald writes that the “trend [of increasing private enrollment] is likely to continue” when (and if) the COVID crisis abates.

It might be fair for us to conclude that some parents are moving children to new educational environments to enable them to pursue excellence instead of pleasure, to enable them to receive a traditional education of reading, writing, math, etc. Et cetera encompassing science, history, and the arts rather than the simple pursuit of pleasure. These parents know the journey to excellence is not always fun-filled. And it doesn’t happen by accident.

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny,” (Aristotle).

Some in modernity have figured that out too. Even in decadent Hollywood.

The recent anniversary of the death of actor Robin Williams brings to mind his portrayal of an English teacher at a boys’ prep school in Dead Poets’ Society (1989). Williams’ Mr. Keating wanted his students to seize the day–to make sure they didn’t let life slip by without pursuing great dreams.

Such dreams do not come true through hedonism–a devotion to pleasure alone.

“In his immortal performance, Williams gave humanity a great gift of remembering two truths: that we all die, and that the humanities, far from being unserious, drive us toward the serious business of life.” Matthew Becklo.

The serious business of life is the pursuit of full potential, the quest for purpose, the lifelong journey of service to God and people–thereby we find meaning in our lives.

Teaching children that pleasure is the be-all and end-all violates everything education should be.

It sets children up for bondage of all kinds of oppression–public and personal–providing passing good feelings instead of lasting fulfillment. Meaningless pleasure can never be more than a distraction from emptiness. And emptiness is compounded when grown-ups lack literacy and mathematical capability.

The quest for pleasure for its own sake combined with a void of capability creates enslavement as the enslaved one continually seeks more pleasure that provides only more emptiness.

True education fills minds and feeds souls. It recognizes that there is more to each child than a physical body.

Fulfillment comes through a developed character made from challenge and rigor. The work of learning bestows more than knowledge. It instills curiosity and discipline. It enables us to engage in wonder.

Applied thinking, through reading, wordcraft, and calculation, leads children to become people who know when and how to set pleasure aside to reach for a greater good. Only then can they know true pleasure.

Our nation is blessed with many teachers who urge their students toward excellence. Many of them hail from the classrooms of public schools. Not all states and districts have succumbed to the cultural decay of promoting empty pleasure.

Parents must not simply hope for the best. They must not assume all is well in their educational corner of the country.

To assume so is to invite a cost too great and a loss beyond measure. Too many schools ask little or nothing of their students. They promise more than their teachings can ever deliver.

Mr. Keating asks us to reach for more:

“‘[W]hat good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

From a Dog’s View

This article, guest-authored by Boomer, appeared in Honeyguidemag.com. Boomer is enjoying life with his master once again. This post is a look back.

I’ve been in this house for a few seasons now. I’m here temporarily, until my master comes home. They say he is deployed. I don’t know what that means. I pass the time until he returns.

I’ve gotten to know them–he and she–the two humans, parents of my master, who live here with me. They take care of me. And I take care of them.

For example, there was this BIG adventure. It seemed so to them, at least. He said he had plugged up that pipe sticking up out of the basement floor so nothing could crawl into the house. This particular creature of the rodent variety pushed its way in. I found the creature under the stove. And when the man lifted the front of the stove for me, that thing jumped right into my mouth. It surprised me so much I dropped it. I was quicker than it was and made short work of it.

It was all over before she realized what the horrible racket was all about. Good thing, too. She was afraid of the rodent thing. I didn’t understand why, but I was glad to do my job. He figured out which pipe was the problem pretty quickly, and he told her what he would need to buy the next day to fix the problem. She told him Lowe’s wasn’t closing for 15 more minutes. He had plenty of time to fix that problem that day. And that is exactly what happened.

I thought it was a bit silly that she was afraid of something that I could quickly dispatch. He didn’t want her to be afraid either.

I felt good earning my keep and soaking up their admiration for the work I’d done. He said, “Good job, Boomer.” They aren’t just doing my master a favor. They like having me here.

We don’t always understand each other. They’ve caught on to my cues for when I need to go out. We have a nice routine. We are flexible about it when we need to be. They’ve learned where I like to walk–to sniff and to leave my own scent around the territory. They see that my territory goes beyond what they consider theirs. Yet, they set boundaries. I can’t pee on these light up devices some of the neighbors have in their yards. These devices seem fine for depositing my scent, but they say, no. I comply, reluctantly.

For some time, they didn’t understand why I would get up on their bed and lie on his spot right before he got in at night. He was away again last night. So I crawled onto her spot. I waited there for a while as she got ready to sleep. (Takes them forever! Three circles and I’m set!). That’s when she understood. She saw I was warming it up for her, welcoming her to her own place, to her rest time on a cold night. She understands that I am not here just for the food, water, and occasional pats on the head. I want to give back, too. It’s good that I am here—for them and for me. I don’t know how long I’ll stay.

It seems like it’s been a long time since my master put me here. Time. It’s a word like soon. And wait. They keep saying those words. Time seems always to be just ahead of us, but we never catch it. Soon never seems to arrive. Wait never seems to end. It’s been a long time for the humans as well. They want my master to come home, too.

In the meantime, the humans and I get along fine. I’ve made a second home here. I have beds all over the place. The people here think a couple of them are for me. What they call a dog bed sits beside their bed, and there’s a blanket spread out on the floor in the office. I make do with them when I must. There are couches downstairs and beds upstairs. When no one else is around–all of them are mine. But someone new has moved in upstairs to a bed that had been there just for me. They say he is an exchange student. He doesn’t seem to exchange anything. They say he is here to study. Aren’t we all? He says he has two homes. That I understand. My favorite part of any day happens outside. They take me on walks. Sometimes just him or just her. Sometimes both. And now, the new kid comes along in the evenings.

When I walk with her, she carries this big stick. She calls it her walking stick. She uses it to help push herself up the hills. I was afraid of it at first. She’s pretty klutzy – every so often, it slips out of her hand. She doesn’t do it on purpose; she usually does it when I’m not looking. It’s alarming. So far, no one’s gotten hurt. Once, when we were strolling down an otherwise quiet street, this big beast of my own species yelled and screamed–you call it barking–and ran at me. I tried to scurry away, but that darn leash held me back!

Get this! She wasn’t running. She who feared a rodent. She just stood there. I tried to say, “Uh, let’s go,” but she held the stick out–kind of like Charlton Heston pretending to be Moses. Then she yelled back at the beast, “NO!” And the beast stopped! His master came out and got him. They both looked ashamed. I was dumbfounded. I felt as though the Red Sea had, indeed, parted. The rest of that walk was unremarkable.

I’m not afraid of the stick anymore. Well, ok, unless she surprises me, dropping it when I’m not looking (as I said–she’s a klutz). Now, I see its purpose. I had been afraid it was there to hurt me. It’s really there to protect me–and push her up the hill, of course. My human is expected home soon. Maybe he’s at a second home. Maybe he is pondering time and soon and wait and all that is life. Maybe he knows that sometimes people drop sticks when you don’t expect it. You’re afraid, but nothing happens. And when you actually see something worthy of your fear, your Protector stands His ground. Stands between you and the big ugly thing trying to scare you.

You can’t run away, because you wouldn’t understand how the Protector works. Soon you’ll be home where it’s supposed to be safe. Even if you’re with people who drop big sticks and make loud noises, but really take care of you. Soon.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Amos: A Worthy Dramatization and a Great Read

Christopher S. Swan’s dramatic manuscript of Amos is a wonderful opportunity to dive into a fictionalized version of an often overlooked Old Testament book.

As I read, I envisioned what the staging could look like–a dark stage at times, a well-lit one as workers harvest olives on Amos’ farmland.

The play would be well served with a multi-media approach as some scenes would work better with a closer view for the audience than the stage can allow.

Even so, an apt narrator could provide the details and still allow a stage dramatization to bring Amos’ story to life.

Yet, a play isn’t always a work that requires actors, sets, and a stage. This work is a great read too. Swan does a terrific job helping you imagine the action–which at times is very suspenseful.

Amos and God’s angels do battle against bandits and pagan forces determined to keep the newly commissioned prophet from his sacred mission–presenting God’s message to His rebellious people.

But along with literary tension come moments of peace and the simple work that defined most of Amos’ life. Swan provides cultural insights and historical detail in many of these quieter vignettes.

“Next to Amos is Tab, his youngest son at 7-years-old. He watches his father’s every move in silence. Listens to his father breathe as he works.

“Amos reaches down into a shallow wood box next to Tab’s sandaled feet. Pulls out a long cube of animal fat. Sets it on top of the baking powder. The cube of fat melts within seconds, seeping into the ochre powder, thickening it.

“Tab’s eyes widen. He looks back at his father, who lays four more long fat cubes down across the mound of rust-red powder. Tab watches the cubes melt in succession. He smiles at the satisfying sight.”

Swan has crafted engaging characters in Amos, his family, those who help him in his quest to deliver the message God has given him, and those representing evil forces seeking to kill Amos and end his mission.

Whether you’re looking for a good summer read–or an anytime read–or seeking out a drama for your church or group to enact, this work brings scripture alive, often tying New Testament grace to Old Testament storytelling and prophecy.

Amos, by Christopher S. Swan is worth your time and attention.

Photo Credit: From Amos by Christopher S. Swan

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Responding to Your Opposition with Grace and Love

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 7/24/21~

“Even biology tells us that a high degree of habitual well-being is not advantageous to a living organism.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Imagine being in a terrible place. The food is beyond bad. The clothing is inadequate. The weather is unbearably hot in the summer and way below what we in the continental United States consider cold in the winter. The work is hard, menial, and endless.

Then imagine you get to go to a better place. The food is better. You can be warm in the winter. You’re not afraid you’ll die from the bad treatment.

But you find out that, in order to stay there, you have to do things you don’t want to do. You have to help your oppressors spy on your fellow citizens. You have to help them send others to the place that is so bad.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn did not have to imagine this scenario.

After spending years in a Siberian gulag, he went where the Soviet government was doing research. In the 1940s, they wanted Solzhenitsyn to help them develop voice recognition technology. If he didn’t cooperate, they would send him back.

So send me back, he told them.

“Even in the camps, human dignity matters,” says Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Alexander’s son who tells the story of his father’s choosing discomfort over betrayal of his fellows. “We always have choices. Even in the camps. Even where everything is decided for you. What clothes you wear, what food … you’re given, and everything is regimented. There is always the choice to behave with freedom and a sense of dignity.”

Freedom in a gulag? Always. Freedom and dignity everywhere? All the time. Solzhenitsyn is proof that Soviet tyrants overplayed their hand.

“You only have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power—he’s free again.”

And that statement can apply even more deeply to Christians.

Rod Dreher writes: “The Christian life, properly understood, cannot be merely a set of propositions agreed to, but must also be a way of life. And that requires a culture, which is to say, the realization in a material way—in deeds, in language, in song, in drama, in practices, etc.—of the propositions taught by Christianity. To be perfectly clear, at the core of all this is a living spiritual relationship with God, one that cannot be reduced to words, deeds, or beliefs, (emphasis his).

With little fanfare from the mainstream media, the Washington Supreme Court [in 2017] . . . unanimously sided against Barronelle Stutzman, a 71-year-old florist who refused to provide flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

Stutzman battled the legal challenge, which threatened to relieve her of her life’s work and earnings, including her home.

She appealed to the US Supreme Court. A ruling favorable to religious freedom seemed unlikely since the court had already refused to hear an appeal from a New Mexico photographer, also sued for refusing service for a same-sex wedding. These cases are a harbinger of things to come.

Dreher: “Traditional Christians ought to see Barronnelle Stutzman as one canary in the coal mine (and there are many). The State of Washington, the ACLU, and two gay plaintiffs are trying to crush her, financially and otherwise. They may succeed in taking away her livelihood and then bankrupting her. . . . Whatever happens to her, they will not take away her faith and her dignity. She is a rock.”

And Stutzman’s faith has been rock-like. She has consistently reached out to those who oppose her with Christian grace and love.

It’s naive to think that this issue will never land at the doorstep of our churches and private schools.

The SCOTUS ruling legalizing same-sex marriage would seem to reassure churches that in the pulpit religious freedom is secure. But the devil may be found in the details of the local laws that made a florist a civil defendant.

America has reached a point where the primary social imperative is the personal impression of the individual. This impression now trumps all. And it didn’t just begin with same-sex marriage. It’s been going on for quite some time. We have largely looked the other way as moral foundations of life and marriage cracked then crumbled.

Along the way, the Church or at least pieces of it have twisted themselves into pretzel-like contortions trying to—as many might put it—stay relevant.

“50 or 100 years ago, [conservative Christians] were convinced to broaden verses like “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female in Christ” (Galatians 3, Colossians 4) to justify our support of progressive agendas like feminism, while passing over other verses about sexual roles in the church, family, and society (1 Peter 3, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, 1 Timothy 3, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 11…). This led us down a road that converged with the Enlightenment’s view of the individual.” David Goodwin

We stopped asking God what He wants for us and began to ask ourselves what we want. And that became our priority.

We have reached a line we cannot cross and still remain the Church because crossing that line would mean we have become something else, no longer the Church. Crossing the line means becoming a false church with a false gospel. The one that tells you it’s okay to worship yourself.

The one that tells you that you are not here to serve God; He is here to serve you.

Baronnelle Stutzman is here to serve Him. Even if it costs her everything. And perhaps it already has.

On July 6, 2021, the US Supreme Court declined to hear her case.

Stutzman’s lawyer Kristen Waggoner says, “This denial paves the way for Washington State and the ACLU to financially ruin Baronnelle.”

The picture is not optimistic. But we are not without hope.

The world rushes in with its noise and threats of coming persecution. We can set ourselves apart—even in the midst of chaos and decadence. We can be the people of hope who shine light in darkness. But only if we stand in the light against the darkness. And we can know we do not stand alone.

And if we do stand, we may see that the American left has overplayed its hand.

In prison, Solzhenitsyn found he could speak freely. He was already in trouble. What else could they do?

Even later in exile, he spoke. His iron will was forged behind the iron curtain. He was a man whose heart was full and whose character was steel.

He said,You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.”

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Coming War?

My husband and I visited China for the first time in 2005 as English teachers. We would return to teach again in 2011.

During our first visit, I had occasion to watch some afternoon television. As you might find on some channels in America, old movies were the fare of the day.

More than once I’d turn on the television and find the storyline of a Chinese village being invaded by Japanese aggressors during World War II.

A visit to an amusement park provided a similar form of entertainment. Along with rides and fast food, actors depicted the Chinese villagers overcoming Japanese invaders. Stuffed dummies with red paint on them represented the killed Japanese troops.

Little children and accompanying parents took it all in.

Most American schoolchildren don’t learn about Japan’s occupation of China or about the Nanking Massacre in which the Japanese military murdered hundreds of thousands, raping and pillaging along their way.

Japan has never apologized. And China has never forgotten.

America fits into the picture this way. China and America were allies during World War II. China had been in the midst of a civil war between Communists and the Kuomintang when the Japanese invaded. After Japan surrendered, those who were able of the Kuomintang, America’s ally, escaped to Taiwan and claimed Chinese sovereignty there.

After the Communists won the mainland, America became the ally of both Japan and Taiwan. But history made no standstill there.

In southern China, I saw a memorial to the Chinese soldiers who fought Americans in Korea.

In 1989, China acknowledged having sent more than 300,000 troops into Vietnam to fight US troops and the South Vietnamese.

America and China have been on opposite sides for most of a century.

Even so, sixteen years ago in 2005, the countryside welcomed us. People knew we were there to help their children succeed in the world. We’d often receive smiles and hear, “Hello, Meguaren” or “Hello American.”

Six years later we returned. While our students and hosts were beyond gracious, we no longer heard, “Hello Meguaren” on the streets.

What had changed?

A new American Administration was spending money in such a way that it devalued the dollar. The money our government had borrowed from China was coming back to them in dollars worth less than the ones we had received. Our dollars bought half as much as they had six years earlier. The Chinese yuan bought less than it had six years before too.

The Chinese people felt America had cheated them.

And long-festering wounds continue to fester.

In my interactions with Chinese students–there and in the US–I was surprised to understand how deeply many Mainland Chinese young people want to reclaim Taiwan.

In the same way they learned to view Japan as an enemy, they learned and embraced the belief that Taiwan must come home–one way or another.

Curt Mills quotes Gordon Chang who asserts that the Olympics could be part of what spurs war–not the current Olympics in Japan, but the games slated for China next year.

“The risk of a Chinese invasion—India, Taiwan, Japan, whatever—increases after the Beijing Olympics next year,” said Gordon Chang, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute. “The fear of a boycott of the February’s Games, it appears, is one of the few things keeping Xi Jinping in check at the moment. This, of course, is not to say he won’t do something awful before then as he calculates his interests and views the world differently than the rest of us.” 

Since China’s new administration took over in 2013, China has turned up the volume on its claim to Taiwan as well as some parts of Japan.

In a recent media broadcast, the CCP government announced that its promise not to employ “first-use” nuclear weapons was off the table if Japan were to join the US in defending Taiwan, implying the Chinese military intends to play its hand soon.

China has also disputed Japan’s sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands last summer and continues to send fishing boats and military vessels into Japanese waters around the islands. The number of ships increased this year.

The Senkaku Islands are close to Okinawa. One Senkaku island is a mere 250 miles from Okinawa, the US base in Japan, and the islands were previously considered part of the Okinawa Prefecture, clearly recognized as Japan’s according to international law.

War drums are beating on that side of the world. The crackdown in Hong Kong was only the beginning.

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Matthew 24:6~

This rattling of sabers might be the beginning of the end. Or maybe not. No matter. When we hear of wars and rumors of wars, we are not to fear.

We are to pray. To watch. To keep faith.

Lord, keep us faithful to truth and what is right.

Photo Credit: Yu Kato, Unsplash (Chinatown in Yokohama, Japan)

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Hot or Cold? Or Lukewarm?

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth,'” (Revelation 3:15-17, ESV).

In his epic poem The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri placed the lukewarm at the gateway to hell, neither in hell nor in heaven. They are “melancholy souls . . ./Who lived withouten infamy or praise,” (Canto III, 35-36). They, in fact, “never were alive,” (64).

They were, Stephen Smith asserts, “souls who have lost truth, have lost God.” The lukewarm “would not exercise their liberty,” and missed out on life and eternity.

Not following God or Satan, Dante explains, they looked out for themselves alone.

Being outside hell sounds better than being inside, but Dante says such souls “envious are of every other fate,” (III, 48). Their end is worse than all others.

Of course, Dante’s poem is literature, not theology.

For theology, we can look to Francis Chan whose discussion of the lukewarm supports Dante’s placement of the lukewarm to either good or evil outside of heaven.

In Chan’s analysis, the lukewarm act like Christians. They go to church. They give money to good causes. But when what is right conflicts with what is popular, the lukewarm “care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.”

Chan says such lukewarm churchgoers don’t want to be saved from their sin, only from its penalty.

Their “faith” is emotional; they do not live it out with action. Jesus is part of their lives, but not in control of their lives. They structure their lives so they don’t have to live by faith.

In his typical fashion, Chan, as does Dante from seven centuries ago, convicts and calls us to overcome too much comfort, to be real in our faith.

Francis Chan’s new book Until Unity ties our embrace of authentic faith over a lukewarm counterfeit to Christian unity. Steeped in biblical evidence, Chan says “the unsurrendered will always be at odds with the Christ followers, lobbying for their sins to be overlooked and fighting for their own desires in ungodly ways. . . .

“[The lukewarm] find common ground [among themselves] in judging the radicals who dare think Christ calls everyone to deny themselves and pick up crosses. . . . They can even rally together against those who still believe that the commands of Scripture are still valid today.”

We watch this conflict within the Church. It goes on around us daily. It occurs both at high levels and in small congregations.

“[T]here are many people in churches who do not truly follow Jesus, and with them, there can be no unity. It is our responsibility to lovingly confront them and call them higher. But if they remain unchanged, it is never our responsibility to lower the bar in the name of unity,” (emphasis Chan’s).

The lukewarm live among us. Many sleep.

We will not win them by being like them. We must show them Christ. We must love them, but only in truth.

We can be the hot cup of reality in a community drowsy from the lure of the unreal.

And what must overflow from our hot cups are love and truth.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Abortion Survivors: A Small Club

“(Live births) are little known because organized medicine, from fear of public clamor and legal action, treats them more as an embarrassment to be hushed up than a problem to be solved. It’s like turning yourself in to the IRS for an audit. . . .What is there to gain? The tendency is not to report because there are only negative incentives.”~

Willard Cates, M.D., former head of the Centers for Disease Control of the U.S. Public Health Service as quoted in”Abortion: The Dreaded Complication,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2, 1981~

My son had received THE phone call. As a member of the US Army Reserves in 2003, he was to report for deployment to Iraq.

We scrambled around the next day packing and letting family and friends know. Then my husband, my daughter, and I headed with my son to Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he would report.

After a meeting for the troops and family members, we headed to a restaurant where we stood in line waiting to be seated. A man in front of my son turned around to ask him whether he would deploy soon. Upon my son’s “Yes,” the man reached out to shake his hand. As he did so, he placed $20 in my son’s hand and said, “Let me buy your dinner.”

I told my son, “You just joined the biggest fraternity in the world.”

We feel a kinship with people who share, or are about to share, our experiences. We understand how they feel in a way others without that experience cannot.

When Melissa Ohden was born she joined a club of abortion survivors.

They (the media and those in the abortion industry) called such situations the “dreaded complication”–a baby born alive who was supposed to be dead.

Like Melissa, Gianna Jessen was also a survivor. She emerged alive at seven months gestation from a saline abortion–the now outdated procedure in which an abortion doctor injects a salt solution into the amniotic fluid to burn and poison an unborn child to death.

Gianna was born in 1977, the same year Melissa also survived a saline abortion at 31 weeks gestation.

They wouldn’t meet for decades. But Gianna’s story helped Melissa heal from hers.

In her book You Carried Me, Melissa recounts the pain she suffered at learning at age 14 that someone who should have cared for her had intended her death.

Melissa had been “flipping channels on the television” and “stumbled across” an interview Gianna had done. She writes, “I’ll never forget her words: ‘It’s not that I’m mad at my birth mother at all. I forgive her totally for what she did.'”

And Melissa began to understand “If she could feel that way, maybe I could too.”

Melissa’s book tells the story of her quest to find her birth mother. She found great healing in finally learning that the woman who bore her really did want her. Melissa’s grandmother had coerced her 19-year-old daughter Ruth that fateful day in 1977.

Ruth had not desired Melissa’s death. Melissa had been wanted.

Ruth had believed for more than three decades that her child had not survived that day. She had spent the interim “with tremendous guilt and self-loathing because I thought my child had died in the abortion.”

There is much more to Melissa’s story. But such happy-ending accounts may not happen much in the future.

Saline abortions are outdated today because they had a high “failure rate.”

Willard Cates estimated that, in 1981, 400 to 500 abortion live births occur[red] every year in the United States… literally an everyday occurrence.”

Partial birth abortion largely replaced saline abortions. The success rate was 100 percent. When PBA became illegal, fetal dismemberment became the go to procedure.

In the state of New York, it is now legal for abortion doctors to administer lethal injections as part of the abortion process to kill the unborn. Babies like Melissa, like Gianna, like even older babies, who could otherwise survive abortion.

New York’s and Illinois’s expansive abortion laws of 2019 removed protections for born alive infants. Many states have no protections in place.

We understand there are medical emergencies. Sometimes a pregnancy must end early. But late-term babies who need to come early don’t have to be born dead–unless someone wants them dead.

OB/GYN Anthony Levatino, a reformed abortionist, recently testified before a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives: ‘During my time at Albany Medical Center, I managed hundreds of such cases [life of the mother at risk] by ‘terminating’ pregnancies [via live delivery by C-section] to save mothers’ lives. In all those hundreds of cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.’”

Gianna and Melissa are part of a very special club. Both speak out for life–as does Ruth.

According to the CDC, a few children still manage to survive abortion. But “the number is still likely underreported.” Unreported living babies are often left to die–or worse.

“According to research conducted by Family Research Council, only fifteen states provide strong protections for born-alive abortion survivors, and only eight require reporting on infants who survive abortion.” (For a map showing protections or their lack in US states, click here.

At the federal level, bills protecting babies born alive after abortion failed three years in a row from 2019 to 2021.

Babies who survive abortions and receive care join Melissa and Gianna’s small club.

For many women in situations like the 19-year-old Ruth once experienced, the club is not big enough.

Photo Credit: Alex Hockett, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Love, Lust, Porn and the Church

Pornography is “so focused on yourself, you don’t even have another person. . . . [It] is everything the Bible says is not what sex is supposed to be.” Dr. Tim Keller

I remember a college class called science, technology, and society, actually a philosophy class, in which the professor posited that the images we watch on television become more real to us than the reality around us.

He gave as his example the first (the second hadn’t happened yet) Challenger disaster. He talked about how the tragedies we watch on television can affect us more deeply than local events we don’t see.

What we watch on screens affects us more than we know. And what others see influences the world around us more than we realize.

In his sermon/podcast “Love and Lust,” Dr. Timothy Keller explains that porn affects all our relationships. That porn influences social aspects from fashion choices to marriage rates, asserting that the drop in American marriage rates is largely due to porn.

Keller quotes Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker’s book Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying:

“People who use pornography have crushingly unrealistic expectations regarding physical appearance and sexual performance. . . .

“A significant number of male porn users experience a diminished tolerance for the difficulties of real relationships, . . . shrink[ing] the marriage pool for women. . . .”

Pornography is “why the number of people getting married is going down.”

That’s easy to see. But fashion trends?

“All women . . . are increasingly being forced to accommodate sexual behaviors and their appearances to the images and style of pornography.”

The fashion industry influenced by porn? That seems far-fetched.

But Andi Zeisler agrees with Keller, and Regnerus and Uecker. “Porn is now not only represented in, but an indelible part of, everything from high culture to fashion magazines to college curricula,” she writes.

The discussion comes full circle when Zeisler references Naomi Wolf who predicted nearly two decades ago that “far from turning men into the raving, sex-mad predators that anti-porn crusaders . . . once warned against, [porn] is turning them off of regular, nondigital women.” 

Marriage rates support Wolf’s thesis. But not all porn watchers are rejecting sex with a partner altogether.

Ponder this: Rod Dreher’s citation of The Telegraph: “A GP [general practitioner physician] let’s call her Sue, said: ‘I’m afraid things are much worse than people suspect.’ In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries [caused by frequent deviant sex] . . . not, as Sue found out, because she wanted to, or because she enjoyed it – on the contrary – but because a boy expected her to. “I’ll spare you the gruesome details,” said Sue, “but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that.”

What else is porn doing to women and girls?

We imagine the stereotypical porn user as a man sitting in his basement (perhaps his mother’s) in the dark in front of a flickering screen (his phone or computer). He is glassy-eyed and probably unemployed.

But Zeisler cites Adella O’Neal, publicist for Digital Playground, pointing out that “in 2000 roughly 9 percent of the company’s consumers were women; four years later, that figure . . . bloomed to 53 percent.”

Fox News reports: “Women aren’t excluded from this heavy porn-watching either. Pornhub released information in 2017 that revealed women spending more time watching porn than men, reports anti-porn advocacy group Fight the New Drug. Women were also more likely to search for harder versions of porn than men.”

That may be how we moved from the idea that porn exploits and victimizes women to the emerging notion that sex work empowers them.

Sadly many in the Church have been drinking the poison too.

Fox News continues: Covenant Eyes [a porn addiction recovery organization]” reports that “64 percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women report watching porn at least once a month.”

Porn gives us a distorted view of ourselves and others. And this distorted vision is downloaded into the minds of a majority of Christian men and a significant percentage of Christian women–at least monthly–often daily.

Also this from Dreher: “At a conservative Christian college not long ago, a campus minister told me that every single young man he works with, helping them to prepare for seminary after graduation, is addicted to pornography (meaning that they use it compulsively, and find it impossible to stop, even though they want to). Sixteen young men — conservative, churchgoing men who want to serve God and others as pastors — caught in that trap.” 

In Pure Desire: How One Man’s Triumph Can Help Others Break Free from Sexual Temptation, Ted Roberts writes: “Sexual addiction is not just a struggle over a mental perspective; it touches God’s very image, as well as the depths of a man’s soul.”

Here’s an ironic reality. Psychology Today quotes a scholarly study that shows porn use actually lessens sexual satisfaction rather than enhancing it.

“Notably, under no circumstances was pornography use associated with greater sexual satisfaction. These findings, while correlational, suggest that even infrequent use of pornography has negative effects on sexual satisfaction.”

Satan’s counterfeits never match up to what God intended in giving humans the gift of sex.

Where is hope for us?

As mentioned above, Covenant Eyes is a good place to start.

But first, we must recognize the problem. And it’s much more pervasive than we want to think it is.

It’s a heart issue.

We want what we want. We’ve bought so far into materialism and pleasure that we have lost sight of who we are. Of who every other person is.

Each one, imago Dei, the image of God. Each one, His poiema, God’s masterpiece.

Every one.

The child in the womb. The person on the street, homeless, alone, and hungry. The woman on the screen.

And everyone who sits on the other side of the screen.

From Ted Roberts: “Numerous authors have written books concerning the clinical aspects of sexual addictions, and even more books call for believers to seek holiness. But our [ministry’s] ultimate focus is more specific . . . . [We want to] persuade the Church to become a place of hope and healing rather than of shame for those fighting sexual battles. . . .

We need ruthless honesty that exceeds our comfort zones and pursues God’s heart, no matter the cost.”

Individuals and ministries need to pursue God’s heart. Such pursuit comes with a great cost.

The cost of ignoring this issue is much greater.

“Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body,” I Corinthians 6: 18-20.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Updating “Incompatible with Life” Babies

It’s been my most popular post since I began to blog.

How Incompatible Is Incompatible with Life, Really” first appeared on April 1, 2019, and it was no April Fools joke.

The post presented the real-life situations of three families–parents whose doctors encouraged abortion, one whose “caregiver” even demanded it.

Yet, life happened instead.

Mike and Rachael Andrews became Daddy and Mommy to Olenna and Vesper Andrews despite the pleadings of medical personnel to abort Vesper. The pleas of the medical personnel were persistent and presented only bleak possibilities.

The couple decided to exercise faith, not fear, and welcomed two healthy girls who are now 21 months old. The family welcomed a younger sister almost four weeks ago.

Rachael reports that the girls “are doing great!”

Craig and Hannah Sudlow’s pregnancy story is similar–but involved only one child. A doctor demanded the Sudlows abort Evelyn, diagnosed with Trisomy 18–a genetic disorder.

The doctor went so far as to schedule Evelyn’s abortion.

The Sudlows did not comply.

The doctor dropped Hannah from the practice. She spent five weeks seeking medical care.

Evelyn was born with fewer medical disorders than the doctors had predicted–yet still with Trisomy 18.

Nancy Flanders writes for Live Action: “Thanks to doctors who valued Evelyn’s life, she thrived. She became a big sister twice over, she met milestones her parents were told she never would, and she laughed and loved. Though no one could predict how long Evelyn would live or what her future would look like, it was clear that she was happy and that she was well-loved.

Happy and well-loved for three and a half years, Evelyn passed away in April of 2020.

Evelyn’s mother remembers her life, “not for the struggles and challenges, but for the joy and beauty.”

Evelyn Sudlow’s life brought joy and beauty to those who loved her.

A short-sighted person saw himself as an authority to decide life or death. He would have thought the world a better place without Evelyn.

Bella Santorum–like Evelyn Sudlow–has Trisomy 18. Her parents Rick and Karen also received pressure to abort. They know what it’s like to have a doctor tell you that you HAVE TO have an abortion. Like the Sudlow’s, they refused.

On May 13, 2021, Bella Santorum celebrated her 13th birthday.

Her father tweeted: “Our Bella is a miracle, a blessing, a joy, but like all children at times a trial. She is the heart of our family because in her simplicity, fragility and disability she reveals the gift God plants in all his children, His pure love.”

Doctors predicted the deaths of three of these children. They did not expect Vesper Andrews to live to be born.

They did not expect Evelyn or Bella to live beyond a few days after birth.

They did not know what they presumed to know.

Saddest of all is that they could not know the love and joy that comes from loving a child, no matter her state.

Photo: (Olenna and Vesper Andrews), Lakeside Portraits

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Love or Lust: How We’ve Turned Covenant into Commodity

Covenant: “a formal agreement or contract, between God and humans or between two human parties to do or refrain from doing something. Sometimes only one party was responsible to carry out the terms (a unilateral covenant, which was essentially a promise). At other times both parties had terms to carry out (a bilateral covenant).”

Commodify: “to turn (something, such as an intrinsic value or a work of art) into a commodity–a good interchangeable with other goods.”

We were unhappy with our cell phone carrier. The pricing was erratic, sometimes shocking. “Customer service” was a frustrating, time-sucking vortex.

When our contract was up, we jumped.

We’d ended the relationship with a business that didn’t seem so interested in serving our needs. We found a business that would serve us better. Much better.

So we begin and end business relationships.

And so, as Dr. Tim Keller explains, do we often treat our romantic interactions today, making them more accurate reflections of business dealings rather than lifetime commitments.

In his sermon/podcast “Love and Lust,” he draws a distinction between the virtue of love as seen in covenant relationships, and the vice of lust–manifested in a business-like approach to romance.

Committed love is a covenant relationship. “Sex is supposed to be a symbol of what you’ve done with your life,” Keller says–that you have fully committed to another person, way beyond a physical relationship.

“You must not do with your body what you’re not willing to do with your whole life.” The language sounds limiting, binding. It is. Yet living love this way provides amazing benefits.

“In a covenant, when you have made a promise, sex becomes like a sacrament . . . . an external, visible sign of an invisible reality. . . . That’s why it’s so meaningful. “

In this way, sex reflects the intimate love God has for our souls.

“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.” (Ezekiel 16:8, ESV).

Covenant, Keller says, provides a “zone of safety where you can be yourself.”

Covenant produces deeper feelings. “When you are committed to a person in spite of your feelings, deeper feelings grow,” Keller says. As in parenthood, covenant marriage requires giving without regard to receiving, thereby producing “a deeper, richer kind of feeling.”

“Covenantal relationships bring freedom.” He references Kierkegaard who claimed non-covenantal relationships make us slaves. Commitment brings freedom. Freedom from commitment is oppressive. That can seem counter-intuitive in these days, but it’s true.

Lust, however, is a transaction. Sex outside of marriage is “marketing.” Marketing is anything but meaningful.

Keller says couples who live together outside of marriage are trying to figure out “whether this person is good enough to marry or whether I can do better . . . It’s not trusting. It’s not resting. It’s not giving.”

People who live together before marriage are learning how to live together as consumers.

As we’ve moved further down the highway of consumer/transactional sex, we see the results of sexual self-seeking instead of sexual (and otherwise) self-giving.

Our culture has almost completely abandoned any sign of covenantal love. We are becoming a strictly commodified society. Therefore, fewer are buying into marriage.

Edward Davies in “Forget Race or Class, Marriage is the Big Social Divide,” writes that marriage rates in the UK have “been steadily collapsing since the 1970s. Not just declining but falling off a cliff. Even at the height of the second world war, one of its previous lowest points, the male marriage rate was almost triple what it is today.”

America’s rates show a big drop too.

As my mother so aptly put it many years ago: “Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?”

Especially when the metaphorical cow you’re renting is trying harder to close the deal.

Many of us have been that metaphor. We sold ourselves short.

In Western society, we’ve commoditized human beings in more ways than one. Fewer Americans of marriage age are buying. Too many relationships are more like mine was with our cell phone company.

And sadly, more often than not, just as unfulfilling.

This post is part one of a two-part series. (Link to Part Two)

Photo Credit: Unsplash and Zagorsky

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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New PP Video: How to Maximize Payment for Aborted Babies with Living Cells

The Center for Medical Progress has released a new video. When abortion doctors discuss abortions without dig, they mean digitalis, a drug that, if injected into the heart, stops it.

So when they discuss not using dig, they are doing procedures on living children. Note that in many of these cases, they are talking about unborn children at the age of 22 weeks and six days.

And dismemberment means what you think it means. They are dismembering living children.

Center for Medical Progress video

See more at https://www.daviddaleiden.com/work.php

Photo Credit: Freeart.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: The Back Alley on the Island of Dr. Moreau

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinal, 6/26/21~

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for abortion medications to be available via telemedicine.

The new rule is intended to allow girls and women to end a pregnancy of 56 or fewer days from the comfort and privacy of their own homes without having to see a doctor in person.

However, with this new rule, there is no way to ensure–as an in-person physical examination would–that the unborn child is younger than 57 days–or even that the pregnancy is not ectopic (that the child is not stuck in the fallopian tube rather than residing in the uterus–a condition that is potentially deadly for the mother).

Before last month, an estimated 40 percent of American abortions, according to the AP, occurred through the chemical method. Yet the requirement that patients seeking chemical abortions meet with a doctor before obtaining abortion medications ensured that deadly complications (like ectopic pregnancies) and attempts at dangerous, late-term abortions (after 56 days) would be minimized.

Now, they can be maximized.

The rule change will be a boon to the abortion industry in several ways. For every surgical abortion, someone has to remove the child, through suction or manual dismemberment, or stab the child’s heart with a sonogram-guided injection and induce labor so the mother can deliver her dead child.

After a dismemberment abortion, someone must reconstruct the child to ensure that the abortion was complete–that there will be no parts left behind to fuel infection.

Mail order abortion meds prevent trauma to a worker having to deal with the actual killing or disposal of the bodies of dead children. Mailing pills to faceless women is much less traumatic than piercing a heart or reconstructing human body parts. And the industry will need employees with much less training. How hard is it to mail pills? Not very.

Less complex. And less costly for those in the abortion business.

Now girls and women who are aborting at home will perceive that they can escape a problem–and no one else has to know. They’ll perceive this notion because the telemarketer/abortion advisor they spoke with via phone or internet told them so, that the process will be simple, “like a heavy period,” that it won’t be so bad.

One “pro-choice” woman says her experience was “unimaginable,” “indescribable,” “the worst pain I have ever felt. . . . With every cramp I felt my heart race and my blood pressure plummet.” . . . . [She was] “nauseated, dizzy and lightheaded.” She thought she was dying.

Abby Johnson’s chemical abortion experience was similar.

After reading these accounts and understanding that so many abortions happen this way now, we might conclude that these women’s experiences were outside the norm. Yet, the complication rate for chemical abortion is four times that of surgical abortion.

Four times.

And remember, the girl or woman at home will at some point expel a baby. She is likely to see that baby and understand what she perhaps did not fully grasp at the beginning of the process: a baby who was alive and growing within her is now dead.

Other countries are currently conducting studies regarding chemical abortions for second-trimester pregnancies. That means chemical abortion for a four to six month old unborn baby to be born dead at home.

Once achieved, a quest will begin for medication to abort even older unborn children.

“Death and destruction are never satisfied.” Proverbs 27:20a.

Melanie Israel for the Heritage Foundation:

“And I would just caution people … especially if the abortion lobby has their way and abortion pills are available through telemedicine, getting it through mail order, available in retail pharmacies, or even over the counter. That’s what some abortion advocates want, just abortion pills over the counter, no prescription required, no questions asked. Imagine what that would mean in the hands of an abusive partner, a coercive partner, a trafficker.”

Ms. Israel reports that 19 states prohibit telemedicine abortions. But that the restrictions can be “wiped out at any moment” by an edict from the current administration.

In the historic discussion leading to legal abortion in America from conception to birth–the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision–abortion advocates pleaded that abortion be safe, that desperate girls and women gain protection from the butchers of “back alleys.”

Now the back alley is the very homes of these desperate girls and women. The butcher comes as a specter in the form of pills invited in by their unwary victim.

This new rule provides nothing but benefits for the abortion industry. It shifts all of the burdens from the industry to its victims. The babies and the mothers bear all the trauma, all the risk, all the cost.

It’s a cost we will never be able to count. But the cost continues to mount.

With 40 percent of abortions happening chemically, 60 percent still happen surgically. Many of those are late-term abortions. And many late-term abortions involve children born alive. Organs from aborted children, living and dead provide the means for medical “research”.

While experiments on aborted children, many of them still living, are already ongoing in our cities and at universities, they have, until recently, been privately funded.

With the Biden Administration removing limits on experimentation involving unborn children, taxpayers will now be paying for atrocities many of us would call unimaginable.

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Those doing the research say it’s good.

They’ve usurped the place of God–deciding the functions and fates of people whose lives should be beyond their reach.

What’s happening today in America is reminiscent of H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, the fictional account of a man who washes up on the shore of an island where a mad scientist is creating human/animal hybrids–creatures who are part-human, part-animal.

Wells illustrates how animalistic humans can be, how we can be as savage, perhaps more savage than the beasts of the forest.

In today’s reality, researchers are injecting monkey embryos with hESC (human embryonic stem cells) harvested from late-term unborn children, abortion victims. Fully developed, capable of feeling pain. The goal is to produce human organs within the monkeys for transplant.

Such evil, albeit with good intentions, goes deeper than we realize. Petra Wallenmeyer provides some insight:

“People on one side of this issue [favoring such research] argue this practice is necessary for scientific advancement, will benefit vast numbers of people by developing treatments for various diseases, and is ethical because no valuable human is being harmed in this research (emphasis mine). Therefore, federal and/or state funds should be allocated for such research (i.e., through grants or awards).”

Because of the rules change, funds are now available.

But notice the ethical gymnastics involved in justifying this practice. The end result may (or may not) be something good–“a scientific advancement”–to “benefit vast numbers of people.” This assessment dictates that some humans are deserving of beneficial treatment, i.e. the receipt of transplantable organs to be gathered from animal hosts. But for that to happen, others must be deemed not valuable, therefore deserving of dissection and distribution into vials so animal hosts can produce organs for transplant.

With such methodology, scientists have already developed mice with human skin.

While it goes on around us, few are discussing the ramifications of such “work”.

One of the few, Kristen Matthews of Rice University, explains the ethical questions that may arise from this research.

“Should it (the resulting human/animal living being) be regulated as human because it has a significant proportion of human cells in it? Or should it be regulated just as an animal? Or something else?” Matthews said. “At what point are you taking something and using it for organs when it actually is starting to think and have logic?”

Or at what point will it matter if science deems “it” to be a life void of value–whether human or otherwise? And the questions press us to further ask whether any creature labeled an animal might be entitled to greater protection than one labeled human–but considered to be of no “value”.

Science has derailed when some humans are valuable to save and others are only good for spare parts.

In such a world, every person potentially can become someone not of value, available to be sacrificed for the sake of another, more highly esteemed person.

Yet there remain many who will tell us it is all good.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitutes bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes

And clever in their own sight! Isaiah 5: 20-21~

Photo Credits: Quesada/Unsplash and Bruce/Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Consent of the Governed

“Evil is ancient, unchanging, and with us always. The more postmodern the West becomes — affluent, leisured, nursed on moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, and multicultural relativism — the more premodern the evil among us seems to arise in nihilistic response.” Victor Davis Hanson

Conservative commentator Hanson explains that ancient Greek city-states Athens and Sparta were “antithetical powers.”

Their cultures were very different. Athens was a seaport, dependent on trade. Sparta was landlocked, relying on agriculture. Athens’ government was an aristocratic democracy. Sparta’s, more egalitarian.

America is a country with two vastly different cultures. Vying for influence, the liberal cosmopolitan perspective, more concentrated in our cities, stands in contrast to the traditional way of the countryside.

The Athenses of America today wrestle with unrest, high taxes, exploding costs, or to sum it all up, urban decay.

Many of the modern Spartas have high rates of joblessness and drug addiction–in other words, rural decay.

Neither place is a panacea.

But many in the country still pursue traditional values and standards–life, liberty, gun ownership for hunting and self-defense–and don’t want to add the problems of the cities to their list of local challenges.

Among the awake (not woke) in the US are rural Oregonians who recently voted on the county level to ask their state government to move the Oregon border so they may become part of Idaho.

Idaho stands ready to welcome them. Seven Oregon counties, so far, stand ready to go. The Greater Idaho petitioners hope some northern California counties will jump on board also.

It’s a switch on a population shift already happening as people leave states like New York and California for Florida and Texas.

And Idaho.

This effort proposes to move state lines rather than people.

The rural Oregonian effort requires approval from legislators in both states and Congress.

Approval from Oregon’s governing bodies seems unlikely because city cosmopolitans hold control there. They will be reluctant to allow tax dollars to move to another state.

They also hold to an aristocratic view that rejects local rule. This aristocratic view is not a local phenomenon.

For example, the White House recently announced its commitment to “codify Roe“–that is, to legalize abortion from conception through birth everywhere in the US.

To codify will make it a law rather than a court precedent. Roe v. Wade and companion case Doe v. Bolton were the 1973 SCOTUS decisions that eradicated all state laws restricting abortion. States have been codifying Roe as cosmopolitans fear SCOTUS will overturn the cases that established unlimited abortion.

Yet at no point since 1973 have Americans supported unrestricted abortion.

The cosmopolitan goal is to take more laws such as Roe/Doe–those involving other life issues like assisted suicide (legal in places like Oregon, the state of Washington, and DC among others), for example–and pass laws that will uniformly apply across the country.

The Oregon effort pushes back at such uniformity.

America is supposed to operate by the “consent of the governed.” The non-consenting of Oregon have officially called on their leaders to let the people go.

Other regions will follow, regions with less cosmopolitan legislatures, places of the non-consenting.

Southern Virginia is in a similar strait as the Oregonians–with rumblings of readiness to become part of West Virginia but also under cosmopolitan rule.

Pennsylvania, however, whose rural legislative control has only increased in recent elections, has no such departure effort.

Yet.

Many, I would dare to say a majority, of central Pennsylvanians deeply resent the liberalism of Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Will a domino fall and begin a map-redrawing process of departure for rural areas looking to escape city influence?

Or is Oregon already that domino?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

A version of this piece appeared in the Altoona Mirror on June 3, 2021.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Update: The Measure of a Ministry

Almost a year ago, I wrote about a local ministry that has changed many lives.

Because the measure of any ministry is the lives it has changed.

This week marks a milestone for a local effort working to influence young people growing up in dysfunction.

This organization began as an after school outreach to youth.

But some of the kids had no place to go once they turned 18. A case in point:

A boy participated in the after-school ministry The Door. He found food and mentoring there. Because of the encouragement he received, he finished high school and got a job.

When he came home one day, he found his clothes in plastic bags on the front porch.

His success threatened the household where he’d grown up. If he stayed, the family would lose benefits.

He returned to the place that had fed and mentored him into success. The ministry leader Dave Taylor was frustrated to see that no program offered help to someone without addiction or mental health issues.

Dave spent the next few years working to open Lionheart, a home for young men who “age out” of their own families and find themselves with no place to go. Now they have a place.

Lionheart is an 18- to 24-month long program that provides a home, food, training, transportation, and mentoring. High school graduation is required, so kids in the youth ministry can see that they can have independence–if they work for it.

Lionheart teaches young men how to make basic electrical, plumbing, and carpentry repairs–so when they get their own places, they can take care of them.

Lionheart teaches wise use of money through Financial Peace University.

Lionheart teaches interview skills so these men can find work.

And Lionheart helps them save money, shop for cars, find apartments. The ministry gives them the beds they’ve been sleeping on when they go to their new places. They can leave not only with a bed, but also with a dresser, a desk, a toolbox, and up to $7,500 they’ve saved from working.

Now, Lioness, a similar program for young women has two participants. They graduated from high school this week. They go to work next week.

During their 18-24 month stay in the Lioness home, they will learn basic home repair and maintenance just as their Lionheart counterparts do, so, as Taylor puts it, “no one will have to be dependent on a bad relationship.”

HEFT represents the goals of both Lionheart and Lioness ministries. Housing, Employment, Finances, Transportation.

The ministries support the residents with mentoring and transportation to and from work until they can support themselves and provide their own transportation.

Taylor points out that the program costs the ministries $18,000 per year per participant. He compares that to $1.5 million the government pays over the lifetime of a dependent person.

Government welfare programs are designed to support and provide needs for today. But they do little to prepare recipients for tomorrow. There is no government bridge between dependence and independence.

The Door, Lionheart, and now Lioness provide that bridge to self-sufficiency.

The measure of any ministry is the lives it has changed.

Dave Taylor, a lionheart opening doors of opportunity through life-changing service.

TheDoorKids.com

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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Abortion Foisted upon Northern Ireland

When I visited the town of Derry (Londonderry to UK proponents) in Northern Ireland in 2019, I took note of Queen Victoria’s statue in the town’s guildhall.

She was missing her hands and had shrapnel marks all over her.

The tour guide told us that the bomber, an IRA member, got elected to public office upon his release from prison.

The Derry explosion happened in 1972, when the British and Irish were trading bombs and bullets, the former believing they were quelling an insurrection, the latter believing they were fighting to end nearly “500 years of British oppression.”

In 1998, the UK and Irish leaders signed a deal dividing Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ireland would be its own country. Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK but would have the powers of home rule.

In 2018, Ireland voted by referendum to legalize abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, exceptions for late-term abortions are permitted.

Abortion proponents knew they could not win a referendum in Northern Ireland.

So in 2019, the UK took advantage of the breakdown of home rule when Northern Ireland was unable to establish its own government through the parliamentary process.

Despite the agreement allowing Northern Ireland independent rule, the UK Parliament voted to establish legal abortion (and same-sex marriage) in Northern Ireland.

Death won the day when the UK forced abortion upon Northern Ireland, not through a democratic process, but through opportunism.

It is upon such issues that otherwise divided people can unite. Northern Ireland is divided by doctrine and politics but has raised a pro-life effort that calls itself “non-denominational and non-party political.”

And pro-life activists there are pushing back legislatively. Recently, a bill to restrict late-term abortions was successful through two stages of the legislative process in the re-established home rule government. Supporters call it a “first step” toward restoring protections for the unborn.

Should Ireland ever reunite, increasing pro-life activism in Ireland and already established advocacy in Northern Ireland may be enough to end the atrocity of baby-killing throughout the island.

The British over the course of centuries have prevailed in Ireland, but they have not killed the spirit of independence in the Irish.

Forcing undemocratic laws in the North ultimately may weaken British power throughout Ireland to more accurately reflect the handless queen who stands in the Derry guildhall.

Photo Credit: Unsplash, cruisethroughhistory.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

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A Tale of Two Brownstones

Two brownstone church buildings once stood in our downtown, a few blocks from each other.

They had once been vibrant communities.

Both sat empty for years.

Last Sunday, we drove past one as it was in the process of being torn down. Piles of rubble surrounded the facade.

We were on our way to the other–about to reopen, refurbished, restored.

I’d driven past both many times over the years. Sometimes I prayed for the second one. One of my sons-in-law had led renovations of the building’s kitchen when he was earning his Eagle Scout award years before.

More than two decades ago I worked in a nearby town writing for the local newspaper, editing the weekly religion page. I got to know a neighborhood pastor. His heart is one of pure ministry. Four years ago, he founded Center City Church. But the church wasn’t in the center of our city.

Now it is.

This past Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, the brownstone was alive with prayer, praise, and worship. It was the fourth anniversary of the founding of Center City Church. And the celebration of the first Sunday at its new location.

A guest pastor preached. His wife had grown up attending the brownstone. At age 95, he was celebrating 82 years of faith and a lifetime of ministry.

We sat under electric lights another son-in-law installed.

History ambles along. Cities’ skylines shift.

But sometimes history reaches back to grab a thread and hang onto a piece of the past.

Resurrection comes for places too.

Welcome to your new/old place, Center City Church.

Photo Credit: Nancy E. Head, Center City Church, May 23, 2021

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

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HEADlines: To Not Live by Lies: Pessimism or Reality?

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 5/22/2021.

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means. Oscar Wilde~

I often show the movie The Natural in the classroom. And unlike what you might predict a teacher would do, I warn students against reading the book.

Spoiler alert for both: The movie ends happily; the book does not.

Bernard Malamud, author of the book The Natural, was born in Brooklyn, the son of Russian Jewish immigrant parents. He grew up to be an acclaimed American writer. When he attended a premiere of the movie based on his book, he exclaimed, “At last, I’m an American writer.”

His book was the type of fiction Russians, over the ages, had come to expect. In Russia and later the Soviet Union, people, Jews especially, lived under oppression. Those who live under such conditions don’t come to expect a happy ending in their literature or in their lives.

The movie, which revised Roy Hobbs’s story without Malamud’s input, has a happy, even joyful, ending. The book’s pessimism marks Malamud as a Russian writer. The movie’s optimism transformed him into an American one.

“It’s the only movie that’s better than the book,” I’ve told my students.

We all like a happy ending. That, perhaps, explains why I’ve discouraged students from the book. I hold the optimism of America in my heart. America has always been the better place–the place others come to escape oppression, famine, and trials.

But I also live in the real world, so I must accept that I have no guarantee of a happy ending just because of geography.

Some might call me a realist. Others could say I’m a pessimist.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

In his new book Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, Rod Dreher advises that we need to “throw away the crippling nostalgia for the future, especially the habit we Americans, a naturally optimistic people, have of assuming that everything will ultimately work out for the best.”

Many name Rod Dreher among the pessimists of the world, the Eeyores who cannot see good. These critics reject his arguments, claiming “he’s too negative.”

They assume an optimism about America’s future as if it’s a guarantee from God.

Even so, Dreher presents an optimism that begins with the resolve that “Christians must not surrender hope.” The harbingers that testify to coming oppression on the horizon could be delayed, even blocked.

Something positive could turn events around.

Yet, the focus on the book is on what must we do to prepare in case the best-case scenario doesn’t happen?

We can soak in the stories of those who’ve been through persecution and oppression behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Dreher lets them tell their stories throughout his text.

While he assures us that Christians are not obligated to pursue persecution, we are obligated to honor God through it should it come to us.

And his conclusion? Optimism. But of a sort we didn’t expect,

It’s a great irony of history that Christianity thrives best in persecution and seems to die on the vine of comfort and ease.

He presents the family of Vaclav Benda who embraced discomfort–to the point of Vaclav’s imprisonment. The simple refusal to go along, to deny truth, was all it took.

The mother of the family together with her children pursued truth and worked to undermine the oppressors. The poverty resulting from the absence of the family breadwinner, and his inability to work in his field upon his release meant the children wore clothes that weren’t cool.

While the kids didn’t fit in at school, they were part of an effort, one they understood to be important.

“Vaclav Benda taught that the family does not exist for its own purpose but for the service of something beyond itself.”

Today, in freedom, after the passing of their patriarch, the grown Benda children live in faith.

They know what many today do not. Community with purpose gives life meaning. The isolation and purposelessness our society foists upon us are missing in the lives of dissidents. Dissidents share purpose and meaning. They live in community.

And while living in community is often dangerous, it also lends itself toward ministry in a way isolation cannot.

Dreher quotes Pawel Keska who tells the story of one man who “was constantly observed by the secret police, parked right in front of his home. During the severely cold winters, he would bring them hot tea to warm them up. Because they were people . . .”

Dreher’s primary mandate for readers is that we have our spiritual lives in order.

“A time of painful testing, even persecution, is coming. Lukewarm or shallow Christians will not come through with their faith intact. Christians today must dig deep into the Bible and church tradition and teach themselves how and why today’s post-Christian world, with its self-centeredness , its quest for happiness and rejection of sacred order and transcendent values, is a rival religion to authentic Christianity.”

And the book presents an authentic Christianity unlike what we in the comfortable West have lived. He shows us a picture of what our comfort has taken from us.

Joy is not something Christians can conjure. We often experience pleasure and equate it with joy.

And we don’t imagine having joy in a smelly prison where we and those around us regularly undergo torture–even execution.

Dreher quotes George Calciu: “We were in a cell without windows, without air, humid, filthy–yet we had moments of happiness [joy] that we never reached in freedom. I cannot explain it.”

The book is supremely optimistic in revealing God’s faithfulness to his people who remain faithful in Him, sometimes even unto death.

Dreher’s primary call to action for us: We must put our spiritual lives in order. We must resolve to live not by lies.

We begin with ourselves and our families.

“Christians should stop taking family life for granted, instead approaching it in a more thoughtful, disciplined way. We cannot simply live as all other families live, except that we go to church on Sunday.”

We can hold to the truth that God promises His best to those who remain faithful to him no matter what.

We must reject the lie that He has promised us a happy ending in the here and now without any sacrifice on our part.

We can live not by lies.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Biting the Apple of Professional Oppression

Imagine being a post-secondary student for 10 years and accruing a debt of $200,000. Then imagine having to decide whether to continue in the profession you’ve dedicated your life to or leaving it behind to save your conscience.

That is the dilemma many face who are part of the medical profession today.

It’s been ongoing since Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton legalized abortion from conception until birth in 1973.

Let’s remember: there’s a shortage of physicians in the US. And that situation is getting worse. America will need to train more physicians. So far, most states protect the rights of medical personnel to not participate in objectionable procedures such as abortion. But in some cases, that is already changing.

The issues are what you might expect: abortion, euthanasia, and transgender drug treatments and surgery.

Some history: In May of 2019, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule stating that health care workers could not be “compelled to participate in abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide procedures.” But the rule was “vague about other services — such as hormonal and surgical treatments for transgender individuals — that some health professionals may also find objectionable on moral grounds.”

Peter Sullivan quotes Roger Severino, senior fellow and director of HHS Accountability Project at the Ethics & Public Policy Center at the time: “This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life.”

The rule affected not only doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, but also pharmacists who didn’t want to dispense contraceptives (many of which are abortifacients) and morning-after pills (also abortifacients).

Now the conflict has expanded from abortion and euthanasia (in the states where it’s legal) to transgender treatments and surgeries.

Severino again, “[HHS Secretary Xavier] Becerra is threatening to put doctors and hospitals that disagree with current transgender ideology out of business, including those with medical, religious, or moral objections to conducting sex-reassignment surgeries on minors.”

So if you believe that it’s wrong to surgically alter someone, a child in this discussion, with an operation from which there is no return, the government wants to put you “out of business.”

As things stand today, many medical professionals of faith, including those we’ve praised and lauded during the COVID pandemic, are employed in a hostile workplace.

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple, they had no idea how bad their fall would turn out.

Our government has bitten a poison apple, rejecting Hippocrates’ admonition that medical professionals “first, do no harm,” and placing people of conscience between two bad options.

Damaged career or damaged patients? That’s their choice.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

It’s something my mother quoted to me more than once while I was growing up:

“The hand that rocks the cradle/ Is the hand that rules the world.” William Ross Wallace

Maybe not the world, but definitely the nation. And the battle is ongoing for power over who will wield that hand.

Because now the US government wants to gain more control sooner over the cradle.

Mary Szoch of the Family Research Council explains what the current administration’s proposal (which the FRC says will cost $2.5 trillion over the next seven years) will do. The American Families’ Plan, would be “the replacement of parents by a government-approved agency.”

“[The plan is] trying to fix a problem America has with fatherlessness by creating a culture that promotes motherless as well,” Szoch says.

The president’s plan would provide free preschool for 3- to 4-year-olds and lower-cost daycare through “approved” agencies. The plan makes no mention of faith-based organizations.

And while it offers tax credits for most parents putting their children in daycare, it offers no such break for mothers giving up income to care for their own children–thereby saving the government money.

The program would dictate that caregivers earn at least $15 per hour (they currently earn $12.24 on average). And “those with comparable qualifications would receive compensation commensurate with that of kindergarten teachers.”

 Being required to pay such wages in order to continue to offer subsidized care might put most churches already participating in the current program out of the daycare business.

I went back to work in the late 1980s when my two youngest children were of pre-school age. The daycare was subsidized. I paid $5.00 per week for the care of both children. That included their meals.

Even with a pro-rated increase to account for inflation and the passage of time, such care would still qualify as affordable for any employed person–even the single mother I once was.

When government officials propose plans like the current one, they must assume most people aren’t aware that there is already a service in place to address the problem.

And if that program is underfunded, as some assert, why not increase funding instead of creating a new bureaucracy?

What could be the motivation for making a new program where one already exists? And why exclude faith agencies where some workers might even choose to work on a volunteer basis?

The primary question is not so much whether mothers of young children should work. Many have to. It’s a question about how much say these mothers should have over whether the care their children receive while they work will reflect their own values and beliefs.

Ministries offer the best opportunity for parents to seek childcare that will match the message they work to instill in their children.

While our national government proposes to provide care for low- and middle-income families, many headed by single parents, legislators in one state propose to roll back legislation that has resulted in more single-parent families–liberalized divorce laws.

The state of Texas is proposing to end one-sided, no-fault divorce.

State Representative Matt Krause says, “There needs to be some type of due process. There needs to be some kind of mechanism to where that other spouse has a defense.”

In Restoring the Shattered, I wrote:

“Instead of a liberating cure-all the feminists of that day presented, divorce has wreaked havoc on our society. Throughout the decade of the 1970s, no-fault divorce laws swept across most of the country. In their aftermath, divorce rates nearly doubled. . . .

“[In 2006] NOW—which had led the vanguard in promoting lenient divorce legislation and unrestricted abortion for decades—was protesting the liberalization of New York’s divorce statute. At that time, New York was the lone holdout on no-fault divorce. The proposed divorce bill provided a unique opportunity for NOW to partner with the Catholic Church against allowing one spouse to dissolve a marriage unilaterally. Unfortunately, in 2010, New York finally became the fiftieth state to enact a no-fault divorce law.[ii]

“We don’t have to think hard to understand why the Catholic Church opposed no-fault divorce. But for liberal feminists to turn on a foundational plank of their platform is astonishing. Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, a catalyst for the women’s movement, had called marriage a “comfortable concentration camp.” She cheered the passage of the first no-fault law in California in 1970. Twenty-seven years later, Friedan—and NOW—realized that the new laws had harmed women instead of helping them.

“Often, men can use custody of the children as a weapon against women. In a perverse game of mental manipulation, the man will agree to forgo a custody battle if the woman agrees to a smaller financial settlement, leaving the woman torn between seeing her children or supporting her children.

“One study found that only 37 percent of women retained ownership of the family home under no-fault divorce, versus 82 percent under fault divorce. . . .

“Under no-fault divorce laws, women tend to come up short in battles over finances and property, and they are more likely to lose their health insurance coverage. Today, divorce places 22 percent of divorced women in poverty as opposed to 11 percent of divorced men.

“Friedan now admits that feminists ‘made a mistake with no-fault divorce.’”[iii]

We often can’t see the results of public decisions until years later. The results of turning young children over to state-controlled daycare won’t manifest themselves for years.

The results of no-fault divorce are already in.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


[i] New York Times editors, “Is New York Ready for No-Fault Divorce?,” June 15, 2010, https://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/is-new-york-ready-for-no-fault-divorce.

[ii] Ashley McGuire, “The Feminist, Pro-Father, and Pro-Child Case against No-Fault Divorce,” Public Discourse, May 7, 2013, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/05/10031.

[iii] Nicholas Wolfinger, Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages, as cited by Stephanie Chen, “Children of Divorce Vow to Break Cycle, Create Enduring Marriages,” CNN, September 22, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/09/22/divorced.parents.children.marriage/index.html.

Are We Not Human?

While experiments on aborted children, many of them still living, are already ongoing in our cities and at universities, they have, until recently, been privately funded.

With the Biden Administration removing limits on experimentation involving unborn children, taxpayers will now be paying for atrocities many of us would call unimaginable.

Those doing the research say it’s good.

They’ve usurped the place of God–deciding the functions and fates of people whose lives should be beyond their reach.

What’s happening today in America is reminiscent of H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, the fictional account of a man who washes up on the shore of an island where a mad scientist is creating human/animal hybrids–creatures who are part-human, part-animal.

Wells illustrates how animalistic humans can be, how we can be as savage, perhaps more savage than the beasts of the forest.

In today’s reality, researchers are injecting monkey embryos with hESC (human embryonic stem cells) harvested from late-term unborn children, abortion victims. Fully developed, capable of feeling pain. The goal is to produce human organs within the monkeys for transplant.

Such evil, albeit with good intentions, goes deeper than we realize. Petra Wallenmeyer provides some insight:

“People on one side of this issue [favoring such research] argue this practice is necessary for scientific advancement, will benefit vast numbers of people by developing treatments for various diseases, and is ethical because no valuable human is being harmed in this research (emphasis mine). Therefore, federal and/or state funds should be allocated for such research (i.e., through grants or awards).”

Because of the rules change, funds are now available.

But notice the ethical gymnastics involved in justifying this practice. The end result may (or may not) be something good–“a scientific advancement”–to “benefit vast numbers of people.” This assessment dictates that some humans are deserving of beneficial treatment, i.e. the receipt of transplantable organs to be gathered from animal hosts. But for that to happen, others must be deemed not valuable, therefore deserving of dissection and distribution into vials so animal hosts can produce organs for transplant.

With such methodology, scientists have already developed mice with human skin.

While it goes on around us, few are discussing the ramifications of such “work”.

One of the few, Kristen Matthews of Rice University, explains the ethical questions that may arise from this research.

“Should it (the resulting human/animal living being) be regulated as human because it has a significant proportion of human cells in it? Or should it be regulated just as an animal? Or something else?” Matthews said. “At what point are you taking something and using it for organs when it actually is starting to think and have logic?”

Or at what point will it matter if science deems “it” to be a life void of value–whether human or otherwise? And the questions press us to further ask whether any creature labeled an animal might be entitled to greater protection than one labeled human–but considered to be of no “value”.

Science has derailed when some humans are valuable to save and others are only good for spare parts.

In such a world, every person potentially can become someone not of value, available to be sacrificed for the sake of another, more highly esteemed person.

Yet there remain many who will tell us it is all good.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes

And clever in their own sight! Isaiah 5: 20-21~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Headlines: The Loss of True Connection in Our Society

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 4/24/21~

[T]here were times . . . mainly during the . . . harvest, when we would all be together. The men would go early to have the benefit of the cool of the morning. The women would finish their housework and then gather, sometimes bringing dishes already cooked, to lay on a big feed at dinnertime; and then after the dishes were done, they would go out to help in the field or the barn for the rest of the day. . . . This was our membership.” (Hannah Coulter)

Through most of America’s history, people grew up in small towns. They knew each other and helped each other. Most people were part of a community.

Modern people have accused these forebears of sexual division, relegating women to the kitchen. But women worked in the fields too. Men and women grew food and other crops. Often the division of labor meant he worked harder than she did growing the food. And she worked harder than he did to bring to put it on the table. Children grew up learning a good measure of hard work.

It wasn’t about who did what work. It was about making sure the work got done. Everyone had a part to play, a contribution to make, a purpose to serve.

People worked hard, some just to survive–others, to thrive. They grew old, perhaps at a faster rate than we do. They were tired. But they were not lonely.

That was then. This is now.

A teenage girl stands on her back porch breaking glass jars and cutting her own skin. Trying to cut her way “through the hurt down to the core of things.” Trying to end the pain of her heart.

A man sits alone in a cold cell, isolated from those he loves, those who love him.

Ann Voskamp was the girl on the porch suffering the death of her younger sister, which devastated their family.

She was traumatized. Trauma comes different ways.

Natan Sharansky was a man in a cell. He was a Jew in the Soviet Union, a refusenik, a prisoner of the KGB. His jailers hoped to cultivate Stockholm syndrome within him. That happens when a victim connects with his captors. Trust grows. Secrets spill. Injustice finds new prey.

Voskamp had no one to trust with the pain within her. Sharansky fought to stay connected to those he loved and trusted, if only in his heart and mind. He worked hard not to trust the untrustworthy KGB.

There’s an odd irony in saying that Voskamp and Sharansky are not alone.

In 1985, ten percent of Americans were completely alone in their lives–no confidants, no one to count on. By 2009, that number had grown to 25 percent. Stephen Ilardi calls this nation “perilously isolated.” Isolation numbers continued to grow until COVID only made isolation worse.

And it’s not a problem confined to America. In 2014, an EU survey deemed Britain “the loneliness capital of Europe.” And it isn’t a problem just for those who live alone.

Rebecca Harris: “So why are we getting lonelier? Changes in modern society are . . . the cause.

We live in nuclear family units, often living large distances away from our extended family and friends, and our growing reliance on social technology rather than face-to-face interaction is thought to be making us feel more isolated. It means we feel less connected to others and our relationships are becoming more superficial and less rewarding.”

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

More superficial. Less rewarding. Virtual reality gives us virtual connections and produces virtual lives. A virtual life does not contain relationships that can heal our hurts.

We are less real on social media. But sometimes we are too real. We say things to our screens we would never say to someone’s face.

The venom we exuded in the recent election makes us unapproachable to someone smarting from defeat.

If we won, we don’t care. It’s our turn. We build walls against the pain of others. We prove ourselves unworthy of their trust.

If we lost, bitterness can grow inside us. And with it, we build a wall to keep others out. But the wall keeps hurt inside, and we look for ways to let it out.

Voskamp: “Who doesn’t know what it’s like to smile thinly and say you’re fine when you’re not, when you’re almost faint with pain?”

Today, loneliness is an American epidemic. Cigna released a study indicating that most Americans are lonely. We might expect that among the elderly–especially those who live alone–but that isn’t the case. In fact, older people have done the best job of keeping themselves from being isolated.

The loneliest among us are the young.

Cigna says the problem is bigger than social isolation. Cigna is an insurance company. Loneliness is a health problem–as harmful as smoking–making some more prone to heart disease. Loneliness is costly to insurance companies and costly to our society.

And social loss happens in more than dollars. Lonely people are more prone to substance abuse. Loneliness has become a social crisis.

Author of Hannah Coulter, Wendell Berry sums up our problem this way: “We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.”

An exodus back to the farming life, the farming community, doesn’t seem reasonable. Much of the available farmland has been consolidated or subdivided. But there are things we can do.

Many of these things came more easily to farm folks. Working together, eating together. We can do those things too. But we have to be more intentional than they had to be.

We can grow some of our own food. Some of us already grow tomatoes–even in pots–even in apartments. What better way to show the young that food doesn’t originate in a store? What better way to explain the concept of cultivation?

In cultivating plants, we cultivate purpose.

And we can cultivate relationships. A local faith-based organization developed a program where volunteers talk with nursing home residents once or twice a week. The caregivers found that their residents were happier. I would not be surprised to find that the volunteers were too.

For investing in others cultivates our souls.

When we give ourselves, we find meaning and purpose—elements we lost when we changed our way of living.

When we as a society left the farm for the town or the suburbs, we thought we were moving to a better place, an easier life. Ease has shown itself to be a false promise for peace in our hearts.

With purpose and giving, we find that peace. And that is something we can pass along.

“It is not good for the man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Return to the Back Alley

Just last week, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for abortion medications to be available via telemedicine.

The new rule is intended to allow girls and women to end a pregnancy up to the 56th day from the comfort and privacy of their own homes without having to see a doctor in person.

However, with this new rule, there is no way to ensure–as an in-person physical examination would–that the unborn child is younger than 57 days–or even that the pregnancy is not ectopic (that the child is not stuck in the fallopian tube rather than residing in the uterus–a condition that is potentially deadly for the mother).

Before last week, an estimated 40 percent of American abortions, according to the AP, occurred through the chemical method. Yet the requirement that patients seeking drug-induced abortions meet with a doctor before obtaining such medications ensured that deadly complications (like ectopic pregnancies) and attempts at dangerous abortions later in pregnancy (after 56 days) would be minimized.

Now, they can be maximized.

The rule change will be a boon to the abortion industry in several ways. For every surgical abortion, someone has to remove the child, through suction or manual dismemberment, or stab the child’s heart with a sonogram-guided injection and induce labor so the mother can deliver her dead child.

After a dismemberment abortion, someone must reconstruct the child to ensure that the abortion was complete–that there will be no parts left behind to fuel infection.

Mail order abortion meds prevent trauma to a worker having to deal with the actual killing or disposal of the bodies of dead children. Mailing pills to faceless women is much less traumatic than piercing a heart or reconstructing body parts. And the industry will need employees with much less training. How hard is it to mail pills? Not very.

Less complex. And less costly for those in the abortion business.

Now girls and women who are aborting at home will perceive that they can escape a problem–and no one else has to know. They’ll perceive this notion because the telemarketer/abortion advisor they spoke with via phone or internet told them so, that the process will be simple, “like a heavy period,” that it won’t be so bad.

One “pro-choice” woman says her experience was “unimaginable,” “indescribable,” “the worst pain I have ever felt. . . . With every cramp I felt my heart race and my blood pressure plummet.” . . . . She was “nauseated, dizzy and lightheaded.” She thought she was dying.

Abby Johnson’s chemical abortion experience was similar.

After reading these accounts and understanding that so many abortions happen this way now, we might conclude that these women’s experiences were outside the norm. Yet, the complication rate for chemical abortion is four times that of surgical abortion.

Four times.

And remember, the girl or woman at home will at some point expel a baby. She is likely to see that baby and understand what she perhaps did not fully grasp at the beginning of the process: a baby who was alive and growing within her is now dead.

Other countries are currently conducting studies regarding chemical abortions for second-trimester pregnancies. That means chemical abortion for a four to six month old unborn baby to be born dead at home.

Once achieved, a quest will begin for medication to abort even older unborn children.

“Death and destruction are never satisfied. ” Proverbs 27:20a.

Melanie Israel for the Heritage Foundation:

“And I would just caution people … especially if the abortion lobby has their way and abortion pills are available through telemedicine, getting it through mail order, available in retail pharmacies, or even over the counter. That’s what some abortion advocates want, just abortion pills over the counter, no prescription required, no questions asked. Imagine what that would mean in the hands of an abusive partner, a coercive partner, a trafficker.”

Ms. Israel reports that 19 states prohibit telemedicine abortions. But that the restrictions can be “wiped out at any moment” by an edict from the current administration.

In the historic discussion leading to legal abortion in America from conception to birth–the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision–abortion advocates pleaded that abortion be safe, that desperate girls and women gain protection from the butchers of “back alleys.”

Now the back alley is the very homes of these desperate girls and women. The butcher comes as a specter in the form of pills invited in by their unwary victim.

This new rule provides nothing but benefits for the abortion industry. It shifts all of the burdens from the industry to its victims. The babies and the mothers bear all the trauma, all the risk, all the cost.

And it’s a cost we will never be able to count.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Pillar of Iron: A Picture of Our Times?

It’s a book I read when I was about 16. I decided to reread it when I was in my 30s. And at the end of 2020, I determined to make my way through the 700 pages a third time.

Taylor Caldwell’s A Pillar of Iron depicts the life of Cicero–who saved Rome once but was unable to protect the republic from its eventual fall. Cicero wavered between hopelessness for his nation and wonder about the Jewish prophesy of the coming Messiah.

Caldwell presents a pessimistic prediction of the inevitable descent of all republics into democracy, more accurately, mobocracy, the oppressive manipulation of the crowd to garner power for the greedy.

Her views are consistently conservative, a bit less compassionate than those of G.W. Bush in 2000, with Cicero’s acknowledgment that some within the mobs had reason to protest. And, as with many predictors of history, (see also Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto) Caldwell’s accounting of Cicero’s Rome comes more closely to resemble our nation as time goes by.

A blurb on the cover of the 1965 edition (first edition) states, “Were Cicero alive in the America of today, he would be aghast and appalled.”

That’s what she thought in 1965. At the time, we had yet to go through the sexual revolution. JFK had already been assassinated, but we had not yet suffered the riots and other violence, including more assassinations, of the late ’60s. And remember the hyper-inflation and terrorism of the ’70s?

Caldwell’s Cicero is a complex character torn between his love for his childhood friend Julius Caesar and his disdain for Caesar’s quest to be the absolute power broker of Rome. Current readers will find parallels in her mentions of Caesar expanding the courts to ensure rulings would go his way as well as the cancel culture Cicero endured before, during, and after his exile.

An important feature of the book is that Caldwell flew from America to Rome and translated Cicero’s letters (to and from others) and his speeches herself. What she includes from Cicero’s own words is the result of her own work.

Despite her pessimism about our nation’s future, she finishes the work on an optimistic note.

Rome fell into tyranny. But before she shattered, the Messiah would come.

And He remains our hope today.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Broken Trust

[I]f my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14~

Another admired Christian leader has fallen. He wasn’t the first. He won’t be the last–unless the Church makes some big changes soon.

Among those who’ve gone before are abusers accused and proven in the Catholic Church child sex abuse scandal that resounded around the world shortly after our new century began. Every few months, the remains of scandal resurface with fresh accusations.

What happened in the twentieth century, when we were less prone to speak of such things, as well as less apt to be believed, was unparalleled in its magnitude but it was not exclusive to one denomination.

In the 1980s Jim Bakker went to jail for misuse of donated funds. Amid a sex scandal. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He served less than five.

He was, perhaps, an aberration. Not many pastors who start out on a small local television station ever see the material success Bakker saw. Not many get the chance to sin at such a level.

The ministry grew too large too fast, and Bakker forgot that he was to minister, not be ministered to.

Yet there were those we knew we could trust. Billy Graham at the top of the list. In heaven now, he did not topple into scandal, financial or sexual, on earth.

We knew there must be others. Charles Stanley suffered a divorce–apparently not because of impropriety. He continues in the ministry.

Over the years, we would occasionally hear of the pastor who “ran off with” a church secretary or a congregant. They were shameful, but singular incidents. And as far as we could tell, were consensual–except of course, for those left behind.

Then came Bill Hybels’s scandal. He had led the Willow Creek Community Church for more than 40 years. The church grew to seven campuses with 25,000 in weekly attendance in 2015–before accusations took Hybels down.

Finally, Ravi Zacharias. Considered so far beyond reproach that his staff dismissed accusations of a few years ago until Zacharias died of cancer earlier this year. His devices showed the truth. He’d failed to delete “hundreds” of pictures.

But the horror wasn’t just in photos.

The Zacharias scandal is especially insidious. Ravi was said to never travel alone. He boasted about the care he took to protect his marriage vows. About his efforts to be pure.

Now he is accused of a range of offenses from sexting to rape, including the abuse of massage therapists. The term “sexual misconduct” doesn’t cut it.

The RZIM ministry had dismissed the “misconduct” allegations until his death and the discovery of photos on various devices of his. Now they’re apologizing.

I remember a story Zacharias told. A Christian and an atheist were conversing. The atheist could not believe in God since so many Christians misrepresent Christ. The Christian posited a situation in which a good man is robbed of his coat. Someone commits a crime wearing the coat. The good man receives the blame. The atheist admits that the Christian telling the story “wears [Christ’s] coat well.”

Pretending he wore the coat rightly, Zacharias wore it badly. All our sin tarnishes others’ view of Christianity. The “sexual misconduct” in leaders like Hybels and Zacharias tramples the name of Christ itself.

If my people . . . called by my name . . . will . . . turn . . .

We must never again look away when a wolf wears a sheepskin or worse a shepherd’s cloak. And we must do a better job distinguishing wolf from sheep.

We need to ask hard questions.

Is there such a thing as a ministry too big? Too rich? Too influential? A minister too trusted? Or tenured too long?

Is anyone beyond the reach of sin?

Christ founded a small church. Persecution kept the church humble.

Now some are big, famous, and rich.

We are covered in tarnish and worse.

Christ’s name trampled.

As the lost point to and jeer at the man wearing the wrong coat.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

April Fools!

T.S. Eliot tells us that April is the cruelest month. But how can a month with lilacs, forsythia, and a fun holiday be mean?

This day always reminds me of one I lived through during a very rough patch. I was a newly single mother who’d sent my oldest children off to school and didn’t give the silliness of the day a second thought. That is until my phone rang that evening with my breathless friend on the other end.

“Is it true?” she gasped.

“What?”

“Are you having another baby?”

“WHAT?”

Mind you, the youngest of my five children was nine months old. Where in the world did my friend ever get that idea?

It turns out that my ten-year-old daughter told her school friend this bit of news. And the friend reported the shocking news to her mother.

It took us a few more minutes to figure out that the day was April 1.

My daughter, whose world had turned upside down in the previous few months rallied her heart for a bit of humor. She told a story that, because of history, her friends would believe.

And she let the rest of the day pass without saying, “April Fools!”

A heart baptized by fire found a way to make us all laugh.

Seek humor today. You just may brighten someone’s day in a most memorable way.

Photo Credit: Unsplash, Hatice Yardim

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: The Ever-Moving Line

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 3/27/21~

It was interesting to observe. A sociological experiment of sorts. We were at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Our busload of people and several hundred others.

And just two bathrooms.

The driver explained that, because there were so many people and such little in the way of facilities, we were to just get in line together–men and women–and take care of nature’s callings as such.

It was a practical matter–how to move so many people faster. It wasn’t about ideology.

Yes, I was uncomfortable and found the experience unpleasant. But what surprised me most was that the most vocal complaints came from the younger women in our group.

They, of the generation who grew up with the most open views on gender and sexuality since Rome, were beyond uncomfortable. Horrified might be the word they would use. They weren’t prepared for such a change in their social practices.

In his book, The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity, Douglas Murray puts forth his thesis that, just perhaps, Western Civilization is shifting too quickly, too sharply.

That happens, he says, when one side wins a battle–but the war continues.

“Our public life is now dense with people desperate to man the barricades long after the revolution is over,” Murray writes.

For example, America and much of Europe have instituted same-sex marriage. Where else can the new social line go? Yet it keeps moving.

It shifts to a Big Brother effort to get everyone on board. To make us all believe the same thing about same-sex marriage, about white privilege, about the evils of the patriarchy that wields power unjustly, holding women down. Justice never happens because the line to fairness keeps moving.

In such times, it’s rare to find a book that, to mix my metaphors, puts a finger on the pulse of the constantly moving line in a way no other author has. We see the “great crowd derangement,” Douglas Murray describes, but “we do not see the causes.” He shows us the causes.

Murray’s book contains a message that is cogent, urgent–and surprising, considering its source.

The perspective in The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity is distinctly liberal but at the same time very conservative. Douglas Murray is gay. He believes the line has gone too far. And there may not be a way to pull it back.

He is honest about his fear that “We face not just a future of ever-greater atomization, rage and violence, but a future in which the possibility of backlash against all rights advances–including the good ones–grows more likely.”

Murray says, “Our public life is now dense with people desperate to man the barricades long after the revolution is over.”

When the ObergefellSupreme Court decision came down legalizing same-sex marriage, I thought–albeit briefly–they have what they want now. We will stay in this place. We did not. Instead, we saw lawsuits over wedding cakes, photos, and flowers.

What we saw and continue to see, as Murray puts it, is that once the “boot is on the other foot” the victors treat the losers the way the losers once treated the now victors. Murray implicitly makes a case for the Golden Rule and pulls back the curtain on the “gobbledygook” that has filtered into society from liberal academia.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a secular book with more wisdom from someone whose worldview is so vastly different from my own.

In his section on Transgenderism–entitled “Trans”–Murray tells three stories.

One is about a man who had felt uncomfortable in his body since childhood. After serving in the military, marrying, and fathering five children, he divorced his wife and became a woman. Once same-sex marriage became legal in the UK, the now trans woman remarried the former wife.

Formerly James, now Jan, felt “euphoria” post-surgery, and was convinced “I had done the right thing.”

Murray writes that the “four surviving children . . . obviously did not have the easiest time adapting to the change in circumstances, though they seem to have been as adaptive as anyone could be.”

That’s Murray’s best case scenario.

The story he opens the chapter with doesn’t end happily.

Murray tells the story of Nathan, born Nancy. As a young girl, Nancy felt the family favored her brothers. Nancy’s mother admitted she found her infant daughter to be “so ugly” that she never bonded with her.

Nancy eventually underwent surgery to become Nathan. But one year later, disappointment in the results drove the trans man to ask the state for euthanasia. The state complied.

Nathan’s mother said, “Her death does not bother me.”

The story prompts Murrays’ questions: “Are we sure that [trans] exists as a category? And if so, are we certain that attempting to turn somebody physically from one sex to another is always possible? Or even the best way to deal with the conundrum this presents?”

Some may say that Nancy/Nathan’s story is a straw man. A terrible example of family rejection and a striving to do anything to find acceptance–which apparently was not to be had.

Yet Murray has other stories. I’ll summarize one that best supports his thesis that today’s culture is moving too fast on this issue.

“James” was a teen when he discovered the gay/drag queen scene. He shared his sense that he was “in the wrong body” with his doctor at age 18. After three and a half hours–yes, hours–of therapy at age 19, James heard the clinician’s conclusion: “You’re trans.”

He then entered the NHS (British health care system) that would accommodate all his needs, beginning with hormones and culminating in surgery–every need except one that would question the diagnosis of trans.

It was a process that began with James living as a woman for two years. Then came the hormones, next, would come the surgery that would finalize the transformation.

James–no female name provided in Murray’s retelling–would see NHS folks once every six months. During that time, no one questioned–or asked him to question–the diagnosis of trans.

Yet, James himself began to ask questions as a point of no return approached.

One can take opposite-sex hormones only so long before an important effect becomes permanent. If he continued to take these medications, James would be irrevocably infertile.

“[The NHS] had treated him as someone with a condition that needed fixing. But online James sought–and found–contrary points of view. Through alternative media he discovered YouTube stars and others who were questioning the wisdom of his decision, including younger and hipper people than he had expected.”

James also had questions about his faith as a liberal Christian–“Questions of God and design.”

He began to ask, “What I need to do to be content with my body, not change my body.” No one at NHS had encouraged such thought.

The government’s philosophy about transgenderism had moved too fast–in only one direction–for James.

Murray’s voice is an important one for our day. It is a voice of reason calling us to the manned barricades that want to move us to a place of no return–without much consideration of the consequences as we go.

Murray calls us to hear what the changes are doing, not just for the “Jan”‘s who are happy with the results of social change–but for the Jameses who looked beyond the NHS’s quest for a one-size-fits-all solution–for the Nancy/Nathans who found that solution insufficient to fulfill a lifelong search for love and acceptance.

Can we hear Murray in time?

Can we hear the truth of who we are as created humans?

Or are we already too late?

Photo Credit: Jason Leem, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Pioneers Who Light Our Way

I was a high school junior in 1972 when she sat on the stage of our local high school. She wasn’t the speaker for the assembly that day. But she had arranged for the speaker to come.

The speaker was a woman who’d survived the Holocaust. She spoke about how it all began with abortion. It was abortion that devalued human life enough that other ways of killing the perceived-to-be-less-than-us became thinkable, then doable.

Remember, that was 1972. That was before Roe v. Wade (and Doe v. Bolton) legalized abortion in the US until birth.

I don’t remember the name of the speaker on stage. But several years later I would meet the woman who’d recruited the speaker and arranged for the assembly.

And she would become a lifelong friend and mentor.

In 1979, as the mother of two toddlers, I decided to go to the March for Life. I called a phone number within an announcement scrolling across my television screen about buses for the event.

It was the woman who’d sat on that stage when I was a schoolgirl who answered the phone.

She was the mother of eight–the oldest were teens. Her youngest a bit older than my firstborn. She became a kindly sort of aunt to my children.

I still quote her to people. As I was having a minorly uncomfortable medical test recently, I told the technician something my friend first said to me decades ago: “If you eat a frog for breakfast, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Yes, it’s a silly saying. But silly sayings are sometimes a good way to put discomforts and inconveniences into perspective. The best way to discern the inconveniences from actual life problems. The best way to discipline yourself to put the unpleasant task first.

And in such ways, friends give their wisdom to us for us to pass on to others. I’ve repeated the saying to students many times.

When I struggled with my growing family, she encouraged me with her humility. I asked her once how she managed her family, her job as a nurse, and her ministry for life.

She replied, “Well, sometimes not very well.”

As I write, I’ve just come home from a fundraising dinner for our local crisis pregnancy center. My friend was always among the last to leave this yearly event. She was the first to receive an award from the organization for being a champion for life. But I like to think of her as a pioneer. For few trumpeted warnings about what would follow 1972. She was one of the few.

She can no longer attend such gatherings. She’s now widowed and in a home. Because of COVID, I am unable to visit her.

She didn’t live a perfect life. None of us ever does. But I remember the kind spirit, the love, the devotion to truth and right.

Pioneers blaze the trail for those who follow after them. It’s up to us who follow to carry on.

And only hope to do as well.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

More Broken People Broken More

Steven Stayner was seven years old in 1972 when he was kidnapped and held for seven years before escaping with another victim.

The kidnapper had convinced Steven that his parents couldn’t afford to keep him. They didn’t want him anymore. Nobody would be looking for him, the man told the child.

Steven’s kidnapper sexually abused him over the years he held him captive–until Steven entered puberty and became too old to be attractive to the abuser who then sought out and snatched a new child, Timothy White, to fulfill his lusts.

Finally, after years of abuse and the arrival of his presumed replacement, Steven took off with Timothy to save him from the horrors Steven had endured.

The two boys could then be physically safe, but left to deal with the trauma they’d suffered.

How many Stevens and Timothys are out there now?

The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that 20 percent of girls (one out of five) and five percent of boys (one out of 20) are sexually abused in the US. And, like Steven and Timothy, children are most vulnerable between the ages of seven and 14.

So when we consider what happened to those two boys, that there are others suffering today as they did then, and that Steven essentially “aged out” of the abuse he suffered when puberty began, we should pause before we as a country decide to allow medical personnel to prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to children who are confused about their gender. We should more than pause. We should stop fast.

There are children with gender confusion. And there are children who may be convinced into confusion. That these are children should be enough for us to say no to puberty-blockers before adulthood. Young people will not truly know their own minds for some time. And puberty-blocking drugs eventually destroy fertility.

A decision that may be temporary at a younger age produces irreversible effects.

Many children endure Steven’s situation today. Abusers and exploiters can groom, indoctrinate, and intimidate these children into delaying or preventing their own growth and development. We cannot discern between children whose confusion begins within themselves and those whose abusers foist confusion upon them.

Steven’s kidnapper may not have stolen another child if he could have gotten the drugs for Steven that would have kept him physically in childhood–perhaps forever.

If you think that couldn’t happen, that wouldn’t happen, that doesn’t happen, you need to entertain the idea that it IS happening–and right within our own communities.

Mary Szoch from the Family Research Council writes:

“The [recently released] Planned Parenthood annual report also showed that in 2019, there were over 200 Planned Parenthood facilities in 31 states providing services for patients who identify as transgender. As it turns out, Planned Parenthood is the second largest provider of cross-sex hormones. In an interview with Abigail Shrier, a former Planned Parenthood employee described Planned Parenthood prescribing hormones to young clients with almost no examination of their underlying problems and practically no medical oversight.

“Planned Parenthood’s foray into providing cross-sex hormones is not shocking. For years, this organization has rejected basic truths about human beings, putting profits over people daily. During the 100 years of their existence, Planned Parenthood has denied the humanity and the right to life of the unborn child. Now, Planned Parenthood is denying the reality that XX chromosomes make a person a girl and XY chromosomes make a person a boy.”

This is the same Planned Parenthood that has been accused of not reporting child sex abuse and statutory rape–of ignoring the truth about abuse and exploitation–with a great deal of regularity.

Planned Parenthood meets people every day who suffer brokenness. But the huge corporate entity that PP has become is content to sweep the pieces of brokenness under a carpet of pretense. They pretend they are helping. But they enable abuse and exploitation. They help horror continue.

Steven Stayner was a broken young man when he escaped the clutches of his abuser. But before dying in an accident as a young adult, he married and had two children.

Steven Stayner tried to put broken pieces back together.

The Steven Stayners of today will lose a large chunk of their lives–and stay physically broken forever if we don’t stop fast about puberty-blocking hormones for children.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.” Proverbs 31:8, NLT

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Saving Light in the Darkness

“We came from Caladan–a paradise world for our form of life. There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or paradise of the mind–we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life–we went soft, we lost our edge.” Frank Herbert, Dune~

Imagine spending your daylight hours–most of them in an eighteen-inch tunnel shoveling coal out of your space by hand. Your son stands ready to fill a large bin on wheels just outside the small tunnel. You both get paid for production–not time invested.

You also provide the fuel to warm the homes in your community and beyond.

Boys go to school until it’s time to go to the mines. They grow up and raise families. Sons in the mines, daughters in the kitchens–all working to make life better for the next ones coming. That is the story of the Arigna Coal Mine–now a tourist site–in Ireland.

I grew up in a railroad town near the heart of America’s coal country. I remember the strip mines dotting our rolling mountains. Now restored, the mountains appear never to have been mined.

Yet, mining still happens around us. As my husband and I drove across a bridge in town the other day, we saw a long line of rail cars all filled to the brim with coal.

Mining still happens, but it’s no longer a lone man picking and shoveling out a tiny tunnel.

When machines came to Arigna, they had the opposite effect of what we might expect. Today when we consider robotics and technology in the workplace, we calculate how many jobs will go by the wayside as machines replace workers.

When mining found technology, the industry needed more workers to haul the greater bounty out of the mountain. And since production increased, and since the workers earned through production, both jobs and earnings grew.

Yet in Arigna, one thing remained. And it resonates in my heart every time I ponder it.

When we entered the mine–now a large, reinforced tunnel to accommodate tourists rather than miners–there was a picture of Christ. The tour guide–at a government-funded site, mind you–explained that workers prayed as they began their shifts–prayed for safety–and God answered and blessed.

Our guide credited Christ as the “safety officer” of the mine that produced, first iron, then coal for more than 400 years. In 400 years of mining–with no safety agency overseeing operations until the 1980s–only one man died.*

I’ve pondered the faith and devotion of those miners since my visit to Arigna. And I’ve pondered the life of unimaginable (to me) work!

Like us, they were imperfect. They had conflicts with neighbors and petty jealousies.

They had unmet dreams. In the 1960s, they staged a strike that lasted several months.

Yet overall, they seemed to have a kind of satisfaction we lack today. Life was hard but good.

That’s an idea that seems so foreign to us. We do all we can to resist it. We work with the expectation that life will get better and better. And that must also mean easier and more prosperous.

Easier and more prosperous came to the miners of Arigna through technology. But they never took the picture down of the One they believed kept them safe.

Life is hard. It’s easier and more prosperous for some. But there is meaning in difficulty. And the One who watched over the Arigna miners is faithful.

Republished from June 24, 2019.

Photo Credit: RTE Archives, Arigna Mine

*One website asserts that “five or six died” over the years. Another says, “Accidents were few and far between.”

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Understanding History and Letting It Inspire You

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, February 27, 2021

People of the past “understood history. Oral history, but history nonetheless. They revered their past and used it to educate and inspire themselves. In many ways, despite high levels of illiteracy, they were more ‘educated’ than we are today. They knew their world intimately and understood the value of what was before their eyes.” Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish

In Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind, Alan Jacobs tells us about Horace–a political dissident in exile. A friend bestows the gift of a farm on Horace, who, separated from the engagement he enjoyed in Rome, begins to write letters, poetry actually, to advise others–and us.

“Horace exhorts [his reader], exhorts himself, exhorts us, to shift our attention from those compulsions [our fears] toward questions that really and always matter–‘Where is it virtue comes from?’–because even by just exploring those questions, . . . we’re pushing back against the tyranny of everyday anxieties.”

It’s the everyday anxieties, the sense of the urgent, that remove us from the important. The important, virtue, often gets lost in the shuffle of where we need to go. We have tunnel vision as we focus on how to get to the goal, the finished project or the diffused crisis. The tyranny that keeps us plodding ahead as we sense we are standing still.

And when we think of virtue, it strikes us as something else to do—something that can’t fit into our already crammed schedules.

But there is an answer to this tyranny of the urgent that keeps us from the important. Heughan, McTavish, and Jacobs would point us to the past to find answers to the present, to inspire ourselves.

We find answers and inspiration in the writings of the dead.

Many, Jacobs asserts, refuse to look to the past because of a way of thinking that’s emerged in recent times.

“There is an increasing sense not just that the past is sadly in error, is superannuated and irrelevant and full of foul ideas that we’re well rid of, but that it actually defiles us–its presence makes us unclean.”

Jacobs asserts that this sense of defilement results from information overload and the sense that the “world is not only changing but changing faster and faster.” And the solution to our overload is exactly what many perceive is defiling us.

Jacobs is pushing against what the Wall Street Journal calls a “sustained effort” to eliminate Homer and a vast array of rich literature from the past. This from the Journal:

“Their ethos holds that children shouldn’t have to read stories written in anything other than the present-day vernacular—especially those ‘in which racism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are the norm,’ as young-adult novelist Padma Venkatraman writes in School Library Journal. No author is valuable enough to spare, Ms. Venkatraman instructs: ‘Absolving Shakespeare of responsibility by mentioning that he lived at a time when hate-ridden sentiments prevailed, risks sending a subliminal message that academic excellence outweighs hateful rhetoric.’”

It also sends the message that young minds can’t develop to think for themselves, to discern how and why things have changed—or even that they ever changed at all. For if we eliminate the past, and make no mistake, that’s the proposal here, children will grow up only in the now.

Many children are growing up in this now that refuses to look back. Jacobs quotes Tony Tost:

“And at home, the kids only watched kid-centric YouTube channels or superhero or Pixar movies instead of suffering through dad’s weird favorite old movies. So when the kids hit elementary school, they only have ears and eyes for whatever was being marketed to their age group that year. . . Every step of their development they’ve been trapped in the pre-packaged bubble of the new.”

Imagine having little to no context for history, music, film, economics, or politics. And no one to inspire us but ourselves.

As a thirty-something English major in college in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I sometimes found it difficult to navigate texts like ‘The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot. Footnotes provided biographical information about Eliot’s allusions, but not context to enlighten me about his discussion.

I left Penn State with a diploma in hand but feeling that my education had been incomplete because I lacked the classical foundation that would have made references to older and ancient works transparent.

In less than a decade, I would become a teacher in a classical Christian school where Homer was required and history revered. I wished my own children had had that education. I wished I had had it. Yet now, when I stand before middle-schoolers and high school students, I still sometimes feel like I’m showing them puzzle pieces of a picture I haven’t quite fit together myself.

For mine was the generation that began to lose the past. I got a smattering of the classical when I sat in a Catholic parochial classroom for three years between fourth and sixth grades. And I picked up bits and pieces of music, literature, and history—as silly as this sounds—from Looney Toons cartoons and Sunday evenings watching The Wonderful World of Disney.

Disney gave me a foundational understanding about what happened at the Alamo in 1836, who Daniel Boone was, and what the legend of King Arthur was all about.

Bugs Bunny introduced me to classical music like “The Barber of Seville,” and works of literature from Romeo and Juliet to Dante’s Divine Comedy to the genre of 1940s crime movies. Television networks in the 1960s provided old cartoons with public domain music to entertain us and let our parents sleep in on Saturday mornings. We got part of our education eating cold cereal in our pj’s.

And we got a great deal from our parents—both of them having lived through the Great Depression and having been World War II era veterans. My brother got more of the classical from our father who must have found the classical heroes of the past too coarse for a young girl for I have no memory of him telling me the tales.

“They were my bedtime stories,” my brother told me once of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

I imagine our Dad retelling the passage when Achilles dragged Hector’s body around the city of Troy for seven days and then saying, “Good night. Sleep well.”

Of course, there is much more to Homer’s works. For Western Civilization, Homer helped define what it means to be a hero.

But my favorite part of this remembrance is how Dad got the stories, to begin with.

Dad was 13 and one of 11 children recently orphaned. Some of the children were already grown. Others went to live with their grandmother. Dad found a home with two women who needed someone to do the man jobs around the house.

Division of labor by gender was big in the past.

One day he discovered his hostesses taking down curtains and washing windows. He asked what he could do to help and received this reply.

“This is women’s work, George. Go outside and play.”

But playmates were no longer around. He wandered off to the local library and inquired of the librarian for “some good books.”

She gave him Homer’s classics.

From Alan Jacobs: “To see the art of our ancestors can be an incredibly powerful thing; but we want also, we can’t help but want also, the human voice, to hear those who came before us speak to us.”

Jacobs points out that we hear those who speak our hearts, but we also learn from those who are different from us. People who came before us are the same in some ways. But we see what is different from us in the writings of the past.

Even the story of dad’s guardians sending him outside to play rather than inviting him into “women’s work” teaches us something of what the past was.

Learning about the past can lead us to ask how we got from there to here.

I’m finishing The Black Ships Before Troy, based on Homer’s Iliad, with two groups of sixth- through eighth-graders. I tell them that the Greeks didn’t marry the women they carried off after sacking a city. They didn’t settle into a life of domestic partnership.

And marriage wasn’t the primary life relationship for the ancients. The friendship between men was their top relational concern–as we see in the story of Achilles and Patroclus, whose ashes were mixed together after their deaths.

In class, I get to explain what the world was like before Christ–and how it changed for the better because He walked here on earth.

I explain that social groups become civilizations when they become writers. When oral traditions, stories, laws, and in the case of the Bible, divine inspiration take a written form.

In these readings we can learn what was, better understand what is, and determine what should be. We can look back for that wisdom. In fact, there is wisdom we can only find by looking back.

Jacobs: “The dead, being dead, speak only at our invitation: they will not come uninvited to our table. They are at our mercy, like the flock of shades who gather around Odysseus when he comes as a living man to the land of Hades.”

And remember what Odysseus learned from the dead Tiresias—how to navigate the perils of the seas and find his way home.

Despite the calls to eliminate the past, many devote themselves to passing it down.

My great-niece in Texas is teaching Homer’s works to her students. She is four generations removed from Dad.

One of my own students, a seventh-grader, couldn’t contain his enjoyment as we discussed Homer’s tales.

“This is a really good weird story,” he said.

Good enough to pass on to his own children someday? And then he’ll tell them to sleep well.

Photo Credit: Natalia Y, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Urgent: Male and Female Created He Them

[M]ale and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created, Genesis 2:4 (ESV).

If some in Congress have their way this week (The House is set to vote Thursday 2/25), the terms male and female will soon disappear. First, from the realm of bureaucracy that will continually push itself into our private lives, And second, from the hearts and minds of young people who will grow up learning a language, a way of life, that is blind to biology, scripture, and

In Newsweek magazine, Mary Rice Hasson describes the “Equality Bill.”

“The Equality Act is 31 pages long, and devotes thousands of painstakingly drafted words to prohibiting “sex discrimination.” In all those pages, however, the word “female” never appears.”

. . . .

“Under the Equality Act, ‘gender identity’ determines access to “public accommodations,” a category the act redefines to include just about everywhere. It mandates access to ‘a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room’ among other gathering places on the basis of ‘gender identity.’ Translation: There will be no safe spaces left for females. Support groups for mothers or sexual assault survivors would be forced to accept any male who feels entitled to join (based on ‘gender identity’).”

You may wonder: Can that really happen? It can. And without urging some Democrats to vote no in both the House and Senate, it will.

The White House has already announced it concurs with the goals of the bill.

Niamh Harris explains that there will be no safe haven of religious protection.

“Religious institutions fare no better [than public ones]. Religious schools, adoption agencies, and other charities would face federal sanction for operating according to basic biology and mainstream Biblical teaching on sex and marriage. Outrageously, this act exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

We might well imagine that the act would end up in court within hours of passage. But there is oppression in that too. Litigation takes time and costs money. Just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor.

In the meantime, the doors of ministries would close. Many forever even if there is relief from the courts.

And that might be a big if.

I have a friend who was involved in the pro-life cause before 1973. I was still in high school

She battled against abortion before the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. Decisions that legalized abortion until birth for any reason.

Until birth for any reason.

The decisions went far beyond what the pro-abortion side considered to be their wildest dreams.


“We thought we could count on the courts,” she told me shortly after I began my own pro-life efforts in 1979. I’ve never forgotten.

Around the same time I was reading a book whose title and author I’ve lost–but whose opening example has stayed with me all these years.

The author presented an expectant mother determining to never allow society’s gender preconceptions to affect her child. She would raise her child in an environment that would laud feminist ideals.

This child would not wear dresses, would play with both dolls and toy trucks alike. She would give the child a name that did not assume a gender.

She planned. She prepared.

Labor. Delivery. Birth.

The mother’s first words upon the arrival of the child?

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

Why, the author pondered, did she ask so eagerly and so quickly after denying the importance of gender for so long?

Because it matters. Our gender makes us who we are more than this mother had been willing to admit.

People are free today to be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.

But people must also be free, if they are to remain free, to live out religious convictions, to run ministries accordingly, and raise children with biblical principles in mind.

These freedoms are at risk.

And we may soon have to ask ourselves how to manage in a new dark night of oppression based on our conviction that men are men and women are women.

And that God made us that way.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Normalizing Porn

“What is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Fantine is a single mother who loses her job for having a child out of wedlock. That’s the pretext her supervisor uses to fire her for rejecting his advances.

Fantine falls on terrible times. Those who are caring for her child are extorting all her income, lying to her that the child is ill and her medicine is expensive.

Fantine sells her hair and teeth before succumbing to the demand for her body.

She dies destitute but not before extracting a promise from her supervisor’s boss to be a savior to her child.

Today, Fantine’s story repeats itself with more than one twist. Both men and women are selling their bodies virtually on OnlyFans, a social media site on which members pay to view pictures and videos of those they follow.

ABC recently aired a news feature exploring OnlyFans (content warning). The news report presented a view of what’s become a hub for pornography.

And ABC celebrated its arrival.

OnlyFans has processed $1.2 billion since it began, making founder Timothy Stokely worth $120 million.

The ABC piece reads like a commercial. No other voice gets the chance to present a different perspective. ABC provides no discussion of sexual exploitation. And not a peep about porn addiction.

Instead, ABC calls such “sex work” empowering.

The report shows viewers a creative way to make money during the pandemic. Sex work is a ticket to “financial freedom.”

One interviewee says the work requires self-promotion, “which is really difficult when you have a ready, saturated landscape of people who have those large, large followings they’re bringing to OnlyFans.”

It’s an ironic celebration of the free market as an OnlyFan member asserts that he got involved because he was comfortable with his sexuality, and there was “a need”–in other words, a market.

ABC is streaming the story, “‘OnlyFans: Selling Sexy’ on Hulu.”

We know porn is out there. It’s pervasive. Even in the Church.

Now a major television network has told millions more where to find porn, how to participate in it, and how to turn a buck by being part of it.

All without allowing a word of protest or a hint that there might be regrettable effects later. The reporter and a participant admitted and disdained that a “stigma” sometimes goes along with such work.

OnlyFans and ABC’s coverage prompt the question of what can come next.

What follows is a logical result. More people buy into a lie that selling their bodies won’t damage their psyches or their souls. It will only build their bank accounts.

And more people will carry their wounds, addictions, and a perpetual online presence into future relationships and eventual physical decline.

Fantine would warn them. But would they listen?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Really Good Weird Story

“They were my bedtime stories,” my brother told me once of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

I imagine our Dad retelling the passage when Achilles dragged Hector’s body around the city of Troy for seven days and then saying, “Good night. Sleep well.”

Of course, there is much more to Homer’s works. For Western Civilization, Homer helped define what it means to be a hero.

But my favorite part of this remembrance is how Dad got the stories, to begin with.

Dad was 13 and one of 11 children recently orphaned. Some of the children were already grown. Others went to live with their grandmother. Dad found a home with two women who needed someone to do the man jobs around the house.

Division of labor by gender was big in the past.

One day he discovered his hostesses taking down curtains and washing windows. He asked what he could do to help and received this reply.

“This is women’s work, George. Go outside and play.”

But playmates were no longer around. He wandered off to the local library and inquired of the librarian for “some good books.”

She gave him Homer’s classics.

From Alan Jacobs: “To see the art of our ancestors can be an incredibly powerful thing; but we want also, we can’t help but want also, the human voice, to hear those who came before us speak to us.”

Jacobs points out that we hear those who speak our hearts, but we also learn from those who are different from us. The same in some ways but different from us is what we find in the writings of the past.

Even the story of dad’s guardians sending him away rather than inviting him into “women’s work” teaches us something of what the past was.

Learning about the past can lead us to ask how we got from there to here.

I’m finishing The Black Ships Before Troy with two groups of sixth- through eighth-graders.

I tell them that the Greeks didn’t marry the women they carried off after sacking a city. They didn’t settle into a life of domestic partnership.

And marriage wasn’t the primary life relationship for the ancients. The friendship between men was their top relational concern–as we see in the story of Achilles and Patroclus.

In class, I get to explain what the world was like before Christ–and how it changed for the better because He walked here on earth.

I explain that social groups become civilizations when they become writers. When oral traditions, stories, laws, and in the case of the Bible, inspiration take a written form.

Even so, we continue to pass stories down both orally and through writing.

My great-niece in Texas is teaching Homer’s works to her students. She is four generations removed from Dad.

And the story goes on from thousands of years ago.

But it won’t end here.

A seventh-grader last week couldn’t contain his enjoyment as we discussed Homer’s tales.

“This is a really good weird story,” he said.

Good enough to pass on to his own children someday?

And then he’ll tell them to sleep well.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What to Watch

It’s snowing outside. And it’s cold. And television viewing options are, well, less than desirable. What to do?

Many subscribe to Netflix and find some worthwhile viewing there. During our family’s Covid and Christmas break, we re-subscribed for a time to watch Hillbilly Elegy, which did not disappoint.

The acting, directing, and storytelling were superb. J.D. Vance’s story is the American story, and this movie alone makes the subscription fee worthwhile.

Another great find on Netflix was Wish Man. The biopic tells the inspiring story of the founding of the Make A Wish Foundation.

Jacob Engels’ review of Wish Man points out that it’s “become increasingly rare, if not impossible to find films like ‘Wish Man’ that can get their message across without being vulgar or unnecessarily graphic.” 

Pureflix is a movie-membership site that endeavors to provide just that kind of entertainment. The company came to notoriety through the blockbuster God’s Not Dead film series.

Pureflix is a movie site that you can let your kids watch without worry.

Some of the fare, honestly, is so-so. But enough of it is good that subscription is worthwhile.

Late last year, AFFIRM, a subsidiary of Sony, bought Pureflix. It’s reasonable to expect an uptick in quality–with the hope that the high standards of storytelling without vulgarity or graphic violence will remain.

So put an extra log in the woodstove or fireplace, grab a hot chocolate, and happy viewing.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Snow Day

Today is a snow day for me.

But many students today are waking up to yet another virtual school day. Logging on. Doing their work. Missing interaction with friends and mentoring adults.

It’s the opposite of what used to be. What seems so long ago. Sledding, snowman building, hot chocolate, and digging out.

I think back to last year in March when the governor announced that schools would close “for two weeks.”

I was in the grocery store later that day with a large number of my town’s fellow citizens. Shelves of canned and paper goods, nearly cleared. Yet the mood was like a holiday but even lighter. We hadn’t had a snow day that year. Not even a delay. And now we were getting a spring break.

A break from which some have not yet returned.

I talked with a class of high school students last week (our small school is in-person) about human purpose–about our need to engage others and do work.

They agreed that even playing video games gets old without human fellowship.

They understand something perhaps only experience can teach. They have a new appreciation for the everyday routine they had before COVID.

I think, every so often, of Dawid Sierakowiak, a Jewish teen in Lodz, Poland, during the Holocaust. Dawid (pronounced David) kept journals a la Anne Frank. When the Nazi occupation came, Jews were no longer allowed to go to school.

I remember Dawid’s torment at not being permitted to learn. It was the opposite of what I witnessed in the grocery store last year. But Dawid understood that his “school vacation” was not to be just two weeks.

He was right.

Had students understood last year that many of them would be away from their friends for nearly a year, the mood in the store would have been somber.

Humans yearn for fellowship. We need each other. We need something to do besides games.

Many young people understand now that having to go to school–getting to go–is a gift.

It’s a gift I hope our town soon experiences after so long.

Photo Credit: Isaac Ordaz, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Different Standard for Life

“Worthy are You, O Lord; worthy are You, O God, to receive glory and honor and power. You alone created all things, and through Your will and by Your design, they exist and were created,” Revelation 4:11, The Voice.

Through God’s will and by His design, we exist. All of us. In all conditions. With seemingly much to offer. And with seemingly nothing.

God wills. He designs. He creates. And He loves what He creates–especially the ones He made in His own image–human beings.

Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness,” Genesis 1:31, IBID.

Justin Hawkins retells the story of a mother who denied her child a safe, uncomplicated surgery that would save his life.

She could not see the beauty within nor savor the goodness of a child she considered imperfect. One with an extra chromosome. One with Down syndrome.

It took eleven days for the child to die. He starved to death for lack of a procedure any “normal” child would have received without question.

You might be surprised to learn that the account Hawkins gives is from 1963–ten years before Roe v. Wade legalized the killing of such children in the womb.

This child’s killing wasn’t in the womb. His death happened in a small room in a sanitized hospital. In America.

Legal justice came to no one for the crime. No justice on this side of eternity.

The 1973 accounting that Hawkins quotes, written by James Gustafson, quotes a doctor who explains that, even in 1963, “a different standard” applied to the disabled.

“That is, there is a different standard. . . . There is this tendency to value life on the basis of intelligence. . . . [It’s] a part of the American ethic.”

A great irony is that many medical personnel, who excel through their intelligence, seem unable to empathize with those who will lack academic abilities in life.

On the other hand, as Hawkins explains, “researchers found that when placed into an experiment in which a researcher feigned pain to study the responses of children, children with Down Syndrome were more likely than other children to attend and attempt to comfort the researcher than did typically-developing children.” 

It seems these children have something to offer after all. Kindness and compassion, so often missing today. In rejecting them, we have missed what they can show us and give us.

But Hawkins has seen what so many of us haven’t. He peppers his article with anecdotes from the life of his sister Jenna who has Down syndrome. Jenna came to be after the capability to diagnose disorders such as hers before birth.

He notes, ” [I]t would likely come as little surprise to any family that has decided to carry a child with Down Syndrome to term that the BBC reported in October 2020 that women were offered abortions up to fifteen times over the course of their pregnancies, even after repeatedly signaling that they did not want the procedure (my own mother [Hawkins and Jenna’s mother] recalls being asked five times over the course of fifteen minutes).” 

Entrenched in the minds of medical overseers is the conviction that the death of the imperfect is necessary for the lives of the rest of us to contain beauty and goodness.

Through that way of thinking, we have lost so much goodness and beauty.

America is now 48 years since Roe and Doe, the SCOTUS decisions that decreed such deaths legal.

If we gave a moment of silence to every child (62.5 million) who has died in the womb since those decisions, we would stand silent for nearly twelve years.

How much longer would we have to stand for the many innocents who have died outside the womb for the crime of imperfection?

God wills. He designs. He creates children. All of us imperfect in some way.

He stamps His image on each of us.

He stamps His image on all of us.

Photo Credit: Nathan Anderson, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Too Many Evenings

“The trouble with socialism,” said Oscar Wilde, “is that it would take up too many evenings.”

Some might argue whether what we are dealing with, what is ahead for us, is socialism. But we can’t dispute that our thinking and conversations (and social media interactions) about the state of America are consuming our evenings (and much of the rest of the day, as well).

In Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind, Alan Jacobs tells us about Horace–a political dissident in exile. A friend bestows the gift of a farm on Horace, who, separated from the engagement he enjoyed in Rome, begins to write letters, poetry actually, to advise others–and us.

Jacobs writes, “It is useful to see that these anxieties have plagued people who lived so long ago, even if we feel [these same anxieties] with particular intensity today. . . .

“Horace exhorts [his reader], exhorts himself, exhorts us, to shift our attention from those compulsions [our fears] toward questions that really and always matter–‘Where is it virtue comes from?’–because even by just exploring those questions, . . . we’re pushing back against the tyranny of everyday anxieties.”

I’m not suggesting–and I don’t believe Jacobs is either–that we stick our heads in the sands of old books and disregard what’s going on around us.

Instead, we can use older texts. He’s thinking ancient. I’m currently reading a 1960s text about a great ancient–Cicero.

To each his own form of processing.

But many, Jacobs asserts, won’t look to the past because of a way of thinking that’s emerged in recent times.

“There is an increasing sense not just that the past is sadly in error, is superannuated and irrelevant and full of foul ideas that we’re well rid of, but that it actually defiles us–its presence makes us unclean.

Jacobs asserts that this sense of defilement results from information overload and the sense that the “world is not only changing but changing faster and faster.”

As we yearn to slow down, the world moves at a faster pace. That pace and the direction of the change that’s unfolding seem daunting.

Part of that slowing down, Jacobs asserts, is to feed our minds the bread of the past, of the dead, and to feed it to children as well.

“The dead, being dead, speak only at our invitation: they will not come uninvited to our table. They are at our mercy, like the flock of shades who gather around Odysseus when he comes as a living man to the land of Hades.”

And let’s remember what Odysseus received during his visit to Hades: wisdom telling him how to go forward into an uncertain future filled with all kinds of perils.

We can look back for that same kind of wisdom.

It awaits our attention. And it withholds its benefits until we sit with it and partake.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Providence of a “Circumstance”

Imagine that you’re walking home as twilight descends. You’re tired after spending a day caring for a sick neighbor. And you’ve made the mistake of staying too late. The walk home is three miles long. Darkness descends.

You’ve walked through a stand of trees and are about to cross a meadow and enter a forest. The gray sky lifts your gaze to a supernatural vision. Four hands hold a sheet over a corpse. You hear a voice saying, “The Lord have mercy on the people. The Lord have mercy on the people. The Lord have mercy on the people.”

That is the situation Harriet Prescott Spofford sets up in her 1860 short story “Circumstance.” Spofford based her work on an incident that happened to her great-grandmother during America’s pioneer days.

The story is worth a look in these days of turmoil.

Spofford’s story features an unnamed protagonist–an everywoman walking metaphorically through life where she faces the challenges of ministry, peril, and darkness to emerge into a new day.

The woman in the story shakes off her vision. She is not prone to fear. But fear soon overcomes her when a panther–an Indian Devil, in Spofford’s words–grabs her, hoists her into a tree, and makes clear his intentions to enjoy her as a meal.

Instinctively, she yells. The animal pauses. She calls to her husband realizing he is too far away to help. But she notices that her vocalizing has caused the panther to stop chewing on her.

She begins to sing, regaling the panther with a range of songs through the night. The songs begin close to home. She thinks of her husband, her infant in the cradle, starting with nursery and dance tunes.

But soon the music shifts to that of a Methodist hymnal. That’s significant because John Wesley organized his song collection differently from other hymnals.

Most church songbooks follow the Church calendar. Wesley’s follows the structure of The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s account of an everyman’s journey from conviction to confession to Christian journey, ultimately to the Celestial City–Heaven.

The woman sings through the night. She’s exhausted. She’s in pain. As morning dawns, her voice begins to fail. She hears noises she at first thinks an animal is making. But she comes to realize they are human steps.

Her husband, having become concerned about her extended absence, arrives carrying their child and his musket. She continues to sing with a raspy voice.

He takes aim at the cat but can’t get a clear shot. Her voice continues to falter.

It’s only when she stops, when she can longer connect words and melody, that the animal pauses. He’s enjoying the music and wants it to continue.

The cat shifts his position. The man shoots. She is saved.

Spofford brings a clear picture of salvation–not by our own work. The woman’s own work only delays inevitable death. His work after hers ends rescues her.

It’s a wonderful story, and the man and woman think it’s ended. It has not. (Full spoiler ahead.)

The man carries the child and the weapon. He carries the future and the means of protection.

His wife follows as they head home. He reaches the top of a hill as she notices a footprint on the ground. As she rises to stand next to him, they survey the results of an attack that annihilated their community.

All who stayed behind in what they thought was a safe place are dead. All that remains are smoldering cabins.

The attack of the devil animal in the dark was hard and horrible. But the attack was a gift that saved their lives.

We live in a time where things look bleak. It’s dark outside. Many of us feel under attack.

A new day will come on this shore or on the other. We can have hope. Perhaps the panther that wants to eat us is, in reality, a means of protection.

We don’t know what is happening on the other side of a hill where we thought it was safe.

We can trust the providential God who leads us into the woods. And back out again.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Reading for the New Year

It’s become a tradition for me to select a stack of books I propose to read in the new year. I adjust the list as the year progresses. New titles find a place there. Others fall away.

Last year’s list altered when, in the spring, I committed to teaching middle school classrooms in the fall of 2020. I sought out versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey for that age group.

So far, I’ve found Rosemary Sutcliff’s versions to be accessible and complete, including much of the back story and details from The Aeneid to round out her version of The Iliad. The Wanderings of Odysseus is proving to be just as satisfying. Sutcliff’s books form a fine foundation for middle-schoolers and for adults wanting to brush up on classical literature.

The image above is of a book I’ve read twice already–first in my teen years, later as a thirty-something. It becomes more profound each time I pick it up.

Taylor Caldwell’s novel about the Roman Senator Marcus Tullius Cicero, A Pillar of Iron, depicts the dismantling of Rome’s republic on the cusp of Christ’s birth. (Cicero died in 43 BC, and according to Caldwell, was awaiting the Messiah’s birth.)

Caldwell saw parallels between Rome’s fall and the state of America circa 1965. So far, my reading indicates that the parallels have only deepened.

Caldwell dedicated the book to the late President John F. Kennedy (D), Senator Barry Goldwater (R), and Senator Thomas Dodd (D)–whose philosophies were probably more in line with each other’s than their party affiliations might lead us to assume.

I’m finding much history and wisdom within the pages.

History and wisdom–themes I’ll pursue this year.

The Power of the Powerless is a paperback (but the link takes you to a pdf version) containing an essay by Vaclav Havel, who, in 1989, became the first democratically elected president of Czechoslavakia, and later the Czech Republic.

I expect a big difference between Cicero and Havel–one whose culture is descending into totalitarianism, and the other whose culture is escaping it.

A novel I may propose for my older students in the next school year is A Canticle for Leibowitz. From what I gather, it’s post-apocalyptic satire. And according to Goodreads, it’s an account of “the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes.”

History repeating itself, another emerging theme.

I’ve thrown an eclectic collection into this year’s stack: The Ickabog–by J.K. Rowling. I’m one of the few on the planet who hasn’t delved into Harry Potter. In this new book, Rowling weaves a mythical tale–a morality play. I’m eager to see where it goes.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien–because I haven’t already read it. And I’m eager to see where Bilbo Baggins goes.

Rescued: The Unexpected and Extraordinary News of the Gospel, by Fr. John Riccardo. Riccardo is a breath of fresh Gospel air.

If You Give a Girl a Giant: Fighting for Your Life, by Karen Porter, spiritually edifying treatise on successfully defeating the giants life brings our way.

Abba Isn’t Daddy and Other Biblical Surprises, by William L. Burton, OFM, an invitation to delve into Bible study.

And another by Caldwell–Testimony of Two Men (1968) is set at the turn of the twentieth century. It tells the story of a controversial doctor pushing medicine into a modern era–beginning with the concept of handwashing. I’ve read this one before too. It’s worth another go too.

And I’m planning to do Dannah Gresh’s Bible study, Habakkuk: Remembering God’s Faithfulness When He Seems Silent. Habakkuk is a three-chapter, Old Testament book of prophesy. And the circumstances swirling around us today make this study an appropriate way to remember that God is with us–even when He seems silent.

So happy reading. Please let me know what you plan to read this year, and if you’ve read anything on my list, what you think about it.

Photo Credit: openroadmedia.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Christ the King, the Light that Overcomes Darkness

Through Advent, every day gets darker until we arrive at the cusp of Christmas. Winter solstice—December 21st– is the longest night of the year. Light increases each day following.

Christmas comes during the time of year pagans marked the winter solstice, the shortest day–but the end of encroaching darkness. It’s a feast to celebrate light overcoming darkness.

Christmas comes near Hanukkah–the Jewish festival of lights—commemorating victory over an effort to eradicate Jewish civilization. It’s a feast to memorialize one day’s worth of sanctified oil fueling a lamp for eight days. Eight days to celebrate light overcoming darkness.

Twenty-twenty has been a year of darkness and separation. My husband and I stood in our kitchen a couple of weeks ago, both of us steeped in a COVID fog of fever and cough. The radio played “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I pointed out the lyric—“Next year all our troubles will be far away,” commenting that this year’s troubles were unimagined last year.

I imagined people singing that song in 1944—the year Judy Garland first sang it in Meet Me in Saint Louis. The movie opened in November of that year.

Imagine going to the theater to see a light musical—and to watch newsreels. People got their information from newspapers, radio, and movie newsreels—the precursor to television news.

What you’d see in newsreels around then might have included a race riot among US military personnel at Guam. Bandleader Glenn Miller’s plane disappearing over the English Channel. A typhoon hitting Admiral Halsey’s fleet in the South Pacific, costing America almost 800 souls. And Axis forces surrounding US troops at Bastogne.

Much of the news was grim. But Allied forces were pushing back. General Anthony McAuliffe, the American commander at Bastogne, responded to a German demand for surrender with one word: “Nuts.”

In dark days, light emerged.

It’s hard to perceive the depth of darkness people felt when we know now how the story ended. Allied forces converged; McAuliffe’s rebuttal stands as a rebuke to defeat.

But it’s harder to see the light when we sit immersed in the darkness of our own days with little hint of light ahead.

Was it a dark and starless night before the angels came to the shepherds? They were shepherds who’d been waiting for the coming of Messiah. They didn’t expect a blast of light and music with angels singing news of His coming.

The shepherds outside Bethlehem that night were Levitical shepherds. Ironically, they were ritualistically unclean. They walked through feces. They touched dead things.

The angel told them to find a baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths. To shepherds raising sheep for Levitical sacrifice, swaddling cloths would be vastly significant. For a lamb to qualify for sacrifice it had to be perfect, without blemish.

The shepherds swaddled lambs intended for sacrifice–they wrapped them in cloths to protect them. The angel saying that they would find the infant wrapped in swaddling cloths indicated the baby would be a sacrifice. That baby was the Messiah.

Many would have expected a Jewish king to be born in Jerusalem–the city of the king–not Bethlehem. But Bethlehem was the City of David–a keeper of sheep.

God’s choice of a birthplace for his son wasn’t just a fulfillment of prophecy–which it was. It was also a symbol that Christ the King would be the fulfillment of sacrifice on our behalf.

Christ was the sinless Son of God, the perfect Lamb to be sacrificed for the shepherds’ sins–for our sins—for the things we walk through and touch that make us unclean.

God invited the unclean to see His Son. Those who reject Him today are yet among the invited.

People seek purpose and meaning today. But they cannot find it without Christ. He brings peace on earth–within our hearts. He is the perfect sacrifice for us.

Christmas proclaims the coming of a King who is the light who overcomes darkness.

“Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,’” John 8:12.

There is a Christmas light to light the world–Christ Himself.

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14.

Emmanuel—God with us. Let His light shine.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Different Kind of Holiday Season to Cap a Difficult Year

“The way my family anticipates Christmas feels different from the way we look forward to almost anything else. For other things, we’re excited about learning, seeing, or exploring something new. But Christmas is different. We look forward to it all year. We count down the days, just to experience it nearly exactly as we always have.” Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Journal, Issue 9~

Twenty-twenty has been a year very much unlike any other year. For many of us, this Christmas will be unlike any other as well. The dream of experiencing the holiday season exactly as we have in the past seems impossible.

In many ways, though, this time is much like any other. Christmas decorations are up in every kind of store. The mall has had the tree up with the lights on for weeks. Grocery stores feature similar decorations and music. Cranberries, turkeys, hams, and cookie ingredients line the shelves–all to evoke our memories of holidays of the past.

I doubt we’ll see long lines of children waiting to see Santa this year. Something that would have tortured me had it happened in the ’70s and ’80s–that period of time when my children posed 16 years in a row for Santa pics (toward the end, much to the chagrin of the first- and second-born).

And I don’t expect the kids’ choir will entertain a crowd in the center of the mall this year either.

Much will be different this year. But much will be the same. We can still enjoy the music, lights, and food. We can wish each other blessings in person or virtually. We can work to remember that it’s the love that matters more than whether we are in person or online.

As we search for finding that sameness in the holidays this year, may we remember those who’ve had it worse than we have. Even if we feel we are at our lowest, it often isn’t difficult to find someone who’s feeling lower than we are.

Even though this year won’t be exactly the same (no year ever is), we are drawn to the season of peace–a respite from the world of bitter politics and bad news.

We will find the joy of the season as we proclaim God’s goodness to others–those we love–those in need around us–those driving by our houses whose lives we don’t know.

We are the people of light. And the darkness around us can never overcome the light.

That is the great promise of Emmanuel–the Light of the world with us.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Losing One Tradition and Changing Another

Published in Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, November 28, 2020~

I’ve been making them for more than five decades. I began when I was ten. And I’ve probably eaten more than my own weight in raw dough. Ever since my mother first let me loose in the kitchen.

It’s what she did when I was young. It’s what I did as a tween, then teen. What I did when my children were young. What I still do now.

Baking cookies.

My repertoire has expanded and contracted over the years to include peanut butter blossoms (chocolate kiss cookies), anise pizzelles, nut puffs (a harkening back to my children’s Italian heritage), buckeyes, haystacks, cocoa cookies with peanut butter chips, and just added a few years ago, a gingerbread cookie with peanut butter chips (a personal invention—with an option for butterscotch chips too).

Primarily, though, there is the chocolate chip cookie. It is the one where I began. It is my mainstay recipe.

In the hard days of single-motherhood, I clung to tradition. I refused to settle for less than real vanilla extract.

I tweaked the recipe over the years. Switching from half margarine and half butter to all butter. From half granulated, half brown sugar to all dark brown sugar. Some extra chips thrown in. The recipe is now my own. It’s been years since I checked a recipe to determine the next step.

As baseball was for Terence Mann in Field of Dreams, so the cookie has been a constant throughout my life. Cookie baking threads the quilt of my years together. It connects seasons of anticipation, yearning, trial, fulfillment, and joy.

When I was a novice baker, my older brother was in the navy, out to sea in the Mediterranean. I sent him some cinnamon coated cut-out cookies. He wrote back that, if I ever shipped that recipe again, I should be sure to include a spoon.

Another year, I baked and baked and baked. And my other brother and his crowd of friends ate and ate and ate. My mother frowned at noon on Christmas Day as someone ate the last cookie.

Then I was a young wife experimenting with cookie recipes. Some fell off the list; others remained. The children grew to love lemon sugar cookies, sometimes a gift for my father.

The year I had a new baby, my third, I learned that baking early and storing everything in the same container just makes all the cookies taste the same–none of which was good.

As a single mother, there was a year I hardly baked at all because money was so tight and time too pinched. A demanding job provided little money and ate my time. I still baked peanut butter blossoms.

Then there were years when Christmas cookies were on our table and in the mail to a son deployed overseas. None were of the cinnamon crumbly type.

My mind can still return to the kitchen of my youth. Mother’s old cabinets that went from floor to ceiling. An old porcelain sink with its own drain board in the pantry. My Easy Bake Oven–miniature pies and cakes. The cinnamon cookies in a box of hope to please the recipient. My eventual graduation to the oven.

Mental snapshots of toddlers milling around my own tiny kitchen waiting to taste. It was their task, their responsibility to test—to make sure all was good enough for us. Few concoctions failed. Some did, however, burn, the result of me forgetting to set the timer. Years flash through my mind in Technicolor. Handfuls of hope and pleased chocolate-smeared faces.

What were once Tupperware containers in the freezer are now individual cookie trays for each household. A taste of memory from Mom to grace their tables, evoke their memories, and form new ones.

This weekend has marked a tradition of more than a decade and a half. The day after Thanksgiving has been the day I baked cookies and made an easy fudge recipe for our local Armed Forces Mothers unit to ship off to domestic and overseas deployed troops.

Each member contributed a serving of cookies and fudge for each container to be packed into the larger boxes containing donated items and purchased gifts to be shipped to those serving our country. Our organization has packed between 60 and 100 or so boxes every year. I joined in 2003 after my middle son joined the reserves and departed for Iraq. His younger brother has since deployed twice. We packed enough homemade treats to satisfy a number of troops, many miles from home.

Tradition.

For the last several years, two granddaughters have assisted with box packing. We’ve packed a box or two followed by a trip to a local Wendy’s afterward. A few years ago, one of the girls remarked: “I know it’s Christmas when we do this.”

Because of COVID this year and an uptick of cases locally, box packing is limited to our group president and her family gathering supplies and sending fewer boxes themselves.

My tradition loving heart hurt to hear the news of a tradition broken.

Yet as long as we stay well, these two oldest grand-girls and I plan to celebrate a modified version of another tradition. Every year for the last dozen years, we have attended a performance of The Nutcracker ballet preceded or followed by Asian cuisine. We had hoped to include younger girls this year. But since COVID cancelled live performances this year, I bought a DVD featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov.

The theater won’t be fancy like some we’ve haunted over the years. Just my living room, as we watch a world-class performance.

And cookies. There will have to be cookies.

Perhaps cookie baking for the troops will return next year. Perhaps we’ll see that missing tradition restored for 2021.

But this year with the Baryshnikov DVD, I expect we’re marking the end of one tradition and the beginning of a new one—with a constant of Christmas cookies stirred in. Old and new mixed together to make memories.

May you make your own sweet memories as you anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth in 2020!

About the Author

Nancy E. Head at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Author Nancy E. Head was a single mother with five children under the age of 14 when many in the Church came to her aid. Her story illustrates common problems in our society such as the fracturing of families and communities, reflecting a splintering Church.

Alienated families and a riven Church cannot minister as effectively to their own members or others until they find accord. Nancy is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord. She leads a small group ministering to the needy in her community.

Connect with Nancy on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

You can read Nancy’s HEADlines column on the 4th Saturday each month at Mustard Seed Sentinel.

Photo Credits: Family Collection

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Reasoned and Reasonable Faith

“The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.” (Chesterton, Orthodoxy 34)

In the effort to end the slave trade in Great Britain, William Wilberforce and his allies “looked to the heavens” for help because in the late 1700s and early 1800s, “science was not as advanced as it is today.” That’s what I read in a student paper once.

This student saw faith in God as outdated. He resided within the realm of reason and excluded the possibility of a non-material world having found faith in the “heavens” unreasonable.

What he missed was how Wilberforce, outside the context of his Christian faith, could have come up with the idea that slavery and many other ills of his time were evil. 

The notion that slavery, or any other social woe, could end through a secular perspective is a much more unreasonable idea than searching the “heavens” for moral leading. The theme of faith as unreasoned is not new, but it is now a dominant voice instead of being a secondary one as it was years ago.

In 1962, William E. Barrett published The Lilies of the Field, a novella about Homer Smith, a nomad Baptist handyman who builds a chapel for a group of Catholic Eastern European nuns in the barrenness of the southwestern U.S. after World War II.
The chapel becomes Homer Smith’s life dream, what he believes will be his legacy. But the task seems so big. The needs loom so large.

The book captivated my adolescent mind. At the time, most Americans overwhelmingly found Christianity a perfectly reasonable place to put their faith. Yet faithless reason had gained a foothold.

Barrett included a character who, aligning himself with the modern student/author would say, “Faith. It is a word for what is unreasonable. If a man believes in an unreasonable thing, that is faith” (96).

This man, so sure of himself, is a foil to Homer who has his doubts. At one point, Homer leaves the nuns and the community, some who also doubt the church building can become reality.

But once Homer has left his dream, the dream does not leave Homer. The vision of the nuns and the unfinished chapel calls him back.

When he returns, the community surprises him with donations of bricks, the literal building blocks of his dream. Everyone in the community contributes, that is, except, at first, the “reasonable” man without faith. Clinging to faithless reason, that man arrives one day to see Homer’s project.

Homer’s reaction: “This man probably did not believe in bricks. It was not reasonable that all of these bricks were here, so they were not” (99).

Faith is a step beyond reason. The Church is real. Over the centuries, God has built His Church. But God does not build with bricks man has made. He builds with stones He has formed.

“You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter: 2:5).

What then should we make of our understanding of science? Let’s begin with the scientific method.

Franciscan monk developed it. Our modern concept of seeking to understand the world came from people who were seeking to better understand the works of the Creator God.

According to Pew, today scientists are less likely to believe in God than the rest of society. Given the pervasive teaching that science trumps faith, that is no surprise.

Even so, more than half of all scientists do believe in God or at least some higher power. That more than half believe there is more to the universe than what we can see is surprising.

Those scientists realize that faith is not devoid of reason. Reason without faith makes man a god, an idea that has led us to genocide and licentiousness.

Yet, the question of faith cannot be one of numbers. It is not more reasonable to have faith because many others don’t believe. A majority is capable of being misled.

C.S. Lewis understood that there was no war between faith and reason. “The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other” (139).

Wilberforce and those standing with him in faith knew it too. It was their faith and their reason, their looking to the heavens, that so changed the world.

This year I watched as Barrett’s book captivated a group of seventh and eighth-graders. I plan to introduce the book soon to another group of students.

The light of reasoned faith still finds hearts and minds to illuminate–young hearts and minds whose faith is working through reason.

We are living in days of darkness and division. But there is light in childlike faith.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Fellow Writer’s Endorsement

A big thank you to Melinda V. Inman for sharing this piece:

@nancyehead is a truth-telling #writer who pens facts that reveal the dark side of issues about which we may have covered our eyes. Her writing is candid, bracing, intellectual & informative, both blogging and published work.… https://melindainman.com/?p=27847 via @MelindaVInman

NANCY E. HEAD

No description available.

Nancy E. Head is an author, teacher, and activist who has also run for political office. She is staunchly pro-life and often writes on this topic as well as the moral condition of America and how we are losing many of the values that were common in the past.

Learn more about Nancy here: www.nancyehead.com.

Nancy blogs weekly. Over several years of reading her work, I’ve found her to be one of the most candid authors I’ve ever encountered. Her wealth of experiences give her a candor and yet kindness toward those in difficult situations, and her strength of character produces writing directed at those difficulties in ways that are straightforward and frank. I learn much from her weekly blog about where our nation is headed morally and ethically.

Boldly, she writes of the ugly side of the abortion issue, euthanasia, and the pressure on those who attempt to intervene. Her writing presents truth fearlessly, with no hiding of the details about which we may have covered our eyes. Bracing, intellectual, and informative — these descriptors encapsulate her work.@nancyehead is a truth-telling #writer who pens facts that reveal the dark side of issues about which we may have covered our eyes. Her writing is candid, bracing, intellectual & informative, both blogging and published work.…CLICK TO TWEET

Take a look at Nancy’s blog. This is one of her latest featured posts.

HEADLINES: THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANING

Published in the Mustard Seed Sentinel, June 27, 2020.

“In the 1950s kids lost their innocence . . . In the 1960s, kids lost their authority [the means of direction]. . . In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self. . . Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion… It made for a lonely world. . . In the 1980s, kids lost their hope. . . In the 1990s, kids lost their power to reason. . . In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination,” Ravi Zacharias.

Innocence, authority, love, hope, reason, imagination, all are necessary elements of a functioning people in a functioning society.

Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1950—back when there was still innocence, hope, and imagination. The book is about a society that can no longer find itself. The people have no books, no imagination, and no sense of purpose and meaning.

Bradbury depicts these losses in one of the most chilling moments in literature. A man comes home from work to find his wife passed out—overdosed on sleeping pills. He calls for help assuming the 1950s practice that a doctor will actually come to the house to set her right.

Instead, help comes in the form of two cigarette smoking technicians with a snakelike vacuum cleaner of sorts. They sweep out the woman’s system. She’ll be fine in the morning. It’s no big deal, they say; it’s common. So common, in fact, that they get nine or ten calls a night. Every night. . . .

Find the rest of Nancy’s blog HERE.

Nancy is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord. Currently, she is working on a middle reader children’s book, Jude and the Magic Birds (Working title).

RESTORING THE SHATTERED

Find Nancy book HERE on Amazon.

Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ's Love Through the Church in One Accord by [Nancy E. Head]

Written in an easy-to-understand, conversational style, Restoring the Shattered is an account of Nancy E. Head’s journey through single-motherhood and poverty. The permanent divide between her and her husband led to a shattering of their family as the children settled into separate camps.

The story begins when Nancy and her children have little to eat. Through a miraculous intervention, God provides—and leads them along their way. Other interventions and more guidance came from people of different denominations, illustrating Christ’s love through the larger Church.

When one of Nancy’s grown children became Catholic, she became more aware of the ways her own evangelical tradition often dismisses Catholic believers and misinterprets many of their doctrines. While doctrines may differ, so many essential beliefs are the same. Restoring the Shattered looks at the causes of the Reformation and other schisms, and how the original schism in Christianity happened because of a mistranslation.

Misunderstanding others’ faith languages feeds so much separation today. Nancy encourages pursuing accord among evangelical, Catholic, and Christian Orthodox communities in order to lead the Church to the kind of ministry that helped Nancy’s family so much and rebuild the ruins of society through obedience to Christ’s call for Christian accord.

During our years of need, Christians encouraged her as she earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Penn State and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Encouragement continued as she embarked on a career in journalism and later turned to a career in teaching, which has included two summers in China. She earned my master’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Currently, Nancy is an instructor at Penn State Altoona and Great Commission Schools. When not teaching or writing, she restores antique quilts, craft projects for her grandchildren, and helps her husband lead a small group at their church devoted to ministering to the needy in their community.

Find Nancy E. Head on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

How to Handle an Unlikely Encounter

It was 2017. Donald Trump had just been inaugurated. The president’s bad behavior of the past frustrated many women. They decided to march on Washington in protest. But pro-life women were not welcome.

This event was exclusive to a particular mindset–one that viewed the sanctity of human life stance with hostility.

But not all the women shared hostility for all things pro-life.

And that some women learned more about the pro-life perspective that day may simply be due to an aversion to the porta-potty.

If you’ve ever marched in Washington, you are either acquainted with the porta-potty, aka porta-john, or you strategically plan your bathroom breaks. If you are marching in the cold of January, you work harder at the strategic plan of finding bathroom facilities.

In Building the Benedict Option, Leah Libresco tells the story of the Dominican friars of Washington, DC, who welcomed pro-choice protesters to use their bathroom facilities in 2017. The men opened their doors to women protesting the election of Donald Trump–protesting the rise to office of a president whose past behavior had been unsavory to put it mildly–a president who claimed to be pro-life.

At first, it was only 12 women seeking to use the facilities; then it became more than 100. Libresco quotes the account of Brother Martin Davis:

“The peculiar situation of some people wearing ‘Get your rosaries off my ovaries’ next to men wearing rosaries on their belts did not stop many [of the women] from inquiring into what brings us to live lives dedicated to Christ” (105-06).

Libresco explains that the friars answered the women’s questions about their work and their beliefs about abortion and unborn life, among other topics. The grateful women then passed a hat collecting over $100 for the church.

They warned Brother Martin to avoid reading the text on the hat they passed.

It was an unlikely encounter and yet a profound one. The friars may have found the march discouraging. They might have withdrawn and stayed behind closed doors. They might have lost hope.

Libresco: “To be a Christian means to believe that hopelessness is always a misapprehension at best, and, at worst, a form of spiritual attack” (158).

More than 100 women saw the beauty of Christ that day and heard the message of life. The march’s organizers tried to shut out that message. But a simple act of hospitality on a cold day shut the door against hostility. And it didn’t take much.

From Libresco: “[T]he friars weren’t engaging in traditional witness. They weren’t preaching or participating in a street prayer vigil” (106-07).

They were just being hospitable Christians. They obeyed a calling from God and opened a door where minds and hearts had been closed.

Revised and republished from February 7, 2019.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Recalling History and Heroes

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, October 24, 2020~

“This day is called the feast of Saint Crispin,” So said Shakespeare’s Henry V in his inspirational speech to his troops at Agincourt on October 25 in 1415.

French troops outnumbered Henry’s five to one. But the British had a secret weapon—the armor-piercing long bow. Warfare would never be the same.

After the English victory, Henry proclaimed death to anyone who would take the glory from God for the day.

October 25 about 1100 years earlier was the day Crispin and his brother Crispinian became martyrs for their faith. They spread the Gospel and gave their lives for it.

And those events are not all that happened on that famous date.

October 25 is also the day of the infamous “Charge of the Light Brigade” in 1854. A day of much less success for the Brits who suffered severe losses in a desperate, misguided charge against Russian artillery at Balaklava during the Crimean War.

The incident inspired Alfred Lord Tennyson to record the brave effort in his famous aptly titled poem: “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” A portion follows:

“When can their glory fade? /Oh, the wild charge they made! /All the world wondered /Honor the charge they made.”

In late October 1944, US Naval Admiral William “Bull” Halsey was in Leyte Gulf maintaining radio silence. But the rest of the American forces wanted to know where Halsey was.

An ensign crafting radio messages had studied literature at Harvard before the war and knew his Saint Crispin’s Day history. Asking Halsey’s location, he then tacked on padding words designed to confuse enemy decoders. His padding? “The world wonders.”

Halsey thought his disappearance was known to the world. Legend has it that he dispatched the ensign to an obscure island to sit out the rest of the war.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the biggest naval battle of the war. It lasted three days and ended on October 25. The Japanese fleet would never again see the effectiveness of its earlier days.

King Henry promised his men “the greater share of glory.” And that their names would be “household words.” But wars are won by anonymous heroes. Only students of literature remember some of the names of Henry’s “happy few.”

And few can name any of “Noble six hundred” who charged the artillery this day so long ago. The anonymous message encoding ensign remains as anonymous as most who fought and died at Normandy and Bastogne, at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.

My father served as a chief petty officer in the South Pacific during World War II. He loved to tell the stories of the heroes of Agincourt and Balaklava and the unfortunate coding anti-hero of Leyte Gulf. He told my brothers and me about General Anthony McAuliffe who, when the German Army surrounded his forces in Bastogne in 1944 demanding his surrender, replied only “Nuts!” And the Allies prevailed.

Dad never thought of himself as a hero. The heroes, to him, were the ones who didn’t get to come home.

Dad did come home, married the woman he’d left behind, and raised three children.

And so we all grew up and married. After Mother died in 1975, Dad decided to sell the house and move into a small apartment. As we were helping him prepare for his move, my brother and I were cleaning the attic and musing over some of our finds. I still have two—a silver sugar bowl and a veneered dresser that sits in my living room. But our most fascinating treasure was inside the top drawer of the otherwise empty dresser—a letter Dad had written to his future mother-in-law, Mother Miller, as he called her.

He’d been waiting to deploy to the uncertainty of the South Pacific and wrote of his sense of “blank thrill”—a combination of “the feeling of the unknown and also adventure.” He discussed how much he enjoyed the navy and how glad he was to be with the men beside him. He expressed his eagerness to return to those he loved after the war. “Back home, I have a wonderful collection of friends; good ones. You and your family come first, Nan of this group being first. She means everything in life for me—and to think about her and the two of us together after the war makes all this worthwhile.”

Dad wrote of three things that gave him a sense of security. First was his assurance in the men he was with: “in our commanders and the reason we are going, also we will be successful in our detail.” The second was his friends at home and “the strength my love for Nan gives me and hers for me.” His third source of strength was his “faith and trust in God.” The first two addressed “my worldly cares, the last, my spiritual … I can leave tomorrow satisfied completely in everything I live for. Not a question in my mind of a thing left undone, or a word unkindly said, not righted, not a care.” The letter was dated August 10, 1942, eight months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Years later I mentioned the letter to him. “I was saying goodbye” was his response, “just in case.”

The part of the letter that has always stuck with me is that he left “no word unkindly said, not righted.” He had done all he could to make everything right with everyone he was leaving behind. He might have been able to convince himself that he didn’t have time to fix things with everyone or that whatever he had done wrong was not a big deal. Instead, “just in case,” he had made things right.

For thousands of men, “just in case” came to be.

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed on Normandy beaches. By the time Paris was liberated more than two months later, nearly 73,000 allies had become Dad’s version of heroes.

June 6, 1994, marked fifty years since D-Day. Two of my sons were in elementary school then. Their teachers neglected to note the day. But both grew up to be soldiers. Both have served in war zones. One of them has gone twice. We will mark the days between October 25 and November 11 with pumpkins, corn stalks, and children dressed as super-heroes. On one of those days in between, our family will mark 104 years since our hero was born.

Most of the anonymous warriors of Europe and the South Pacific are gone now. Those who came home and those who did not are the heroes of history who endured the Great Depression and won World War II. They knew what it was to sacrifice for a great cause.

If we are wise enough to remember them well, they can still teach us.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Who Are We?

Are we a stiff-necked people? Are we refusing to repent?

Are we on the edge of losing our freedom?

To worship?

To maintain our consciences?

To educate children, ourselves in faith?

Do we see a connection between the state of our hearts and the state of our nation? That connection is real. We miss it to the peril of judgment.

I see more prayer efforts than I’ve seen during other election years. But who are we in our hearts?

Is our praying repentance or just begging favor?

Lord, forgive our sins. Convict us to turn from them. Hear our prayer.

Heal our land.

Image Credit: Pinterest

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Dear Wife: Pursuing Connection in Marriage

From Amanda Davison: “This is what we know: Women are being attacked, because as women, we hold influence. And . . . we know that when God gets a hold of a wife’s heart, her marriage changes. Her family transforms, and generations are impacted.

Our first step as a ministry was a resource responding to wives’ biggest need, which is to have intentional and meaningful time together as husband and wife – to connect.” 

And that’s how Dear Wife: 10 Minute Invitations to Practice Connection with Your Husband came to be.

The book offers letters from seventeen women who teach us how to make connecting in marriage a way of life, not just an occasional nod between two people as they come and go.

Marriage is hard. We get too busy, and the one we’ve pledged to love all our lives may be the person we neglect the most.

The problem compounds itself when we feel unloved because our husbands are stuck in their own roadways of busyness.

Davison knew just that situation. She wanted to fix her own marriage. And she wanted to develop a ministry that would help other wives fix theirs.

The seventeen contributors crafted short letters to readers as invitations to connect through scriptural principles.

There are questions at the end of each letter to allow the reader to personalize the text and help form a connection with God first and husband second.

One contributor is Karen Friday whose work is always worth a read–and a share.

This from her offering:

“[Jesus] didn’t give in to the temptation to defend. Instead he withdrew. He offered grace instead of the gratification proving them wrong would have provided. When we belong to Jesus, He defends us. And Christ defends marriage with the best interests of husband and wife in mind.

Dear Wife is a wonderful, encouraging read. I highly recommend it.

Photo Credit: A Wife like Me

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Forgotten Dream

One of my favorite aspects of fall is watching flocks of birds dance through the sky in synchronized motion.

So I offer this from the work of a grandson and former student, Aaron Hildebrand. You or someone you know could be like the bird in this poem. Let’s work to recognize the broken-winged among us and show grace.

Almost too easy to pass by,

Save for when it gives a cry,

Is the gentle presence of a bird.

Planted lightly in the ground,

It makes a faint yet shrill sound,

In hopes that it will be heard.

In the wind high above,

Sparrow, jay, quail, dove,

Soaring through the sky.

As if by chance or fate

This one bird must forever wait

Till eternity may pass by.

From the sadistic hand of nature

Has this poor bird been injured,

With wings so frail and delicate.

In vain attempt it tries to fly,

Not wanting to leave the sky

Now one bird more desolate.

To the surface it quickly returns,

So far away from what it yearns,

As close as it may seem.

Distant remain the fields of blue and white,

Henceforth destined to believe that flight

Was but a forgotten dream.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Our Cracked Country

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, September 26, 2020.

Two teens stood across from my book table at a national event. They weren’t yet old enough to vote. But perhaps when they are, they’ll cast their ballots to excise their part of Virginia to make it part of West Virginia–a harkening back to our Civil War. (Or our first Civil War?)

They are frustrated by legislators from the northern part of the state threatening to limit gun ownership and having voted to expand “abortion rights” more broadly than all but a few places around the world.

They are not alone in that way of thinking. Those hoping for Southern Virginia’s annexation to West Virginia will find a communion of spirit in Oregon, some of whose voters want to become part of Idaho. And California also has its own initiatives brewing. But those efforts aren’t about becoming part of an existing state. There are calls to split into multiple statesor even leave the United States altogether and become a separate nation.

Imagine what these efforts–if successful–might lead to.

Political pundits speak of the conservative part of my own Pennsylvania in terms of the T across the north and through the center with Philadelphia in the east and Pittsburgh in the west–although Pittsburgh sometimes joins the T.

The T carried our Keystone State for Trump in 2016–even in heavily Democratic Cambria County–coal country.

If voters in the T decided to follow suit with southern Virginia voters, the bulk of Pennsylvania might also join West Virginia.

Even the bluing state of Texas could end up splitting over voter ideology.

While proposals for state-splitting are still in their infancy–or perhaps in their early childhood–it seems a good time to consider some of the ramifications.

For example, would Philadelphia decide to become part of New Jersey? Could Jersey support the costs of the City of Brotherly Love that rural PA taxpayers have helped to bear for decades?

What if the rural/conservative voters of every state thought it best to cut themselves free from every city that wanted to limit guns and fund abortions throughout gestation?

Would cities’ leaders moderate some of their views to stem the tide of departure (and lost revenues)? Would rural folks bend? Can both sides occupy a middle ground for long?

Rural voters want to keep their guns. On farms or in nearby forests, guns have practical purposes completely unrelated to crime and unfathomable to many city-dwellers.

Conservative and liberal voters can only remain at an impasse over abortion. Room for compromise on this issue is scant because the unborn one either lives or dies. There is no state of in-between.

And there seems to be no room to bend among those who insist our abortion laws continue to go far beyond those of European countries that limit the procedure. The US is one of only seven countries that allows abortion after 20 weeks.

Secession and state-splitting sound far-fetched. But perhaps we are closer to making such dividing lines than we realize.

In American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup, F.H. Buckley writes:

“[W]e are now facing another constitutional crisis, as we did in the 1850s, when Congress was unable to compromise on slavery or avert the impending civil war. Today again, changes that must be made seemingly can’t be made because of our divisions and failure to compromise. The Constitution was designed for another country, one in which people agreed on fundamental principles, and that’s not today’s America. We are divided on things that used to unite us, and we don’t like politicians who compromise on things we care about.”

Explaining that the framers assumed secession was permissible (“by the consent of the governed“), Buckley lays out the arguments the Constitution’s crafters made as they shaped the document different factions today see either as pliable or etched in stone. It cannot be both.

He makes the case that California, for example, if it seceded, would save “$103 billion … [paid] in federal taxes [more] than it receive[s] back from Washington” and, therefore, should be able to pay for its plethora of social programs. He notes later that California has never had a majority wanting to secede.

But that may change as the middle class continues to flee the Golden State. It also remains to be seen whether $103 billion in extra revenues could truly create the entitlement utopia its leaders seek to create.

Even with such efforts and proposals on the table in multiple places, it may still be hard to imagine the fracturing of states or an actual secession attempt. But here’s part of what goodreads.com says about Buckley’s discussion:

“Across the world, large countries are staring down secession movements. Many have already split apart. Do we imagine that we, almost alone in the world, are immune? We had a civil war to prevent a secession, and we’re tempted to see that terrible precedent as proof against another effort. This book explodes that comforting belief and shows just how easy it would be for a state to exit the Union if that’s what its voters wanted.

“But if that isn’t what we really want, Buckley proposes another option, a kind of Secession Lite, that could heal our divisions while allowing us to keep our identity as Americans.”

Secession Lite would require a live and let live mentality. And just that option is under consideration in the state of New York. Conservatives in that state have introduced bills in the state house and senate that would divide the Empire State into three regions—New Amsterdam, upstate New York; New York; Manhattan and the five boroughs; and the Montauk Region, Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland.

Chris Enloe writes:

“’New Amsterdam & Montauk regional governments would have the power to repeal these unnecessary NYS regulations and bad laws that are killing jobs,’ Divide New York State Caucus explains, [Gannett journalist Julie] Sherwood reported. ‘While the New York regional government could enact those changes it wants for NYC only that upstate currently blocks.’”

The bill remains in committee. But if it passes, it won’t need approval from the US Congress as it would if it were proposing splitting New York into separate states.

Perhaps Buckley has found a philosophical mean that could ensure freedom of conscience. For example, freedom for children to openly pray in schools governed locally. Freedom for municipalities to respect life, if they choose. Freedom for pharmacists to refuse to provide the means for chemical abortion. And that could only happen if the Supreme Court—whose membership is a new battleground for our day—will refrain from dictating what must be for the whole country.

The ideas of secession, state splitting, and regional secession light sound crazy. Buckley tells us they’re not. They or some form of them are real and on the way.

The unprecedented is what we’re experiencing in 2020. Our divided house hovers over a chasm of chaos. And chaos will continue unless we find a Golden Mean of citizenship we can agree on—or navigate how to go our separate ways.

Photo Credit: NASA (Unsplash)

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One Nation . . . Divisible

“[W]e are now facing another constitutional crisis, as we did in the 1850s, when Congress was unable to compromise on slavery or avert the impending civil war. Today again, changes that must be made seemingly can’t be made because of our divisions and failure to compromise. The Constitution was designed for another country, one in which people agreed on fundamental principles, and that’s not today’s America. We are divided on things that used to unite us, and we don’t like politicians who compromise on things we care about.” F.H. Buckley~

Every school day, I stand with a handful of high school students to say the Pledge of Allegiance. But I’ve begun to stumble over the word “indivisible”. I’m no longer certain that the United States will remain united.

We are more divided than ever, without being at war. And some places across the country, some of our cities, really are war zones.

Our division, rather its resolution, is the subject of a book by F.H. Buckley, American Secession: The Looming Threat of National Breakup.

Buckley divides the book into three sections: “Part I: A Cure for a Divided People?” “Part II: A Cure for Bigness?” “Part III: Lesser Cures.”

It’s our bigness, he argues, that has caused unhappiness, division, and corruption. But our bigness has made us wealthy too.

Buckley presents the discussion our founders had as they strived to determine which form of government would work for these United States.

Explaining that the framers assumed secession was permissible (“by the consent of the governed“), Buckley lays out the arguments the Constitution’s crafters made as they shaped the document various factions today see either as pliable or etched in stone. It cannot be both.

He makes the case that California, for example, if it seceded, would save “$103 billion …[paid] in federal taxes than it receive[s] back from Washington” and, therefore, should be able to pay for the plethora of social programs its government embraces.

While he notes later that California has never had a majority wanting to secede, that may change as the middle class continues to flee the Golden State.

It also remains to be seen whether $103 billion in extra revenues could stem the flow of departures or truly develop the entitlement utopia its leaders seek to create.

Buckley points readers to other recent secession movements such as Brexit, the UK’s secession from the European Union, and Quebec’s near self-extraction from Canada, arguing that the prospect of official division will affect America too.

As you begin the book, you might expect, as I did, that Buckley will advocate for secession. But the book comes to a different, (and maybe I’m being a bit cynical) less likely, proposal–a live-and-let-live cohabitation.

Is such a compromise possible?

The quick read (135 pages, plus a few charts) is a compilation of keen analysis that aptly shows America’s melting pot is at the boiling point.

Buckley presents more than one solution.

Questions remain: Will we boil over or find a way to dwell beside each other in peace?

And will “peace” include freedom or an enforced perspective that once lay behind an iron curtain?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Another Modest Proposal

Nearly 300 years ago, Jonathan Swift satirically proposed that the sale of Irish children for human consumption would solve economic distress on the Emerald Isle.

Buried within his satire were his actual proposals that few heeded.

Today, various versions of one sentiment reappear as America discusses the abortion issue on social media. It’s not satire, and it goes something like this:

“If you end legal abortion, who’s going to pay for all those children?” Or: “Are YOU willing to pay for those children?”

So I offer this proposal which could be replicated as needed across the nation:

Instead of aborting, say, 50 children, give me custody so that I might find good homes for them. Many people want to adopt today and would love to have a newborn.

Let’s say I find homes for 40 of them. We can applaud ourselves for having matched up homeless children and yearning parents.

We will have saved 40 lives and passed the expense of their care on to others more than willing to carry it.

But what shall we do with those whom we might call the leftovers?

We could (hypothetically) offer to our commenters the opportunity to potentially save themselves some tax dollars by dispatching the children themselves.

I’m fairly certain, however, that they’d find this act distasteful. The ‘beauty’ of abortion from their perspective is that it’s quick, cheaper (than care), and, to them, unseen.

Yet I would ask them to hear me out about other possibilities and advantages that could be available. After all, why just save tax dollars when you could actually gain income too?

Planned Parenthood has been selling baby parts–often from children born alive–without apparent penalty for some time.

For many research entities, the older the better–because the larger the child, the more tissue to be used in research. Alive and usable, rather than dead and chemically polluted or torn to bits, is quite advantageous.

We may, through such a practice, find a cure for a cruel disease. Look at all we garnered from the work of that German guy in the 1940s.

And as time passes, other opportunities will certainly show up.

For example, California’s legislature just passed a bill easing the penalty for adults engaging in sexual activity with “willing” minors, indicating that a market for living, older children already exists and is certain to grow.

We might work something out that would lessen the occurrence of wanted children being snatched off our streets–of traffickers grooming wanted children to become the “willing”. In their place, these “unwanted” children could serve.

Part of the deal could include a stipend plus reimbursement of taxes paid to support those our commenters consider disposable.

After all the bottom line is the bottom line.

Commenters divert attention from the humanity of children awaiting execution to the expenses children already born incur–costs they seem to deeply resent.

But the commenters are correct about one thing. More Christians could do more to foster already born children, mentor children on the precipice, and give to those in need.

In the end, we will all give an accounting for our compassion or lack of it.

For how much time, effort, and money we provided to help children in distress.

Or how we resented these innocents to the point of death.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Secret Past of a Silent Performer

As a child, I watched The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday evenings.

I have a vague memory of a mime named Marcel Marceau performing on the program.

As a high-schooler, I knew a boy who owned a vinyl LP titled The Best of Marcel Marceau. It began with applause and proceeded in silence to the end of Side Two, culminating in a final round of applause.

Few people knew Marceau beyond his artistic genius. But as a youth, Marceau performed great feats of heroism.

Marceau was a Jew in France. He moved from Northern France to the south when the Nazis invaded. But eventually, the Nazis too arrived in Marceau’s new home.

Also arriving were Jewish orphans in search of safe homes. It was up to Marceau to accompany the children across France’s border to the safety of Switzerland.

I learned of this story through the movie Resistance, now out on DVD.

A good deal of the story is fictionalized. Marceau’s romantic interest is part of the moviemaker’s creativity. Another piece is the representation of the Nazis in the person of Klaus Barbie.

The depiction of Barbie, otherwise known as the Butcher of Lyon, garners the movie an R rating despite the lack of graphic violence.

The accurate explanation of Barbie’s torture tactics is enough to justify the rating.

Not every reviewer gives this movie a 10-star IMDb rating as I did. One especially disagrees with the latitude the filmmakers took with the story.

I’m not so sure Marceau would agree. He was an artist. And this movie is art.

Many today haven’t heard of him. Many also don’t know about Barbie. A quick trip to Wikipedia can illuminate both stories for those who need such clarity.

This film tells a tightly woven story with fabulous performances.

And we get to see a young man doing all he can to save others. A young man, at first concerned only for himself, who grew to fame and fortune and apparently didn’t feel the need to let everyone know what he had done.

That’s true heroism. And we would do well to know the story–even with a bit of fiction added in.

Photo Credit: 10 Interesting Marcel Marceau Facts

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Upside-Down World Is Becoming Our Own

Published in Mustard Seed Sentinel, August 22, 2020.

When the Roman Empire collapsed, the loss of basic knowledge of how to do ordinary things was immense. The Oxford historian Bryan Ward-Perkins [says] that it took western Europeans something like 700 years to relearn how to build a roof as solid as the Romans knew how to build.” Rod Dreher~

When my husband retired from his office job, he leaped into a full-time vocation that he was already doing part-time–roof and chimney repair. And he added a ministry aspect.

When he needs a crew, he goes to a local drug rehab program and recruits workers for the day. A couple of them turned into long-term employees. They arrived with a new outlook and got a new set of skills.

But most of them don’t. After all, not everyone belongs on a roof. Not everyone can traverse a housetop in even a mild degree of comfort. And not everyone is willing to do the hot sweaty work required to finish the task at hand.

Some move on to other work. Others go back to the old way of life.

My husband sees two ways of thinking. One accepts responsibility for the past and doesn’t want to return to the old life. Those workers show promise and are willing to learn. They revel in a sense of accomplishment. They find success in fixing something that had been broken as they watch the broken pieces of their own lives mend also.

The other perspective shifts blame for the past. The shifting means they don’t move forward. They realize no great moments of accomplishment. Without accomplishment, there is nothing to celebrate, to pass on. There is no once-broken-now-fixed thing to see, to point to. And no set of skills attained to pass to others. They can only blame.

That is how we forget.

Decades ago, I was among an inaugural class of girls taking woodshop. I still have the finished cedar box I made complete with a crack across the top because I (apparently) hit the hammer too hard nailing the lid on.

I’m certain it was for reasons other than my cracked lid—or in addition to it—that the teacher swore he would never teach girls again. I assume he retired shortly thereafter. From then on, girls would work with wood and boys would navigate the formerly female-only domain of the kitchen.

Our more modern outlook did well to invite boys to pursue competence in the kitchen and girls to use tools. We taught skills and children accomplished meals and boxes–even those with cracks.

I read recently of schools eliminating home-economics classes–now named Family and Consumer Science.

And I remember the sense I felt a few years ago at seeing a sack lunch for sale in a grocery store. It’s hard to give that feeling a word. But “loss” comes the closest. Are some of us no longer willing to pass along the small accomplishment of packing one’s own lunch?

Think about the exchange so many of us have made. We’ve traded the ability to prepare our own food (let alone grow it ourselves) for going to the store or restaurant, or now to have it delivered.

We have to realize that we are teaching the young how to do things. We are showing them how to accomplish tasks themselves–or how to get others to do things for them. We are always teaching something.

We are missing important components of ourselves in these deficits of basic competencies. With such seemingly small l