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Christianity. Theology. Apologetics. Philosophy. Literature. Politics. Science. Culture.

Friday, August 26, 2005

rebelution + conscont = The Rebelution

www.rebelution.blogspot.com

In a very cruel trick on the dear Dawn Eden (author of The Dawn Patrol) Brett and I timidly announce the merger of Conscientious Contemplation and Rebelution. After discussing the possibility with our parents, we came to the conclusion that it was in our own interest, and in the interest of our readers, to consolidate our entries to a single blog. We also realized that the longer we waited, the harder it would be to make the switch. This afternoon featured a flurry of activity as all the posts here were cross-posted to their new home: The Rebelution

Unfortunately, while the timing was as perfect as it would ever be, some confusion will most likely result. In an incredible act of kindness, Dawn decided to feature us in her weekly column Blog On! in the New York Daily News. While it will not appear until Sunday (the 28th), the interview, writing, submission, and finalization of the column was all accomplished before our decision to merge.

As it is, all of the entries that Dawn cited from my blog can be found here. Her column was correct in every detail. The purpose of this post is only to alert you that all future posts by both Brett and myself will be made at The Rebelution.

Soli Deo Gloria, Alex Jordan Harris

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Guest Post by My Father (Part 1)

In the comments section of The Myth of Adolescence (Part 2), fellow blogger Jan (The Happy Homemaker) requested that I share about the environment in which Brett and I were raised. There are few better ways to accomplish this end than to share the following article by my father, Gregg Harris. Originally published in TABLETALK magazine in August of 1999, these words capture the heart of my father's approach to raising his children. Long a reformer, my father was a leading member of the home-school movement, and has more recently turned his focus to the reformation of the church. He currently serves as a teaching elder of Household of Faith Community Church. The church was planted in our family's living room in August of 1998, when Brett and I were 9 years old. Besides his study, writing, and teaching, my father still occasionally travels and speaks around the country, and is actively involved in the raising and instructing of his remaining (at home) 5 children. Serving as Brett's and my manager, advisor, and visionary, our father is our hero. Now, without further ado, I present my dad:

Priceless Treasures: My Reasons for Home Schooling
by Gregg Harris

C.S. LEWIS ONCE OBSERVED that God is not so much offended that we want too much as by the fact that we are satisfied with so little. Though He offers us the highest of adventures in our Christian life, we settle for the stale mediocrity of our lukewarm religious routines.

The parental counterpart to this idea is that most mothers and fathers actually want too little for their children - they settle for success in this world's terms. But God would have us aim higher, not like an ambitious stage mother pushing her mildly talented children into the spotlight, but like a fine jeweler making the best possible use of each bit of gold, silver, and precious stone he has. My children are priceless treasures, and I want God's highest and best for them.

What does it mean to aim high in this way? What am I really trying to accomplish in the education of my children?

Is it enough that they read well? No, not for me. I want them to commune with great authors from throughout the ages and be able to comprehend the profound ideas and truths that God has used to change the course of history. Let them be voracious readers of truly great literature.

Do I want my sons and daughters only to write and spell correctly? No, I want them to correspond with fellow enthusiasts in their chosen areas of endeavor. If they have the gifting, let them eventually author intelligent, superbly written works concerning the important issues of their day. Let them be prolific writers, whether privately or publicly

Do I want them merely to know enough history to pass a written test? No, I want them to understand the times in which they live and to be able to pass the real tests of life they will face in voting booths and on battlefields. Let them be like the sons of Issachar ("who had understanding of the times," 1 Chron. 12:32) in the unfolding dramas of future events.

But education is so much more than mere academics. It is primarily matter of character development. Self-discipline may be out of style, but it is never out of work. Do I want my children simply to be nice, well-behaved, and safe from peer pressure? Not at all! Aslan, in Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, is not a tame lion, but he is good. I prefer my children to be like that - good but not tame, men and women of integrity, not conformity. Let them be so influential and contagious in their faith that they turn the hearts of their companions toward God. Let the world grieve that its best and brightest have become Christians...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Definition of 'Sin'

What is sin? This was the question posed by young collegian John Wesley in a letter addressed to his mother. Wesley’s goal was to get a clear, cut-and-dried formula for what comprised "sin." After all, such technical definitions are easy to get around; stretched and bent for the allowance of things that our consciences (except when mollified by sinful rationalization) could never justify.

Wesley woefully underestimated his mother. The response given by this wise and godly woman was far different from what he expected... And it changed his life:

“Would you judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of pleasure, of the innocence or malignity of actions? Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind; that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Washington Examiner Lambasts "Superhero for Choice" Cartoon

As recently announced on 'The Dawn Patrol', our efforts to alert the media regarding Planned Parenthood's "Superhero for Choice" cartoon have resulted in an unexpected editorial in The Washington Examiner.

In the editorial, entitled "Planned Parenthood Takes Low Road," PPGG is taken to task for its film depicting violence against pro-lifers.

The Examiner's editors write:
Apparently, the lesson to be learned [from "A Superhero for Choice"] is that abortions are OK, especially if it means less welfare payments later. The animation ends on the high note of referring to the Rev. Jerry Falwell as a "schmuck."

The video is a shameful and disrespectful take on the very sensitive issue of abortion and reproductive rights, where good, reasonable people disagree for good and reasonable reasons. By taking the low road and appealing to the lowest - and juvenile - common denominator, Planned Parenthood demeans its opponents and, even more, its supporters.
As Dawn points out, the fact that this is a Washington, D.C., paper is particularly exciting, because it will most likely be read by those on Capitol Hill.

If you have not seen the film, please visit my detailed synopsis, which includes a comprehensive list of links of where the video and transcripts are hosted.

As promised, here is the screenshot of "A Superhero for Choice" as featured on PPGG's Web page before being removed by the organization several days ago (without comment or apology).

You Read It Right: Complete Blog Commenting Guidelines

For the purpose of facilitating logical and respectful argumentation and discussion, the lovely Dawn Eden of The Dawn Patrol commissioned us (Brett and I) to write out the complete blog commenting guidelines. We are now pleased to present:

Commenting for "Newbies"
(A "Reminder" for the Rest of Us)
About the Authors: Alex & Brett Harris have competed for four years in high school speech & debate, including policy and value debate, persuasive platform speaking, limited preparation categories, and even interpretative events. Over the past two years they have combined for 5 national titles, making it into final rounds over 18 times. They have been contributing authors to several debate sourcebooks and have coached high school speech and debate clubs in Oregon, Washington, and Maryland. They currently author the blogs ‘Conscientious Contemplation’ (Alex) and 'The Rebelution’ (Brett).
You Have Entered “The Comment Zone”
It is crucial to a vibrant and healthy comment section for participants to understand the purpose of discussion, and to possess a proper respect for their fellow contributors. Whether you maintain your own blog, comment on other blogger’s posts, or both, you have most likely been frustrated by the lack of proper argumentation and the seeming epidemic of disrespect, primarily among your opponents (Insight #1: They feel the same way towards you).

The truth is that we all can use a helpful reminder every so often as to how we should conduct ourselves in the high-intensity role of “the commentator’s commenter.”

For that reason we present, “Commenting For ‘Newbies’ (A ‘Reminder’ For The Rest of Us),” as an invaluable resource for bloggers and their readers; an aide-mémoire, if you will. Yes, logic, evidence, and respect still exist and can be realized—even in your comment section.

The Purpose of Argumentation
Critical to proper argumentation is an understanding of why we argue; we argue in hopes of persuading dissenting opinions to conform to our own. If we disagree, it is because we think we are right and others are wrong. We take the time to discuss our disagreements in hopes of proving the validity of our views. It is frustrating, therefore, when we find ourselves perpetually clashing with our opponents, while making seemingly no headway towards our goal of changing their minds.

In fact, at times it can feel as if, were we to publicly claim that rabbits exist, our opponents would deny it; even if one hopped up, said, “What’s up, Doc?” and starting burrowing into their heads. How do we get past these confounding doldrums and arrive at a place from which the discussion can progress in an intelligent manner?

Here are three steps to improve your skills of argumentation:
Step One: Remember that your opponents have come to their conclusions using more or less the same rational process you have. The difference is not necessarily their intellect, but rather the information they had at their disposal and the values they hold.

Step Two: Understand that this means your opponent feels just as confident about the accuracy of his or her position as you do about yours, and will only be persuaded otherwise if you prove that their information or values are out of line.

Step Three: Realize that successful argumentation will only take place when you make it your goal to inform and persuade, by supplying additional bits (or chunks) of information and by addressing the values behind your opponent’s conclusions.

8 Principles For Logical & Respectful Discussion

The key to respectful, profitable argumentation is to respect others and to be respected. You respect others by acting civilly and arguing reasonably. You cause others to respect you by not acting like a fool in your manner or in your argumentation. Here are eight principles that allow you to do both:

NUMBER ONE: Understand the ‘classical’ view of tolerance.
The classical view of tolerance lends itself much more readily to intelligent argumentation than does the modern view. It teaches that, while we may strongly disagree with dissenting opinions, we still treat the person behind those opinions with respect.
DO feel free to disagree, even strongly, with other people, and say so!
DO feel free to permanently demolish opposing viewpoints. (Good luck!)
DO NOT attempt to demolish opposing “people.”
NUMBER TWO: “No ‘ad hominem’ attacks, you moron!”
Nothing more quickly degenerates a discussion than when people start attacking those making the arguments rather than refuting the arguments themselves. Remember that the character, circumstances, or political ideology of the person has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the proposition being defended.
DO NOT stoop to name-calling (moron, idiot, etc.)
DO NOT imply negative monikers onto people simply because they disagree. (i.e. “Anyone who’s even slightly intelligent will believe that cows are people too.”)
NUMBER THREE: Eschew Obscenity & Prohibit Profanity
The use of inappropriate language and shocking statements is a sure sign that the author lacks the ability to communicate their position in a calm and reasonable manner. It shows tremendous disdain for others and will not be allowed on respectable blogs.
DO NOT be upset when your comment is deleted for inappropriate language.
DO NOT be upset when you IP address is banned for multiple offenses.
NUMBER FOUR: He who asserts must prove.
This is one of the most critical aspects of proper argumentation and requires that you carefully guard yourself from making groundless statements. Every proposition should be supported by either logic or evidence.

Logic includes everything from complex syllogisms to plain ol’ cause-and-effect. Evidence can take the form of examples, statistics, and/or quotations from authorities in the field. Supported arguments stand until refuted. Unsupported arguments do not deserve a response and might as well not exist.
DO feel free to confirm other people’s points without providing additional support.
DO NOT make additional arguments or publicize your disagreement with someone else’s position without providing adequate support.
NUMBER FIVE: Respond to the argument, not to the spelling.
There is no surer sign of inadequacy on the part of a debater than when they take issue with some small “error” on the part of their opponent, while ignoring the main point/s their adversary is trying to make.

If you are unable to refute your opponent’s position, don’t insult his or her spelling, grammar, or insignificant deviations from fact. Your opponent is most likely correct, and their small errors have nothing to do with the overall truth or falsity of the proposition they defend. Don’t make a fool of yourself by being a sore loser.
DO feel free to point out significant errors that impact the validity of a claim.
DO NOT point out errors solely for the purpose of embarrassing your opponent.
NUMBER SIX: Debating When Less Is More.
A common tactic adopted by inexperienced debaters is to ask a long series of questions that place an enormous burden on their opposition, without actually making any particular point. Such an approach is not only unfair to your opponent, but it really isn’t argumentation at all. These kinds of “question avalanches” can hardly be responded to in the confines of a comment section, but will often foster animosity.

The same is true of those with too much time on their hands (or a gift for speed writing) who present far too many arguments at one time in hopes of “burying” their opponent under the supposed “empirical” weight. Both of these abuses inhibit true argumentation and inevitably degrade the quality of a discussion. Respect yourself and your opponents at all times by using moderation in your argumentation and questioning.
DO feel free to ask pertinent and probing questions about your opponent’s position.
DO NOT expect answers for loaded questions.
DO NOT ask loaded questions.
DO feel free to make powerful and relevant arguments against your opponent’s position.
DO NOT expect answers to your 5 page tome.
DO NOT write 5 page tomes.
NUMBER SEVEN: Do your own research.
Remember that your opponents are busy people who are taking time out of their day to discuss relevant issues with you. Do not place an excessive burden on them by requiring them to go “off-site” to read lengthy articles or study ancient philosophers, scientists, etc. If Aristotle makes “your” point then “you” should be able to make the argument. Your opponent certainly will not (and shouldn’t have to) make it for you.
DO feel free to provide links to outside sources for your opponent’s consideration.
DO NOT expect your opponent to read them unless you make them want to. (i.e. “If you go read Maxwell’s five-foot bookshelf, then you’d agree with me!” never works)
DO feel free to support your arguments with outside resources. Just make sure you summarize what the resource says. Otherwise your opponents will consider your argument unsupported until they go read/see the support. Which they most likely never will.
NUMBER EIGHT: The fallacy of the majority.
When the majority of participants in a discussion hold your position, it is common to start acting as if the last seven principles no longer apply to you. You feel you can destroy the dissenter, along with their position, since you have so many like-minded chums. However, the majority has no more right to silence the opinion of a minority through disrespectful, improper argumentation, than the minority would have, if it were able, to silence the opinion of the majority using the same methods. Victory by means of respectful, logical argumentation is true victory. Victory by any other means is no victory at all.
DO feel free to destroy dissenting opinions using respectful, logical argumentation.
DO NOT silence dissenting opinions by majority “piranha attacks.”


NOTE: Provided that proper credit is given to my twin and me, the preceding guidelines are freely available for use by any bloggers wishing to do so. May they serve you well. Soli deo gloria!

Alex Jordan Harris

The Myth of Adolescence (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote of the great elephants of India, who, although they have the physical capacity to uproot trees during the day, can be restrained all night long by a piece of twine and a twig. How is this possible?

The elephant’s training begins when it is still young and considerably less powerful. Removed from its mother, the elephant is then shackled with an iron chain to a large tree. For days and weeks on end, the baby elephant strains against its restraints, only to find that all exertion is useless. Then slowly, over a period of several weeks, sometimes months, smaller chains and smaller trees are used. Eventually, you can use a piece of twine and a small branch, and the great beast will not budge. Its mind is fully committed to the idea that it cannot go anywhere when there is something around its right hind leg.

And so I ask my generation, individually and corporately, “What is holding us back?” History demonstrates that we are far more capable than we think we are. Our failure to realize substantial achievement at early ages is due, not to any innate inadequacies on our part, but rather to our social conditioning. American society, with its media-saturated youth culture, not only follows trends and fads, but it creates them. Classrooms, TV shows, magazines, and websites, are not only addressing us at the level of social expectations, but they are in fact dictating those expectations. They tell us how to act, think, and talk; they tell us what to wear, what to buy, and where to buy it; they tell us what to dream, what to value, and what to hate. We are being squeezed into a mold where there is no room for Christian character or competence. And as the famous proverb goes, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

In what could be considered the most maddening aspect of this crisis, not all areas of maturity are being stunted. In a powerful demonstration of teenagers’ ability to meet the expectations set before them, we witness young people today reaching unprecedented levels of technological proficiency and sexual experience. It is ironic that many teenagers, while fluent in multiple computer languages, are not expected to carry on an intelligent conversation with an adult. It is heartbreaking that so many young girls, while constantly pressed to become more and more sexually alluring, are not expected to attain any notable level of character beneath the surface.

Our world cannot last another generation of Christian young people who fit in. The shackles of society are on our minds and hearts, not our ankles. We are held back only by the myth of adolescence and the lies of social expectations. If we would only recognize that our restraints are illusory, and then let God’s Word and all of history govern our sense of what we are capable of, we would be a force this world could no longer ignore.

We face a crisis and an opportunity. A crisis, in the sense that we can no longer afford to slowly drift towards adulthood, viewing the teen years as a vacation from responsibility, and an opportunity, in the sense that we can embrace life now and make a difference for the glory of God, and for the good our family, our nation, and our world. Look down at your “ankle” and see the pathetic contrivance that has been restraining you. Now renew your mind in the light of God’s Word and take a step forward.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Empirical Proof: Operation Lars

UPDATE (3:30 PM, PST): Just got off the air with Lars for the second time today. When confronted with additional evidence, he gave me a somewhat broader explanation than what I received earlier. He said that he and his people looked into the cartoon when it first came out and called Planned Parenthood, who denied any knowledge of the film. He then admitted that the cartoon has been traced back to the Golden Gate affiliate, but that he didn't think it was that big of a deal. That struck me as odd, because earlier he said that he would definitely "take Planned Parenthood to task" if they were behind it. Unfortunately, people like Lars don't feel that such a news item is worthy of their time... Despite the fact that PPGG gets 53% of its funding from taxes and that a similar cartoon by a pro-life group would spark uproar and lawsuits. Larson is someone I respect and admire, but I am disappointed.


Announcing Operation Lars, a project aimed at alerting conservative men and women of influence, like talk show host Lars Larson, who (by no fault of their own) have been fed misinformation by those sympathetic to Planned Parenthood's agenda.

Empirical Proof:

1.) As of now, Plannned Parenthood Golden Gate still hosts the cartoon on their server, though the link and image from their main page has been removed. Dawn Eden, who originally broke the story, has screenshots of the home page (as it was just a few days ago) on her computer. They should be available for posting soon. If the cartoon was really created by a third-party and uploaded via "hacking" or an "inside" job, wouldn't Planned Parenthood have removed the cartoon immediately and issued a statement of explanation?

2.) Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's annual report includes multiple images of characters found in the cartoon, including title character Dianysus. These are Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's characters... The art is identical to that found in the film.

ATTENTION: This post will be updated throughout the day as evidence comes in.

Planned Parenthood Spreading Lies?

I just got off the phone with Lars Larson. He said he had heard about the "Superhero for Choice" cartoon, but that his understanding was that it was made by a third-party and then attributed to Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. I have no idea where he got that from. If that was true, you would expect that PPGG would have removed the snapshot image from its front page last week when the story broke and released a statement denouncing the film and explaining that someone had hacked their server. Conveniently, the snapshot image is gone now. I'm kicking myself for not taking a screenshot. If anyone did, please let me know.

Lars said that if Planned Parenthood was really behind this, he'd take them to task for it. Conveniently for them, he's heard things that neither Dawn nor I (nor anyone else in the blogosphere) have heard... Things which don't line up with the facts, but effectively keep him from using his national radio show to alert people around the country. All these "convenient" happenstances seem a little too fishy. Planned Parenthood seems to be trying to get away with not apologizing, by silencing (with more false information) those with the potential of threatening them.

The Myth of Adolescence (Part 1)

The trained elephant of India is a perfect picture of the power of psychological captivity. Tamed and utilized for its enormous strength, the great beast stands nearly 10 feet tall and weighs up to 5 tons when fully grown. Its tasks may include uprooting full-grown trees, hauling great boulders, and carrying enormous loads on its shoulders. And yet, when the day’s work is done and this powerful beast must be kept from wandering off during the night, its owner simply takes a piece of twine, attaches it to a small branch embedded in the ground, and ties it around the elephant’s right hind leg. Reason dictates that the elephant can easily snap the twine or pull the twig from ground, and yet the owner does not worry, fully confident that when morning comes he will find the animal exactly where he left him. And he does.

I’ll admit that upon first hearing of this practice, I couldn’t decide which was harder to believe: that the owner was confident, or that his confidence proved justified. A beast that can uproot trees is suddenly unable to pull up a twig? What is it about the piece of twine and the small branch that allows them to subdue all of the elephant’s power? I soon discovered that it had little to do with the twine around the elephant’s ankle, and everything to do with invisible shackles around its mind.

My contention is simple: The young adults of our generation are the elephant. Our twine is the 20th century concept of adolescence. Our twig is societal expectations. We stand restrained as a hurting world burns around us. Yet our twine and twig are of a recent origin. Young adults of the past were not so encumbered.

David Farragut, the U.S. Navy’s first admiral, became a midshipman on the warship Essex at the age of 10. At the age of 12, a mere boy by modern standards, Farragut was given command of his first ship, sailing a capture vessel, crew, and prisoners, back to the U.S. after a successful battle. Young David was given responsibility at an early age, and he rose to the occasion.

The father of our country, George Washington, though never thought to be particularly bright by his peers, began to master geometry, trigonometry, and surveying when he would have been a 5th or 6th grader in our day and ceased his formal education at 14 years of age. At the age of 16 he was named official surveyor for Culpepper County, Virginia. For the next three years, Washington earned nearly $100,000 a year (in modern purchasing power). By the age of 21, he had leveraged his knowledge of the surrounding land, along with his income, to acquire 2,300 acres of prime Virginian land.

These examples astound us in our day and age, but this is because we view life through an extra social category called ‘adolescence’, a category that would have been completely foreign to men and women just 100 years ago. Prior to the late 1800s there were only 3 categories of age: childhood, adulthood, and old age. It was only with the coming of the early labor movement with its progressive child labor laws, coupled with new compulsory schooling laws, that a new category, called adolescence, was invented. Coined by G. Stanley Hall, who is often considered the father of American psychology, ‘adolescence’ identified the artificial zone between childhood and adulthood when young people ceased to be children, but were no longer permitted by law to assume the normal responsibilities of adulthood, such as entering into a trade or finding gainful employment. Consequently, marriage and family had to be delayed as well, and so we invented ‘the teenager’, an unfortunate creature who had all the yearnings and capabilities of an adult, but none of the freedoms or responsibilities.

Teenage life became a 4-year sentence of continuing primary education and relative idleness known as ‘high school’ (four years of schooling which would later be repeated in the first two years of college). Abolished by law were the young Farraguts and young Washingtons, who couldn’t spare the time to be children any longer than necessary. Cultivated instead was the culture we know today, where young people are allowed, encouraged, and even forced to remain quasi-children for much longer than necessary.

The effect of this seismic shift in America’s philosophy of education is not limited to students in the public schools. As homeschoolers we may feel as though we have escaped the danger, but an honest evaluation proves that, as a whole, we also fall short of realizing our potential. After reading the examples of great men of our country’s past, we should recognize that there is no reason why a 13 to 18 year old cannot behave as a responsible adult. History proves it is possible. Diverse cultures confirm its validity. The only thing holding young people back in America today is the twine of this perpetual recess called adolescence and the twig of lowered social expectations. We expect immaturity and irresponsibility, from ourselves and from one another, and that is exactly what we get.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Announcements, Forecasts, and Shout Outs...

A big thank you to everyone who responded to my post exposing Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's "A Superhero for Choice" cartoon. I was on the Lars Larson Show here in Portland on Monday, alerting Jeff Kropf (who was filling in for Lars) and Northwest listeners about the film, and I plan to call in tomorrow and talk to Lars himself. Meanwhile, be sure to alert as many people as possible about Planned Parenthood's advocation of violence against pro-lifers. The national organization still refuses to renounce (or even comment on) its affiliate's film, despite pressure from the American Life League.

A further thank you to Dawn Eden who unexpectedly mentioned Brett and I on her blog 'The Dawn Patrol'. Both Brett and I have been greatly inspired by her work and heartily recommend her blog.

I apologize for the lack of posts over the past several days. For those of you who were not aware, my niece Faith Felicity Harris was born last Monday to my older brother Joel and his wife Kimberly. Diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) prior to birth, Faith was found to possess several additional heart abnormalities, which rendered the planned surgery impossible. Flown down to the Loma Linda University Medical Center in southern California yesterday, Faith will wait for a heart to become available (the average waiting time is 4-6 months). The last several days have been a bustle of activity in order to get everything ready for Joel, Kimmy, and Faith to make the last-minute relocation. Provided a heart does become available, they could be gone for nearly a year. Prayer for Faith would be much appreciated, as 50% of babies die while waiting for a heart. Pray that she would remain strong, healthy, and stable for as long as necessary. For information on where to find updates, photos, etc., please see the comments section for instructions.

Part 1 of 'The Myth of Adolescence' will be posted tomorrow morning, with Part 2 scheduled for Saturday (at the latest). Several interesting topics are coming up after that, including an interactive examination of a tactic frequently used by liberals to great effect, and rarely by conservatives, a short treatise on tolerance, as well as a possible investigation into the paralells between Vietnam and the war in Iraq, particularly among the media and protesters.

Most of you are already keeping track of Brett's recent entries (Part 1, Part 2), but for those of you who are not, or who have failed to take the time to read them, I urge you to do so. The message found in his current series strikes right to the heart of what both our blogs are about.

Thank you all for reading. God bless you!

Soli Deo Gloria, Alex Jordan Harris

"If I wanted to be truly prepared for adult life,
I would have to take more
responsibility for my own education."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Double Standard: There's the Left, and Then There's the Rest of Us

UPDATE: Links fixed... Sorry, about that.

Over the past week, I have debated with myself over whether or not I should use my blog to alert people regarding Planned Parenthood’s latest exploits. Finally, I came to the conclusion that this is what blogs are for… Prepare to be informed.

WARNING: The following content, while not particularly explicit, does contain information not suitable for younger children.

Early last week, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG) posted an eight-minute cartoon entitled “A Superhero for Choice”. The cartoon features Dianysus, PPGG’s CEO-turned-superhero Dian Harrison, who begins the short as a mild-mannered African-American woman in a blue suit rejoicing over the headline “Planned Parenthood Says: Safe is Sexy!” that just happens to adorn a sidewalk newsstand.

Soliloquizing for a moment, Dian speaks of food preferences, sport team loyalties, obeying the law, and presumably, sexual practices and abortion, in the same breath. Transforming into Dianysus (a play on the Greek god, Dionysus, the god of wine and debauchery). Complete with red suit, condom-shaped jet pack, and a mask that reminds one of devil horns, she then flies off to “fight for choice.”

Her first stop is in a back alley, where a short and square man in a purple suit and a high hat (somewhat reminiscent of a Snidely Whiplash/Boris Badenov-type character) preaches abstinence to a group of teens (an Asian female, and two males, Hispanic and African-America). Defending themselves with lines they’ve learned from the Planned Parenthood instructor who visited their high school, the teens explain that there are lots of ways to practice safe sex, like condoms and contraceptives. When warned of STDs, the girl replies, “Yeah, but I don’t plan to get any sexually-transmitted diseases.” Of course, as we all know, if you don’t plan on something, it won’t happen.

However, before anything else can happen, Dianysus appears on the scene and demands to know what’s going on. The man in the purple suit replies that he is informing the kids about the truth, to which Dianysus responds, “The only truth here is that you’re ugly, and your mama dresses you funny.” She then proceeds to fill an empty trashcan with Aqua Slide (I assume this is in reference to ‘Astroglide’, Planned Parenthood’s lubricant for teens engaging in pre-marital sexual activity), tosses the abstinence advocate in it and clamps on the lid. After burbling for a while, the man is silent.

I find it interesting that even in a cartoon bashing abstinence advocates and portraying them as slimy, misinformed, rude, and old-fashioned, the teens still need Dianysus to intervene. What’s even more interesting is that when she comes, she presents nothing in the form of argumentation (unless, of course, insults and violence are considered as arguments). Even when Planned Parenthood writes the script, the abstinence advocates are still more convincing. They just don’t drown you in a tub of lube.

Having deposed the enemy of Planned Parenthood’s propaganda, Dianysus makes sure the kids know where to go for all their health care needs and reproductive advice (I don’t believe their parents were an option). The kids respond, “Planned Parenthood Golden Gate.” Why? “Because,” they say in unison, “we have a choice!” Triumphant, Dianysus tosses the kids a ‘safe sex kit’ to remember her by, before taking to the skies once again.

Dianysus’s second stop takes her to a Planned Parenthood facility surrounded by greenish-blue, zombie-like, pro-life demonstrators who are chanting, grunting, moaning, and carrying “Christian” signs, unlike any I’ve ever seen, that say, “Pray for Thy Sins.” Taking the time to speak to her viewers for a moment, Dianysus explains that such demonstrators are allowed to express their views under the first amendment, but that sometimes they can get unruly and come a little too close. She then wishes out loud that they would just disappear, which gives her an idea. Taking a condom gun, she shoots at the protesters, who are subsequently enveloped by condoms. The condoms slowly expand before exploding in fire and smoke, leaving no trace of the demonstrators. “That’s more like it,” exclaims Dianysus. “Now everyone that needs low-cost and confidential health care may enter freely, without intimidation or violence, and acquire information about reproductive issues, and obtain professional health services that each of us deserve, be they women, men, or teens.” I guess that Planned Parenthood doesn’t categorize blowing up peaceful pro-life demonstrators as violence.

Moving from San Francisco to our nation’s capitol, a helicopter flies across the screen and drops a large pink condom over the Washington Memorial with our national anthem playing in the backround. We then see a pro-life senator stirring a green, bubbling stew in a large iron pot. He tosses in several stacks of papers: “Bill of Rights,” “The Constitution,” “First Amendment,” and “Civil Rights.” The screen then cuts to an odd depiction of the scales of justice, which tip to the side of “ignorance,” as opposed to “choice.”

When confronted by Dianysus, the white, southern senator explains that the laws of the United States do not apply to him. After engaging in a “do not-do too-do not” type argument, the senator tosses Roe. v. Wade into the stew. That gives Dioaysis an idea; she picks up the senator and submerges him in the boiling liquid, holding him there for several moments. When she pulls him out he is kneeling on a platter, naked, with an apple in his mouth, like a roasted pig. When asked how he feels now, he replies, “Great! I feel cleansed! I no longer have the stench of misinformed conservatism. I want all women everywhere to have the ability to choose what they do with their bodies.”

“That’s more like it” says Dianysus, who then proceeds to inform him that money spent now on family planning will save billions of dollars in future social expenditures. His eyes light up with flashing dollar signs. A newspaper is then shown that reads “Planned Parenthood Wins Again,” and the scales of justice tip to the side of “choice” as the hallelujah chorus plays. I found this section particularly chilling. Kill children now, so you won’t have to take care of them later. Great plan.

Having finished her “political” work, Dianysus is off to Ethiopia to check up on Planned Parenthood Golden Gate’s local reproductive health agents. Landing in front of a small grass hut in a small village, she addresses a female doctor standing with a couple and their young child. The doctor fills her in on Planned Parenthood’s mission statement: Terminating unintended pregnancies, preventing women from having children for anything other than the “right” reasons, and making sure unwanted children never see the light of day.

Just then, Dianysus remembers that she has a meeting with Dr. Jerry Falwell. “That schmuck,” she says. After filling her bio-diesel jetpack with coffee bags grown on trees (which carry the label “Morebucks” and possess logo very similar to that of Starbucks), Dianysus flies through a rainbow and into the sky. She speaks to her pre-teen and teenage viewers as she goes, telling them that she hopes they learned a little something.

“Planned Parenthood welcomes everyone, regardless of race, creed, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age or income. After all, we’ve been around for 89 years. We must be doing something right!” This closing statement is a perfect example of the incongruous “logic” used throughout the film. The Ku Klux Klan has been around for even longer, so they must be doing something even more right. For that matter, Christianity has been around for nearly 2,000 years. I’d be interested to see if Planned Parenthood lasts that long. The truth is, Planned Parenthood has been around since Margaret Sanger and her fellow eugenics advocates founded it in the early 1900s.

With this we come to the credits, which have their own interesting moments. They begin with the words, “You too can be a superhero for choice!” spray-painted on a brick wall. I can only suppose that means that anyone can drown people, blow them up, and commit other acts of violence in order to promote Planned Parenthood’s agenda.

The credits feature a condom that stretches across the screen to display the names of different contributors. At one point, the condom comes across and decapitates a pro-life demonstrator, whose body slowly slumps out of the screen (see frame-by-frame images here).

The best part is that our taxes paid for this. Planned Parenthood Golden Gate’s annual report shows that 53 percent of its revenue comes from “government fees and contracts.” Even giving them the benefit of the doubt (i.e. that all of that money was put directly into services), it stills frees them up to use donor money to make “educational cartoons” like this one.

The most amazing aspect about this whole thing, in my mind, is the incredible double standard displayed by both Planned Parenthood and the national news media. While pro-life activists are often accused of violence and bigotry, pro-abortion activists are applauded for similar actions when done in the name of choice (see, at your own risk, AbortionViolence.com). Imagine, for just a moment, what would happen if a conservative group, like National Right to Life, or the Family Research Council, were to release a cartoon depicting pro-choice advocates being drowned, blown up, or decapitated. There. Would. Be. Uproar.

Planned Parenthood (not to mention the ACLU and the liberal media) would come after us with everything they had. It would be on the front page of every major newspaper across the country, featured on the nightly news, and discussed on all the talk radio stations. However, Planned Parenthood does the same thing, and what happens? No one ever hears of it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way this time, and you can help. Dawn Eden (who deserves incredibly mad props for her amazing work) at ‘The Dawn Patrol’ has, over the past week, fired up the pro-life blog community and put the heat on Planned Parenthood. Through her efforts the story has been covered by several smaller, online news outlets and referenced on multiple talk radio shows, including Michael Savage. She is already heading up a grassroots effort to blow this cartoon up in Planned Parenthood’s face (find out more about Project Max).

We have to move fast. Planned Parenthood will waste no time in covering its tracks if they fear that the cartoon will receive national attention. Already, they have removed the link of the animation from PPGG’s main page. Several bloggers, at risk of a lawsuit, are hosting the film on their own servers to keep it accessible to the public:

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate’s Hidden Direct Link: Quicktime (streaming)
SaintKansas: Windows Media (3 MB, zipped, small)
CSNews: Windows Media (with disclaimer)
ArrMatey at Court Zero: Windows Media (direct link)
Joel Helbling: Window Media (streaming)
Catscape: Windows Media (zipped)
Shoutlast.com: Multiple Video Formats (.mp4 [90 MB], .zip, .wmv)
Shoutlast.com: Carton Transcripts (.txt, .rtf, .hqx)

Again… Go here and do what you can to hold Planned Parenthood accountable. There’s the left, and then there’s the rest of us. It’s time the rest of us played offense.

DISCLAIMER: The author bears no responsibility for the content of PPGG’s cartoon, nor the content found on the different sites listed. Please explore at your own risk.

Before I close… I believe it is important for us, as Christians, to learn what we can, even from PPGG’s cartoon. The many men and women I know who have participated in peaceful abortion protests are the exact opposite of what Planned Parenthood would have the public believe they are. And yet, there is an extremely small handful (while nothing compared to that of the other side) who do commit violence and who bring a reproach upon the name of Christ. Let us recommit ourselves to a high standard… That of love. We can and must combat organizations like Planned Parenthood, but to do so, we must not stoop to their level.

God bless you all! Soli Deo Gloria!

Attention...

I apologize for the delay in posting. The accumulation of a writing assignment due last night and spending a lot of time at the hospital this weekend with Joel, Kimmy, and baby Faith, has kept me from writing as much as I would like. My 'Myth of Adolescence' series is being refined and will be up later this week.

However, heads up... A big post will be up this evening, Lord willing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Historic Times: A Call to My Generation

I firmly believe we are living in historic times. I further believe that God is raising up a generation of young people, specifically those in the Christian, homeschool community, who will one day assume positions of leadership in all spheres of life: social, political, and spiritual. This is not a call for the complacent or the lackadaisical. This is not a call to those who are willing to lower their standards to meet the expectations of their culture. This is a call to the rebelutionary.

While these posts are usually made at the inception of a blog, even in the past 5 days my vision for this blog has become more clear. Announcing Conscientious Contemplation (Conscont)... a journal of thoughts, if you will, through which I seek to discipline myself to both contemplate the many things I observe and then to write my thoughts down. However, on an even deeper level, I would pray that God would use this blog, in close association with twin-blog (literally) The Rebelution, to mobilize Christian young people; causing them to 1.) wake up, and 2.) catch fire.

Suffice to say that I would greatly appreciate all of your feedback and support. I would even more greatly appreciate your joining ranks with Brett and I to make a mark for the kingdom of God. The beauty of technology is the ability to network. It is both of our hope that we would be able to network with high-quality, like-minded, and motivated young Christian bloggers and then draw from one another in order to firmly cement our existence in the online community, and to do so in such a way that the world sits up and takes notice. I pray that we might make the word 'rebelution' a "household-name" in the online blog community, not only as a group of godly young people, but as a reliable source of truth utilized to its full world-changing potential. None of of us, with our limited schedules and busy lives, can be more than a drop in the ocean-sized bucket of the internet community on our own... But together, unified in Christ and through His grace, I believe we can fill a gap that needs to be filled.

This blog challenges you to throw off the shackles of what society expects of you. The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility. They are the training ground of future leaders who dare to be responsible now.
Let's start a rebelution.


Notice: In case I have not emphasized it enough, here is another link to Brett's blog. Be sure to read his first post, as well as his current series 'The World is Flat', which has sparked an interesting discussion.

Also, be sure to check out the other 'like-minded blogs' in the sidebar to your right, as well as the awesome resource that is ProLifeBlogs.com. On that same theme, be sure to support Conscont by clicking here, clicking the button that says 'Poll', and giving 'Conscientious Contemplation' your highest marks (the higher, the better). Thank you all!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tom Parker: A Justice After God's Own Heart

“I am so thankful that, even in these perilous times, the Lord continues to give us sign after sign of hope. Every time a godly leader demonstrates that he fears God more than man, the Lord reminds us that He has not abandoned this God-blessed nation.” — Doug Phillips, Vision Forum Ministries

These words, in a statement issued in April of this year, were written in reference to a man I mentioned briefly in my first post: Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker. At the time of the entry in question, all I knew about Justice Parker was from reading his dissenting opinion last weekend. Since then, I have endeavored to learn more, and the more I learn, the more I admire this man, and the more I desire to follow in his footsteps.

Sovereignly placed into office in November of last year, Parker ousted one of the very opponents who stood against former Chief Justice Roy Moore on the issue of whether or not the state can acknowledge God. As was only fitting, Roy Moore himself swore Parker into office on January 14th of this year, and Parker immediately began following in his footsteps. After only a few months in office, Parker distinguished himself by being the only sitting state Supreme Court judge to speak out, at the death of Terri Schiavo, against the judicial tyranny and executive abdication of responsibility by those authorities empowered by law, but who failed to use their abilities to save Terri’s life. The state-sanctioned killing of Terri Schiavo, said Parker, was a “shameful miscarriage of justice” in violation of the Constitution of the State of Florida and as a direct result of "public officials lacking moral courage and fearing man rather than God.” In the aftermath of countless elected officials allowing their principles to be entombed by political pragmatism, Justice Parker refused to compromise the truth:
"By unduly exalting the judiciary and excusing the executive and legislative branches of government from their constitutional duty to protect life and the most vulnerable members of our society, the Schiavo case establishes a dangerous precedent of judicial supremacy."

"Thomas Jefferson warned us of the dangers of judicial supremacy: 'To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.' Sadly many elected officials are content to accept such despotism because it helps them avoid controversial issues."
In a day and age where leaders of principle are few and far between, there are several things you quickly recognize about Tom Parker. The first and foremost is that he fears God more than man and is consequently the personification of principled, Christian leadership. He is a skilled thinker who understands the Constitution, but more importantly recognizes the Christian presuppositions of all law. Finally, in a demonstration of great wisdom and foresight, he has surrounded himself with strong, Christian legal minds and a staff that will stand with him and not give in to the pressures of those who viciously oppose the truth. On all accounts, Alabama Justice Parker is a justice after God’s own heart.

I have full confidence that, like Roy Moore, when persecution rears its ugly head, Tom Parker will not back down. Pray for him, that God will strengthen, sustain, and protect him. And pray with him, that God will raise more likeminded leaders, even among ourselves, in fulfillment of His promise through the mouth of Isaiah, “I will restore your judges as in days of old, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called, The City of Righteousness, the Faithful city.“

Amen, Lord. Let it be so.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Friend In Need: The Promised Essays

Thanks to the assistance of a very helpful friend, I can now (as promised) provide you with my two latest writing projects:

1.) A Practical and Philosophical Dissertation on Atheism

2.) A Treatise Regarding the Supposed Incompatibility of the Divine Sovereignty and the Human Will

A Niece Is Born: Faith Felicity


Faith Felicity Harris (my niece) is born.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

What's in a name?

The title of this blog is (quite noticeably) 'Conscientious Contemplation'. However, due to the fact that conscientiouscontemplation.blogspot.com is a somewhat long, awkward, and hard-to-spell URL, the web address is not as settled. Here is where you (my readers, if there are any) come in. Please leave a comment and voice your preference (see choices below). Bear in mind that I am completely open to new suggestions.

___________________________________________________

Current:

http://consconte.blogspot.com (pronounced: kon-skon-tay)

Possibilities:

http://consci-conte.blogspot.com (pronounced: kon-shee-kon-tay)
http://consciconte.blogspot.com (see above)
http://conscont.blogspot.com (pronounced: kon-skont)

___________________________________________________

Thank you all! Soli Deo Gloria!

Update: For the sake of making the URL as short and memorable as possible, despite my attachments to 'consconte', I have chosen to go with 'conscont' (first four letters of 'conscientious', first four letters of 'contemplation'). Obviously, not many people voted (you can still let me know if you disagree with my decision)... But that's primarily due to the fact that I haven't told anyone about the blog yet. Actually, I soon realized that it would be helpful to decide upon the URL before I told people to check it out, so a quick decision was called for.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Playing Catch Up: Atheism, Predestination, Books, Music, Mice and Governmental Spheres

I probably should have started this some time ago... As it stands now, I have a lot to catch you up on. Because of this, I will not be discussing each topic at the depth that I would like. As a further note, please forgive me for being URL happy on my first post. I should calm down, somewhat, within a few months.

To begin, I would really like to get my two latest writing projects (the first a practical and philosophical critique of atheism and the second a nearly 10,000 word argument for the Calvinist doctrine of predestination) on here, but I haven't figured out a way to host them where they can be downloaded. I'll let you know when I do.

More recently my primary focus has been a semi-intense reading plan my father put together for Brett and I, the details of which are outlined below:

Current Reading:

'Future Grace' by John Piper
'The Lexus and the Olive Tree' by Thomas L. Friedman
'America and Vietnam' by Albert Marrin
'Winning the Future' by Newt Gingrich

Completed Reading:

'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell
'Joshua Generation' by Michael Farris
'The Radical Reformission' by Mark Driscoll
'The Fabric of the Cosmos' by Brian Greene
'The Enemy Within' by Kris Lungaard
'The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination' by Loraine Boettner
'God's Lesser Glory' by Bruce A. Ware

Coming Up:

'The Underground History of American Education' by John Taylor Gatto
'The Harsh Truth About Public Schools' by Bruce Shortt
'The World is Flat' both by Thomas L. Friedman
'The Most Real Being' by J.A. Crabtree

Suffice to say that the great wealth of knowledge that my mind is being forced to digest is having a profoundly positive effect on my overall understanding and awareness of the world around me. Philosophy class (coupled with my own theological study and my current reading) has really served to connect a myriad of things in my mind. One particularly gratifying connection that keeps recurring is science's verification of the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. In the arena of human psychology and social manipulation (see 'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell) I found several incredible statements. Some of which could have well been taken from a revolutionary essay on topic of predestination. Furthermore, the field of physics (see 'The Fabric of the Cosmos' by Brian Greene) emphatically disproves both the Arminian and open theistic positions. Both classical and quantum physics are profoundly deterministic (i.e. the nature of spacetime and illusory concepts of past, present, and future reality). The theological concept of an "eternal decree" is shown in a whole new light by the implications of physical law... That is, by the fact that all actions and events (including salvation) were intrinsically established in the creation of the universe. The quotations from Gladwell's book can be found in my argument for predestination, which I mentioned above and which (again) I will try to link to as soon as possible. The physics reading has been more recent, however, if I have time in the near future, I will try to incorporate it into my predestination essay. As a disclaimer, I share these thoughts, not because I wish to start an theological dispute (I believe it would distract from the purpose of the blog), but because the topic has been weighing heavily on my mind and occupying much of my thought life in recent months.

Moving on: In the world of music we are currently enamored with the British band Keane. The trios unusual makeup of only piano, drums, and vocals makes them unique by itself, but their musical talent and maturity is what sets them apart, in my opinion. Their album 'Hopes and Fears' is one of the few where you come to love every track.

As a random fact, I wish I could get one of these, even though I have a laptop.

To conclude, I recently read Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker's dissenting opinion in a child custody case that has been making headlines recently among the legal and judicial community. The attention is due to several unique aspects of the decision. First, 7 of the 9 justices wrote opinions on the case (unheard of numbers). And second, several justices made multiple references to Scripture to support their decisions. However, it was Justice Parker's lone dissent that I found most compelling and true to both the Founder's intent and biblical teaching on governmental spheres of authority. The AP article on the decision can be found here. Fellow blogger Chad Degenhart links to the full text of Justice Parker's opinion and includes a few (though not all) of the more relevant excerpts here.

There you have it: a highly condensed summary of my recent contemplations. Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, August 05, 2005

TwinMomentum: Alex and Brett Harris

Alex & Brett Harris (Brett is on the left, Alex on the right), homeschooled Christian teenagers from Oregon, have grown up in the stimulating environment of a ministry household. Their father, Gregg Harris, is a bestselling author and conference speaker. Their mother, Sono Harris, is an accomplished women's speaker as well as successful speech coach. And their oldest brother, Joshua Harris, is the best selling author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and an early success as the featured speaker for the New Attitude Teen Conference.

Now, following in the footsteps of their older family members, Alex and Brett at 16 years-old are speaking out for God to their own generation. Their success in Speech & Debate is demonstrated by six national championships. Now, in The Rebelution [Brett's Blog] and in Conscientious Contemplation [Alex's Blog], they're applying their gifts to the challenge of calling young adults to use their teenage years to prepare themselves for all of life to the glory of God. They are also preparing a traveling teen conference called Phase ONE.

You are at Alex's blog: conscont.blogspot.com
Please visit Brett's blog: rebelution.blogspot.com
Contact Them: conscont.blogspot@gmail.com