Thursday, November 30, 2006

God and the Stripper

The ABC News Magazine “20/20” featured a series of “Life After” vignettes recently. There was the life after being a child star, life after being a celebrity, life after eating disorders, life after football. The one that I found most intriguing, however, was titled: Life After Sin.

Prominently featured was a beautiful, Pam-Anderson-twin blonde named Heather Veitch. This former stripper, dubbed a “holy hottie” by the 700 Club, still goes to the clubs, but this time she’s the paying customer! “I buy a lap dance and instead of receiving the dance, I spend the time talking to the girls about God.”

Heather, a single mom, wanted a way out and did so by graduating from beauty school, marrying her boyfriend and going to church. “I became a judgmental jerk for Jesus... I was like, ‘That’s sin, and that’s a sin, and that’s a sin. . . I was no fun.”

A stripper friend’s death from alcoholism left Heather guilt ridden. “. . .I ran away from a burning building: I escaped it and all my friends are inside, and I didn’t care... I needed to go back because nobody cared.” Heather tells strippers to come to church and that they don’t need to give up their lifestyle to come to church.

I was taken aback by that line at first. Continue stripping while going to church?! Then I remembered what my childhood pastor said, “Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.” We don’t expect a person with a terrible illness to get well before entering a hospital – how can we expect a sinner to “clean up” before treatment, as it were? If the Gospel is preached, the Holy Spirit will take care of the lifestyle. The person will either leave it or leave church.

Veitch sums it up: “It the glutton and the cheater and the liar can all walk into church and feel comfy and have a seat, well so can the stripper.”

For the full article or video, go here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Van Til, Lewis and Soaps

Cornelius Van Til wrote as time goes on people will become more and more epistemologically self-conscious, that is, they will start living more and more in terms with their worldview.

C. S. Lewis expressed similar sentiments when he prophesied as time marches on if you were to enter history at some point in the future, the lines between good and evil would be more sharply drawn than they are now or were in the past. There will be less and less elbow room between good and evil with good getting gooder and bad getting badder!

This was brought home to me on a small scale when I tuned in to a television show I had watched faithfully over 20 years ago. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I was a “Luke & Laura” fan back in General Hospital’s heyday.

Flash forward 25 years. The re-marriage was a sweet and tender affair, however, what garbage was endured to view it! Currently one of the show’s main heroes is a mobster – 25 years ago Luke and Laura were on the run because they were fighting the mob. 25 years ago the soap had a decent writing, an actual plot and true heroes and heroines fighting for right against wrong. Adultery happened – but there was always a price to be paid. Even in soaps – sin had consequences. Not today. I never considered myself na├»ve, but good grief! Soft porn available on the three free television stations in the middle of the afternoon.

There's comfort in the fact that the ratings for soaps are plunging and their budgets are being slashed. Production quality is being reduced to the story quality - which is awful.

So . . . Luke, Laura, it was fun. Been nice knowing you. But if there was ever any doubt - we are so done.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Huguenot Garden

A few years ago, I became infected by the genealogy bug. I began questioning my older family members, viewing a trip to the family cemetary as research, and searching the Internet for all my immediate family surnames. In some cases, I regretted the search - too many horse thieves and scoundrels! However, I was proud of my maternal grandmother's lineage which included one of the first Presbyterian pastors in what would become the United States.

My paternal grandmother's lineage was also a source of pride, although I'm sure my ancestors would bristle at being prideful about them. They were Huguenots, French Protestants, who suffered persecution and yet remained faithful, even as they were forced to leave their homeland to stay true to their Reformed faith. Theirs is a faith-inspiring history. They have an emblem, the Huguenot Cross, which is rich in meaning. A good friend visited some Huguenot locales in France and brought a Huguenot Cross charm home for me. I treasure it.

I was reminded of this history on Reformation Sunday this year. My hubby preaches on heroes of the faith each year as we celebrate the Protestant Reformation. This year, he shared with us the Huguenot Legacy, a legacy of faithfulness, steadfastness and perseverance even unto death. He had in his library a children's book, The Huguenot Garden, which he had read and encouraged me to read as well. Tonight, I did just that.

The Huguenot Garden by Douglas Jones, III is a lovely children's book that adults should read. Told through the eyes of two twin girls, Renee and Albret Martineau, it is the story of a Huguenot family in La Rochelle, France just as Louis XIV started his full-on repression of the French Protestant church. The book is historic fiction about the persecution and challenges faced by this small Reformed community.

At one point, Jones' describes a Huguenot worship service: "Words - in all their power and elegance - surrounded and completely filled each person. Words - in song, prayer, exhortation, and preaching - richly drew the congregation into sweet union and communion with their God." How appropriate to describe worship in terms of words - our Lord is described likewise in the gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

At one point, the father is trying to explain religious persecution and evil to his young children. His words are a wonderful prayer:

"Remember, children, what we've learned before. After Adam's sin, God promised that there would be a long war between the people of the woman and the people of the serpent - between the people of God and the people of the enemy. There are only two kinds of people in the world - friends of God and enemies of God. Some enemies are very kind and decent on the outside, though they oppose God in their hearts. So, too, some people pretend on the outside to be friends of God, but on the inside they do not love God's commandments. Only God knows, and we pray that the Lord will change enemies into friends and that He will clean our hearts and make us faithful for his glory."

You can read more about The Huguenot Garden here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Growing up with Luke & Laura

This Thursday, November 16, at 3 p.m., I will be sitting in front of my TV watching the "remarriage" of Lucas Lorenzo Spencer and Laura Webber Baldwin Spencer (Wait! Was she married to a Cassadine or just kidnapped by one? Hmmm. . .)

I was one of the millions of fans in the late 70s and early 80s who were captivated by the star-crossed lovers. These were the pre-VCR/Tivo days, so from September to May, I would rush home from high school to catch the last 10-15 minutes of the soap. During the summer, the world stopped between 3 and 4 p.m. to watch the "Lovers on the Run" and later the "Ice Princess" saga.

They were a phenomenon - Elizabeth Taylor crashed the wedding! General Hospital's ratings surpassed most primetime shows during the L&L heyday! Theirs was a love-conquers-all story with the fairytale wedding. Alas, it was a soap after all, so happiness was shortlived. My fascination waned (although there was that Robert Scorpio cutie. . .), college was more fun than sitting in front of a TV, and Luke and Laura and I went our separate ways.

As Luke, Anthony Geary's trademark curls are shorn and his hair is grey. Gene Francis' "Laura" is now a grandmother. We've gotten old together. So Thursday, I will reminisce with old friends and throw some rice at my TV.

Happy 25th, Luke & Laura!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Honor To Whom Honor Is Due

An edict by President Eisenhower changed what had been Armistice Day to Veterans' Day and designated a celebration to be observed on November 11, 1954.

Growing up in a John-Wayne-flag-waving-love-it-or-leave-it family, I have a deep and abiding respect and appreciation for the men and women of our Armed Forces, Americans who still believe there are ideas and ideals worth more than life itself.

Today has been set aside by our nation to honor these men and women who have risked life and limb for this country. Rather than dwelling on cynicism about our political system, today let's remember noble goals and callings.

The third verse of America the Beautiful says it well:

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self,
Their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Matters

In Sunday School this week, my hubby talked about how people of His day viewed Jesus. When they called Him the "Son of David" it meant something different to them than it does to us looking back on His earthly ministry. The Jews at the time knew of God's promises to David for a future heir to rule on his throne. "Son of David" to them meant a new king, a new political messiah to restore their kingdom. None expected God's very Son, a crucified messiah, to set up a new kingdom.

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. . . that includes in politics. I fear today many Christians are like the 1st century Jews, we are looking for a political solution to a spiritual problem. Getting the right man in office is a great goal - but it won't change people's hearts. The Christian Right rallied to get conservative Reagan in office only to have Clinton wipe away much of the work with a few strokes of his pen on liberal legislation.

Today exercise your constitutional right and vote, but don't set your hopes on a politician - our hope is in the Lord.

My hubby has linked to a very good article on things to keep in mind as you enter the voting booth. You can read his blog and get the link here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

Recently a friend of mine was playing a word association game with her teenaged niece and said, "Virgin" to which the niece replied, "Ugly." Hmmm. Seems purity has fallen on hard times.

Welcome to the 21st century where hot, sexy, "booty-ful" and the like are the adjectives girls long to have applied to them. The popular BRAT line of dolls seem to be modeled on Julia Roberts and her coworkers at the beginning of Pretty Woman!

Pretty, classy, elegant, ladylike. . . heard these phrases applied to anyone but grandmothers recently? Fortunately some of our sisters in the Catholic community are fighting back against what is called Brittanywear, 'Ho' Fashion and Hooker Chic.

Pure Fashion is a "faith-based program that encourages teen girls to live, act and dress in accordance with their dignity as children of God." The focus is on "guiding young women ages 14-18 to become confident, competent leaders who live the virtues of modesty and purity in their schools and communities."

Brenda Sharman, former Miss Georgia USA, professional model and now Pure Fashion spokeswoman, said in a recent interview, "Modesty is more than what you wear on the outside, it has to be an exterior reflection of an interior attitude".

Pure Fashion conducts fashion shows and their models "learn the importance of living a life in accordance with God's will and fostering a life of grace through purity of heart, mind and body." Their web site has a practical description of what modest apparel looks like.

Their motto: Pure Fashion. . .Where values and virtues are always in Vogue!