One Faith, Many Paths: Nicole Renee Bissett

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This month, I interview Nicole Renee Bissett, a blind woman who has joined my Facebook group.

1. You told me you were born blind. Were your parents blind? If not, how did
they help you cope with a world designed for people who can see?
Yes, I was born blind. No one else in my family was blind. I think how
parents view blindness, or any other disability, is huge on how a child
views him/herself as a disabled person. I had mixed views.I didn’t have much
to cope with because I could never see. What was really hard to cope with
were the misinformed attitudes of others. My dad was pretty good with
helping with that just by being there for me. He was my best friend growing
up.

2. How self-sufficient are you? How do you get assistance in the areas that
give you problems?

I’m as self-sufficient as I feel like being at the time.
I’m not super blind, and I’m not super dependent. When I want help, I simply
ask.

3. What is your favorite Bible verse?
Romans 8:28. “God works all things (all things, meaning blindness, divorce,
loss… all of which I have experienced) together for good to those who love
Him and are called according to his purpose.”

4. Did you ever feel betrayed by God?
With regard to my blindness, no. In that regard, I have felt betrayed by the
church. But I have felt hurt by God when stupid stuff I did came back on me
and I blamed Him. But after longer speculation and healing, I realized it
was brought on by myself. Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Nicole Renee Bissett”

Debunking Lies–Catholicism: Is The Pope Biblical

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When Pope Francis came to America for the first time, I followed the media’s reports.  While I disliked how the media covered the Pope’s visit because they twisted his words to suit their agendas, what saddened me most was how Protestants reacted. I left several Christian groups on FB because there were several anti-Catholic comments.  His arrival seemed to embolden the anti-Catholics in the group, and it wasn’t just the members, it was the admins–the people in charge of the groups! To these people, the Catholic Church was a cult, akin to Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses. What’s most distressing is that in reality, the Catholic Church is the oldest denomination (in fact, it’s the FIRST). The Christian Church is like a giant tree. At the root of the tree is Jesus. The trunk of the tree is the Catholic Church, where all the teachings of the Fathers of the Church reside.  The branches of the tree are the Protestant denominations. If the Protestant churches attempt to sever themselves from Catholicism, they will wither like branches cut from a tree. All Protestant churches owe their teachings to the Catholic Church, whether they realize it or not.  Some Protestant churches have already started to drift away from Catholicism’s teachings. Believing that the Catholic Church is separate from Christianity is a path to disaster. When I started my Debunking Lies series, I was content to focus only on the lies atheists spread about Christianity. I did not wish to cover the lies spread within my own religion by those who refuse to learn the truth. And yet, here we are. I have decided to extend this series and instead of covering just atheist lies, I’m covering anti-Catholic lies as well. I’m starting with lies concerning the Biblical roots of the papacy.

Continue reading “Debunking Lies–Catholicism: Is The Pope Biblical”

Jason’s Jukebox: Rush Part 1 (1974-1984)

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You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will

In 1974, a trio of Canadians called Rush released their self-titled debut to little fanfare. The world did not realize then that they would become the Rock gods they are today, over 40 years later. In this two-part post, I will rank each of their studio albums from best to worst. Part one will start with their debut and end with their tenth album, Grace Under Pressure. Part 2, which I will post next month, starts with Power Windows and ends with their most recent album, Clockwork Angels. A 5-star album will be considered the best album, and one star will be their worst.

The three members of Rush are:

Geddy Lee–bass, keyboards, lead vocals

Alex Lifeson–guitar, backing vocals

Neil Peart–drums

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  1. Rush (1974) ***

Single: “Working Man”

This almost seems like a Rush that existed in a parallel world, because it’s so different from the Rush we know today.  The main difference is that this album was recorded with John Rutney, the drummer Neil Peart later replaced. Rutney eventually left the band because of health problems during their first tour.  Here they sound almost like a more bass-heavy version of Led Zeppelin, which isn’t a bad thing.

Best tracks: “Finding My Way”, “Working Man”, “In the Mood”

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2. Fly By Night (1975) ****

Single: “Fly By Night”

Neil Peart’s tenure with the band begins with this album, bringing with him songwriting influenced mostly by objectivism, specifically the writings of Ayn Rand. (he eventually dropped the more extreme Rand views) It’s an impressive debut and this feels more like the Rush we know today. It also contains their first suite, “By-tor and the Snow Dog”. “Rivendell” is influenced chiefly by Tolkien”, and “Anthem” is one of my favorite non-hits.

Best tracks: “By-Tor and the Snow Dog”, “Fly By Night”, “Anthem”, “Rivendell”

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3. Caress of Steel (1976) *

Single: “Bastille Day”

Ugh.  This is Rush at their worst.  Only two of the five songs are good. They relied too much on the two suites on the album, “Necromancer” (which is spoken word), and “The Fountain of Lamneth”

Best tracks: “Lakeside Park”, “The Fountain of Lamneth”

Fun Fact: By-Tor, the title character in “By-Tor and the Snow Dog”, also makes an appearance in one of the suites. The copper picture is actually a printing error. It was supposed to be steel-colored.

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4. 2112 (1976) *****

Single: “2112” (parts 1 and 2 only)

Most fans consider this Rush’s best album, and I agree. The title track is twenty minutes of pure epic, and the rest of it’s great too.  And to think their record company didn’t want them to record more suites.

Best tracks: “2112”, “Twilight Zone”, “Something For Nothing”

Fun Fact: While “2112” has appeared on several live albums, Different Stages is the only live album that has the entire song.

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5. A Farewell to Kings (1977) ****

Singles: “Closer to the Heart”, “Cinderella Man”

It’s not a five-star album, but man is it close! “Cygnus X-1” is a great space opera, even if you have to get Hemispheres to get the whole song. “Xanadu” is also an excellent song. And of course “Closer to the Heart” is the great anthem.

Best tracks: “Cygnus X-1: Book 1”, “Xanadu”, “Closer to the Heart”

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Rush Part 1 (1974-1984)”

The Sesame Street and Autism Project

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Image: a picture from the new storybook introducing a

new Sesame Street character Julia, with Elmo and Abby Cadabby.

Julia has her hands on her ears because the blender in

Mr. Hooper’s store is too loud for her

Sesame Street has created a new project called “Sesame Street and Autism”. This project even has a new Muppet named Julia. This is really nothing new for the show. When I was a fan back in the 80’s, they had a deaf woman named Linda who used sign language and had a giant Muppet dog named Barkly. The project has received both praise and criticism.  The project can be reached at http://autism.sesamestreet.org Personally, I’m conflicted.

Let me talk about what I like first. The story book introducing Julia is great. Elmo shows Abby Cadabby how to interact with Julia and we see both the positive and negative traits in the story. I also like that Julia is a girl, as girls are often ignored when autism is discussed in the media. Even Autism $peaks ignores girls, as I’ve pointed out their trademark puzzle piece is blue because they only care about the boys on the spectrum.

There are ten videos, running from one to five minutes each. We meet four children in these videos (and there’s an animated one with a boy named Ben): Thomas, Yusenia, Louie, and Nasaiah. There’s also a song called “The Amazing Song” that’s pretty much teaching children to treat autistic children nicely.  In the videos, autistic children are shown using AAC, a form of communication using tablets, which is often used by non-verbal autistic children.

Okay, so what don’t I like? First off, the resources. Good, you consulted ASAN, but only after you received pressure from the autism community. Big red flag–Autism $peaks is on your list of resources.  In fact, A$ has been helping fund Sesame Street for years. My regular readers know how I feel about Autism $peaks, so I won’t go into it here.  I will stress that I’m not alone.  Every autism activist and blogger I follow despises Autism $peaks.

Continue reading “The Sesame Street and Autism Project”