45 Years of Roe V. Wade

coexistThis year marks the 45th anniversary of Roe V. Wade. Planned Parenthood may consider it a moment to celebrate, but I do not. Over 55 million lives have been snuffed out by abortion. I don’t call that “safe, legal, and rare”, or “only 3%”.

I once knew a fellow student in high school who had Down’s Syndrome. Do you realize that 90% of children who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted? That’s not a made-up figure.

Forty-five years has not made abortion safer. It’s made it still as dangerous as ever, for both the mother AND the child. There is no safe way to have an abortion. If there were, the child would be spared.

I want you people to know something: I am an adopted child. My father divorced my biological mother, who wanted nothing to do with me, and remarried. I could’ve been aborted, considering what my biological mother thought of me. And yet, the way the media plays up Planned Parenthood, you’d think the mothers who are “consulted” by them are only given one option. Adoption is a much better option than killing a child because that child gets a chance he or she may not have had.

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How To Manage A Facebook Group

I manage two groups on Facebook: Autistic Christians and Autistic Bookworms. Between them, I have over 1200 members total (although some members are in both groups, while others are only in one.) In fact, Autistic Christians has now hit the 500 member milestone! That’s the group that’s surprised me the most, especially considering how often I was attacked in autism groups before I formed the group (actually, I helped form it, but the original owner and I didn’t get along, so she sabotaged the group and I picked up the pieces.) I’ve decided I’m going to give advice on how to manage your own group.

  • Make your group unique. There are a lot of general interest groups out there. That’s fine if you want that, but it’s better to have a group for a specific purpose. That will attract more members.
  • Make a pinned post for your rules. Even if they don’t read the rules, they’ll at least know where they are.
  • Have only people you can trust as admins or moderators.
  • Only promote your group in other groups if the admins of the groups allow it. Some groups don’t like self-promotion.
  • Once you have enough members to unlock the “screening questions”, do so. This is a good way to figure out what kind of person is applying and possibly weed out a troll before they even get in the door. Most trolls will not take the time to fill out a question.
  • Make all bans final. If they’ve caused problems once, they’ll likely do it again. But if a person leaves on good terms and changes his/her mind, then you can let him/her back in.
  • Hold your admins accountable. If they abuse power, that makes you look bad for not watching out for them.
  • Try to have at least two or three admins, counting yourself.
  • Have fun!

One Faith, Many Paths: Jane Lebak

This month’s interview is with Catholic writer Jane Lebak!

1) What was your childhood like?

I grew up in New York City, so it was a strange distortion of too many crowds and too much isolation, but I think it was just right for making me who I am.  I went to high school in a different borough (the local public high school wasn’t a great place; I remember three high school girls attacking a cop in the hallway) and getting there required an hour and fifteen minutes on the subway in each direction. Because of the distance, I got a subway pass.

That was freedom. It was amazing to have complete freedom to wander Manhattan with my allowance and my bookbag. After school, I’d walk from 83rd Street and head down to wherever I wanted. Forbidden Planet (both of them!) or Strand Bookstore or St. Francis Bookstore…I found so many amazing little shops and awesome little stores with ethnic food, and I could go all over the place to explore and learn and experience. I loved that so much!

Contrast that with early release days, where if I bolted out of school the moment the bell rang, and if all the trains and buses were right there to connect, I could get home in time to watch the last fifteen minutes of Transformers. 

2) What evidence can you give for God’s existence?

My personal reason is that I’ve had personal experiences that lead me to no other conclusion. When you reach out and something reaches back for you, you have no more doubt.  When you fall and something catches you, you feel secure in what you felt. That’s not data for anyone else of course, but it holds me fast.

Overall though, and even before I had that kind of one-on-one experience, I knew order doesn’t arise from chaos.  Things fall apart on their own.  They don’t become more ordered or more complex.  So the tremendous complexity we see inside a cell or the way galaxies are constructed, for example, tells me something must have created and sorted, and organized everything that went into that.

3. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus?

That’s hard to pick. I like the Archangel Raphael in the book of Tobit. I used to have the worst crush on the Archangel Gabriel.  But on the human side of things, I really like the apostle Thomas because he seems to have this sarcastic and pragmatic edge that really speaks to me.

4. Favorite biblical passage and why?

“Kindness and truth shall meet. Justice and peace shall kiss.” I love the sense of completion.  In some ways, these things could be opposites (think of the answer to “does this make me look fat?”), but with grace, they become complementary.  In the end, all our differences are harmonized so they retain their character but all work together to show the many facets of God’s glory.

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Jason’s Jukebox: REM

The 1980’s were a great time for indie music (or alternative). You had great bands that gained mass popularity like Duran Duran, The Pretenders, Talking Heads, and The Clash. But one band that hovered under the radar for quite a while was REM. It’s also one of those rare 80’s acts that managed not only to survive the 90’s, but put out most of their best material in that decade. This time around, I’ll be looking at their albums.

The line-up:

  • Michael Stipe: vocals
  • Peter Buck: guitar
  • Mike Mills: Bass/backing vocals
  • Bill Berry: drums

murmur Murmur (1983) ****

Single: “Radio Free Europe”
Rolling Stone may have been occasionally out of touch over its lifespan, but it was on the right track when it gave the debut 4 out of 5 stars. Today, over thirty years after its release, it’s still one of the best debuts I’ve ever heard. I just wish Stipe was more coherent, but he fixed that later on, thank goodness.

Best tracks: “Radio Free Europe”, “Talk About the Passion”, “Perfect Circle”, “Sitting Still”

reckoningReckoning (1984) ***

Singles: “South Central Rain”, “Don’t Go Back to Rockville”

Producer Don Dixon wanted this album to rock harder than its predecessor, but it doesn’t really work for me. There’s some standouts, but I don’t like it as much as Murmur.

Best tracks: “Harborcoat”, “South Central Rain”, “Pretty Persuasion”

fablesFables of the Reconstruction ** (1985)

Singles: “Can’t Get There From Here”, “Driver 8”, “Wendell Gee”

This was the only REM album produced outside the US, working with Joe Boyd as their producer. The album is one of REM’s concepts (the other being Automatic For the People), exploring Southern Gothic themes. At the time, it was REM’s highest charter, reaching #28. However, Michael Stipe wasn’t fond of the result at first, but over the years he and Buck have changed their minds.  It’s not bad, but I’m not a fan.

Best tracks: “Driver 8”, “Green Grow the Rushes”

pageantLife’s Rich Pageant ***1/2 (1986)

Singles: “Fall On Me”, “Superman”

This was REM’s first gold album. It was REM’s first foray into political themes with songs like “Fall on Me” and “Cuyahoya” heralding a trend that would continue for quite a few albums.

Best tracks: “Fall On Me”, “Cuyahoga”, “Superman”, “Flowers of Guatemala”

deadletterDead Letter Office ***1/2 (1987)

This is REM’s B-sides and rarities collection, so it’s only here for completeness. It marks the transition to Warner Bros and bigger fame. What really sells it are the covers.

Best tracks: “Toys in the Attic”, “Pale Blue Eyes”, “Femme Fatale”, “King of the Road”

documentDocument *****(1987)

Singles: “The One I Love”, “End of the World”, “Finest Worksong”

This was one of REM’s most important albums, marking the end of their status as solely alternative rock and the beginning of their more mainstream success. It was their final album with IRS, and their first with producer Scott Litt, who did phenomenal work with them over the years. For me, this was my introduction to the band, thanks to the loads of airplay “The One I Love” got. It’s still one of their best albums, even if I can’t sing around with “End of the World”

Best tracks: “Exhuming McCarthy”, “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”, “The One I Love”, “Fireplace”,  “King of Birds”

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