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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The Worst Christmas Specials

It’s that time of year! Time for the TV channels to put out their annual Holiday fare. And while there are some great classics out there, sadly they can’t all be It’s a Wonderful Life or Charlie Brown Christmas. So this week, here’s the worst Christmas movies and specials I’ve ever watched, in no particular order.

home alone 2Home Alone 2: Lost in New York–Hey, I got an idea! Let’s make a sequel to a great Christmas movie! And let’s only change the location and do many of the exact same gags again! And let’s have Kevin not learn a thing from the previous movie! Oh well, at least Tim Curry is in it.

flintstones Flintstones Christmas Carol–My biggest problem with this one was the Flintstones shouldn’t even be celebrating Christmas! They should be celebrating Saturnalia, or any of the other winter solstice festivals that came before Christ. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re going to say, “Jason, you can accept talking dinosaurs, cavemen using animals for electrical appliances, and cars you have to push with your feet, but celebrating Christmas is going too far?” Oh and how about Fred turning up the jerk meter way more than usual? Yeah, I hate this one.

hemanxmasHe-man and She-ra Christmas–Look, I can take a planet that’s never heard of Christmas despite being settled by humans. That’s fine. But here’s what ruins it–Skeletor’s heart grows two sizes because of the Christmas spirit! Are you kidding me? One of the greatest villains of my childhood turns into the Grinch?

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Annah’s World: The Second Interview

A few years back, I conducted an interview with Annah, the main character from Clay Gilbert’s book of the same name, and the first in his series, Children of Evohe.  In that time, he has had to change publishers from the now-defunct PDMI to Dark Moon Press. He has now published two books simultaneously. This time, I interview her two “sister-friends”, Chelries and Liara. To Annah and her people, friends who are especially intimate are considered family, so they are both her sisters and her friends.

  1. It’s been a year since Holder and Annah have married. How are you adjusting to coexistence with humanity? *both laugh* We have never really had any difficulty “coexisting” with humans, at least those who are willing to coexist with us. Yes, there are terrible images of what humans did to Evohe in our people’s shared Memories of what we call the Breaking of the World, but Holder, Goodman, the Maestro, Maria Cantriel, and even Brian Stelson–so many humans never personally treated us badly. I think we both agree that misunderstanding is harder one on one.
  2. I’m told Annah has started a group called “The Circle” and one of its members is autistic. What is your impression of him? Chelries: “Our circle is a thing that does not really have a name–unless Annah is talking about it, she does pronounce it with that sound you give it, that “thing” sound–but even she just thinks of it in terms of what it does, and not so formally. Liara: “That is not the point of what he is asking, sister. He is asking, I think, about friend Jason. Jason Treader. That’s a subject I know you like. Chelries: “Oh! I do like him, very much He is less guarded than other humans sometimes, even less so than Holder.  That is very comforting. And he does not mind dancing with me, and can even keep up. Liara: (smiles) I like him too. He likes stories, and has even told me some of his own, and those of his world. This ‘autism’–I have heard him speak of it as well, but I do not think of it as separate from him, or a thing he ‘has’. It is merely a part of who he is, and that is all.
  3. What other members of the Circle have you found the most challenging to teach and learn from? (Liara and Chelries look at each other, as if trying to decide who’s going to answer first) Chelries: I think we both had some difficulties adjusting to Maria Cantrell, when she was with us. Liara: Yes. We were not entirely sure what to make of her in the beginning, but we trusted her, because Annah did.  And then we came to see what Annah saw in her, and we loved her.  And then she was gone. But we remember her fondly. Chelries: There has also been Brian Stelson. It is truly remarkable how much he changed, even more so than Maraia did. Liara: Sister, that may be because there was even more in friend Brian that needed chaning. Chelries: I suppose that is true, and I suppose that is the point.
  4. Your culture seems to place great emphasis on music. What is your favorite thing about human music? Chelries: The rhythms! Human culture seems to have found many more ways to make a beat than we have, but then I suppose they have more ways to do it. It is wonderful, anyway. Liara; The fusion of melody and verse. We do not have so many songs with words here on our world, not ones of our own. Song-shapers like Annah, and word-shapers, like myself if I may say so, may one day change that. Chelries: And then I will dance to those new songs! *laughs*
  5. What is your opinion of our food? Chelries: Very tasty. Holder and Anah talked Llew and Danae, Annah’s parents into making a human meal called ‘pizza’ from a recipe he had found.  It was delicious. Liara: I agree! I could have eaten at least half of it by myself. Chelries: Hmph! I would not have let you

Continue reading “Annah’s World: The Second Interview”

One Faith, Many Paths: Jennifer Lynn Bolt

This month’s interview is with a Catholic woman named Jennifer Lynn Bolt, who I met through a FaceBook group called Catholic Geeks. She has a son named Jakob, who has cerebral palsy. I asked her questions about how her faith helps her cope with such a wonderful child.

1) What was your childhood like? Were you raised as a Christian?

I had a mostly fun-filled childhood. My parents, my brother , and I were happy, other than the fairly normal sibling conflicts, made a bit more challenging due to my brother having dyslexia and failing at school while I excelled. I loved to learn, and I still do.  I attended public school, and religious education classes weekly at our church as well. The whole family went to mass on Sundays and all holy days, sometimes more often.

2) What’s your occupation?

I previously earned my degree in history and worked in museums and living history, as well as in banking and in retail clothing sales.  I even was an independent Mary Kay cosmetics consultant for a while.

But now I call myself a Professional Mother. Others may say housewife, stay at home mom, or homeschooling mom. While those are true for me, I also have for the past twelve years, implemented a home-based treatment program for my sixteen-year-old son, who is severely challenged by a neurological condition called cerebral palsy.

3) Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Why?

I have several favorites, and the ones I draw inspiration from have changed at different times of my life. But here are three of them that have continually impacted my life.

MARY–I love and revere Mary, for her beautiful, beatific example of absolute faith despite God’s plan for her being so radical and scary. She of all people knows. She really gets it.

DAVID–I will always love David for the psalms he wrote.  He taught me that even if you really get angry, even if you yell at God, He can handle it. He will always be there for us if we turn to him. Yeah, David could really be a rascal, and he made some HUGE mistakes, but he always came back to God with true contrition. David also taught me the beauty of God and his love for us through the Psalms, and that God’s mercy is boundless.

PAUL–Paul’s life is an AWESOME testament to what God can do for anyone. He was originally Saul, a Pharisee who persecuted Christians, and thanks to God’s miraculous, radical changes in him, he became the most important teacher of all Early Christians, writing all those letters of guidance to the scattered Christian communities. I thank God for Paul, for his history and teachings that formed the pillars of my Church and my faith.

4. Favorite Biblical verse or passage and Why?

1st Thessalonians, Chapter 5, verses 8-11. Especially verse 11: “But since we are aware of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

5. How did you feel when you learned Jakob has cerebral palsy?

At the actual moment of diagnosis, I was relieved to have a name for whatever it was so that I could find out more about what I could expect. I was a planner. I wanted to know when he would be able to walk, talk, feed himself, etc, in comparison to the normal developmental milestone growth charts everyone was always talking about in regards to child-rearing. To tell the truth, I could not recall ever hearing of cerebral palsy before. However, when I researched it, for a while I was very frustrated and angry. I was really upset that there weren’t more definitive answers.

I know now that almost all neurological  conditions, there are more questions than answers, and more variety within the diagnoses than most will ever know. So, this diagnosis gave me none of the answers I was seeking. I had to throw “the plan” I had in my head out the window, and embark on this journey with no road map at all. It was overwhelming, to say the least. Thank God that my family and my faith were there to support me.

6. Can you explain how you cope with his disabilities?

My faith in God and the redemptive nature of struggles has pulled me through many difficult times with Joshua, however I am most grateful that God has given me the grace be able to see Joshua for the blessing he is, and to see his intelligence and his progress, how far he has come versus how far he still has to go.  So I am able to focus on the joys of his bright personality, and regarding the difficult stuff, just prioritize quickly and do what needs to be done moment by moment.

In order to learn best how to help him, I have taken many courses on child brain development at The Institutes of Human Potential, http://www.iahp.orgThanks to taking Joshua to them regularly for over ten years, I have been able to help design and implement a home-based intensive treatment program, with the goal of physiological, physical, intellectual, and social excellence.

I also recruit and manage a team of volunteers from our parish, our community, and our local University who help him, mainly with the physical components of that program. These wonderful and generous people have not only helped Joshua, but also have taught me how allowing them to help has blessed them.  That when I ask for help, it is not just for my family, but it is also giving them a priceless opportunity.  Assisting us, and getting to know Joshua teaches them far more about life and the value and dignity of every person than any regular college course or even theology course could, I think.

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Nominees

This year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominated 19 musicians for the Class of 2018 Induction ceremony. The nominees are as follows. My picks are in orange.

Bon Jovi: The 80’s glam rock superstars from New Jersey still have an avid fanbase to this day. They are one of the few artists on this list still recording, and their latest album, This House Is Not For Sale, was released last year.

Kate Bush: The innovative alternative rock musician has collaborated with Peter Gabriel and is best known for her song “Running Up That Hill”.

The Cars: This new wave act was a big hit in both Classic Rock and New Wave, with such classics as “Let The Good Times Roll”, “You Might Think”, and “My Best Friend’s Girl.

Depeche Mode: The innovative “dark wave” band managed to have a following that continues to this day with their latest album Spirit.

Dire Straits: Mark Knopfler’s band is best known for their commentary on the rise of music videos, “Money For Nothing”.

Eurythmics: This new wave duo of Annie Lennox and producer Dave Stewart was a big hit in the 80’s, with their most famous single “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, later ruined by Marilyn Manson.

The J. Geils Band: One of the best rock bands of the 80’s, this band is best known for songs like “Love Stinks” and “Centerfold”.

Judas Priest: One of the big 4 Heavy metal bands (along with Metallica, Megadeath, and Slayer), Judas Priest is one of the biggest acts in the genre.

LL Cool J: Although today he is known for his acting in NCIS: Los Angeles and Toys, LL Cool J was one of the earliest “Old school” rappers, famous for his song “Mamma Said Knock You Out”

MC5: A prototype for punk rock that came out of Detroit. Their name means Motor City 5.

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