Last night my husband downloaded "Unstoppable." He's a train buff, and this film has been on his wanna-see list since it came out. I was not particularly interested in a testosterone laden bang 'em up, watch 'em crash and burn thriller, but with it being a Friday night and with snow on the ground outside, I poured a glass of my favorite drink and sat down with him to a flick.
It was not at all what I expected.
It was a good, clean, all American movie. Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and Will Colson (Chris Pine) are working men. They're both family men, though each has his relational challenges at home. Frank is an old union guy. He's been an engineer for more than two decades. Will is the fresh-out-of-training conductor. The two are assigned to a routine freight run in rural Pennsylvania, and as they set out neither one is sure what to make of the other.
A few hours into their run, they are informed that, careening headlong toward them is an unmanned, runaway train carrying hazardous material. What follows is an hour and a half of edge-of-your-seat suspense as the corporate big guys, the dispatch middle manager, and Frank, Will, and a few other salt-of-the-earth people on the ground give all they've got to avert the environmental and human disaster sure to ensue if the train were to derail.
I was on the edge of my seat pulling for the heroes. And I do mean heroes. Not superheroes, but ordinary men who call up from some unseen place inside the courage and wherewithal to do what needs to be done, even when it could cost them their lives.
It's a quintessentially American story, too. This nation has its flaws, but I still see deep in the soul of America a high view of human life. We care about saving other people, even strangers. We value honor and sacrifice. We respect smart minds that think up creative solutions to problems when the pressure's on.
"Unstoppable" shows what's exceptional about America. That it's based on a true story makes it all the better. That it contains nothing unsavory whatsoever makes it genuinely exceptional.
Yes, yes, yes! You might not immediately think of gay rights when you think of Kentucky, but a recent survey found that over 83% of Kentuckians favor anti-discrimination laws protecting gays and lesbians in the workplace. Booya!
The poll, conducted by the Fairness Coalition – composed of groups like the ACLU, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and The Fairness Campaign – polled 600 Kentucky residents.
The author of the post, identified as "KFarrell in Politiko," quotes the Courier-Journal, which reports,
Coalition leaders said they hoped the results would prod state lawmakers to approve — or at least debate — two General Assembly bills that would add legal protections for gay and transgender people by amending the state’s civil rights laws.
Wow! We’re completely surprised by these statistics. The Blue Grass State has flown under the radar as a bastion of gay rights, as far as the voting public is concerned. It’s time for the state legislature to reflect what Kentuckians already know – Gays and lesbians deserve the very same rights as their straight peers.
It appears from the results of the poll that, despite vitriolic rhetoric to the contrary, Kentuckians don't hate gays. A large majority of them actually agree with KFarrell – Gays and lesbians deserve the very same rights as their straight peers.
So here's what puzzles me. If 83% of Kentuckians look upon discrimination against gays with disfavor, can't it be reasonably assumed that they won't discriminate against gays? What then, is the purpose of the push for legislation requiring them to do what they're willing to do voluntarily?
Mike Adams is one of the funniest writers I know. Last week he told his facebook friends, "I'm tired of sexism. I'm opening a Dude-fil-A." Okay, some of his jokes are silly. Some of them will make you groan. But even when he cracks a joke, at least in this case, there's a something worth paying attention to.
Now that's all fine and well. Free enterprise and free speech allow Mr. Jones to express his opinion concerning Chick-fil-A, to encourage his supporters to do likewise, and to vote regularly with his dollars. It's clear from the New York Times article that some people are considering whether or not to continue to Eat More Chikin.
But free enterprise and free speech allow Chick-fil-A, a private company, to sponsor the events of their choosing. In the interest of maintaining free enterprise and free speech for all, I have a novel suggestion for Mr. Jones and anyone else who doesn't like Chick-fil-A's decision. Rather than complain and demand that they change, start your own restaurant chain. Run it the way you like, and sponsor whatever events you choose. Isn't that what freedom and tolerance are all about?
There's a saying in politics that goes, "If your enemy is committing political suicide, get out of the way." The idea is, if you let him reveal who he really is and what he stands for, the populace will see it and be appalled. Last year, during the leadup to Super Bowl XLIV, a media brouhaha played out over a planned Super Bowl ad that showed the abortion politico-industrial machine for what it is.
It all started when a reporter for the Colorado Springs Independent, a local weekly, got wind of a menacing plan across town. “I’m not kidding about this –” began Rich Tosches in the story dated December 24th, 2009. “During the telecast, mixed in among all the hilarious, watch-my-wife-Susie-blow-beer-our-of-her-nose commercials, there may be a 30-second, anti-abortion ad from our very own Focus on the Family.”
Perish the thought! There “may be” an ad featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. Tosches went on to give the essential details about the Tebows' story. Pam and her husband Bob had been missionaries in the Philippines when Pam became ill during pregnancy. Doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy, but she declined and Tim was born. Tosches had called Focus for confirmation, but media relations director Gary Schneeberger had opted not to comment. That would turn out to be a brilliant decision.
When it became clear that CBS was maintaining course, Planned Parenthood released an advance counter-ad featuring athletes Sean James and Al Joyner. “There’s a lot of talk leading up to this Super Bowl about an ad,” James warned, and went on to discuss yet again the Tebows’ “difficult medical decision.” The spot concluded with the athletes affirming their celebration of families by trusting women to make their own decisions. NARAL Pro-Choice America also issued a counter ad and created a webpage for Super Bowl viewers to visit during the Tebow ad. “Plan to focus on … something else when the ad airs,” advised president Nancy Keenan.
Focus remained largely silent throughout the drama until mid January, when the organization announced a planned ad centered on the theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life." Several days later, CBS quoted Schneeberger, musing that he was “a little surprised” at the furor over the story. “The heated nature of what they're describing, well, that’s not the ad I’ve got on my laptop,” he said. “There’s nothing political and controversial about it.”
And he was right.
Schneeberger was speaking in all honesty, but wherever abortion is condoned, “Life” will inevitably be controversial. It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and it only took a hint of a rumor (“There may be an ad …”) to set off an explosion of spring-loaded opposition.
The jump-the-gun reaction is telling. It was a chaotic mix, some of it nearly violent with emotion, and I offer my take on what really drove it all in the current issue of American Life League's Celebrate Life magazine, which you can read by clicking here.
And the amusing irony that can only be seen in hindsight is that it was all those anti-life Choice-meisters who didn't want the Tebows' story told that ended up telling the story. Over and over and over again.
The Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) is a traveling photo-mural exhibit, a project of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR), which compares the contemporary genocide of abortion to historically recognized forms of genocide. It visits university campuses around the country to show as many students as possible what abortion does to unborn children and to challenge them to think about abortion in a broader historical context.
Engaging students is the primary goal, but professors get in on the action too. Recently, CBR staff member Seth Drayer engaged in an illuminating conversation with Dr. Susan Dwyer, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland. In the span of ten minutes, while students watched and listened, Seth and the professor of philosophy discuss such questions as,
What does it mean to be human?
What is the value of a human life?
Where does that value come from?
It quickly becomes apparent that the professor’s philosophy is wholly lacking in grounding. She appears to have no problem calling a Southern style lynching or the Nazi Holocaust “wrong.” However it is with difficulty that she also acknowledges there’s at least something wrong with abortion too. But she can’t answer the question, Why? “I don’t know the answer to that question,” she says. “I haven’t got a clue,” although she does go on to say that we need to think more deeply about these kinds of questions.
Watch Seth as he respectfully and compassionately engages with her. And behold moral relativism – the reigning moral paradigm in contemporary American academia – exposed for the empty philosophy of meaning that it is.
I warn you, the images are disturbing. If there’s an abortion in your past, whether you’re the father or mother of an aborted child or you’ve participated in one in some indirect way, visit The Elliot Institute for comprehensive post-abortion healing resources. But listen to this discussion, without looking at the pictures if necessary. Listen, wrestle with it, and think more deeply until you can give a reason grounded in reality for what’s wrong with this picture.
The infertility industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar business in the United States. Its primary commodity is human eggs.
Young women are solicited by ads on college
campus bulletin boards, social media, and online classifieds which offer them up
to $100,000 for their “donated” eggs. They will “help make someone’s dream come
true” they're told.
But what about the target of the solicitation, the potential egg donor? Is she treated justly? What are the
short- and long-term risks to her health? Are these issues even discussed?
They should be. Here's a good place to start. Eggsploitation, produced by the Center for Bioethics and Culture, examines this booming business through the tragic and revealing stories of real women who became
involved in it and whose lives were permanently altered because of it.
National Director Jennifer Lahl will be offering the first preview screening of Eggsploitation this Thursday, July 8th, at 7:00pm at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, 2012 W Dickens Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647. Screening is free. College students are especially invited.