Monday, February 28, 2005

No, I didn't watch the Oscars

I'm not going to say I boycotted them, because who would the fact that Cindy Swanson didn't watch the Oscars really affect or punish?

I'm a movie buff, I admit it...and I usually watch as least the last hour or so of the Academy Awards, mainly out of curiosity. This time, I had absolutely no desire to do so.

As I commented on La Shawn Barber's blog, "In a year when 'The Passion of the Christ' is almost completely ignored, while a movie that is essentially a commercial for assisted suicide is glorified, I said 'Forget it.' Now I’m glad I didn’t waste my time."

La Shawn doesn't mince words in her review of Oscar night, particularly Chris Rock's role as host, calling it "a triumph of ignorance and vulgarity."

I also liked what Evon Bachaus said in La Shawn's comments: "I didn’t watch. If I want to hear a lot of Republican bashing I can get in an argument with one of my liberal friends. I quit watching 'West Wing' for the same reason."

And I've got to say the prediction I blogged on February 17th came true: "If I were a betting woman, though, I'd bet on this movie ["Million Dollar Baby"] winning really big at the Oscars this year. I'm sure Swank, Eastwood and Freeman turned in fine performances, but even if they had been mediocre, Academy voters would have been panting to honor 'Million Dollar Baby' if only as a backlash to conservative criticism of the flick."

Would that I was always so right about everything. :)

Meanwhile, an update on Movieguide's Faith and Values Awards

"The Passion of the Christ" may have gotten short shrift from the Oscars and the Golden Globes, but it was a big winner at Movieguide's Faith and Values Awards:

"Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST won the big honors at the 13th Annual MOVIEGUIDE® Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry, held in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, February 24.

"The glittering ceremony, also dubbed 'The Christian Oscars', was held just days before Sunday’s 77th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood.

"THE PASSION took home the $50,000 John Templeton Foundation Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie. The 'Happy Trails' episode of PAX-TV’s series DOC won the $50,000 John Templeton Foundation Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring TV Program.

"The Epiphany Prize is given to the movie and television program that 'greatly increases man’s love and understanding of God.'"

New fiction! YAY!!!

I arrived at work this morning to find a box from Tyndale House awaiting me.

In the box, two new Christian fiction titles: "Storm Gathering" by Rene Gutteridge, and "Flee the Night," by Susan May Warren.

I've never read anything by these two authors, so I'm looking forward to it. Actually, I honestly don't know when I'm going to have time to read, because this is the week we're going to try to move into our new house, and I'm waaay behind on packing. But knowing me, I'll sneak in a little fiction time somewhere!

Just one more Blogospheric Interview:

I really enjoyed the answers to the interviews I did earlier, but I'm going to have to call a halt somewhere.

One last interview...this is for Audrey, a young woman who just started blogging, and I want to give her blog a little exposure! So here you go, Audz!

1) You're getting married this summer. Why do you think your fiance will make a good husband?

2) What was the last really good book you read, and why did you like it?

3) Why did you decide to start a blog, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

4) Like me, you live in Illinois. Would you live somewhere else if you had a choice, and why or why not?

5) You have doggies. Why are dogs better than cats?

There you go, Audrey...answer these on your blog!

Fun little game for a Monday...

Hat tip to Amy for this one...

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

UPDATE: This was a fun little thing for me to do, but after posting it I got to thinking, "Who really cares where I've been, where I haven't been, and where I lived?" Probably absolutely no one. But it was still fun to do.

Friday, February 25, 2005

And now I'm asking the questions...

The Blogospheric Pseudo-Interviews, as Julie Anne Fidler calls them, continue...and this time I get to interview:


The interview questions are in my comments section below yesterday's "I get interviewed" post. Answer them on your own blogs. I will eagerly look forward to your replies! :)


Also interviewing


Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I get interviewed!

Bloggers are doing mini-interviews of each other all over the blogosphere lately, just for fun...and finally, after years of interviewing other people I'm getting interviewed.

Would you like me to interview you? --Let me know in my comments section.

Asking the questions is one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Anne Fidler of Fidler on the Roof:

1)You're such a radio diva, you get to interview some of the coolest people. Who's the one person you haven't interviewed yet, that you're really dying to?--No doubt about it, President George W. Bush. Second on the list would probably be Rush Limbaugh.

2)If Michael W. Smith walked up to you, pointed to his bottom, and said, "Free smacks!" Would ya do it? --Oh, Julie, Julie, Julie...I should've known you'd ask something like that. :) If Smitty did actually did that, I'd probably be so freaked out I would be paralyzed to take any action.

3)If you weren't in radio, what would you do for a living?--My dream has always been to write for publication. I'd also love to be able to get enough voice-over work that I could make a living doing only that. No more getting up at 4 AM for morning drive!

4)What artist or CD do you listen to when you're depressed?--Sometimes I'll listen to something like Andrea Bocelli's Sogno...for some reason, it makes me even sadder, so I just go ahead and wallow in the sadness and get it out of my system. (Don't get me wrong, I love Andrea, but sometimes he just strikes a melancholy chord in me.)

But if I really want to perk up, I'll listen to something faith-affirming and joyful, like the Winans'The Very Best Of ("Every Day the Same," "It's Time") or Rich Mullins' Songs.

5)What would your husband say is your most ANNOYING habit?
--Not keeping the car as pristinely clean as he would like it. Especially when I drive "his" vehicle.

Faith and Values Awards Honor Movies Overlooked by Oscar

A headline on the front of a magazine at the grocery store yesterday prompted me to pick it up and thumb through until I found the article. I actually forget what magazine it was--Premiere, maybe--but the article listed what a group of critics rated the top 100 movies of 2004. "SpongeBob Square Pants" was there, along with a host of worthy and not-so-worthy titles. As far as I could tell, "The Passion of the Christ" was nowhere to be found on the list.

This simply boggles my mind. No doubt about it, "The Passion of the Christ" has been pointedly ignored by many if not most critics, although it did win a People's Choice award for favorite movie drama, and the Moviefone Moviegoer award for Best Picture.

But at least one awards show will showcase the movie. The Christian Film and Television Commission presents its 13th annual Faith and Values awards tonight.

According to AP's Religion Roundup: "The Templeton Foundation's 50-thousand-dollar Epiphany Prizes will be the film and T-V show that best helped audiences love and understand God."

This year's film nominees are "The Passion of The Christ," "I Am David," "The Reckoning," "Ladder 49" and "America's Heart and Soul."

From "The Awards Gala will also feature awards for the Ten Best Family Movies, the Ten Best Movies for Mature Audiences and the Grace Awards for the Most Inspiring Performances in Movies and TV. This year's acting nominees include Jim Caviezel, Jamie Foxx, Kelsey Grammer, and Don Cheadle."

Tonight's awards show will get a fraction of the media attention that the Oscars will receive this coming Sunday night. But at least some worthy films will be recognized and honored.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Rediscovering a treasured artist

"Girl with a Muff," by Cherry J. Huldah

When I was a little girl, I used to love to visit the home of Auntie and Uncle Bill.

"Auntie" was actually my mother's Aunt Cynthia. (She was Cynthia Pearl; my mother was named Cynthia Anne after her, and I am Cynthia Susan.) Uncle Bill was a West Texas executive with the Gulf Oil Corporation.

Many of my childhood memories revolve around visits to their lovely and gracious ranch-style home in Midland, Texas. I loved everything about it, including its characteristic fragrance that I couldn't quite put my finger on. My mom later said it was the smell of expensive things--good perfume, quality furniture and clothes, I don't know...I only wish I could approximate that smell in my own home.

Uncle Bill was a remarkable man of German descent. The couple had no children of their own, and they took my married-very-young parents under their wing. They lavished them--and later us children--with affection, timely gifts of both material things and money (always seeming to arrive when it was most needed), and, in Uncle Bill's case, practical advice and insightful wisdom and guidance. My mother adored Auntie and Uncle Bill, and the adoration was mutual.

Auntie had been a beautiful woman, and was still striking in her sixties. (Uncle Bill died of what used to be called "sugar diabetes" on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.)

Auntie and her sister, my maternal grandmother, were both enamored with cosmetics. I always think of Auntie with her rather exotic-looking black hair and naturally dark complexion (no tanning booths for her!), wearing red lipstick and red nail polish on her long fingernails, dressed impeccably in tasteful but fashionable clothes and jewelry, smelling like a million dollars and looking like someone in a Barbara Stanwyck or Katherine Hepburn movie.

(My memories of my grandmother, by the way, include sitting up with her watching the late show on TV while she carefully slathered her face with various creams in her nightly routine. She used to say that she could never pass up a cosmetics counter, and I inherited the fascination. It is hard-wired into me to linger at the Estee Lauder bay.)

Something else I may have inherited from Auntie was my fascination with the "beautiful people." One feature of her lovely home was a magazine holder that was generally stacked with movie magazines. During my visits, I perused them even though my parents didn't approve at all. Everything Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were up to at the time was chronicled in those magazines. I usually just stared in fascination at the pictures of Elizabeth, who I believe really was the most beautiful woman in the world at the time.

And even as a little girl, I was drawn to interior decorating. I knew what I liked. I knew I loved the den, with its graceful armchairs and leather-bound books and authentic German beer steins and Hummel figurines, and the beautiful desk, and one of the first color television sets I'd ever seen. I even loved the kitchen, where Auntie always made sure the refrigerator held Borden's Dutch Chocolate milk, which I remember being almost as thick and creamy as a milk shake. Do they make it like that anymore?

But most of all, I loved the bedrooms, with their four-poster beds and vanities and snowy chenille bedspreads and graceful lamps.

My eyes were always drawn to the framed prints of lovely, serene, sooty-eyed 19th-century ladies, dressed to the nines with upswept black hair and little hats, looking like they were out for a discreet little stroll with parasols in hand.

The prints were signed in slanting black cursive: huldah.

When Auntie died in 1969, my mom inherited the house and everything that was in it, so the "Huldah" prints became a permanent part of my growing-up years. I loved the feeling that just looking at them invoked.

Now, my husband and daughter and I are on the verge of moving into a home that is new to us, and we're excitedly planning how we're going to decorate each room (although I'm sure it will be an evolving process.)

For the first time, Liz and I will have a bathroom that will pretty much be the girls' room. So we've painted it pink, and it's going to have a Paris theme, with touches of black.

Not long ago, I was given a gift certificate to a local antiques mall. I was delighted to find a framed Huldah print for twelve dollars. The beautiful dark-eyed girl is dressed in pink, with touches of black. Yep, it's going in the ladies' bathroom.

Curious about Huldah, I did a Google search. There's little information about her online, but I did find this short bio at CHERRY JEFFE HULDAH (20th C. American)--

"An American fine artist, Huldah was an accomplished figure painter who studied at the Art Student’s League and Grand Central School in New York City. She focused on turn of the century women and adolescent girls. Her young ladies are costumed in the fashionable attire of the period, and her style hints of impressionism with a strong Renoir influence. Inspired by a period known as La Belle Epoque, Huldah’s designs were incorporated into 31 collectible porcelain works of art which were created between 1959 and 1968 and distributed into the 1980s. Huldah retired in Palm Beach Florida. 'I was mad about the turn of the century,” she says. “Women were so feminine. Their clothes were so beautiful. I was inspired by that era.'”

The picture you see above and another print called "The Last Act," depicting ballerinas, are among the only available Huldah prints online. I did see one circa 1979 picture on eBay, but the style was slightly different from the earlier ones that I like so much.

Just as rediscovering a favorite childhood book invokes happy, nostalgic memories, rediscovering Huldah has warmed my soul with memories of loved ones and an era in my life long gone. It's wonderful to recapture even a wisp of that feeling.

The Christian Carnival is up...

Do check out the Christian Carnival, which is being hosted this week by Wallo World. It's a round-up of some really good posts made by Christian bloggers during the past week.

Anyone can participate--go here to read the guidelines.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I will not go gentle into that gray hair

Joy of karagraphy bemoans her first gray hair today, but takes consolation: "There are still far more dark-almost-black hairs — only God knows how many — resiliently residing upon the same scalp as that lone silver beacon of mortality. And I can pluck beacons in the single digits, no problem. As long as grey hairs remain an anomaly, I’ll live. I may live even longer than that."

My reply to Joy in her comments section: "Ah, yes…how well I remember the days when it was just a lone gray hair here and there…easily pulled out. It’s when they start multiplying rapidly that you’re faced with the decision: go gray gracefully, or rage, rage against the dying of the brunette? I chose the latter. Constant coloring is a pain in the behind, but I prefer it to the tired look I get when the grays proliferate."

It IS a pain, because my hair color was one thing I really liked about myself, and I have never been able to appromiximate is closely enough out of a bottle.

I've gone the highlighting route as well (the results of which you see in the picture on my sidebar.) I like it for a while, and then I start missing my dark hair again.

So, this is the decision most women face as they age. Cover the gray, or gracefully segue into a head full of grays? What is it to be? Well, I've made my decision and I'm sticking with it. When the silver upstarts begin to gather on my temples, I feel it ages my appearance way beyond what I'm ready for. As I said, it makes me look tired. It does not make me feel pretty.

My paternal grandmother continued coloring her hair, as far as I know, until she died. And she always looked younger than her years, although I'm sure that wasn't the only factor.

What about you? Do you cover the grays, or have you gracefully submitted to the effects of time?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Remembering Sandra Dee

They say that celebrities die in groups of three. If so, then this past weekend was a real case in point, claiming the lives of "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Broadway star and Bonnie's dad John Raitt, and movie actress Sandra Dee.

It is Sandra's death that strikes the deepest chord in me, because it stirs up so many childhood memories.

Since 1959 was considered one of her best career years, Sandra Dee pre-dates me significantly. But it didn't really seem that way when I was a young teen-ager watching her movies on The Late Show.

For those of you youngsters reading this, yes, there was a time when you couldn't simply trot down to the local Blockbuster and pick up the DVD of a movie that was just out in the theaters six months ago.

To satisfy your movie fix, you watched the Late Show on television. These were movies that aired after the 10 o'clock news. Sometimes there was even a late, LATE show.

Late-night movies on television were a huge part of my childhood and teen-aged years, especially on Friday nights and during the summers. My sister Lisa and I spent countless nights in front of the TV set, enjoying everything from musicals to film noir and everything in between. I really think this is where my love of movies really began.

I'll admit that Sandra actually annoyed me in the "Tammy" movies. Even as a young teen, I realized that they were horribly hokey, and I simply couldn't stand her awful attempts at a Southern accent.

But I watched anyway, transfixed by Sandra's ridiculously luminous beauty.

Probably my favorite Sandra Dee movie was "If a Man Answers." The main things I remember about this movie is that Sandra marries Bobby Darrin (as she did for a while in real life), and tries to "train" him using dog-training methods (which probably isn't as crazy as it sounds--in fact, it made some sense-- and Dee's amazing prettiness. In fact, the whole movie just seemed to be a vehicle expressly designed to showcase that prettiness in a succession of gorgeous outfits.

Susan Wloszczyna writes in a USA Today article: "In the flash-and-trash party-babe era of Britney and Paris, it's hard to imagine that a golden-haired paragon of feminine purity and guileless goodness such as Sandra Dee ever existed in Hollywood, let alone thrived."

Sandra Dee's characters did generally celebrate innocence and virginity. It was probably somewhat unrealistic even then, but it does make me sad that the times we live in are so radically different, with Britney Spears proudly proclaiming, "I'm not that innocent."

And even Dee's real life was a far cry from her rosy roles. Wloszczyna writes: "Sadly, the ingénue's sparkling optimism was all an act. At the height of her success, Dee was a pawn between two domineering forces. Her mother, Mary Douvan, lied about Dee's age so she could enter school early and pushed her into modeling and TV commercials. By the time she was 11, Dee was making $78,000 a year. She said she was sexually abused by her stepfather, a charge her mother denied."

Sandra Dee was only 62 when she died of kidney disease, and she hadn't been in the public eye for quite some time. So for me and others who enjoyed her lightweight but fun movies, she will always remain that luminous, youthful, sweet-voiced starlet.

And as with all celebrities who pass off the scene, I pray she made her peace with God before she died.

Of Bill Maher and suffering and faith

Have you even thought about how an atheist arrives at the conclusion that there is no God?

It's funny--I had been thinking about this topic recently after reading the "testimony" of an atheist. Then at church yesterday, our choir sang a moving song about having faith in the midst of pain and suffering. And now, this morning, I'm confronted with a story about Bill Maher's appearance last week on MSNBC, in which he called religion "a neurological disorder."

Guesting on Scarborough Country, Maher called America "a nation that is unenlightened because of religion." He went on to compare the Bible's teachings to fairy tales: "When you were a kid and they were telling you whatever you believe in religion, do you think if they had switched the fairy tales that they read to you in bed with the Bible, you would know the difference?"

Maher agrees with Jesse Ventura that religion is a crutch for weak-minded people. If so, hand me the crutch. In today's society, with its pain, suffering, and downright ugliness, I need something to lean on.

I'm not sure if Maher would come right out and say he's an atheist, but he definitely spouts the party line.

Besides being extremely bothered by what they see as inconsistencies in the Bible, such as areas where they don't think the four gospel-writers got their stories straight enough, atheists can't reconcile a loving God with the suffering and injustices we see around us everywhere.

So-called Biblical inconsistencies don't trouble me, but if we're honest, I think we've all struggled with the question of pain and suffering.

I don't think you could name one great man or woman of God throughout history who hasn't been touched by the effects of pain and suffering, some more than others. And if you haven't experienced it yet, you will.

But I could no more deny God's existence than deny my own heartbeat. On this side of heaven, I will never be able to answer the troubling questions. I can live with that, but I can't live without Him.

Job had more reason to deny God than most of us ever will. But in the end, after grappling long and hard with all the agonizing questions, it came down to faith. "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth."

Oh, and the song we sang in choir yesterday? Ron and Shelly Hamilton's "Tho' It's Midnight." Beautiful.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Happy Birthday, Justin!

My wonderful son Justin turns 22 years old today.

It simply boggles my mind that my younger son, my middle child, is 22 years old. Justin is a student at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. I talk to him as often as possible, and eagerly look forward to his visits home.

How can I describe Justin? Since the day he was born, his personality has been obvious. Capable, stubborn, cheerful and adorable.

Justin is the type of person that is good at just about everything he does. He is just, simply, up to the challenge of whatever comes his way. He's just good at stuff. I always have him drive whenever I go anywhere with him, because he's such a good driver.

He goes through life in a state of almost perpetual good humor and serenity. Nothing ever seems to make him panicky or extremely angry. He's calm and philosophical about problems or roadblocks of any kind. He's logical and generally unflappable.

He has a great calming effect on me. Whenever I tend to freak out about anything, Justin can usually settle me down with one matter-of-fact, practical comment.

He's so, so funny. His sense of humor is wry and quirky and just hilarious.

He's cool and handsome and very, very smart. I just look at him sometimes and marvel that he came out of my body. Is that really my child? Well, he is the only child I have that inherited my green eyes, but he doesn't really look like me at all.

I love spending time with him. I love when he comes home from college...from the minute he bursts in the door, it's like a fresh breeze has swept life has been injected into the house.

He's just...well, he's just JUSTIN. And I adore him.

Happy birthday, Justin!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Million Dollar Baby" revisited

Medved faces harsh criticism

In the vein of my interview with Joni Eareckson Tada about the Oscar-nominated and much-hyped "Million Dollar Baby": conservative movie critic Michael Medved is himself the target of some pretty harsh criticism for daring to speak out against the movie.

Says Medved: "My main objection to 'Million Dollar Baby' always centered on its misleading marketing, and effort by Warner Brothers to sell it as a movie about a female Rocky, with barely a hint of the pitch-dark substance that led Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer (hardly a right-winger) to declare that 'no movie in my memory has depressed me more than 'Million Dollar Baby.'" Read more here.

Medved has always impressed me with his articulate astuteness, and I usually find myself agreeing with him.

If I were a betting woman, though, I'd bet on this movie winning really big at the Oscars this year. I'm sure Swank, Eastwood and Freeman turned in fine performances, but even if they had been mediocre, Academy voters would have been panting to honor "Million Dollar Baby" if only as a backlash to conservative criticism of the flick.

Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger recently told USA Today: "All the conservative outcry is going to steel Oscar voters in favor of this movie." I believe it.

God bless and keep our troops

This brought tears to my eyes. take a moment to check it out.

OK, American Idol really starts to get good now...

This is where contestants begin to emerge into the spotlight...where we really get to see who has star power and who doesn't.

Since I've missed bits of the show here and there, I haven't really established a female favorite yet. I'm leaning toward Nadia Turner.

As far as the guys go, I've been drawn to Constantine Maroulis from his very first audition. Partly I think it's because he defies the cookie-cutter Idol image, and partly (I didn't say this has to make any kind of sense) because he's Greek-American, and so am I. (Well, one-quarter. My maternal grandfather's last name was Zarafonetis.)

I love music, I love singing, and I love what Simon Cowell calls in his uppity posh English accent "the com-pe-ti-tion." I'm not much of a TV viewer, but in these maddeningly long and tedious last weeks of a Northern Illinois winter, "Idol" gives me something to look forward to. Let the com-pe-ti-tion begin!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Quote o' The Day

On the slim, beautiful and intimidating women we call hairstylists: "These cosmetologists aren't the 'couldn't hurt a fly' little things they appear to be. They are really teeny tiny terrorists. They make me feel femininely challenged, not quite attractive, like I should just stay always dressed in sweat suits with my hair in a scrunchy. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's my signature look - neutral sweats for everyday, a jewel-toned velour set for formal wear.) But, these slim and trim 20 somethings should take pity on us fashion challenged, fibro fallen women entering maturity like myself. They should give me the hairstyle I ask for and not try to change my life through fashion. It's terrorism, I tell ya!"--Robin of HerWryness

(Go read the whole post. It's awesome!)

I am Gandalf

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Which fantasy/SciFi character are you? Go here to take the quiz.

I'm perfectly happy being Gandalf. I'm not a big SciFi/Fantasy buff, but I did read all the Lord of the Rings books, and saw the movies, and enjoyed them a great deal.

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!

My beautiful daughter Elizabeth was born 18 years ago today.

It doesn't seem possible...18 years? If I close my eyes, I can still feel the shocked elation I experienced when I heard the words, "It's a girl!"

(By the way, fewer and fewer new parents will experience that feeling on their child's day of birth. It seems most everyone knows months in advance what the sex of their baby will be--and while I'm sure that has its plusses, I personally think they're missing out on something cool.)

Don't get me wrong. Boys are fantastic--sons are great, and they get more so with every passing year. I love spending time with my sons, and I think they are two of the coolest, funniest, most handsome young men in the universe. If the Lord had seen fit to give me only sons, I would still count myself immeasurably blessed.

But oh, having a daughter is wonderful! Especially now that the junior-high years are but a distant and fading memory.

I love spending time with my daughter. I love shopping with her, eating out with her, watching movies with her, listening to music with her. Laughing with her about the funny things that happened at school, or enjoying her uncanny talent with mimicry. Listening to her play the piano or the guitar, or talk on the phone with her friends or cousins: "Me TOO, Katie!!!!" "Mary, you're not going to believe this..." Listening to her sing freely and unguardedly around the house.

Elizabeth, you are a joy, a delight, a blessing. Happy Birthday, baby girl...I love you!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Christian looks at Sundance

A Christian couple goes to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Their mission? To join 60 film and theology students in watching "as many movies as our minds could handle and discuss what we saw with professors from Biola University and Fuller Theological Seminary."

In Mr. Christian Goes to Sundance, at www.pluggedinonline, Adam R. Holz writes: "I confess I was looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the rich and the famous. But I also wondered how much the movies we would we see might attack our convictions. In recent years, Hollywood has been better at trashing Christianity than at producing nuanced portrayals of people of faith. Would the independent films we were slated to see do any better?"

Does God have a sense of humor?

Well, some people apparently think He does.

A group of Old and New Testament scholars have gathered in Rome for a seminar on "Laughter and Comedy in Ancient Christianity."

According to this article: "They hope to show that humor, far from being considered sinful, had an important place in early Christianity and in the Bible."

Quote from a rocker

"[I've] started thinking about God again for the first time in years. My mom is a devout Christian, but I used to be like, 'Forget about what God wants. I'll do what I want.' Yet once I thought about what I really wanted, I realized it was to get close to God. And I knew that I had to stop the things I was doing because God wanted me to respect myself." —Good Charlotte's Joel Madden, on how his interest in God is growing as he matures [Seventeen, 3/05]--from Plugged In's Culture Clips

Monday, February 14, 2005

I fought the flu and the flu won

Well, I guess it didn't completely win, or I wouldn't be here typing this! However, I'm still not 100 per cent after a five-day bout with the nastiest, most vicious flu bug I've ever done battle with. Any of you out there who've gone through this, you have my deepest empathy. This stuff absolutely kicks your behind!

Just a couple of things to pass along today:

A moving account

Author Jeri Massi shares a moving account of a cancer scare. When Jeri is at her best, her writing feels like a benediction.

Something scary out of NRB...

I've heard this before, but the implications are ominous. The Associated Press reports that at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Anaheim, NRB president Frank Wright expressed concerns about efforts to reinstate the so-called "Fairness Doctrine."

The doctrine (repealed in 1987) required broadcasters to give equal time for opposing views on controversial issues. Wright sounds a warning knell about the disastrous effect that this would have on Christian broadcasting...and he says laws concerning hate speech could make it illegal to broadcast the Biblical teachings on things like homosexuality.

Sobering stuff.

Just one Grammy comment...OK, maybe two...

I did see a bit of the Grammies last night before turning in early.

I was really impressed with Alicia Keys...I thought her solo performance was powerful, and I liked her duet with Jamie Foxx.

But what was up with the duet between Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony? Granted, Marc can sing. But I thought the whole thing was overwrought and pretentious, and JLo's voice seemed to be going flat several times. It was like she couldn't handle a song that required some vocal chops.

Criticizing Kinkade?

I'm no art critic...I tend to be drawn to things just because I think they're purty. :)

But Joe Carter at The Evangelical Outpost has some interesting observations about the works of Thomas Kinkade, the so-called "Painter of Light."

I don't own any of Kinkade's paintings, but I've seen several that appeal to me strongly simply because of the beauty of the scenes. And there's something to be said for spreading loveliness around.

But Joe does have some intriguing comments. Doubtless a talented painter, is Kinkade selling himself short now in the interest of appealing to the consumer? I had never seen the samples of his earlier work, and they really are very cool. They seem to convey more raw feeling and less polished fantasy, without sacrificing any of the appealing beauty. At least, in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Quote o' The Day

"Some bloggers blog for fun, some blog to promote a political or personal agenda, and still others blog because they have nothing better to do. Then, there are those who write because they believe that it just might make a difference. As observed, Luther had his printing press, and us modern day Reformers have our DSL’s. Perhaps it is naïve to believe that people will change the way they live because of God-honoring bloggers, but who would’ve thought a little script with 95 points would change Christendom from here on out?"--Amy of Amy's Humble Musings, winner of Best New Evangelical Blog

That Michael W. Smith endures!

From the time Michael W. Smith burst onto the Christian music scene with his Project in 1983, I knew he was special. I don't think I would have predicted that 22 years down the road, he would be the enduring Christian music icon that he is today.

With 40 Dove awards, two Grammys and an American Music Award already in his possession, Smith now leads this year's Dove Awards nominations with eight, including artist and song of the year for "Healing Rain."

Smith told Associated Press that he's "surprised and grateful to receive so many Dove nominations, especially with the emergence
of many new acts in recent years."

I've heard a few radio insiders grumble that long-time established award winners like Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman
should move out of the way and let the newer, younger acts have the awards spotlight.

Of course, there are those who decry awards shows for Christian music anyway--that's a whole 'nother subject in itself.

Me and Michael W. at GMA, 2002

Whatever. I think Smitty and SCC endure because they have enormous musical talent and real, genuine hearts for God. I've had the privilege of meeting and interviewing both of them more than once, and what you see is what you get. These guys are real.

No, Smitty doesn't have the most awesome voice in music. He's no Andrea Bocelli or Josh Groban. What he DOES have is the ability to craft a beautiful and enduring song, and I believe some of his creations will grace hymnbooks for years after all of us are gone.

What's your favorite Michael W. Smith song or album? Let me know in my comments section.

Oh, and that reminds me...

I'm going to Nashville!

As I did last year, I'm hosting a tour to Nashville April 12-15, with the highlight being the Gospel Music Association Music Awards (commonly known as the Doves.)

We take a nice coach down to Music City USA, and enjoy a few nights' stay at a nice hotel and tours of places like the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame, plus seeing our own 101QFL DJ's broadcasting live from the Gospel Music Associaiton Convention at the Renaissance Hotel.

It's a blast, and you can go too for 429.00 (based on double occupancy.) We leave from Rockford on Tuesday morning, April 12th.

I am SO looking forward to this!

Monday, February 07, 2005

I finally watched "The Village"

Well, I must stink as a movie critic, because I LIKED IT. So sue me.

I've read some pretty vicious reviews of M. Night Shymalan's The Village. Phrases like "complete and utter garbage," "heavyhanded to the point of amateurish," and "abysmal piece of trash" were just some of the phrases I unearthed.

Although admittedly it doesn't touch Shymalan's masterpiece, The Sixth Sense, I found it intriguing and interesting, and Bryce Dallas Howard (who happens to be director Ron Howard's daughter) was really wonderful in it.

(By the way, I was wondering when we'd get to see Howard in something else, and I understand that she's slated to play Mary Stuart of Scotland in "Mary Queen of Scots," planned for a 2006 release.)

So, my teen-age daughter says she figured out the twist early on. It took me a little longer. And although it won't go on my list of all-time favorite movies, I have to say I tend to agree more with this reviewer.

And you know what? It was kinda nice to watch a movie that wasn't a minefield of f-bombs and sexual vulgarity.

One of my favorite authors has started a fiction critique service

Lisa Samson, who has long been one of my favorite writers and bloggers, is now offering (for a fee) a fiction critique service.

What an invaluable service...makes me wish I had a work-in-progress now that I could shoot her way. Says Lisa: "...It includes help in areas such as plot difficulties, believability, character development and pacing.

"It will also provide a writing overview. Suggestions, when employed, that will help smooth out the rough places and help you submit a polished piece."

A drawing you may want to enter...

Study Bible

Feel free to use my referral ID number: 32111.

Has anyone else noticed this strange Blogger italics glitch?

I don't know if it's only with this template, but when you put anything in italics, it will NOT allow a space before the next word.

Like this:

I don't know if it's only with this template, but when you put anything in italics, it will not allow a space before the next word.

Anyone else noticed this? I've seen it in other Blogger blogs as well. Drives me crazy.


I haven't read a fiction book in a while, and I'm freaking out. Robin Lee Hatcher sent me Catching Katie and Beyond the Shadows; I read Catching Katie and have misplaced the other book! That's not surprising, since I'm in the midst of moving to another house, and I'm in that awful limbo.

So I guess this is my sign. Finish packing already, and stop taking time to read. Eeesh!!! Easier said than done. :)

Friday, February 04, 2005

Friday stuff

Hat tip to Steve Beard of Thunderstruck for a couple of interesting reads:

--Doubting Darwin--a Newsweek article about the intelligent design theory

--Chill, blogophiles; you're not the first to do what you're doing --a USA Today story about how blogging has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years

Basically, I'm just really impressed with Thunderstruck--it's rich with links to all kinds of news that's pertinent to Christians today.

The Joni Interview

I'm happy to say that AP's Religion Roundup has picked up a story I wrote based on the interview with Joni Eareckson Tada, along with soundbites. Religion Roundup is a service to AP-subscribing radio stations.

Some of your comments have reflected the impact Joni has made in your lives. Imagine if she had succumbed to her initial depression and gone the way of assisted suicide! Instead, well over 30 years of outstanding ministry conducted from a wheelchair, and countless lives touched and blessed.

Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

My interview with Joni Eareckson Tada: The danger of "Million Dollar Baby"

It concerns me deeply that now we live in a culture which capitalizes on that depression and reinforces to people like myself that "you're better off dead than disabled." That's unfortunate, that's sad, that is evil.--Joni Eareckson Tada

CINDY: An organization called Not Dead Yet has this to say on their website: "Since 1983, many people with disabilities have opposed the assisted suicide and euthanasia movement. Though often described as compassionate, legalized medical killing is really about a deadly double standard for people with severe disabilities, including both conditions that are labeled terminal and those that are not."

Well, nowadays people with disabilities are fighting a battle for their very lives, and it seems assisted suicide and euthanasia are getting some of their best PR from Hollywood movies.

In the movies nominated for Oscars this month, at least three have disturbing elements for people who are pro-life.

And I'm honored today to have as my guest someone who is very qualified to speak to these issues. She is Christian writer and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni, welcome to the show.

JONI: Well Cindy, thanks for welcoming me, and of course a special good morning to everybody listening there in the Rockford area.

CINDY: Well, I'm so delighted to be able to talk to you, Joni, because I've followed your ministry for so many years, dating back to reading your book and even seeing your movie years ago. It's just an honor and a delight for me to talk with you today.

JONI: Well, thank you also for highlighting some of the comments from the website of "Not Dead Yet." These are a group of disability advocates that serve as watchdogs for many of us in the disability community regarding national issues which threaten the livelihood of people with disabilities like myself, and I'm just grateful that you mentioned them.

CINDY: Well, I was led to their website while doing research for comments about this movie that we're going to talk about later on. I read a really excellent movie review on that site had some great things to say. If people would like to read it, I believe they can go to Not Dead Yet and check that out.

You know, Joni, it seems hard to believe that anyone in the Christian community wouldn't know who you are, but for those who might not...just tell us a little about yourself and your background, and what qualifies you to speak to these issues.

JONI: Cindy, I can hardly believe I'm coming up on 38 years of living life as a quadriplegic. Back in 1967, as a young teenager, I took a reckless dive into some shallow water that crushed my vertebrae and my neck, and that left me floating face down in the water,unable to move, unable to breathe. Thankfully, my sister pulled me up out of the water. They rushed me off to a hospital, where the doctors told me that I would be totally and completely paralyzed from the shoulders down for the rest of my life.

"I begged my friends to aid me in suicide"

I was so depressed, so discouraged...and when I was even brave enough to think about living life sitting in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, without use of my hands, I begged my friends to aid me in suicide. I asked them to bring in their mothers' sleeping pills, their father's razor blades, anything to put me out of my misery. I'm just so glad, Cindy, that there weren't any Jack Kevorkians around 38 years ago when I was in the hospital, because I would have taken advantage back then of the depression and the suicidal despair that I was steeped in.

CINDY: Joni, I get emotional just thinking about what a tragedy that would have been. I know what you suffered in your own life was a tragedy, but when I think about the immense good that you've done for the kingdom in the past 38 years, it just boggles my mind to think that that couldn't have happened if you had decided to go ahead and take your own life.

JONI: I think it underscores, Cindy, that people with severe injuries like mine--It's expected that we need to go through a little depression, my goodness! My problem really wasn't my quadriplegia so much as it was
the clinical depression, and that's what most people with disabilities, when they first get a bad medical report or first are injured, all people with severe injuries go through a time of grief and loss and depression.

Better off dead than disabled?

It concerns me deeply that now we live in a culture which capitalizes on that depression and reinforces to people like myself that "you're better off dead than disabled." That's unfortunate, that's sad, that is evil.

CINDY: I agree totally. And one of the reasons that I wanted to contact you, Joni, is I wanted to get your comments and your insight about a movie that is out right now, that has received huge kudos and acclaim from Hollywood. It's up for several Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress, and the Golden Globes honored it for various things as well.

Movie "spoiler"

Now, this is going to be a spoiler for people for people who haven't seen "Million Dollar Baby," so let me warn you in advance if you don't want to find out...but the truth is, a lot of people who have seen the movie wish that someone had warned them in advance, and "spoiled" the movie for them so that they would know what they were really getting into.

I've seen the trailer for the movie, and it looks like this inspiring, Rocky-type story about a young woman who becomes a boxer against all odds, and a heartwarming fatherly-daughterly situation between her and her trainer, that sort of thing, And I really thought, "Wow, that looks like a good movie, really inspiring and heartwarming!" It's even been called "Rocky in a sports bra" actually by some people.

But what they don't know is that about two-thirds of the way through the movie it, in essence, becomes a great big commercial for euthanasia, for assisted suicide.

And the rest of the movie deals with the fact of this young woman suffering a terrible blow to the head, and she wants to die. And as I understand it, really the way that it's treated, is very damaging to the prolife community. Why are movies like this so damaging in your eyes, Joni?

"To help a quadriplegic kill herself is not an expression of love"

JONI: Well, they're damaging because we live in a culture that is highly susceptible to these kinds of messages. Our society constantly bombards us with media propaganda and our culture, again, is particularly media-sensitive. We listen, we look to the commercials, we are guided by the movies. And directors and producers in Hollywood, they're not dummies...they make movies to make a political point. In fact, it's happening more now in the last five to ten years than it ever was when I was a kid and saw "The Sound of Music," or "Music Man," or any of those movies that were so popularly entertaining many years ago; no, today, movies are made for a political point.

And what troubles me about the movie you've described, "Million Dollar Baby," starring Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank, is that it uses this syrupy kind of romanticism to disguise the main premise that, well, that people are better off dead than disabled.

To help a quadriplegic kill herself is not an expression of love, although that is what is underscored in the film; no, to help a quadriplegic kill herself is a demonstration of contempt and fear. And I believe it's dangerous because it reinforces a movie-goer's fundamental fears of disability.

We see this man aid a young injured woman in killing herself, and we think to ourselves, "Well, I wouldn't want to live like that....I wouldn't want to live as a quadriplegic." So, a movie like this influences us and pressures us into believing that a wheelchair is a fate worse than death.

CINDY: Joni, say this movie was not a movie, but it was real, and there was really this young woman, and she really did suffer this terrible blow, and she really did want to die, and you were able to talk to her. What would you have said to her?

JONI: Well, I would tell her that number one, to be depressed is understandable. Sometimes you just want to know that somebody else understand, somebody else empathizes. It's why we've got our ministry at Joni and Friends. We minister to people like this all the time. Most of these people we have a chance to encourage and uplift and inspire, and connect them with good churches.

"Christianity with our sleeves rolled up"

Most of these individuals we have a chance to resource, and provide some financial assistance, or or get them involved in a community service organization that meets the needs of people with disabilities.

But sometimes there are people who don't. This morning... I was writing an e-mail to a woman in Annapolis who is about my age, and she's quadriplegic and she's stuck in a nursing home surrounded by people in their 80's and 90's, and for her it's very depressing. And we are working hard to alert churches in the Annapolis area of this woman's needs.

This is what we need to do as Christians. We need to not only declare the love of Jesus, we need to practice that Christianity with our sleeves rolled up and go visit people such as this young woman.

These are the kind of people who live in the Rockford area....We can make a huge difference in giving hope, encouragement, inspiration, and virtue and courage to face the future. But we've got to do it by being hands of Jesus Christ in the lives of these people.

CINDY: Tell me about Joni and Friends. That's pretty much what your organization is all about, isn't it?

JONI: It is, and you know what, Cindy? In the Chicago area, just east of Chicago, this summer we will hold two fantastic retreats for people affected by disability. This woman in the movie "Million Dollar Baby," somebody like her, that's the kind of people we want to get to our family retreats.

So if you know of somebody in the listening area that you believe is severely disabled and depressed, then please tell them about our family retreat, and work with us in providing some financial assistance to that person to attend our family retreat in the Chicago area. And people can just go on line at and get all the details about what's happening in the greater Chicago area.

CINDY: We will definitely direct people to that site. And Joni, didn't you at one point write a book about euthanasia, is that still available?

JONI: Well, we do have some copies available at our ministry, and people can go online and visit our products page, but unfortunately it's out of print. Euthanasia is not a subject that many people enjoy reading about.

Killing in the name of compassion?

But I just want to say, Cindy, that I am so frustrated that our culture continues to promote the premise that if you love somebody, you're free to kill them, all in the name of compassion.

Our adversary is the devil, and he is a liar, who tries to convince us that our life is not worth living; and he is a murderer, in that he promotes euthanasia. (In fact, we are combatting right now a physician-assisted suicide bill, that is going before our California assembly this spring; we're working in opposition against it.) And he is a deceiver, in that he tries to change the meaning of the word "compassion" to mean three grams of phenobarbitol in the veins. And I believe that the devil is trying to deceive people with this movie, "Million Dollar Baby."

I blog, therefore I am

If you're a blogger, admit it: you've thought about, wondered about, ruminated on, why you blog.

Debra, who's As I See It Now is graced with lovely nostalgic photographs and beautifully-written thoughts, has been writing about this very subject. The comments people have left in response are just as enlightening.

I've been caught up lately in the quest to increase my readership, but Debra has the right perspective on readership stats: "... you see, my stats counter--all those numbers--are rather like seeds in the Bible's parable of the sower of the seeds. To me, each number represents a valuable life--the heart of a seed, if you will. And well, when I see the seeds pouring in, I pray for them--that they will fall upon fertile soil and grow strong, tall and free.

"So that is why the numbers matter to me. Each number represents a beating heart, one which matters indescribably to God."

Blogging our hearts out?

And while we're on the subject, via Joy of Karagraphy, a look at why we blog, particularly young adults. Jeremy Huggins tackles the subject in depth in Blogging Our Hearts Out.

So why do I blog?

For me, it's relatively simple (although I confess I never foresaw that I would be so concerned about increasing readership!)

Bene Diction Blogs On asked the same question not long ago, and this was my reply then:

"Well, in my case, it helps satisfy a need for written self-expression that has been a part of me since I first learned to string together sentences on paper. Writing has always been an outlet for me.

"An outlet, but not always necessarily a private one. As a radio personality, I enjoy interaction with listeners. As a news announcer, I enjoy imparting information to people that they might not otherwise hear. As a blogger, I find my self eager to share things with my readers--fun stuff, trivia, my thoughts and opinions on books, music, entertainment, politics, faith.

"When I read or hear or experience something, I want to share it. Sharing it in writing is fun and enjoyable for me.

"I suppose that, in a nutshell, is why I blog. I want to write for others to read, and this is the easiest way I know how."

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Just interviewed Joni Eareckson Tada about "Million Dollar Baby"

"I am so frustrated that our culture continues to promote the premise that if you love somebody, you're free to kill them, all in the name of compassion. That is detestable and hateful. Our adversary is the devil, and he is a liar, who tries to convince us that our life is not worth living; and he is a murderer, in that he promotes euthanasia...and he is a deceiver, in that he tries to change the meaning of the word 'compassion' to mean three grams of phenobarbitol in the veins."--Joni Eareckson Tada

That's an excerpt of my interview with Joni, which I hope to have transcripted and on the blog shortly.

Most people in the Christian community are familiar with Joni's story. As a teen-ager, she injured her head in a diving accident, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down.

Joni tells me that the depression and despondency following her accident prompted her to plead with her friends to help her end her life. Thankfully, that didn't happen, and this remarkable woman has triumphed over incredible odds to become a voice for the disabled (with her Joni and Friends ministry), an artist and a prolific writer of inspiring books.

Heads up: Movie spoiler:

The movie Million Dollar Baby, starring Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank is in the running for Oscar gold, having already been adored by critics and lauded by the Golden Globes.

But many moviegoers are sucker-punched (forgive the boxing pun) when they find out that the inspiring, heartwarming "Rocky-in-a-sports-bra" story they were expecting, turns into a hope-less treatise on assisted suicide.

Joni had some things to say about "Million Dollar Baby" and why she thinks Hollywood's take on euthanasia is so damaging. I ended the interview with even more respect and admiration for this lovely and amazing woman.

I'm going to believe Jimmy the Groundhog!

Well, I'm not actually going to believe him...more like hope he's right.

Headquartered in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Jimmy is a lot closer to me than Punxsatawney Phil, who lives in Pennsylvania. Phil saw his shadow this morning...Jimmy didn't. Which according to weather lore, means if Jimmy's right, we'll have an early spring.

Of course, it's all nonsense. Spring will actually arrive around March 21st, regardless of what rodents see or don't see their shadow--and I've no doubt we'll see all kinds of weather before we get to that date. But it gives me a little shred of hope to cling to.

I can't mention Groundhog Day without thinking of the movie of the same name, starring Bill Murray and Andie of my very favorite funny movies ever.

It's about a weatherman who is kind of a jerk, who keeps re-living Groundhog Day over and over. Finally he learns some important, life-changing lessons.

Love how every morning when his alarm goes off, Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" is playing...

Christian Carnival is up...

The Christian Carnival is up at Wittenberg Gate...go and check it out. I actually remembered to submit a post this time!

Submitting a post is a good way to give your blog some exposure, and find out about other people's blogs as well.

Michael Easley to be new MBI president...

Moody Bible Institute officials announced last night that 47-year-old Virginia pastor Michael Easley will succeed Joe Stowell as president of the college.

From the MBI site: "Dr. Easley is a gifted Bible teacher and church leader. His passion for ministry, heart for people and love for God are the hallmark qualities that have distinguished MBI presidents for 119 years."

Read more in this Chicago Tribune article.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sad about Sammy Sosa

I'll admit it, I'm not the biggest sports buff in the world. My sons have told me I shouldn't do two things: rap, or talk about sports. I come off sounding a little silly when I do either of those things.

But I can't let the fact of Sammy Sosa leaving the Chicago Cubs go by unnoticed. I've been married to a die-hard (and I do mean die-hard) Cubs fan for nearly 27 years; been the mother of two Cubs fans for almost that long. I'd have to be a zombie for some of that Cub fan-dom not to rub off on me at least a little bit.

When I first started blogging in October of 2003, the Cubs were on the brink of going to the World Series, and I was at the height of my fairweather-fan-ness. I even blogged about my disappointment when they didn't make it.

Though most of the time I can take or leave baseball, I have not been immune to the little thrill of hope that always occurred whenever Sammy stepped up to the plate. I've been there in the stands at Wrigley Field, feeling that excited anticipation. So, yes, I am sad that he won't end his career in a Cubs uniform.

Others think it's past time for him to go.

My son Jonathan has been mulling the Sammy trade in his blog: "Sammy could get into real great shape and put together some monster years, but he won't. Sammy lacks respect and understanding for the game, his own team, and his own legacy, and for that reason he deserves no respect and understanding in return."

In a later post, Jon said he may have been a bit harsh: "He could come back this year for the O's and really prove me wrong. I really hope he doesn't."

And hat tip to Jonathan for this Gene Wojciechowski article about Sammy.

April will come again (may it be soon, Lord!), and spring will return to Wrigley Field. Sammy won't be there. But my husband and sons and a million other fans will still be watching and hoping...and life will go on.

Other stuff:

Potty rooms in Illinois and Wisconsin are in the running for America's Best Restroom. Last year, one of our neighbors to the north was the winner of the contest...the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan.

This year, the Red Light Restaurant in Chicago and Renee's Red Rooster and Sunset Grill in Stevens Point, Wisconsin are among the finalist. You can go to the site and vote it you like!

Cincinnati-based Cintas is presenting the award for the fourth year. From the site:
"It is a very private experience that happens in public places all over the world. Whether at a restaurant or a rest area, a high-rise office building or a 'nice clean gas station,' everyone at some point makes use of public facilities.

"The reality is that public restrooms matter to the public. The way a business or building treats its facilities is a reflection of its operating standards."

Well, I'm all for clean restrooms!

Moody says farewell to Dr. Joseph Stowell

AP's Religion Roundup reports that students, faculty and alumni paid tribute to departing Moody Bible Institute president Dr. Joseph Stowell in a service last night.

Stowell (who happens to be a Cedarville University alum) has served as MBI president for 18 of the college's 119-year history. I've been blessed by listening to Stowell early in the morning on his Proclaim radio broadcast, and also in person at a 2003 Rekindling the Romance seminar. I like his calm, wise, practical and humorous demeanor.

Stowell's leaving to be a teaching pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel near Chicago. His successor is to be announced later today.

(For more on the transition, read here. )

A must-read

Be sure and check out The Wittenberg Gate today...Dory's Worldview Test is not to be missed.

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