Archive for September, 2008

Time In Czech Republic

            I did not really know what to expect as I boarded the airplane for the Czech Republic.  I knew that as a young Christian I had prayed for the Czech people who were suffering under communism.  I knew they were one of the largest atheistic nations in the world.  Traveling in the former Eastern Bloc can be hard, often their economies have not caught up with standards in Western Europe and therefore everything from trains to buses to hotels to shops can be less than comfortable.

 

            I am happy to tell you that this is not the case in the Czech Republic.  Here the economy is thriving.  The Czech people are quick to smile.  They have a strong relationship with NATO and with America.

 

            While I have been here we have meet military officers.  I had the chance to talk with several groups about the value of the rule of law and human rights.  The discussions centered on the value of permitting free speech in public places.  We even provided a case study from Greece where free speech was prohibited until the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, France ruled that free speech had to be protected in the countries of Europe.

 

            It was exciting for me to meet men and women who were willing to sacrifice their personal time to protect their country and other countries.  The Czech military is currently active in Chad, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  What a noble people they have proven to be!

 

            I was also able to meet with leaders of the local churches and evangelical groups throughout the country, including a campus ministry in Brno.  These meetings gave me insight into the challenges facing the church in the Czech Republic.  I am not prepared to talk about all of the things we discussed publicly, but suffice it to say that we are moving forward and creating relationships that will have long term value both here in the Czech Republic, Europe, and the U.S.A.

 

            There are several points of concern that the IHRG is going to be able to come alongside the Czech Church and provide help.

 

            Please continue to pray for our work!

Great News! My novel is now available in audio CD!

I have to share it with you, because it seems pretty amazing to me–Southern Justice, my novel is now available on audio CD.  You can get a copy directly from my publisher by following this link: 

 http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-60696-154-4

After you listen to it, or read it, I would love to hear what you think.

Here is an overview of the novel:

“Murder in small town Georgia leads to a trial where the only victim, other than Bobby Lee Jones, is the truth. In Southern Justice, author Joel Thornton presents the last of the old southern lawyers: an aristocratic lawyer everyone calls T.J.—an icon in Rome, Georgia. In a moment of weakness, T.J. puts everything he has built on the line by agreeing to represent Bobby Lee Jones, an African American, considered by many to be retarded, who stands accused of killing three white boys. In cold blood. The problems? Bobby Lee can’t remember anything. The evidence, although sparse, is incriminating. And the town has already decided that Bobby Lee, and everyone who helps him, should be hanged. Will T.J. be able to save this simple man? Can T.J. salvage his reputation? Will the defense fall victim to Southern Justice? Watch the courtroom drama unfold as T.J. works his way through the lies, pulling at the thread of truth only he believes is there—the thread of truth every good lawyer knows runs through every courtroom. ”

Happy listening!

Rolling Stone Magazine Probably Makes Sense—If You Are High On Narcotics, Or Have Your Name In Bold Inside

            I picked up the new Rolling Stone Magazine, October 2, before it was placed on the book shelf.  Do not worry, I did not buy it, I read it in the store where I was doing a book signing.  When I first picked up the magazine I was afraid the earth might open up and swallow me for my sins—but I survived.

 

            One of the cover stories is about Sarah Palin.  I know, it should not surprise me, that the editors of Rolling Stone do not want any one who has not spent their adult life stoned, or taken political positions that only make sense when you are stoned, being elected to any office in the country.

 

            The crux of the story, I must confess again I did not read it because a sober mind can only read so many mind numbing words before begging for relief, was that the scary thing about Palin’s candidacy is what it says about America.  Imagine how bad we should feel having a candidate who does not believe in murdering babies at any stage of their pre-birth development.  Imagine how bad we should feel having a candidate who does not stand near their limo or their private jet telling us that we should use less fuel.  Imagine a world in which Neil Young does not complain about his “free” speech rights being violated, when he charges nearly 20 dollars for the “free” speech.  Here’s an idea for Neil, old man take a look at your own life, other than singing some songs not much there—even for a Canadian who abandoned your country to try to destroy ours.  (You know, I kind of like this free speech thing, Neil.  Could you send me 20 dollars?)

 

            To me the scary thing about Rolling Stone, or as a more descriptive title might be, the Chronicles of the Hedonistic, Narcissistic, and Their Endless need for Self-Justification is that anyone takes them serious beyond their music reviews. 

 

            This is the magazine that gave us sex, drugs, and rock and roll as a life goal.  What Palin’s candidacy really tells us, and this is what scares the addicts over at Rolling Stone, is that America does not live a Rolling Stone life.  We view Rolling Stone as fantasy—like People, US Weekly, Star, or E! TV, we do not expect to get any lasting value or any real benefit to our culture.

 

            Maybe if the readers of Rolling Stone spent less time in chemically altered states, maybe if their readers could remember their 20s, maybe then, they would realize that most of these guys who tell us what is wrong with the world actually are what is wrong with the world.  Imagine the confusion that must lead to in the morning when you are still hung over trying to figure out who you slept with last night, or what city you are in for that matter.

 

            To quote Joan Boaz again, “the sixties are over” so let them be.  Grow up and read something other than the life of Tommy Lee—I know the photos are good, and all those tattoos are inspiring.

 

            The irony of it is that Rolling Stone just does not get it.  Few of us really want to live the life style Rolling Stone stands for.  Oh, do not get me wrong, we would like to be rich and famous, we just do not want to waste our days in a drugged out stupor, having sex without a lasting relationship, seeing our kids on the weekends if ever, and attending awards shows with our narrow-minded liberal friends who keep telling us that we must be right because we shared a needle.

 

            Maybe it works for the Grateful Dead—but they are Grateful and Dead after all!

 

            For the rest of us, reality is all we have; it is this fantasy world that bites.

 

Thank God Alec Baldwin Is Leading The Charge On Parenting And The Law!

            At first I was angry when I saw that Alec Baldwin has “written” a book on parenting.  Surprisingly enough it is not called “Shut Up, You Little Pig.”  I think the title change alone is enough to say that maybe, just maybe Alec is learning how to be a father.

 

            According to the blurb I read in the USAToday, the book is about parental rights, the law, and divorce.  I find it hard to believe that Alec is complaining that the courts are stacked against him.  After the last highly publicized interaction with his daughter, you were probably not surprised that Alec did not receive any votes for father of the year, other than from a couple of people on his payroll.  The yes men speak.  I am not sure why he claims to be upset with the legal system, but I am upset with the legal system if he still has any right to interact with his daughter without supervision.

 

            I have had my fill of men who cannot control their tempers.  There is no excuse for a man belittle others—especially a father with his daughter.  I worked for years with a man who thought that it made him a bigger man if he belittled me and others in front of our co-workers.  This type of immaturity and improper behavior cannot be tolerated.

 

            Maybe when Janeane Garofalo said last week that republicans are mean she really meant that Alec Baldwin is mean.  Maybe when she said that terror was a republican policy she meant to blame it on Alec.

 

            If the courts are stacked against fathers in family rights that might be something we should look into.  If Alec Baldwin is the proof of this bias, then let’s move to another topic.  He has worked hard to get what he has earned, live with it.

 

            Of course, Alec could have avoided all of these problems if he were a man of his word.  I seem to remember the promise that if Bush was elected President Alec would leave the country.  Why is it that violent, ill-tempered men are not able to keep their word?  Where is integrity when you need it?!

 

            Finally, Janeane, I feel your pain.  The fact that Alec has a child is a great example of a lack of “reproductive justice.”  It is only a shame that Alec is not a republican so he could be proof of the correctness of Janeane’s inane rambles and rants.

 

Maybe we are wrong on abortion, maybe we should refuse to let some people father children.

 

            Just a thought!

Celebrity, the Great American Deception! Ode to Lindsey Lohan

            I have had my fill of celebrities telling me what to believe.  So I have some questions for all the celebrities who want me to believe like they believe.

 

            Why should I listen to someone who is really good at reading lines someone smarter than them had to write?

 

            Why should I listen to someone whose only claim to fame is that they can become someone else on stage or in front of a camera?

 

            Why should I listen to someone who wastes more energy in a 5 star hotel suite in one night than most of us waste in a month?

 

            Why should I listen to a group of people who spend more time holding award shows to build up their self-image so that we will be impressed with them?

 

            Why should I hear about politics from someone who never received an education, even though they can play an educated person in the movies?

 

            Here is clue, if your claim to fame is that you look good on the front of a magazine cover, or you can pretend to be someone you are not, or you won an award from a group of people who do the above, maybe you should close your mouth and spend your money more quietly.

 

            Most of us have never been to Hollywood.  We are watching your movies to forget about the pains of life for a time.  We are not watching you because you are smart, or because we think you have anything of value to share.

 

            Entertain us for a time; then, enjoy your drug infested parties, sleep with whoever shows up.  But stop thinking you have anything of value to add to our lives beyond your art.

 

            Why should I care what celebrities think?

 

It is a simple answer; it seems to me that most celebrities cannot think.  Maybe those of us who wait to see what Hollywood has to say really are the stupid ones.

German Home Schooling: The Long Journey Back Into Night!

Herr “Schmidt” (names cannot be revealed for fear of reprisals) and his family are facing the loss of everything.  They are German citizens and love their country.  Their only crime is that they are home schooling in a country that refuses to allow parents to make educational choices for their own children.  When Herr Schmidt insisted on home schooling his children, German officials began fining him.  Without a trial the government levied fines against Herr Schmidt and his family that he could not pay.  Government officials then began to take money from their bank account—money that was dedicated to feeding their family and maintaining their home. When there was not enough money in Herr Schmidt’s bank account, government officials began to evaluate the value of his house with the intent to put it up for auction.

 

            Though Herr Schmidt and his family have paid $15,000 in fines, they are now being levied with another $7,500 in fines.  He has had all of his income garnished by the government to cover the fines.  He and his family now have a decision to make; one that they never previously considered. Herr Schmidt told me last year that he would not leave Germany; his wife was tired and they would not pack up and leave the country.

 

            Unfortunately for Herr Schmidt and his family, in Germany “the times they are a changing.”  A new federal law makes it much easier for government officials to take children from their parents.  When Melissa Busekros was taken from her parents in the Bavarian town of Erlangen, one of the legal issues that helped us keep Melissa home after she finally fled state custody was the need for a qualified psychological evaluation and a certificate meeting an exacting legal standard.  These had to be in place before government officials could take a child permanently from their parents’ custody.

 

            Germany has now removed this legal protection.  That means that families, particularly children, are open game once they are targeted by government officials.  This new law will leave all families extremely vulnerable—particularly if they are Christians and home school their children. The government has free access to all children, and under threat of fines, imprisonment, and loss of custody of their children parents are told by social workers what to do with their children.

 

            The only choice Herr Schmidt has is to flee Germany with his family.  If government officials learn that he is leaving the country with his children, they will hide behind a recent German court decision that prohibits parents from exiting the country with their children if the state believes the parents are not acting in the best interest of their children.  Parents are still free to leave the country, but their children will be forcibly put into state custody.

 

            One of the most accepted forms of parents not acting in the best interest of their children is to home school them. The new law gives social workers a free hand to determine what is best for the children. There is virtually no room for argument before the courts anymore; the child has the right to what a social worker thinks is the best society has to offer—to go to a German public school.

 

            This does not mean that we will no longer fight in the courts.  It is critical that we continue to work within the legal system.  Now we must work in other areas; political, social, the media, and at the grass roots, to protect the rights of parents and their children.  We must change the nature of the educational system—something the International Human Rights Group will be addressing through a serious of upcoming initiatives.  These focused efforts include alternative school choices for Germans families and a German language curriculum to be utilized by German families—of course, this curriculum would be Christian based.

 

            Unfortunately for Herr Schmidt, government officials have taken every Euro the family has.  Somehow they have to find the funds to secretly leave the country before government officials learn they are leaving and take their children from them.

 

            This is not a fictitious account. Herr Schmidt and his family are very real people.  I have literally broken bread with them.  I have sat in their home, eating goulash and fried bread, praying before a communal meal, learning to love and respect this family.

 

            This account is all too real in the new German war on home schooling.  There was a time when we were making great progress in home schooling in Germany.  There was a time when Richard and Ingrid Guenther were working with families and government officials to resolve issues without parents going to jail, without children being taken from their parents.  For a variety of reasons, some natural and some the direct result of the financial difficulties faced when working in a foreign country, the Guenthers were not able to continue fighting for home school rights in Germany. It is obvious that Schuzh, the legal organization they co-founded with German attorneys, has lost its driving force.

 

            Since the Guenthers have come back to the States, the situation of home school families in Germany has deteriorated.  Government officials have become more emboldened.  Families, Christian families, are under attack like never before.  There are people who are still fighting for the rights of German home school families; the Guenthers, however, were the key.  No one understands the needs of German families like they do.  None of us understand the nature of German government officials the way the Guenthers do. This is what I heard recently when I was in Germany. They have worked as a German/American team with the ingenuity of both nations, their home educated children being their great witness. We do not understand how to communicate and win the hearts of the German public like the Guenther family.  And most importantly, we do not have the time to catch up. 

 

The rest of us might be able to hold back the tide for a short time, but like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke, we cannot hold back the German government and its concerted effort to destroy home schooling in Germany—destroy home schooling regardless of the cost to families.  After all, these families are Christians and this is a post-Christian Europe.

 

            While government officials are bearing down on German families, we have been able to win an important victory on behalf of an American missionary family.  This family came to Germany to help pastor a church.  They have always home schooled their children, and when they came to Germany they continued to do so.  When German officials discovered they were home schooling, they immediately refused to grant the family a residence visa unless they put their children in the local government school.  When the Robinsons refused to bend to the pressure they were given a deportation date—be out of Germany voluntarily or be forced out of the country.

 

Because they are Americans, we have been able to use public pressure, political pressure, and solid legal work to force government officials to agree to permit the Robinson family to stay in Germany and fulfill their mission through the end of the year.

 

            The fight to protect the Robinson family lasted nearly a year.  It was a fight that began in an administrative setting and ended in court.  Armin and Gabriele Eckermann, both attorneys for Schuzh, handled the administrative hearings.  These hearings permitted the Robinson family to remain in the country.

 

            Dr. Ronald Reichert, European Counsel for the International Human Rights Group, handled the court hearings and was finally able to negotiate a settlement that resolved all of the issues facing the Robinsons.  The final result is that the Robinsons will legally remain in Germany—and they are being permitted to home school.

 

            Then they intend to move to another country in Europe and continue their ministry by pastoring a church in Europe.

 

            The fight for religious freedom and parental rights in Germany, including the right to home school, will continue.  We must stand with these families and do everything in our power to help them.

 

            That means we must give money to help continue the fight.  We must give to help some families escape before overzealous German government officials destroy them. Herr Schmidt did not ask us for financial help to flee with his family even though he is destitute. He trusts that God will provide for them by moving the hearts of his fellow Christians to help—that means us.

 

            Equally important, we must pray! Pray for these families who are facing their darkest hour.  German government officials are once again using the law to separate children from their parents—their only crime?  Home schooling.

 

            The next knock on Herr Schmidt’s door could be the police pushing into their home and taking their children to an undisclosed location without due process of law—just like Melissa Busekros.  Can we really afford to have their pain on our conscience?

Where Are The True Feminists?

My entire life is made up of people claiming that women were equal to men.  I was belittled if I did not believe it.  I was made to feel stupid if I raised any questions to it.  I finally gave in and realized that women and men are equal.  Women are as smart as men.  Women are as tough as men.

 

I get it.  Frankly, after living with my wife for 18 years I might have to say that I no longer agree that men and women are equal.  Watching her go through life and really give everything for everybody, I have come to believe that women might be better than men.  They are certainly better at giving of themselves to serve those around them.  My wife gets sick and does not care for herself because there are still others who need her.  I get sick and she puts me to bed and makes me rest.  For her there is no rest for the weary.

 

Suddenly, the rules have changed.  Suddenly, with the elevation of a conservative woman to the vice presidential candidate of the Republican Party women are not equal simply because they are women.

 

I have been amazed to watch liberal women jump off the women are equal to men bandwagon that I am riding on.  It is like watching blacks jump off the blacks are equal to whites bandwagon simply because some blacks are conservative.

 

This is the reason I lean to the right.  Since the sixties I have watched liberals run from intellectual integrity.  They believe in evolution but everyone else is an idiot.  They believe in abortion and the rest of us are stupid.  They believe in peace at all costs and the rest of us are unintelligent.  They believe God is dead and therefore God, who insists in being alive, is stupid.  I am sure you see the direction I am going.

 

I am tired of apologizing for my beliefs.  They have served me well; they have served our country well.  Let’s learn to disagree with dignity.  I will not be less because I do not mindlessly follow the teachings of those who seem to be living on the flashbacks of their LSD days.

As Joan Boaz said in song:  “The sixties are over…” so let them be.  It is time to move on.  Take another hit of acid and leave me alone!


Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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