Students in California public schools may not be leading the nation in their knowledge of the “three R’s,” but they are well on their way to being experts in deviant lifestyles. Under a law signed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), all public schools in the state are now required to promote homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, and same-sex “marriage” at every grade level, including kindergarten — and to do so without parental consent or even notification.

 

The joys of Christmas do not include coping with crowds at shopping malls or wracking your brains trying to figure out what to get as a gift for someone who already seems to have everything.

Books are a way out of both situations. You don't even have to go to a bookstore, with books so readily available on-line. As for the person who seems to have everything, newly published books are among the things they probably don't always have.

One of the most enjoyable new books I read this year was a biography titled Stan Musial: An American Life by George Vecsey. Musial was one of the great hitters in the history of baseball, with a lifetime batting average of .331.

This biography, however, is more about Musial the man, and the era in American life in which he lived, which makes it more three-dimensional. It is a good read, and may be especially appreciated by people old enough to remember that era and the values that prevailed in that era, which Musial exemplified.

The decision by social workers in Cleveland, Ohio, to take a 200-pound third grader away from his mother and place him in foster care is raising concerns about how much power county and state social service agencies have to interfere in the lives of families.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the eight-year-old boy was taken from the home in October after case workers determined that his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight. The officials said the boy’s severe obesity placed him at risk for developing such medical conditions as diabetes and hypertension.

 

New work rules from the Department of Labor will end most teens' farm jobs.

Arthur Christmas adds a whole new spin to the classic tale of Santa’s busy Christmas Eve as the deliverer of presents and joy to every child in the world. In this version, Santa Claus is simply a figurehead, and the true genius behind the success of Christmas Eve is Santa's eldest son, Steve, and the millions of elves found in Santa’s highly technological workshop.

So how does Santa’s youngest son, Arthur Christmas, fit into this scenario? Therein lies the ingenious, touching, and captivating plot of this wonderful Christmas film.

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) has just traveled around the entire world in his high-tech spaceship, which has replaced the antique sleigh formerly pulled by eight reindeer. At the helm of this impressive new vehicle, however, is not our beloved Santa Claus, but Santa’s son Steve (Hugh Laurie). It becomes clear early in the movie that Steve has pushed his father to the back burner and replaced him in virtually every aspect of the entire Christmas operation. Santa's role has been diminished to a few quick cameos in the homes of several children just to show he was there.

Meanwhile, Santa’s younger son Arthur (James McAvoy) plays an extremely vital role in Santa’s workshop. He reads every single letter sent to the North Pole from the anxious children across the world, and sees to it that each child receives the very present requested from good old Saint Nick. This role seems to serve Arthur just fine, as his whimsical spirit and loving, optimistic nature allows him to see the beauty and Christmas spirit of every letter sent to Santa. At the same time, it is a safe job for someone such as Arthur, who is both clumsy and fearful of virtually everything.
 

One of our local radio stations is already playing Christmas music full-time. It’s amazing how many songs have been written about Christmas. Most of them are secular, but the most common message they convey is one of family joy, of children and Santa Claus, of remembrance of all the Christmases we enjoyed in the past with loved ones who are no longer with us.

So despite the attempts by atheists to ban Christianity from American public life, particularly in the public schools, they cannot eradicate Christmas from family life, let alone the shopping malls. As anyone can see, Christmas has acquired great economic power. And that is because Christianity is at the foundation of our spiritual life and political system.

Secular humanism tries to give the impression that Christianity was just a passing phase in American history, and that our culture is advancing into a new secular religion more in keeping with modern values. But the humanist movement cannot remove the need in people’s lives for attachment to their Creator. In recent years we’ve seen a revival of religious fervor in America, particularly in the South where mega-churches have been built to accommodate the large numbers of people who need all the spiritual nourishment they can get.

The teen birth rate reached a historic low in 2010, and while abstinence proponents say the drop is encouraging, they note another CDC report that shows climbing rates of sexually transmitted disease among young people.

According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 34.3 births per 1,000 teenagers aged 15-19 in 2010, a drop of nine percent from the previous year and the lowest rate in nearly 70 years of data collection. Reported Reuters News of the CDC statistics: “The birth rate for teens has gone down for the last three years and in 17 out of the last 19 years… In 2010, birth rates also dropped to historic lows for mothers aged 10-14.”

“It was really a dramatic one-year decrease,” Bill Albert, spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told Reuters, adding that teen pregnancy rates have dropped 44 percent since a 1991 high. “That is extraordinary progress on an issue that many consider intractable and inevitable.”
 

A new study by the Family Research Council has found that only 46 percent of children in the United States will reach the age of 17 living in intact homes with married biological parents.

The second annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection, conducted by the FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), also found that high intact family rates and child poverty are inversely related, with states having high “family-belonging” indices also recording low child poverty rates, and vice versa. Additionally, researchers found a significant inverse relationship between intact, traditional families and teen pregnancy.

Dr. Pat Fagan, director of MARRI and one f the study’s authors, said that the latest research found “the family is hugely important in determining a child’s future success or failure. The report shows that states with higher rates of strong families have higher rates of high school graduation as well as higher average scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Family structure is actually more closely linked to educational outcomes than government spending.”

After decades of helping to place children in foster homes, Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, announced on November 14 that it would be transferring all of its current cases to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Across the state, Catholic Charities and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency in Wheaton found that they would no longer be able to continue playing a role in placing children in foster care because the state government was going to require them to place children in the homes of same-sex couples — a practice that both Roman Catholics and Evangelicals believe to be contrary to their faith.

 

Bil Keane, whose wholesome cartoon “Family Circus“ entertained and inspired generations of Americans looking for something positive, safe, and familiar in their daily newspaper, died November 8 at his home near Phoenix. He was 89.

Beginning in 1960, Keane drew the one-panel cartoon, carried today in nearly 1,500 newspapers, that featured cherubic siblings Billy, Jeffy, Dolly, and P.J., along with their patient and loving parents. The cartoon, which focused on mundane and familiar family settings and situations, was by far the tamest piece in the daily comics, entertaining readers “with a simple but sublime mix of humor and traditional family values,” reported the Associated Press. Keane told the AP in a 1995 interview that the cartoon’s popularity was tied to its consistency and simplicity. “It’s reassuring, I think, to the American public to see the same family,” he said.

Even though he kept up with the times, adding relevant pop culture references to keep the cartoon timely, “the context of his comic was timeless,” noted AP. “The ghost-like ‘Ida Know’ and ‘Not Me’ who deferred blame for household accidents were staples of the strip.” Other supporting cartoon cast members included the family’s pets, Barfy and Sam the dogs, along with Kittycat.

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