Art, Beauty & EvangelizationAug 08, 2014
Marie Miller is a Christian pop musician who does not record in the Christian music genre. But she takes every opportunity to openly speak about, and more importantly, live out her faith. One of 10 children from a Shenandoah Valley family, her star is rising quickly. Her new single, 6'2", recently was used on ABC's Dancing With The Stars and featured on VH1's Top 20 Video Countdown.
Her music, while secular pop, reflects the beauty of life and God's hand in it. Even Hugh McIntyre at the very liberal Huffington Post cites her as a bright alternative to Taylor Swift.
In anything creative, it is important to show, not tell. The problem with much of today's art, especially that which attempts to draw attention to perceived societal and political ills, from Christian or secular humanist points of view, is that it blatantly tells you what it is trying to convey. Or, in the case of music, screams it at you. Words often accompany visual art. Why? It's supposed to be visual, not literal.
Miss Miller has it right. To be sure, she references an old actor and visual artist who said Beauty is a tool for evangelization.
Saint John Paul The Great, who was an actor before entering the priesthood, and who continued to carve and sculpt after his ordination (when he was a bishop in Poland he gave the late Diocese of Richmond Bishop John Russell a sculpture he carved which the diocese still has in its collection), wrote an open letter to artists and their Christian role. According to Miss Miller, John Paul said:
Beauty stirs a hidden nostalgia for God and that it recalls our hearts' deepest longing for God.
The goal of artists trying to make a point, especially Christians, should not be to shout it from the mountain. It should be to show the beauty of the mountain.
Here is a terrific feature on Marie Miller followed by a studio interview with her on EWTN News Nightly. She is eloquent (especially for her young age) in her definition of the role on art in culture and is worth the view. It begins at the 17:48 mark.
Defining Our Own Reality
Defining Our Own Reality
The entire "transgender" movement rests on the proposition that a person can define his or her (or "ze") own reality, and that society should recognize and yield to that conception of reality at all times in all places. It appears to be yet another unwieldy extension of the Supreme Court's infamous declaration in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (upholding Roe v. Wade) that "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
Fine then, if those are the rules, two (or more) can play this game.
You can be free to define your reality by feelings, emotions, and personal experiences, as long as I am free to define my reality with biological facts, logical reasoning, and a belief in objective truth, both physical and spiritual.
For the sake of this experiment, I'll concede that your "gender" is something altogether different than your sex, and that you should be entitled to be treated as your preferred gender in every way - in bathrooms, showers, restrooms, the use of preferred pronouns, etc.. I guess if "perception is reality", then self-perception must be the ultimate reality.
Alright, now it's my turn. You have to accept that there are only two sexes - male and female - as evidenced most obviously through biological and anatomical differences, that "gender" is simply another word for biological sex, that humans were created by God as either male or female, that one's sex is immutable, and that in recognizing the profoundly unique differences between the sexes, society should honor their privacy and dignity with separate locker rooms, showers and restrooms. After all, in this game, I have an equally valid right to others' respect and official recognition of my reality.
Sounds fair enough, right?
Oh wait...except for the fact that it doesn't work at all. (Yes, I know that we BOTH innately recognize the objective "law of non-contraction" here.) That's because the realities we've "created" are in direct conflict with one another. Together they present an irreconcilable contradiction such that, no matter how hard we try, there can be no peaceful coexistence. One conception of reality will eventually succumb to the other - you can bet your next group therapy session on it.
I wish this weren't so. I really do. Wouldn't it be nice if we could "all just get along" in a world in which we each define what's real to us and then expect everyone else to live by the rules we create? Sounds pleasantly warm and fuzzy to me. Yet we all know such a place does not exist, nor could it ever. In case you had forgotten, this is precisely why we fight so fiercely over laws and public policies. We know that only one reality can prevail and that we'll have to conform our behavior to it.
The question we must answer then is: Whose reality will prevail? Will we decide that reality is defined by some person's feelings, emotions, or experiences? Will we decide to define reality by what we can see, touch, and perceive through our faculties of logic, reason, and common sense? Will it be some combination of these or some other standard altogether?
I think I know which conception of reality should prevail. But one thing I know for certain: this business of defining one's own personal reality is as nonsensical as it is untenable. We don't get to define reality, but we nevertheless have choices. We can either acknowledge its existence and align our behavior accordingly, or we can ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist until invariably it hits us like a ton of bricks.
A Message To School Boards
A Message To School Boards
I showed up on Wednesday night for Prince William County’s School Board meeting where it planned to vote on a proposed policy that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes in the school system’s nondiscrimination policy. After more than three hours of testimony and not even halfway through the speakers list, I realized that I would not be able to stay for the whole meeting or give my prepared remarks to the Board. Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary, as well over 100 parents and students signed up to speak against this terrible idea. Sometime past midnight early on Thursday morning, the Board voted to table all discussion on the policy until next summer. Had I gotten the chance to speak, here’s what I would have said to the School Board:
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Board,
By now you have all heard how this policy change is dangerous, unnecessary, illegal, and fraught with ambiguities and unintended consequences. The Family Foundation, in conjunction with Alliance Defending Freedom, recently sent each of you a joint letter explaining as much.
While recognizing that you already know or reasonably should know these things, I want to pose to you a question of a different nature – a question that is really at the heart of this whole debate.
The question is this: Is there anything that is true at all? Put another way, is there any concept or belief or reality that can be objectively known and firmly relied upon? Is there anything at all that is fixed and unchanging?
Now before you suggest to your constituents that this kind of philosophical question is “above your pay grade” or that it is somehow not a relevant matter of public policy, realize that what is being proposed here tonight directly implicates this fundamental question. Because what you are in effect saying through this policy is that there is no meaningful distinction between male and female, perhaps even that there really is no distinction at all. That despite conclusive biological evidence to the contrary, boys can be girls and girls can be boys whenever, however, and wherever they so choose, and that a person’s station as either male or female makes no difference in the way that we think, live, interact, and relate with one another. And yet we ALL know that is not true.
But your assertions do beg the should-be obvious question: If we are prepared to declare that something so basic and so clear as the biological difference between male and female is no longer so, then upon what basis can we say anything at all is true? If this Board is prepared to suggest by this policy that biology and DNA and centuries of social science no longer count for anything, then please tell us what ground is left for the Board to stand on in making any decisions about the health and well-being of Prince William County students?
Given what we already know about the circumstances surrounding this proposed change – that there have been no reports of any issues for transgender students in the past ten years, that state and federal law prohibit this policy change, that there are ongoing lawsuits at all levels underway on this issue as we speak, that there is widespread opposition to this policy among parents and community members, and most significantly, that many students will be deprived of their privacy, security, and dignity – it is clear that this policy push is primarily about one thing: undermining truth and imposing a new reality consistent with a particular ideology.
But I am here to tell you, make no mistake, there are some things which really are true, and that cannot be changed, no matter how hard this School Board attempts to make it not so. Reality can only be defied for so long before its consequences show up in force. It will be no different with this policy, should you choose to enact it.
No matter what happens, we can be sure that boys will continue to be boys, and girls will continue to be girls. And you will have to deal with all of the very predictable fall-out of your attempt to deny that reality. In the meantime, unless you maintain a policy that reflects the reality that males and females are biologically and emotionally different and should therefore be afforded privacy in vulnerable settings, a lot of kids and a lot of teachers are going to be harmed. And chaos will ensue. Maybe not today. And maybe not tomorrow. But soon, you can count on it.
Truth is a stubborn thing. It will always manifest itself in reality. I urge you to abandon any attempts to defy this incontrovertible truth. The health and well-being of our kids are at stake.
Moral Cowardice Yields Political Palatability
Moral Cowardice Yields Political Palatability
Last week, Democratic Party Nominee Hillary Clinton announced the selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. Kaine is, by most estimations, a safe choice for Clinton, as he helps her with a swing state while retaining a guise of moderate liberalism. The Senator has often described himself as “personally”, but not politically opposed to abortion. Clever wordplay, which allows him to seem individually moraled yet governmentally removed from an issue on which the American public is split down the middle. It is this brand of cowardice that creates a candidate who is ethically reprehensible and also tolerable for a considerable portion of the public.
The words of anyone who holds this position immediately raise more questions than they answer. Namely, the individual's reason for personal opposition, to the moral proposition that is abortion. Why does Kaine believe that abortion is wrong in the first place? The pro-life movement, which diverts heavily from Kaine’s application of his views, fervently asserts that, from the moment of conception, the human life has value. Regardless of circumstance, age, or development, this principle of inherent worth is one that must be applied to all humans. If selectively distributed, the aforementioned absolute becomes self defeating, and useless. Therefore, Kaine cannot cite this reason as the cause of his “personal” tension with abortion. That would mean his governmental view would need to follow, in order to avoid an obvious philosophical inconsistency.
And Yet, millions of Americans sympathize with the Senator’s sentiment, and toe the line whilst living in obvious contradiction. For the average citizen, intellectual laziness of this order is actually a convenience. They can preach the pro-life message at their church or in their home, and espouse the woman’s “right to choose” if surrounded by liberal colleagues. The cop-out allows for conflict to be avoided, and, even though its side effect is turning the user's moral philosophy into an amorphous blob indistinguishable from self-serving nihilism, many find it preferable to, God forbid, disagreeing with someone.
In the political landscape however, views such as Kaine’s serve another benefit altogether. The reason these ideals, which in reality raise more questions than they answer, retain popularity among American politicians, is because they are intended to do just that: muddy the waters. Regardless of philosophical inconsistency, a skilled politician is able to turn ambiguous morals into lucid pandering, hopping from one side of the fence to another, garnering as many votes as possible. Believing everything and nothing all at once.
As principled citizens, we must demand that politicians take a true stand on consequential issues. As American voters, we must ensure that our leaders views are brimming with clarity and truth. As people of intellect, we must be appalled by those who insult our intelligence by pleading that we look past their disheveled philosophy.
By Cameron Dominy
Cameron Dominy is a 2016 Summer Intern at The Family Foundation of Virginia, and the Governor of the South Carolina Student Legislature.
Here's What You Missed!
Here's What You Missed!
On Saturday we launched a brand new grassroots initiative with the unveiling of our Regional Engagement Teams! Our goal is to have a Regional Engagement Team, or RET, in all of the major regions throughout Virginia, and we need your help. If you signed up for a position on Saturday, we cannot thank you enough for volunteering your time and effort to fight for our principles. If you did not get the chance to join a RET, don’t worry! All the information about our RETs and the various positions available can be found online at www.familyfoundation.org/grassroots/.
Thank you so much to everyone involved with Saturday’s Grassroots Activism Project! We had such a great turnout, and we loved seeing each and every one of you. For those of you who were unable to attend, we missed you, but there is still time to get involved!
Not only did we launch our new Regional Engagement Teams but we also spread the news about our weekly Team Timothy prayer meetings. This is an open opportunity to join us at our office in Richmond every Tuesday for intercessory prayer! We hope to see you or have you join in via conference call. Please email us here for more information!
Everyone has something to contribute to the cause of defending the family in Virginia, and we hope you find your place with us.
Now is the time for engagement, and this is your chance. It is so encouraging to witness everyone’s passion for our principles, and we cannot wait to see the amazing things all of you are going to do within your communities.
This week our salesman-in-chief Governor Terry McAuliffe touted that Virginia was once again named a Top 10 state for business by Site Selection magazine, coming in at number six. This is apparently a good thing, even prestigious. Given that Virginia had been dropping like a rock in nearly every similar business ranking since he took office, it’s not surprising the Governor’s press office tried to make a big deal out of this one.
In his press release, the Governor said, “We are working every day to build a new Virginia economy that works for everyone, and moving back into the top 10 in Site Selection’s prestigious Prosperity Cup ranking is evidence that those efforts are paying off.”
Pretty boiler plate stuff.
What was interesting, however, was what wasn’t mentioned in the Governor’s press release, given that in nearly every speech he’s made he’s been sure to mention how terrible things are in our neighbor state to the south, North Carolina, because its legislature dared attempt to protect the privacy of women and children in public restrooms. He’s demeaned and demonized the Tar Heel state, and ridiculed efforts to protect women and children here in Virginia. He’s attacked efforts to defend religious liberty while he’s also made sure his efforts to increase the number of abortions in Virginia has been front and center in his messaging about making Virginia more “open” for the kinds of businesses that care about such things. Yet in this press release, not a peep.
At least until you look at the actual Site Selection rankings and low and behold what state do you find at the top of the list? Well, it ain’t Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia.
You guessed it, the top state in the nation for business according to Site Selection would be North Carolina.
Amazingly, despite the media-driven, leftist hysteria generated by the now famous HB 2, businesses are still moving to North Carolina, apparently at a higher rate than the Old Dominion. Perhaps public policies like low tax rates actually do matter to intelligent business owners despite state Senator Dick Saslaw’s remarkable claim made during session that he didn’t know of a single business that ever made a decision about where to locate based on the tax rate.
Anyway, if we’ve learned anything from the HB 2 debacle it is this: the narrative wins out over reality every single time. Reality tells us that North Carolina is doing just fine, better even than Virginia. But my guess is that if you asked most lawmakers or your average citizen they’d be convinced otherwise.
Send a Message to Warner and Kaine!
Send a Message to Warner and Kaine!
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced he plans to oppose confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. Likewise, Virginia’s other Senator, Mark Warner, issued a statement earlier this week that he also plans to oppose Gorsuch’s confirmation.
Both cite Gorsuch’s refusal to claim support for abortion “rights” as their reason for opposing this highly qualified jurist – and notably – one for whom members of their party unanimously confirmed to join the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.
CLICK HERE to urge Senators Kaine and Warner to do the sensible thing, and confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court!
According to Kaine, “After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his testimony and past decisions, I’ve observed that he has repeatedly taken an activist approach to cases involving a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health.” Presumably, Sen. Kaine is referencing Gorsuch’s majority opinion in the Hobby Lobbycase (which was soon after affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court) where the courts held that Hobby Lobby had the right, consistent with its religious liberty, to provide health insurance to its employees that excluded coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.
Sen. Warner said, “Despite his impressive academic credentials, Judge Gorsuch’s record and evasive responses – even refusing to answer questions regarding his views of cases like Roe v. Wade and Citizens United – do not give me confidence that he possesses a judicial philosophy that will serve the American public well.”
Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine portray themselves as "moderates," with the help of a friendly media. But their voting records and rhetoric have become more and more out of touch as their party lurches to the extreme left. Now, both are taking their cues from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU by opposing Gorsuch.
Both Senators need to hear from real Virginians like you that their vote against Gorsuch is a vote against Virginia. It's a vote against the Constitution. It's a vote against freedom.
Contact both Senators now and urge them to confirm Neil Gorsuch for the Court!