Sunday, September 29, 2013

Banned Book Week

Harry Potter was an enormous part of my childhood; the characters were basically my only friends. And, to the extent of my knowledge, I am not possessed by demons or anything of the like. Here are the 12 reasons why Harry Potter should be banned, courtesy of and God.
1. God shows us that witchcraft, sorcery, spells, divination and magic are evil.He hates those practices because they blind us to His loving ways, then turn our hearts to a deceptive quest for self-empowerment and deadly thrills. Harry Potter's world may be real, but the timeless pagan practices it promotes are real and deadly. Well aware that the final result is spiritual bondage and oppression, He warns us:
"There shall not be found among you anyone who... practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord..." Deuteronomy 18:9-12

2. The movie's foundation in fantasy, not reality, doesn't diminish its power to change beliefs and values...
"But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward." Jeremiah 7:24 

3. Each occult image and suggestion prompts the audience to feel more at home in this setting.Children identify with their favorite characters and learn to see wizards and witches from a popular peer perspective rather than from God's perspective. Those who sense that the occult world is evil face a choice: Resist peer pressure or rationalize their imagined participation in Harry's supernatural adventures. 
The second choice may quiet the nagging doubts, but rationalizing evil and justifying sin will sear the conscience and shift the child's perception of values from God's perspective to a more "comfortable" cultural adaptation. Even Christian children can easily learn to conform truth to multicultural ideals and turn God's values upside down - just as did God's people in Old Testament days:
"But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward." Jeremiah 7:24 

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness....
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!" Isaiah 5:2-21
4. God tells us to "abhor [HATE] what is evil" and "cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9)

5. Immersed in Hogwarts' beliefs and values, children learn to ignore or reinterpret God's truth. They lose their natural aversion for the devious spirits represented by the creatures and symbols in this eerie world. Caught up in the exciting story, they absorb the suggested values and store the fascinating images in their minds -- making the forbidden world of the occult seem more normal than the Kingdom of God.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-9

6. This inner change is usually unconscious, for the occult lessons and impressions tend to bypass rational scrutiny. After all, who will stop, think and weigh the evidence when caught up in such a fast-moving visual adventure?

"Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way." Psalm 119:37

7. The main product marketed through this movie is a new belief system. This pagan ideology comes complete with trading cards, computer and other wizardly games, clothes and decorations stamped with HP symbols, action figures and cuddly dolls and audio cassettes that could keep the child's minds focused on the occult all day and into night. But in God's eyes, such paraphernalia become little more than lures and doorways to deeper involvement with the occult. In contrast, He calls a person "blessed" who -
  • "walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
  • nor stands in the path of sinners,
  • nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
"But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. Whatever he does shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3

8. The implied source of power behind Harry's magical feats tend to distort a child's understanding of God. In the movie as in the books, words traditionally used to refer to occult practices become so familiar that children begin to apply the same terms to God and His promised strength. Many learn to see God as a power source that can be manipulated with the right kind of prayers and rituals -- and view his miracles as just another form of magic. They base their understanding of God on their own feelings and wants, not on His revelation of Himself.
"You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you...." Psalm 50:21

9. Blind to the true nature of God, children will blend (synthesize) Biblical truth with pagan beliefs and magical practices. In the end, you distort and destroy any remnant of true Christian faith. For our God cannot be molded to match pagan gods.
“For My people have committed two evils: 

They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, 
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water." Jeremiah 2:1
10. God tells us to "train up a child in the way He should go." It starts with teaching them God's truths and training them all day long to see reality from His, not the world's perspective. To succeed, we need to shield them from contrary values until they know His Word and have memorized enough Scriptures to be able to recognize and resist deception. Once they have learned to love what God loves and see from His perspective, they will demonstrate their wisdom by choosing to say "no" to Harry Potter.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:6-7

11. While some argue that Harry and his friends model friendship and integrity, they actually model how to lie and steal and get away with it.Their examples only add to the cultural relativism embraced by most children today who are honest when it doesn't cost anything, but who lie and cheat when it serves their purpose.
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased [depraved] mind, to do those things which are not fitting.... They are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." Romans 1:28-32

12. God has a better way.

Thurmond also stated that 'true Christians only touch a Harry Potter book when they are throwing it into a fire.' Well, I guess I now know his perception of me.
One of the popular reasons why Harry Potter is banned is one reiterated many, many times above: that it is satanic. I have never read the Bible (gasp!) so I can't confirm or deny this, but the argument on gay marriage in reference to the Bible is invalid. I'm fairly certainly the Bible never said anything about gay marriage, but it did say this in Lebiticus 20:13: If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. In addition to this, the Bible also promoted polygany and concubines. I say, either use all of the Bible's rules, or none AT ALL. You can prevent your kids from reading about Dumbledore, but they will eventually be out in the real world with gay and straight people alike.
It really astonishes me how incredibly ridiculous all of these reasons are. Those are the only two even very, very, VERY slightly rational reasons in the entire bunch. 'God has a better way'? What does that even mean?
Furthermore, NO ONE has any right to restrict what you read. It is a parents job and a parents job ONLY to moderate what their kids read, and if you think this is corrupting their minds? Imagine what the media is doing to them. Jeb Stuart Thurmond. September 29, 2013.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Hairy Situation

“Unnaturally” colored hair is something that has been abolished by many schools, private and public alike. It has also been banned in homeschool community I go to, where I take 3 classes. And because I go there, every Thursday for 3 hours, I am unable to dye my hair whatever color I feel. Many of the requirements, such as knee-length shorts, and tops with sleeves, I would be more than willing to abide by. An article of clothing is something easily removed; hair, however, is not. And I know many will take this as a desperate attempt for attention, or a petty cause-but for me, at least, it is so much more than just a color. Self-expression is a huge part of “being yourself”, which, ironically, was the topic of discussion for the week in which I was confronted about my hair. As one of my friends so brilliant articulated, “You can be you, but only the you they want you to be.” This regulation and this regulation alone is the reason I will not be attending this community next year- I absolutely refuse to conform to such ridiculous rules, and do not wish to affiliate myself with those who support it-and, sadly, there will be a lot of people and events that I will miss due to this. All this, to appease a group for a mere 3 hours weekly.

Because of my hair I have also been labeled as a “bad kid”. This hate is largely underserved but expected. A bad kid in comparison to what, exactly? As of yet, I haven’t been incarcerated or impregnated. I don’t do drugs, or smoke. This portrayal is all because of my “innovative fashions” and “extreme alterations”. There are a lot of sacrifices I have made to attend the community. It requires tons of time, effort, and money. Hours and hours of time have been spent, struggling to find a suitable outfit, time that I could have spent elsewhere on something a whole lot more substantial. I hope with this letter that I can manage to change the policy as well as some perspectives. 
Do any of you have "unnaturally" colored hair? What would you do/say if someone was opposed to your hair?

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Benefits of Being a Southpaw

I was thinking today about the time, long ago, when I had a  horseback-riding teacher and she told me that, since I was left-handed, I primarily used the right side of my brain. The right side is associated with imagination and creativity. As the great Albert Einstein once said: "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." So, because of this, are left-handers smarter in that specific way?
A study conducted by the Left Handers Club (yes, it really does exist. I just became a member) noted that left-handers were more likely to choose a career involving art, music, and sports. Another interesting fact is that a surprising amount of US presidents, including our current, President Obama, Bill Clinton, and Harry Truman. Generally, gestures made with the right hand are perceived as good, and left bad. According to one Dutch study, this has a big advantage to lefties in presidential debates, because a TV displays a mirror image.
A study executed by the British Psychology Society suggests that left-handers are more easily frightened then their right-handed counterparts. Participants viewed an eight-minute clip of Silence of the Lambs, and afterwards, showed symptoms of PTSD, such as fragmented accounts and more errors.
Mensa reported that 20% of their members were left-handed. And as 10% of the general population is left-handed, that's a pretty significant statistic. Also, Dr. Oz stated that he believed left-handers to be smarter because they could process more unorganized material.
There are countless legends involving devilish acts and left-handers.
Additionally, left-handers are better at sports that involve two competitors facing each other because they get more practice on right-handed individuals.
One myth that a lot of people like to hoard over me is that, since I'm a cursed leftie, I'm going to die sooner. True? Not necessarily. Southpaws are more likely to die because many, many products are designed with the majority in mind. In the US, for instance, we drive on the right side of the road, and make right-handed turns-which is perfectly natural for 90% of the population. A study in California showed that left-handers were six times more likely to land in a fatal collision than right-handed drivers.
Awesome, right?
Are you ambidextrous or left-handed? If so, comment below!, Katie Kens, October 29, 2012. September 2, 2013., T.Z. Keiser, May 13, 2012. September 2, 2013., Oprah Winfrey Show, Ask Dr. Oz III, January 1, 2006.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

In the aftermath of Shark Week, I’d like to take a moment to reiterate a phrase so frequently uttered by scientists that it is somewhat of a cliché-we pose far more of a danger to sharks then they do to us. Due to media, including the iconic film Jaws, sharks are portrayed as assassins of the seas, when in fact they are generally docile creatures. In 135 years, there have been 198 unprovoked great white shark attacks in North America. The most common reasons of this are bleeding, as a shark can sense one drop of blood in a million drops of water. Shiny jewelry, bright clothing, excessive splashing are all contributing factors. The most likely times for a shark attack are dawn, dusk, and night, when sharks feed. You are far more likely to die from utilizing a product designed for a left-handed user, scalding water, a terrorist attack, or drowning. Jellyfish claim more lives than sharks, and you are 30 times more likely to die from falling airplane parts than from the allegedly aggressive swimmers.

Not only are sharks primarily passive, they are also vital to our environment. They maintain balance in the food chain, and therefore play a crucial role in the preservation of the ocean, the ecosystem which absorbs the most carbon dioxide. 73 million sharks are killed annually, which translates to 10,000 per hour. By the end of said Shark Week, we will have killed 1,848,000 sharks. Many sharks are now suffering excruciating demises from being eating alive by fish after having their fins sawed off. This is due to the immense market for shark fins. Shark fin soup is particularly prominent in Asia, and 89% of people surveyed admitted to having it at a wedding banquet.  The consumption of shark fins is not beneficial. In fact, it can actually be harmful due to the levels of mercury, which is 42 times a safe amount. 98% of the animal is wasted.  According to Chinese folklore, the ingestion of sharks enhances appetite, rejuvenates, and strengthened muscles, bones, kidneys and lungs. However, these claims are completely and utterly unfounded. Very few countries have outright banned shark finning, and those that have enacted regulations rarely enforce them.

If none of the arguments prior have provoked any compassion, consider the long-term effects of a world without sharks: gradually, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would accumulate.  If we were to lose the oceans, 1/3 of our food would be depleted.  We would die long, tortured deaths. Deaths much like those of nearly 100 million sharks.

 International Shark Attack File, February 6, 2012. Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida. August 12, 2013. Last updated: February 6, 2012


, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department