2012 Finale

Over New Year’s, Matthew Perdie, the Abbotts, Rachel’s boyfriend Adamson Easterly, and David Abbott‘s girlfriend Jessica Urffer visited Fair Hills Farm. The visit was a rousing success, complete with movies, fireworks, s’mores, a game of Catch Phrase, and Matthew’s film classes (a fascinating scene-by-scene analysis of National Treasure in the school room). It’s so fitting that the Abbotts were here, considering our creative tradition.

Here’s a glimpse of the festivities (I’ll add more photos and maybe some videos as they come about):

Rachel snapped this photo of Matthew, Ms. Lindy, and me hanging out in the schoolroom.

Playing "Catch Phrase" in the sunroom.

The menfolk setting up the bonfire.

Little David fires the Roman Candle while Adam and Andrew prepare fireworks and Matthew films (see camera lens on the right edge of the photo. I held the film light to illuminate these shots).

Andrew sets up a firework while Rex prepares to attack it (he loved snarling at those things!).

What a beauty!

Adamson and David play chess on the chessboard Rachel gave Adamson for Christmas, while Andrew plays "Risk" on his mother's pink iPad.

Abigail experimented with one of Matthew's camera lenses for this shot of Joseph and me.

Matthew held his film light while Adam and David reenacted some shadowy creepers that Rachel and Jessica thought they saw on the trail.

These lovely ladies (mothers, Mrs. Lindy Abbott and Mrs. Chris Read) are working on publishing a magazine with me. To give you a hint . . . it's a magazine for thinking women!

Reflections on Americans and the Royal Wedding

AMERICA'S EX-MONARCHY: We don't want it for ourselves anymore, but tend to enjoy watching the royal family from the distance. The Royal Wedding at Buckingham Palace on 29th April 2011: The Bride and Groom, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the centre with attendants, (clockwise from bottom right) The Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, Miss Eliza Lopes, Miss Grace van Cutsem, Lady Louise Windsor, Master Tom Pettifer, Master William Lowther-Pinkerton; taken in the Throne Room by Hugo Burnand. Flickr.com/BritishMonarchy.

As the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have just returned from renting a private island in the Seychelles for their honeymoon (and finally met President “smart alec” Obama), the Royal Wedding news has cooled somewhat. But hither and yon bits and pieces of the story still appear, and I can’t manage to go without commenting on the famous royal matrimony of my generation now, can I?

I’ve never been a particularly romantic girl. While my friends wanted to play “house” and “princess” games, I was usually painting watercolor landscapes or cataloguing my personal zoo of earthworms, pond snails and water bugs. That being said, I never thought much about weddings, royal or otherwise.

But last month, I noticed something odd. While researching Middle East politics – or 2012 U.S. election rumors – or listening to a podcast of wise old scientists chatting about intelligent design – suddenly some headline about Prince William’s bride would show up and I just had to click it. I don’t know why – it’s as if suddenly I was acting like a girl or something.

Yet I have a reasonable excuse – it just wouldn’t be right for a history major working in media to be totally clueless about our good old ally’s future queen (and her absurdly perfect hair, smile, figure, wardrobe…). Would it?

I wasn’t among the nearly 23 million Americans who were up before dawn to watch the Royal Wedding proceedings (here is managing editor Jacquie Kubin’s minute by minute run down of it if you missed it). I’ll confess that my sister Rachel and I had toyed with the idea of getting up at five in the morning to get a glimpse of the ceremony of the century just so we could say we did it. However, a tumultuous tornado system happened to knock the electricity out of our home just in time for the event. Oh well…

When our grandparents brought over some hot breakfast that morning, Grandmomma informed us of the Royal Wedding details we were deprived of (Granddaddy, needless to say, thought all the hoopla was ridiculous).

“It’s totally embarrassing that Americans cared about that. We fought a Revolution against the royal family,” said Ann Coulter, commenting on Americans’ fascination with the Royal Wedding and Princess Diana through the years. Coulter’s assessment is understandable (I’ll note that she said she liked – albeit felt sorry for – Kate Middleton), and I’m inclined at first thought to agree with her.

But now I want to determine if that’s a fair enough assessment.

Allow me to sort through a few ideas about why Prince William’s marriage to Catherine Middleton caught some Americans’ fancy. Besides the picturesque handsome prince and beautiful princess iconism, what was it about the event that got America interested in snooping on her ex-monarchy? . . .

Click here to continue reading at The Washington Times Communities.

Femininity in the Public Sphere

“Women are the last line of defense.”

- Fire From the Heartland film trailer

The following is a letter to Christian conservative women on the subject of the Bible and women in state government.

Dear Sisters in Christ,

As I write on this chilly October morning, the media is swarming with news concerning the midterm election candidates. Citizens must be pondering how they will directly affect our nation’s leadership. The crispness in the air conjures up memories of election season two years ago – and the chaos that ensued. I submit to you not a dissertation, but an open letter imploring women to search their hearts and the Scriptures during our nation’s era of humiliating decline.

Woman is arguably the most controversial figure ever created. Pages upon lectures upon books upon pop culture magazines are obsessed with the way the woman must behave and dress and look. An entire term was coined to commemorate this ancient controversy – Querelle des Femmes, “that woman problem.” In Plato’s Republic, we can read Greek philosophers puzzling over the place of women. They noticed that although women are naturally of a more delicate and nurturing build, women are equal to men in intelligence and possess some strength and skills that the male gender lacks. Should the ladies then be allowed to have a hand in public policy? They mused.

This year marked the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed American women the right to vote nationwide. I wonder what First Lady Abigail Adams would have thought about it. I can imagine that she would have appreciated women being allowed to vote alongside their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. Having an equal voice in the public sphere was something a smart woman like herself would love. She would also be angered at the subsequent exploitations of women that were made in the name of equality. But she wouldn’t be surprised.

Mrs. Adams once asked her husband to “remember the ladies” and their keen perception of and contribution to building the government. She also admonished him that women would one day rebel if they weren’t given a voice in the electorate. Like a practical, present-thinking man, John Adams laughed it off. Though we can only speculate, I’m particularly curious as to what would have happened if Adams had taken his wife’s advice…

Continue reading at Latitude 821 or Luke Historians.

Bad science and its moral pretensions: The case of James J. Lee

Thomas Malthus, Charles Darwin, James J. Lee

Thomas Malthus, Charles Darwin, James J. Lee

A disturbing aspect of James J. Lee’s case is that his quest was logical according to respected — albeit false — premises.

This month began with a scare at Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.  Armed with a gun and explosives, environmental extremist James Jay Lee held a small number of hostages in Discovery’s office building and demanded that the company produce shows in accordance with his demands.

Lee was arrested two years ago after leading a protest that included homeless men in which he tossed thousands of dollars into the air outside Discovery Communications.  He was put in jail for nearly two weeks and evaluated by state psychiatrists, who found nothing wrong with him and his passion for the planet.  Lee’s recent grammatically (and scientifically) challenged manifesto is so ridiculous that it’s comical.

Yet the most disturbing aspect of this case is that the eco-martyr actually wasn’t being illogical.  A self-professed atheist and child-shunner (similar to oft-adored Margaret Sanger, come to think of it), he entered a course of action that followed logically from his premises.

All Lee did was put a doomsday environmental philosophy into action. If

1) the Earth is lacking in resources and threatened by imminent man-made danger,

2) the Discovery Channel isn’t responsibly convincing the masses,

3) humans are an insignificant species and parasitic blight on the landscape, and

4) there is no God…

…then why would terrorizing a building full of people be wrong?

If those premises happen to be true, then Lee was doing something for which he could not be held morally accountable.  Science is not an adequate basis for morality anyway, but firmly held beliefs based on incorrect data certainly don’t advance the cause of righteousness.  Growing evidence shows Lee’s premises to be false.

From “the demands and sayings of Lee“:

“Develop shows that mention the Malthusian sciences about how food production leads to the overpopulation of the Human race. Talk about Evolution. Talk about Malthus and Darwin until it sinks into the stupid people’s brains until they get it!!

(So much for academic integrity — just brainwash the poor Darwin-denying dopes!)

Lee didn’t exactly paraphrase the early 19th-century Malthusian concept of exponential human population growth vs. linear agricultural growth correctly.  Maybe that’s why he failed to realize how irrelevant it is.

All right, time to get out the textbooks again:

“The predictions Malthus made assumed food production is confined spatially — what people can eat within a country depends on what is grown in the country.  We now know his assumption does not hold true; countries are not closed systems.  Malthus did not foresee how globalization would aid the exchange of agricultural goods across the world…food production is not confined spatially, as Malthus assumed…Nonetheless, Malthus’s ideas continue to attract followers.” (pg. 47, Human Geography: People, Place and Culture, 9th edition).

Lee’s agenda sees no value in helping starving people in Third World countries; according to his morality it’s better to let impoverished people die out than it is to help them.  Neither does his agenda favor children who are well-provided for.

“All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. In those programs’ places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed
…Saving the Planet means saving what’s left of the non-human Wildlife by decreasing the Human population. That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies! You’re the media, you can reach enough people. It’s your resposibility because you reach so many minds!!!
Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture.”

By no stretch of the imagination could a show about human sterilization be more wholesome and entertaining than the Duggar family.  Besides, in recent times, declining fertility rates have been of far more concern than overpopulation.  Very few families are blessed to be as baby-abundant as the Duggars, and mimicking them is certainly not the point.  Rather, it is the sancitity, uniqueness and enjoyment of human life that is refreshing to viewers.

Earlier this year, I was given a carbon footprint calculation assignment in college.  According to Lee’s premises, my household of 11 humans should have sent off alarm bells in the university’s earth sciences department.  However, we surprisingly had a much lower carbon footprint than would be expected from the national average.  I personally have a carbon footprint that is only one-fourth the size of that belonging to the average American.

Without even subscribing to the theory of man-made global warming, our big family lifestyle is very Earth-friendly.  From personal experience it appears that, the more children a family has, the more likely it is to be proficient at reusing, recycling, eating organic food and living in the countryside.  Furthermore, we accept biblical standards of morality, which include caring for and appreciating the Earth.

Nobody has to believe the Bible to be environmentally conscious or to behave morally.  But the premises of the Bible and accurate, updated science offer far more logical reasons to do so than do the demands and sayings of Lee.

In the bizarre instances in which self-professed Christians have gone on deadly rampages, their faulty reasoning actually can be refuted by the biblical worldview they claimed to know.

It will be interesting to see if the same can be said of the environmentalist worldview of Lee.  The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) disapproved of Lee exercising the “live long and die out” agenda upon the Discovery Channel with “coercive methods.”  That’s kind of them, but does their reasoning really match their own premises?

When Lee defiantly pointed his gun at a hostage, the police fatally shot him to defend the hostage’s life.  Michelle Malkin summed up the episode: “Well, he wanted fewer people on the planet. Now, he’s got his wish.”

Thus is the tragedy that comes about when one believes that the chief end of man is THE END of man.  After all this eco-tragedian, myth of scarcity talk, I think the world could use a dose of Sam Clark’s uplifting Musical Chairs and Tapping In.

Read more of Amanda’s column Not Your Average Read in the Communities at The Washington Times.