Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Good Ol' Days

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Here is a snapshot of my aunt, my grandmother, my mother, and me. I'm the one who looks like I'm ashamed to have my picture made, but actually, the sun was in my eyes, and my grandfather always took a long time to take a picture. :) If a group of ladies were dressed in this manner today (aside from the styles being very dated), one might say they were to attend a formal event. In those days (1960's), this is how we dressed to go shopping.

I loved to spend all day shopping with these women. We would go to the department store to shop and then have lunch in the store restaurant. The restaurant had real table cloths and linen napkins and china. It was always such a calming and happy sound to hear the tinkling of china and chatter of ladies. There was often an informal fashion show going on during lunch where models roamed from table to table wearing the latest dress, telling us where to find it and how much it cost. At one such restaurant, there was a circular stage where the models sometimes walked. One fine Saturday at lunch, we were fortunate enough to sit right next to the stage. I was so delighted that I did not resist the urge to climb up on the stage with the models, much to the embarrassment of my mother. :)

There aren't many places like that anymore, and women no longer dress in a beautiful way. We all don blue jeans and t-shirts, and our behavior tends to be equally common. We dine in fast food restaurants or in traffic and eat and drink out of styrofoam and plastic containers. Society is no longer civil or genteel. We no longer shop with friends or family, and we no longer know our neighbors. We lack beauty in our everyday lives.

I am blessed to have a daughter who loves to dress up to shopping or go have tea at our local English tea room (where they have the tablecloths & china!). But, what else can we do? Perhaps today would be a good day to bring a small bouquet of flowers to someone who needs cheering? Or, set a nice table for your family? Or, maybe take that step to dress a little more beautifully and act more gently?

What ideas do you have?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Gimmicks, Fads, and Mind Games

Chapter 2 of Spiritual Junk Food: The Dumbing Down of Christian Youth

What caught my attention the most about this chapter was the notion of group think. In youth groups there is a lot of attention placed on the "group" with special emphasis on trust and sharing and group agreement. Thom Schultz of Group Publishing "recommends that an individual should be assigned the job of making 'sure that everyone understands and agrees with the answers arrived at by the group.'" (38) What is shocking is how closely this is in harmony with humanist John Dewey's statement that "children who know how to think for themselves spoil the collective society..., where everyone is independent." (38) Denny Rydberg, leader of Young Life, admits that "children will indeed lose their individuality to the group." (38)

Can you imagine a youth group that believes that the group is the ultimate authority on real life issues your teen is facing rather than God???? What makes this all so sickening to me is that no answer given in the group is allowed to be seen as invalid, wrong, or in contradiction with Scripture. This is intended to give teens a sense of security, knowing that their ideas will not be rejected by the group. This, instead, calls into question the absolutes laid down by the teen's parents and God Himself and sets the group up as the ultimate authority.

"Guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing argument of what is falsely called 'knowledge' - which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith." I Timothy 6:20-21

Friday, August 19, 2005

But I Don't Like Licorice

Chapter One of Spiritual Junkfood-The Dumbing Down of Christian Youth

The first chapter of this shocking and eye-opening book started off with enough information regarding the current state of Christian youth groups to startle most parents out of their figurative slumber. I have never been a big fan of the games that youth groups play in the name of Christian education, and we have been blessed that God has seen fit to protect our daughter thus far from the trivialization of God and His Word.

This first chapter details a small sampling of these games and explains both their origins and errors. Most of these games and exercises have their origin in humanistic ideas and have been used in public schools and colleges for some time. According to the authors, "to attempt to teach the sacred with the use of humanistic mind games while embracing trends and fads that the world has been using for the past thirty years or more, is to dethrone our God and insult His Holy Being." (32) Sound a bit harsh? Stayed tuned a bit longer.

One of the publishers youth group curricula, Gospel Light, claims they "believe it's a sin to bore a young person with the gospel." (24) Thus, the creation of role-playing passages of the gospels, such as the Mary and Joseph story in Matthew 1, soap-opera style! I believe that God is insulted by such. The authors correctly state that "dumbing down Scripture to suit what Group describes as an entertainment-learning culture serves to not only minimize the seriousness of sin and the Biblical account of the forgiveness by a holy God, but misses the mark entirely." (31)

One trend that has swept through the majority of churches today is that Sunday school teachers are no longer seen as instructors but as discussion moderators or facilitators. In such a setting, designed to encourage discussion, teachers typically refrain from correcting error, even errors as serious as outright heresy, in order to make the students feel more secure. What students really learn then is that there is no truth but their own truth. This type of environment is promoted by Youth Specialties (Zondervan). "Youth Specialities is running the danger of making skeptics out of our teens by telling them that 'each of them should be questioning their belief in God independently of their parents' faith.'" (23) These groups place experience on par with the Word of God when it comes to their version of correct doctrine.

This first chapter is packed full of many other examples of games and experiences going on in today's Christian youth groups that are designed to reshape their values, thinking, and faith. I won't detail them here, because you need to read the book. :) It is time for us to wake up and regain our position as keeper of the gates.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Next on my reading list.  Posted by Picasa

Short Review of Dressing With Dignity

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This little book, while written from a decidedly Catholic perspective, is informative, helpful, and inspiring. Colleen takes us through the history of fashions and the motives behind changes in some fashions. She challenges us to discover true femininity (not all ribbons and curls!) and to dress for respect towards God, others, and ourselves. Mrs. Hammond also give some very practical guidelines in helping us to purchase appropriate clothing.

One such clever hint is the following "Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes" test.

1. Put your hands on your head. Does the skin around your waist show (stomach or back)?
2. Put your hands on your shoulders. Are your shoulders still covered? Check your neckline, too, and make sure it isn't too low.
3. Bend over and put your hands on your knees. Does your dress or shirt hang open and away from your body? Does your clothing cover your knees? If so, then you probably don't have to worry about showing something you don't want to.
4. Bend down and touch your toes. Does your back show?

There are many other practical guidelines and tips in this little book that are well worth the modest price of the book. You can find the book through Keep in mind, however, that this is written from a Catholic point of view.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Does Shopping for Clothes Leave You a Little Depressed?

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Shopping for clothes leaves my teenaged daughter very depressed because while a lot of clothes may be "cute", most of them are inappropriate and immodest. I don't want the world to know quite that much about my daughter, and, while I hate the idea of enforcing very rigid rules of dress, I find that guidelines are very necessary. The real problem for us seems to be finding items that fall within those guidelines and do not look frumpy or matronly. If we do find items that fit the descriptions of modest and cute, it doesn't fit the body or the budget. Oy!

Will we give in to today's slut-wear just because it is difficult to find clothes deemed acceptable by modest standards? Heaven forbid! If women desiring to be virtuous stoop to that level, to what level will the world (or young girls watching our example) stoop? Someone has to stand in the gap. Someone has to be the keeper of the gate. Will it be you?
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Are You Sure?

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Do you look at pornography? Are you sure about that? According to Rosaleigh DeRossett of Moody Bible Institute, pornography is anything that airbrushes the truth. For men, that would be the visual images that we normally associate with pornography. But for women, this would be romance novels, including the all too popular Christian versions. But wait, you may say, what's wrong with them.

In particular, Christian romance novels paint an all too glitzy, unattainable, and romanticized picture of marriage and love complete with rose covered cottages and heroines that are young, thin, with dreamy skin with rose tinted cheeks that allude to the blush of innocence, lush hair, etc., and heroes that are strong, good looking, say the right thing and always wisk the heroine away for a happily ever after.

Sounds nice, but it causes young girls and women to have expectations that will never be realized. This, in turn, leads to discontent and frustration. Marriage is hard enough work without placing on your husband the expectation of living up to that type of heroism.

What do you think? Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

I realize that DeRossett's definition of porn is extreme, but it did give me much to think about in regards to what I allow into my life. Dare I carry this line of thought over into chick-flicks? Yikes! How would I get my ironing done? :) Heaven forbid that I might be forced to listen to a sermon or something. :)

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Beauty of Modesty

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The Beauty of Modesty is a wonderful new book by David and Diane Vaughan. I found it to be biblical, thorough, enlightening, and challenging. While many books on the subject of modesty only delve into outward dress, this book starts with the heart issues because "if the heart is changed, then the body will follow."

The authors make certain that all aspects of modesty are discussed because "a woman (or man) may have her entire body covered and yet act or speak in an immodest way." Immodesty can rear its ugly head in the forms of ostentation, androgyny, sensuality, and brand name association.

The book explores reasons for immodesty among God's people and discusses way that we, as parents or leaders in the church, unknowingly foster immodesty in both dress and demeanor.

The Vaughans particularly study the causes of immodesty in the worship setting, citing the trivialization of God as being at the heart of this travesty. According to A.W. Tozer, "the low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us...It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate." The Vaughans state that if we, as God's people, want to restore virtue in the church, we must first restore God as the center of all we do - privately and publicly.

We are called to be a people that is holy and set apart. We are to wear robes of righteousness. It is high time the people of God dressed and behaved like the people of God. This is definitely a MUST READ book.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Wrinkle in My Day?

In the Good Ol' Summertime Posted by Picasa

Yesterday, I decided to catch up on ironing as it had begun to pile up since vacation. Ironing almost always calls out for an old movie, so I pulled out one of my all-time favorites, In the Good Ol' Summertime with Judy Garland and Van Johnson. It's amazing to me how age (and one hopes wisdom) enables me to view these wonderful old films with new eyes. Now, as I watch these movies or old TV shows, I can see how Hollywood, even in the 1940's was promoting feminism and sowing seeds of discord in the home. Blessedly, my own dear daughter is able to quickly pick up on some of these subtleties that escaped me in my own romantic youth. I should no longer be surprised at finding the lies of feminism being hidden in the movies of yesteryear. After hearing Jennie Chancey's talk from Vision Forum's Father-Daughter retreat this year, I realize that what Satan offered Eve in the garden of Eden was feminism. There is nothing new that he offers us now, just different packaging. Don't buy into his lies.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Today's Quote

When at first we taste the gospel, we indeed see God's smiling countenance turned towards us, but at a distance: the more the knowledge of true religion grows in us, by coming as it were nearer, we behold God's favor more clearly & more familiarly.

- John Calvin

Loss of Appetite

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Last night, while eating pizza at a local restaurant, we saw and heard reports on TV of children starving in Niger. My family and I became painfully aware of the irony of our situation, and we could no longer enjoy our food. Too quickly we get caught up with our little lives, and we forget that somewhere else others are fighting just to have life. Some of those suffering are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Are you your brother's keeper?

Please visit and find out how you can help.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Looking for modesty amid the sleaze all around us

Monday, August 01, 2005By Ruth Ann Dailey
Summertime and the livin' is sleazy... I'm not referring, however, to the Northwestern University lacrosse players' footwear choices at the White House. Their flip-flops were unfortunate, and the flip-flop flap was lots of fun, but "sleazy" is something worse.
Sleazy is Britney Spears wearing a tiny crop-top with a tie-dyed skirt slung beneath her naked pregnant belly.
Sleazy is a Paris Hilton gal-pal gunning a motorcycle at a promotional event and revealing to paparazzi, as the bike shoots out from under her and she falls to the pavement, that she wears no underwear.
Sleazy is our non-famous daughters going to school dressed like street-walkers. (Actually, the hookers who troll for work in my neighborhood dress more modestly than today's typical teen.)
Our culture's ubiquitous sleaze -- about two decades' worth and not related just to women's clothing choices -- is what has brought us to the point that the fine young women who made it into elite Northwestern University don't know when and where shower slip-ons are inappropriate.
Some days I think that if I have to look at another bare female abdomen anywhere besides the swimming pool I will scream. I'd like to think I feel that way for reasons other than the fact that, after bearing three children, my belly is no longer fit for such fashions. When it was, my mother wouldn't let me dress like that -- not even while swimming. Now that I'm the mom, I want to shake these aspiring Britneys and say, "Have a little self-respect!"
At the recent White House event to recognize the Northwestern girls' achievements, the issue wasn't self-respect but respect for others -- "others" being not just the president of the United States, but the rest of us for whom the White House is a secular shrine. If you don't expend extra effort dressing to go there, is there any place worthy of your effort? Church?
When I raised the topic on talk radio last week, a caller informed me that in Italy, signs at church entrances still request, among other nods to the dignified proceedings within, that people not enter wearing open-toed shoes.
A 9th-grade classmate named Inga asked why I never wore jeans to school. (Short answer: I wasn't allowed.) She wore jeans even to church on Sunday and felt very strongly that God didn't care how she dressed so long as she was there. I agreed but argued that we might want to show Him our respect by how we presented ourselves.
These days, though I think we were both right, I lean more toward Inga's way of thinking. God accepts us as we are and mercifully doesn't leave us like that. But the god Inga and I were discussing is one who sees inside our hearts. Humans have to look for other clues.
You might argue that while the clothes don't make the woman, they do reveal what she's thinking: An awards ceremony at the White House, a worship service, yawn.
But maybe our clothes do make us. Maybe our pervasive casualness toward much that used to be considered special and important has, in fact, been shaped by the casualness with which we present our private selves.
It used to be that middle- and upper-class youth would adopt the clothing and mannerisms of the uneducated, angry and dissolute in order to shock their elders. They were rebels without a cause, but with the clothes.
The posturing of yesteryear's James Dean wannabes now seems naive. These days, every man's a gangsta, and every girl's a porn star. And it's no longer a pose. Too many kids have become what they were pretending to be. A good mother used to say, "If you're not selling it, don't advertise." But any sociologist or teen counselor can tell you that kids aren't selling it, they're giving it away for free.
It doesn't seem to be a coincidence that the loss of the very idea of propriety has occurred along with the rise of the Internet. Chat-room anonymity invites us to reveal our most private and ugliest thoughts -- to get naked with strangers. There are also millions of literally naked strangers: The mind-blowing omnipresence of hard-core pornography online almost makes our scantily clad teenagers seem modest.
We've been letting it all hang out for so long that there's nothing left to air.
And if everything's allowed, then nothing's shocking. What's surprising about those lacrosse players' flip-flops is that anybody noticed. I must point out, however, in the young women's defence, that they were all wearing modest skirts. So hope springs eternal, even in a sleazy summer.

(Ruth Ann Dailey is a Post-Gazette staff writer and can be reached at