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TV Picks from The Week for Dec 17-23, 2007

A couple of the TV picks from The Week magazine for next week:

Hard as Nails
Justin Fatica, an unordained Catholic preacher in upstate New York, has drawn attention and aroused controversy with his Hard as Nails youth ministry. This lively profile captures the 28-year-old firebrand as he employs his attention-grabbing techniques, which include haranguing troubled teenagers and having them haul wooden crosses. Monday, Dec. 17, at 8 p.m., HBO


In God’s Name
French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet survived the collapse of the World Trade Center, an experience they chronicled in the Emmy- and Peabody-winning film 9/11. Since then, the two brothers have traveled the world seeking perspective from spiritual leaders on such issues as intolerance, terrorism, and war. This documentary features interviews with an array of religious leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, the Dalai Lama, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as their counterparts among Jews, Hindus, Muslims both Shiite and Sunni, Sikhs, Shintoists, Lutherans, Baptists, and Russian Orthodox—faiths whose combined followers number more than 4 billion. The film presents a unique opportunity to meet 12 people of extraordinary influence and hear their insights into the very meaning of life. Sunday, Dec. 23, at 9 p.m., CBS

Greater Love Has No One Than This

A couple stories with a common theme caught my attention last week.

First, from the December 6 installment of The Writer's Almanac:

And it was on this day in 1917 that an accidental explosion destroyed a quarter of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was the height of World War I, and Halifax was serving as an important port city for many of the ships carrying supplies for the battlefront. One of the ships coming into the port that day was a French supply ship called the Mont Blanc, carrying 200 tons of TNT, 2300 tons of other explosives, as well as ten tons of cotton, and thirty-five tons of highly flammable chemicals stored in vats on the ship's upper deck. On its way into port, the Mont Blanc collided with a Norwegian freighter, which started a fire, and the crew of the Mont Blanc piled into lifeboats and then paddled frantically away.

The fire on the Mont Blanc drew a crowd of onlookers along the shore of the channel. The docks filled with spectators, trams slowed down, people stood at office windows and on factory roofs to see the blaze. Then, a few minutes after the fire had started, the Mont Blanc exploded. It was the single most powerful man-made explosion at that point in human history.

The blast wave of water hit the shore, sweeping away buildings, bridges, roads, vehicles, and people. City streets split open. Houses, churches, schools, and factories collapsed. Virtually every building in the city had its windows broken. About a quarter of the city, was completely destroyed. More than 2,000 people were killed and more than 9,000 were injured. It was the worst disaster of any kind in Canadian history.

One of the only people who had known about the cargo of the ship was a dispatcher at the yardmaster's office. As soon as he'd realized what was happening, he began telegraphing warnings around the city, and he kept sending out warnings even though he knew that an explosion could come at any minute. He died at his post.

It was the dispatcher that caught my attention.  He knew about the explosive cargo, knew an explosion was imminent, but chose to stay at his post where he died while warning others about the danger.

Then I read a story about a 7-year-old girl in Detroit who put her body between her mom and an enraged gunman and took 6 bullets while shielding her mom from harm.

Alexis Goggins, a first-grader at Campbell Elementary School, is in stable condition at Children's Hospital in Detroit recovering from gunshot wounds to the eye, left temple, chin, cheek, chest and right arm.

"She is an angel from heaven," said Aisha Ford, a family friend for 15 years who also was caught up in the evening of terror.

The girl's mother, Selietha Parker, 30, was shot in the left side of her head and her bicep by a former boyfriend, who police said was trying to kill Parker. The gunman was disarmed by police and arrested at the scene of the shooting, a Detroit gas station. Police identified him as Calvin Tillie, 29, a four-time convicted felon whom Parker had dated for six months.

A benefit fund has been set up for Alexis.

These stories, of course, reminded me of the verse from John 15:13:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

It made we ponder whether or not I, if placed in that sort of situation, would be paralyzed or if I could on the spur of the moment give my life for a family member or a stranger.  I don't know, but I thought these two serve as great examples.

Three Doctors

From the Central church of Christ (Nashville, TN) bulletin, 5 Feb 2006:

There is a story of three doctors who all died suddenly. They met all met Saint Peter at the gates of heaven. He made them an unusual promise: he would make sure that whatever they wanted said about them at their funerals would be said.

The first doctor said that he wanted it said that he was the best doctor in the world. In fact, were it not for his untimely death, he certainly would have found the cure for cancer. And it was said.

The second doctor wanted it said that he was the best husband and father in the world. That's exactly what was said.

The third doctor said he wanted those standing near the casket to say, "Hey, I think I just saw him moving!"

It All Depends on Your Perspective

From the Central church of Christ (Nashville, TN) bulletin, 1 Jan 2006:

The following story illustrates how one perspective makes a difference in the way he or she interprets the events that occur. It also illustrates that the Lord works in unusual ways.

There was a little old lady, who every morning stepped onto her front porch, raised her arms to the sky, and shouted: "PRAISE THE LORD!" One day an atheist moved into the house next door. He became irritated at the little old lady. Every morning he'd step onto his front porch after her and yell: "THERE IS NO LORD!"

Time passed with the two of them carrying on this way every day.

One morning, in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted: "PRAISE THE LORD! Please Lord, I have no food and I am starving, provide for me, oh Lord! The next morning she stepped onto her porch and there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there. PRAISE THE LORD!" she cried out. "HE HAS PROVIDED GROCERIES FOR ME!"

The atheist neighbor jumped out of the hedges and shouted: "THERE IS NO LORD. I BOUGHT THOSE GROCERIES!!" The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted: "PRAISE THE LORD! HE HAS PROVIDED ME WITH GROCERIES AND MADE THE DEVIL PAY FOR THEM!

Restrictive laws do not reduce abortion

So says the byline of an article in The Economist from last week.  It makes the case that for those of us who desire to see abortion numbers drop (I think we're pretty much all in that category), legislation is not a tool that anyone should expect to be effective for achieving that outcome:

[According to] the largest global study of abortion ever...Restricting abortions...has little effect on the number of pregnancies terminated. Rather, it drives women to seek illegal, often unsafe backstreet abortions leading to an estimated 67,000 deaths a year. A further 5m women require hospital treatment as a result of botched procedures.

In Africa and Asia, where abortion is generally either illegal or restricted, the abortion rate in 2003 (the latest year for which figures are available) was 29 per 1,000 women aged 15-44. This is almost identical to the rate in Europe—28—where legal abortions are widely available. Latin America, which has some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws, is the region with the highest abortion rate (31), while western Europe, which has some of the most liberal laws, has the lowest (12).

Between 1995 and 2005, 17 nations liberalised abortion legislation, while three tightened restrictions. The number of induced abortions nevertheless declined from nearly 46m in 1995 to 42m in 2003, resulting in a fall in the worldwide abortion rate from 35 to 29. The most dramatic drop—from 90 to 44—was in former communist Eastern Europe, where abortion is generally legal, safe and cheap. This coincided with a big increase in contraceptive use in the region which still has the world's highest abortion rate, with more terminations than live births.


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