Saturday, January 28, 2012

Movie Recommendation: Soul Surfer (2011)

Soul Surfer is the best movie that I have seen in a long time.  It is a great movie for the whole family.  It has strong Christian themes, and it is highly inspirational.  The movie is well made as well.  Great acting along with a great story.  I can unabashedly recommend this movie to anyone and everyone.  Below is the movie trailer.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Reflections: Through My Eyes

My father-in-law, a huge Florida Gators fan (I try not to hold that against him), graciously allowed me to borrow Tim Tebow’s book; Through My Eyes.  Although I am not a Florida Gators fan, I begrudgingly respected and dare I say almost rooted for their star quarterback Tim Tebow from 2006 – 2009.  Once he graduated from Florida and got drafted by one of my favorite NFL teams, the Denver Broncos, it was much easier for me to openly root for this young man.  This book was written by Tim Tebow to clear up some misconceptions about him, and also to simply give some perspective on his thought process during some of the most critical moments in his life. 

I respect Tim Tebow greatly not so much because of his athletic ability or successful college football career, but for his character and his openness about his faith in God.  He is humble despite his popularity and always remembers to give all the glory to God.  His faith is real and he is a genuinely good human being.  Ask anyone he has ever met.  His actions speak much louder than his words.  His service to God and to others, especially children in need, is so very impressive.  Tim Tebow grew up in a very religious family.  His father was a pastor of a church and a missionary who founded an orphanage in the Philippines.  As a Catholic myself, I don’t necessarily agree with every belief or tenant of Evangelicalism, but I do admire people like Tim Tebow who are so passionate about their faith and so open and public with preaching the gospel.  I think Catholics could learn quite a few things about evangelization from people like Tim Tebow.

Many sports fans are bewildered at the popularity and success of Tim Tebow.  His mechanics just aren’t good they say.  He doesn’t have half the talent as some of the other quarterbacks they say.  It doesn’t always look pretty, but somehow the team Tebow quarterbacks usually find ways to win.  Some people call it luck.  Some people think he must be getting help from his God.  I think the reason that Tim Tebow is successful on and off the football field is quite clear and evident; the man is a leader.  He is fiercely competitive, sometimes maybe to a fault, and he works harder than most everyone else.  He believes in the talents God has given him, and he works extremely hard to make sure that he does not waste those gifts but lets those gifts shine.  Tim Tebow has been a fighting against all odds and defying critics his whole life; even before he was born. 

The story of Tim’s birth is truly inspirational for all, especially those of us in the pro-life movement who are working every day to fight against the evil of abortion.  I won’t go into all the details, but Tim’s mom was advised to abort him because of some difficulties; his mom and dad refused.  Abortion was not an option.  Had they listened to that advice, Tim Tebow would not be with us today.  Just think about how many lives Tim Tebow has positively affected and even saved in some cases.  All life is precious.  Tim Tebow is a living example.

Below are some notes that I took while I was reading this book. 

  •          Pro-life story of Tim’s birth is inspirational.
  •          Tim believes winning does matter.  I agree!
  •          Let others praise you.  Good advice!
  •          Competitiveness, determination, and perseverance are obvious traits at young age.
  •          Faith has always played a very important part in his life.
  •          Playing sports in the yard with his brothers sounds very similar to my own childhood experiences.
  •          Tim learns best by doing because he is dyslexic, but he does not believe it to be a disability.
  •          Tim’s dad founding an orphanage is another great example of the family’s pro-life beliefs put into action.
  •          Prayer was regular in the Tebow household.
  •          Parents encouraged kids to participate in a variety of activities and sports
  •          Quote: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
  •          There can be a downside to competitiveness.  Sometimes you can take it too far.
  •          Tim’s parents went to great lengths to give him an opportunity to fulfill his dream of being a quarterback.
  •          Tim went on his first mission trip to the Philippines at age 15.
  •          Tim had a prolific high school football career in addition to his most impressive college football career.  His High School team won the Florida 4A State Title as a senior.  He set many records and received many awards.  He once played with a broken fibula – an example of his toughness and perhaps foolishness.
  •          Tim was extremely close to choosing to go to Alabama, but decided at the last minute to go to Florida.  The coaches were a MAJOR factor in his decision.  He is very close with Coach Shula (former head coach at Alabama) and Coach Meyer (former head coach at Florida).
  •          Probably unintentional, but Tim focusing primarily on his qualities and success sometimes comes off as being boastful.  I would like to hear him talk a little bit more about some difficulties and failings.
  •          Tim goes into great detail on some football strategies and techniques.  This is great for football fans such as me, but I imagine some of that information might go over the head of or bore the casual fan. 
  •          Tim also talks a lot about and goes into great detail on his training regimen.
  •          Be prepared to take advantage of your opportunities.
  •          Final Note: Tim Tebow is a great role model for children, but I think he also has something to teach people of all ages. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

God bless,


Monday, January 16, 2012

I love Jesus Religiously

Awesome response from a FOCUS Missionary to a video condemning religion.

Rick Santorum Town Hall Meeting: January 14, 2012 at Tommy's Country Ham House in Greenville, SC

On January 14, 2012, I had the great honor and privilege to shake hands with a man who I believe should become the next President of the United States; Rick Santorum.  I took some pictures and created video documenting my experience at the event.  I had an outstanding time and the trip was totally worth it!  Rick Santorum is a great man and his wife is a really nice and wonderful person as well.  I have so much respect for them and how they have raised their family.  My prayers are with them as they endure this rigorous campaign, and may the good people of South Carolina vote with prudence on Saturday.  Vote Rick Santorum!  God bless America!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Rick Santorum: Catholic or Conservative… or Both?

In her most recent column, Ann Coulter criticizes Rick Santorum for being a faithful Catholic and not conservative enough for her liking.  Here is a direct quote from Ann Coulter.

“Santorum is not as conservative as his social-issues credentials suggest. He is more of a Catholic than a conservative, which means he's good on 60 percent of the issues, but bad on others, such as big government social programs.”

My response to Ann Coulter’s criticism of Rick Santorum:

In the interest of full disclosure, let me start off by saying that I have never been a fan of Ann Coulter.  I have never ascribed to her brand of conservatism.  In addition, I have always found her to be an argumentative, arrogant, divisive, rude, and in general unlikable person.  However, I believe that I can make an objective response to her criticism of the presidential candidate whom I support.

Santorum is not as conservative as his social-issues credentials suggest.”

Ann Coulter seems to concede that Rick Santorum is a strong social-issues conservative.  His strong defense of traditional marriage and the protection of the unborn are well known and unparalleled among his peers running against him in the Republican Presidential Primary.  He is passionately pro-family and pro-life, and he is the only candidate who frequently makes the connection between these most important social issues with the issue many voters determine to be most important issue; the economy.  He not only openly and publicly advocates for these social issues, but he shows consistency by living these values in his private life.  He is the father of 7 children, the youngest of which suffers from a very serious condition called Trisomy 18, and he has been married to his one and only wife of 21 years.  I have not met any of his children, but I have heard his oldest daughter and oldest son interviewed and they appear to be very impressive young people.  Rick Santorum and his wife, whom he humbly gives most of the credit, have raised a very impressive, inspiring, and spiritually strong family. 

“He is more of a Catholic than a conservative,”

This is a little like comparing apples to oranges.  Catholicism is a religion whereas conservatism is a political philosophy.   A person can be both a faithful Catholic and have a conservative political philosophy.  The two are not mutually exclusive, and in fact I would argue most often the two align themselves together.  However, Catholicism does not align itself completely with any political party or political philosophy.  Catholicism is the foundation for WHAT Rick Santorum believes, and conservatism is the HOW Rick Santorum believes government best addresses and preserves the “what” it is he and his religion believes.   Faithful Catholics point toward the Nicene Creed and the Catechism of the Catholic Church as guides to what we believe as Catholics.  Conservatism does not have such clear, distinct, and universal guidelines, and therefore it is open to more interpretation.  There are many different forms of conservatism as well; fiscal, social, etc.  Apparently, Rick Santorum doesn’t fit into Ann Coulter’s definition of conservatism.  I will discuss more on this later, but her above comment is more about a comparison between the beliefs of Catholicism and conservatism.  What drives Rick Santorum?  I believe that Rick Santorum does place more importance on being faithful to his religious beliefs than he does in politics or political philosophy.  He has proven this in his private life, public life, and political career.  He is not afraid to take politically unpopular positions on issues that are very important to him, his family, and his faith.  As opposed to this being a point of criticism and contention, I think this is one of the greatest reasons to support Rick Santorum.  His faith, not a political party or philosophy, forms his beliefs.  I believe many politicians and political correspondents such as Ann Coulter make their political philosophy their religion.  Not Rick Santorum, and to that I say bravo!

“Which means he's good on 60 percent of the issues, but bad on others, such as big government social programs.”

I am not sure how Ann Coulter comes up with the 60% number, but apparently she has an awful lot of criticisms of the Catholic Church.  Interestingly, her father was Catholic.  Ann herself is not very religious; she says she has general Christian beliefs but that she does not declare membership to any particular denomination.  I only point this out to get some greater perspective on her comments.  Ann’s conclusion is that Catholicism supports “big government social programs,” and leaves open the inference that there are other complaints she has with Catholicism.  The problem with Ann’s comment is that her insinuation that Catholicism supports big government is untrue.  As I noted earlier, the Church does not take political sides.  The Church is concerned about the poor and vulnerable among us, but the Church remains neutral in how best to serve the poor.  Some faithful Catholics may conclude upon their own deductions that big government social programs are the best way to support the poor.  I would disagree.  The great thing about Catholicism is that this is perfectly ok.  You see, faithful Catholics can disagree on HOW to fix societal ills and problems so long as we acknowledge and agree upon the problems themselves and that our intentions to solve the problems are pure and real.  Rick Santorum believes, as I do, that we can best help the poor by empowering them as opposed to making them slaves to the government through big social programs.  Rick Santorum’s record favorably supports his statements on limited government.  One of his greatest achievements as a member of the U.S. Senate was welfare reform, which encouraged poor people to work and helped lead to some of the lowest numbers of poverty in United States history.  Rick Santorum’s concern for the poor is especially refreshing considering that his party is often criticized for not caring about the poor.  “Santorum's driving interests: more efficient government and a keen interest in helping the poor — the latter motivated in part by his devout Roman Catholic faith” – USA Today.  There are ways to help the poor, such as welfare reform, that are not at odds with the conservative philosophy of limited government intervention.  In my opinion, Ann’s characterization of Rick Santorum as a supporter of big government social programs is a much distorted characterization of the man.  It is also very hypocritical and ironic.

What makes Ann Coulter’s criticism of Rick Santorum for not being conservative so hypocritical and ironic?  She is endorsing perhaps the most liberal Republican running for President; Mitt Romney.  Enough said.

God bless,