Thursday, August 23, 2012


We’ve all used them, those devices that have a big red button them. It doesn’t matter what it is- a phone, a television remote, even a traffic light. We all know what a button that color means.

It means stop.

You’re on the phone and someone says something you don’t like, something that hurts. Stop.

You’re watching a movie and something revolting and grotesque comes up. Stop.

It all seems so easy in the moment. Just hit that red button and it all goes away.

But you know what you can’t stop? The thoughts. You have an image in your mind, it stays there. That’s why horror movies, movies where we see the reality of death on screen, played out in all too realistic detail, can be so dangerous. We forget that nightmares are not just the stuff of children and fairy tales. Grown-ups have them too. Movies like that feed the nightmares…do you really think that your mind isn’t capable of forming those awful images itself?

Don’t be blind. Terror is very real, and there is no stop button anymore. Not when you’re grown-up.

Remember when you were little, and scared? You’d woken up in the middle of the night and everything was wrong. Dragons had risen up in your dreams, invading your sweet, innocent mind. Waking up almost made it worse…now you were awake, crying, shaking, trying to fight off the thoughts that were never supposed to be there! But there was always something bigger to hold onto on those frightful nights. You could go climb in bed with your big brother. You could wake up your mom and tell her all about it.

“Run, run, run away, Buy yourself another day. A cold wind's whispering secrets in your ear, So low only you can hear.

 Run, run, run and hide, Somewhere no one else can find. Tall trees bend and lean pointing where to go, Where you will still be all alone

 Don't you fret, my dear, It'll all be over soon, I'll be waiting here for you.”

-The Civil Wars, Kingdom Come

But when you grow up, you can’t do that anymore, not really. We can't run away from those nightmares. It’s an unspoken rule. And even if you can…something inside keeps you from moving. You just stay there, scared to the point of not wanting to make the slightest noise for fear of some unknown creature.

But we “grown-ups” aren’t in a dream. That’s the part that should frighten us the most. There really are awful things out there and we have to face them. Because of no one faces it- if everyone turns up the music so loud that the screams of real, dying people are tuned out-if we all run away-then no one will ever know the truth. And evil can reign victorious.

Remember the first time you saw pictures of the bodies from Dachau and Auschwitz? Remember how horrified you were that such a thing could ever be inflicted on a group of human beings? Remember how repulsed and disgusted you were by the evil of one man?

Now think back to a more recent memory. Remember the first time you saw an aborted baby? Remember how sickened you were? Didn’t you wonder how anyone could rip apart a child like that? Do you remember how appalled you were when you heard the murderers claiming that it wasn’t “really a life, just a clump of tissue” ?

I remember.

And I don’t have the answers.

But I do know that even in the midst of the horror, grief, pain, anger, and fear that rushes through us when we unearth these type of tragedies, we must always fight.

Evil must not conquer. Fear cannot get the better of us. Terror is an ugly thing and you no matter how old you are, you will always engage in battle with it. But fight you must, for just as real as evil is good. Good is on our side…and when we have that, we have a mighty weapon that no one but ourselves can take away from us.

This can’t have a happy ending, because the deciding battle hasn’t been declared. But now, we must enter the war and fight our own battles. For in the end, there is only One Victor, and if He is with us, even in the midst of terror and fear, confusion and chaos, pain, grief, anger…there will always be hope. For if God is with us, then no one can stand against us.

Welcome to the war.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ChesterCon 2012: Break the Conventions, Keep the Commandments

Sarah admiring the view from our hotel window.
(This was mostly written in Reno, finished up here at home. The conference was amazing. I am so thankful that we were able to go and be a part of it. God is doing wonderful things through the American Chesterton Society. Thank you all for your prayers!)

It doesn't get much better than this.

I'm lying on a hotel bed in Reno currently, typing this up about fifteen minutes before we go down into the main part of the hotel (aka, the casino) to get through to our conference. Yes, I'm at the Chesterton conference. Yes, it's in Reno, NV. And yes, it actually is at a casino.

But such is irony. The weekend has been full of such great talks, fantastic people, and there's just an aura of happiness that emanantes from this place. It's truly beautiful. GK Chesterton had one all encompassing characteristic, and that was his happiness. His happiness came as a result of his wisdom and his innocence, which were deeply important in his life as well, but joy is the real blessing of Chesterton.

Enjoying an (overpriced) dinner at a buffet in the hotel!
Being here, you just feel happy. Not free of all burdens, not disillusioned, but you have everything in wonderful perspective. Just last night, after the world premiere of the first Chesterton movie Manalive, we went with a group of about seven other individuals to go have something to eat in the hotel/casino. (Yeah, it's legal for minors to be down there. It's Reno.) The group was really something; everyone on fire for God, fans of Chesterton, and trying to do something meaningful, truly meaningful. Mark Shea, of Catholic and Enjoying it, along with his wife Janet. Kevin O'Brien, of Theater of the Word, Inc. Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society. Jason Jones, producer of Bella and a man with a mission to end abortion. And then...there's us- my mom, brother, sister, and I were also in this unbelievable conversation. They'd invited us into their thoughts and theories, and it was truly a privilege to be mentored by these men's examples and words.

With Mrs. Nancy Brown at our booth. I'm in costume for the poem Lepanto.
They were talking about the recent sting videos that were put out by Lila Rose and Live Action. There's been a pretty large debate going on about these videos- I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty details here because it's pretty difficult stuff and doesn't really need to be publicized. However, the basic question was whether or not lying can be morally justifiable and whether or not in some cases, the end justifys the means.

It's a wine jug, in case you couldn't tell.
The sign reads, "Do Not Discard. Property of American Chesterton Society.
Don't you just love these people?!
Let me just say- things are so much more complicated in real life. Things are never as easy as they seem. I really was in awe of these men, who were so articulate and immovable in their different convictions yet willing to listen to each other- a rare virtue in today's society. At one point of the conversation, I just looked around and wanted to laugh. We're in a casino and these men are yelling, literally yelling, about God, truth, morality, and the pro-life cause. It was so encouraging and yet scary at the same time....scary because it's unbelivable that our society is at the point where these conversations have to even happen.

But never, throughout that whole conversation, did I feel down or depressed about the current situation. That's seeming to happen a lot the world grows darker, our conversations turn toward those dark, sad things. It's hard to see light in so much darkness.
With Dale Ahlqist, President of ACS.
That was the difference between this conversation and others I've heard. It was sad to be talking about these things, yet the conversation was still joyful, even wading through the deep waters of discussing abortion and morality today. How beautifully that conversation echoed the words of Chesterton, "But the men signed with the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark!"

I was so blessed by this entire conference. It was truly incredible, and as Kevin O'Brien said in his toast to the American Chesterton Society- this is the Church. The world and media sometimes see the Church as this overbearing, patriarchal organization that just seeks to control its members. But as we know, that's not the Church. We are the Church- we are tuned out, but we will not be silent. As the dark around us grows darker, our light will shine brighter. We will show the world the overwhelming love of Christ, and the honor of bearing his name and image. And like Chesterton, we'll show them through our joy, through our laughter, but also through our wisdom.

We will go against the stream- because we're not dead yet.

"A dead thing goes with the stream. Only a living thing can go against it."
 -GK Chesterton

"I don't deny that we need priests to remind us that one day we will die. I only say that we also need another kind of priests called poets to remind us that we aren't dead yet."
-Manalive, GK Chesterton

Friday, August 3, 2012

Better than YOLO

You've probably heard the term YOLO. (You Only Live Once, for those of you who fit into the "sheltered" category. ;)

This post is not on YOLO...for some of that, go see what Shrimpy has to say: Excuses for Stupid She has an awesome & insightful post on it that you should read.

I don't necessarily agree with YOLO. It's a fine idea, I suppose, as long as one doesn't take it to stupid, extreme levels. Which is what most people feel YOLO somehow justifies.

Wouldn't it be better if YOLO was replaced with something like this:

"I think that at some point, you have to just do something very crazy and very right, just to dare yourself to live. Not something stupid and destructive...just something very good and fun and beautiful."
~The Shadow of the Bear

To dare yourself to live....have you ever felt like that? Like what you were doing was the best thing you could be doing, even if it was a little scary or a little controversial? I don't know if I have. So I guess I probably haven't, seeing as if I had, I'd remember it. Maybe that should be on my summer bucket list: to dare myself to live. That could be a list in and of itself- and wouldn't it be amazing if I could actually, by September 1, have it checked off?

Maybe it's too lofty a goal for two months. But something tells me that by the end of summer, I'll get this quote even more than I do now. That I'll know even more what "to surrender a precious dream" would really mean.

Will you join with me? Join in daring ourselves to live? I think it's an adventure that just might take a lifetime.

(This was supposed to be posted last month. That didn't work out very well. Still holds true with the month of summer that I have left  though! Prayers would be appreciated- I'm in Reno, NV just now at the 31st Annual Chesterton Conference. It's absolutely fantastic. I'll post about it when I get home. Till then, adieu...:)