Sunday, December 16, 2012

Taking God Out Of Schools And Christ Out Of Christmas?

Since Friday's tragedy, I've been reading and hearing a lot of talk about how this sort of incident could be prevented if we hadn't taken God out of our schools. I'm sorry, but I don't believe that God was absent from Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday morning, or from any other school where a shooting has taken place. I have no doubt there were children and adults who were talking to Him during that time of fear, confusion and pain, whether they survived or not.

True, God in the form of teacher-led prayers, or in the form of teaching students one religion's beliefs to the exclusion of all others, has been removed from the daily schedule in our public schools. But students can still pray at any time, and many of them do so on a regular basis. They also still have the freedom to bring their Bible to school and read it in their free time if they so choose. In my opinion, that's how it should be handled in a public school--if you want your child to receive more religious instruction, that can be done in your home, your place of worship, or in a religious school.

The same goes for claiming that Christ is being taken out of Christmas. I could go on and on about all of the Christmas traditions we, as Christians, took from other religions to create "our" holiday, but that's not the point of this post. The point I have is this: other people may use the terms "holiday tree," "holiday card," "holiday song,"  "holiday party, " and wish us "Happy Holidays." That is their prerogative. For those of us who are Christians, and who celebrate this season as the birth of our Lord, there will continue to be Christmas trees, Christmas cards, Christmas songs, and we can continue to wish people "Merry Christmas." We can also continue to have Nativity scenes displayed in our homes and yards. No one can take that away from us without our consent. At the same time, we can't take away the rights of others to celebrate the season in a way that is meaningful to them.

Our country was founded to provide religious freedom for all its citizens. That means we should be welcoming to those of beliefs which differ from ours, not resentful of them or accusing them of trying to stop us from having our beliefs.

What it all boils down to for me is this: practice your beliefs in the way you see fit, and allow others to do the same. Let's give it a try, and see what happens.  Merry Christmas!   :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Books I've Read In December 2012

I tried to read J.K. Rowling's new adult book, The Casual Vacancy this month.  I say tried because I only made it through the first fifty pages. I was having to force myself to keep reading, so I decided it wasn't worth it, and took it back to the library.

1) Full Black, by Brad Thor

Born in the shadows and kept from heads of state, some missions are so deadly, so sensitive, that they simply don’t exist. When one such mission goes horribly wrong, only former Navy SEAL Team 6 member turned covert counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath can carry out an audacious plan to prevent one of the biggest terrorist threats the United States has ever faced: complete and total collapse. But as the identities of the perpetrators are laid stunningly bare, Harvath will be left with only one means to save America. Unable to trust anyone, he will be forced to go FULL BLACK.

2) Key Lime Pie Murder, by Joanne Fluke

The yummy [ninth] smalltown cozy from Fluke (after 2006's Cherry Cheesecake Murder) finds sometime sleuth Hannah Swensen, owner of the Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minn., judging the baking contest at the Tri-County Fair. When one of her fellow judges, home economics teacher Willa Sunquist, is murdered, Hannah determines to sniff out the killer. Was it a man from Willa's mysterious past? Or a student she flunked? Fluke has developed a charming supporting cast—Hannah's besotted (and slightly spineless) two suitors, her overbearing but likable mother, her endearing sisters and her levelheaded business partner all feel like friends by the time the murder is solved. 

3) The Fifth Witness ( A Lincoln Lawyer Novel), by Michael Connelly

Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. He expands his business into foreclosure defense, only to see one of his clients accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take away her home. 

Mickey puts his team into high gear to exonerate Lisa Trammel, even though the evidence and his own suspicions tell him his client is guilty. Soon after he learns that the victim had black market dealings of his own, Haller is assaulted, too--and he's certain he's on the right trail. 

Despite the danger and uncertainty, Haller mounts the best defense of his career in a trial where the last surprise comes after the verdict is in.

4) Dark Tort, by Diane Mott Davidson

Caterer Goldy Schulz's lucrative new gig, preparing breakfasts and conference room snacks for a local law firm, is time-consuming, but she's enjoying it . . . until the night she arrives to find Dusty, the firm's paralegal, dead. The deceased also happened to be Goldy's friend and neighbor, and now Dusty's grieving mother is begging Goldy to find out who murdered her daughter.
Just because the police are on the case doesn't mean Goldy can't do a little snooping herself. While catering a party at the home of one of the firm's lawyers, she just happens to overhear an incriminating conversation. She also discovers a few tasty clues in the kitchen. Before long, Goldy finds herself knee-deep in suspects. But one of them is incredibly dangerous . . . and very liable to cook Goldy's goose.

5) 11/22/63; A Novel, by Stephen King

Dallas, 11/22/63: Three shots ring out.

President John F. Kennedy is dead.
Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away . . . but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke. . . . Finding himself in warmhearted Jolie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten . . . and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.
In Stephen King’s “most ambitious and accomplished” (NPR) novel, time travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

6) Hidden (House Of Night #10), by PC Cast and Kristin Cast

At last, Zoey has what she wanted: the truth is out. Neferet's evil has been exposed, and the High Council is no longer on her side -- but she's far from done wreaking havoc in the vampyre world. First, a mysterious fire ravages the stables. Then, Neferet makes a devastating move that will test them all.
With the seeds of distrust sown and Darkness breeding chaos at the House of Night, everyone must band together -- but that's proving to be more difficult than ever before. The twins are barely speaking and the House of Night's former enemy, Kalona, has now become their warrior, pushing their trust to the limit. To top it off, Zoey is pretty darn sure she might be losing her mind. She saw something when she looked at Aurox through the Seer Stone that she can hardly explain to herself, let alone her friends. Is it possible that Heath has come back in a different form? Is that why Zoey's so intrigued by Aurox, when it's so obvious that he's dangerous? And who would believe her if she told them? Zoey knows that following her instinct about Aurox might be just what they need to defeat evil . . . but if she's wrong, it could cause the destruction of those closest to her.
With the tension at a breaking point and friendships on the line, can the nerd herd come together to stop the spread of Darkness before it's too late?

7) Love Overboard, Janet Evanovich

Dear Reader:
In a previous life, before the time of Plum, I wrote twelve short romance novels. Red-hot screwball comedies, each and every one of them. Nine of these stories were originally published by the Loveswept line between the years 1988 and 1992. All went out-of-print immediately and then could be found only at used bookstores and yard sales.
I'm excited to tell you that those nine stories are now being re-released by HarperCollins. Love Overboard is second in the lineup, and it's presented here in almost original form. I've done only minor editing to correct some embarrassing bloopers missed the first time around. And I changed the title because I thought the original title (Ivan Takes a Wife) was boring!
Love Overboard is a romantic tale about a handsome ship's captain; a wary wench from Jersey City; a hundred-year-old, two-masted schooner; and an entire town of shoemakers. There's some getting naked, some blueberry pie, more getting naked, and at the end . . . Okay, I won't tell you about the end, but it's really good and it'll make you feel happy.
I took my family on the road trip from heck to research this book. When we finally got to Maine it was all worthwhile because we fell in love with the boats and the people who sailed them.

Goal for the year: 70    Read year to date: 73
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