Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Moment Christmas Happens

December 13, 2000

Every year, the Christmas Spirit hits me in a different way. Sometimes with a song, others with a Christmas movie, and still others with the decor of the season. But this year was different. The other day I was sitting in math class and absentmindedly humming the tune of "O Come All Ye Faithful." Taking a bit more notice, I began to sing the words softly. I was on the second verse, the part where it says, "Glory to God, Glory in the highest," when it hit me. Christmas isn't simply about songs, religious or secular, or movies, or trees. Sure, it's about those things, too, but the true, original reason for celebrating Christmas is Jesus. Jesus deserves all the attention we give to the extra stuff like songs and movies. He deserves all the glory. Jesus deserves everything we can give Him and more. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one can go to God except through Jesus. And it was through Jesus, in a stable in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, that God came to us. That is what Christmas is all about.

December 6, 2007

It's not always with music, though. Sometimes Christmas happens when I'm standing in the check-out line at Bartel Drugs to buy a copy of TV Guide, while the heady scent of magazine perfume samples mingles with the rich aroma of fifty-cent chocolate bars, and the sight of a child giving his precious handful of change to a Salvation Army Santa nearly brings tears to my eyes.

But for me, Christmas does happen with music a lot. Like when I'm driving home from work one night listening to Nat King Cole's version of "Silent Night" and singing along, my pure alto skimming over Nat's smooth baritone: "Radiance beams from thy holy face/ With the dawn of redeeming grace/ Jesus, Lord at thy birth..."

This year it happened with music again. I was lying on my bed listening to Rebecca st. James' Christmas album. It might be my favorite Christmas album, or at least in my top five. It's ten years old, and most of the songs sound totally nineties (think faux-grunge and drum machines). But it's worth it for the non-traditional renditions of classic carols, a soulful "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," a satisfying cover of John Lennon's "Happy Christmas," and the ethereal beauty of st. James' version of "Silent Night."

Christmas happened as I listened to the last song on the album, titled "A Cradle Prayer." In the liner notes of the CD, st. James writes: "Imagine yourself, sitting by baby Jesus' cradle on the night He was born, and singing to Him everything you were feeling inside... the lyrics just flowed onto the paper."

As I lay there listening to the words, "Jesus I love you, my Lord, my life... Here in the quiet, the still of the night/ I am in awe of you," I began to wonder what I would say if I had been there the night Jesus was born, while the heady scent of fresh-cut hay mingled with the rich aroma of cow manure, how the sight of a Child giving His precious life for the salvation of the world would bring tears to my eyes, even as it did in my own time and place. Could I say anything at all? Or would I simply gaze in speechless wonder at the Creator of the Universe lying in a feeding trough with a teen-aged girl, a carpenter, some guys who watched sheep for a living, and a bunch of livestock for company?

Jesus came to Earth in the most humble way possible, but I have a sneaking suspicion that even cloaked in ordinariness, the Christ Child was still an awesome sight to behold, and I would be incapable of forming a coherent sentence when faced with His physical, visible presence. But, fortunately, Rebecca st. James already wrote exactly what I would be thinking: "Why would you, Creator and King/ Come as a baby for all, for me?/ Beautiful Savior my God, my friend/ I am in awe of you."

And in that moment of awe and complete wonder, that is when Christmas happens.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Case for Reason

I believe in Truth, with a capital "T." Universal, undeniable, eternal Truth. Augustine of Carthage believed in Truth, too, and he proved its existence with math. Not the approach I would have taken, but it served his purpose. Basically, he said that in an equation such as 7+3=10, we all know the answer to be true, it has always been true, and it always will be true. We can not change it, no matter how sharp our faculty for reason or how ardently we claim not to believe it.

Truth does not require belief, or anything beyond its own existence, to be Truth; its existence is intrinsic to its nature and in it are contained all knowledge, reason and sense of morality. There must be a being which embodies universal, undeniable and eternal Truth, since existence, or being, is part of Truth's nature, and this being is no other but God. When one discovers Truth, one discovers God.

C. S. Lewis was an atheist for decades, arguing that if a good and all-powerful God existed, He would not allow evil to exist. But then he saw the hole in the argument: if there is no God who is Truth, how are we able to recognize evil, the lie, to discern right from wrong? There must be a Truth, a moral absolute, a God who created us and instilled us with this knowledge.

Without Truth, the universe, and everything in it, would not exist. There would be no rationality or order or reason or morality. There would be nothing, what the Greeks called Chaos. Since this Truth is so vital to our very existence, it is natural for us to want to know it, to discover it and understand it, and since the dawn of time humans have strived to do just that.

The Greeks, like Augustine, employed mathematics, pure reason. The universality of numbers suggests the existence of something higher than human reason, and the Greeks developed philosophy for the purpose of finding out what that was, of discovering Truth. Philosophy, which means "love of wisdom," was born out of reason, and gaining wisdom from the search for Truth was thought to be the highest aspiration.

The ancient Hebrews approached the search differently. They believed that only by following the Law would they attain Truth. By adhering to the Law and believing in its Maker (the source of Truth) they fulfilled their purpose.

The Greeks were people of reason; the Jews, of faith. In early Christianity these two approaches to Truth caused misunderstandings, which lead to tension and disagreement between Jews and Gentiles, "for Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom" (1st Corinthians 1:22).

Traditionally, Christianity has upheld the Jewish side of the debate, since, after all, Jesus was a Jew, and tended to reject reason as incompatible with the faith required for salvation. But Clement of Alexandria, a second century Christian writer, claimed that Greek philosophy, like Jewish Law, was a "schoolmaster," or preparation for the Truth of Christ: "for philosophy itself did once justify the Greeks." And indeed, the Greek philosophers did reason their way to monotheistic belief centuries before Judaism ever spread much beyond the Jordan River Valley, when all other cultures in the world, with the exception of Egypt for a few years, had always been polytheistic. Their reason lead them to God, though they did not know it.

While the Jews awaited the fulfillment of the Law, the key to their faith, the Greeks sought and found the answer to their philosophy, but didn't recognize it until Jesus came. He came to fulfill the Law and justify by faith, but also to be the Answer to all questions asked by reason. Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews and the Christ of the Greeks. He is the author of both faith and reason. He is Truth.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How to Have Fun in a Department Store Without Spending Any Money

Have you ever had the urge to go shopping, but were completely broke, or just didn't want to spend any money? If you're male, I probably lost you at the word "shopping." But if you're female, you probably know exactly what I mean. The next time you get the itch, don't fight it! Grab a friend or two, get to a department store and have the best shopping trip of your life without spending a dime!
Pick your store. This first step is very important, as it will determine the nature and degree of your merriment. A store like Barney's or Neiman Marcus is not going to be very tolerant of any loud or attention-grabbing antics. For that you want somewhere like Kmart or Wal-Mart. But if outrageous pranks aren't your style, go ahead, go for a fancy place. They have escalators! Which brings us to...
Ride the Escalators. In the fancier stores, you have to be a little more discreet, but this is an easy thing to do discreetly. Start by going as far up as you can, and when you get to the top floor, walk around a little before going down again. If you're over the age of six, escalators can get old pretty fast unless you make it a little more interesting. There is a scene in the movie Elf in which Will Ferrel's character, who has never seen an escalator before, attempts to ride one several times before, more or less, succeeding by practically doing the splits on it, attracting the attention of a crowd of shoppers in the process. Re-enact this scene for a laugh, or just go up the down escalator.
Try Stuff On. This probably isn't something you would do in the less expensive stores (unless you were actually going to buy something) because it's just not as fun. But in an upscale department store there's nothing more fun than trying stuff on, and you probably won't be tempted to buy anything since the prices can be pretty steep. Everything is fun to try on but the best things are jewelry, shoes, and wedding gowns. Jewelry goes without saying, and shoes are a natural mood lifter; there's nothing more confidence-boosting than slipping into a fierce pair of heels and strutting around the shoe department for a few minutes. And wedding gowns... well, every girl knows. Although, if you're not actually engaged and you want to try on wedding gowns, it might be a good idea to wear a fake engagement ring in case the fitting room attendant is on a power trip and won't let you try on any wedding gowns unless you "prove" that you're "really getting married." Gosh.
Get Your Make-up Done. A lot of department stores with make-up counters will give you a free make-up makeover. The attendant will even give you tips on what kinds of products to use. They do usually expect you to buy something, but just say something like, "I think I'll browse a little," and then when they move on to another customer, just quietly slip away.
Ask for a Non-existent Product. The key to making this work is to ask for something that sounds like it could be real product. It makes it even better if you make up something really vague, that sounds like it could be one of several different kinds of things. If you're short on ideas, try this: take any word from the first list below and pair it with any word from the second list and there you have it!

List 1:

List 2:

Of course, what makes this even funnier is you make up something that turns out to be a real product. If this happens, and the store employee shows you where it is, say that's not what you're looking for and make up a description of something completely different. The hardest part will be keeping a straight face.
Make a Documentary. This of course requires a video camera and at least two people. You can really make a documentary about anything you want. It doesn't have to have anything to do with the store you're in, although that can make for some interesting material. Or you can just film your shopping trip or follow a complete stranger around the store with the camera, secretly, of course. Then put it on Youtube.
Dodge Security. The store security, if they're doing their job, will eventually catch on that you're not there to buy anything, which is, after all, the intended purpose of stores. So you may need to do a few evasive maneuvers to throw them off your scent. Try taking something into the fitting room, not a wedding gown, but something that an average person on an average day might actually buy. Or talk to a store employee. What you talk about doesn't really matter so long as it looks like you're asking them a legitimate question. The security guy will be satisfied that you're a real customer and leave you alone. Then you can return to your merriment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Street of Heroes

This post is not about the Heroes season premiere that aired last night, although it did raise some fascinating questions. (Like, what's Maya's power? Does Alejandro have a power too? Are they really brother and sister? What's up with that West kid? Is he a creepy stalker guy or does he just really like Claire? Because the whole hovering-outside-her-window thing would have been so much better if he had been holding a boom box that was playing "In Your Eyes." And why was Jess from Gilmore Girls [that is his full name, by the way] only in the last 2 minutes?)

No, I'm not going to write about that. I'm going to write about an idea that I had recently. Actually a few ideas. They're all for TV shows. I thought that with all the success of the Star Trek spin-offs (Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise. Not that I watch any of them... okay, fine, I watch Enterprise, but only to make fun of the theme song.) I would create one of my own and call it Star Trek: Miami. It takes place in the present day and it's about a group of retired NASA employees. Good, huh?

Another idea I had was for a show called Street of Heroes, hence the title of this post. That's the name of the street that the Tahoma National Cemetery is located on, and I was passing it one day and I thought, "Hey, wouldn't that be a cool title for a TV show?" So then I had to think of what the show would be about, and I think I came up with something really good.

So there's this fictional city, kind of an Anytown, USA type of place, in which the police department, the fire department and the hospital are all located on the same street, the "Street of Heroes." (When I told my brother about this idea, he said the courthouse should be on the street, too, but, come on, lawyers aren't heroes.) So the main characters would be a doctor, a cop and a firefighter. People love cops and doctors on TV, and they love firefighters on calenders, so this show would be great.

I also thought of having a coffee shop on the same street, where a lot of the show would take place. The cops would go there for donuts all the time and the doctors would go there for triple shots before their 36 hour shifts and one of the firefighters would go there all the time because he's in love with the barista. It could add a lot of atmosphere.

And this is the best part. I don't know if this would work exactly, but it would be really cool. The city where it takes place would be Gotham City! The hospital would be Wayne Memorial, and of course Gotham PD. So Batman would be in it sometimes but he wouldn't be the main character. And it would be really funny if the characters had issues like how silly it feels to write the word "Batman" in police reports. Plus it would combine some really popular TV genres right now: cop/doctor and comic book.

If I pitched this to a network (Street of Heroes [which I might change to Gotham: Street of Heroes], not Star Trek: Miami), I think I could have a pretty good chance of getting a pilot. Of course I'd have to write it, though. But that wouldn't be so bad. It will probably never happen, but if someone else gets an idea for a cop-doctor-firefighter-coffee shop-superhero drama and it gets made into a successful TV series, just remember: it was my idea first.

So was Star Trek: Miami.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jane Austen is My Girl Crush

Jane Austen is getting a lot of press these days. The Focus Features adaptation of Pride & Prejudice was released a couple of years ago, and now there is a new Austen biopic titled Becoming Jane. In the past month I've read articles in Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and even Newsweek about the film and Austen's life and work. Not to say that she's not deserving, but I have to wonder, why all this attention for an author who lived 200 years ago, whose own work wasn't even attributed to her name during her lifetime?

I first caught the Austen bug about five years ago. I was fifteen and sick of Shakespeare (I'd had to read
Macbeth in 8th grade, then Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar freshman year, then Hamlet as a sophomore; I've since discovered his comedies.) when a friend suggested I try P&P. I checked out the only copy in my school's library and read the whole thing from cover to cover in one sitting. My Austen appetite was awakened. Next I read Emma, then Northanger Abbey (still my favorite), then Persuasion, Mansfield Park and finally Sense and Sensibility.

Like all of Austen's devoted fans, I was disappointed that there weren't more. I mean, seriously, the woman lived for more than forty years and all she could crank out were six measly novels? So, I did what many readers have done after reaching the end of the Austen canon: I turned to the Brontes. It just wasn't the same, though.
Jane Eyre had potential, but she had no sense of humor. So not Lizzy Bennet.

This was in 2002-3, between the Austen-mania of the mid-90's and the current re-discovery of (how come Austen doesn't have a cool nickname like "the Bard"?)'s work. The world was in an Austen famine. I was glad to discover the then-eight-year-old films of
S&S, Emma, and Persuasion, and, of course, the BBC/A&E miniseries of P&P. But it just wasn't enough. (Northanger Abbey, my favorite Austen novel, maybe even my favorite novel, has yet to be translated into a satisfying theatrical release, though I've read that the BBC's recent made-for -TV version, which will air on Masterpiece Theatre in January of 2008, is good, and Wishbone did an entertaining adaptation in a 25-minute episode).

What is it about Austen that keeps us so fascinated? All her novels have the same plot, and a very simple, ordinary plot at that. Her world seems so small, a world in which girls must either marry or starve and all the men are either rakes, idiots, or that rare, perfect hero. No car chases, no explosions, but plenty of the difficulty of remembering complicated dance steps while simultaneously thinking of witty conversation. These novels are all talking and dancing and walking. And riding in carriages sometimes, and occasionally eating. But somehow, they draw you in, and they have for nearly 200 years.

Of all the elements of Austen's novels for which I could build up a sizable argument for being the cause of her appeal (the aforementioned witty conversation; the dancing, if you're into that; the social commentary; the sparkling manners), the one that stands out most noticeably is her characters. Who hasn't rooted for the sarcastic-but-lovable Lizzy Bennet, the matchmaking Emma Woodhouse, or drama queen Marianne Dashwood? The supporting characters, both the villains and the eccentric foils, realistically flesh out the stories while adding just a hint of escapism.

And maybe that is the secret. Realistic escapism, if that's not an oxymoron. Austen had the ability to show the world as it was, only better and more interesting. To create characters and situations that are completely relatable, even today. We've all butted heads with a Caroline Bingley or secretly wanted to strangle a Mary Crawford. And no girl can deny that, at some point in her life, she has fantasized about marrying
(or at least going to the movies with) Captain Wentworth or Henry Tilney. Because though the situations and characters in Austen's novels are strikingly similar to something you find in real life, the endings are always of the fairy-tale (Disney, not the Grimm brothers) variety.

It is the perfect combination of realism and fantasy, of wit and wisdom, of slight intrigue and traditional manners that give Austen's works their staggering genius. They have lasted for nearly 200 years and are likely to last twice as long again, and to continue to make glad the heart of womanhood.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What to do in a horror movie

If you should ever find yourself in a horror movie, these are a few rules to follow that will help ensure your survival. Notice how I said "help ensure." If you are a character in a horror movie who is destined to die, like a promiscuous teenager or a lonely old lady, there's nothing you can do to stop it. Sorry.

1. Don't ever think that it's safe. It's most likely very unsafe.

2. Never find the perfect house. The perfect house is haunted. Always.

3. If you're driving on the freeway, don't take any "short-cuts," no matter what the guy at the gas station said. Also, don't pick up any hitchhikers.

4. If there's a little kid telling you what to do, listen! The kid always knows.

5. That person limping toward you with a crazed look in their eyes and blood dripping down their chin does not want medical attention. They want to eat your brain. Run.

6. If you find yourself in a small town that has a secret, leave immediately.

7. To find out how to avoid disaster, ask the town outcast/ geeky loner. The charismatic cop/ military officer has no idea what he's talking about.

8. Abandoned warehouses/ hospitals/ museums/ schools/ libraries/ mansions/ cabins in the woods/ military bases/ hotels/ churches are abandoned for a reason. You don't want to find out what that reason is.

9. If you are the comic relief/ protagonist's best friend, you will die. There's no avoiding it. You have a slightly better chance of survival if you are the protagonist's love interest (as long as you never say, "I'll be right back"), but don't count on it.

10. Dancing only scares zombies away in Michael Jackson videos. If you are in a Michael Jackson video, dance your heart out. If not, you'd better have a baseball bat. Hit the zombies in the head with it.

I have to admit, I had help coming up with these. My brother Keith, whose blog I have linked, aided me in their creation. Numbers 9 and 10 are totally my own, though. Also, I don't watch a lot of horror movies, mostly because there are so many stupid ones out there and you can never tell which few will be good, so this list may be incomplete. It is open for suggestions.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What Would Cowper Do?

William Cowper was an 18th century Calvinist poet, which is, surprisingly, not an oxymoron. (That's him on the right; what a fox, huh?) Calvinists believe in predestination, which I know all of my readers know, since both of you are very well-educated. They essentially believe in fate, that our final destination in the afterlife is already decided, has been decided since long before our births, and there's nothing we can do to change it. It must be this way, since God is all-knowing, all-powerful; He controls the future. Free will is an illusion, in a Calvinist view. We can not ultimately control our own lives, and it is pointless to try, since nothing we do on this earth will affect where we spend eternity.

William Cowper believed that he was predestined for Hell. He was convinced in his soul that he would spend eternity separated, alienated, completely cut-off from God. If such a conviction lodged itself in my heart I really don't think I could go on living. Maybe I would stay physically alive, put off the inevitable as long as possible, but I would have no hope. I would curse God for creating me and giving me a small glimpse of His glory, only to snatch it away with no possibility of restoration, no promise of its fulfillment in me. For creating me only to destroy me.

But that's not what William Cowper did. Instead he wrote this:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face...

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

How could a man so persuaded of his own eternal damnation be so trusting, so favorable toward the very God who, he believed, was responsible for his fate? His answer was simple: we can not understand the ways of God, who is Creator, and therefore Master, of the universe. All things were created for His glory, for His purposes, and He will use them as such. He has the "right," to put it into Democratic-minded American terms. Our lives are not our own and our eternal fates are not our own; they are God's, and He will do with them as He pleases.

Cowper (and by default, Calvin) had a point. God is all-powerful, and He does not have to give us free will. But I would ask them both this question: if God wanted to decide for us where we would spend eternity, why did He pay such a high price for our souls? Nothing is impossible for Him. He didn't have to die. He could have "over-ridden the system," and made it so that all people, no matter their choices in life or opinion of Him, would go to Heaven.

And why didn't He?

He loves us. God wants everyone to come to know Him and love Him. But even more than He desires this, He desires that we choose Him, which is why He will not force our destiny upon us. He can not ravish; He can only woo. If we had no choice but to love Him, we would not love Him in the truest sense. If we were going to end up in Heaven, no matter what we did or what choices we made, there would be no reward in it. And God's glory would not be fulfilled, since it would, in a sense, be only self-love. But God is perfect, and therefore self-less, and the most selfless thing that a perfect Being could do would be to create other beings to love Him of their own free will.

Heaven is our, everyone's, destiny, but it is not our destination unless we choose it. A better term than predestination would be predestiny.

If William Cowper had not believed that he was predestined for Hell, how would his life have been changed? If he had known that his choice to follow and understand God would lead him to an eternity with the Love of his life, would he still have written about frowning Providence and blind unbelief? Or would his pen have turned to other subjects? We may never know, but maybe I can ask him in Heaven.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What? An Action Movie with Good Acting?

I have a very interesting system for rating the quality of movies. I have eight categories of criteria, each with a 5-point grading system, for a possible total score of 40. The criteria are plot; dialogue; characters; acting; music; scenery and costumes; humor; and cute boys. Bonus points can be assigned for good special effects and/ or action sequences, but many movies with these are severely lacking in plot, dialogue, characters and acting (although they usually have cute boys), which are more important, so they are not required. Here is a list of movies that score above 30 on my ranking system, in alphabetical order:

About a Boy (The novel is good, too.)
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
The Bourne Identity (What? An action movie with good acting?)
The Brothers Grimm (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger in the same movie? In boots? With accents?)
Casablanca (Actually, not really, but it's on every other movie list, so I put it on here just for fun. I've actually never seen the whole thing. I always fall asleep half-way through.)
A Christmas Story
Clueless *Best Jane Austen modernization
Gone With the Wind ("After all, tomorrow is another day!")
A Knight's Tale
Little Women
Napoleon Dynamite *Winner of the Rhonda Watts "Huh?" Award
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Pride and Prejudice *Best musical score ever!
The Princess Bride
Roman Holiday
School of Rock
Scotland PA *Best Shakespeare modernization
Shaun of the Dead (Any movie that is self-described as, "a smash hit romantic comedy... with zombies," has to be good!)
Sixteen Candles ("What's cookin' hot stuff?")
Sliding Doors *Best sci-fi chick-flick (Gwenyth Paltrow in two alternate realities?)
Some Like It Hot *Best cross-dressing movie
Stuck On You *Best conjoined twins movie
The Taming of the Shrew
Vanity Fair (I have to admit, I kind of had a girl-crush on Reese Witherspoon after seeing this. She's such a talented actress that you hate her and love her at the same time.)
The Village *Best psychological thriller
Young Frankenstein *Best parody of a Mary Shelley novel
Zoolander *Best movie about male models

So that's my list. There are lots of other movies that I love that didn't make it on the list because this is just based on my ranking system. Maybe there's a movie on here you haven't seen before that you want to go rent now. So stop reading this and go!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What I Wish I Could Tell You

Recently this guy named Bruce N. Shortt released this book titled The Harsh Truth About Public Schools. It's kind of a catchy title, so I read the first chapter. Now, I'll be the first to tell you, public schools are definitely not perfect. They are not healthy places. But it seems to me that this should not be a reason to shun them or look down on us public school-educated people. It should be a reason to have compassion for them.

Advocates of homeschooling have based their views on the undeniable presence of evil in public schools. Drugs, violence, sex, secular humanist propaganda, moral ambiguity, they're all there. I know, I've observed it first-hand. But instead of focusing on the evils of public schools and alienating 99% of the population, shouldn't we be reaching out to kids in public schools with the message of Jesus? Kids who, if not for other public school kids who are Christians, would never hear the Truth of the Gospel?

Many worry that Christian kids will be sucked in to the secular world if they are exposed to public schooling, but that is why parents must give their kids a firm foundation in the Faith. A child's first and most deeply rooted educational experience comes from their parents and stays with them for the rest of their lives. If this experience is based on the Word of God and if parents continue to instill Christian values in their children as they go through school, kids will know right from wrong, and be able to choose the right, even if the world is against them. Their greatest influence should come not from the world around them but from the One who lives inside of them.

Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world.

Parents cannot make their kids be Christians. Kids must choose it for themselves. But if all they ever see or know is a "safe" little bubble their parents created for them, it's not a real decision. If Adam and Eve hadn't had the choice to sin, they wouldn't have sinned, but their obedience would have no meaning. Forced obedience is not true obedience, and it is not fulfilling.

So, what do we do about the harsh truth of public schools? The answer is not taking our Christian kids out of public schools. Kids in public schools need to see Christian kids living out their relationship with God now more than ever. How else will they learn the Truth in such a worldly place? The answer is to equip our Christian kids with the ability to impact their public schools for Christ.