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Halloween Costumes

Without getting into the whole “should our kids dress up and trick-or-treat or not” debate, here’s a disturbing article from the Washington Post about kids’ Halloween costumes these days: Preteens Trading Fairy Wands for Fishnets. It talks specifically about girls’ costumes and even more specifically, “sexy” costumes for young elementary-age girls.

Halloween has become a big business and an adult business. That’s inevitably trickling down to what kids wear when they trick-or-treat. There are stores with dozens of selections — for young girls — of revealing costumes.

From the article:

Cheryl Cirenza shook her head in exasperated disbelief. “This is all so inappropriate. It’s really disturbing,” she said, eyeing a wall of such girl and preteen costumes as Major Flirt in army green, the bellybutton-baring Devilicious and a sassy, miniskirted French Maid, pink feather duster included. She’d just turned down her 13-year-old daughter’s request for a Sexy Cop outfit. “When I was their age, I was a bunch of grapes.”

But that was back in the days when Halloween was still a homemade kind of holiday, when an old sheet with eyeholes was a perfectly acceptable ghost and clumsily carved pumpkins on the front porch were about as elaborate as the decorations got. Now, Halloween is big business. Americans are expected to spend upwards of $5 billion this year on candy, ghoulish decorations and costumes. And the hottest trend in costumes, retailers say, is sexy. And young.

It fits well with what we’ve heard in the Parenting class at Heritage last the couple of weeks, and it’s a reminder of what we’re facing out there. To her credit, the mom in the article stood her ground. Good for her.

Thankfully, I think Carter’s “Bob the Builder” costume will pass the test (although the legs are a little short . . .)

Oh, and watch the video below. It’s good.



Just Say It

I realize this particular corner of the Internet is in danger of becoming a video blog, but they’re not that long and they make good points. Or give you good laughs.

This one makes a good point. It’s a short performance by a “slam poet” named Taylor Mali — he talks about our “agressively inarticulate generation,” making the point that we need to speak with conviction. Not everything is a question. We need to say what we believe. I have no idea if he’s a Christian or not, but his message certainly applies especially to us. Don’t apologize for what you believe in — proclaim it. Enjoy. He’s very good.


(HT: Joe Carter, via Pyromaniacs)

Two Seconds, Fifteen Laterals

This you have to see. It’s the end of a Division III football game — Trinity University of San Antonio needed a touchdown to win. Two seconds left, 61 yards to go. Fifteen laterals later, they’re in the end zone. Amazing, although at times it looks like the other team (Millsaps College) completely forgot how to tackle. It’s kinda funny to listen to the announcers trying to keep all the names straight.

Yeah, I know, the video won’t show up. Don’t know why. You can go here and scroll down to see it.

Friday Roundup

–So after beating Cleveland, Boston is now playing the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. Here’s an angle you might not have thought of. You know those hats and t-shirts they always pull out right at the end of a championship game with the team’s name and logo and something like “2007 World Champion” printed on them? Well, if it’s a close series (or just a one-game championship, like the Super Bowl), what happens to the hats and t-shirts printed for the losing teams? You know, for instance, the ones that say, “Cleveland Indians, 2007 American League Champions.” Cleveland obviously didn’t win, so what happens to the shirts and hats?

Turns out they’re sent to Africa by World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian aid group.

As part of its agreement with the NFL and MLB, World Vision must ship all of the clothing overseas, preferably to places where the items won’t offend wounded

sports fans and defeated players.“It would be a horrible waste of a fine piece of apparel to destroy it,” says Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman. “Working with World Vision, we are able to provide those who are less fortunate with very nice pieces of apparel that may not mean that much to them in terms of who won and lost but does make a difference in their quality of life.”

For the most part, these folks we’re serving really have no idea who the Chicago Bears or the Boston Red Sox are,” says Fields. “They’re just glad to get a new piece of clothing that has never been worn before and isn’t a hand-me-down and doesn’t have a hole in it.”

Read the whole article. Really interesting. Great example of Christians using an American cultural quirk for the good of others. Even better if it leads to Gospel opportunities.

–Some of your favorite tv shows might be in for a rough few months: The Writers Guild of America may be going on strike as soon as November 1. With no writers, shows like “Lost” might be off the air for a while. Hope you like reality shows.

–Check out this New York Times Magazine feature on a British photographer named Simon Norfolk, who has shot pictures all over the world for the magazine. There are several slide shows of his work with audio clips of him explaining each story. Beautiful photos and it’s fascinating to listen to him explain them.

–There’s a professional video game league. Really. I’m not lying. Check out this article from ESPN.com. It’s a whole subculture. And it’s pretty much like you’d expect it to be. 20-somethings who practice all night in their parents’ basement, then go to tournaments. That’s what I want my son to be. Yep. Just doesn’t feel very redemptive and God-glorifying as a life. But it’s a well-written article describing a snapshot of our culture.

Do you believe her?

Two Videos

Two videos for a rainy Tuesday afternoon, both courtesy of Joe Carter: The first is a great prank. I’ll let you figure it out (or click the link above and it’ll give you the explanation). If you watch all the way to the end, they finally give it away. By the way, they’re speaking German (I think), but you can get the point without understanding the words:

The second video shows my kind of counseling. These two words are all you need:

Sports Make Life Better

This has been a good sports week for the Hoak household. Last Saturday, UK beat LSU, the number one team in the country. Of course, most of us missed the end of the game because we were at the wedding of somebody or other. Kind of fuzzy on the details, but I think I heard the words “man and wife,” so I assume everything worked out all right. Anyway, you don’t get to beat the top-ranked team every day, so that was very cool.

Also, the Cleveland Indians are one game away from the World Series. After losing the opening game of the ALCS to Boston, they’ve won three straight and are playing fabulous baseball. It’s fun to watch the fans going nuts, towels waving, every pitch important. They’re hitting well and pitching has been great the last two games.

Here’s what’s cool about this, and I’m picking up on a point Bill Simmons made in a column last week. It’s not just that your team is winning, although that’s a huge part of it. It’s that they’re still playing when other teams are at home watching television. It’s that you log onto ESPN.com or SI.com and see your team as the front page story. All of a sudden, everyone across the country is talking about guys you’ve been following all year. They’re finally noticing how good they are and how much fun they are to watch. It’s exciting to go through the day, thinking, hey, my team’s got a playoff game tonight and I can’t  wait to watch it. It’s exhilarating to be walking out of the aforementioned wedding in a huge crowd and everyone is going, “Did you hear? UK beat LSU!!!” National columnists suddenly have opinions on your favorite players. The whole country is watching. There’s something extra in the air. Your team is in the Top 10 and ESPN is broadcasting their weekly GameDay program from their campus. There’s a possibility, however slim it is, that you could go watch your team in the World Series. The World Series. You send e-mails, make phone calls, read all the stories. And you wouldn’t get to do it if your team were at home or in the midst of a losing streak like so many times before. But this time, this year, is different.

You gotta love it. Tonight: Cleveland vs. Boston at The Jake, 7 p.m. CST on Fox. Saturday: UK vs. Florida in Lexington, 2:30 CST on CBS.

Marriage and Parenting

Joe Carter on marriage:

While I have no idea what women can do to make a marriage work, I do know what men can do better. All of the following suggestions, therefore, are specifically for husbands:

Close the bathroom door – Some people will tell you that being able to go to the bathroom in front of your wife shows how comfortable you are with each other. These people are idiots. Allowing your wife to see you on the toilet doesn’t show you are comfortable, it just shows you’re nasty.

The reason your wife finds Brad Pitt sexier than you isn’t just because he’s better looking (though he is that) but also because she’s never seen him doing his business. If you want to keep any mystery and romance in your marriage then close the bathroom door. And while you’re in there, make her happy and put the lid down on the toilet. That’s what she thinks Brad would do.

Call her bluff – Women like to talk about ‘feelings’ and say that they want us to talk about them too. The truth is that women have no interest in really knowing how we feel. What they really want is for us to shut up and to listen to them talk about how they feel. After all, real men have three dominant ‘feelings’– hungry, randy, and gassy —none of which wives care to hear about.

When your wife starts using phrases such as ‘opening up’, ‘getting in touch with your softer side’, and other nonsense she picked up from watching Oprah, just tell her what she thinks she wants to hear. Explain to her that you have issues with your body-image, that you don’t feel appreciated, and that you occasionally feel the need to eat chocolate after your catty co-workers hurt your feelings. Finish this off by asking her to hold you while you ‘have a good cry.’

James Lileks on parenting:

But candy in plain sight leads to begging, begging leads to whining, whining leads to suffering, as Yoda said. No, you cannot have it, because A) it’s a candy bar, more or less, and B) dinner is nigh. BUT YOU HAD ONE. No, I had a bite. Then I disposed of the rest. BUT WHY CAN’T I HAVE A BITE. Because dinner is coming in ten minutes, and for some strange arbitrary reason that makes me feel like a good parent, you cannot have a tiny portion of chocolate the size of a caterpillar eyeball before dinner, lest a precedent be set.

Because once the precedent is set, it only expands. They remember everything. They will forget 17 minus 6 if they learned it that day, but remember when you gave them buttered popcorn on a Thursday night in 2005 . . .

As any parent knows, every day is a series of negotiations and compromises, bargains and rewards. You have to maintain authority, but authority without the sense of justice breeds resentment; they have to know your reasons, they have to internalize your logic. You cannot be arbitrary. Likewise, you cannot be weak. Usually when we enter negotiations, and she makes a counteroffer – four grapes, not five – I shrug up the states to six grapes, and thus are five grapes consumed. But once you’ve established a reputation for an iron will, you can bend the rules in situations when no bending was requested, just to let them know you’re reasonable. If the rule is, say, a dish of ice cream on Friday night for a perfect spelling test, then every so often you scoop up  dish for a less-than-perfect test, because she got a hard word right. You don’t want fear; you don’t want slavish robotic response; you want to hand down an idea that’s immutable in its purest form, and mutable when mercy intercedes. (emphasis added)

And hope you’re not teaching them how to work the system.

(HT: Hugh Hewitt)


Next President?

Time for a little politics. And before you automatically quit reading, hang in there. This is closer to home than you think, especially for Christians.

Are you a single-issue voter? That is, will one thing keep you from voting for a candidate, no matter what else they may believe in? Abortion is that single issue for lots of voters, including people like John Piper. Their argument says that life is sacred and we can’t in good conscience vote for anyone who believes we have a right to end the lives of unborn babies.

Others say that they’re willing to vote for someone who may be pro-choice but conservative in other areas. Their thinking is that the “perfect can become the enemy of the good” — that is, if you have two candidates who are both pro-choice, you vote for the one who is the better of the two in other areas. He or she is not perfect, but is a better option than the other candidate.

The 2008 presidential election might come down to this one issue. Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice and the leader in the race for the Republican nomination. Hillary Clinton is pro-choice (surprise!) and the leader in the race for the Democratic nomination. We could very easily be faced with a choice of two candidates who both approve of abortion.

If that happens, a group of conservative Christian leaders (Dobson, etc.) have said they will endorse a third-party candidate who is pro-life.

The problem with this approach is that it will most likely take a large number of votes (most of the conservative Christian block) away from Giuliani, leaving us with another four or eight years of a Clinton in the White House. And we’ve seen what that’s like. Pragmatics say that even though he’s pro-choice, Giuliani is a better option than Clinton because he will appoint strict constructionist judges who will be more likely to overturn Roe v. Wade (the next President will will likely have several Supreme Court appointments).

To vote for Giuliani, though, seems to be compromising a principled stand for life. It’s a tough call — stand on principle even though it may end up doing more harm to the cause you’re standing for, or bend a bit to accomplish more good.

There are good people and good arguments on both sides. Justin Taylor argues more for the pragmatic approach, while Joe Carter takes a strict pro-life position. I go back and forth depending on who I’ve read lately. Read JT’s list of 10 points. Then read Joe Carter’s last few paragraphs. It’s tough.

Of course, a better solution is if Giuliani doesn’t get the nomination. I think our best chance otherwise is Mitt Romney (Huckabee would be fabulous from what I’ve read, but I don’t see it happening). Would you rather have a conservative pro-life Mormon or a socially liberal pro-choice man who’s on his third wife?

God alone know what will happen and in the end, we have to leave it with him. But should we be fighting for one side or the other? The best solution now is to look to candidates other than Giuliani. If he gets the nomination, though, we’ll be in a difficult spot. Thoughts?

Around the Internet

From around the Internet:

  • Not to be all depressing on you with another link to a story about death, but this is an outstanding Sports Illustrated article by S.L. Price about Mike Coolbaugh, a Colorado Rockies coach who was killed by a line drive this summer. He left behind a wife, two young sons and a baby on the way. This is how you write a story, kids. The Rockies are now in the playoffs and they’ve voted to give Coolbaugh’s family a full share of whatever bonus they make for being in the playoffs. Classy move. (Here’s another great SI article about Miami’s new football coach. This is also how you write a story.)
  • Speaking of death, make sure you take your library books back before you die. Apparently, they’ll still try to charge you overdue fines even when you’re no longer around.
  • Jack, Jack, Jack. This is not how you save the world.
  • You won’t agree with Christopher Hitchens very often (he’s the atheist author of the bestselling book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything), but he’s a good writer and I think he’s right with this article about Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The book he references about her story looks very good.
  • And here’s a video compilation of something you’ve probably heard a million times without really noticing it: the Wilhelm Scream. It became famous because of the the sound designer who used it in every Star Wars and Indiana Jones film, but it was originally recorded in 1951 and has showed up in lots of different movies:


Fair warning — you will cry if you watch this video: 99 Balloons. I did. A summary:

Eliot was born with an undeveloped lung, a heart with a hole in it and DNA that placed faulty information into each and every cell of his body. However, that could not stop the living God from proclaiming Himself through this boy who never uttered a word.

In the midst of heartbreaking tragedy, the Mooney family found the presence of God strengthening, comforting, and guiding them. Their story reminds us to seek God and endure our struggles rather than blame Him for our hardships.

Eliot’s parents also started this blog to share his story. Here is their eternal perspective:

Some of our favorite e-mails came from those who noted that they were not “religious” or told us how they “were not sure they fit in this group”; but they went on to tell how Eliot had taught them something or just brought a smile to their face. Some even elicited how they could not believe they were reading a blog that was written by a Christian living in the South. But all were drawn in some way to something.

Eugene Peterson says it this way: “Everytime someone tells a story well, the gospel is served”

All we have done is tell a story. The story of our son. And, oh, what a story it is.

I have purposely made strides to downplay the God-card. This was simply because all I could do was get in the way with my feeble attempts. God was in the story. He did not need to be exposed.

If you have found yourself drawn to this story and not really knowing why, I humbly propose that my son is only a vehicle to proclaim a story greater than his own.

Click here to watch the video. And here to read the blog.

(HT: Justin Taylor)