Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Phones, sports, and vampires - ya know the everyday stuff.

Excerpt from a newsletter from Steve Wood at Dads.org

September 2010, Volume 16, Issue 4

Smart Fathers and Smartphones
One of the goals of a smart dad is to find a job or profession that supports the family financially and that also allows him to get home for dinner with the family. I realize that some special situations and professions make regular family dinners a goal difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, it should be a father’s goal to have regular dinners with the family. It’s one of the simplest ways to build family solidarity and to keep teens from submerging into negative peer culture.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia has released their fifth special report on the importance of families eating together. Here’s what they discovered:

“Over the past decade and a half of surveying thousands of American teens and their parents, we have discovered that one of the most effective ways parents can keep their kids from using substances is by sitting down to dinner with them. Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are:

• Twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana; and

• More than one and a half times likelier to use alcohol.

The research shows clearly how important it is to get to the dinner table with your kids.”

This year’s special report looked into the effect of Blackberries, cell phones, smartphones, and other electronic gadgets on family dinners. The researchers found that electronic disruptions sabotaged the positive effect of family meals. For family meals to have positive effects fathers and all other members of the family can’t be texting and focusing on a smartphone every time it vibrates. The researcher’s advice was simple, clear, and direct: all members of the family should turn off all phones and electronic gadgets during family meals.

I concur with the advice from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Smart dads turn off smartphones during family meals.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI on Sports
“Sports are not merely the exercise of muscles, but the school of moral values and of training in courage, in perseverance, and in overcoming laziness and carelessness. There is no doubt that these values are of greatest interest for the formation of a personality, which considers sports not an end in itself but as a means to total and harmonious physical, moral and social development.”

(John Paul II, 1984 Address to European Olympians in L.A.)

“Sport has a notable educational potential above all in the realm of youth and, because of this, it is of great importance not only in the use of free time, but also in the formation of the person. Hence, it is necessary that, in our time – in which we see the urgent need to educate the new generations – the Church continue to support sports for young people, fully appreciating also competitive activity in its positive aspects, as for example, in the capacity to stimulate competitiveness, courage and tenacity in the pursuit of objectives avoiding, however, all tendencies that pervert its very nature with recourse to practices that are also dangerous to the organism, as is the case of doping.”

(Benedict XVI, 2009 Address to Pontifical Council for the Laity’s seminar on sports and education)

The latest stage of the descent into the occult paganization of youth is the vampire craze. The Twilight vampire-romance novels, movies, and DVDs are a runaway success. The first Twilight film grossed over $392 million worldwide. The first Twilight book stayed on the New York Times Best Seller list for 91 weeks. The Social Security Administration reports that Bella, the love-struck heroine in the Twilight tales, is now on the list of the top 200 girls’ names. It says a lot about our culture when parents name their baby daughter after a girl who turns into a vampire.

A few months ago, I called a Catholic priest out-of-state whom I had never met or spoken to before. He was shaken when I called, having just hung up the phone from talking to his priest friend. It seems that two teenagers had called his friend asking the priest if he could put them in touch with a vampire. This depressing call revealed just how debased and toxic our culture has become.

A Barna research report (Teens and the Supernatural – Barna.org) found that “three quarters of America’s youth have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity, beyond mere media exposure.” The report stated that 77% of Catholic youth have experimented with psychic and witchcraft-related activities (such as: consulting Ouija boards, participating in séances, casting spells, mixing magic potions, etc.).

Here are a couple of good resources for fathers seeking to protect themselves and their teens from the vampire plague:

The Spiritual Counterfeits Projects, an Evangelical anti-cult and occult organization, has a special issue of its journal devoted to the vampire craze.

The well-known Catholic author, Michael O’Brien, has written a book entitled Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture.

Although O’Brien masterfully analyzes the literary value of Potter, Twilight, and other fantasy literature, the chief value of this book is its mature spiritual discernment. Many Catholics have made a huge mistake thinking that the chief questions about the Potter and Twilight novels are primarily questions of literary merit. This notion completely misses the threat posed by these novels which is deceptive and attractive spiritual portrayals of the dark side.

Consider that the unparalleled success of both the Potter series and the Twilight series came from authors who say that their stories just burst into their minds. Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight novels, said, “Bella and Edward were, quite literally, voices in my head. They simply wouldn’t shut up.” J.K. Rowling said that “the character of Harry Potter just popped into my head, full formed. Looking back, it was all quite spooky!” Are these just two literary coincidences or two inspirations from the demonic?

O’Brien warns, “Christian parents everywhere are facing the dilemma of raising their families in the midst of a tsunami of cultural corruption.” Teens calling a Catholic priest for help in locating a vampire, parents naming their daughters after Bella the vampire, and the extreme popularity of all things related to vampires, are just three indications of the paganization tsunami sweeping over our land. O’Brien’s book carries my strong recommendation for those fathers who desire wisdom in protecting their children from an invasive cultural corruption.

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