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I recently finished reading "Sun Shine Down" by Gillian Marchenko (whom I know slightly through one of my online writers' groups). Gillian and her husband, Sergei, were living as church planters in Ukraine when their third daughter was born. After a difficult birth, Gillian was floored by the words "They suspect the baby may have Down syndrome."

Already facing the day-to-day struggle of life in a culture very different from her own -- a culture with even less tolerance of Down syndrome than the United States -- Gillian now had a child with a condition she knew almost nothing about. Read More >
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TIME magazine reports, "For the first time in 57 years the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Information Survey has surveyed adults on their sexual orientation, and the results published Tuesday show that 1.6% of adults aged 18 or over identified as gay, while another 0.7% identified as bisexual."

In other words, we're being asked to remake marriage (not to mention completely change the face of primetime television) to accord with the desires of less than 3 percent of the population.

Makes you think, doesn't it?
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This past Monday I had the honor of addressing the Prison Fellowship Ministry staff in our weekly gathering. As I went before the Lord asking what He was laying on my heart to share, He took me all over the place. Finally, though, I landed in one comfortable spot: Read More >
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James Franco has recently adapted William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" and Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God" into films; it is rumored that Franco will eventually adapt McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" as well. All three novels (and film adaptations) share a significant theme in common: they attempt to explore human depravity at its darkest, deepest, and most devastating.

An article at Christ and Pop Culture suggests that Franco's adaptation of these three films shows a continuing trend in modern filmmaking: "an invitation to consider depravity." The article goes on to say (and rightly so, I believe), "If these adaptations and their sources reveal anything, it’s that culture is interested not only displaying depravity but also in interpreting it, an interest the Church must share."
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WORLD has named Andrew Peterson's "The Warden and the Wolf King" its Children's Book of the Year. I had the honor of being asked to serve on the selection committee, and I very much enjoyed Peterson's action-adventure fantasy -- the final entry in his "Wingfeather Saga" -- which was by turns creepy, funny, exciting, and deeply moving. Peterson's achievement is all the more impressive given the fact that he had to raise the money for its publication himself. As Janie B. Cheaney explains in her article for WORLD, "The Warden and the Wolf King project became the most successful fiction campaign in Kickstarter’s history." Read More >
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Valen blogged yesterday about the rollout of Rep. Paul Ryan's new anti-poverty plan. Now here's Craig Roche of Justice Fellowship with more on how Ryan's legislation would "help advance key principles of restorative justice."
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If you see a certain unusual symbol showing up all over your Facebook today, there's a very good reason.
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Alissa Wilkinson has a great post up at her blog at Christianity Today, celebrating the good ministers of film and TV -- ministers who show true godliness and integrity. (And I had the honor of contributing one to the collection!) Go here to see who made the list, and to make suggestions of your own.
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I mentioned recently that Meriam Ibrahim and her family have been taking refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum for about a month now. NBC News and others are now reporting that Meriam Ibrahim and her family have arrived safely in Italy, mere hours after her release from Sudan. Read More >
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Congressman Paul Ryan will deliver a speech to the American Enterprise Institute tomorrow in which he will unveil his anti-poverty plan. In the past the House Budget Committee Chairman has hammered federal budget cuts; however, in this new proposal Ryan says, “It is important to note that this is not a budget-cutting exercise — this is a reform proposal." Read More >
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RELEVANT magazine is asking who should play C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien in the upcoming movie about their friendship. The authors have some suggestions of their own, ranging from Cumberbatch and Freeman (hmm, maybe) to Statler and Waldorf (yes please!!). What do you think?
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(Cross-posted at Youth Reads.)

Our own Valen Caldwell wrote the introduction for these two entries in our Summer Reading Challenge. Visit Redeemed Reader to read her take on them!
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Meriam Ibrahim and her family remain in a "makeshift home" at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan; while Meriam and her husband have expressed nothing but gratitude for her release from prison, the family is still being prevented from leaving Sudan. Wednesday there will be a Congressional hearing (titled “The Troubling Case of Meriam Ibrahim”) before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on global human rights to discuss Meriam's case.
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In the comfort of my life, it’s painfully easy to get caught up in the microcosm of my experience, and to stay there. However, in consideration of two escalating international crises, I find myself called outside of myself. As of recently, many around the world are facing incredible grief.

Thursday, Malaysian airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over war-torn eastern Ukraine. There has been finger pointing in every direction, but we don’t really know who shot down the Boeing 777. What we do know is that the crash of the plane resulted in a tragic loss of life -- 298 people were on board the flight, and all 298 were killed. This description of the wreckage from the New York Times is haunting.
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I’ve noticed recently that I’m a stingy person when it comes to money. I don’t like to spend it, because I always feel broke afterwards. Irrational? Yes. But it still feels that way. So of course, this makes tithing and giving a fierce battle between the heart and the mind.

A group of us interns at Prison Fellowship attended a Nationals game a few weeks ago as a social event. Those of of you who know anything about live sports will guess that it wasn’t the cheapest outing I’ve ever attended. As I hit “accept” to the e-mail invitation, I had no idea the amount of money I’d be throwing at this. From the ticket, to the parking, plus the Metro fare, and last but not least the $18 for food, that’s the better part of a hundred dollars down the drain. Yet before I knew it, the money was spent. Now, although I found myself upset at how much I invested in the outing, I also thought of the great time I was having as I sat and cheered with my good friends. Then, slowly but surely, the subject of money slowly floated out of my thinking, until I was totally at peace.

Yet when was the last time we lost ourselves like this in giving to the Lord? Read More >
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