Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Narnia, Reepicheep, and the Culture War…

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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GARDONE RIVIERA, Italy, July 10, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When I was about nine, the thing I wanted more than anything else was to be swept away to a magical, heroic adventure in Narnia. My mother had given me C.S. Lewis’s books to read, and like so many other children, I became enamored of, almost obsessed, with the stories and the noble worldview they presented. If only I could live a life like that; of adventure and the pursuit of The Good, the fight against evil and oppression.

I know that scholars have examined the books and all their literary allusions, religious allegories, and historical implications, and in those papers, the character of Reepicheep – the fearless, gallant mouse, twirling his whiskers like a mustache, little paw resting on the hilt of his tiny rapier – has always been held up as Lewis’s icon of the ideal Christian knight.

Reepicheep, and his little band of miniscule followers, can present to a child someone with whom he can identify and whom he can emulate. Weak and small himself, Reepicheep defends the weak and small; aware of his flaws of pride, he befriends the flawed Eustace who repents of pride. Reepicheep’s strength is not in his arm but in the steadfastness of his faith. He never hesitates because he is, literally, fearless. His faith in Aslan has completely “cast out fear.”

Our managing director, Steve Jalsevac, likes to say that LifeSiteNews.com “has a punch well beyond our weight,”  that our influence far outreaches our size and limited resources. And this is true. I am told all the time that our articles are read, quoted and republished everywhere. But I have started to compare us not to a prizefighter, but to the valiant little mice of Reepicheep’s clan.

At Narnia’s darkest hour, the tiny mice, with little swords too small to do much damage, do not hesitate for an instant, don’t waste a moment considering the hopeless odds, or their relative size in the fight against Miraz’s Telmarines. They simply dive in to the fray, bringing down hardened soldiers ten times their size. By themselves, the mice could have done nothing to defeat the evil Miraz, but without them, their bravery and the sting of their needle-like swords, the Narnian army would have likely faced swift defeat. (Well, the trees helped too, I suppose).

This is how I have been thinking of LifeSite lately. With a staff of 15 or so, scattered around the world in 4 countries and two continents, mostly working from home, communicating by Skype and email, depending almost entirely on the individual donations of our readers, LifeSiteNews.com keeps stinging the toes of our giant opponents, throwing them off guard, keeping them hopping-mad, furious that we are too small to kill and too painful to ignore.

The rapier we carry is made of the truth, the needle-sharp facts behind the population control and abortion slogans that the mainstream media and the political class want to conceal.

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We may not be able to defeat our opponents with truth alone, but we make it more possible for the whole pro-life community to win. Every time I hear our detractors – and we have a lot of them – try to diminish our work (calling us merely a ‘blog’  is one of the latest favorites) I think of Reepicheep, the hero of the Second Battle of Beruna, the friend of Aslan.

As a devotee of the books, there wasn’t much about the Prince Caspian movie I liked, but I thought this scene captured a bit of Reepicheep’s flair:

I have spent the last week or so in a small town in northern Italy attending a conference on the social teachings of the Catholic Church and their political, legal, and economic implications and I’ve occasionally felt a little out of my depth - just a wee bit intimidated. Founded by no less a person than Dietrich Von Hildebrand, the Roman Forum’s speakers are all people with multiple PhDs, ‘summa cum laude’  from Ivy League universities and places like Oxford.

The attendees come from eight countries, teach law and economics, speak several languages and have published books and papers, organized conferences and been in the thick of the fight to save the world, in some cases since before I was born.

In truth, while I have learned a great deal and will certainly come away with a broader and more complete understanding of the battles we fight, I have felt a bit outclassed. Among such intellectual heavy-weight fighters, my little sword seems as small and ineffective as Reepicheep’s rapier.

But one by one, each of the illustrious people I have talked to has told me how vital, how indispensable our work is at LifeSiteNews.com. Very few people can come to an international academic symposium. But the whole world needs to know what these people know and are saying and none of these Catholic intellectual heavy-weights are able to do that.

There are times when I simply cannot believe how fortunate I am to be doing this, and I am nearly floored by how much respect and admiration our work receives. Today, I think I had one of the nicest compliments so far. A man who has spent 20 years or more working in the mainstream media, who covered the attacks on the Trade Towers in 2001, who made documentaries for A&E and was director of programming for EWTN, told me that LifeSiteNews.com is one of the best news services out there, “absolutely without comparison.”

“No one else is doing what you do. Without you guys, there would be an un-fillable gap.”

This summer, will you help us continue to fill this vital gap?
Help us reach our goal.

(Click Here to Donate)

When you, our readers, contribute to the financial upkeep of LifeSiteNews.com, as I have said before, you are in your own way joining us in this fight. We work as your proxies and representatives. Few people are free to devote themselves completely to this particular work. Businesses must be run, classes taught, families raised. So when you donate to LifeSiteNews.com, we are, in a sense, working for you, and allowing you to become directly involved from where ever you are.

It is simply a truth that without the support of readers, our work would come to a sudden screeching halt. I have been writing for LSN for nearly 8 years and the forces lined up against us grow more ferocious every year. The Narnia stories instilled in me the desire for noble and romantic battles, to enter in some small way into the titanic struggle of good against evil.

And here I am doing just that, as the Rome Correspondent for LifeSiteNews.


Hilary White
Rome Correspondant
LifeSiteNews.com

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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