Satellite television in the Middle East and North Africa, the region directly influenced in the past several months by the "Arab Spring," is a very powerful cultural influencer. Practically and technologically speaking, there is simply no other means available that is as efficient or as effective as satellite television in reaching 500+ million people in a region characterized by closed countries and illiteracy rates as high as 50%. In addition, people in the region tend to learn orally. In other words, they like to listen to and learn from stories, particularly ones they can view on TV.
Founded 16 years ago, SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry, tells wonderful stories about living life with the enablement of the gracious Sovereign God and His Word. SAT-7 broadcasts daily in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish throughout 22 countries in the region, and its programs are known for their production quality, variety, and uplifting presentation of the Christian faith.
My website has been upgraded – brighter, different colors, more easily readable font, new comment/feedback module, better back-end functioning. The work originally and this recent upgrade were completed by my son-in-law, Joe Drouillard of J D Web Design Studio.
The content management system is Joomla, which I like, now that I’ve learned a few basics. It can do much more, but I haven’t needed its full capacity so haven’t spent time on a learning curve. But what I can do gets the job done for me.
In my opinion, simple or fairly straightforward web designs are best. I don’t mean dull or boring designs, just designs and lettering that considers the viewer/reader’s eye and makes content as easily accessible as possible.
So, I recommend J D Web Design Studio to you. Joe does good work.
What I didn’t know then was that many of these programs offered fairly admirable presentations of right versus wrong, moral choices in which the hero, at least, worked things out for the best in the end. This is, for the most part, long gone from television and cinema.
One thing in particular about The Lone Ranger—he never rode alone. His faithful and intrepid friend Tonto, the Ranger’s Indian sidekick, more than once got the Ranger out of trouble. Back in the day Indians-then, Native Americans-now, didn’t get much credit, but Tonto was a man for all seasons, a man “to ride the river with.”
So-called "gender issues" are synchronous, that is in time, with my adult life. I remember Women's Lib, bra-burning, and the ERA in the 70s. As I say this, I don't mean to imply that everything about these movements, actions, and legislation was wrong, bad, or misguided. In fact, I do not. But issues and movements tend to expand, sometimes beyond what the founders envisioned or even desired, sometimes to levels most would call extremes.
The phrases "gender issues" or "gender confusion" these days involves a lot of extremes well beyond the initial desire of reformers in the early 20th Century who worked to earn for women the right to vote and beyond what reformers in the late 20th Century wanted for women in equal pay for equal work, equal access, or simply equality in the marketplace of ideas, professions, and culture. Today gender issues involve what must be labeled sexual immorality at the least or perversion at the worst.
This video column scratches the surface of these issues with what amounts to an introductory comment:
The West, including the U.S., tends to interpret everything that happens in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of religion. In other words, we see the social and political turmoil daily rocking countries like Syria and we say, religion is behind all this. Maybe, but probably not, at least not all of what we see.
Certainly religion is involved in everything that takes place in the Middle East and North Africa. To some extent religion has been involved in the protests, conflicts, or revolutions called the “Arab Spring.” But religion doesn’t explain why dictators hang on to their posts with a death grip. Religion alone doesn’t explain why people risk their lives, why fighting has morphed into vicious guerilla warfare, or why other countries in the region don’t intervene to stop the killing in Syria.
What explains most of what’s happening in the region is simply the old evil triumvirate of power, greed, and corruption. Dictators like Ben Ali, Gaddafi, Mubarak, and now Assad want to hang onto power as long as possible. They don’t want to and for the most part don’t step down voluntarily. What they do, typically, is leave office only when they are in a box.
And the triumvirate of self-aggrandizement is also at work among the opposition. Unfortunately, the rebels, insurgents, or protestors are not all freedom fighters. They are people who want power and are willing to do anything to get it. Once in control, no one is quite sure what kind of government and society the new regime would allow.
So it would behoove those of us in the West to step carefully in our foreign policy re changing or emerging regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. There’s still a place for realpolitik.
This is a scholarly biography, but the word “scholarly” shouldn’t scare readers away. While hundreds of books have been written about Betsy Ross, mostly for children, no one until now has seriously attempted to separate fact from fiction and place the woman and the legend in context.
Marla R. Miller writes a book that presents Betsy’s Ross’s life and legacy in as accurate a manner as historical evidence allows. She respects the woman and even the myths that have grown up around the story of the origin of the nation’s first flag. In other words, this isn’t a book with an agenda aimed at trashing a cultural icon. That said, Miller doesn’t back away from citing what we don’t know, what we likely will never know, and what we do know that doesn’t match or corroborate certain iconic interpretation.
One reason Miller doesn’t write fluff is that she’s a recognized professional historian. Another reason is that early on she understood that, though the historical record is often sadly slim or silent, what we can know for sure about Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole is interesting enough.
The woman subsequent generations came to know as Betsy Ross did live in a unique time and place at this nation’s genesis, she did play an entrepreneurial and artisanal role as a woman with courage and resolve in early American life, she did make if not the first flag (we still don’t know for sure) than certainly hundreds of US flags in the first decades of the nation’s existence, and she became the beloved matron of a large and loving extended family. So we can remember, respect, and enjoy Betsy for what we know she did, not just for what we wish or think she did.
Not much about Betsy’s personality survives. But Miller believes what evidence we have suggests a woman that was decisive when necessary. She was a person who took considered risks, like marrying a second and third time when her first two husbands died young. She was apparently a woman with an admirable work ethic, and she was clearly a woman with compassion, for time and again she took down-and-out family members into her home, sometimes for years. She was a woman who knew her own mind and made decisions accordingly with respect to religious conviction. She married outside the church when she felt it right, and she became a key and long lasting part of the Free Quaker movement of her day.
Miller celebrates Betsy Ross as an early American woman who was what we’d call today a survivor. She didn’t give up, she didn’t fall apart, she didn’t run away. She did what she had to do to get through, and this she did until death claimed her as a woman full of experiences, full of the love of family, and full of days.