The Strongholds Between Your Ears | Author Nathan D. Maki

Image of Masada, ancient stronghold in Israel
In AD 73, at the Fortress of Masada, 960 Jewish freedom fighters held off 15,000 Romans for 3 months.

What were strongholds?

In ancient times civilizations would build strongholds as fall-back points. When an enemy army invaded in such force that they either defeated a nation’s army or could not even be met on the field of battle everyone would abandon their unprotected villages and fall back to strongholds.

We find a mention of strongholds in Judges when the Midianites were invading, filling the land like grasshoppers. The Israelites built themselves strongholds in the mountains. Invading armies could strip the land of its crops, pillage and burn the villages, but behind the high walls and towers of these craggy fortresses the people would survive.  And as long as the people survived so would the nation.

Strongholds between my ears?

2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us that… [read more of this excellent article by my friend and fellow author, Nate Maki.]

Two simple steps to help WV against Common Core


Thanks to our friend, Diana Bartley (who, by the way, is a good conservative candidate for the WV House of Delegates), we have become aware that West Virginia has a good Senate bill (SB 429) against the horrendous and dreaded Common Core initiative. In standing against Common Core, this good bill seeks to to protect student’s personally identifiable data, and requires both a complete cost analysis and a 2-year moratorium on assessments to allow for statewide hearings. The bill is sponsored by WV Senators Boley, Nohe, Barnes, Blair, Carmichael, Cole, M. Hall, Jenkins, Sypolt, and Walters.

Step 1: Click here to download a petition to print and have signed by fellow parents, church members, fellow employees, club members, etc.

Step 2: Click here to leave a comment for the Governor of WV using an online comment box. You can copy and paste this wording, if you wish: 

Yes! I join WV Against Common Core to express: my support for SB 429, my support for legal protection of parental rights regarding the education of their children, and my concern about, and opposition to, “Common Core.” I urge our elected officials and our Governor to support and pass SB429.

You will find information on the bill, as well as the actual bill itself, at a website devoted to “WV Against Common Core.” Please share this post with all your contacts and ask them to send the signed petition to the Governor. We need to make everyone aware of this bill. In addition, have everyone contact their state representatives and ask that they support SB 429. We can make this happen if we stay resolved to stop federalization of our schools.

Keep the federal government and business out of WV schools!

Senator Boley Introduces SB429 | WV Against Common Core

“SB429 affirms the parent as the final authority in matters of a student’s education and requires prior written consent for disclosure of student information other than in the aggregate, prohibits the implementation of the…” [read more].

3 Days’ worth of pics from a 25th wedding anniversary Bahamas cruise

The mosaic below contains over 300 images from three days of vacationing in the Bahamas via Norwegian Cruise Lines (highly recommended). Our ship was called the Norwegian Sky. Enjoy the pics! (Note: No gift or funds from Norwegian were given in exchange for this endorsement.)

West Virginia’s Iconic Pepperoni Roll Is Finally Getting Some Official Recognition – Bon Appétit

Last month, a resolution was presented to the West Virginia legislature proposing to make the “humble pepperoni roll” the state’s official food—at last. In the eyes of most current and former West Virginians (myself included), the law would only formalize what we already held to be true: that this food—basically, pepperoni baked into a soft roll, which is a definition far less satisfying than the product it defines—was as connected to West Virginia as the bagel is to New York or the cheese steak is to Philadelphia. [Read more at: Bon Appétit.]

Have you seen the awesome new look yet? Major overhaul!

You’re in for a treat. A major overhaul of has resulted in a fantastic new look and feel. What are your thoughts?

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1 Easy Step to Help the Cause of Life


Our president just finished his State of the Union address. I watched it live on YouTube. (The live link is gone, but archive links abound.)  Many statements were laudable. Some represented some degree of obfuscation and thus were irritating. Sometimes I agreed, while at other times I disagreed strongly. However, one phrase in particular both “stuck out” and especially irritated me. There was nothing terribly wrong with the statement itself. What was wrong was the conflict between the statement and the extreme pro-abortion attitude of the man who issued the statement. He indicated that the best thing we can do for our children is to invest in early education (referring to pre-K schooling).

Mr. Barrack Obama is the most extremely pro-abortion president in history. (Some time ago he actually attended the annual “Planned Parenthood” conference, officially addressed them, and concluded by telling this tax-supported, baby-murdering organization, “God bless you.” Thus, it galled me to hear him say that what was most beneficial for our children was to invest in early education.

After his speech, his supporters (who organized the follow-through) invited online viewers to go to a White House-operated website and watch while questions from Twitter and the blogosphere were answered by a panel appointed by the administration. The hashtag (to post a question or participate in the conversation) is: #SOTUchat

So, I fired up my Twitter account, put in the hashtag, and tweeted this:

Feel free to copy and paste. If you have a Twitter account, retweet it. If you have a Facebook, a blog, or whatever, use your platform say something for the cause of Life. Regardless, do something, even if it’s just teaching your family in devotions or discussing it with a neighbor or coworker. Do something to participate. Be part of the Pro-Life Generation that will see Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton overturned in our lifetime.

Note: If you are looking for solid stats and amazing information to bolster your argument in favor of life—great information that is usable in everything from family devotions to debates with liberals—click to watch the awesome video below.

During quite a few of these frozen days of being snowed in, I spent many, many hours editing the video of a major Pro-Life event, at the request of Dr. Wanda Franz, Ph.D., who is the former head of the National Right To Life Committee, and current President of West Virginians For Life, and Mary Anne Buchanan, who is the Program Director for West Virginians For Life. Recently I finished the DVD production phase, and this past Monday I mailed out the DVDs to the WV For Life office. The next phase was to distill the video stream for YouTube. Last night I finished that aspect of this project, and started the upload to YouTube. Early this morning (in the wee hours) the upload to YouTube was finally completed. Behold:

Share this link to an awesome Pro-Life video:

Top 5 reasons to stop typing in “Textlish”

Darth Grammar finds your lack of punctuation disturbing.

Reason #5

The perception of you by others may not be what you think. This isn’t about occasional mistakes; we all make typographical errors on occasion. Typing in Textlish is an ongoing practice—a lifestyle, if you will. Seemingly there is no shame, acknowledgement, or awareness in the perpetrators. You may feel you’re always in too much of a hurry to take the extra 0.3 seconds to type “your” instead “ur.” However, the recipient of your Textlish may think you’re ignorant (as in uneducated). Note the fuzzy logic here: “It’s not that I don’t know better, I’m just always short on time.” Well, whenever the Textlish is not just “shortcuts” but also regularly full of blatant errors, such as “there” instead of “they’re” (or “their,” depending), then you leave readers with limited options about what to think. They might give you the benefit of the doubt, but several gaffes in a single post or message, or ongoing habits in every message, will likely push them toward seeing you as unlearned.

Reason #4

Lowering your own standards to type in Textlish is habit forming. Ever hear of “muscle memory”? Whenever you eventually need to switch on your “real English” for communications related to, say, a job interview, you might let something slip that could be detrimental to your reputation or simply less than putting your best foot forward. The habit of typing in Textlish gets entrenched like nicotine addiction, and slips are as noticeable as—well, let’s just say they are very noticeable.

Reason #3

The future deserves better. Textlish is becoming the de facto language of our tech-oriented culture. We’re all connected. “No man is an island.” Type well, and we all are elevated. Type poorly, and we all are brought lower. Your presentation of yourself in text, tweet, post, etc, has an impact on all who read it. Sadly, some “educators” (including, apparently, the authors of Common Core, a plan for nationwide educational standards being implemented in government schools) have reckoned cursive handwriting to be an outdated relic of the past, with plans to stop teaching it in public schools. If we don’t stand up for proper English in all our typed content, we’re allowing, even opting for, a lazy mishmash of confusing fragments as replacement for our established language’s words. Dictionaries give etymologies, which are the origins and histories behind our words. Imagine when, eventually, noble origins such as Greek, Latin, and Old English must be joined by “Textlish” (or some such description) as the explanation for a single letter being forced to stand in for three or four former words. Our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren deserve better.

Reason #2

It’s just not that hard to type it right to begin with. Sometimes the alleged “time savings” don’t make sense, because, after all, how much longer would it have taken to type out a real word? How much time does one “save” by typing one or two fewer characters of what should have been only a three- or four-letter word? And if we’re abbreviating, contracting, or leaving off letters for effect, how hard would it be to use the requisite periods and apostrophes? Don’t even get us started on the lack of commas and periods to denote where phrases and sentences are supposed to start and stop. The “Princess Leia” of this war between light and darkness is a preprogrammed digital assistant inside our phones. Thankfully, she types with proper grammar and spelling while taking dictation. Or, at least, she tries.

Reason #1

Darth Grammar. You really want to avoid death by strangulation. Some people are just that annoyed by it. (Just kidding.) We’ve given the darkness a name. Textlish. Won’t you join our quest to vanquish an enemy of all that is decent with regard to modern communication?

Thoughts to ponder about Textlish:

While this method of typing in a hyper-abbreviated “digital shorthand” seems to have resulted originally from limits imposed on the number of characters permitted in SMS text messages and tweets on, use of it has spread beyond SMS texting and tweeting, even into areas where there are no limits on the number of characters. Examples abound in nearly all typed content, including emails, Facebook posts, and blog articles, etc.

Its use in digital domains that do not limit users on the number of characters supports the observation that the practice is often based on factors other than the original (and potentially obsolete) need to stay under a character limit. These factors may include:

  • Once a habit has formed, the behavior happens even when and where it is not needed.
  • People who were never subject to character limits learn the behavior from others, and emulate it to “fit in.”
  • People who were never subject to character limits may be undereducated and may learn the behavior as a common practice, possibly being unaware that it is not proper English.
  • People may take up or maintain the habit simply out of either laziness, desire to conform to trends, or desire to rebel against “the establishment.”

These potential factors support the concern that the practice could become ubiquitous, displacing proper grammar and spelling with ill-advised, confusing fragments that are a poor substitute for the language structure slowly being replaced.

Book Reviews > Perelandra > by C.S. Lewis

Lewis-CS-Perelandra-CoverBrilliant, as always, C.S. Lewis did a tremendous job in this novel, although Bible-believing Christians will notice frequently that Lewis went further out of his way than usual (seemingly) to force into this work both some of his “orthodox” (if unbiblical) “Christian” doctrines, and some of his “unorthodox” (and unbiblical) ideas such as a systematic theology that ponders (allows?) a fairly complete merger of pagan mythology (and extra-biblical writings in general) with various aspects of “the Christian tradition” in a combined sphere of thought. There is much wisdom and wit in the story that makes it worth tolerating some areas where the concepts are “off” biblically speaking.

Note: the following points are perhaps not major elements of the story, but at the least they are certainly themes found in the underlying backstory, and they are worth considering.

I’m a fan of Lewis, and thus I tend to try to tolerate those areas where his “Christian” ideas stretch far beyond what the Bible says or even allows, such as his view that certain personal beings created by the One True God are to be called “gods” (lower case ‘g’), some of whom God may have used as agents in getting aspects of the Creation, well, created. In this installment in his Space Trilogy, Lewis bluntly puts forth that an immortal, angelic being that is the “guardian” over Perelandra (the planet we call Venus) was actually the “personal being” who created the planet called Venus—a task that was accomplished under God’s instruction and at God’s bidding. Thus we’re to accept that if God created the cosmos “via” multiple lower beings, it is still God who should be credited as the Creator, even if someone else did the creating. This is a serious contradiction with what the Holy Scriptures teach about the One True God—He plainly stated He did all the creating “alone” and “by Himself.” (See Isaiah 44:24: “I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself….”)

Lewis’ overall scheme here, when taken to its logical conclusion, is that each of the planets in our star system was created by a different angelic being, with each of these angelic planet-creator-beings corresponding to one of the “gods” of Roman mythology. To wit: Malacandra (the planet we call Mars, which was the focus of book #1 in the trilogy) was thus presumably originally created by its own Oyarsa (a title of status that is a version of an ancient word essentially meaning “arch angel” or “boss angel”). In book #2, Lewis openly proposes the notion that the Oyarsa of Mars (ruler and guardian of that planet) is essentially the Roman “god of war” (called Mars in ancient Roman religion and myth), and likewise that the Oyarsa of Perelandra (ruler and guardian of the planet we know as Venus) is an angelic being who is the Roman “god of love” (called Venus in ancient Roman religion and myth). The correlations would continue with a creator-guardian-being that rules over Jupiter as being the personal creature whom the Romans worshipped as Jupiter. In such a fashion, Lewis simultaneously “slaps” the ancient Romans in the face for worshipping under-shepherds instead of the Great Shepherd, while also “validating” their religion as possibly having some basis in reality instead of being merely ideas invented “out of whole cloth.”

Furthermore, Lewis’ concept here is that the head devil of our world, also known as Satan, began as the Oyarsa over planet Earth (also known as Tellus), and later chose to rebel against God and became the “Bent Oyarsa.” (Satan is now pure evil, and his followers likewise are pure evil, but they were not always so.) Satan was once free to roam the “Deep Heavens” (interplanetary space), but after his sin he and his angelic followers have for a very long time been imprisoned on Earth, in order to keep the other planets safe from him. Parts of this seem biblically sound, but the Bible does not say (at any place, as far as we are aware) that Satan was once the ruler/guardian of Earth. In the Scriptures, the only angel who is called an archangel (“head angel” or “boss angel”) is Michael, who was summoned to make war with Lucifer after his sin and rebellion. Satan is described as having been cast down from heaven to Earth.

We then see (by putting two and two together to get four) the twist here is the notion (or hint?) by Lewis that our own world was actually created by Satan, while he was still a good Oyarsa, in obedience to God. Of course, the above-mentioned verse in Isaiah, taken on its face, nullifies all such notions. I don’t recall Lewis specifically stating the concept that Satan was supposedly the Oyarsa whom God used to create the planet Earth (Tellus), but all his hints point in that direction as his intended thought. Throughout the first and second titles in the series, Lewis paints a very strong tie between Satan (the “Bent Oyarsa”) and Tellus (Earth, the Silent Planet).

On the one hand, I don’t wish to put stronger Christians “off” from reading this book/series, as the wit and wisdom within are wonderful and there is much to be learned if someone is capable of “eating the meat while spitting out the bones.” On the other hand, whenever Lewis waxes into some of the underlying ideas he proposes here, it is safe to say that disclaimers are warranted. Any recommendation of such titles without a note of warning could be mistaken as support for all the notions contained within. This series is excellent overall, and this title is no exception. This installment’s dialogue of satanic deception, waged as spiritual warfare against the innocent, human First Mother on the island-world of Perelandra, and Dr. Ransom’s valiant battle to aid the woman against the demonic seduction, are “delicious” portions that are wonderful to provoke deep thought about all that really matters. Nevertheless, the above-mentioned concerns make it difficult for me to give a recommendation without some reservations regarding any “faint of heart” Christian who is easily confused about what he or she believes (essentially anyone who is not well grounded in what the Holy Scriptures teach).

Book Reviews > Out of the Silent Planet > by C.S. Lewis

Lewis-CS-Out-of-the-Silent-Planet-CoverWhile some may over-simplify the concept of “writing the zeitgeist,” there are more possibilities than merely portraying or capturing the spirit of one’s age (simple digestion and regurgitation). Reflecting upon or illustrating the prevailing attitudes (or spirit) of one’s day may well mean contradicting some or all of it, as in, finding fault with it.

C.S. Lewis certainly revealed what he perceived as the flaws of problematic attitudes of his day (although perhaps not “prevailing” as of yet), as he took to task the “bent” mindsets arising then and compelled his contemporary readership into needful contemplation while he corrected what he saw as crucial errors. In so doing, he preserved for modern readers (of many decades later) a glimpse into just what sorts of attitudes and issues were around way back then; the thought processes of that day, the questions, issues, debates, etc., are in various ways answered or addressed or at least mourned as they are somewhat memorialized in this well-written sci-fi. The degree to which Lewis accurately described “the sin problem” (which is persistent in any age of sin-cursed humans) is the degree to which the problems he described (and errors he challenged) transcend his day. In this regard, he nailed it. Thus the book has long outlasted his day’s zeitgeist.

The “science” of this fiction is in some ways so antiquated it seems absurd to modern readers, yet the skillful writing, wonderful wisdom, and timeless wit serve to make some now-inane sci-fi premises (e.g. of Mars, in book #1, and Venus, in book #2, being habitable places with atmospheres hospitable for humans) into mere trifles worth overlooking and easily overlooked. Outdated? In certain aspects, yes. Still worth reading? Absolutely.