This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, includes news from the world of entertainment, as a movie that represents a strong faith story went up against several major releases, also from the world of health and sociology, as studies on the behavior patterns of teens and young adults were released, and from the political realm, the budget showdown in Congress was influenced by the life issue.
3 - Surfing story with strong faith elements places in Top 5 at box office
There has been plenty of interest within the Christian community about the new film, "Soul Surfer", which depicts the incredible comeback made by surfer Bethany Hamilton after a 2003 shark attack, resulting in the loss of her left arm. The movie, starring AnnaSophia Robb in the role of Bethany, has been screened by thousands of pastors and influential Christians nationwide, and there has been a deliberate and devoted effort to engage the faith community to encourage Christians to support the film.
Read what frequent "Meeting House" contributor Dr. Marc Newman of Movie Ministry had to say about "Soul Surfer".
So, how did we do? Some initial estimates have already been released by the studios: There were four major motion pictures debuting this weekend. Two of them, "Arthur" and "Hanna", placed higher than "Soul Surfer", but with lower per-screen averages. In fact, "Arthur" was released to almost 1000 more theaters than "Surfer". Of the top 10 films of the week, only "Hop", the #1 film, had a higher per-screen average. So, while "Soul Surfer" placed #4 this week, its modest $11 million dollars is solid during an off weekend. And, I wouldn't be surprised if the buzz at church on Sunday wasn't a significant factor to motivate moviegoers to check it out.
2 - Virginity increasing on campus, teen pregnancy on the decline
There were two studies released this past week related to the sexual practices of young adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's study of teen pregnancy indicated a 37% drop in the number of teen pregnancies over that past 20 years. And while the CDC study says that contraceptive-based sex education deserves the credit, Christian and pro-family abstinence advocates say that the teaching of abstinence-only practices until marriage is the only reliable method to reduce teen pregnancy.
Here's CitizenLink's report on the CDC study, with some pertinent comments.
Meanwhile, another study was released this week from a researcher at Stanford University showing that more seniors on college campuses indicate that they are virgins. The news is mixed, however, in this study, because it also indicates that there has been an increase in the number of sexually-oriented relationships among students. So, 24% of seniors describe themselves as virgins, but the evidence may point to an increase in the amount of activity among those individuals who are sexually active. Here's another CitizenLink report.
The takeaway for Christians is that we live in a highly sexualized culture, but that it is highly possible for teens and young adults to remain sexually pure, especially as they are reliant on the power of Christ. Parents can be challenged to teach their teens that God's way is best, and following His plan prevents teen pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases, and the emotional difficulties that are associated with relationships that veer out of bounds from the standards He has set.
1 - Abortion a key issue in budget showdown
As the budget battle on Capitol Hill continued to rage this past week before the compromise was reached late Friday night, it became apparent that the pro-life contingent in Congress was being heard. The House, in a continuing resolution it had passed to fund the government through September, had included eliminating the funding of Planned Parenthood. However, the House's one-week extension that it also approved did not include a de-funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion rovider, but did move to prevent taxpayer funding of abortion in the District of Columbia.
But, Congressional leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, did make reference to protecting women in his rhetorical posturing, a clear reference to the Republican leaders, who were attempting to protect life in the budget line items being discussed. The funding of Planned Parenthood at a rate of over $350 million annually, to many GOP lawmakers, was a clear example of the wasteful government spending that has driven the Federal government into its current deep level of debt.
The budget compromise announced Friday night does prevent taxpayer-funded abortion in D.C., but it also forces the Senate to hold a vote on de-funding Planned Parenthood, a vote that Reid had vehemently said he would never allow.
Here is LifeNews.com's report on the role of the life issue in the negotiations.
So, the leaders of both parties were heading toward an impasse and the possibility of a detrimental government shutdown, and abortion became a sticking point. But, it was a non-negotiable for many, as they abhorred an out-of-control government using taxpayer funds to help bankroll an objectionable organization. To me, this is the type of excess that has ensnared our Federal officials, and pro-life members of Congress have indicated that they are not willing to compromise on this fundamental issue.