Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    Sunday, December 25, 2005

    My Christmas Card

    Posted by Picasa

    I sent the following text to my friends and family via email this Christmas. Call it cheap, but call it thoughtful. Here it is:

    Family and Friends,

    This year was spectacular indeed. I felt the need to share some of it with you, so I have included over 80 photos (with captions) this year as my Christmas card to you in the Kodak Photo Gallery. You should have received an email for it - look in your junk mail folder if you can't find it!

    As I reflect on 2005, I can only say I am thankful every day for the blessings God has given me, for the places I have traveled to and the incredible people I have had the opportunity to meet. Sure, this year, I met Sean Hannity, Senator Rick Santorum, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and probably some other famous people I can’t recall at the moment. But, more incredibly, all the people I work with – from the staff at my job, to the students and faculty on campuses across the country, are the really incredible people, people I have enjoyed meeting and working with the most this year. They are doing great things and are committed to acts of purpose and it has been inspiring to have the opportunity to meet them and get to know them. Working for a non-profit organization gives you only a modest salary, but you can't buy some of these experiences.

    In 2006, I have traveled to Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, DC, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachussetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, California, Oregon, Washington, Niagra Falls, and Toronto, Canada. Did I miss any? Some of it was just for fun, but most of it was as the “ISI missionary.” (which is also fun) I have now been to over 30 states in our country and I have to say, it is a beautiful country with spectacular people. How on earth all these different people in places thousands of miles away from each other, in different climates, all call themselves “Americans,” and live peaceably among one another, is a miracle indeed.

    When you travel this much and meet this many people and have the privilege to work at such a fine organization like ISI, you learn many things. So, here’s a few things I’ve learned this year. For more on my life, you can stay up to date by visiting my blog at:

    So, this year, I can say a few things I have learned about:

    1. Love. A delicate topic, but through the works of CS Lewis, my participation and attendance at the Harvard Veritas Forum (whose theme this year was “True Love”), and my conversations with friends and family, I have finally come to understand what love is all about. It’s not about sex and it’s not about what you desire, in fact it’s about the opposite – it’s about the kind of love Jesus taught us when he said, “Love thy neighbor,” and when he took up the cross and died for something we did to Him. Love is doing something for others without expecting anything in return, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices to do it. My parents surely live this example for each other and for their children. And, yes, tell the ladies I'm still single.

    2. Materialism. It’s gotta go. If our nation (and our culture) ever fails, it will be because of materialism. I love capitalism and the free market, but it has to be used wisely. A bigger TV doesn’t make you happy, it only makes you want a bigger plasma TV. Bono and the “Live 8” concert this year is one example of revealing to those of us living in the most prosperous country in the world that there are hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty around the world. We’ll never end poverty, but as Bono said, we can help curtail it and we can certainly get most people out of extreme poverty – but it takes acts of “one” to do that. Heroes are among us, showing us it can be done.My friend Rick Buhrman traveled to Uganda this year on a religious mission to work with the poor. ISI’s Simon Fellowship winner, George Srour, a student who just graduated from college has raised over $50,000 and won another $40,000 from ISI to continue to build schools in Uganda. I’d encourage you to check out his website at: My friend Corey joined the Peace CORPS and is helping the people in Bolivia help themselves. Each of these guys took the opportunity God gave them and performed acts of one. Their example should make each of us (myself included) ask, “What acts of one are we doing to help others less fortunate and to use the opportunities given to us?” Perhaps this will give us something to ponder as 2006 approaches.

    3. Sacrifice. The hundreds of thousands of soldiers in our armed forces are performing sacrifices every day. Over 2,200 have lost their lives since 9/11 in order to prevent attacks on their fellow citizens and to spread liberty around the world. One student I work with via ISI, who goes to an Ivy League school (Penn) and is the state chairman of the College Republicans for the entire state of Pennsylvania, Nick Micarelli, recently put this idea of “sacrifice” in the forefront of my thinking when he told me he was just called up to serve in Iraq. He is in the Army National Guard and he wasn’t expected to go to Iraq, but 3 other guys in his unit were killed this year, so they need him. He leaves for Ramadi in January for a 6-month tour of duty. While part of him is scared, the other part of him is brave and ready to serve – he believes that all of us have a duty to perform for our country and he is certainly doing his. I can’t say he “wants to go” as he has a lot going for him here and he’s already served in Kosovo. But he is proud to go and believes he is doing the right thing. Duty and sacrifice are virtues that many of us have lost sight of today, and perhaps the “materialism” we enjoy living in the most prosperous country in the world has blocked our perception of these virtues. Please keep Nick and the other American soldiers in your prayers tonight and through all of 2006. They are allowing us to bask in our freedom and enjoy our way of life – a way of life very few in history have had the privilege to enjoy.

    I should probably cut the email there… but I have one last thing to say. I have decided I am not going to say “Merry Christmas” anymore. I know a lot of people are saying “Happy Holidays.” Well, I’m not going to say that either. I’ve decided “Merry Christmas” is too secular and has watered down the true meaning of this season anyway. So, I have decided (via the blessing bestowed on me by one student this season), that instead, I will say, “Have a Blessed Feast of Christ’s Nativity.” Please do think and reflect on what this time of year is really all about.

    It’s about God breaking into history as a human being, to show us all how to live. As C.S. Lewis has said, Jesus’ perfect life is God’s way of showing us how He thinks of us. God really believes that we can be like Jesus and that is perhaps the greatest compliment our Creator can give to us. Jesus was brought into this world to show us an example of how to live. God gave us each free will and we have all, at some point, turned against Him with that free will. So, He performed the ultimate sacrifice and died for what we did to Him. The greatest love ever shown is what we celebrate this Christmas season. Please stop, reflect, and open the scriptures this Christmas to remember and to learn about how we can each grow closer to this loving example. As 2006 approaches, we can use this New Year to grow further in our faith and grow closer with one another. That’s my Christmas card to each of you. Have a blessed feast of Christ’s nativity!


    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Dinner with John Ashcroft at Columbia

    On the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 30, I had the opportunity to dine with John Ashcroft. Yep, that's right, he sat across the table from me at dinner. We shared a meal. Me, Aschcroft, my colleague Matt (pictured) and about 7 other folks from Columbia University.

    The dinner took place shortly before Ashcroft spoke to a crowd of about 1,100 students at Columbia University on the topic, "Law, Liberty, Security." ISI helped to co-sponsor the event and it was a grand success. And, what do I think of Ashcroft? He was a very nice guy, very humble, and a great sense of humor. I was expecting a "tough guy" (as he was the Attorney General), but he was a "softie" - just a really nice guy who was interested in what everyone had to say.

    But, when the crowd got tough with him, he got tough back. While he was in the middle of his speech, one Leftist student in the back yelled out something to the effect of "we've lost our civil liberties". Ashcroft replied back with some hard-hitting humor and said, "Well, I haven't lost mine... and from the sounds of it, I don't think you've lost yours either." A little bit more than half the crowd was with Ashcroft, not just on that one, but on most of what he had to say.

    Chris Kulawik and the students of the ISI Group, the Columbia College Conservative Club ("C4") did an amazing job pulling off the event. Who would have thought that we'd ever be sitting down to dinner with John Ashcroft at Columbia University! For these conservatives, it was a rare treat indeed - and perhaps a sign of what's to come.Posted by Picasa

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    What is an American? Something to Ponder

    I received the following from a friend via email today:

    Something to ponder

    Written by an Australian Dentist...To Kill an American

    You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American. So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone know what an American is so they would know when they found one.(Good one, mate!!!!)

    "An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish,Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican,African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian,or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.

    An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho,Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

    An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim.In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

    An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

    An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of theworld. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration ofIndependence , which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

    An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.

    When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

    As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. Americans welcome the best of everything...the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services. But they also welcome the least.

    The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America.

    Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September11,2001 earning a better life for their families. It's been told that theWorld Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries,cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.

    So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American."