Friday, May 29, 2009

HBO True Blood Returns to TV Sunday, June 14, 2009

The HBO vampire series, True Blood, begins its second season on Sunday evening, June 14. After just one summer season in 2008, HBO True Blood has developed throngs of avid followers with “voracious appetites” for the bloody storyline.

HBO True Blood has the same theme as the very popular current movie Twilight – beautiful, good human girl falls in love with eerie, gorgeous vampire guy. So vampires are trés chic for the umpteenth time from Bela Lugosi to Buffy. Tasty entertainment.

But this time, HBO has found a new twist. Vampires supposedly "came out of the closet" two years ago, and they’ve been facing discrimination and intolerance ever since.

Based on the best-selling Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, the HBO True Blood TV series is set in the hot and steamy rural southern town of Bon Temps, Louisiana (“bon temps” being French for “good times”). Its vampire hero, Bill Compton, was a Civil War soldier when he sought shelter in a pioneer woman’s house. But she turned out to be a vampire who fed on him. He died, becoming a vampire himself. He could never go home to his family, and was doomed to live immortally. Being a vampire wasn’t his choice.

Bill’s done what the vampires call “mainstreaming” – trying to fit in with society. Although he can still only come out at night, he dresses like human men, falls in love with a mortal girl, and instead of going to vampire hangouts he ventures into the local human hotspot. And he doesn’t like to feed on people for real blood...he opts for the synthetically produced new Japanese product “True Blood” for nourishment whenever it’s available – hence the series title.

At the human hangout, there’s some intolerant talk toward the vampires, since some of them do still feed on humans. Bill’s mortal girlfriend, Sookie, has the ability to hear other peoples’ thoughts. So she hears many mean remarks made toward vampires and the humans who are willing to associate with them. When first meeting Bill, she is immediately entranced and excited at the prospect of being deflowered at the hands of a vampire.

It turns out real vampire blood (“V”) is a hot commodity, and people are becoming addicted to it for the ethereal high it creates. Some vampires sell their blood for money – others are trapped and exploited by humans for it.

True Blood has the usual politically correct double standard – those who are against vampires are the religious bad guys. In Season One, a law-abiding churchgoer turned out to be a vicious serial killer of “fangbangers” (women who sleep with vampires), a Christian TV preacher spit hatred at vampires from his bully pulpit, and a senator - Republican no doubt - bad-mouthed vampires while hypocritically sleeping with a gay vampire blood dealer.

True Blood has a strange, hypnotic way of drawing you in to see what happens next. You start identifying and sympathizing with Bill and Sookie’s situation. This would still be good ol' fashioned entertainment, except that there are actually groups of people today who are dressing like their idea of vampires and even trying to live like them, down to what they claim to be biting and drinking. But let’s be tolerant.

I give this series 2 thumbs up for creativity, but 3 thumbs down for violence, sexual content and religious discrimination against those of biblical faith.

© 2009, Sheryl Young
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Gardasil Vaccine for HPV – Moms, Are You Getting the Whole Truth?

The Gardasil vaccine television commercials are aimed at moms of pre-teen and teen girls. But the whole truth isn’t being told.

The Gardasil vaccine is being called the next best thing to sliced white bread for safety against the HPV Virus. HPV causes 90-99% of all cervical cancer cases, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University. Moms are being advised in the television commercials to get their daughters vaccinated.

What is HPV, and how does a girl catch it?
Human Papillomavirus, a form of genital warts, is spread strictly by sexual contact. By getting your pre-teen or teen daughter vaccinated, you are basically saying “Go ahead and do it.”

The Facts:
The Gardasil HPV vaccine promotes a false sense of security. It doesn’t protect against pregnancy or AIDS. It doesn’t protect against Herpes or other STD’s like gonorrhea or syphilis. It doesn’t even protect against all types of HPV and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the second most deadly women's cancer.

HPV is not protected against by condoms, as it is easily transmitted through the sweat glands around the areas of the sexual organs, and also the anal area. HPV is very widespread. The Hopkins study calls it the most prevalent STD. It may be encountered at some point by 75% of sexually active girls and women. Both heterosexual and homosexual boys and men can carry the disease, transmitting it to every partner, but never knowing.

The Gardasil vaccine was only studied for a brief period of approximately 4 years, and is controversial because many believe it was approved too quickly by the FDA under pressure from anti-abstinence lobbying groups.

Moms, as for being advised to get this vaccine on girls as young as 6-10, there is no research proving that this vaccine will last through to their sexually active age.

The side effects, supposedly mild according to the TV ads, can include paralysis, a compromised immune system and there have been 15 reports of death. According to CNN News as of mid-2008, there have been over 7,800 complaints to the FDA of reactions and ailments linked to Gardasil inoculations.

So moms, think about this long and hard. Perhaps a better protection for your daughter than the Gardasil vaccine is a good, open relationship with conversations about purity, self-respect and how to say “NO” to sex.

© 2009, Sheryl Young
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Monday, May 25, 2009


"Boundless Faith" explains the kind of faith that originates and exists in one's heart and mind without being able to touch or see what you believe in. From that faith springs forth the other truths in this poem.


I am strongest if you cling to me when there is nothing else left.
I don't come from believing in what the eye can see, but in what it can’t.
With just a little of me, great things can be accomplished.

I am there when you can't see your way through another day.
I develop your perseverance and character, not despair.
Skeptics may want none of me, but if you search for me you will find me.
I am HOPE.

I am often confused with lust by those searching for the real thing.
If used correctly, I will supercede mere tolerance.
I am unconditional, endless, patient, forgiving and kind.
But most of humanity has not experienced me this way.
I am LOVE.

I become most fervent when others try to suppress me.
You can take advantage of me even when you can't speak.
I will take you as you are; fancy, memorized words are not needed.
I can lighten the load.

I’m real even though some people say I am imagined.
I wish everyone could know me, but I understand some won't.
I do not belong to denominations. I belong in your heart.
I am who many say I am…I am GOD.

© Sheryl Young 2008

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dear Adam Lambert, Christian Conservatives Love You, Too!

Dear Adam Lambert,

Please know that Christian conservatives love you, too! I was so saddened to hear about the gay community blaming homophobia for your runner-up finish on American Idol. I'm a Christian conservative who loves your talent and the cool way you always look, whether rocker or Elvis-style. I liked Kris Allen, but based on your phenomenal voice, I thought you should win.

Adam, you come across as such a nice guy – I bet if I could interview you right now, you’d ask your gay fans all over the country to stop claiming homophobia as the cause of this American Idol upset. I’m sure you would tell them that generalizing about all Christians is unfair, and puts forward the very intolerance that gays themselves are fighting. And you would testify that the Christian members of the American Idol Season 8 cast treated you with love and respect. For that matter, maybe we don't know that you're a Christian yourself!

If I can judge by the Christians I know, then 99.99999% of all conservative Christians love you, Adam Lambert, as a person. AND – if any true Christian does hate gay people, they are wrong, a hundred times wrong.

Adam, if you and I had an ongoing, mutual respect relationship where I felt I’d earned the right to do so, I would share with you what the Bible says about men, women and sexuality. I believe in one-on-one conversations, not someone yelling verses at the gay masses or any other group.

I appeal to the gay community by saying this: Gays and lesbians have gone through much effort to make sure everyone knows they are just people, like everyone else. Then if we’re all the same, maybe sometimes any person can lose a competition just because they lose it fairly, or because of some voting glitch. Maybe any person can lose a job because they didn’t perform it well, or because of the economic crunch - not because of their orientation. Maybe any person can get told something they don’t like to hear. There’s not always a card to play. Everyone doesn’t always win. It’s called life.

This may sound like a cliché, but I have gay friends who don’t agree with all these “homophobia” theories. They know where I stand biblically, and – surprisingly – we still love each other and respect each other.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What is God's Kind of Love?

What is God's kind of love when it comes to loving people? Good question. God's kind of love works best when opened like a gift and used properly. The Bible describes three kinds of love: eros (air'-ohs) passionate love; phileo (filay'-oh) brotherly love;and agape (ah-gah'-pay) unconditional love. The third, agape or unconditional love, is the love a parent should have toward a child, a spouse toward their mate, that God has toward us, and how we should love others.

The word "love" is tossed around lightly today. God's kind of love means to delight in, to admire, and to cherish someone. To cherish is perhaps best. This is the kind of love that grows roots deep into a person. We can get to know God's kind of love through studying His word, praying that He reveals Himself to us, and realizing that He loved us so much he let His Son die for us.

It gets us to thinking - do we love anyone that much? That we would give up a child or any other greatest relationship in life, just so that another person could live?

The Old Testament says "Love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your body and all your soul" (Deuteronomy 6:5). The New Testament repeats this, and adds “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). This is an all-consuming love which doesn't depend on the emotion of a given moment. It is a love that strives to please the beloved. That's how much God loves us, and wants us to love Him.

Even when we make mistakes, and have to face the consequences of those mistakes, He's there for us. He will never turn His back on us. Only when we realize this, can we begin in our small human way to return that love to Him. And without the capacity to love God, we lack the capacity to love other humans unconditionally.

Unconditional love doesn't mean we accept everything a person does. It includes having the courage to tell them they are wrong, no matter how they treat us afterward, and to go on loving them anyway. That's God's kind of love. We can sin, we can turn our back on Him, but He will always be there for us...if we want Him. When we learn that God and his ways are better than anything else, then we can have faith and love Him enough to want to keep His commandments.

P.S. - Nobody can keep all the commandments all the time. Humanly impossible. That is the grace that comes with God's love. The key is to have a conscience about what is right and wrong and good and bad, so that we can learn from our mistakes and set those things aside.

People are currently saying "right and wrong is a value call" because they are rejecting God and coming to the end of their conscience. Romans 1:21 says: "Because they knew (of) God, but they neither glorified him nor gave thanks to him, their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Loving God and genuinely loving people can turn darkness to light and surpass mere tolerance a hundred fold.

c. 2009, Sheryl Young
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Does Religious Tolerance Mean the Same Thing at the United Nations as in America?

Does religious tolerance mean the same thing at the United Nations and in the Middle East as it does in Western countries? Last November at a two day U.N. Conference in New York sponsored by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the Arab nations led a plea for religious tolerance.

Many representatives from 80 countries in attendance were skeptical of Abdullah’s sponsorship. According to the U.S. Dept. of State International Freedom of Religion Report 2008, Sunni Islam is the official faith of Saudi Arabia with 10% being Shi’a Muslims. King Abdullah is reported to worship in the ultra-orthodox Wahhabi branch of Islam. Any other form of public worship, open conversation or conversion to other faiths can face discrimination and punishment.

Before the conference, the Human Rights Watch, an independent, non-religious organization,
posted an advisory for world leaders to ask Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah to end religious discrimination in his own country.

(Please note: In mentioning Islamic terrorism and Arab nations, this writer does not intend to imply the involvement of the many law-abiding, decent Muslims living in America and other nations. Some have fled from their own countries’ abominable human rights violations.)

In March 2008, the
United Nations’ Human Rights Council passed a resolution called “Combating Defamation of Religions”, proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC), and asked national legislatures around the world to accept their resolution. Representatives from Canada and the European Union voted against it, stating that in their sight, the resolution’s main focus was on protecting Islam only while persecuting other faiths. But they were overridden 21 to 10.

Ironically, the UN Human Rights Council (renamed from Commission on Human Rights in 2006) includes representatives from Communist and dictatorial nations – some of which have the worst human rights records in the world, and have not been able or willing to stop recent genocides in their own countries.

The United States doesn’t have a seat on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. In March 2007, the State Department concluded that the Council had not been accomplishing the goals it was charged with. So the U.S. was not considering a seat.

The 57 nations within the Organization of the Islamic Conference have adopted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which states that all rights are subject to Sharia law (Islam’s legal system), and makes Sharia law the only reference for human rights.

The United States Congress is supposed to vote on adopting something similar to this "religious tolerance" resolution. This threatens the individual sovereignty of the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of our citizens. There are those in our government who favor an international law system. In fact, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Sandra Day O’Connor has stated that the Supreme Court had begun looking more to the laws of other countries for their decisions.

President Obama plans to deepen the United States’ relationship with the U.N. His advisors and consultants must be aware and inform him of these situations.

c. 2009, Sheryl Young
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Politics Wins The Great Stem Cell Debate

The great stem cell debate has escalated. In office barely six weeks, President Obama fulfilled his promise to sign an Executive Order reversing the ban on taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. This ban, put in place by President Bush, has been under many misconceptions during the years of its existence.

First, President Bush did not ban embryonic stem cell research. He banned the use of taxpayer’s money to fund embryonic stem cell research. This is what President Obama reversed. Although Obama's new plan is not yet in place and no date has been given, it would require taxpayers’ money to be used without a chance for conscientious objection for reasons such as faith.

Second, President Bush did not ban all stem cell research. He banned embryonic stem cell research except for using lines of embryonic stem cells which already exist for that purpose.

Maybe President Obama is receiving his sight on this issue from people who believe that embryonic stem cells are the only type of stem cells. The fact is, discoveries and uses are more often being made with other kinds of stem cells than with embryonic ones.

At least 70 conditions are already being treated with bone marrow and cord blood stem cells rather than embryonic stem cells. “Cord blood stem cells” are taken from umbilical cords which would otherwise be discarded from full term, living babies at birth. This includes leukemia, MS, spinal cord injuries, Hodgkin’s’ lymphoma and sickle cell anemia; and with successful work on Parkinson’s, Lupus and other diseases.

An adult person’s own stem cells can be used without complications, while embryonic stem cells can be rejected by a patient's immune system. The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports that neural stem cells can repair the nervous system. But the media is simply not giving Americans insight into this detail.

In 2005, Democrats in the Senate blocked the Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2005 because it didn’t include funding for embryonic stem cell cloning research. However, it was eventually released as the Stem Cell Therapeutic Research Act. A list at the International Cord Blood Society Website, which is not a faith-based organization, shows how many diseases are being successfully treated with cord blood.

Example: Biotechnology Online from the Australian Government sites one Korean woman who was paralyzed, now walking after 20 years due to umbilical cord stem cells.

Amniotic fluid stem cells:
In 2007, Nature Biotechnology Journal, MSNBC and other documented reports stated that seven years of research by scientists from the Wake Forest School of Medicine and Harvard University found stem cell lines from amniotic fluid to have as great or greater potential than embryonic stem cells. “Amniotic fluid” is the liquid in the sac which protects a baby in the mother’s womb before her water breaks. Amniotic fluid stem cells can be grown in large quantities, do not require cells from live human embryos, and do not develop tumors like embryonic stem cells have been known to do.

Conclusion: It could be that scientists need taxpayers’ money for embryonic stem cell research because they can’t convince enough private sources to fund it.

But with Obama’s executive order, science doesn't win the debate. Politics wins the great stem cell debate. It shouldn’t have been a decision between moral values or religion and science. It should simply have been based on ethics. With embryonic stem cells, ethics are in danger. Doctors could start searching for more reasons to abort embryos or implant too many because they can make money from it – just as money is being made from selling aborted human baby parts and organs on the black market.

Perhaps President Obama became convinced by lobbyists who were paid to dispute this fact: that human embryos, whether implanted or frozen, may have a potential for human life. They are vital animal organisms…and even evolutionists and environmentalists should care about those.

Please note:This article’s information was gathered from solid, scientific sources not affiliated with or motivated by a specific faith to the best of the writer’s knowledge.

(c) 2009 Sheryl Young
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

"West Side Story" - The Theme Still Fits the Times

There’s currently a Broadway revival of my favorite musical, West Side Story. Since its original 1957-1958 stage presentations on Broadway and in London, productions of West Side Story have been endless, from amateur high school drama to professional touring companies.

The 1961 movie version of West Side Story won 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Actress (George Chakiris, Rita Moreno), Best Score (Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim) and Best Director (team of Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins). Legendary choreographer Robbins also won both an Oscar and a Tony for his groundbreaking dance moves. Songs like “Maria,” “When You’re a Jet,” “America” and “There’s a Place for Us” are unforgettable.

But enough about the credits; why is this story still so powerful?

West Side Story is based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Both stories challenge us to look at our own biases and prejudices. Instead of feuding Italian families, the setting for West Side Story is 1950’s New York City. “Tony,” a white young man of Polish descent, falls in love with “Maria,” a Puerto Rican whose family has recently come to New York. To understand why their love is taboo, here’s a bit of real history:

Puerto Ricans became automatic citizens of the U.S. in 1917, and Puerto Rico was officially declared a Commonwealth of the United States in 1952. After this, thousands of Puerto Rican citizens came to the mainland seeking the American dream. The streets of New York and its burroughs were already being bullied by gangs. Now these gangs felt their "turf" was threatened by the new Puerto Rican arrivals.

In West Side Story, The Jets are the prevailing white gang and The Sharks are the Puerto Rican threat. Brawls, war councils, and “rumbles” to see who was the best and therefore worthy of ruling the streets were commonplace.

Like Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria fall in love at first sight. There's nothing but trouble from then on. A rumble is set to take place, so Tony tries to stop it. But Maria's brother Bernardo (a parallel to Tybalt, Juliet's cousin) kills Tony's best friend Riff (Romeo's best friend Mercutio) and Tony accidentally kills Bernardo. More tragedy occurs when Maria's intended husband Chino, a matchmaking set up by her brother and parents like Juliet's betrothed Paris, kills Tony.

In the touching last scene, members of both the Jets and Sharks unite to carry Tony’s body off; drawing the conclusion that life is vulnerable when people don’t get along for reasons of bias and prejudice.

Maria doesn’t die as Juliet did, but she delivers the key closing line while waving a gun at the circle of young men:
“You all killed Tony. And my brother, and Riff. Not with bullets, or guns, but with hate. Well now I can kill, too, because now I have hate.”

Things hadn’t changed much since Shakespeare wrote this in Romeo and Juliet: “Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montague? See what a scourge is laid upon your hate…All are punished.”

Bigotry and prejudice can last so long that we don’t even know why we’re fighting anymore. It can be handed down to our children because people refuse to hear what someone else has to say. Pretty soon, we lose sight of fairness and think just because someone doesn’t agree with us, they must “hate” us. Sound familiar?

In West Side Story, Tony and Maria sing "One Hand, One Heart" in front of a stained glass window with bars resembling a cross. Some people blame all of the world’s problems on organized religion wielding power and force. But it’s not religion itself – it’s the heart’s condition and the desire for one-upmanship. Whether it’s Cain vs. Abel, Montagues vs. Capulets, Jets vs. Sharks, North vs. South, Hatfields vs. McCoys, conservative vs. liberal, black vs. white, Crips vs. Bloods, rich vs. poor, and sometimes even denominations against each other in the same faith. For some reason, we all want to be “the one who’s right.”

These problems continue because of man’s will, man thinking himself superior and ultimately rejecting God’s love or abusing the faith of others. No, I’m not talking about needing “religion”- just simply acknowledging there is a God.

I'm convinced that people can’t truly, deeply and unconditionally love their fellow man until we fully appreciate how much God loves us. Will everything be perfect? No, humans can't satisfy each other all the time or put every difference aside. But developing a deeper respect and love for each other and God could help make life more tolerable.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 in the Old Testament, Mark 12:30 in the New). And next, love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31) (NIV). Without personal interpretations and regulations, these verses can help us love and respect each other, even if we don’t agree on everything. Imagine that.

(c) 2009 Sheryl Young

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