What Tori Hope Petersen Wants You To Know About Being ‘Fostered’

The foster care system gets mentioned in discussions by people who have little to no knowledge of its reality. Tori Hope Petersen gives a firsthand account of the system and how it shaped her in her debut memoir, “Fostered.”

Petersen is a wife, a mother to three, and has also been a foster parent. She is also a former foster youth and foster care advocate. Over her years in the system and working with the system, her faith and passion have given her the strength necessary to serve these less-than-fortunate children.

Petersen took the time to talk with The Federalist during a short break from helping her younger sister move in. The sisters spent their early days together in foster care before being separated. This year, they were reunited and Petersen welcomed her sister into her home where they now live together. During a follow-up conversation, Petersen’s son hung out on the side while enjoying a bowl of spaghetti as the two sat in the summer sun. It was apparent her family is her everything.

Petersen talks about her upcoming book, “Fostered,” and how her journey through the foster care system and faith journey have shaped her.

Fostered” will be available for purchase on Aug. 30, 2022 on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble, Walmart, or Target.

Why did you initially decide to write “Fostered”?

I wanted to write the book because I wanted youth in foster care to understand that they weren’t victims, that they were victors, that they could overcome the hardest things that were set up against them through Christ. As I wrote the book, and as I began to write on social media, I realized that I was educating foster parents, child welfare workers, lawyers, people who worked in the child welfare space, and just people who have an interest in foster care. I didn’t intend for the audience to be what it is now. I just really wanted to write a book that was kind of like the book that I needed when I was in care. Now knowing my audience is broader than I anticipated, I now hope that the book encourages people to step into the hard parts of foster care and to love those around them in an unbridled, fearless kind of way. As people read, they will see that’s what was done for me by others.

What is your experience interacting with your audience who’s learning about your story and about the foster care system for the first time through your story?

It’s mostly just from my social media platform. When it comes to social media in general, the people who read and probably take the most from my posts are just the general population and people who have been interested in foster care, but I think have been scared. I get a lot of messages and I mean, it’s just like, so amazing, so many messages of people saying, “We’ve been interested in foster care for a long time. We’ve been scared or we haven’t done it because X, Y, and Z. Because of your post or your story, we’re getting involved.”

One of the themes that you taught and touched on in your book is just the importance of strong mother and father figures and a strong family. Could you talk a little bit more about that?

I don’t even know what to say about it. It seems so obvious that when we have those supports, the kind of unconditional love that parents give at home, that’s what a strong family is. Then, we don’t go searching for it in other places. When we don’t have to go searching for it in other places, it feels like there’s more stability around our self-worth and who we were created to be. And research shows there’s so much that supports this. I just think that a strong faith and family is really the foundation of a person, but that doesn’t mean a person can’t be strong if they don’t have a strong family either. That’s why it’s important that we have strong communities.

In your book, you recount when you met your father’s side of the family and you felt that sense of community even though you hadn’t really known them up until then. That, along with other things that you touched on in the book, was a very emotional and personal moment. What was it like revisiting those memories?

There were moments that it was hard, but honestly, it was so healing. When people say writing memoirs is cathartic, I didn’t really know what that meant. I always used to have this recurring dream that I was locked in someplace—in the post office or my house or jail—and I couldn’t get out and my mom was yelling at me like how she yelled at me when I was a kid. I’ve had that dream since I went into foster care, probably at least once a month. After I finished writing my book, I had that dream where I was locked somewhere and my mom was yelling at me, and I walked out. I’ve never had the recurring dream since, and I feel like that encompasses what this book has done for me. It’s just been healing. I think that’s kind of what counseling does for us. It helps us process things, and I think that’s what the book helped me do in a deeper way than I already had. It helped me process things all over again.

Unfortunately, not everyone can make that same peace with the past, and some people don’t even have the resources to rehabilitate their minds after traumatic experiences. This is especially true for children in the foster care system. What’s one of the biggest changes you would like to see in the foster care system going forward?

Every foster kid has a file, and that file follows them everywhere they go. It usually says the worst things that have ever happened to them and the worst things they’ve ever done. We know that first impressions are so important, right? Like when we go into a job interview and we have a bad first impression, we think, “Oh how do I fix that?” When a kid has a file, they can’t fix that. It’s just the same things that get brought up to the person that they want to form a deep relationship with. They never get a new start. They never truly get a new beginning. I think how we see children is so valuable for how they’re going to see themselves. I think that we need to do something with the file so that children don’t have that following them around in a way that plagues their identity, because healing really begins and ends with identity.

Poor conditions in the foster care system are a big part of the pro-abortion argument. What is your response to that?

My response is that any real social justice advocacy or any real social justice movement, it aims to end the suffering, not the potential suffering.

What do you hope your readers walk away with after reading through “Fostered”?

My greatest hope behind the book is that youth who read it, parents who read it, and people who read it understand the value that each individual has, that there’s a purpose and plan for their life, and that no matter what they’ve been through, God loves them. And knowing that, they love others. People and God loving me is my motivation to love others the best I can. I want that love to just continue. I think it goes back to that piece of identity that no matter where you come from, no matter what’s been done to you, no matter how you were conceived, you have value, you can be loved, you can love. There’s a plan and purpose for your life. I just want people to know who God is and who God has created us to be.

Elise McCue is an intern at The Federalist and student majoring in multimedia journalism and professional and technical writing. She also reports on the Southwest Virginia music scene for The Roanoke Times. You can follow her on twitter @elisemccue or contact her at


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Are You Maladjusted?

In praise of Christian misfits. Following Christ naturally means being at odds with the world around us. Embrace your peculiarity; never be ashamed of being a fool for God.

Maladjusted Christians? Yes, in the eyes of the world this will always be the case. And before you think I am going off the deep end again, let me remind you of 1 Samuel 22:2 —

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.”

As I remarked in an earlier piece:

It is interesting that David, who at the time was not on the throne, but was being hounded and chased around the country by Saul, found himself to be a magnet for those who were on the fringes of society, those who did not fit in, those who were discontented and in distress. The really amazing thing about this motley crew of rejects, misfits and outsiders is that they went on to do many mighty things for God and David. We read about these men later in the Old Testament narratives. In 2 Samuel 23, 24 and 1 Chronicles 11, 12 we learn about “David’s mighty men”.

So we have a biblical precedent here. Indeed, a study of the Bible and church history will also reveal this truth. God’s people will always be outsiders. We will always be seen as misfits and oddities and even freaks. That is how the true son or daughter of God has always been considered, by both the world and worldly Christians.Prophetic Untimeliness book - Christian misfits

Here I want to discuss this further, utilising an important Christian thinker I have just featured in my last two articles: Os Guinness. His book Prophetic Untimeliness (Baker, 2003) is discussed here.

Today I want to further explore Chapter 5 of the book The Price of Faithfulness. It begins this way:

“A French resistance leader was once asked how he explained the fact that his men had been so heroic. He thought for a while, and then answered: ‘We weren’t heroic. We were simply maladjusted enough to know that something was seriously wrong’.”

He examines unheeded messengers such as John the Baptist, Churchill and Solzhenitsyn. Despite their differences, they shared some common virtues:

Discernment of the times; courage to repudiate powerful interests and fashion; perseverance in the face of daunting odds; seasoned wisdom born of a sense of history and their nation’s place in it; and — supremely with the Hebrew prophets — a note of authority in their message born of its transcendent source.

No feature of the unheeded messengers, however, is more common than the link between the brilliance of their perspective and the burden of their pain. … Both are the result of being outsiders, and for any Christian who would speak out today in a time of the church’s deepening cultural captivity, prophetic untimeliness carries a clear cost.

Square Peg

He lists three such costs. The first is “a sense of maladjustment.” Says Guinness:

When society is increasingly godless and the church increasingly corrupt, faithfulness carries a price. The man or woman who lives by faith does not fit in. … C. S. Lewis referred to himself in his inaugural lecture at Cambridge as an “Old Western man,” a “dinosaur,” and a “Neanderthaler.” In short, praised prophets are mostly dead prophets, though in their lifetimes they were skunks in the parfumerie or heretics in the revival meeting.

Although he goes on to make this important point:

Though faithfulness may entail maladjustment, maladjustment does not necessarily indicate faithfulness; we may just be odd and using maladjustment to rationalize our oddness.

Quite so: some believers think they are suffering for Christ when they are really suffering because they are so off-putting, quarrelsome and difficult to be around.


The second cost of faithfulness is “a sense of impatience.” As he says:

When society becomes godless and the church corrupt, the forward purposes of God appear to be bogged down and obstructed, and the person who lives by faith feels the frustration. At such a moment, untimely people see beyond the present impasse to the coming time when better possibilities are fulfilled. Their response to any delay of the vision is impatience — raw, bit-chomping impatience. And their natural cry is, “How long, O Lord?”

He continues:

“Is it ever too late to be what we might have been, and to do what we might have done? For followers of Jesus, the kairos moment — the right time in all its fullness of opportunity — is in God’s hands, not ours. And this earth, this life, and our endeavors are not all we have.”

Uphill Battle

The third cost is “a sense of failure.” As the world and the church continue to go downhill, “the prospects of good people succeeding are significantly dimmed and the temptation to feel a failure is everpresent.” But he goes on to say that we should not worry about our own success or legacy:

If we define all that we are before our great Caller and live our lives before one audience — the Audience of the One — then we cannot define or decide our own achievements and our own success. It is not for us to say what we have accomplished. It is not for us to pronounce ourselves successful. It is not for us to spell out what our legacy has been. Indeed, it is not even for us to know. Only the Caller can say. Only the Last Day will tell. Only the final “Well done” will show what we have really done.

He concludes this chapter with these words:

God knew the times in which He called us to live, and He alone knows the outcome of our times as He knows the outcome of our lives and our work. Our ‘failures’ may be His success. Our ‘setbacks’ may prove His turning points. Our ‘disasters’ may turn out to be His triumphs. What matters for us is that His gifts are our calling. So every day our work is like a prayer. And everyday we give back all we can of God’s gifts to Him — with love, and trust, and hope.

Quite right. So Christians, just do it. Just keep on with what God has called you to do. And don’t worry about the results. Don’t worry that you may not seem to be making any headway, or that you are making any progress. Just be faithful.

For example, you may have been called by God to start a blog site. But it may get just a handful of readers each day. So you might get discouraged and think: ‘What is the point?’ Well, the point is you are doing what God has called you to do. That is the main thing. And secondly, you will be having some impact, even though you might doubt this at the time.

It will only be in the next life that we discover how much of an impact we really did have. But even that should not be our main concern. Our real aim must be to love God fully and seek to do His will. And yes, to do His will fully and fervently will mean that we will be misfits.

Certainly, the world will see us as misfits, as outsiders, as weirdos. But sadly, and far too often, many if not most Christians will feel the same way about you. They will think that you are so very maladjusted. Well, so be it. If we are to be misfits for Christ, then wear that as a badge of honour.

He also did not fit in very well.


Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Taylor on Unsplash.

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Eerdmans: Woke Christian Publishers

Another Christian institution sells its soul, capitulating to the ways of the world and celebrating sin. Why does Eerdmans have to jump onto the LGBT bandwagon?

Some of the biggest and most famous Christian — and mainly evangelical — publishing houses in America would include the following: Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, IVP, Westminster John Knox Press, and Eerdmans. I often tell my students that when they are checking out a new book, trying to figure out if it is worth buying, one of the things they should look for is the publisher.

Generally speaking, the sorts of Christian publishers I mentioned above are more or less reliable in giving us solid Christian books. Not always, but for the most part. (One also looks at who the author is, the blurbs of others, and so on.) But some religious publishers are quite theologically unorthodox and politically liberal, so they are usually worth avoiding.

Others tend to be far more dependable. Imagine my massive disappointment when I was alerted about one of the biggest Christian book publishers that seems to have gone full-tilt apostate as it joins in with the ungodly and immoral June homosexual pride month. I refer to Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Of interest, several other big-time Christian publishers are also located there, including Baker, Zondervan, and Kregel. Grand Rapids has a large Dutch Reformed population, and institutions such as Calvin College are located there. So it has had a strong religious background, at least earlier on.

Lost the Plot

Of course, over the years some Christian publishers have been moving away from orthodox, conservative and biblically faithful titles. That has certainly been true of Eerdmans, which has been publishing more and more decidedly lefty and theologically unorthodox volumes.

But this pride madness really does take the cake. And do not take my word on this. On their Facebook page, Eerdmans has this:

Books to read for Pride Month.

Wherever you stand or whatever you think you know, #PrideMonth is an important time to take a step back, listen to real stories, and seek to understand.

Here are some books to help you do that!

And if you follow that link to their website, we find this:


June is Pride Month, and you’ve probably seen countless businesses touting their rainbow flags, multi-colored logos or raising their support in different ways. Yet, there is still such disunity and unrest on this topic, among people of faith especially.

We find ourselves at a time again where we should be willing to listen and seek to understand those in the LGBTQ+ community who are simply fighting to be seen and heard, cared for and loved.

This month, as an Eerdmans reading community, we hope you’ll take time to listen. Check out some of our upcoming and previously published books that give a voice to wonderful stories of life, love, rocky relationships, and what the Bible has to say about it all.

Are you for real, Eerdmans? Pride in what God calls an abomination? Pride in what Scripture condemns in no uncertain terms? Pride in a sinful lifestyle that is sending people to a lost eternity? So Eerdmans, do you celebrate Sodom and Gomorrah Day as well? This is appalling.

And homosexuals are “fighting to be seen and heard”?! Are you serious, Eerdmans? There is no other group in America — or on the planet — that is heard and seen as much as the homosexual lobby. They really do have the greatest platform possible to push their agenda.

Everywhere we turn we see their militant agenda being force-fed down our throats, be it in media, law, politics, entertainment, popular culture, education, and even our churches. It is EVERYWHERE! The rainbow militants are ubiquitous, and no one can avoid seeing their activist crusades and being bombarded with their propaganda.

Nobody Listens to Ex-Homosexuals

The ones who are NOT being seen and heard are biblical Christians who still remain faithful to the Word of God. And even more invisible — and despised and rejected — are all the ex-homosexuals: those who were deeply involved in the homosexual lifestyle, only to be radically set free and redeemed by Christ. Try finding their stories anywhere in the public arena! And try finding their stories at Eerdmans!

Indeed, I just looked at a bibliography I have been compiling on homosexuality over many years. It contains around 150 titles, all of which present the biblical position on this issue, offer titles on counselling, feature stories of those who left the homosexual lifestyle, and even has pro-and-con debate books about this subject.

I assumed that of course some of the earlier volumes on my bibliography would at least be Eerdmans’ titles. But I just took a look: I was shocked to find NOT ONE! Not one single book by Eerdmans affirming the biblical position on homosexuality. Not one.

Sure, there are plenty of books published by Eerdmans that I do not have. But I must say, I believe I have just about every solid title that is out there which affirms the Christian view on homosexuality. And not one of them is from Eerdmans. Shame, Eerdmans, shame.


Eerdmans is not alone in all this, of course. We have seen too many churches, denominations, pastors, Bible colleges, seminaries and so on that have all sold out over the years on this and related issues. So Eerdmans is not the sole focus of my concerns. But as I say, for so long it was one of the top Christian publishers that so many of us made use of.

Of the many thousands of Christian books I have, probably several hundred at least would be Eerdmans’ titles. Thus my great disappointment and consternation to see them hopping on board the radical homosexual bandwagon and telling us to take pride in an immoral and dead-end lifestyle.

Christians should NEVER take pride in sin — whether their own or that of anyone else. Sin is to be denounced and condemned and avoided at all cost, and we are to pray for sinners to come to Christ in faith and repentance, leaving behind the sins that sent Christ to the cross.

All that groups like Eerdmans are doing is nailing Christ back up onto the cross. That is absolutely despicable. As I just wrote on the Eerdmans Facebook page:

“We NEVER should take pride in sin — any sin. And speaking biblical truth is not being hateful. It is the most loving thing a faithful Christian can do. Shame on you, Eerdmans.”


Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Mikhail Nilov.

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Biden: the State, the Media, and Misinformation

Biden’s new “Disinformation Governance Board” is the stuff of dystopian novels. How will his partisan government be able to provide objective “fact-checking” facilities? It is just a means to control the flow of information in accordance with the Democrats’ agenda.

When much of the media is about pushing agendas and taking partisan, ideological positions on what should be straight out objective news reporting, we are in trouble. When the state seeks to take control of the media, and launches an attack on the independent press, you know we are also headed for trouble.

But what happens when the state and the mainstream media end up happily in bed together, sharing the same ideological outlook and promoting the same radical agenda items? Then we are in massive trouble. This is the stuff of dystopian novels such as Nineteen Eighty Four. As Orwell presciently said in that 1949 book:

Do you realise that the past, starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? … Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.


Or as Andrew Breitbart somewhat more recently put it in his 2011 volume, Righteous Indignation:

Make no mistake: America is in a media war. It is an extension of the Cold War that never ended but shifted to an electronic front. The war between freedom and statism ended geographically when the Berlin Wall fell. But the existential battle never ceased. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the battle simply took a different form. Instead of missiles the new weapon was language and education, and the international left had successfully constructed a global infrastructure to get its message out.

And Scott Powell in his 2022 book Rediscovering America put it like this:Rediscovering America book

Many assume that because the press is not state-controlled in the US, there is a long way to go before the American government has the power of Orwell’s Big Brother.

But what if the universities and the educational system and the major television and print media institutions embrace the groupthink that ingratiates them with the ruling elite and deep state?

What if the culture shapers in Hollywood and the advertising industry on Madison Avenue follow a similar path in participating in and reinforcing the same groupthink norms?

What if the rise of social media promotes a kind of groupthink conformity that effectively marginalizes and silences opposing views?

Propaganda may actually be more effective in America than in totalitarian societies because of the power of repetitive messaging — the key integral means and essence of brainwashing — from ostensibly separate private media sources within the United States. Citizens in totalitarian societies aren’t as easily fooled because they know that the government controls the media and all its messaging.

State Control

That is now where we seem to be heading in the West. In America in particular, an ominous new development from the Biden Administration may well mean we must dig out our copies of Nineteen Eighty Four and read it again. This has to do with a soon to be created Disinformation Governance Board by the Department of Homeland Security.

Ostensibly it is to be about monitoring and surveying misinformation and disinformation coming in from overseas. Hmm, what could possibly go wrong? One meme making the rounds shows a “pregnant man” emoji saying, “We must stop disinformation.”

Two pieces in the Wall Street Journal sounded the alarm on this. Its editorial board said this in part:

The concern isn’t that the board will spy on Americans. The problem is that this new board may choose to play the role of national fact checker, a kind of government PolitiFact. They’ll look down from Mt. Washington at this or that statement and vouchsafe to the masses what is true and what is false.

No doubt there’s some utility in telling migrants from Haiti that they will be deported if they seek to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. And there may be a need for someone in government to monitor and rebut Russian or Chinese propaganda.

But does anyone think this board will limit itself to foreign falsehoods? The temptation will be great to address issues that are part of America’s raucous domestic political debate. All the more so given that the disinformation board’s first executive director is reported to be Nina Jankowicz, whose partisan footprints are all over social media. She can be seen on TikTok singing her own highly partisan adapted lyrics to the tune of a “Mary Poppins” song. (What did Julie Andrews do to deserve that?)

Mr. Mayorkas’s intentions may be nonpartisan, but refereeing political debate isn’t the government’s job. Leave that to the free exchange of ideas in the public square. The Disinformation Governance Board will promote more mistrust than it prevents.

Alarm Bells

Roger Koppl said this:

By creating the DGB, the U.S. government is creating a crisis monitor with the dial permanently set to “existential threat.” No one inside the board will have the incentive — or the courage — to dial it down. The dangers of the DGB will be amplified if it becomes the tool of partisan political actors. And it already has.

Executive director Nina Jankowicz, who once described Hunter Biden’s laptop as “a Trump campaign product,” has written that America’s “information landscape” includes “declining trust in the media, fed by the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on the fourth estate.”

She has said: “Unless we mitigate our own political polarization, our own internal issues, we will continue to be an easy target for any malign actor — Russian or Iranian, foreign or domestic — to manipulate.”

Yes, you read that right. We must all fall in line because of the many grave threats — domestic as well as foreign — out there. Incorrect political opinions become a national-security threat. The DGB already looks frighteningly similar to the KGB.

Others have expressed their concerns. For example, Brian S. Brown of the National Organization for Marriage put it this way:

If you look at the calendar you might think that we’re in the year 2022. Actually, it appears that we’re living in 1984 and fulfilling George Orwell’s predictions of a dystopian society. The latest evidence of this is the “Disinformation Governance Board” that Joe Biden has authorized be created in the Department of Homeland Security ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

What will the Biden Administration consider to be “disinformation?” The woman selected to head the new department is a hard-core leftist who once declared that the Hunter Biden laptop story was a Trump-inspired hoax. We don’t know what their immediate targets for suppression might be in coming months, but we do know that it will be in furtherance of a hard-left political ideology. One set of issues high on the priority list is likely to be any critical discussion of the LGBT agenda. Biden is already pushing legislation to make the demonstration of support for traditional marriage a “sex stereotype” that could lead to ruinous lawsuits and punishment. Biden is also aggressively pushing the lie that gender-confused children can “change” their gender and government employees should encourage this even if they have to do it behind parents’ backs.

Yes, this is all very worrying indeed. Things are bad enough when you have the secular left Tech Giants deciding that they must monitor and control what information we get. Most of us have already fallen victim to their censorship and propaganda. Biden and the Democrats will simply make all this much worse.

Let me finish with another quote from Orwell: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” When the State gets in the business of telling people what they are allowed to hear, see and read, then we have reached a very scary place indeed.


Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Werner Pfennig.

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Annie Johnson Flint: Joy in Suffering

This great saint knew all about suffering, yet she magnified her Lord exceedingly.

Annie J FlintHers may not be a household name, even to most believers, but she was a notable and remarkable Christian indeed. Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932) is remembered for two main things: her decades of hardship and suffering, and her wonderful and moving Christian poetry.

For over four decades she suffered from crippling and painful arthritis. It kept her pretty much confined to her bedroom that entire time. Yet out of all that terrible pain and suffering, she gave us some of the most memorable and inspiring Christian verse.

Great Loss

She could have so easily just been an embittered and hate-filled person, cursing God for her situation. And even before arthritis struck, she endured plenty of hardships. When she was three, her baby sister came along, but her mum died soon thereafter at age 23. Her dad was ill as well, so he handed over the two girls to another woman, but it was far from a good situation.

But around two years later, a Baptist couple adopted the pair, and that was a much better arrangement. Early on, Anne loved reading and loved verse. When she was eight, her new family left rural New Jersey for city life. There Methodist revival meetings were in progress, and at them, she gave her life to Christ.

After high school, she taught for a few years, but it was then that the crippling and life-altering arthritis set in — never to leave. Also at this time, her adopted parents both died, leaving the sisters alone again. She soon became an invalid, pretty much confined to her home.

So for over forty years, she endured grievous physical pain while also drawing close to the Lord and turning out moving verse. At first, her gnarled and bent fingers were still capable of writing the poems, but later, as the pain became too great, she had to have others write them down for her.

A Life of Service

Soon her poetry was being published in magazines and in book form, and they were even reprinted overseas. Sales of her writings were the main source of her income. As a result of her spreading fame, she had numerous folks corresponding with her, which also kept her busy.

As mentioned, the painful arthritis would remain with her until she died. As we read in the forward to her biography (see details below):

One day a visitor stepped from Miss Flint’s sitting room into the sleeping room to secure a certain reprint of a poem for Miss Flint, who was seated in her wheeled chair. A glance at the bed in that room was revealing. Nine soft pillows were carefully arranged on the bed for use in protecting the exquisitely sensitive, pain-smitten body from the normal contact of the bed-clothing, so distressing it was for her to recline in the hope of rest at night.

Choosing Joy

Like the Apostle Paul and countless other Christians throughout history, it was the cross that she most cherished, rejoiced in, and clung to. We know of only one prose work that she ever wrote, and it was a brief allegory of her life entitled “The Life In Allegory — ‘That I Might Be Like Him’”. One small portion of this 5½ page piece says this:

Then the Voice said, “This only is the way by which thou canst approach nearest unto Me and be most like Me. This is thy cross. Lie down upon it without shrinking and without fear. Thou shalt not be alone: I too have been there. I sounded all the depths of pain, and at the last I was forsaken by the Father; but that last, worst suffering thou shalt not know, for I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

So I lay down upon the cross, and I rest upon it even unto this day. And the Angel of Suffering watches upon my left hand, and upon my right is one who comes always with him… the Angel of His Presence. And of late there has been another, the Angel of Peace. And the three abide always with me.


A final word about healing. As in our day, some Christians back then told her that healing was in the atonement so she should just claim her healing by faith. She decided to undertake a careful and prayerful study of the matter in Scripture and in other Christian writings.

She came to believe that God certainly could heal her if He chose to, as he sometimes had done, but God can also be glorified through the suffering of His saints. Says her biographer:

Miss Flint became thoroughly convinced that God intended to glorify Himself through her, in her weak, earthen vessel, and while like Paul she had three times, and more, prayed that this might be taken from her, there came to her with real assurance the voice which said, “My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in weakness.” She reached the place where she too could say with Paul, “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” …

It was not in the setting forth of Christian doctrine in poetic form that Annie Johnson Flint’s greatest ministry lay – it was in the application of Christian truths to the experiences of life. It was to the weary pilgrim on life’s journey that she sang her sweetest song. She knew the One who was the Man of Sorrows. She had drunk her own cup of bitterness and could sympathize. And to the weary traveller along earth’s way she sought to sing her songs of help and hope.

Let me present just one of her poems, “The Court of the King”:

With staff that had failed in my need
Where the road had been stony and steep;
With lamp that was smoking and dim;
Though the darkness was growing more deep;
Weary, too weary to pray
And too heavy-hearted to sing,
Faint with the toils of the way
I came to the court of the King.

There where the fountains fall cool,
Their waters unfailing and pure;
There where the ministering palms
Stand like His promises sure,
Oh! there was peace in its shade,
Oh! there was rest in its calm;
And its sweet silences lay
On my bruised spirit like balm.

Long did I kneel in His court,
And walk in his garden, so fair;
All I had lost or had lacked
I found in His treasuries there;
Oil to replenish my lamp,
His kindness a crown for my head,
For the staff that had wounded my hand
The rod of His mercy instead.

A garment of praises I found
For the sullen, dark garb I had worn,
And sandals of peace for the feet
That the rocks and the briers had torn;
Joy for my mourning He gave,
Making my Spirit to sing,
And, girded with gladness and strength,
I passed from the court of the King.

Imagine having chronic and devastating pain day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, yet still being a shining witness to God’s grace and goodness! Would that we all were able to showcase the love and mercy of God, even in the midst of life’s deepest tragedies and sorrows.

For further reading

There are various online resources about her. Many refer to a brief 2019 book that I have called The Making of the Beautiful by Roland Bingham (Hayden Press). The back cover says this:

“This book is the only known biography of Annie Johnson Flint, written by Roland V. Bingham (1872-1942) who was the founder of the Sudan Interior Mission and knew Annie personally.”


Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels.

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Publisher Sues Elizabeth Warren For Attempts At Censoring Covid-19 Book

Last week, the White House’s efforts to promote private censorship of speech continued with Press Secretary Jen Psaki urging Spotify to do more to respond to podcast host Joe Rogan’s Covid-19 “misinformation.” After calling Spotify’s decision to add a new warning label to his Covid-19 episodes “a positive step,” Psaki stressed “there’s more that can be done,” a not-so-subtle call to censor Rogan and other speech that conflicts with the government’s messages.

Since Covid escaped China more than two years ago, governmental officials’ widespread encouragement of silencing speech they disagree with reached levels never before seen in the history of our republic. While the exponential growth in government officials cheering censorship is disconcerting—and dangerous—it is generally not unconstitutional.

But in a little-noticed case percolating in a federal court on the west coast against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, we see the exception: a violation of the First Amendment by a sitting U.S. senator. That case, Kennedy v. Warren, offers the best chance for courts to check government officials and remind our elected leaders that they cannot issue veiled threats to punish those offering a platform for protected speech.

Yet that is precisely what the Massachusetts senator did to squelch the success of a book entitled “The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing The Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal,” published by Chelsea Green on May 16, 2021. A best seller according to both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, the book, authored by Dr. Joseph Mercola and Ronald Cummins, condemned government Covid policies such as lockdowns and vaccine mandates. The book also presented facts conflicting with many claims made by our government, citing scientific studies and credible new sources in support of the various assertions.

Warren Uses Her Position to Push Censorship

On September 7, 2021, Warren dispatched a letter to Amazon in which she claimed that certain books sold by the internet giant contained “COVID-19 misinformation.” In her letter, Warren singled out “The Truth About COVID-19”as the most blatant example of “disinformation” about vaccines and treatments being “peddled” by Amazon, even including a screenshot of the book as shown on Amazon’s webpage.

The next day, the Massachusetts senator issued a press release, publicizing her letter to Amazon and posting a link to a copy of that letter on her government website. “Senator Warren is calling on Amazon to take aggressive action to stamp out COVID-19 misinformation,” the press release read.

After Warren issued her press release, national media widely publicized her letter, causing publisher Chelsea Green to immediately fear this would cause booksellers to stop stocking or promoting “The Truth About COVID-19.” Those concerns proved valid. On September 10, 2021, Barnes an Noble informed Chelsea Green via email that it would stop offering “The Truth About COVID-19” as an e-book. Barnes and Noble’s brick-and-mortar stores and most independent booksellers are also refusing to carry the book.

Additionally, while Amazon continues to sell the book, the online giant notified Chelsea Green it would not run ads promoting, or simply including, “The Truth About COVID-19.” Amazon also removed the book from the “medical work” category, where it had previously been listed. Amazon also stopped advertising “The Truth About COVID-19”to users whose purchase history would indicate an interest in the text.

The Publisher and Authors Sue

On November 7, Chelsea Green, authors Mercola and Cummins, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who wrote the introduction to the book, filed suit in a federal court in Washington state against Warren in both her official and personal capacities. (While none of the parties resides in Washington state, the complaint alleged that venue was proper because Warren sent the “violative letter” to Amazon, which is headquartered there.)

Margo Baldwin of Chelsea Green explained to The Federalist why they filed their lawsuit: “Protecting the First Amendment is fundamental to a free society,” yet “politicians are now picking sides, rather than engaging in debate, and they prefer suppression to accessibility of information they disagree with.”

This should not be a partisan issue, Baldwin stressed, with history teaching how dangerous such suppression of free speech is. That is “why the First Amendment must prevail and preserve our right to publish books – especially those that present opposing arguments to our politicians,” she told The Federalist.

It was based solely on the First Amendment that Chelsea Green and the other plaintiffs sued, with their concise 18-page complaint alleging that Warren violated their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and seeking as remedies an order declaring her conduct unlawful and unconstitutional and requiring Warren to issue a public retraction of the letter. The plaintiffs also sought monetary damages for Warren’s alleged violation of their constitutional rights.

Citing a 1962 Supreme Court Decision

A little over a month later, on December 9, 2021, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. That motion, like the plaintiffs’ complaint, argued that Warren’s letter violated the First Amendment, based on the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision in Bantam Books v. Sullivan.

Bantam Books involved a challenge to a commission established by the Rhode Island legislature, called the “Rhode Island Commission to Encourage Morality in Youth.” After the state legislature established the commission, it began sending notifications to distributors that certain books or magazines sold by the companies were “objectionable” publications. The commission further advised that it was its duty to recommend for prosecution “purveyors of obscenity.”

The Supreme Court in Bantam Books held that the state commission’s practice of sending threatening letters created an unconstitutional “system of informal censorship.” Further, even though the commission lacked any statutory enforcement power, the high court held “that the commission deliberately set about to achieve the suppression of publications deemed ‘objectionable’ and succeeded in its aim.”

As the plaintiffs suing Warren explained in their brief, Bantam Books and its progeny establish that “a governmental threat pressuring ‘a third party’ to stop ‘publishing or otherwise disseminating the plaintiff’s message’ violates a plaintiff’s First Amendment rights.” The “vice” of the “veiled threat” of legal repercussions, the court in Bantam Books explained, is that the government effects an unconstitutional “prior restraint” of speech indirectly that it could not achieve directly. And First Amendment jurisprudence teaches that threatening penalties for future speech, called a prior restraint, constitutes a quintessential First Amendment violation.

Government Expression Versus Intimidation

However, not every request for private censorship of speech violates the First Amendment. Rather, case law distinguishes between “government expression,” which is permitted by the First Amendment, and “government intimidation,” which is forbidden.

“Government expression” falls within what is known as the “government speech doctrine.” This doctrine provides that when the government is the speaker, it “is entitled to say what it wishes and to select the views that it wants to express,” including by favoring or disfavoring different views. And protected “government speech” includes the press secretary expressing the viewpoint that Spotify and other tech platforms should “do more” to stop the flow of so-called “misinformation.”

But while “government speech” or “government expression” is permissible, “government intimidation” is verboten. As one federal appellate court explained, “what matters is the distinction between attempts to convince and attempts to coerce,” and “a public-official defendant who threatens to employ coercive state power to stifle protected speech violates a plaintiff’s First Amendment rights.”

Warren’s letter easily qualifies as the latter, a threat to Amazon. Also, by republishing the letter publicly to other book sellers, it qualifies as a threat to unleash the massive power of the federal government against businesses unless they “stifle” sales of “The Truth About COVID-19.”

The Massachusetts senator’s letter opens by stating her “concerns” that Amazon is “peddling misinformation about COVID-19,” and noting “this is the second time in six months that I have identified Amazon practices that mislead consumers about COVID-19 prevention or treatment.”

Significantly, Warren ends the first paragraph by stating: “This pattern and practice of misbehavior suggests that Amazon is either unwilling or unable to modify its business practices to prevent the spread of falsehoods or the sale of inappropriate products—an unethical, unacceptable, and potentially unlawful course of action from one of the nation’s largest retailers” (emphasis added).

In her letter, Warren reiterates the “potentially unlawful” point by stating that Mercola, one of the authors of “The Truth About COVID-19,” “has posted over 600 articles on Facebook casting doubt on COVID-19 vaccines and been subject to multiple federal investigations (with one false-advertising investigation leading to a $2.95 million consumer settlement).”

From Speech to Intimidation

Given that Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce,” including in advertisements, Warren’s letter presented a clear threat to Amazon and other sellers to comply with her demands, either by altering its algorithms or by removing the book, or risk “legal repercussions.” In fact, Warren goes so far in her letter as to suggest those selling “The Truth About COVID-19”would be responsible for the death of individuals who buy this “misinformation.”

Here, it is important to note that case law teaches that a government official’s threats cross the line from permissible government speech to prohibited government intimidation even if the official lacks “the direct regulatory or decision-making authority over the plaintiff.” Thus, that Warren is not a member of the Federal Trade Commission and lacks the authority to launch an FTC investigation or lawsuit is irrelevant.

Precedent also provides that a violation of the First Amendment occurs, and a party may sue over the threat, “even if it turns out to be empty—the victim ignores it, and the threatener folds his tent.” In short, precedent provides the Chelsea Green plaintiffs a solid First Amendment claim against Warren. That case law, properly applied, entitles them to a preliminary injunction against Warren in her “official capacity,” meaning in her role as “the federal government.”

Retract the Letter

While the plaintiffs also seek monetary damages against Warren, those claims are brought only against her in her “individual capacity.” In other words, the plaintiffs are suing Warren both as a “person” and as “the government.” And in their lawsuit against Warren as “the government,” the plaintiffs seek only “injunctive” relief, meaning a court order directing Warren to retract the letter and to cease issuing threats to sellers of “The Truth About COVID-19.”

Because the plaintiffs seek only injunctive relief in their suit against Warren in her “official capacity,” Warren’s attempt to hide behind “sovereign immunity” should fail. While “sovereign immunity” protects the government from liability for monetary damages (absent the government’s consent), Ninth Circuit precedent, which controls given that the case was filed in Washington state, holds that an injunction against federal officials “is not ‘against the sovereign’ if it alleges that the official acted in an unconstitutional manner.”

Likewise, Warren’s argument that the plaintiffs lack “standing” to sue, because the plaintiffs were not “injured” by the letter, should also fail. As the plaintiffs stress, it was Warren’s issuance of the threat that constituted a violation of their First Amendment rights—not the later private censorship. In any event, the plaintiffs also alleged numerous injuries, from Barnes and Noble pulling the book from its e-sales platform, to Amazon refusing to allow the plaintiffs to advertise the book. The Massachusetts senator also seeks refuge in the “Speech and Debate Clause” of the Constitution, which provides that “for any Speech or Debate in either House, they [members] shall not be questioned in any other Place.” This constitutional provision protects senators and representatives from civil liability for legislative activities.

However, case law distinguishes between “purely legislative activities protected by the Speech and Debate Clause,” and unprotected activities such as “‘news letters’ to constituents, news releases, and speeches delivered outside the Congress.” This precedent, properly applied, prevents Warren from avoiding liability based on the Speech and Debate Clause because her unlawful threats, first included in her letter, were later issued as a link to a press release. And those threats were designed to cause the censorship of “The Truth About COVID-19.”

Ripe for the Supreme Court

Whether the federal court in Washington State will properly apply this precedent remains to be seen, as well as how the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will view the case, as an appeal no matter which party prevails seems certain. Further, the facts of this case and the clear trend of the government to outsource censorship to big business and big tech make it ripe for review in the Supreme Court, especially since the high court has not addressed this issue since deciding Bantam Books some 60 years ago.

But even though the Chelsea Green plaintiffs have a strong case against Warren—and have stellar representation in their counsel, Nathan Arnold of Arnold and Jacobowitz—a win, even at the Supreme Court, will do little to counter the now-prevalent efforts of government officials to encourage the private censorship of speech: All Warren or the next elected official seeking to silence speech will need to do is reframe their threat as a request.

Public officials can easily draft censorship requests as “government speech,” designed to “convince” as opposed to coerce, private businesses to squelch viewpoints with which they disagree. When it is conservative speech, big tech and big business will happily comply.

So We Also Need a Free Economy

Without a private sector willing to check the government’s desire for censorship, the First Amendment will be toothless. So, this lawsuit against Warren, while justified and necessary, in the long run provides no protection for free speech. Rather, the answer will be creating a new private sector willing to stand up for free speech.

Those efforts are now underway, led by former Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, who ended his nearly 20 years of service in the House of Representatives to assume the CEO position at Trump Media and Technology Group, or “TMTG.”

“We’re trying to give everyone their voice back and open this Internet back up. And that’s why I left Congress, because it really was the most important issue at the highest level that has to be solved for good governance to come back to this country,” Nunes said in a recent interview with “American Thought Leaders” host Jan Jekielek.

Yesterday, Nunes reiterated that point, telling The Federalist that “the current attempts to squelch free speech are particularly dangerous because Big Tech has the means to do it, and the two key sectors that could help stop it—the political class and the media—are instead adamantly demanding even more censorship.”

There is no logical end point to this assault, Nunes added: “We can’t rely on big tech’s reasonableness or sense of fairness because they’re neither reasonable nor fair—they’re now a political enterprise dedicated to advancing the left’s agenda and silencing opposition to it.”

The only solution, Nunes notes, “is to create an alternative media ecosphere, such as Truth Social, that minimizes Big Tech’s ability to stifle dissenting views.” Sadly, Nunes is right.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.


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‘A Gentleman’s Guide’ To Fighting For Masculinity In A Culture Of Toxic Feminism

The 21st century has not been kind to men in the developed world. By most metrics, they have fallen behind women in school, the workplace, and at home. More and more women are now choosing to opt out of marriage and children altogether because, among other reasons, there are simply too few good men with whom to start a family and make a home. It seems that many men are fine with this, contenting themselves with beer, porn, and video games.

There are various reasons to explain this situation, but at the top of the list is the breakdown of the family and the absence of fathers. With fewer male role models, it logically follows that boys are more likely to grow up into losers who can hardly take care of themselves, let alone a wife and kids.

A related to this reason is the influence of media and technology. Filling the void left by an absent father, the great majority of boys are raised by the screen. Whereas their father would teach his son virtue and play catch with him, it’s now Disney indoctrinating his son with anti-male narratives, and Nintendo keeping him company while he plays indoors by himself.

However, there is an alternative explanation for the decline of men, or at least an explanation that goes one step further: modern feminism, an ideology that has vilified men, disparaged the family, and “liberated” women from the home. It can be argued that feminist ideology in schools, in media, and even in the legal system collectively crippled men and incited women to actively compete against them, if not outright destroy them.

Although picking one of these explanations in itself doesn’t necessarily fix the problem of lackluster men, it does ultimately inform any proposed solution. Most guides for manliness and personal success tend to focus on the first two causes—bad role models and bad habits. However, the recent book of writer S.K. Baskerville, A Gentleman’s Guide To Manners, Sex, and Ruling the World, seeks to address the latter cause of modern feminism, as is indicated in the subtitle: “How to Survive as a Man in the Age of Misandry—and Do So with Grace.”

Baskerville’s other goal in this book is to move the conversation away from adopting the popular poses of suave manliness (“to be like David Niven or Lawrence Olivier, to tie a bow tie, mix a martini, and dance the quadrille”) and discuss “the logic behind the rules [of being a gentleman].” All too often, advice for men tends to dwell on these caricatures of masculinity without explaining the principle behind it. If that’s all the reader wants, he can read any number of manliness manuals that cover “the different options for tying a tie, landing an airplane, and other everyday necessities.”

So what is the underlying principle of masculinity? According to Baskerville, it’s leadership: “Being a man has always meant being a leader, and it always will mean that.… Leadership is not an option but an imperative; it, too, comes with the Y chromosome.” All the other manly virtues like strength, courage, and industry all stem from the idea that a man must lead and assume responsibility. Moreover, becoming a leader is all the more important at a time when true masculinity is deemed toxic and men are told to step aside. 

It is with this deeper purpose in mind that Baskerville goes on to discuss “the basics” of gentlemanly habits. Much of this is common sense—don’t use profanity, don’t dress like a slob, avoid silly cliches and colloquialisms, steer clear of vices, learn to write well, get some exercise and be mindful of others, etc.—but Baskerville takes the time to explain the rationale of each gentlemanly habit. As a man, it’s essential to project an image of maturity and seriousness. Dressing like a child, saying stupid things, and lacking self-control all detract from this. 

In his next chapter, Baskerville broadens his discussion into the gentlemanly lifestyle, focusing on dancing, music, sports, firearms, military service, church, and philanthropy. Although there’s little to unite these activities besides being things that a gentleman has to think about, the discussion is pleasant enough. If anything, Baskerville demonstrates here that conservative principles go hand in hand with being a gentleman: He exercises self-reliance, can defend himself and his country, and assumes responsibility both for himself and his community.

Perhaps the strongest discussion in this book (aside from the introduction) is Baskerville’s treatment of a gentleman’s education, in which he deftly cuts through the pretension and sophistry that passes for sophistication these days. He rightly derides the gimmicky degrees peddled by “prestigious universities” and provides a beautifully succinct summary of a liberal education, which would create “men of the right character and outlook, with rounded educations and the self-confidence to acquire more as needed.” These men learned job skills on the job, but learned how to think, live, and behave at the university.

Acknowledging that most universities have forgotten this original purpose, Baskerville follows this with a quick guide on being properly educated in literature, history, philosophy, music, art, science and math, and foreign language—basically a DIY liberal education. Unlike similar “must read” lists of education essentials, Baskerville’s is surprisingly feasible. An average man with a normal full-time job could comfortably make his way through all of it in a few years’ worth of leisure time.

Unfortunately, following the book’s strongest chapter is perhaps the weakest chapter on “women and family life,” where Baskerville launches into his indictment of feminism and its effects on the home. To be fair, he is tasked with resolving a difficult dilemma: Most women want a strong man who can provide for her and potential children, but most women also want to be empowered and independent.

The best response that Baskerville can muster is to seek out a “lady” who observes the rules of courtship and does not seek to emasculate potential suitors. Unfortunately, such ladies are far and few between, leading Baskerville to suggest seeking far and wide, even if it requires looking at women in other parts of the world. Unlike Baskerville’s educational recommendations, his advice on meeting and relating with the other sex seems rather out-of-touch and facile.

On the topic of marriage and sex, Baskerville’s advice is a little better. He’s aware of the cheap view people today now hold of marriage, particularly hedonistic young men, and argues that, on the contrary, marriage is all about conserving masculinity in the culture: “to protect the bond between fathers and their children and, with it, the intact family.” Furthermore, for the gentleman, marriage and children simply come with the territory: “The best training for ruling the world is by starting with those you love.”

Nevertheless, despite the attempt to remain constructive, Baskerville can’t seem to hold back his resentment and paranoia towards feminist indoctrination: “It is women, especially politically radicalized women … who will get the upper hand, many of whom do not like men like you.” Whether one agrees with this claim or not, it’s difficult to see how this does anything constructive. If Baskerville means to encourage caution, he could just say so instead of giving the impression that the majority of women today hate gentlemen. Rather, this claim mainly serves as a moral escape hatch for men who have fallen short.

In truth, and Baskerville conveniently omits this detail. All too many men have suffered through their own mistakes, not because of some feminist boogeywoman. Nowhere in his book does he address the common addictions (pornography, alcohol, drugs, video games) that hold the majority of modern men down, especially young men. Although one might argue that ending these habits and assuming the role of masculine leadership is implied, more must be said in the interest of relevance and practicality.

Only too late does Baskerville seems to take up the problem of mediocre masculinity, as he urges men in his conclusion to take charge and “stop adopting the stance the world is unfair and that it is your job to take every opportunity to tell the world why it is so unfair.” Thus, after a promising beginning, and a well developed middle, the conclusion of Baskerville’s argument about masculinity falls somewhat flat.

This isn’t to say that it isn’t enjoyable to read. True to his subject matter, Baskerville writes like a gentleman: he is witty, concise, and accessible without being needlessly crass or blunt. His research of other gentleman’s guides throughout history also helps distinguish his effort from the others and provides useful context for the ongoing conversations on masculinity.

Altogether, Baskerville’s case for men becoming gentlemen is mostly strong, if a little flawed. He revives the case for gentlemanliness that has diminished in recent years and advances the right positions. But, it will fall to his gentlemen readers to continue this momentum and apply his wisdom to young men today.

Yes, men are struggling to adapt to more a feminized world, and they could certainly use a little more sympathy and support, but they also have the power to assert themselves and be the leaders, fathers, and husbands they were meant to be. As Baskerville successfully establishes, being a gentleman is not a matter of social status, but of perception and initiative.


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Five Books You Must Read on COVID-19

Here are books by doctors, economists, psychiatrists and a journalist on the COVID-19 pandemic, governmental responses, and the general state of fear across nations. Their variety of perspectives lends rich insight into our current global crisis that is stalling economies, destroying livelihoods and ravaging communities.

For the last two years, we have witnessed a war on truth. From the censorship of key medical experts to the widespread dissemination of false information concerning the efficacy of lockdowns, masking and vaccines, societal distrust is at an all-time high.

In this post-truth age, many have fled to the highways and byways of the internet in their search for the facts. In this pursuit, some have found legitimate information from experts, whilst others have been inundated with weird and wonderful ideas from questionable sources.

For this reason, I want to suggest several books which I believe stretch our minds, challenge our presuppositions, and lead us to a perspective on COVID-19 that is concordant with reality.

1. COVID: Why Most of What You Know is Wrong

Covid: Why most of what you know is wrong - bookBy Sebastian Rushworth, M.D.

In 2020, Swedish medical doctor Sebastian Rushworth took it upon himself to bring the voice of reason to bear on the misinformation, misconceptions, and misdirected advice of many governments and health professionals.

In this short and accessible book, Dr Rushworth gives answers to the key questions many want answers to, including (but not limited to):

  • How effective are lockdowns at reducing transmission of COVID-19?
  • Is COVID-19 a life-threatening virus for most people?
  • What are the adverse effects of the available jabs?
  • Which COVID-19 jab is most effective?

Rushworth writes:

“Just as with the official dietary guidelines, the public response to Covid started to feel more like it was based on religion than on science. Amid the renewed hysteria, I was contacted by a publisher here in Sweden, who asked me to write a book about Covid, to get a more nuanced and scientifically sound view out into the public arena, than was being presented in mainstream media. That book is this book.” (p. 12)

It’s true — Rushworth directly challenges everything we think we know about COVID-19. However, he does so in a simple and comprehensible manner that is both easy to understand, and rich in content.

2. The Great COVID Panic

Great COVID Panic bookBy Gigi Foster, Paul Frijters, and Michael Baker

UNSW Professor of Economics Gigi Foster has been a vocal critic of lockdowns since governments contemplated them in early 2020. In this book, she, Frijters and Baker explain why and how governments implemented such draconian measures, and the role fear and public perception had to play in the events that unfolded.

Governments, they argue, are seldom willing to admit the limits of their ability to contain and control problems in society. Therefore, wanting to do ‘something,’ they implemented measures that were perceived to be doing something, and yet made the situation worse.

They write:

“Little can be achieved by thinking about Covid as a public health problem created by bats and solved by vaccines. If we really want to understand it as an historical phenomenon, to understand how we humans reacted to it in the way we did and to learn something useful for the future, we need to fit together many pieces of a puzzle.

Some of the pieces repose in the heart, while some are in the mind. Some are at a micro level, some are macro. Some are good and some are unspeakably evil. This book aims to make sense of it all, to make these disparate strands coherent so we see clearly what happened and deduce what must be done to avoid a similar tragedy in future.” (pp. 7-8)

The Great COVID Panic challenges readers to analyse the COVID-19 situation beyond the lens of public health. Indeed, while COVID-19 is certainly a public health issue, the authors reveal that there is more to the story than this.

3. When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason

Politicians PanickedBy John Tamny

Tamny is the vice-president of FreedomWorks and senior economic adviser to a mutual fund firm. He taps into the saviour complex which so often dominates the thinking of politicians in times of crisis. He explains how the perceived risk of COVID-19 led governments across the world to implement unprecedented policies which have had no discernible benefit to the people they govern.

Moreover, he explores the way in which crisis situations are exploited by politicians to arrogate power, shift blame, and implement dramatic social and technological changes which would otherwise not be possible.

Tamny explains the purpose of his book:

“Though this book can be reasonably billed as a coronavirus book, it’s really a story about politicians losing their wits, reacting rashly after losing their wits, and creating a global economic contraction in the process.

To blame this on the coronavirus is to excuse ineptitude that is the norm when the combined, decentralized knowledge of millions and billions of humans is ignored in favor of the centralized and highly limited knowledge of very few politicians, and even fewer experts.” (p. 14)

In a humbling manner, Tamny reveals that no human possesses absolute knowledge (even the experts!), and therefore challenges the notion of a singular solution to COVID-19. On a deeper level, Tamny challenges the notion that the state is our saviour, and that heavy-handed government policies can save us from the misfortunes of life in a broken world.

4. COVID-19 and the Global Predators: We Are the Prey

COVID-19 and the Global PredatorsBy Peter R. Breggin and Ginger R. Breggin

Over the past few decades, Peter R. Breggin was instrumental in exposing the abusive practices of psychosurgery and electroshock therapy, and helped bring to light internal corruption in the CDC which he argues enabled the opioid epidemic.

More recently, the Breggins focused their attention on the ways in which globalists — ranging from officials within the FDA, CDC, WHO, and World Economic Forum — have exploited and profiteered from COVID-19.

They write:

“A very sophisticated psychological operation is apparently being perpetrated upon the whole world. We are rapidly becoming an immoral, insane, dystopian technocracy in which our very right to assemble and even speak can be revoked on the basis of hospital bed utilization. If we fail to stand up and take back control now, those of us who survive the next phase will spend our lives under a medical tyranny the likes of which the world has never known.”

While many dismiss the notion that COVID-19 was planned as a mere ‘conspiracy theory,’ the Breggins present a plethora of sources, evidence, and arguments which are difficult to ignore.  From the nefarious partnerships between global players to the censorship of early treatment protocols for COVID-19 patients, the Breggins address the questions everyone wants answers for.

5. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

The Madness of Crowds bookBy Charles McKay

Published in 1841, McKay explores the dynamics of crowds, which he describes as mass movements controlled by a singular idea or phenomenon. McKay shares what he believes are the contributing factors that often generate a state of mass psychosis in crowds.

Unlike the other books, McKay wrote this book over 150 years before we even knew about COVID-19. Yet, the wisdom, insight, and incisive analysis of the human condition is timeless. McKay’s book helps us to grasp what happened over the past two years, why we responded how we did, and who is responsible for the hysteria surrounding COVID-19.

McKay shares:

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” (p. 5)

McKay’s work is a critical reminder that while technology, political structures and cultural habits are subject to change, human nature is not. For this reason, McKay is an invaluable source to read if we are committed to avoiding the pitfalls and traps which so often befall those swept up in the mentality of crowds.

The Bottom Line

One way to be equipped to think critically and discern truth from error in the current environment is to listen to the arguments and views of those who dissent from popular opinion.

While these books will neither tell you everything there is to know about COVID-19, nor will they be free from error, what they will provide are rich and meaningful perspectives, some of which you may have never heard before.


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Top Ten New Year Resolutions

Every New Year is a fresh opportunity to start anew. Take this chance to assess your life and implement achievable steps to practise good habits and prioritise what matters most. We each have only so many years on this earth — make this year a great one!

Only six more sleeps and we all enter the New Year together. How exciting! A New Year always brings new opportunities. Hundreds of millions of people will make New Year resolutions. In one 2021 survey, 31% of people said they plan to make such pledges.

Of those who made a resolution in 2020, 35% kept them, 49% kept some of them and 16% failed at keeping any of their resolutions.

I hope this does not discourage you from trying. I am a great believer in having a go. To me, the glass is always half full, not half empty.

[embedded content]

Many years ago, Mercer and Arlen wrote a very famous song that sums up my feelings on the matter:

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.”

So, let’s give the new year a run for its money and make some resolutions in the wake of Christmas 2021.

Let me give you my top ten resolutions to inspire you, but please make your own New Year resolutions and don’t be limited. Make them BOLD. Here we go!

  1. Talk to Family More: put more effort into my close relationships.

This is a perennial goal of mine and yet I fail at it constantly. This reminds me of the quote by Tim Hansel, “It takes time to be a good father. It takes effort — trying, failing and trying again.” Reed Markham put it this way, “Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.

I say talk because this is something I fail at. I tend to withdraw to silence unnecessarily. For some people, this goal could be to spend more time with family. This is all about being in the moment more with the ones you love.

If you constantly fail at a noble aspiration, does that mean you should give up, or try even harder? I am a try-hard, so I will go with the latter. This one is important and that’s why it’s at the top of my list. How about you?

  1. Keep Moving My Body: and try to move it even more in 2022.

From a movement point of view, 2021 has been the worst year in the last twenty years for me. We were shut out of our 24-hour gym, firstly by the lockdown and then by the vaccine mandates. Sadly, most men I know have developed a covid belly, and I am one of them.

The good news is, we are back at the gym with a vengeance. Yes, we are going to keep moving our bodies this year and endeavour to move them more than last year, lockdown or no lockdown. Exercising more is the number one New Year’s resolution and for good reason. If you don’t lose it, you will lose it.

  1. Keep Eating Healthily — and eat less.

Dr John Tickell’s book Laughter, Sex, Vegetables and Fish — 10 Secrets of Long Living People impacted resolutionsme greatly. I changed my lifestyle and began to eat with purpose. More greens, more vegetables, smaller servings of meat along with a weekly gym program of cardio and weights.

I also practice both regular and intermittent fasting, more for spiritual purposes, but I know that fasting is good for my body as well. Intermittent fasting is now quite a fad.

However, my eyes are still bigger than my stomach and I am a sucker for all-you-can-eat buffets. This will all have to change in 2022. Eating healthier is usually a close number two on most lists.

  1. Make My Bed — every day.

Don’t tell anyone, but I am a slob at heart. I really identify with the lyrics, “What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us.

Many times, I have heard the old adage, “To make a difference in the world, start by making your bed,” but it was Jordan Peterson who nailed me on my sloth. His big challenge is that in order to change the world you have to start with the small things. Do them first and do them well. This is the best way to change the world.

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As I am a devotee of Pinkie and the Brain, who both want to take over the world, this is something I have been working on. My wife has been patient with my sloth over many years, but now I try really hard to make the bed or help her to make it. Yes, it is making a difference and yes, I will keep working at it.

  1. Keep Working on My Goal-Setting.

If you know me, you know I am a goal-setter, but sadly I give up on my goals because of my failure to keep them. This is not a good reason. All the stats show that people who are successful set goals and keep at them until they break through. That is in areas of business, sport and education. It also works for families. Les Brown wisely said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.

  1. Do Less and Achieve More.

The Pareto Principle, a management rule made famous by Richard Koch, states that 20% of the activity produces 80% of the results. This has been shown to apply to every area of life in so many different ways. Sometimes the ratio is different, say 70% – 30%, but it all comes down to prioritising, another name for goal setting, your life.

The bottom line is that you have to learn how to say ‘no’. My recent article on How to Be a Great Dad, inspired by Leo Babuta, has really challenged my thinking. His passion is to live with less and yet, at the same time, do more.

As Leo Babauta said, “Be a curator of your life. Slowly cut things out until you’re left only with what you love, with what’s necessary, with what makes you happy.” His concluding words really nail the challenge of 2022 and life in general, “Don’t rush, go slowly. Be present.

  1. De-Clutter — for me, this is a big one.

I am a details kind of guy, a poor perfectionist if you will. I am also a budding historian at heart, so I like to keep a record of the past, ie. I like to keep things. The problem with this is that if you are not an organised person, this can swamp you. My desk is a classic example. It is a mess. I clean it up every six months, but the mess then accumulates.

My wife has just finished a 15-week decluttering course called Buried In Treasures. Her passion for de-cluttering is starting to rub off. Minimalism, or the idea of getting rid of clutter in order to enjoy life, has a lot of appeal. The challenge is to do it. This is the year. As Leo Babauta says,

Simplicity boils down to two steps: identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.

  1. Have More Holidays i.e. work less

I admit to being a recovering workaholic, who is still in recovery. In some ways, it is my greatest challenge. I think work is noble, especially if you can enjoy it. But work can also be a trap for our male ego, where we so identify with our work that it becomes us. As Dolly Parton said, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.’ So yes, I’m going to have more holidays next year.

  1. Pray More

For me, prayer is my passion. I am not alone. Thirty per cent of Australians pray and meditate most days or at least once a week. One survey said that the total number of Australians who either pray occasionally or more regularly is 44.5%. Another survey puts that figure at 50%. Whatever the case, prayer is far more popular than we are led to believe.

Just recently, with my good friend Kurt Mahlburg, we released a book called Power of Prayer – Personal Stories and Strategies for Mountain Moving Prayer. That has been an invigorating experience and an encouragement for those who read it. My challenge is to live it.

As Mother Teresa said, “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God Himself.” Another quote by Mother Teresa puts it all into perspective, “He wants us to be more childlike, more humble and more grateful in prayer.” MC Hammer said, “You have to pray to make it today.

  1. Do More Things that Bring You Joy – and fewer things that don’t.

I was talking to my daughter before Christmas, and she told me she was framing her New Year resolutions as doing more of something good and less of some things not so good.

It comes back to making the right choices about the right things. Life is a decision. You have to keep making the right ones. The key is to live out of your heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Everyone is different, but we can unite around the word JOY. Do more joyful things in 2022 and do less unjoyful things, and you will have a happy New Year. Yes, it is that simple.

Let me conclude my own Ten New Year resolutions with the famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt. It is on my office wall so that I don’t forget its wisdom.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


Make up your own list of New Year resolutions and stick them on your wall. Your family will be better off for your boldness.

Yours for a joyful New Year,
Warwick Marsh

PS. If you share my passion for prayer, I invite you to take part in the New Year’s Day Sunrise Prayer Relay. Great way to start the New Year. Here is the video promo I did with my friend Pat Steele. For more info or to register, go to


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Joan Didion Knew The Job Had Been Butchered

It’s fashionable to like Joan Didion. They printed her on tote bags, and for obvious reasons. The Corvette, of course. The cigarette. The effortless cool of long, untamed hair and a flowing dress.

You can read about her “radicalization” in The New Yorker. Didion, who passed this week, started her career with a healthy respect for Barry Goldwater, contributing essays to National Review. By the late 1980s, Didion developed a healthy skepticism of the American right. The essays in “Political Fictions,” released in 2001, start with “Insider Baseball,” a cutting critique of campaign theater with enduring relevance. She flays Dinesh D’Souza. She roasts Newt Gingrich.

Yet the book is almost transpartisan, unamused with the ritual choreography of American politics. Her 1996 review of Bob Woodward’s “The Choice” is above all a brutal piece of media criticism.

“What seems most remarkable in this Woodward book,” said Didion, “is exactly what seemed remarkable in the previous Woodward books, each of which was presented as the insiders’ inside story and each of which went on to become a number-one bestseller: these are books in which measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent.”

The charge Didion brings against Woodward, that he only obtains insider information by protecting the interests of those insiders, she also levels against the entire industry.

“The genuflection toward ‘fairness’ is a familiar newsroom piety, in practice the excuse for a good deal of autopilot reporting and lazy thinking but in theory a benign ideal,” wrote Didion. “In Washington, however, a community in which the management of news has become the single overriding preoccupation of the core industry, what ‘fairness’ has often come to mean is a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured.”

In the book, that essay appeared under the headline, “Political Pornography.”

Chomsky, of course, wouldn’t be caught dead in a hot rod. And therein lies the appeal of Joan Didion, whose life had all the glamor and tragedy of America in the 20th Century, and whose travels “South and West” and everywhere else had all the romance of the American imagination, of scribbling in a notebook from the bed of a midcentury motel on a stretch of remote highway far from home. She really did it.

Didion’s disillusionment with the left became a disillusionment with the system itself — as well it should have. While her thinking may have shifted, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” remains exact in its prescience, much like her musings on Woodward. Indeed, reading Didion can feel like mining for gold, finding in her dry wit and precise descriptions those standout passages that captured something true about her time then and our time now.

Burdened by anxiety before it became a national burden, Didion leaves us at a time when there is much to be gained from her work, just as bellbottoms return to the racks and cities return to decay. “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” begins with five famous words: “The center was not holding.”

“It was not a country in open revolution,” Didion wrote. She continued:

It was not a country under enemy siege. It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967, and the market was steady and the G.N.P. high and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose and it might have been a spring of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not. All that seemed clear was that at some point we had aborted ourselves and butchered the job, and because nothing else seemed so relevant I decided to go to San Francisco.

It’s really too bad she can’t go back.

Emily Jashinsky is culture editor at The Federalist. She previously covered politics as a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner. Prior to joining the Examiner, Emily was the spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation. She’s interviewed leading politicians and entertainers and appeared regularly as a guest on major television news programs, including “Fox News Sunday,” “Media Buzz,” and “The McLaughlin Group.” Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Real Clear Politics, and more. Emily also serves as director of the National Journalism Center and a visiting fellow at Independent Women’s Forum. Originally from Wisconsin, she is a graduate of George Washington University.


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