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Why Ukraine Matters – Al Kresta interviews George Weigel

Kresta in the Afternoon – March 11, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 11, 2015

4:00 – Spiritual Fulfillment and the Cross

Kelly Nieto occasionally went to church growing up, but faith was not a part of her family’s daily life. Her search for spiritual fulfillment led her to the New Age arts of astrology, mediation and séance. A confrontation with her cleaning lady sparked her interest in Scripture, which eventually led her to the Catholic Church. She later founded the Cross and the Light, a Broadway-style production about Christ’s Passion and Pentecost. She joins us to tell her story.

4:40 – Disbelief in the Face of Miracles

Whether we realize it or not, we still see miracles in the modern world. Why do we fail to recognize them? Why do some people fail to believe in God even after witnessing something that could only be a miracle? We discuss this with Dr. Ray Guarendi.

5:00 – Porn: Yes, it Affects your Kids Too

Pornography is becoming an epidemic that affects even the strongest Catholic families. Brad Schmidt, Director of Youth Ministry at Christ the King in Ann Arbor, sees in in the teens he counsels. We’re opening the phone lines so Brad can take your questions and comments. Call us at 877-573-7825.

Porn: Yes, it Affects Your Kids Too

Social Media

An Urgent Appeal to Parents in the Digital Age

Your Children and Personal Electronic Devices

By Brad Schmidt

Director of Youth Ministry

Christ the King Catholic Church, Ann Arbor, MI

[email protected]



I’ve been working in youth ministry for twelve years. The teens in my parish are fantastic teens who desire to be holy, who aren’t afraid to fight for their freedom, and who really want to love the Lord.   Lately we’ve noticed a trend that more and more of our teens are engaging in risky behavior on their iPods and cell phones – behavior that isn’t just unhealthy, but behavior that’s sinful and even illegal. This problem is widespread, and it’s not new, but it’s expanding at an alarming rate. I’ve been talking to parents about the need for them to talk to their kids about sex, pornography, chastity and the like for years. I’ve given them the resources they need to help ensure that their children are protected online and on their phones, but the message just hasn’t seemed to sink in that iPods and cell phones are a major challenge to purity in our day and age.

This information was originally directed only toward parents of middle and high school students, but this topic is too important, and it is one that affects all of us – not just parents of teens and tweens. Many of your kids are using an iPod Touch, iPad, or even smart phone from a very early age. If your children use any of these devices, or if they will use these devices, it’s important for you to be aware of the precautions you absolutely must take to protect them. This topic is critical, and one which most of us haven’t noticed, or even downplayed, in the past. The age of the “smart phone” and personal electronic devices has caught all of us off guard in some sense, and I’m hoping to make clear the reality of the situation we’re now living in – which in many ways is radically different than it was even a couple of years ago. Undoubtedly the situation will get even more tricky as your children get older; the sooner you educate yourself about the issues and technology and implement appropriate parental controls the less likely your children will fall into many of the dangerous behaviors that these devices can foster.


The Situation Today


If your child has an iPod touch, smart phone, laptop, tablet (like an iPad or a Kindle Fire) or mobile video game device, your child has in his or her possession at this moment a pornography device. That’s right – even an iPod Touch. With this device, your children have access to unlimited pornographic images and movies, the ability to create and distribute their own pornography, and the ability to connect with other people for the purpose of sex – virtually or even in person. This does not have to be the case – with appropriate parental controls enabled, these devices are much safer for your children to use. It is crucial to act, today, to ensure that these devices are properly safeguarded and monitored against pornographic use, because this is becoming an increasing problem, even among good, Christian children.

Your child’s smart phone, iPod touch, tablet, or laptop computer are not in and of themselves bad things. Nor are some of the apps that they enjoy using.   Smart phones and laptops are now almost a required part of our lives, even as early as elementary and middle school, and that’s not going to change.   But they do, however, open up the possibility for the enemy to attack and enslave your children in moments of weakness if not properly safeguarded.

Many of the teens, middle school students and even younger children here have unrestricted access to problematic material and apps (apps are programs that run on their mobile devices). Typically, those that struggle with sexual sin are frustrated at their lack of self-control in this area, and the primary way most have access to pornography is on these devices. Our youth ministry team and I have talked with teens that are homeschooled, attend Catholic schools and public high schools who are struggling with this. I’ve witnessed middle school students at middle school events using Snapchat – one of the more dangerous apps kids can be using. There are teens who have admitted to us that they have engaged in sexting – sending nude photos of themselves – to their friends and to strangers (Sexting is another new problem that’s grown in the last couple of years; I found this information helpful, and you might as well: http://ow.ly/3xuGfX  and http://ow.ly/3xuGgS). We cannot afford to continue to ignore this problem or allow ourselves to be ignorant about the technology in our kids’ hands.

This, in a way, has snuck up on a lot of us unexpectedly. The vast majority of us didn’t realize what a dangerous device a simple iPod could be without jumping through some hoops to make it more safe. We as a Christian community have taken various steps over time to ensure that our kids grow up and thrive without being harmed by the overload of negative influences the culture offers – some of us don’t have cable, are discerning about the music, TV, movies and even books that are consumed in our homes. But the iPod and smart phones have, for the most part, flown under the radar. Not only do these devices offer easy access to pornography, they also offer unrestricted access to the world when parental controls are not properly engaged. This is the same thing, or worse, as putting a TV in your child’s bedroom that has access to the Playboy channel, but even more dangerous because it’s interactive and invites participation, and they’re small, private and portable. One youth ministry team member told me that a teen even admitted to using her smart phone to access pornography in the back seat of the car while with her family (yes, this problem affects both girls and boys). To get an idea about how teens’ use of media has changed over the years, check out this infographic.

(click to expand)


via teensafe.com


What Do We Do?


You have GREAT kids. My first reaction when I started learning about these things was “Thank God this isn’t a problem for solid Christian kids! Our kids are in love with Jesus and serious about their faith!” I’m sure that’s what your gut is saying too. I was wrong. Even still, scripture exhorts us to “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pt 5:8). Your holy and wonderful children are prime targets for our enemy, and during this particular stage of development sexuality is their biggest weakness – the enemy is exploiting it quite freely good Christian teens. It is your responsibility as parents to assist your children in being “sober” and “watchful.” You have the most difficult – and most important – job in the world, and your influence when it comes to safeguarding technology cannot be understated. Your attention to this area of your family’s life has the power to make all the difference!

Most of these devices, even smart phones without a data plan, can access the internet through free, unfiltered wifi readily available almost anywhere. Most filtering software for phones (and iPods) require that the native web browsers be disabled – which is an essential part of the parental control options. Information about these parental controls and filtering and monitoring solutions are included at the end of this post.


No Excuses


It’s been suggested to me by some parents that the reason they don’t help their kids steer clear from these things is that they themselves struggle. I realize there may be many parents who are challenged by pornography or masturbation. This may cause you to feel you do not have the moral authority to engage your children on these issues without feeling hypocritical.   Please know that is a blatant lie of the enemy. Even if we struggle with gluttony, we still want our teach our children how to have healthy meals. Even if we struggle with anger, we still want to give our children tools for dealing with anger in their own lives. Alcoholic parents are just as responsible for making sure their kids don’t fall into drinking as non-alcoholic parents. We cannot get trapped in the lie that we can’t guide them if we struggle. The topic of sexual sin is no different. Satan wants us to think it’s hypocritical to train our kids in the areas of our lives where we struggle. But that’s a lie, and our fallen tendencies toward fear, selfishness, and laziness makes it easy to believe. You owe your children more than that, and the Lord has invested you with this grave responsibility – no one else. Thankfully, he also provides the grace to do what is difficult. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by this topic.

Trust me, believing that your kids would never engage in behavior like this is on the surface is a good thing. But at the same time, believing that your children are immune is an effective tool of the enemy to keep you from acting on this issue, and avoid having difficult – but vital – conversations with your children in the area of sexuality. Our culture is saturated with sexually charged images and messages, we must help them develop the skills to deal with the situation on our terms. That becomes impossible if you put open access to all of it in their hands through these devices. If your kids really aren’t involved in this type of behavior, then you’ve done no harm by engaging appropriate parental controls and talking to them about it. If they ARE involved, then you may well have initiated the process that leads them to freedom. Don’t allow the enemy to keep you silent for any reason.




Am I missing anything here that might be helpful? This list is in no way exhaustive. If you’ve got any suggestions, please email me at [email protected] 

Problematic Apps

Many applications seem harmless, and your teens use them for harmless reasons. Just because your son or daughter has Snapchat or Kik doesn’t’ mean that they’re sexting, so don’t come down hard on them for having them. That doesn’t change the fact that they are a door wide open to the enemy to exploit in a moment of weakness. Your children should not have access to any of these: 

Twitter: I hate to say it, but Twitter has a LOT of pornography easily accessible. Twitter doesn’t have any parental control or filters that I can find. It’s hard for me to say this, but I wouldn’t allow this app on any mobile device whatsoever. Twitter, however, is quickly becoming one of the most popular social media platforms out there. If your child has a Twitter account, it’s better to remove it from their mobile devices and only allow them to access it from a computer, where the screen is much more public.

Snapchat: Offers the illusion of a fleeting photo that disappears from both people’s phones after a limited time. Designed as a “Sexting” app. Many of your kids only use this for “safe” reasons, yet I still strongly recommend banning it from all devices in your house – the danger it poses is too great a risk.

Kik: A free messaging app, often used to exchange nude photos. No parental controls possible, and it opens up many other apps inside it, or “cards,” many of which are sexual in nature.

Tindr: A dating app designed to help adults “hook up”

Grindr: A gay “hook up” app.

Meet24: Another “hook up” app, which according to some reviews has a lot of teens participating.

Poof: Allows teens to hide apps they don’t want their parents to see with the touch of a button.

Honorable Mention: Instagram. I’m not sure that you should ban Instagram from your teens’ phones. Nude photos aren’t allowed on Instagram, but there sure are a lot of scantily clad people readily available. If your son or daughter uses it, please read through the Instagram Parents Guide: http://ow.ly/3xuGof

I recommend reading up on some of these. A simple Google search for “apps parents should watch out for” will be helpful to you. Keep in mind, technology moves quickly, so the apps you should be aware of are ever changing. Do this often. This article is pretty good, even though it’s almost a year old: http://ow.ly/3xuGoy

On an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you can see what apps your teens have downloaded, even if they’re not currently on the phone. To do so, open up the “App Store” app, go to “updates” at the bottom, and then at the top of that list, click “Purchased.” When you do that, you’ll be taken to a screen that says “all” or “Not on this iPhone (or iPod, etc.). That will give you a list of every app your son or daughter has had at one time, even if it’s been deleted.

Filtering and Monitoring Solutions

Several options are listed here, you should investigate all of them to decide which one is best for your family situation.


Accountability and filtering software for Mac, PC, Android and iOS ( iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) devices. Also includes a great blog and resources for parents to help their teens. The family plan is $13.99/month for an unlimited number of users. Accountability and filtering are both included.


TeenSafe offers smart phone monitoring for your child’s devices. It offers the opportunity to monitor text messages, Facebook and Instagram activity and more. TeenSafe works on both Apple and Android devices. TeenSafe is $14.99 a month with a discount given if you pay annually.


Accountability software that works on the PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. There’s a free version, and a more robust version for $6.99 a month or $64.99 per year for unlimited devices.

Parental Control Instructions

Generally speaking Apple products have the best parental control options out there. If you’re considering allowing your teen to get a smart phone, it may be best to stick to Apple devices for that reason.

This article has information about setting parental Controls for your teen’s device, whether it be an iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android (Galaxy, Amazon Fire, etc.), or Windows based device. If you’re not sure where to start, start here: http://ow.ly/3xuGpy

Notes on Parental Controls on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad

More detailed instructions for using parental controls are online at http://ow.ly/3xuGql.

I strongly recommend that you restrict all access to installing apps, in addition to other things you may feel are appropriate. The fact is that there are so many problematic apps, and many of them aren’t properly age-restricted in the App store. This way, when your son or daughter wants to install something new, they have to go through you so you can do a little research on the app, just as you would with a movie they wanted to see.

Similarly, you should definitely have filtering/accountability software on your teens’ devices, and only allow that web browser on the device. For this to be effective, you must restrict access to Safari in the parental control section.

Notes on Parental Controls for Android Devices

Not all Android devices are labeled that way, but if your teen doesn’t have an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Windows Phone, chances are it’s an Android Device. Native parental controls are more limited on Android Devices, so you may need to download another solution. This article has some advice about which apps might work for you. http://ow.ly/3xuGpW

Kresta in the Afternoon – March 10, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 10, 2015

SPECIAL GUEST HOSTS: Bruce and Kris McGregor

4:00 – The Moral Complexities of Marriage  

How can we deal with the complex issues of marriage in light of a Catholic heart? How can our Lenten journey aid us in reaching friends who have suffered the effects of a failed marriage? We discuss the issue with Deacon James Keating.

4:20 – Cases Piling up in Advance of SCOTUS HHS Ruling

Courts throughout the country are still handling lawsuits against the HHS Mandate. The Supreme Court recently ordered a lower court to reconsider its ruling against Notre Dame. Gregh Schleppenbach joins us with a recap of the latest developments in the fight for religious freedom.

5:00 – The Vatican, New Saints and More: A Discussion with Matthew Bunson

Matthew Bunson is here to discuss a variety of topics, including next year’s Synod, the canonization of St. Therese’s parents, reform in the Vatican and more.




Kresta in the Afternoon – March 9, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 9, 2015

4:00 – PTSD and Veteran Suicide

Dr. Ed Tick is back to continue our discussion on PTSD in military veterans. The topic has been given national attention with the success of American Sniper and the conviction of Eddie Ray Routh.  Dr. Tick has worked with military veterans for years and joins us to discuss his work and the effects of PTSD.

4:40 – Kresta Comments: The Incarnation, Martyrdom and Christian Happiness 

5:00 – Kresta Comments: Anniversary of Selma- How Has Race in America Changed? 

5:20 – Unite Concert Preview

In April the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist will host the Unite Concert, featuring Amy Grant, Matt Maher and other top names in Christian music. Amy and Sr. John Dominic  are here to talk about it

Kresta in the Afternoon – March 6, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 6, 2015


4:00 – Kresta Comments: How do we Find Happiness?


4:20 – Dazzling Virtues, Deadly Vices

We’re joined by Rebecca DeYoung. Rebecca has written extensively on the nature of virtues and vices. She’s here with a fresh look at specific remedies for each of the deadly sins.


4:40 – Building a Pro-Life America

“America, you are beautiful and blessed. The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless.” This timeless quote from Saint John Paul II inspired Tim Von Dohlen to found the JPII Life Center, which is dedicated to helping pregnant women and creating a pro-life culture in America. Tim joins us today.


5:00 – From International Model to Joyful Catholic 

Paul Darrow is another featured story in the film Desire for the Everlasting Hills, which explores the lives of Catholics who are same-sex attracted. He tells us how his life has been transformed by Christ.

Love has no gender. Marriage does.

Here is an outstanding video from those who are opposed to the Catholic way of life. This is worth watching because it shows the propagandistic skill of our opponents. They don’t see themselves as propagandists but as activists, marketers, opinion-makers. Take a look and then read my comments afterwards. I think they give insight into what we are up against not only on the homosexual so-called marriage issue but on modern communications.

This is amazing propaganda. It does what propaganda does. It discourages critical reflection and tries to make any contrary propositions appear foolish before they can be uttered. Who can disagree with the power of love? Advertisers like Subaru and Pepsi have sold products with the language of love. Why shouldn’t gay activists? Especially when the political issue is marriage.

Like propaganda, it works to marginalize those who would disagree. It prefers mob sentiment to the individual’s reason because it knows that a mob’s emotion is a powerful animal and any individual person’s resisting intellect is too weak to tame or successfully bring the beast to heel.

Their video works beautifully because it assumes a big shared truth that no one can deny [Love conquers all] and then pushes that truth in service to a political agenda. Politics’ most basic question is: how ought we to order our lives together? For the makers of this video, Love is without question the organizing principle of society. Their definition of “love” is how we ought to order our lives together.

Catholics largely agree that Love, i.e., “the willingness to act in ways that serve the true best interests of another” – is fundamental for the common good and the good society. We disagree about the narrowness of their definition. They define love in romantic terms and then try to give it universal application.

They will ultimately fail because love, to them, is mere romance and that is not a foundation for organizing our lives together. Justice, for instance, requires me to render everyone or everything their due whether or not I am moved by romantic sentiment. When seen in this proper light this video is as much fun and as corny, schmaltzy, predictable and domesticated as a Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie. It is the conclusion of almost all romantic comedies except that these producers want to appear profound not comic. The great theme is “Love wins out in the end overcoming the disabilities, distances, religions, biases that kept the star-crossed lovers from landing in one another’s embrace.” Wow. Pass the popcorn and give me a squeeze, honey.

Only a Catholic understanding of Love illustrated by Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of even his enemies is the kind of social glue that can hold us all together. Only Christ on the cross with arms outstretched to receive everyone regardless of gender, disability, looks, wealth, etc. can model the acceptance necessary for St. John Paul II’s “civilization of love” that Carl Anderson wrote about at length in a book of the same name.

This video is certainly meant to persuade but it isn’t meant to get anyone to think. It intends to engineer assent through sheer feeling.

I’d love to reenact this and bring out Ted Bundy to hug Charles Manson or Stalin to embrace Hitler. That would break the spell and give the lie to their very limited understanding of love. Jesus hugging Judas wouldn’t be bad either.

I especially like “Love has no religion.” The irony is almost too much to bear. It is exactly the Hebrew Christian tradition that has elevated love to be the central concern this video claims it is. While love plays a part in most religions, only Christianity says “God IS love.” God isn’t merely loving. Love is his essence.

The proper climax to this video would probably be an illustration that God is Love. But that couldn’t happen in their view of the world. To say that God is love means introducing the Person who transcends all categories and forces us all to look up towards His majesty. What they want, however, is for us to look around at our own kind in all our diversity. They want a purely horizontal world and won’t permit the vertical dimension. By doing so they limit love to finite human experience rather than the far more threatening and challenging intimacy with the source of life and the universe. They limit the mystery of existence to its horizontal dimension. Because it is finite, it will eventually be boring. Only the infinite assures us of continual curiosity, surprise and wonder.

The producers of this video could never have made this message appealing prior to the Incarnation. In the Incarnation, we have the moment in world history where sacrificial love becomes the ethical gold standard. Nothing is higher than a morality of love after the coming of Jesus.

Prior to Christianity, the virtues of mercy and pity, loving enemies, were largely regarded as vices. Plato, for instance, taught that the unhealthy should be eliminated because they could not work and justify their own existence. No mercy. Seneca encouraged infancticide for the same reason. However, once the Church becomes the soul of the world, at least the Western world, this approach is considered barbaric. Catholic teaching on the dignity of the human person won’t justify such treatment of our kind.

The producers of this video are like ungrateful children. They live off the capital Christianity has invested in our culture over 2,000 years while refusing to acknowledge the source of their own well-being and good fortune. The universal love they are reaching for is not natural to the human condition. This video could not have been made in the Islamic world. It wouldn’t have much appeal in a Buddhist or Hindu culture. This message works in a post-Christian culture where we still celebrate the memory of an obligation to love universally. They are living off the residual sentimentality of a once Christian people. What happens when the society finally says, “Why should we love one another?” Who says? You can’t force me to…What happens next?


Kresta in the Afternoon – March 5, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 5, 2015


4:00 – Kresta Comments: Ben Carson and the Causes of Homosexual Attraction

In a CNN interview yesterday, potential GOP candidate Dr. Ben Carson said he believes being gay is a choice because, “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight – and when they come out, they’re gay.” He later backtracked on this statement, telling reporters “I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive.” Has Carson already destroyed his chances for the White House? What should Republicans be saying on the issues of gay marriage and the cause of homosexuality? Al has some thoughts.


4:20 – Kresta Comments 

Al discusses some interesting tidbits from the news, including a gay three-way wedding in Thailand and a viral video that declares “Love has no Gender.

4:40 – Prison Ministry for Incarcerated Abortionists

Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League joins us to talk about an area of pro-life ministry that is often overlooked: ministering to abortionists who have been incarcerated.


5:00 – Finding Jesus: The Mysteries of the Shroud of Turin

We’re continuing our discussion from Monday with John Jackson. On Sunday CNN aired a program about the history and mystery of the Shroud of Turin. What answers can be found from carbon dating tests? What other evidence is there for the Shroud? John is the leader of a prominent Shroud research team and has the answers.


5:40 – Why Star Trek and Mr. Spock Matter

Star Trek fans lost one of their heroes last week. Leonard Nimoy, known to millions as Mr. Spock, passed away from heart complications. Star Trek and Mr. Spock left a major mark on American culture and entertainment. What lessons can we learn from them? Steven Greydanus joins us.

Kresta in the Afternoon – March 4, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 4, 2015

4:00 – Kresta Comments: The Authenticity of the Gospels

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some atheists still support the claim that Jesus never existed. Other Gospel events are also disputed. What evidence is there to support the Gospel narrative? Al tackles this question.

4:40- 6:00 – Direct to My Desk

























Saudi blogger Raif Badawi could be retried and beheaded, say his family

via TheGuardian.com


Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger who was sentenced to a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, now faces being beheaded for renouncing the religion, his family have said.

They claimed to have learned of attempts within the Saudi judicial system to have Raif Badawi retried for the crime, which carries a death sentence. Amnesty International said it was looking into the claims, which could not be verified on Sunday evening.

“Raif and his family must be thinking ‘what new hell is this?’,” said an Amnesty spokesman.

“The torment of facing each week the possibility of another brutal public flogging is an unimaginable torture. These latest rumours that the death penalty is a possibility again add to the nightmare.

“Over a million people have called for Raif’s freedom. That should be the only development we’re hearing about.”

In a statement, Badawi’s family said that the Saudi supreme court has referred his case to the same judge who passed the sentence he is currently serving, whom they accused of being biased against him.

He was previously cleared of apostasy – renouncing his religion – in 2013. In January this year, his case was referred to the supreme court by the former king in a move that his supporters hoped would eventually lead to his release.

But his family, who cited “information from reliable sources” they did not name, now believe that the case has been referred on again to the country’s Penal court under regulations introduced last autumn.

“We have reasons to believe without any doubts that the same judge has again asked the head of the court of appeal to charge Raif with apostasy,” they said in a statement.

“It should be mentioned that this judge stated in his written verdict against Raif, that he has proof and is confident that Raif is an apostate.

“We call on the world citizens and governments not to leave Raif dragged by such bigots to death. And we renew our calls to His Majesty King Salman to pardon Raif Badawi and allow him to leave for Canada to be united with his family there.”

Badawi received the first 50 lashes outside al-Jafali mosque in the port city of Jeddah in January. He was due to be subjected to 50 more each week but it was postponed after doctors said that his wounds had not healed and that he was unfit to have the sentence carried out.

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