Rancher John Lockwood and his Internet-savvy friend John Underwood thought they had a really bright idea: offer hunters a chance to hunt deer, antelope, and wild boar via computer.
The duo invested $10,000 to set up a platform and rifle at Lockwood’s 330-acre ranch in southwest Texas. They linked the rifle to a video camera—allowing Internet hunters to log on to a website, spot their prey, and shoot it with the click of a mouse. They promoted their venture, saying, among other things, that it would allow people confined to a wheelchair to experience the thrill of hunting. Lockwood and Underwood characterized their idea as just another step in the evolution from hunting with sticks and stones to bows and arrows to rifles.
There was already widespread controversy about hunting animals in captivity, but Lockwood and Underwood elevated the ideological differences to a new emotional high.
The public and politicians were horrified. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department moved quickly to ban Internet hunting of native wildlife species. The state legislature followed suit, passing a law banning Internet hunting of any animals.
Lawmakers usually reason that hunting captive animals is not very sporting. Farmers counter that the animals experience less stress when they’re shot by surprise in their home setting than when they’re captured and trucked to a packing plant.
This slippery-slope reasoning is what led to the Internet-hunting venture, but Lockwood and Underwood took it over a cliff.
Internet hunting removes animals and hunters from a wilderness setting. It removes the fragrances, breezes, and outdoor walking-and-stalking experiences that were such a delightful part of the many evenings I spent as a teenager hunting groundhogs on our family farms. There is no contest of wits—no opportunity for the animal to attempt self-preservation by exercising its superior sense of smell, acute hearing, or keen sight.
Hunting ought to be an outdoor adventure, not a couch-potato pastime. I applaud the Texas lawmakers and urge politicians in other jurisdictions not to wait for another set of Lockwoods and Underwoods to test the market in their area.
They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky
by Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Benjamin Ajak, with Judy A. Bernstein
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema
Between 1987 and 1989 tens of thousands of Sudanese boys, later known as the “Lost Boys,” traveled nearly 1,000 miles to escape the carnage of Sudan’s civil war. In this new book, three of the Lost Boys tell of their flight to Ethiopia, then back to Sudan, and later to Kenya. Called some of “the most badly war-traumatized children ever examined,” they faced starvation, wild beasts, bombs, unscrupulous military personnel, beatings, and separation from their families and communities. Though the Lost Boys confronted phenomenal challenges, they survived by banding together, sharing their belongings, singing childhood songs, telling stories, praying, and—once in the refugee camp—pursuing an education. (Public Affairs, www.publicaffairsbooks.com) young adult fiction
Young Adult Fiction
The Dark Hills Divide
by Patrick Carmen
reviewed by Ron VandenBurg
In the land of Elyon, no one ever ventures outside the 42-foot-high wall that encircles its four towns. But the world outside the walls calls to 12-year-old Alexa Daley, who uncovers a mystery that threatens the city’s future. As the story moves through a capacious library, dark narrow tunnels, and a puzzling maze of passages and rooms, Alexa discovers that what lives within the walls of Bridewell can be as dangerous as the threats from the Dark Hills and the forest beyond. With well-drawn characters and a strong female protagonist, reading families will enjoy sharing this page-turning fantasy (and its newly published sequel Beyond the Valley of Thorns). (Orchard Books)
To End All Wars
reviewed by Wayne Brouwer
WATCH THIS MOVIE! Ernest Gordon, longtime dean of the chapel at Princeton Seminary, wrote briefly of his World War II death camp experiences for Reader’s Digest in 1961. Overwhelming response called out a 1962 book version: Through the Valley of the Kwai. Recently this true story became a film, and its power has only increased. Entering the war as an agnostic to participate in an adventure with the Scottish Argyles, Gordon spent five years in Japanese captivity, slaving under horrific conditions to build the railroad and bridge that has been immortalized elsewhere. Emerging from brutality and degradation is a marvelous tale of growing faith, redignified humanity, and incredible forgiveness. (Fox)
by Gennady Spirin
Sonya VanderVeen Feddema
While walking in a park in their native Russia, the author’s wife and 5-year-old son, Ilya, found a wounded crow. They took it home, bandaged its wing, and named it Martha. When their veterinarian bluntly stated that the crow should be put to sleep, Ilya insisted “the crow is going to get better and then fly.” He was right, and Martha became a spirited member of the family, impressing them with her surprising antics. But one spring day the recovered crow flew away, leaving Ilya heartbroken. Little did the family know that Martha had one more surprise up her sleeve—or wing—that filled them all with joy. Gennady Spirin’s poignant narrative and heartwarming watercolor illustrations capture his family’s love for each other and for one of God’s broken creatures. (Philomel Books)
Come, Christians, Join to Sing
by the Covenant Choir of Park Cities Presbyterian Church
reviewed by Randall D. Engle
Hymn singing introduces children to “weighty themes” that provide meat to feed their innermost beings. In 2000, the children of Park Cities Presbyterian Church memorized 63 verses of 16 hymns, culminating in the recording Lift High the Cross. Their project was so successful that there was a public outcry for more of the same. Come, Christians, Join to Sing is the result. On this superb CD, the children sing healthily and beautifully under their director, Lynda Fray. The stylized arrangements of 12 folk hymns are colorful and touching. I can hardly wait for more! For ordering information, log on to www.pcpc.org.
About the Author
Jim Romahn is a freelance journalist in Kitchener, Ont., where he belongs to Community Christian Reformed Church.