Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is Heaven for Real?

Review by Al Menconi, April 16, 2014

I just watched the best and most politically incorrect “Christian” movie since Charlton Heston Played Ben Hur.   I’m serious!

Heaven Is for Real isn’t the typical “Christian movie” where the acting is stiff and amateurish nor does the storyline club you into submission with a hellfire and brimstone message.  No, this well written and wonderfully acted film asks questions as it presents evidence.  Do you believe? 

Heaven Is for Real is based on the true story of the four-year-old son of a small town preacher from Nebraska.  The little boy almost dies of appendicitis and when he is being operated on he goes to Heaven and meets Jesus and some people he couldn’t possibly have known from before.  He also shares vivid descriptions of what he saw and experienced.  Is it real? 

When he survives the operation, as a normal four-year-old, he doesn’t get excited and blurt out everything he saw.  But his story comes out in little snippets throughout the film, each “snippet” confuses the parents.  How can he know this? 

I loved the interaction with his father and the father with the mother. They obviously loved each other and were honest with their feelings.  But it wasn’t an easy experience for the family, church, or the community.  How do you tell people that your son went to Heaven and had all these experiences without people thinking you are off your rocker.  It can’t be real, can it? 

If you haven’t read the book, I don’t want to spoil it for you by telling you too much.  But the film continually asks the question, “Is Heaven for real?”  I have always believed Heaven is real and have personally accepted Jesus as my Savior, but I still was challenged to wonder if this boy actually met the spirit of dead relatives he couldn’t possibly have known.  Did the angels sing just for him? Did he really sit on Jesus’ lap?

The father had been teaching that Christianity and Heaven is real for years but when his faith is tested by his son’s experience, he didn’t know what to believe.  The church leaders were confused and the town’s people were beginning to lose respect for their minister.

That’s why I believe everyone needs to see this film, even – no, especially – your non-believing friends.  It doesn’t have pat answers to the questions it asks, but it causes you to think.  “What do I really believe?”

What do you believe?  Could this little boy have gone to heaven and sat on the lap of Jesus?  If Heaven is real, then you have to ask, Is Jesus real?  Is the Bible true?  If the Bible is true, then what?  What am I going to do with what I know? 

Heaven... is cute but not saccharine.  I am certain you will read and hear reviews that will tell you this film isn’t worth your time and/or it couldn’t possibly be true.  But as a person who has studied Scripture for more than forty years, I can honestly say there is nothing in this film that is non biblical.  I’m saying it could be true and I believe this boy could have visited Heaven. And it gives me more of a desire to have my faith become sight. 

But does it matter if this story is true or not? You still have to answer the same questions. Is there a Heaven? Is Jesus God? Is the Bible true?  What are you going to do with what you know?  You don’t need to see this film to answer those questions, but this film will give you something to chew on and to discuss with your family and friends. 

Along with millions of others I read the book, so I knew the story and how it was going to turn out, but I loved how the film brought the book to life.  It made me want to read the it again AND I’m going to watch the film again. 

This is worth your time.  No matter what the secular reviewers say, I give it a great big A.  Why not invite your friends and go see it tonight? 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12

 by Cris Rowan, Huff Post PARENTS 3/24/2014
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day (AAP 2001/13, CPS 2010). 
Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012). Handheld devices (cell phones, tablets, electronic games) have dramatically increased the accessibility and usage of technology, especially by very young children (Common Sense Media, 2013). As a pediatric occupational therapist, I'm calling on parents, teachers and governments to ban the use of all handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years. Following are 10 research-based reasons for this ban. Please visit to view the Zone'in Fact Sheet for referenced research.

1. Rapid brain growth
Between 0 and 2 years, infant's brains triple in size, and continue in a state of rapid development to 21 years of age (Christakis 2011). Early brain development is determined by environmental stimuli, or lack thereof. Stimulation to a developing brain caused by overexposure to technologies (cell phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been shown to be associated with executive functioning and attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate, e.g. tantrums (Small 2008, Pagini 2010).

2. Delayed Development
Technology use restricts movement, which can result in delayed development. One in three children now enter school developmentally delayed, negatively impacting literacy and academic achievement (HELP EDI Maps 2013). Movement enhances attention and learning ability (Ratey 2008). Use of technology under the age of 12 years is detrimental to child development and learning (Rowan 2010).

3. Epidemic Obesity
TV and video game use correlates with increased obesity (Tremblay 2005). Children who are allowed a device in their bedrooms have 30% increased incidence of obesity (Feng 2011). One in four Canadian, and one in three U.S. children are obese (Tremblay 2011). 30% of children with obesity will develop diabetes, and obese individuals are at higher risk for early stroke and heart attack, gravely shortening life expectancy (Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2010). Largely due to obesity, 21st century children may be the first generation many of whom will not outlive their parents (Professor Andrew Prentice, BBC News 2002).

4. Sleep Deprivation 60% of parents do not supervise their child's technology usage, and 75% of children are allowed technology in their bedrooms (Kaiser Foundation 2010). 75% of children aged 9 and 10 years are sleep deprived to the extent that their grades are detrimentally impacted (Boston College 2012).

5. Mental Illness
Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis and problematic child behavior (Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011, Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008). One in six Canadian children have a diagnosed mental illness, many of whom are on dangerous psychotropic medication (Waddell 2007).

6. Aggression
Violent media content can cause child aggression (Anderson, 2007). Young children are increasingly exposed to rising incidence of physical and sexual violence in today's media. "Grand Theft Auto V" portrays explicit sex, murder, rape, torture and mutilation, as do many movies and TV shows. The U.S. has categorized media violence as a Public Health Risk due to causal impact on child aggression (Huesmann 2007). Media reports increased use of restraints and seclusion rooms with children who exhibit uncontrolled aggression.

7. Digital dementia
High speed media content can contribute to attention deficit, as well as decreased concentration and memory, due to the brain pruning neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex (Christakis 2004, Small 2008). Children who can't pay attention can't learn.

8. Addictions
As parents attach more and more to technology, they are detaching from their children. In the absence of parental attachment, detached children can attach to devices, which can result in addiction (Rowan 2010). One in 11 children aged 8-18 years are addicted to technology (Gentile 2009).

9. Radiation emission
In May of 2011, the World Health Organization classified cell phones (and other wireless devices) as a category 2B risk (possible carcinogen) due to radiation emission (WHO 2011). James McNamee with Health Canada in October of 2011 issued a cautionary warning stating "Children are more sensitive to a variety of agents than adults as their brains and immune systems are still developing, so you can't say the risk would be equal for a small adult as for a child." (Globe and Mail 2011). In December, 2013 Dr. Anthony Miller from the University of Toronto's School of Public Health recommend that based on new research, radio frequency exposure should be reclassified as a 2A (probable carcinogen), not a 2B (possible carcinogen). American Academy of Pediatrics requested review of EMF radiation emissions from technology devices, citing three reasons regarding impact on children (AAP 2013).

10. Unsustainable
The ways in which children are raised and educated with technology are no longer sustainable (Rowan 2010). Children are our future, but there is no future for children who overuse technology. A team-based approach is necessary and urgent in order to reduce the use of technology by children. Please reference below slide shows on under "videos" to share with others who are concerned about technology overuse by children.

Problems - Suffer the Children - 4 minutes  
Solutions - Balanced Technology Management - 7 minutes

The following Technology Use Guidelines for children and youth were developed by Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist and author of Virtual Child; Dr. Andrew Doan, neuroscientist and author of Hooked on Games; and Dr. Hilarie Cash, Director of reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program and author of Video Games and Your Kids, with contribution from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society in an effort to ensure sustainable futures for all children.

Technology Use Guidelines for Children and Youth
Please contact Cris Rowan at for additional information. © Zone'in February