What do we Know and How do we Know it? 

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As I sit here writing, a terrible thing is happening. It started mid-week, but there’s nothing being reported on the national news.  No TV cameras or on-the-street interviews. I saw blurbs on Drudge and Breitbart this morning (Sunday), but no big fuss.  As of this moment 54 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have been declared disaster areas.  Seventeen rivers have set flood records and some six million people are affected. Offutt Air Force Base – just outside of Omaha looks more like an inland sea – thirty buildings are closed due to the flooding. South Dakota and Iowa have been affected as well.This was a hard winter and much snow accumulated and ice formed on all the rivers. Then suddenly the weather turned and most of that H2O turned liquid. What didn’t melt floated high-speed in chunks the size of cars, ripping out grain elevators and barns, tearing into houses and businesses. I saw one picture of a kitchen filled to the tops of the counters with dirt-laden ice. 

At the same time heavy rain began to fall. So far hundreds people have had to be evacuated from 29 small farming communities that are now more islands than they are towns. No one knows how many animals have been frozen or drowned. This isn’t warm water – it’s just one step down from ice and there’s a wild wind blowing. One picture I saw showed a cluster of maybe 30 cattle huddled together hopelessly on a tiny hillock in the middle of what looked like a vast, edgeless lake, but was really the Platte River far over its banks. One helicopter pilot said there were many more such tiny bovine islands across the landscape. 

Freemont, Nebraska, is completely cut off – no roads are left. The highways aren’t just covered in feet of water, they’re torn completely out or so littered with ice boulders as to be impassable. Dikes have been breached and many bridges torn out by the rampaging ice.  And this is Nebraska – winter isn’t over. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the bomb cyclone blizzard that hit Denver also hit the western half of Nebraska, dumping feet of snow. On Thursday I-80 from Grand Island, Nebraska to Wyoming was closed. Seventy mile per hour winds were blowing semis over onto their sides. The western half of Nebraska is cattle country, wheat country.  It is sparsely populated by ranchers whose spreads may cover thousands of acres and may well own thousands of head of cattle out on those lonely sand hills. How do you go about protecting your herds in that kind of a storm? You don’t; they just freeze. 

This disaster hits me personally because Nebraska is my home state, and even though I haven’t lived there for over 40 years, the prairie is still in my blood, and seeing my grandparent’s little Garrison-Keillor town covered in 4 feet of water breaks my heart. Hearing that my home city of Lincoln is worried about its water supply – a town of 250,000 souls – scares me. I have people there. 

But what has bothered me the most is the realization that the news tells us so little of what is happening in the world.  The TV news rattles on and on 24-7 and not a single story about the heart of this country and the suffering and struggle of our fellow Americans. Not until the story was three days old does it even make honorable mention. Two people are dead so far – one because he was trying to rescue another victim. There must be, if I know my fellow Nebraskans, many stories of heroism and heartbreak, but if my cousin and her kids hadn’t been filling Facebook with pictures, I wouldn’t know yet that anything was happening. 

This last week, on the other side of the world, 32 Nigerian Christians were brutally murdered by jihadists. Some missionary sources say the number is closer to 200. Has that been on the news? No. We heard all about the mosque attack in Christchurch, but not a word about Nigeria.  In the last few years 6,000 Nigerian Christians have been murdered – burned in their own churches, beheaded, mutilated. But no major news stories. Silence.

What else is happening that we don’t know about? How are our opinions and decisions being shaped by what we don’t hear? I understand that it is expensive to send reporters around looking for stories when all you have to do to get viewers is tell yet another tale about what nonsense the latest left-wing nutcase has spouted.  And true, that’s frightening enough, but how are we to form reasonable opinions if we don’t know the half of it? And add to that the demonstrable fact that most of these news organizations will knowingly lie to fit whatever narrative is the going thing. 

I suppose these floods, the worst the state has seen in a half a century, will make the news as soon as the MSM can come up with a way to blame Trump or global warming.  In the meantime, as bad and questionable as it is, social media is all we have to go on, and we know that is being manipulated.  

So we must keep our eyes peeled, search for truth far and wide and stay in contact with people we love. And pray please – for Nebraskans – they’re tough, resilient people, but this is pushing anyone’s limits – and for Nigerians, whose lives must be terrifying, and for all those folks who need help and about whom we know nothing. 

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

These concepts – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – are dear, or once were dear, to the hearts of all Americans. These are the sacred rights of all human beings  -- “sacred” because they are God-given and are not derived from government, rather government’s only mandate is to provide cover for those rights. 

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However, due to decades of twisted school curricula, and of postmodern, subjective journalism, we’ve arrived at a place where a sizable percentage of our population finds equality, immorality, and environmentalism superior concepts. In fact the left finds these ideas so compelling that they are willing to sacrifice the lives of us all to impose widespread adherence to these new gods.

Equality alone is deadly. Despite its description as “leveling the playing field” there is nothing level, nothing honest about it.  The left openly wants to redistribute wealth as if a cosmic unfairness had declared some rich and some poor and government’s job is to rectify that. That attitude might have made sense back in feudal times, when upward mobility was close to impossible, but it makes no sense at all in a society where millions have manufactured their own wealth and the door of possibilities stands wide open. At least for now.

What’s worse is the audacity of some to think that they are the ones with the right to decide who gets what and that becomes even more audacious when you realize what wealth actually is. Whether we talk about the 1% or the middle class, wealth and property are bought with one’s time, effort, and talents. They are purchased with one’s life. After all, that is all that life gives us – time and the capacity to use it productively. To take my property is to help oneself to my life, to say that my production belongs to someone else, not to me. Once a person has convinced himself that he has a right to my life in that sense, it doesn’t take long to assume that he has the right to also take the life of my body. 

Perhaps this explains the cavalier attitude of the left toward life in general. Leftists appear to be quite comfortable with killing infants. They’re generally in favor of euthanasia, and many have expressed the willingness to erase the elderly a la Brave New World. They are promoting childlessness as a sacrifice to their environmental deity (it seems not to have dawned on any of them that if we fail to reproduce, they’ll run out of people to push around and steal from). The left stomps about claiming that “Black likes matter,” but their policies, from welfare and abortion to gun laws and lousy schools, have caused the loss of tens of millions of black lives. Life – the greatest gift God has given us – means little to the folks who are fond of quoting, “You have to break a few eggs if you’re going to make an omelet.”

God not only gave us each life, but He also gave us free will – liberty. It is necessary that we have untrammeled volition so that we can be free to choose Him. It is also necessary so that we can each become “all [we] can become,” as Harrison Bergeron so tragically declared in the Kurt Vonnegut story. Along with life and liberty, God has given each of us amazing gifts, and freedom is necessary for us to realize our potential. 

We know from Thomas Maslow’s work that we can’t reach our inbred capabilities – he called it self-realization – until our basic animal necessities are met. If we’re starving, or trying to sleep out in the cold, or fighting off an illness, we can’t be painting masterpieces.  We have many rock-bottom needs in order to just survive at an animal level, but a society must be able to provide the structure for us to rise above that or our humanity dies. It isn’t enough for our society to give us food, clothing, and shelter – prisons do that. Human beings are designed to hunt for happiness. 

Happiness and the pursuit thereof is the last of the triune purpose for America. But what is happiness? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi of the University of Chicago beautifully explained for us in his classic Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience. He defined happiness as the state of being when we are so involved in what we are doing that time evaporates – it flows right past us and when we finally stop doing whatever we were engrossed in, we wonder where the time went. We’ve lost track of ourselves, of distractions and moved into a state of “optimal experience.” After 20 years of following his subjects – they each had a small meter with them that allowed them to record those moments when they were feeling happy –Csikszentmihalyi discovered that in spite of all of us wanting the weekend to get here quickly, his subjects most often recorded happiness when they were working. Work – meaningful work -- makes us happy. Not welfare. Not free stuff. Not rest. Not play. Work.  People in Venezuela right now are not only lacking the basic necessities of survival, but they have no opportunity for fulfilling work. 

Note that our American dream is not happiness, but the pursuit of happiness, which confirms what Csikszentmihalyi found. We want to go after it; we know it can’t just be handed to us. Some part of our souls needs the struggle. I don’t have to sit here and write this, but I want to; doing so pleases my inner-most being.  Our president doesn’t have to work. He could just be lolling around his gold-plated penthouse, but he’s working 20-hour days, struggling against horrifying odds, because it is in him to do so. 

But the new left is not at all interested in our individual need for fulfillment. The left is not really even aware of the rest of us as human. We are merely the eggs for their omelet and an omelet doesn’t present each egg separately – they’re all whipped up together, one indistinguishable from the rest, and all of them very dead.

These “Justice Democrats” are after beating us all into an homogenized, manageable mass all in the name of equality – which is ridiculous on its face since none of us is like the other – and these folks like to tout “social justice” and at the same time encourage every kind of immorality and injustice imaginable.  They appear to be on the side of pedophilia, of human trafficking, of terrorism. They appear to be playing fast and loose with immigration and campaign finance laws. They are willing to falsify votes in a dozen different ways and they don’t mind being complicit in America’s slavery 2.0 – illegal immigration. Immorality is their second god. 

But their biggest idol is the environment  -- Mother Earth – Gaia -- their mighty goddess, a goddess so fragile that she’ll self-combust if cattle don’t stop digesting and they believe that all of us – not them -- but all of us should be sacrificed at its altar.  Life be damned.  Liberty be damned.  The pursuit of happiness has no place in this budding dystopia. Earth only has room for the power-hungry to wallow in their useless, miserable might.  

In some way, at some time in the future all this will be rectified.  God, the author of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, will wipe the grins off the faces of the evil and will set His Son on the throne and the Earth will again be what she once was and we’ll all become what He designed us to become – blessedly happy.

Kudos to AOC

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I am guilty of speaking badly of the new congresswoman from New York. She is obviously the product of failing educational systems unable to do anything but pump her full of fatuous self-esteem. I’d lay odds she has a large box of participation trophies in her parents’ basement. Though it is fun to bash such a bashable subject, I write to thank her.

 She has made things clear; things that have been vague and foggy are now utterly transparent. Many let slide Obama’s fuzzy promise to “fundamentally change” America. It was a little hazy – he never elaborated on it and the media never asked him to. But AOC has laid it out – very briefly; I understand that her ‘Green New Deal” has been scrubbed from her site and it’s easy to see why.  She’s let the cat out of the Democrat bag. 

She and Sen. Edward Markey opened Pandora’s box this week and 70 prominent Democrats immediately signed on including many of the recent presidential hopefuls. This woman is not a lone nut case, though she may be the only Democrat who actually believes this nonsense can be done. 

What crawled out of Pandora’s box? Everything destructive. 

This young woman wants to shut down American energy – nuclear included. She seems not to worry about how we’ll heat our homes or cook our food or travel from one place to another. She’s utterly unaware that it takes a great deal of energy to grow crops, manufacture goods, and build houses. She plans on – within 10 years – getting rid of 99% of the gasoline-powered cars in this country. 

She wants to stop of air travel and substitute high-speed rail – which we don’t have, which has proved a disastrous waste of money in California, and which will make it tricky to cross oceans. 

She wants the government to provide everyone, whether they work or not, with a guaranteed income, good housing, medical care, free education, and a vegan diet – the latter to cure the problem of cow flatulence, which, if not stopped, will destroy the planet.

She wants – and within 10 years – all buildings in the country stripped down and retrofitted to make them energy efficient -- with what energy and with whose money, she doesn’t say. When asked how she would pay for this she replied,  “We will finance the investments for the Green New Deal the same way we paid for the original New Deal, World War II, the bank bailouts, tax cuts for the rich, and decades of war—with public money appropriated by Congress. “ (Note the word “investments” – like she’s proposing some new business enterprise.)

That clears that up – it’s only government money, which we all know just grows on printing presses and computer hard drives. Venezuela’s 80,000% inflation rate doesn’t strike her as a cautionary tale and evidently her econ degree didn’t require a course in inflation and its causes and effects. 

But I thank her. Her timing was impeccable. The country – at least 72% of it –had enjoyed President Trump’s triumphant State of the Union address earlier in the week. That speech resurrected the pride in being an American. He talked about liberating Jewish Holocaust victims, about storming the beaches of Normandy, about curing childhood cancers, about protecting our southern borders. He reminded us of how prosperous the country has become in just two short years, and better yet, he helped us look ahead at the possibilities appearing on our national horizon. He talked about space exploration, innovations and inventions, medical breakthroughs, and soaring prosperity. 

The speech was heart-warming, encouraging, hopeful, and it stirred again our pride in being a hard-working, imaginative, courageous people. It even opened the door for cooperation in Congress, making it seem like it just might be possible.

Enter AOC and her tribe of dreary henchmen. According to these “Justice Democrats” (justice???), the world will end in 12 years if we don’t plug the cows and quit breathing. That’s a cheery and inspiring vista. In her future America, we will all be some kind of government drones and will spend our days stumbling around town scrounging for food and waiting in lines for our government handouts. We won’t be able to go anywhere, or buy anything because nothing will be available to buy. We won’t be able to invent anything, make anything, or fix anything unless we can do so ex nihilo. We will be cold, bored, and utterly trapped. The government will control what we eat, what we do, what we learn. 

Besides the terrifying future this lays out, nothing on AOC’s list of must-dos is even remotely possible. Rebuilding just the private homes in this country would have to be done at a pace of at the very least 120,000 houses a week for 10 non-stop years. And it would have to be done sans cars and trucks and oil and natural gas and any of the products produced using those items and commodities. And if the government is going to provide you with a living whether you want to work or not, who’s going to do the manual labor? 

In fact, the whole labor thing is very unclear in this plan. If you are getting a guaranteed income and you’ll be penalized with a 70% tax if you do something that is really successful, why lift a finger? I have no idea who will be willing to do all this work. Doctors already hate what Obamacare has done to the medical profession – what will they do when faced with full-on socialized medicine? And just how does she think people and goods will get around? 

I suspect she has little understanding of the vast regions of nearly uninhabited land one has to travel to cross this country; it’s not all Brooklyn. Those of us who have crossed the Rockies and the deserts of this great land know that high-speed rails won’t cut it even if they could be built. Neither will electric cars;  I can’t imagine plug-in stations dotting the barren highways in eastern Oregon. 

On the other hand, Trump wants to see everyone working, inventing, producing, enjoying and employing all the gifts God has bestowed on us. He wants us to treat every person with the love and respect due someone created in the image of God. He wants this for all American citizens regardless of race or ethnicity, of age, of religion, whether we’ve been born yet or not. Isn’t that what all Americans want? Isn’t that what decent people want? 

We want freedom – Americans have always wanted, fought, and died for freedom. AOC’s nightmare doesn’t allow for that. For one thing, it takes a certain level of prosperity before freedom means much. AOC’s vision is being played out in Venezuela; it’s not freedom when you have to eat the family dog. It’s not freedom when you can’t go where you want to go and get there the way you want to get there. It’s not freedom when you can’t build what you want to build, imagine what you want to create, or take care of your family how and where you want. 

AOC just laid it out for us and I’m grateful. Now it’s abundantly clear.  We can choose misery, hunger, and hopelessness or we can pull on our grown up work boots and make this country greater than we’ve ever thought possible. We can allow ourselves to be regulated into oblivion, or live up to our potential and in the process help everyone else to do so, too. We can be cowed into submission by an elaborate lie, proven false over and over, or we can recognize that God made this planet for us to live on, to enjoy, to use and develop. We can become the kind of craven, listless do-nothings that will sell their souls for a mess of pottage, willing to believe lies and nonsense – or we can roll up our sleeves, thank Almighty God that we are Americans and start building a glorious future.

Truth or Dare

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More and more any foray into the news feels like a trip to Bedlam – rational thought is nowhere to be found; the inmates are screeching inanities, drooling at the mouth, and throwing excrement – both literally and figurative – at anyone who dares to speak truth – at anyone who even dares to say the word “truth.” It’s not fair, however, to point out your opponents’ faults without some back-up. So allow me---

Ravi Zacharias, world-famous Christian apologist and philosopher addresses the issue of truth by breaking it down into 3 requirements:

  • ¥ Logical consistency

  • ¥ Empirical adequacy

  • ¥ Experiential relevance

    Those are a good place to start, but they need some elaboration.  So, what is logical consistency?  Loosely speaking, it means that the argument makes sense – like so many left-wing ideas don’t. Note the mess the rabid feminists are in having become bedfellows with the transgender crowd; now women have to compete with men pretending to be women. They have to compete in wrestling matches, soccer games, track meets. Women are not only being robbed of the chance to win, but are also likely to get hurt. But the feminazis are not walking away from their bad bargain, and so far they don’t seem to notice the even worse covenant they’ve made sidling up to Muslim activists, who will eventually see to it that as many American women as possible will be raped, mutilated, and beaten. 

Is this logically consistent? No. Just recently Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made the remark that she’d rather be morally correct than factually correct. She fails to realize that being factually correct is part of being moral. To use loose, sloppy, or fictitious “facts” to support something you think is ethically awesome is to undercut your own argument. Truth evidently is not part of her moral zeitgeist. 

You see, a lack of logical consistency leads to divorcement from reality, and that leads to insanity. So we should step aside from Zacharias’ list to look at the three age-old Laws of Logic:

  • • The Law of Identity

  • • The Law of the Excluded Middle

  • • The Law of Non-contradiction

The Law of Identity merely means that a thing is what it is and it isn’t anything else.  In other words, it’s unethical and deceitful to pull a Newspeak definition shift on people. Our language is a contract that we have with others in our society and we mustn’t breach that contract. Remember back during the post 9/11 Iraq war when American soldiers were court martialed for making Muslim captors parade around nude with women’s panties on their heads? Remember that? It was a nasty, disrespectful, and un-American thing to do. But do you remember what the press called it? “Torture.”  That word has historically referred to the act of causing another person maximum pain either as punishment, or as inducement to spill secrets. Torture involved ripping out fingernails, pulling people apart on the rack, nailing them to crosses. Panty-hats don’t even come close. 

The left has been majoring in language re-assignment for decades.  Their favorite is to label absolutely anything a lie. Oh horrors! Trump said Obama had a 10-foot wall around his house and it’s only 8 feet!. Perhaps he should have crept up to the Obama house at midnight, toting a steel tape, and gotten an accurate measurement. But a lie? 

The next of the laws of logic we need to look at is the Law of the Excluded Middle. Both the left and the right have failed to adhere to this and are making less and less sense as the days go by.  The Law of the Excluded Middle merely points out that in most issues there is no neutral.  If you take 5-year-old children and you plug them into a public school system that never mentions God – not in discussions of origins in science class, not in historical analysis, not in psychology classes, not in ethics discussions – and you leave those kids there for 12-16 years, they have been taught, by default, but taught nevertheless, that God isn’t. He has been excised from their world. That is not neutral. If the only teachers a school employs are politically left of center, that’s not neutral. We fool ourselves if we think that news reporters and judges and pastors – or imams -- are neutral. In fact, the clergy’s efforts to be neutral have sadly broken the church.

The last law is the Law of Non-contradiction. A statement cannot refute itself and be true, be logical.  The post-modern mantra, “There is no absolute truth!”   -- usually said with great didactic gusto, is such a statement. “There is no absolute truth,” is an absolute statement and therefore argues against itself. How can one stay sane if one actually believes such tripe? One can’t. College professors love to play this dishonest shell game with their students. Slip ideas around fast enough, which is easy once ideas are distanced from their source, and you can convince anyone of anything. Do we wonder why our young people drink themselves through high school and college? Why the drug overdose problem is what it is? They are being driven to madness. 

Let’s go back to Zacharias’ breakdown of truth. His second standard is empirical adequacy. You can’t find truth without facts. AOC doesn’t grasp that, but most of us do. From its inception the global warming farce was troubled by the lack of information. In order to know what the average temperature actually is we have to measure everywhere – tops of mountains, middle of oceans, the steppes of Russia, the jungles of the Amazon. The temps also should be at ground level, not up in the stratosphere. And we need data from all four seasons, night and day, rain or shine. We need to factor in cloud cover, etc. Since most sampling stations are located in heavily populated areas, that variation has to be factored in as well. And then we need similar data from hundreds of years ago. The best we could do was computer models and they haven’t proven reliable. We need empirical adequacy to know what is going on here and we don’t have it. But the left plows on anyway and since they deny the existence of truth, I guess that isn’t difficult.And what about Zacharias’ third criteria – experiential relevance? What we actually observe in our own lives has to factor in to the concept of truth. I love the leftist canard that people are all basically good.  My experience has taught me that most people are capable of at least brief periods of being nice, but nice is a long way below good.  If we believe that all people are good, then we aren’t worried about MS13 gang members, ISIS warriors, or pedophiles snatching our kids, because they’re all just misunderstood and they just want a better life. The left assumes that all people think like they do, and live according to their standards. But the illegal crime stats tell a different story. So how do you process such data when you start with original goodness instead of original sin? 

I want to close with a standard of my own. Truth must line up with the Word of God because truth is God; it is embodied in the persons of the Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all incapable of the lie – in fact the head defecting angel, Lucifer (to whom Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals is dedicated) is called “the Father of Lies.”  What God tells us about Himself, and therefore about truth, is the final arbiter, and right now I see a complete distancing of the Democrat party from anything even close to godliness. They booed Him three times at their last convention – and then believed they could win the election. They have walked away from absolute truth and therefore from sensible policy and therefore from sanity. Without truth they cannot prevail – I dare them to try.  

Christian Appropriation

This mess at our southern border is stirring up the Sunday school wannabes again, and as a Christian and a conservative I am getting tired of being schooled by liberal Christians and non-believers about what my opinions should be, about what Jesus would do.  This needs to stop; we Christians need to stand up for our Savior and put an end to the appropriation of our Scripture and misunderstandings of Christ’s commandments. In order to do this we must first establish a couple of principles that are often ignored in this era of super-sloppy thinking:

In the first place, God quite clearly differentiates between individuals and national entities. When Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, implores his listeners to “turn the other cheek” He wasn’t speaking to the leaders of armies or to kings and emperors. (He, Himself, is often referred to as “The Lord of Hosts” – i.e. the Commander of the Armies and His behavior predicted in Revelation doesn’t look very love-your-neighbor.). In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is giving us excellent advice for handling personal disputes of a low-impact variety. He is not saying not to fight back if someone pulls a knife on us. He’s talking about being insulted, which is what was implied by a slap across the face. He’s telling us not to escalate acrimonious situations, not to be so full of ourselves that we let a little – or a lot - of humiliation back us into a worse mess. 

He is not advocating a pacifist national stance. At one point when taxation came up He said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s,” making a clear distinction between that which is national and that which is personal. So, let’s not muddy that water. 

Secondly, the Bible is not a catalog of verses to grab willy-nilly when we want to brow-beat someone into agreeing with us. Both legalistic and liberal Christians are often guilty of doing that. Yes, okay, a proof-text is sometimes necessary, but it should never be taken out of its immediate context, nor out of the context of the entire Bible. Nor should it be used without careful consideration of the historical background against which the verse is set; neither should it be applied without checking the correctness of the translation being quoted. 

When a person who only knows the Book by reputation (from movies, or cheap novels, or anti-Christian professors )  throws a Bible verse at me, I find it very trying. Some of that is pride, which is my fault, but much of it is ire at hearing this astounding Book handled so cavalierly, so belligerently, and so ignorantly.  

For instance, one shouldn’t quote the Golden Rule to defend socialism, when the first thing a socialist country does is outlaw the Bible – don’t liberals know the history here? One ought not quote Jesus if one doesn’t know Him or believe Him. That’s like me quoting Mohammed to prove some moral point. Talk about cultural appropriation! If one knows nothing about the true Christian ethos, one should avoid telling a Christian what he or she should think .

My support of Trump’s early move to cut back on immigration from mostly Muslim countries drew the ire of people I love dearly --  Are we not to open our arms to one and all? Are we not to love our neighbors as ourselves?  (This from those who find conservatives reprehensible.) But are these not biblical mandates? Yes, but in a sense limited by context.

Therefore we cannot take the Golden Rule, which speaks of individual attitudes and behaviors, and apply it to national policy. How do we know it is for individuals only? 

1.Jesus was speaking in this sermon to a crowd made up of Jews, Samaritans, and Roman soldiers – a group of different nationalities. And, He wasn’t speaking to Pontius Pilate or to the Pharisees, the political leaders of the time. 

2. Nations don’t “love.” They can make policies that are fair, but that is different. Jesus didn’t say, “Make nice laws.” Nor did he demand that a nation allow some people to disobey the laws of the land.

We can’t ignore the dangers of people groups who scream, “Death to America!” We are not commanded to do so. From the Tower of Babel on, God has organized the world into separate nations. The prophecies of Revelation paint a terrifying picture of what a one-world, no-borders government would look like. The 20th century showed us a glimpse of that with both Stalin and Hitler. 

Biblically speaking, the blending of cultures is pictured as risky at best. In fact, during the movement of the Jews into the land God had promised them, they were sometimes told to annihilate an entire nation, including its women, children, and livestock.  There was no “Love thy neighbor” in that because these lands contained cultures of incredible evil, cultures that celebrated throwing their babies into the fires of the idols they worshipped. There is no loving a neighbor like that and there is no loving Islam, either. There is no loving MS13. No loving child predators and human trafficking. No loving the poisoning of youth with drugs. 

This caravan mess and the illegal immigration issue in general brings out the hand-wringers all over again. Aren’t we to be hospitable? Shouldn’t we care about the plight of these poor people? Of course, but caring and allowing them to swarm our borders, overloading our educational and health and law-enforcement systems, putting our citizens in danger are two different things. I’m sure that non-Christians have no idea how practical true, biblical Christianity is. When Jesus was giving His disciples instructions about going out into the world to spread the Gospel, He urged them to sell whatever they needed to sell in order to purchase a sword for protection. Yes, we are to rely on God for our wellbeing, but that doesn’t require us to be stupid.  We care about the poor in this country and a huge influx of cheap labor will hurt them. We care about the people who cannot find affordable housing. How will thousands and thousands of unskilled immigrants help that situation? Both Christians and conservatives just want things to work. We don’t hate immigrants; we hate evil, whether it resides in a neighboring country or in our own back yards. Of course, the left denies the existence of evil, which must be most confusing.

And the left hates the rich – Christ didn’t. He noted that they, being dependent on their own power, would have trouble relying on Him for salvation, but Joseph of Arimathea followed Him anyway. The left seems hell-bent (pun intended) on supporting all things the Bible denounces and then, true to the liberal inconsistency, wants us to follow closely what they, erroneously, think the Bible says. 


Five Truths About Elections

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Elections are always important because power is always important. We are not only deciding which individuals we will place in power over us, but which ideas we will allow to control our lives. We can hold our noses and say politics stinks, or that Democrats and Republicans are all the same, and both of those attitudes have some basis in reality, but politics will not go away, and left vs. right is the only real choice we have. So let’s peel this back and look at the undeniable truths facing us.

Truth #1 – Elections are binary. Basically all choices are – up or down, right or wrong, to be or not to be, eat your dinner or go to bed. Those who insist that their opinions are so finely honed as to require a third or fourth or fifth choice don’t understand the reality of elections. It always comes down to a race between the top two contenders; any additional candidates merely siphon votes from the top two and create a situation where no one has a mandate. An election is not the time to be a purist – Donald Trump and his remarkable successes should have taught us that. A candidate has to have two weapons – the right ideas and the ability to win. One without the other is useless.

Truth #2 – Elections are the fulcrum on which our unique system of government balances, therefore our elections are crucial. They are also under attack. Whereas the Russians don’t seem to have been very effective, if, in fact, they were tinkering with our presidential choices, forces inside America are working hard to make elections pointless. The integrity of the voting process itself must be protected. We learned that in the hanging-chad election. Without assurance that our votes are not being canceled out by infected voting machines, or dead, illegal, or felonious voters, we lose our ability to choose our future. Without the enforcement of election laws, we make a mockery of the whole system.

Without properly vetted candidates, we lose our ability to make intelligent selections. We still don’t know who Barack Hussein Obama is. We don’t know much about Barry Sotero either, though they appear to be one and the same. We have people running for congressional seats and for gubernatorial offices that have criminal records, are deeply in debt, or have broken election laws, yet our media seem little concerned. We know next to nothing about the names up for judgeships – and we can’t find out much even though those judges are now busy making law.

Our elections are also seriously affected by gerrymandering. If the district boundaries are adjusted just so, one party wins. If not, the other party does. This idea is a lot of what is behind the effort to remove the Electoral College from our presidential elections. The deck would then be permanently stacked for the heavily populated areas and those with more rural concerns would be disenfranchised altogether and freedom would take a major blow.

Truth #3 – Truth is a crucial component of elections. Our nation is now split between those who see truth as variable, open to infinite manipulation and those who see truth as an absolute concept, the foundation of our society. We have seen recently the secret videotapes of Democrat campaign workers copping proudly to the fact that their respective candidates are lying about their positions on issues in order to be elected. They talk as if that kind of prevarication is just business as usual – and for many in government that is the case, as scandal after scandal has recently demonstrated. Half of the Senate Judicial Committee was just fine with condemning a man on the basis of what were unsubstantiated and ridiculous accusations by women of questionable character. The “I believe her” mantra came forth with no corroborating evidence at all, and with no concern for its lack.

We are left standing in the voting booth not knowing which candidate is telling us the truth about ideas, policies, or positions. If these people promise us they will tend to veterans’ affairs, or healthcare, or immigration, or education, or pet licensing and HOA fees, we need to know if these candidates are being truthful about both their intentions and their ability to follow through. If, however, we live in a society where truth is nothing more than the ghost of long-past goodness, then that alone could do in our important elections and therefore our control over our own lives.

Truth #4 – Elections are about ideas. This is more true today than it has ever been. In the early days of our nation most everyone was in favor of freedom. They’d had a taste of it and weren’t about to go back to bondage. There was disagreement over how that was to be accomplished, but not about whether or not it should be done.

Slavery was the main idea our forefathers dug in about and that eventually triggered a civil war.

Now, however, we are fighting “principalities and powers.” This is a battle over all the principles of righteousness and law. We are up against the forces of darkness – of deceit, of envy, of corruption. We have to decide if we are so craven that we are willing to take from those who have earned money in order to provide ourselves with a transient glow of appearing to care about our fellow man. (Those who want to welcome the illegal immigrant into our nation are not inviting these same people into their homes.) We have to decide if we are so infantile as to need our government to provide us with food, clothing, and shelter. Are we willing to elect to high office those we know to be despicable people just so we can salve our consciences or line our own pockets?

The candidates we choose from this election are either Americans who value our heritage, our devotion to truth and freedom, to free enterprise and ingenuity, to independence and self-reliance, or we choose socialism and all the horrors that provides. It is an idea that has disproven itself every time it has been applied, is doing so right now in foreign countries and in some of our own states and cities. It’s not like we don’t know what it does. Yet I talk with people on a daily basis who think it might still be the right answer to all human problems – just add a little more salt, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and it’ll be just dandy. Never mind Cuba or Venezuela. Don’t pay any attention to San Francisco, or Chicago, or Detroit. Socialism is cool, they insist. The problem with the socialist approach is that it requires the confiscation of people’s property, which requires the government have hugely expanded powers, which results in tyranny and most of the confiscated moneys going to those at the top. We’re back to a binary decision.

We have arrived at a cross-roads where we will either abandon the lofty goal of a righteous and free nation, opting instead for greed and sloth, or stand up to immense pressure from every known evil power and fight yet again for the liberty and decency that our forefathers set out to create.

Truth #5 – no matter how this election turns out we must remember that God controls history. How else could Donald Trump have won an election stacked against him? So we’ll pray and we’ll vote and we’ll watch His plan unfold.

The Democrat Ten Commandments



The Kananaugh/Ford hearing was excruciating to watch, but nevertheless

instructive. The entire nation came face-to-face with the neon-glare of the nastiness that is now the Democrat party. Decent Democrats still exist, but they either fail to pay attention and, therefore, function on tradition only, or their education has so failed them that they have no idea that the party has gone off the deep end; they don’t know there is a deep end.

The 21st century Democrat is not a new species; he is just a new rendition of the ancient pagan mindset. These new Democrats have more raw power than ancient pagans ever had. They have all the advantages of modern technology; they have phenomenal wealth behind them; they have the leisure to work themselves into twisty fits over any instance of reality that dirties their rosy-pink world.

America has always stood on a sturdy foundation of hard work, honesty, self-reliance, and a reverence for the individual as a creation of God Almighty. American jurisprudence was founded on ancient Hebrew law and on Anglo-Saxon concepts of government. Democrat ideas, as well, come up out of antique concepts, but theirs are the opposite of everything America has ever tried to be.

America built its laws on the basis of the Ten Commandments. Those commandments are good guides for any society. Any civilization made up of people who largely govern themselves along those lines will be a free, peaceful, and prosperous nation. History demonstrates that. But Democrat policies are at odds with the entirety of these guidelines; they have developed their own Decalog.

These they adhere to with a vengeance:

I. Thou shalt have no other gods but human power. Winning elections is the Democrat reason d’etre because power is their god, the party is their church, and its manifestation is large, centralized government. The party may demand Democrats lie, cheat, steal, destroy property, shoot baseball players, or kill babies, but all those activities are for the greater good – power.

II. Thou shalt worship under the direction of these priests: Darwin, Alinsky, Spock, Marx, Dewey, and Sanger – to say nothing of Baal. Child sacrifice is their sacrament. All ideas counter to the thinking of these apostles must be mocked, blocked, and twisted.

III. Thou shalt bow down to nothing wholesome or productive. Kindness, genuine caring, duty and honor are attributes to fake in order to win elections – see the 1st Commandment – but are never indulged with sincerity. These values can clog with guilt many of the actions necessary for the required political fight-to-the-death.

IV. Thou shalt demonstrate no respect for the universe as God’s creation. Good Democrats must see the Earth as fragile, purposeless, and a god itself. Democrats may show up for church on Sunday, but they are not to take any of it seriously and should choose a church that preaches Marx rather than Paul.

V. Thou shalt destroy all vestiges of family. Democrats believe in taxing citizens so intensely that both parents have to earn a wage. Their public school curricula train children to revere government rather than parents. Democrats champion sexual deviance and prepare children to indulge their sexuality from a young age. They champion abortion at all stages of fetal development, and deny the differences between the sexes to produce maximum societal confusion. When the family fails, then government can take over. One can see the resemblance to the ancient phallic cults.

VI. Thou shalt attack, provoke, ridicule, and kill whomever gets in your way. Even when they don’t physically kill their political opponents, they kill their livelihoods, their reputations, their families. This commandment gives modern Democrats an excuse to run conservatives out of restaurants, out of theaters, out of their homes. Democrats can attack with impunity Republicans’ electronic privacy – Dems can spy, tap, intercept emails – whatever is necessary. This commandment goes so far as to block any attempt their opponents can make to defend them selves --take their guns; take their knives; keep them vulnerable. Remember – winning is everything because winning brings power.

VII. Thou shalt have any kind of sex with whomever, whenever, and wherever. Refer back to 5th commandment. Societal chaos and desperation opens the door to government control – i.e. power.

VIII. Thou shalt legalize theft by authorizing the government to steal. Big government requires big money to bribe voters, to keep them dependent, to be able to import new voters. Under this command, law enforcement must be hamstrung to such an extent that property crimes can’t be enforced. All ideas of private property must be squelched and socialism championed.

IX.  Thou shalt bear false witness against thine enemies. They make up elaborate stories of sexual deviance and financial malfeasance, of drunken orgies and high school shenanigans. Though they condone such behavior amongst themselves, they feign horror and outrage at the supposed missteps of their opposition. They gum up the operations of government with said allegations and erase all remembrance of innocence-until-proven-guilty. Winning, remember, is everything.

X. Thou shalt envy, covet, and indulge all jealous attitudes, hating anyone who has accumulated more wealth, more power, or more fame than you have. This is the engine the runs the whole thing. Without envy there is no discontent. Where there is no discontent, there is little need of government. Where there is little need of government, there is no accumulation of power. If there is no accumulation of power there is none for the party to grab and no wealth for the party to pocket.

What we saw the Democrats do before, during, and after the Kavanaugh inquiry had to have sobered up a lot of honest, honorable Americans because what we saw on display was grotesque. Kavanaugh was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t before he even walked into that chamber. Without one word of testimony Democrats were spouting their “I believe her,” decrees as if they were holy proclamations.

But most Americans are good people – generous and forgiving, honest and hard-working, earnest and dutiful. What we saw in the behavior of the Democrats, both in the committee and around the edges, was the opposite of everything we have been proud of as a nation. The Democrat adherence to these leftist directives, these ancient pagan mandates, proved to be too ugly to countenance. No doubt decent Democrats all over the nation looked in that national mirror and were as horrified as the rest of us were. The voting booth is the only way we have to wash that venomous taste from our mouths.

Advise and Consent

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Any thinking person today is hearing alarms going off in all directions over the Kavanaugh accusations. It’s obvious that this is all dirty politics; we can see that in the timing, in the fussiness about Ford testifying, in the nasty rhetoric that swirls in poisonous clouds throughout Washington. But the problem is much deeper.

In the first place, we have no clearly defined morés for sexual behavior anymore. The sexual revolution has opened a multitude of fearful doors. Our young women find themselves defenseless in compromising situations and we have no guidance to give them. We have no way to council them – or our young men – about just where the line is. Sex is now allowed, performed, promoted. Women feel they can behave in any way they wish, wear whatever they wish, and men have to hold that line and read feminine signals with no idea of what they mean. This looseness has been trending for decades and suddenly now we’ve turned puritanical and are horrified at the very thought of sexual advances happening.

We have no clear idea of what, exactly, “sexual assault” means. From the precious little detail Ford has given, we can’t tell whether she’s describing teenaged rough-housing or attempted rape. She obviously wants us to picture the latter, but if she had suffered such a violent attack, would she not have been visibly distressed at the time? Wouldn’t friends have noticed? IF anything happened at all between these two people, how do we know what it was exactly? A hand brushing across a breast? Some pushing and shoving, playful or otherwise, that got out of hand? At what point do we know that a crime occurred? “Assault” is a violent, injury-producing attack. At least it used to be. A quick check with a dictionary defines “assault” as “an unlawful threat or attempt to do bodily injury to another.“ If Kavanaugh had actually committed such an act, wouldn’t that have been noticeable to others? Wouldn’t all the details be burned into her brain? You’d think so.

Secondly, we live in a time in which men, especially white men, are automatically guilty -- of most everything, and in which women are all victims – of everyone male. It is, in part, the vague definitions of sexual faux pas that have made this possible. Almost any advance a man makes can now be interpreted as over the line because no clear line exists. I find this disturbing. I’ve been around for a long time, worked with men for decades and have never known any who were sexually threatening, so this intense enmity between the sexes is incomprehensible to me.

Thirdly, it seems that evidence is no longer of any importance – for anything. Kirsten Gillibrand kept saying in her recent speech on Ford’s accusation, “I believe her. I believe her.” On the basis of what? Guilt or innocence isn’t determined by “belief” but by evidence, but Gillibrand had already made up her mind without meeting Ford, without examining her testimony, without any specifics at all. Even my religious beliefs are based on overwhelming evidence, not on how I feel at the moment. But today, logic and facts garner no respect – every opinion is just based on emotional reaction. How is anyone to get a fair hearing under those circumstances?

Fourthly, all this is happening at a time when few seem to understand how things are done, how our government works. Ever since Trump became president I’ve been aware of this confusion. The left acts as if they can get rid of Trump – evidently by any means – that Hillary will take over. They don’t seem to be aware that losing an election is an actual loss. Even Obama said “elections have consequences”. It means loss of control over administrative agencies; the whole Russia debacle stems from a failure to recognize this fact. An election loss means loss of control over who gets appointed to the Supreme Court and if you don’t have control of the Senate, that’s just done. So the leftists feel justified in throwing every hissy-fit they can drum up. Damn the law and ethics and truth.

According to the Constitution it is within the purview of the Senate to “advise and consent” on SCOTUS appointees. The Constitution says nothing about grilling these appointees half to death, about setting land mines made out of vague and ancient fictions. The concern is supposed to be whether or not the candidate has the education, the clarity, the self-discipline to weigh issues brought before them. It is not about changing the world. It is not about getting the jump on the opposing party. It is certainly not about high school antics – if in fact any happened. The left seems to think that a SCOTUS judge can just haul off and change laws, which explains their hysteria, but a little knowledge about the balance of power would calm those fears. SCOTUS can’t initiate lawsuits; they can only rule on what is brought before them.

We also have forgotten that the FBI doesn’t do this kind of inquiry. Ford wants a special favor – an FBI investigation. But each federal agency has its own job, its own territory. The FBI can only do background investigations, investigate possible federal crimes, and teenage fondling doesn’t qualify -- unless the activity crosses state lines and involves kidnapping. It is also questionable that the FBI is even capable of objectively investigating anything that connects to Donald Trump and his choice for the Court. In the last two years this agency has demonstrated appalling bias and dishonesty in its dealings with our president; it is no wonder Ford is anxious for their support here.

We have also lost track of the concept of innocent until proven guilty -- beyond reasonable doubt. This has been slipping away for quite a while now. The media have become our judge and jury; the more sensational and politically potent an accusation is, the more likely it will be seen as true, and no amount of correction will undo that.

What bothers me the most, however, is that we’ve lost all contact with common sense, with any desire to arrive at the truth. The truth is that Democrats believe they will take Congress in November (The key word here is “believe.”) and they want to put off the confirmation vote until then. So, Ford’s accusations have burst onto the scene in a most orchestrated, obvious manner. She wants to raise a fuss, but not be held to account, which says to me that she is unsure about the whole thing. If it were me, I’d want to get on with it, get it over with, but her hesitancy feels really off. If she didn’t want the attention why write the letter in the first place? And where does she get off wanting Kavanaugh to testify first? Testify to what? This all flies in the face of thousands of years of jurisprudence. Common sense would dictate that we pay attention to policies that have worked for millennia, but common sense is dying.

Eventually the dust will clear and Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed and things will calm down --until the next appointment comes up, until the next overblown accusation is thrown at the next decent man. How many drama-queen explosions can we put up with? How many lies can we absorb? How many crucifixions can one nation stand?

Believe in Something

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Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it. Seldom have I heard a sillier string of sentences. I don’t even care whose face it’s plastered across. Nor do I care which half-witted, left-winged company lurks behind it. It is the statement itself that needs scrutiny – that and our predilection for short, dramatic, schmaltzy concepts.

 The first three words sound like a noble command, like we should all square our shoulders, lift our chins, and bravely BELIEVE – like it’s the believing itself – regardless of what we believe – that is the challenge. 

Well, believing is a challenge if what we believe is baloney. What is it that Colin Kaepernick believes? Does he actually believe that cops are just running amuck all over the country shooting down sweet little black kids? Is that true? Not according to actual crime statistics, it’s not. Not according to court decisions it’s not. But, that doesn’t matter; it’s the believing that counts as if believing is hard to do.

Human beings have three ways we learn: we hear; we experience; we think. Our mothers told us the stove was hot. If we were smart, we believed her and learned that lesson. The more curious and recalcitrant among us also touched the stove and learned the hard way. Those of us who could think ruminated on those events – the telling and the doing – and came to a rational conclusion that giving stoves a wide berth is a good idea. 

Believing, which we usually relegate to religious and philosophical realms, is really the most basic and useful of our brains’ operations. Most of what we learn, we learn by faith. So having faith is no great accomplishment – it just means accepting as truth what someone tells us.

But how do we validate that what we learn is true? By the other two methods. We observe and we do. We try it out. We think logically about it. Our faith, our believing is no more valuable than that in which we believe. Yet, Nike wants us to just randomly have faith – in any old thing, as far as I can tell, AND to believe it to the extent that we’re willing to sacrifice everything. So I guess I’ll believe in the Great Pumpkin. I’m going to wear a pumpkin costume to work every day even if I get fired. Is that a reasonable policy?

No. If I’m going to give up everything, I’d want to know that what I’m standing behind is real. I believe in the resurrection of Christ because the people who walked and talked and ate with Him afterward were so sure that they were willing to die terrible, torturous deaths defending the idea. They didn’t just believe; they knew.

A lot of people believe in socialism in spite of the mountains of economic, historic, and psychological evidence to the contrary. We can give them no credit for believing because their faith is rooted in ignorance and guilt, not in fact. Some sociology professor told them it would work and they just bought it with no more questioning than they did when their mothers told them that the hairy thing on the couch was a cat. Colleges used to teach their students to do that follow-up thinking, but they don’t anymore and now we’re faced with a couple of generations of people who just have faith. Period. No knowledge. No logic. Just grab the slogan and go. 

If we’re going to be a culture of aphorisms, if we must take our wisdom in nanosecond bursts, let us at least get it from somewhere more accredited than Nike and a second-string quarterback. 

Let’s try G. K. Chesterton, for starters. He’s the king of the bon mot. How about this one, “Comparisons are odious.” We’d do well to have this tattooed on our forearms. Maybe then we’d quit whining, “They’ve got more than we have,” whimper, whimper, whimper. Chesterton is so right; we can’t profitably compare our lot to others’ because we can never really know what anyone else’s lot is. And yet we have an entire political party that is based on fact-less, baseless, self-pitying comparisons. 

Or maybe C. S. Lewis – “We are all fallen creatures and all very hard to live with.” The Apostle Paul said it this way, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Now that’s an aphorism we can all get behind. Even young children have lived long enough to know how true that is. If we all said that to ourselves once a day we’d stop expecting too much of our friends and family. We’d know that no one, not parents, not teachers, not government officials, not even grandchildren are perfect. This will make us disappointment-proof and far less cranky. 

What about Socrates’s famous line? -- “An unexamined life is not worth living.” That would be a productive mantra that would urge us on to more thoughtful living. It may not be zingy enough to sell running shoes, but it is true. Life is too much trouble to not have a reason or a purpose. Such a line would push us to figure it out.

Since we live in a competitive and driven society maybe Woody Allen’s line, “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” would be worth memorizing. That thought would help us face Monday mornings, push us to get the dishes done, or to mow the lawn. 

Or we could emblazon on our foreheads Booker T. Washington’s completely race-less advice, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” That might go further toward ending our national tensions than calling up the specter of men on a football field kneeling to whatever god they kneel to.  Quit whining and just do it. 

Or on an even more powerful note, Mahatma Gandhi’s statement, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  This is far more direct than “Believe in something” and yet it gives the reader as wide a selection. It is a little more daunting because if we want the world to be better, then we must change as well – it’s not all about the other guy. Making a spectacle of oneself doesn’t quite get there. A professional athlete could open a sports center for young men in one of our deadly cities. He could pay for a lawyer for a person he thought had been wrongly accused. A person with fame and money could actually make improvements and not just throw temper tantrums.

Of course, if you want to stick with sports we could have as one of our core beliefs Wayne Gresky’s rousing injunction, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” That would get people into their gear and out onto the ice.  Logically speaking, it’s always going to be a true statement, and all it asks of you is to go play whatever game you’re in. Give it a go. It doesn’t require you to make a fool of yourself. It doesn’t require you to sacrifice something you don’t really even have. 

Lastly, we could even go with an Oprah quote – “You become what you believe,” though I see that as more of a cautionary concept than an inspirational one. In the first place, I’m not at all sure that it’s true. I’ve had students who believed they were A pupils, but were very wrong about that assessment. Besides which, what if, like our starting quarterback wannabe, the thing you believe is just nonsense? According to the Oprah, you too would become nonsense. 

I believe in something. I believe in the Trinity and in the founding concepts of this country. The evidence for the reality, logic and power of these is overwhelming. For these I’d sacrifice it all. 



















Legalizing the Constitution  

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 I once had a bumper sticker that read “Legalize the Constitution,” and occasionally I would find myself having to explain it, and often to defend it. Really? Not only is the Bill of Rights no longer understood or venerated, but confusion reigns. The most important, the First Amendment seems most prone to misuse. It reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Seems simple, yet we find ourselves at a point in our history where its import is ignored, repudiated, or twisted all out of proportion. 


The First Amendment starts with the phrase “Congress shall make no law…” So this limits the activities of Congress – not of states, or individuals, or schools, or any other group.  Just Congress. A community can pass a law against obscene language in public if it wants to. A teacher can limit the amount of speech and its contents in her class – she isn’t Congress. A pastor should be able to say anything from the pulpit that his congregation will tolerate.


Secondly, it keeps Congress out of the business of setting up a national religion – common at the time of writing. It keeps Congress – not anyone else – out of regulating religious practice. Nothing in this statute prohibits states, or cities,  from doing so. I suspect that, if Michigan continues its march toward Islam, that at least some of its cities will take advantage of that freedom. 


Thirdly, Congress is forbidden to make any law that abridges freedom of speech. This is where we are up against a hard wall. There can be, in this country, no national law enforcing political correctness. Which means that federal law enforcement cannot arrest, incarcerate, try, or convict anyone for an utterance just because it is offensive to someone. If I fail to utilize the correct non-gendered pronoun, I could be imprisoned in Canada, but the First Amendment prohibits that here.


So, does that mean that a company can’t fire a person because he was overheard bad-mouthing the boss? Or propositioning a female employee? Or calling someone the n-word? No. The business belongs to those who own it and since private ownership of property is another of our cherished rights, the business can hire and fire whom it will. There are social and financial consequences and the Bill of Rights doesn’t protect us from those. If Facebook and Twitter keep offending conservatives, we’ll just leave – life without them is possible – but the government has to stay out of it.


Does it mean that the president can’t remove the top secret security clearance from some ex-bureaucrat? No. A security clearance gives a person the right to know, not the right to speak about what he knows – that’s why the word “secret” is involved. 


Fourthly, “freedom of speech” just means that no federal legal action can be taken against you for something you say. That is not an absolute – threatening to kill or harm someone is illegal, inciting to riot is as well. Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater will land you in some trouble. Lying under oath can cost you. Common sense prevails. 


“Freedom of speech” does not protect you from the negative social consequences of being linguistically obnoxious. It does not abrogate laws against slander and libel. It merely means that the federal government can’t grab you out of your bed in the middle of the night and throw you in a dungeon for complaining about the powers that be. 


I like a Jordan Peterson quote I recently ran across: “Free speech isn’t merely the right to criticize those in power, and it’s also not only the right to say what you think. It’s actually the right to think.”  And I would add that is also the responsibility to think – before you speak. Every right has a concurrent duty, and the more important the right, the more onerous the obligation. It is horrifying to hear elected officials and other limelight individuals saying in public that our president should be killed. If they don’t like Trump’s policies, then argue against them, but don’t advocate his death.


It is embarrassing to hear our fellow Americans screaming obscenities, which are neither thought nor speech.  Taboo words and phrases are linguistically interesting in that they don’t originate in the language center of the brain, but rather in the limbic system – they come boiling up out of the brain stem without a single cogent thought behind them. https://harvardsciencereview.com/2014/01/23/the-science-of-swearing/



What’s more, actions are not the same as speech, though courts have disagreed with me. Burning flags, throwing rocks through windows, burning effigies are not discourse – they are temper tantrums. If a person can’t articulate his grievances in actual language, then he hasn’t thought, hasn’t convinced anyone in power of the rightness of his cause, and it’s likely he doesn’t even know what his cause is. 


The First Amendment keeps the government from denying us the right to gather in groups, carry placards, chant slogans, sing songs – yes, but the key word in the amendment is “peaceably.” Demonstrations we are seeing in the streets these days are not peaceable. Nor are those assembling speaking in any coherent sense. In fact, lately, many of such protests have been attempts to deny others their rights to freely assemble and to speak.  


The First Amendment does not protect us from hearing things we find objectionable. We have no right to go through life without being offended. We have no right to be shielded from those with whom we disagree. We have no right to coerce others to agree with us. I am a Christian and as such, I have an obligation to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with my fellow man. That is the “practice” of my religion. Yet many today think that the expression of my gratitude for my free salvation is an effort to “force” my religion on them. “Force” involves violence, not speech. 


Speaking of which, does “freedom of religion” apply to jihadi activity? Is Islam even a religion? One of these days SCOTUS will have to figure that out. The First Amendment really doesn’t protect us from anything but the federal government, however the federal government does have the responsibility of protecting its citizens from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Allegiance_(United_States) We’ll have to wait and see.


How does the First Amendment affect education? It should not have limited what I as a teacher could say in my public school classroom – my atheist colleagues could say what they thought, but these days Christian teachers must be very careful. Those who think there is any such thing as neutrality, are mistaken. If we limit our children’s view of the world by excluding God from the classroom, we have taught them, by default, that God isn’t. Schools have hidden behind that sloppy thinking for generations. 


Look, we cannot protect the Constitution if we don’t take the time to think it through, if we don’t even know what it says. It is not a bludgeon with which to accost or silence our opponents. It is not an invitation to lie or manipulate. It is meant to defend honorable citizens from a government’s tendency to become dishonorable. Our Constitution – the most astounding covenant outside of the Bible – deserves not only “legalization,” but reverence, care, and protection. 






If They Haven’t Learned…                



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Picture 10-year-old Johnny, his masculinity threatened on every level, his mental and physical energy denied expression, his home life hectic and unsupportive, his continued inability to read becoming more debilitating every year, and his boredom level has climbed off any available chart. Imagine being him. And yet, we know that his disadvantages will not be met in 5th grade any more than they were in 1st. We know – looking at the recent educational studies – that in seven years, he will graduate, in much the same condition -- if he graduates at all. Given the odd assumption that graduation proves effective education, and the pressure schools are under to up graduation numbers, he probably will walk away with a diploma, but it will be a meaningless one.

We know that the graduation rate and the proficiency levels no longer correlate at all.  Over 80% of our high school seniors “earn” diplomas, but only 37% of them can read at grade level. Only 25% of them can do math at grade level. And yet our schools are more concerned about programming young people for sexual deviancy and multicultural hatred of their own country than they are in turning out thinking, informed, skilled adults. 

So why can’t our schools fix this problem? There are many answers – teachers’ unions, left-leaning educational institutions, leftist textbooks, etc. But our schools are filled with wonderful teachers working appalling hours and wanting desperately to see their students learn. So what is in their way? How is it these kids can get all the way through 13 years of schooling and know nothing? 

Look back at Johnny. In first grade he didn’t learn to read, but what happened to him? He went on to 2nd grade where he had even less opportunity to figure it out. But did he stay in 2nd grade or a remedial class until he caught on? No. On to 3rd where his dismal scores on standardized tests demonstrate clearly his inabilities, but still nothing will be done.

One year during my tenure as a high school English teacher we were required to attend evening classes instructing us in how to teach our students to read – in addition to everything else we were supposed to be inculcating. The lessons in these classes were all geared to 3rd grade, which bothered us all – if this approach didn’t work when these kids were 8-year-olds, why would it work when they’re 17? I asked about the viability of this approach for high school and the instructor admitted that they had no idea how to rescue a teenager who had never mastered reading. 

Fifty years ago schools quit holding Johnny back a grade when he didn’t reach the set standards. Administrators deemed it too rough on his ego to admit his problem and fix it. We would damage his self-esteem and we heard over and over again that the self-esteem deficit would render any increase in skill null and void. No one ever proved that, but say something often enough and it becomes gospel. No one considered what damage Johnny’s ego would sustain in high school when reading and writing and computing skills were both assumed and necessary. 

Once the schools cannot hold kids back because they haven’t mastered reading and math then subsequent teachers are under pressure – political, professional, and pragmatic – to keep the momentum going. 

Some dumbing down has to happen if a teacher has a classroom full of students who are below grade level. There is nothing to be gained by failing them all. And as teachers, we are taught to meet our students where they actually are. That is good pedagogy. 

However, if an instructor’s students don’t meet the standard, the teacher gets in trouble, the students become demoralized, and the parents get angry. Angry parents make for nervous and defensive administrators who, in turn, pressure the teachers into – what?  Passing the students whether they’ve cleared the hurdles, or not. 

This continues until high school when the problem just blows up. Unless the district chooses to do what my district did – we “raised the bar.” You’ve got to love educational jargon.  We did this by -- 1. Cutting out the “D” as a grade option – which, of course, merely inflated the grades. 

2. Demanding students turn in ALL assignments. I know, this doesn’t seem out of line, but most students miss an assignment now and then, and no one could see that a do-or-die turn-in policy only erased the ability to insist on due dates. We couldn’t legally fail a kid for being late on an assignment. One of my students said to me one day, “Ah due dates, schmoo dates.” Kids were turning in papers that were months late and we had to accept them. 

3. Forcing kids into honors level classes whether they were capable or not.  And then when too many began failing, the administration demanded that teachers dumb down the curricula. Then the following year, students were assigned to the next level up and they weren’t ready to do the work because the previous curricula had been so simplified.  That was “raising the bar.” 

Then these kids go off to college and the colleges face the same problems. I’d like very much to increase the rigor of the college classes I teach – in spite of the fact that transfer students find my classes much more rigorous than their state junior college classes have been. But if I really expected kids to actually function at what we used to call “college” level, they’d fail. It’s mind boggling, and frustrating, and knowing where it came from is not much help. 

It’s not like we don’t know what can be done about it. In the last couple of decades brain research has taught us quite a bit about how the brain learns. We know that that the more background knowledge a child has, the better reader he will be– yet we spend most of the school day drilling kids on “reading skills” rather than teaching them anything factual. We know that movement plays a big role in brain development, yet we cut back on recess. We know music and art improve brain function, but we cut art.

We must remember that the original purpose of John Dewey’s educational scheme never was to produce thinking, critical, knowledgeable human beings. It was to create drones. And we have succeeded in that. 

Plus, the society in general discourages facing ugly truths and makes pretending fairly easy for a long period of time, but here in 2018 it’s clear that the make-believe fairy tale is over. Millennials are finding that they are tens of thousands of dollars in debt and yet they know little that is actually true. They have learned attitudes, but not facts. We’ve hit that wall. 

So what does public education do? Nothing. I’ve been involved, either willingly or otherwise, in half a dozen educational reforms designed to fix our problems. They all fail. The solution lies outside the auspices of government and teachers unions. The responsibility for educating our young has to start with the family. It can easily blossom into private enterprise, charter schools, school vouchers. The homeschooling industry is thriving and so are the students educated at home. 

For the last nine years I’ve been involved in building a school, a Bible-based junior college. Accreditation took us that long, and raising money isn’t easy, but it can be done. We can crawl out from under the crushing weight of a system devoid of reality. We just have to begin. 






Fragmentation and the Family   

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Time was when society was a fairly simple arrangement. There was Noah and his wife and the three sons and their wives.  That mini-society obviously worked well because in just a few hundred years human beings found the time to build giant monuments. Babble complicated things, but still, people split up and went their own ways and continued to populate the earth. But now there are close to 320 million of us in this country alone, the Internet has us all sitting in each other’s laps, and our ability to function intelligently and cohesively is getting lost in the shuffle.

And time was when most of us in this nation operated on very similar religious and moral standards. We believed in Truth. We all wanted to survive, to thrive, to build a free nation. Even with the awfulness of slavery and the question of how to handle the native tribes, the majority of us marched forward toward the shared goal of a free and noble nation. 

We did that by starting with the family as the main organizing factor. The family is one of the four divine institutions, and has always been a mainstay in human society, so we knew how to do it: you have a father and a mother and they produce children for whom they are responsible until those children marry and produce their own children and the original parents grow old and become the responsibility of the grown children.  It’s a pretty slick system. 

But that time is no more.  We’ve dismantled such a large percentage of our families through welfare, through same-sex marriage, through relaxed mores about adultery, that the family is no longer the foundation of many of our communities. 

Human beings seem programmed to work best in small groups; we self-divide into manageable clusters. Either society is separated into families as per the divine institutions, or it’s divided into groups of its own making: blacks vs. white, Jews vs. Gentiles, men vs. women, citizens vs. illegals, Muslims vs. everyone else, etc. Creating ad hoc identities wreaks havoc on a society. We can see this just looking around us.

Instead of a nation of cooperating adults working toward a common goal, we become a group of squabbling children fighting over the available toys. When society divides into traditional families, children are raised to get along, to work together to accomplish common objectives, to find a way to fit in with other families. When the groups are instead gathered by superficial commonalities that pit them against other groups, the result is a fragmenting of society – an us-against-them mentality that produces nothing but vitriol and complaint. We are not Americans anymore, but conservatives or liberals, Christians or atheists, pro-Trumpers or anti-everything leftists. 

Since groups organize merely by yelling the loudest or creating the most guilt, they multiply. It won’t be long before we’ll have, in addition to gay pride parades, adulterers’ pride parades, and then the shoplifters and the prostitutes will demand their due respect – oops, forgot Stormy Daniels, guess that’s already happening. Now, even pedophiles are claiming what they think is their due. There’s nowhere to stop, no group too objectionable to support, or too specialized to gain a hearing. 

And since groups are self-forming and there are no guidelines for determining their shape and no list of qualifications for membership, a person can claim group affiliation regardless of reality. Men can claim to be women; whites can claim to be Native American or black (remember Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who claimed to be black?) 

To further snarl things, many people find themselves in multiple special interest groups.  A person, we’ll call her “Jane,” can easily be black, gay, and female all at once. What sociology professors call “intersectionality” happens and poof! like rabbits the number of special groups increases exponentially.  Now Jane belongs, not only to her original 3 groups, but to the group that is both gay and black, the group that is both female and black, and the group that is lesbian. Each group has its own set of issues and grievances and each group is competing with the other for attention and money. Where does that leave Jane? More discontented than ever because she now has to face off against white lesbians, against Christian blacks, against white men more than black ones. Can she be friends then with a white, Baptist preacher? Or with a Muslim? No – her social life gets both complicated and limited. 

Which gets to the next point – issues and grievances. Families don’t have to gather around the drumbeat of shared miseries – they’re already connected by blood.  But these synthetic groups need to have a common cause, so victimology is inevitable. Groups tend to face off against one another, far more than families do, and this behavior increases when there are payoff funds to vie for and nothing helps more than a super-sad list of atrocities the group has suffered at the hands of what they imagine to be the rival group. “He wouldn’t bake my cake!” “I make less money than he does!” “My great-grandmother had to sit in the back of the bus!”

Groups just as often organize themselves around an issue that doesn’t necessarily directly affect its members. Very few of the angry demonstrating college kids have any real iron in any of the fires they set. They are aligned by ideology rather than by skin-color, ethnicity, or sexuality.  They are motivated more by hubris than by righteous indignation. They believe in socialism and so they fight the capitalist. They think the earth is being destroyed so they fight pipelines and plastic straws and beef.  They are lesbians in favor of abortion or men outraged over women’s issues or whites drowning in assumed, but unnecessary, guilt. Cross-reference this type of group with the racial/ethnic divides and the issue of intersectionality becomes acute. 

We see this all the time – feminists who are pro-Muslim immigration, or men who are anti-gun, but also pro-Hollywood shoot-em-ups, or pro-choice where abortion is the issue but anti-choice where religion is at stake.  It becomes impossible in a society like that to be a coherent thinker.  A groupist finds himself constantly having to swing several hoola-hoops at once, each spinning at a different speed, and often going opposite directions. 

We can no longer have intelligent conversations partly because we can no longer express a rational thought, but also because we are no longer talking as individuals, but as members of a soulless group – BLM, or AntiFa, or LGBT, or LaRaza, or NOW.  Thinking for ourselves is no longer an option, so adopting the latest talking points is all that is possible. No problems get solved that way because groups don’t think, individuals think, and because to focus on the problem, the supposed injustice, does not produce solutions.  Negativity never arrives at the positive. 

Speaking of which, what do we do about it? We’ve made a good start by electing Donald Trump – a man who strongly believes in family. We’ve made other good starts by going back to teaching our own children, another reinforcement for the family. Let’s go forward and undo the welfare restrictions that remove the male from the household. This policy has destroyed the black family.  Let every step we take going forward be a step to bolster the health of the family.  After all, the family was God’s idea and He generally knows what He’s doing. 



Starless, Starless Night

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                   Here we are, groping our way through the promised Age of Aquarius, constantly bombarded with images of kids snorting prophylactics or swallowing detergent, college professors gloating over the dead, and young people committing random, mass shootings. Ignorance and arrogance vie for first place in our national personality. We’re uprooting our past in the irrational belief that it will improve our future. We literally roll out the red carpet for those whose ideology is idolatrous, murderous, seriously abusive. Not a day goes by without us finding out some additional skullduggery committed by people high up in government. It’s just mind boggling – and I think I know one reason why this is happening. 


Yes – the education system is partially responsible. 


Yes – most churches do more to entertain us than they do to teach us.


Yes—we’ve removed God from the public square. All these are part of the problem, but there’s another underlying cause. Stars.


Or the lack thereof.  We have lost sight of the stars. 


Stars are useful.  We need to be able to see them – all of them spread out against a black velvet sky, trillions of little pin-pricks of light reminding us of who we are, of how little we are, how lucky we are to live on this tiny jewel of a planet, out on the edge of an ordinary galaxy where we have a magnificent view of places so far away that they no longer exist. We need constant reminders that we are not self-sufficient, that something is not only bigger than we are, but so good, so gorgeous, so dynamic that we can’t begin to wrap our brains around it. We need awe. We need wonder. We need humility. 


But today our cities vie with the stars, blocking them, drowning them in a light that we think is of our own making, homogenizing the night with neon signs and hydrogen street lights, with spotlights strafing the heavens, with flood lights on a football field, with millions of miles of headlights snaking through our cities. We’ve come to the subconscious conclusion that we make the light. 


We have, it’s true, found ways to transfer the light from the day into the cosmic darkness of night, and that is wonderful. We’ve all admired the lights of a city laid out before us, been grateful for the split second that it takes to flip a light switch and illuminate a room, a stage, a baseball field. Our ability to do that reminds me of God’s words as He watched Nimrod build the Tower– “…nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them,” (Genesis 11:6b). It’s true that the human mind and our opposable thumbs have done a cracker-jack job of subduing the Earth in spite of the linguistic barrier the Lord created at Babel. We live so much more comfortably than even kings were able to do just a couple hundred years ago.


But, we have forgotten the stars. 


According to Genesis 1:14-19, stars were created on the 4th day.  

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. 


God created them for “signs and seasons.” Ancient people used them for just that – the heavenly bodies told them when to plant, told them when winter was coming, when the days would get longer again. The Zodiac, many scholars say, tells the story of the Gospel – from the Virgin, to the judgment of Libra, through the feeding of the 5,000 with a handful of Pisces, to the sacrifice of the Taurus. I’m not arguing that ancient man read it that way, but we do know from the book of Job, written c2500 B.C. that men had already named the signs of the Zodiac, the Mazzaroth, 


Job 9: 8 & 9 --He alone spreads out the heavens,

And treads on the waves of the sea;

He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades,

And the chambers of the south;


Job 38:32 -- Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season?

Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?


This is God telling Job the same thing – don’t get arrogant here, Job. I made all this; you didn’t. Look at the stars and re-align your thinking, fix your perspective. I am in control here. 


Job had forgotten that. We have too.


Recently I ran across an article about a newly developed map of the universe. The images were startling – as if the galaxies had just been flung outward like a woman tossing feed to her chickens. Another image was color-coded and looked like someone had just slung a handful of glitter and some of it had doubled back on itself, some arched, some curled, some still headed straight out from the center. It was gorgeous. And then when I realized that these specks of light were entire galaxies, and we live in a non-descript, ordinary galaxy, in a not very extravagant solar system on a small sphere in exactly the right place, with exactly the right minerals and gases and liquids, exactly the correct gravitational force, exactly the right temperature variation. Earth is unusual only in that we live here, that we can live here.. And who are we? Was all this for us? 


Then, “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” We are nothing in the face of the vastness of this universe, and yet, this universe seems to be for us. And if so, then our lives are about much more than getting the next promotion, or a date with the girl at the coffee shop. The stars tell us that – their vastness, their distance, their sheer multitude, their beauty, the messages in their arrangement, the clocklike order of their movement, their utter dependability. 


Stars, like all sparkling things, draw our attention. They pull our gaze away from contemplating our navels. They carry us out past this world and up into eternity. They take the lid off of our imaginations and raise our awareness of God. We need stars. 


Maybe we need to institute a holiday for the stars. Once a year we would shut down all the lights everywhere so we could all go outside, lie out on old blankets spread on the grass in our backyards, or stand with our neighbors in the middle of the street and look up. Just for an hour, once a year. Maybe that would help us keep our heads from swelling, keep us in touch with reality, keep us humble. 


We are in desperate need of humility – not humiliation – just the ability to realize our rightful place in the order of things, to realize that there is an order to things and that order is not of our making. He who made those stars and flung them across the heavens is in charge – whether we like it, or not. 



















The Narrow Brick Road

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We hear often in the media disparaging remarks about Christians. It is the one group society is allowed to attack, the one religion that political correctness refuses to cover with its blanket of protection. But why? Isn’t one of Christianity’s most basic mandates to “love one another?” How is that obnoxious or objectionable? Doesn’t Jesus represent to all of us God’s perfect love? Two answers occur to me:

  1. 1.    The media (i.e. the left) knows so little about Christianity that it has made up its own straw man version to knock about. …and, more importantly,
  2. 2.    The negativity is the fault of the Church writ large – the Roman Catholics, the Anglicans, the mainstream Protestants, the Baptists, the Evangelicals – all of us. 


So, in what way has the Church failed Christ? 

  1. 1.    The Gospel is good news, but the Church rarely presents it that way. Christianity isn’t about sin, about who’s committing what sin where. Our sins were paid for on the cross – that’s not a catch phrase but an ontological truth. All humans know that perfection is beyond us. And most people – when we think of God at all – understand that He is perfection and demands perfection, can tolerate nothing less. That’s a nasty pickle to be in, but God solved the problem for us. The Gospel tells us that our imperfections have been permanently paid for and forgiven. This is called grace.  It is very good news, but…
  2. 2.    Grace is what most Christians get wrong. Oh, we can all repeat the phrase “unmerited favor,” but few think much beyond that and I know that because even our theologians, our Christian writers, our church leaders say the phrase and then start listing all the things Christians have to do earn God’s approval, all the things we have to avoid doing to keep His favor. It’s no wonder non-Christians are confused. Is Christianity about recognizing what Christ did for us, or is it just a club for the self-righteous and the do-gooders? And nobody much likes those folks.
  3. 3.    The Church has failed to make it clear that God is rational, clear, and wanting us to be so as well. It is not rational to say to someone, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” and then turn around and present a list of must-do’s to keep that gift. We can’t say that God is good, that He’s just, that He’s loving and then insist that some of us have been predestined to go to heaven and some to hell. That does not make sense.  A God who would arbitrarily choose some to bless some to curse is a nasty being indeed. 


Christianity isn’t about following the Ten Commandments, though when a society, generally speaking, does limit behavior along those lines, the society benefits. Christians recognize the worth of those rules, but obeying them does not determine where we spend eternity.  It will make life here on earth easier, more pleasant, more fulfilling.  But no one can fulfill those mandates perfectly; Christ made that clear in the Sermon on the Mount; if we even think sin, we are guilty of it. If we break even one aspect of the law, we are guilty of all of it. Yet, no matter how obnoxious a sin is, it is not the mandate of the Christian to wipe it out. 


Christianity isn’t about earning “Boy Scout” badges, about doing good, about being generous and kind – though both make us feel good and can result in benefits for others.  Being generous and kind should be an effect, not a cause, not a requirement, not a way of keeping score. Christians far too often give that impression. It’s about grace, about UNmerited favor. 


Christianity isn’t even about praying. Not about memorized prayers, not about public prayer, not about ritualistic prayer. Christianity is about getting to know God and prayer results from that.  We communicate with those we know and the better we know them the more contact we want, but prayer without knowing is no better than Facebook. God has introduced Himself to us in nature, but the advanced course in knowing God is in the Bible, and yet many Christian churches downplay the Bible as if it were just an embellishment, another book with which to decorate a shelf.


Christianity isn’t about trying to “change the world,” or “make a difference” by expending our own energies and concentration, our own relationships and worldly goods. That just plumps our own egos.  It is man’s basic flaws that screwed up society in the first place – how can a broken part fix a broken car? Besides which, God’s clear communication to us lets us know that He has the solution for this broken world well in hand; we can’t fix it, but He can and He will. 


Oddly enough, Christianity done well does change the world. When Christians learn what God would have us do, and do it through the guidance and power of God, amazing things happen. It is Christians who brought into the world orphanages and hospitals, schools and charities of all kinds. It is Christians who insisted in stopping the practice of slavery. Christian countries are usually much more prosperous than their unbelieving counterparts. But the same activities outside of contact with God through Christ don’t fare as well. Look at what happened when a non-Christian foundation set out to help the people of Haiti after the hurricane. Tens of millions of dollars vanished and only six houses were built. Christianity, i.e. a personal connection with the God of the universe, creates almost automatically, an improvement in the world, but one cannot become a Christian by “changing the world.”


We hear people talk about “staying on the straight and narrow path,” and we assume they mean avoiding sin, but the narrow brick road is not the path of uptight, anti-fun, judgmental self-righteousness, though that’s certainly what non-Christians believe we mean and it is often what Christians themselves think it means. The narrow brick road is the path of grace, of acceptance of the fact that we need God to save us, to save our world, to fix all that is wrong. It means living our lives as a thanksgiving for what God has done for us. Our pathologies fight us on this. We want the gold star. We want to earn it ourselves. We want to lord over others. We want others to look to up to us. And we want to ignore the fact that, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We actually think we can impress God. 


The atheist has every right to look on that silliness and want nothing to do with it. Of course, the atheist has his own silliness to contend with. It’s just as ridiculous to think that humans – whom the atheist often paints as the chief evil of the world – are capable of creating a utopian society that will be good for everyone. They, too, totally forget the garbage-in-garbage-out rule. 


As this age winds to an end, and it is doing so quickly, we must remember that history will play out just as God has planned it – whether we believe in Him or not, whether we obey Him or not, whether or not we follow and worship His Son. It’s truly pointless to travel down any other road than the narrow and humbling road of perfect, actual grace. It is only that road that leads to permanent joy. 





Not in Kansas Anymore

I have a 1956 Norman Rockwell print of a frumpy, sweet-faced teacher standing in front of a class of clean-scrubbed, straight-backed children. They had just written “Happy Birthday, Miss Jones! ” on the blackboard for her. It’s a scene light years away from a 21st century school massacre, and it may take some time for the more Pollyanna amongst us to readjust to what the 21st century school really is. This may explain the freak-out over the idea of arming teachers: Miss Jones with a Ruger tucked into her belt is just too hard to swallow.   

This worries me because we can’t fix a problem that we don’t have the courage to really acknowledge. Our schoolrooms are still full of great kids -- sweet-natured and teacher-loving, but these days every class has an ever-increasing number of students carrying major psychological damage. I’ll never forget a class of freshman I had one year – of the 27 students in that section, 9 were seriously mentally disturbed. I know a teacher who’s trying to deal with a student who has already thrown rocks through the principal’s office windows and is currently threatening to burn down the school with a flame-thrower. He’s 6 years old.  

It’s been 10 years since I’ve been in a public school classroom, but even back then the horrible parenting I was seeing had me worried. I’ll never forget the young man who chose to write his narrative essay about the night his father tried to strangle him.  He was nervous about testifying at his dad’s trial. Or the young woman whose father was willing to pay for the braces she needed as long as she would bring home friends for him to have sex with. And the young man, fatherless and very troubled, who brought a hatchet to school to use on me if I made him give a speech. His terrified mother’s warning saved both my life and his. 

Or the kid who stole my credit card and was going to hold it hostage until I changed his failing grade. Or the young lady I found sobbing her heart out in the hallway one morning. I hesitated to stop and talk to her – she was prone to frequent tearful meltdowns – but I did stop and I was glad I had. That morning her father had walked into a local park, doused himself with gasoline and lit a match. He was, of course, dead – and no one in that household thought to keep this poor girl at home that day. 

I’m sure most teachers have those stories, but such stories are anecdotal -- there have always been bad parents and damaged kids, but we’ve never had so many. We can trace some of this breakdown through stats – the counselors at my last high school estimated that at least 60% of our clientele came from highly dysfunctional homes. Look at the stats on drug overdoses – our kids, by the tens of thousands, are willing to risk their lives for the momentary faux-euphoria they can get from opioids. They are lonely enough and unsure enough to spend hours on social media, trying, I suppose, to build a facsimile family, a façade of a life. 

According to research done by the Barna Group, Generation Z finds professional achievement, hobbies, and sexual orientation more important in their lives than either family or religion. (Remember that Gen Z includes not only our high school students, but a great many of their teachers.)  Their grandparents’ values are just the opposite. In fact, the same study shows that only 9% of these young people are committed, active Christians. That’s what happens when we send our kids into a system where God is either ignored or mocked. We leave those kids there for 12 years and then they go to college where they are ridiculed and excluded because of their faith. We bought the lie that schools can be neutral and now we’re having to cope with the results. And what happens when the post-modern moral compass of students fails?  Some stats can give some insight. In the 1910’s there were only 2 reported incidences of violent attacks in U.S. schools, and one was actually an accident.  In the 2010’s there were 126 such attacks. Students all over the country are attacking (with both knives and guns) each other and their teachers at an ever-increasing rate. The correlation is unsettling; something has gone wrong. 

Let’s look at this from a teacher’s perspective. A study published in 2011 by CNS News concluded that 145,100 public school teachers had been physically attacked by their students and that 276,700 reported being threatened by students. And that was almost 10 years ago. Just recently (2017) a Huffington Post article mentions that 11% of the teachers in Wisconsin had been attacked by students. The article also discusses a union study that showed that 27% of the instructors interviewed had experienced threats, bullying, and harassment, and half of those incidents had been perpetrated by their students.  This is a long, long way from happy-birthday-Miss-Jones. 

We have developed an undercurrent of thought in this country that has created a mirage, a distant vision of a utopian society in which everyone will live effortlessly and harmoniously, placing no strain on dear Mother Earth, offending no one, and rarely taking responsibility for much of anything. We will puff our egos and pat ourselves on our collective, non-working backs about the Shangri-La we created without any help from that nasty, demanding God. After all, we are evolutionarily sure that people are basically good, so all we have to do is to sing Kumbaya and smoke a joint or two. 

It’s quite a shock therefore when things like the Parkland shooting happen. If people are basically good, then how do we account for the Wicked Witches flying around our cities? How do we explain the massive amount of irresponsibility that led up to the Parkland massacre? We can feel the philosophical panic building. To unravel the twisted, inconsistent, evil worldview that got us to the Austin bombings, the Los Vegas and Parkland shootings, to the shooting in Maryland will take some excruciating soul searching and human beings are not usually willing to go there.

We want to imagine that our schools still look like Miss Jones’ classroom, but that’s not what’s out there.  We want to picture Dorothy skipping merrily down the yellow brick road and we don’t want to think about the hordes of flying monkeys following her. We don’t want to be told about the sex, drugs, cheating, harassing, ugliness of a great many of our public schools – and not just the high schools. As we send our daughters off to the school dance, we don’t want to be told that kids on a dance floor don’t dance; they have sex, clustering around the engaged couples so tightly that the chaperones can’t get to them. I’ve seen that happen myself. We may be able to adjust to the teenage society pictured in Grease or American Graffiti, but not the actuality of today. There is no longer romance because they go directly to sex. There is no more thrill of pushing the speed limit or sneaking a cigarette out behind the barn. That’s no big deal anymore. 

I graduated from high school in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1963. The big, super-cool thing a kid could do then was to drive 75 miles south to Marysville, Kansas where you could buy 3.2% beer at the age of 18. Luckily that road was mostly straight and flat and few of the wild boys in my class got hurt driving it.  That was about it.  I had parties at my house once a month – dozens and dozens of kids – and we drank Pepsi and ate popcorn and danced – just danced – to my brother’s band.  

But we’re not in Kansas anymore. 

I pray that we snap out of the Emerald City fantasy we’ve been lounging in and face the fact that Miss Jones is going to have to strap on that Ruger at least until we’ve rescued the next generation and raised those kids in a Norman Rockwell way. 


1. https://www.barna.com/research/gen-z-questions-answered/

2.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_attacks_related_to_secondary_schools

3. https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/bullied-teachers-145100-public-school-teachers-physically-attacked-students-276700 

  4. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/amid-attacks-teachers-weigh-their-safety-against-student_us_5a1d784ee4b05df68936d064