Friday, July 12, 2024

How Is This Still An Issue?

I wholeheartedly agree with a recent column by Judge Gayden, in which he stated that all U.S. presidential candidates should be required to first pass a neuropsychological test. But I believe there is an even more pressing concern which is this: Why is President Biden and his team unable to accurately discern his current mental state? 

Even though neurological testing would help to exclude from presidency those with cognitive impairment, such as from early Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other causes, it does not offer much help in diagnosing a patient who refuses to recognize his / her current condition. (And I think most of us would agree there are all kind of issues if we were to try to expand this testing to predict future diseases and the impact it will have on an individual.)

President Biden's situation, unfortunately is quite common, in that the vast majority of persons with cognitive decline or serious personality disorder are unaware that they even have a problem. This is usually not due to active denial of pathology, but rather due to a phenomenon called "lack of insight" or what neurologists call "anosognosia".

Friday, July 05, 2024

The Most Important Presidential Debate Ever (by Peggy Noonan)

In the weeks before CNN’s presidential debate I was skeptical of its significance. I didn’t see a dramatic, high-stakes, pivotal showdown coming, only a moderately sized, pro forma moment in a long, drawn-out campaign. The format had too many prohibitions—muted mics, no open discussion, no live audience, no opening statements, no talking to aides during the breaks, no notes on the lectern. This promised something airless, manufactured, hermetically sealed.

Beyond that I doubted we’d learn anything, because I doubted whether either candidate had the ability to expand on his known persona. Joe Biden has moments of blurted thought, but could he really sustain a thought or make an argument that coheres over two minutes? Could he suddenly show command, a true grasp of his own positions?

Could Donald Trump demonstrate that returning him to power wouldn’t be a wholly irresponsible act? Could he make any dent in the doubts, grounded in history, as to his nature and character? This wasn’t a question about whether he’s grown but about whether he can control himself.

Still, as a national event the early debate would function as the formal kickoff of the campaign, replacing Labor Day. And it would make clear how each candidate intends to present himself and his issues the next four months. So maybe it would be more consequential than I anticipated.

Friday, June 28, 2024

The Cost = Value Equation

The other day, as I was thumbing through my ancient record collection, I started thinking about the investment I had in my collection. The majority of my records I do not own, due to a couple of very unorganized moves in my twenties. But I do still have the very first record I ever purchased, which is the Batman TV Show soundtrack by The Marketts. (Here is the link to the theme of that show.) 

Now for context, I had to work to own that album which was also true for any non-essential purchase in my childhood. I saved my allowance which I received for working around the house (beyond my normal chores), then bargained for transportation downtown to the Sears store, (which was the closest store that sold records back then) got home and devoured the album art and info - discovering who played on the record, the album list of songs, the artwork (which was awesome!) and then I put the record on my portable player and listened to the songs. Later I relived this experience when I visited friends and discovered together the shared experience of listening to music. As opposed to our current economic flow required to listen to music, I was heavily invested in my time and money into that experience, which is probably why that album became a treasured possession. 

Friday, June 21, 2024

Friday, June 14, 2024

"Who Am I" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I? They often tell me

I step out from my cell

calm and cheerful and poised,

like a squire from his manor.

 

Who am I? They often tell me

I speak with my guards

freely, friendly and clear,

as though I were the one in charge.

 

Who am I? They also tell me

I bear days of calamity

serenely, smiling and proud,

like one accustomed to victory.

 

Friday, June 07, 2024

The Author of "Who Am I?"

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes of the faith, and his writings have challenged me for years. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and theologian who led an underground seminary in Germany during the Nazi period, and was executed in 1945 for his role in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler. 

One of my favorite poems that he wrote is "Who Am I?". He wrote those words a few weeks before he was killed. The words are haunting, not just because of their mortal timings, but more so for their probing truths into the realm of our projected personas that we present to others. It has been said, "We are all living three types of stories, 1) There is the story that we want others to believe about ourselves, the face that we present to others. 2) Then, there is the story that I believe that I am living, that in my mind and heart I believe sincerely represents who I truly am. 3) Then finally, the true story. The story of my truest intentions, thoughts, and actions which are only known to God. 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (By J. John)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed for his long-standing opposition to Hitler, is one of the great Christian heroes of the twentieth century.

Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 to an aristocratic German family. Evidently gifted, he chose to study theology, graduating with a doctorate at the age of twenty-one. In the first of what were to be many international links he worked for two years with a German congregation in Barcelona. He then went to the United States to study for a year at a liberal theological college that he found shallow and uninspiring. He was, however, impressed by the African-American churches he worshipped at, appreciating the congregations’ zeal and sympathising with the social injustices they endured.

Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in 1931, lecturing and pastoring a church. Horrified by the rise of the Nazis he spoke out publicly against Hitler from the moment he became Chancellor in 1933. His was not a popular view: many German Christians, encouraged by Hitler’s manipulative use of Christian language, saw him as the nation’s saviour.

Friday, May 24, 2024

President Reagan's Normandy Speech (1984)

 


As we approach the 80th anniversary of D-Day this year, I thought it might be beneficial to view President Ronald Reagan's thoughts on this famous battle in history. 

Friday, May 17, 2024

The Story of Job - Revisited

The story of Job is one of the great mysteries of the faith and one that most of us, if honest, really struggle with.  It’s tantamount to asking your dad “why” only to hear him respond, “because I said so”.  

We in our selfish nature want to attach to this story our understanding of justice and fairness.  Our finite comprehension of God wants to ask the same questions Job’s friends did.  We who read carefully want to inquire of God why it is the He pointed out Job to satan and why He removed His hand of protection from a man that the Bible describes as the most righteous man in all the earth at the time. Surely if Job was not spared what chance do we stand who would hardly be labeled as righteous?  

You see, we've barely even stepped off the porch to wade into the weeds and we have already raised massive theological questions about the character of God. And yes, it is true that when God finally answers Job, He almost taunts Him with his lack of knowledge and wisdom, daring him to try to counter a point that God has made. Such is the price for worshipping that which we cannot truly understand, as portrayed by C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia, when confronted by the idea of Aslan, the lion, who is a picture of God, Lucy asks, "Is He safe?"

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

Mr. Tumnus also says, "He's wild, you know. Not a tame lion."

— C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Friday, March 01, 2024

The Second Coming (by William Butler Yeats)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   

Are full of passionate intensity.


Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   

The darkness drops again; but now I know   

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


by William Butler Yeats

Friday, February 23, 2024

Six Verses Later . . .

The life of Jesus seemed to disappoint, at times, almost everyone. For instance, the authority figures of His day, Herod and Pilate couldn't get Him to answer most of their questions. Then we have the Pharisee's - who were the spiritual leaders, who grew tired of Him always answering their questions, and in fact, even most of His own family didn't understand who He was and the message He was teaching. 

His closest confidantes, His disciples, who spent an extraordinary amount of time with Jesus, even a great number of them became disillusioned and eventually fell away, except for a diminished few. 

So lets recap. 

The greatest person who has ever walked the face of the earth, God's very own Son, perfection personified, and human beings still found fault and reasons to prevent them from giving Him their devotion.

People are fickle. (And sometimes worse . . . )

Loyalties change.

Obedience is difficult.

Faith, without God's help, is impossible.

Friday, February 16, 2024

The New Normal

A recent news article was revealing in its details and its timeline. We are discussing the case of Commander, Joe Biden's dog who was finally expelled from the White House after over more than two dozen attacks on White House staffers. This incident is not unlike many other occurrences in the Biden's administration. For instance, for months we have been assured that Commander was not a threat to others, as Biden's spokespersons pretended that everything was normal, when it was in fact, abnormal. 

This is, however, the least of the pretending currently being cast as normal in the Biden White House. Whether we are analyzing Biden's mental capacity, or bringing light to Biden's previous promise to serve only one-term, the communication from the Biden administration is breathtaking in their pronouncement that the abnormal is truly the normal. 

And yet, the American people have not been fooled. Over 73% of Democrats agree that Biden is too old to serve another term as president. And I think most of us can agree that there is nothing normal about the fact that we, as Americans, are being forced to choose between two grouchy old men, both way past their prime, and perhaps even past their abilities to be effective leaders of the United States of America.

Friday, February 09, 2024

Political Figures in the Past

It might seem, to our modern day perspectives, that we are facing an unparalleled dearth of choices in our presidential candidates for our upcoming election. But in the sense of fair play, let's examine a few not so shining examples of political candidate's in our nation's history. For instance, Richard M Johnson, who was President Martin van Buren's vice-president.

Johnson captured the nation’s attention after he killed Shawnee chief Tecumseh during the Battle of Thames in 1813 (he later campaigned for vice president on this achievement with the campaign slogan “Rumpsey Dumpsey,  Colonel Johnson Killed Tecumseh”). The country’s adoration did not last. Later dubbed “the most vulgar man of all vulgar men” by a Senate aide, Johnson scandalized his colleagues by taking one of his slaves as his common-law wife; as a result, he barely garnered enough support to serve in Martin van Buren’s administration. Also while in office, he proposed an expedition to the North Pole so Americans could drill to the center of the Earth, believing the planet was hollow (his resolution was defeated). 

Friday, February 02, 2024

Friday, January 26, 2024

Blessed

When I used to work in the retail world, grand openings were always a big deal. There were weeks of preparation to make sure that everything was clean, stocked and all the employees were properly trained. There were giveaways, local celebrities, special deals, spotless aisles, sparkling and plentiful employees, in other words, everything was designed to make an incredible first impression.

In the book of Matthew, we see the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, his grand reveal so to speak, as he addresses a crowd at the Sermon on the Mount. And the first words that He uses when addressing the many people gathered on the hillside was "Blessed."

Not a command. Not even a calling to perform a duty of some sort, and definitely not a condemnation of choices, but the word Jesus chose was "Blessed".

What I find interesting also is the group of people that Jesus addressed, these were not the type of people that you would ideally want to gather for your grand opening event. Most of these people were desperate, they were not affluent, they were not men and women of great power and influence, they were poor physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

So what did Jesus say to this group of people? He started off with the first four beatitudes which consist of blessings for those who were in need. And the next four beatitudes addressed those who help those people in need.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Shaking My Head . . .


American Family Radio (AFR), a broadcast division of American Family Association (AFA), announced Wednesday it will no longer air Alistair Begg’s radio program “Truth For Life” because of remarks Begg made last year about Christians attending LGBTQ weddings.

The controversy stems from a September 2023 interview in which Begg promotes his book “The Christian Manifesto.” In the interview, he detailed counsel he had given a grandmother who was asking for advice on attending her grandson’s wedding to someone who identified as transgender. Before continuing, Begg acknowledged people may disagree with his answer. Click HERE to read the entire interview. 

Begg said he first confirmed that the woman’s grandson understood she was a Christian and could not affirm his lifestyle choices. When she said that was true, he responded, “Well then, okay. As long as he knows that, then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony. And I suggest that you buy them a gift.”

When the grandmother was caught off guard, Begg continued, “Well, here’s the thing: Your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said, ‘These people are what I always thought: judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything.’”

Friday, January 19, 2024

Friday, January 12, 2024

The Love of God

Shadows turn to monsters, light retreats from view

No relief from darkness, no matter what we do

Our age is fraught with tension, and peace flees from our minds

For when storms become the norm'

And shelter cannot be found

Our dreams no longer attainable

We escape reality with remotes in hand

Seeking our rescue in the company of playthings,

Governments, celebrities, pursuits, friends and pets

Yet none can provide,

The peace that the world rejects

For Jesus, is our only hope

The true Light in a world bathed in darkness

He is our Savior and Creator

Where else are we supposed to run?

Friday, January 05, 2024

Thoughts On The 2024 Election

In anticipation of our first presidential caucus of the 2024 election year, I would like to make a few declarations, which are my own opinions and not representative of where I work, where I shop, my parents, and any other implied authority anyone might imagine. 

I do not believe that any political party in America has a monopoly on what I consider to be truth. God says, for instance, that all lives are valuable and that all of us are made in His image. Yet, both parties support and deny this basic truth in their respective political platforms. 

The Republican party states that because of their support for the unborn child that they are the party that best represents Christian values. At the same time, this same party rewards the greedy and the powerful, and fails to look for ways to take of those who are less fortunate in our society. (See tax breaks, medical insurance policies, education policies for those attending college, are just a few examples). But the Democrats are no better represented, they tend to land in favor of pro-choice, supporting a policy that whatever future the unborn faces is not the greater issue. They tend to believe in more socialist-type policies that reward all equally, no matter the work put forth by the individuals. They tend to be less bullish on respecting authority in our society to the point that liberal cities and states, led by Democrat leadership, are forcing businesses and individuals to flee to states that do represent their beliefs in justice.