December 5, 2013 at 5:14 am, by
I’m happy my normal writing day fall on my big sister’s birthday. Christina Denise Creasman Mason is an amazing woman and a special big sister. She has shepherded me through my life and been my best and closest friend for longer than all others. She protectively watched out for me when I was in my crib, and then guided me through the halls of high school when I was a snot-nosed freshman and she a mighty senior.
She remains a deeply devoted Christian who has given her full life to God, the Father. She is an excellent wife who loves her husband, and accomplishes the exhortations of Proverbs 31 to the full. She has been an extraordinary mother to five children, two as a step-mother (forget it Disney…you have it all wrong and would see the power of a loving step-parent if you modeled your images on my sister) and three as a birth mother. Her last child is now a senior in high school and it is easy to see how successful Tina has been as a parent by looking at the lives of her kids.
Congrats on another year sis. You are the best and I love you dearly!!
December 3, 2013 at 5:11 am, by
With Christmas on the horizon, I thought this famous description of Jesus Christ, through the creative pen of C.S. Lewis would be useful here. This comes from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Enjoy.
“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man?” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” asked Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Amen and Amen…now into my 50th year of life, I agree with Lewis more than ever before—Jesus is good.
November 28, 2013 at 6:19 am, by
I posted this a couple of years ago, but find myself this fall reading Doris Goodman’s book on Lincoln and just so happened to get to this part of Lincoln’s presidency in this current Thanksgiving season. So, I think its apt to repost Lincoln’s Thanksgiving day proclamation. He wasn’t the first President to suggest a day of Thanksgiving (that would be George Washington), be he did set in practice the concept of taking the last Thursday to be a day of Thanksgiving for the entire nation. On this day of thanks, take the time to read his words and ponder their weight.
The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to invite and provoke the aggression of foreign states, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict, while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
The needful diversion of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense has not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship. The axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect a continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be reverently, solemnly, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and voice, by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
With all the rancor in our country, from politics to bullying, his words seem almost strange. Was there really a time when the citizens of the country believed in God like these words suggest? I tell you the answer is a resounding yes. We are heading into our own great crisis–the signs are all around us. So, as we spend this day with parades, football and preparing for a massive holiday shopping expedition, notice what Lincoln actually called for: reverence, solemnity, gratefulness, thanksgiving, prayer, a general acknowledgment of “The Most High God” as well as petition, with humble penitence to that God for forgiveness of our national sins, perverseness and disobedience. We should follow Lincoln’s example and hit our knees, and ask for more than just our fantasy football team to do well.
November 26, 2013 at 7:31 am, by
Two years ago, I finished my latest book, Tracking the Storm. There, I tried to explain what my last 15 years of teaching history and studying culture had shown me, how the past 400 years of Anglo-American history illustrates the various clues of a coming great crisis. One reviewer said the book was “gripping” and “a scary yet necessary read,” as I told our story of political instability, economic distress, rapid technological changes and a growing philosophical divide that challenged previous generations.
In just the past 2-3 months, the drift towards our own Great Crisis has continued, enough for me to repost one small excerpt from what I believe to be the key chapter of the entire book on “The Philosophical Divide.” I may post more soon about the Democrats decision to go to what is called “the nuclear option” relative to how the US Senate does its business, but for now, just realize that their decision to do so, based on their increasing frustration with what they perceive to be the obstruction of the Republicans is merely just more evidence about how deeply the philosophical divide is now.
With that in mind, take a read from my book:
With each journey towards crisis, the ominous aspect that emerges is the fact that as the Fourth Turning comes closer, the two sides that emerge in contest over the country become philosophically divided. The story is the same whether we are looking at the 1760s or the 2010 period. Pundits and citizens search for unity, wish for a leader to unite the country, yet the various supporters of “the issue” grow so determined, so passionate about their view, that compromise is impossible. Older people will longingly remember the years of the previous High, when everyone “pulled together,” but those years and that spirit is gone.
I believe we are not yet in our Great Crisis, though we are “on the road.” I don’t know that anyone, certainly not I, could articulate what the “issue” will be. Is it more Democracy? Is it a question of economic equity? The rights of others, whether the rights of the unborn or of the gay community? The environmental toll of so many humans on the planet? As a participant in the current history, it is nigh impossible to tell. Regardless there is a growing philosophical divide between Americans, loosely drawn between “conservative” and “liberal” citizens.
In other posts, I point out that we while we are very close, having matched almost all of the key signs from the pattern, we aren’t there yet. Eighteen months later, we are much closer.
If you’d like a copy of the book, you can find it here. Or, you can purchase an ebook version instead.
November 21, 2013 at 5:34 am, by
A few years back, I saw the movie Redbelt and was instantly struck by the depth of the ideas, philosophy and imagery behind this movie. If you haven’t seen it, you should rent it immediately. Here are three of the more powerful ideas that emerge during the movie:
The hero is a teacher of a martial art, and his teacher had taught him this maxim:
There is no situation that you cannot escape from. There is no situation that you cannot turn to your advantage.
Later, he begins to help a new student:
The first step is the hardest.
“And what is the hardest?”
To leave the outside, outside!
It turns out that the new student, a female, is a lawyer who was raped and is now emotionally struggling to move on. The teacher, to help her, attempted to help her by recreating the scene, and then finding the strength to “kill” her assailant. At the end of that emotional scene, she explodes, crying–one of the teachers’ more experienced students comes in to see and the woman who is obviously embarrassed. To this embarrassment and emotion, the teacher says this:
“Its alright–there’s no one here but the fighters.”
Yes!! So the question to us all, are you one of the fighters?
November 19, 2013 at 5:42 am, by
Lost in all the furor about the Miami Dolphins issues in their locker room is our own national cultural hypocrisy. We are still waiting with held breath to find out what exactly happened. In the meanwhile many pundits and sports personalities are chiming in about what they think. Is it bullying? Is it someone being a crybaby? Should Martin simply be tougher? Man up? Should Incognito (and others) get punished for being mean? Lighten up?
Yet through all the hand wringing, we aren’t asking the right question. To me, the real issue is why would a society that supports financially rude, crude and cruel behavior be so shocked?
This is the same culture that will pay money to see a movie about cruelty, about poor taste pranks. We watch TV shows that glorify violence and sick behavior, both in fictional shows like Criminal Minds or Breaking Bad or in reality shows like Big Brother and Survivor. Lying is glorified. Being ugly is accepted, even rewarded. Heck, even a terrible show like Dance Moms is successful more for the ugly behavior of the supposed adults rather than the dance prowess of the children.
When our society green-lights shows like this, or games like Grand Theft Auto IV, it merely demonstrates where our true values lie. What should happen in those board rooms is the CEOs, the decision makers, are shocked and horrified that one of their employees would have such low values and morals to even suggest such a show.
But of course we know that doesn’t happen because leaders of those industries are in pursuit of the almighty dollar. And they understand how sick our culture is. Again, what should happen is that those movies, TVs and video games tank, lose millions and are shunned off the stage with great shame for those companies that would dare lower our societal values.
Instead, with great fanfare, most of those cultural deviants rise to the heights of success as millions of Americans embrace their message. Its good to cause others harm. Its good to lie openly to another human. Its best to use crude and dismissive language to another person.
This is the tragedy coming from the Dolphins locker room. There, and in countless other locker rooms across America, in all sports, at all levels, these people (boys and girls alike) merely act like the culture they have been born in.
What we used to believe is in a golden rule given to us by Jesus, someone the country largely used to attempt to follow. It was simple. Do to others how you wish to be treated.
The concept was based on another simple concept…every human is a being of worth, a life to celebrate and respect. Of course, we have spent the last 40+ years killing babies, so already we don’t hold to that value. Our language has equally become more and more crude to the point that clear epithets like the “n word” and the “b word” are used openly to others in casual conversation. Then people joke that the word matters not, though of course used in the wrong context (whatever that means) the word is bad.
No, we used to attempt to live with respect. And yes, we sometimes failed. We are like the other humans on the planet, and we react poorly to people who don’t look like us. Our racism has been our cancer. Yes, we sadly were like the rest of the planet with 4.5 million humans enslaved…an ill that simply will not go away since now there are over 25 million people enslaved globally (and some right here in the USA).
But we still boldly made statements declaring that God had created us and as such we have inherent values of life. Our President would speak bravely about a new birth of liberty. We would attempt to fix our errors by allowing former slaves to not only vote but also hold office, within a year of the change of their station. Many of all colors would work tireless to make our society better, often at great personal cost.
The call to a higher way of life, to be a model society for the world, a city on a hill, was our mission from the start in the 1600s. When no other society or culture in the world would make such an audacious claim, our citizens did! And, in some respects, we are still a society trying to live up to that claim.
And yet….unless we decide now, TODAY, while it is still called today, to return to honoring that rule, that golden rule, we are doomed. What we will see coming from NFL locker rooms and corporate board rooms and middle school hallways will continue to sink in depths of degradation.
We are better than this. Let’s not point a finger at Incognito and the Dolphins. Instead, we must humble ourselves and return to our classic values. Life does have value. All life. Let us again take up that golden rule and make it our position that as for me and my house, my family, we will not support TV shows, movies, video games, activities or any other things that treats life so caustically, that acts so rudely, so crudely, so ugly towards others.
Before we can stop bullying, we have to eliminate the forces that suggest acting like a bully is a good thing. And don’t try to tell me that movies or video games are no big deal, that TV doesn’t cause bullying to happen. These forces absolutely do impact the minds and thoughts of our society.
We are better. We must be better. Listen to the better angels of your nature. It’s a rule that IS BETTER. It really is golden. Let’s live that way.
October 24, 2013 at 5:51 am, by
If you read my work often, or heck if you just check out the title of the blog, you know that I value the pursuit of life success. And, if you’ve read my work often, you know success rarely has anything to do with money, fame or power. These aren’t the only such quotes from history, but these are some of the good ones that drive my life. I hope one of them speaks to you as well.
“May you live all the days of your life.” – Jonathan Swift
“Every man dies, not every man really lives.” –William Wallace, from the movie Braveheart
SULPICIUS SEVERUS wrote a biography on St. Martin of Tours saying this, “Death could not defeat him nor toil dismay him. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live.”
“The worst of all fears is the fear of living.” An Autobiography, 1913–Theodore Roosevelt
“I think it is better to risk my life and to be a “has been” than to never have been at all. Even though crippled and busted in half, it has been better to take a chance to win a victory or suffer defeat than to live like others do who will never know a victory or defeat because they have had not the guts to try either.” Evel Knievel
October 17, 2013 at 5:41 am, by
The movie Peaceful Warrior starred Nick Nolte as a mystic garage mechanic who helps a young gymnast male athlete find his way back after a bad crash. While it deals a lot with Eastern mysticism and departs as some points from Christian theology, I found several quotes really powerful and worth saving. Enjoy. Oh, if you haven’t seen the movie, you should.
–Be conscious of your choices, responsible for your actions.
–Death isn’t sad; the sad thing is that most people don’t live at all.
–A warrior does not give up what he loves; he finds the love in what he does.
–Absolute vulnerability–that is the only true courage.
–A warrior acts; a fool reacts.
–There is no starting or stopping, only doing.
–There’s never NOTHING going on.
–Take out the trash; the trash is anything that is keeping you from the only thing that matters…this moment, here, NOW. When you truly are in the “here and now,” you’ll be amazed at what you can do and how well you can do it.
October 8, 2013 at 5:31 am, by
Ever wondered what to say when someone mocks what you believe, making the claim that since you are in the minority on your views, you must be wrong? Well, the character Morpheus from the second Matrix movie provides an excellent rejoinder. Read on:
Morpheus: I believe that the war is coming to an end and the prophecy will be fulfilled.
Locke: But not everyone believes what you do, Morpheus
Morpheus: My beliefs do not require them to
October 3, 2013 at 5:43 am, by
In the latter stages of the movie, Saving Private Ryan, a powerful exchange happens between Tom Hanks’ character, the leader of the group sent to find Ryan, Captain Miller. He is speaking to his Sergeant after they find Ryan, who then won’t leave the bridge he is ordered to defend. Stunned, the two men walk away from Ryan to figure out what to do next. While the entire exchange is powerful for various reasons, I have always loved the phrase Miller says when he tries to comprehend what is happening around him—”the world has taken a turn for the surreal.” Since today, that is how I feel and have felt for at least the past 5-7 years, this exchange needs to be read yet again:
Sergeant: What are your orders, sir?
Miller: Sergeant, we have crossed some sort of strange boundary here. The world has taken a turn for the surreal.
Sergeant: Clearly, but the question still stands.
Miller: I don’t know. What do you think?
Sergeant: You don’t want to know what I think.
Miller: No, Mike, I do.
Sergeant: Well, part of me thinks the kid’s right–what’s he done to deserve this. He wants to stay here, fine, let’s leave him and go home.
Sergeant: But, then another part of me thinks, what if my some miracle, we stay, and actually make it out of here. Some day we might look back on it and decide that, saving private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of the god-awful, shitty mess.
That’s what I was thinking sir. Like you said, Capt, we do that, we all earn the right to go home.
Miller: Oh brother.
September 24, 2013 at 5:20 am, by
Alba gu bra! (Scotland forever)
In the wonderful movie Braveheart, the character of William Wallace speaks to rally Scottish fighters before the battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297:
Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live, at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance–just one chance–to come back here and tell our enemies, that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom?
As the National Archives of Scotland states, “Edward refused to allow William Wallace’s victory at Stirling Bridge in 1297 to derail his campaign. In 1306 Robert the Bruce seized the throne and began a long struggle to secure his position against internal and external threat. His success at Bannockburn in 1314, when he defeated an English army under Edward II, was a major achievement but the English still did not recognise Scotland’s independence or Bruce’s position as king.
On the European front, by 1320 Scottish relations with the papacy were in crisis after they defied papal efforts to establish a truce with England. When the pope excommunicated the king and three of his bishops, the Scots sent the Declaration of Arbroath as part of a diplomatic counter-offensive. The original letter, delivered to the pope in Avignon, is lost, but we know it reached him. He wrote to Edward II urging him to make peace, but it was not until 1328 that Scotland’s independence was acknowledged.”
So, more historically than the movie quote, in 1320, Scottish independence fighters would proclaim the Declaration of Arbroath that says, in part, this:
For so long as a hundred of us remain alive, we never will in any degree be subject to the dominion of the English, since it is not for glory, riches or honors we fight, but for LIBERTY alone which no good man loses but with his life.
September 17, 2013 at 5:56 am, by
a very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions—
Rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions!!!
–Nietzsche, from Beyond Good and Evil
Another way to say it, that I read some years ago was this:
It’s not enough to have the courage of your convictions. You have to have the courage to have your convictions challenged.