Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Committed Couples Workshops

Where do we go today to learn how to be a husband? How are men supposed to learn the skills of fathering and the art of loving and understanding a woman?

Solomon is dead so we cannot call him on Skype of send a text message to his cell phone and get a wise answer to our questions about love and life. The modern TV shows certainly seem to have run out of wisdom and the Black rappers' music is so filled with rage, hatred and female domination that even the Misogynist Association is scared to listen to them.

Oh, I forgot. We can all learn about how to be sensitive as New Millennium Men by watching The View. Rosie O'Donnell and Barbara Walters can teach us to respect women.

As a Christian I would love to learn from some wise people at church but it is rare for a church to have anything to say. Too bad because millions want to learn from the Bible and from experienced older men.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Improving Family Life

Almost everyone I know who believes in the tenets of democracy are extremely concerned about the state of family life in America. As reported in a former post, strong families are central to freedom and a strong, functioning democracy. Yet, over the past few years we have seen a serious erosion of family life and family values.

One of the most serious problems in America arises from the high number of couples that are not committed to working through the difficult issues of family life and give up far too soon on working things out. That leads them to either fore go marriage all together of to divorce leaving children with a single mom and, almost always, chronic poverty.

We have all head the dreadful statistics about the many kids being reared without a man in the home. The results of such a situation are awful. Think of it this way. You coach a Little League Baseball Team and can field only four members but the other teams all have nine men on the field against you. Who do you think will win every game?

How can kids reared without male mentoring compete with those who do have a loving father and mother? We know that monkeys separated from a parent in childhood become violent and unable to have natural sexual relationships. Do we not see the same behavior in many communities today?

The single best way to overcome these problems is by empowering churches and other community groups to help couples and families succeed in marriage and family life. Working with the kids is also important but that requires much work by counselors and experts while strengthening families and couples can be achieved with lay leaders.

Every church in America could have a ministry of strengthening couple commitment and family health. If they did, it would turn the nation around in a decade.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Only Hope for American Women

I am sometimes stunned by the unreasonable rationalizations of fanatical people who can see massive social, cultural and spiritual oppression in every political setback they see. Sara Gould of the Ms. Foundation for Women wrote recently that the recent Supreme Court decision banning some forms of Partial Birth Abortion was the next to last step in a Nazi style approach to Women's Rights.

Wednesday's ruling was, under the guise of jurisprudence, nothing short of a political and quasi-religious referendum on the rights of women to make decisions about their own lives. In finding for the ban, Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito have not merely endangered the health and well-being of women who seek to exercise their autonomous rights as citizens of this nation; they have also endangered the health and well-being of our democracy as a whole. . . .

The right to a full range of reproductive choices is only the beginning of what we, as a society, have lost in the Court's ruling. By entrenching ever more deeply into our society a belief that women are not due equal rights under the law--not even when it comes to deciding the fate of their own bodies--Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito have put the lives of all women--not just those seeking abortions--in jeopardy.

In little over a week, the depth of misogyny embedded in our culture, and its violent consequences, have been writ large. The Imus incident once again laid bare the pervasive devaluation of women (not to mention blacks and gays) billed as "entertainment" by the very industry that creates and promotes racist, homophobic and misogynist messages. And, as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote yesterday in his column on the shooting at Virginia Tech, the consequences of misogyny can be murderous indeed. The worst forms of violence in this country, Herbert reminds us, have "some debilitating form of misogyny . . . [as] a 'central component.' "

It would seem that on Wednesday, our highest court in the land proved that very point.

Partial Birth Abortion is partially delivering a baby after eight to nine months in the womb and then killing the baby by crushing its skull and sucking its brains out with a very strong vacuum cleaner. So, a child is brought to full term by a mother who then, for some reason, decides to kill it. She finds a Doctor who has pledged that he will never do harm to a patient and never induce an abortion. That doctor then kills the little fully formed and kicking baby as it hangs upside down above the mother.

Every other form of killing babies in the womb has been found to be secretly hidden in plain sight in the Constitution of the United States of America. But to Ms. Sara Gould, this tiny nod to keeping a few children alive has led to mass murders in Virginia, Don Imus type racism and a many attacks on women. (Despite the fact that 50% of all babies killed by abortion are females.)

Depression and Anxiety can be Reduced

Why do so many people suffer from depression and anxiety today, especially in wealthy countries? Both of these, "Mood Disorders" are on the rise despite our wealth and access to medications. However, we can reduce them and we ought to do so.

If we practiced good, basic Christianity in our homes, churches and counseling centers Mood Disorders would be reduced tremendously. Going to church is good for us even if the church's teachings are weak and confusing, just imagine how much better off we all would be if we attended congregations that taught about mutual confession, healing prayers and living daily by grace.

The Bible teaches that every Christian struggles with ongoing sin, guilt and hearts filled with deceitfulness. The Bible tells me this and it confirms exactly what I have known from personal and pastoral experience. The Bible does not sugar coat human weaknesses nor water down the necessary answers to evil.

For example, the half brother of Jesus, wrote about healing in his manual on practical ministry we call The Book of James:

13 Is anyone among you suffering from evil causes? Let him pray.

Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

14 Is anyone among you physically sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the mentally, emotionally and relationally weak, and the Lord will raise him up.

And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Despite the clear teaching of the inspired, infallible and inerrant scripture, many preachers and teachers try to ignore "Thorns in the flesh" of sin, guilt and illness. We desperately need to teach the therapeutic power of mutual confession, mutual forgiveness and mutual prayers.

The Roman Catholic Church has made this passage into a formal role for the Priests and that has been a positive thing as far as emotional illness is concerned. However, just imagine the power that could be released if every Evangelical, Charismatic, Fundamentalist and Mainline Church in America actually practiced healing through teaching its members how to confess to one another and receive confessions from one another.

I have taught this passage from Cincinnati to Singapore, from San Francisco to Scandinavia from Missouri to Moscow and have seen God do wonderful things. When leaders practice First Century Christianity lives are changed and people are healed. People are thirsty for reality and relief rather than denial.

Many people initially tried to battle AIDS by ignoring its connection to sexual sin. They played PC politics and as a result millions of people died.

Many contemporary churches try to deal with sin, guilt and shame by acting like they do not exist. That will not work. There must be an antidote that is simple and easily accessed. A forgiving, nurturing, mutually confessing church family that operates like A.A. would do it.

A.A. does not ignore sin, guilt and shame and apply mutual confession so it works as a therapeutic community. Take them away and the 12 Steps are meaningless. Take them out of the church and Easter is meaningless. No wonder depression and anxiety are on the rise.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

There is Evil Out There

Over the past few days we have been bombarded with sounds and pictures of evil. When the Bible describes the world it always has a ring of truth because there is an admixture of pain and redemption; evil and good; sickness and healing; death and resurrection. Unlike myths about King Arthur and old time monarchs the Bible's stories do not cover up the sins and griefs of humanity.

The massacres in Iraq and the USA by paranoid men with guns can cause us to despair but Jesus calls us to have hope as we place our faith in Him. I trust in God but I also believe that there are evil people who must be stopped or they will destroy us.

Some of the people I admire seem to think that all we need to do to get peace in the world is "be nice". They are like a woman who recently called a local radio talk show and angrily denounced President Bush because he has not stopped the violence in the Middle East. He should just go over to Iraq and tell the Shia and the Sunni to make nice with each other.

It occurred to me that this lady had wonderful intentions but she is out of touch with reality. The Shia and Sunni branches of Islam have been warring for several hundred years and they know nothing of forgiveness. The war in Iraq may have been a blunder. We do not know if it was right or wrong decision in the long run. The current pain is great but only after many years will we know if the decision to take Saddam out of power was wise.

However, one thing is sure. There are and always will be evil in the hearts and souls of many people and it is usually in the long term interest of good people to take them out. I wish someone had taken Mr. Cho out of society before he killed 32 innocent people. I wish someone had taken Stalin and Hitler out but no one did and they killed millions of innocent people.

God alone is good and we need His power and love each day. We also need to pray for people in power because their decisions have enormous consequences.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Media Give Killer Cho a Morning Show

Michael Welner, an ABC News consultant and a forensic psychiatrist, appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America to slam the media for gratuitously airing videos sent by deceased mass killer Seung-Hui Cho. Welner even referenced the network frenzy over fired radio host Don Imus by saying, "Just listen, if you can take Imus off the air, you can certainly keep [Cho] from having his own morning show."

On GMA, Welner delivered an impassioned plea for the networks to stop airing the killer's footage:

"If anybody cares about the victims in Blacksburg and if anybody cares about their children, stop showing this video now. Take it off the Internet. Let it be relegated to YouTube. This is a social catastrophe. Showing the video is a social catastrophe. I promise you the disaffected will watch him the way they watched 'Natural Born Killers.' I know. I examine these people. I've examined mass shooters who have told me they've watched 'Natural Born Killers' 20 times. You cannot saturate the American public with this kind of message."

Adapted from a posting, by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog:

Who is saturating our nation with spiritual evil? Do you want the paranoid psychos in your town to feed on this kind of incitement? Dr. Welner says he does not! As a therapist I can certainly support his plea for sanity for the media but they are crazy about fame and money and will not stop.

He compared Cho's posthumous attention to that of the acclaim given to Palestinian suicide bombers who have "articles written about themselves in the New York Times"

Who honors Islamic terrorists and raises domestic killers to the place of folk heroes by permitting them to be seen hundreds of times on international TV and in famous newspapers?

Why do we pay for this kind of madness?

Impersonal Reasons for a Killing

The killing of over thirty students and faculty last week brings out the best and worst in us. When I went to work that day and Karen mentioned to me what she heard on the news it was so overwhelming that I just wanted` to close my eyes and make it go away. I am in the "avoidance stage" when hearing about more massacres that come from hearts of evil men and women.

The headlines confirm exactly what the Bible says in Ephesians 6: We fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavens. How else can we explain the actions of a deranged young man or a group of deranged Muslims who kill hundreds of men, women, boys and girls just to get their coveted news headlines? As one of the wounded survivors said:

Garrett Evans said of the man who'd shot him, "An evil spirit was going through that boy, I could feel it." (Peggy Noonan, OpinionJournal [], April 20, 2007)

Yes, Mr. Cho was mentally deranged but he was also a walking, talking cesspool of demonic evil that the victims could feel flowing out of him. Just as we can feel the power of God coming through an anointed Christian, believers can discern the presence of evil in a man or group.

Several members of the Korean Campus Crusade at Virginia Tech tried to minister to Cho but he rejected them. A Korean Pastor also attempted to reach him but he was rebuffed. Many times mentally ill people are attracted to Christians and their Jesus. But, like the Gadarene demoniac who feared the power of Jesus, some are repulsed. Evil spirits know their fate is a certain loss of influence.

One of the reasons I do not like to hear all the details of such evil acts is because of the often predictable comments of talking heads on TV and radio. Maybe they tap into my own lack of wisdom about what to say, but politicians and therapists have no choice but to answer the questions put to them so they sometimes say some pretty dumb things. Looking back in a few years I imagine they will wish they had been silent.

For example, the head of the VT Campus Counseling Center said troubled people did not get the help they need because there is a lack of Government funding. (The counselors were impotent against Cho. They have all the financial resources they needed no power to intervene.)

Barack Obama compared the murders to losing a $7.00 an hour job and Barbara Boxer suggested the killings were similar to Global Warming. Others promoted either gun control or more guns as the answer. Can't these people get off "message" for one moment out of respect for the families? Are politicians so narcissistic and driven that they have no empathy for these dead people and their loved ones?

Sometimes pols need to simply act like human beings and respond to the media's obsession with issues with, "I am so sorry. I do not know what to say other than I am grief stricken. Let me go home to my wife and kids and hug them." Shedding a tear is a human response to evil and so is a resolve to fight it. But answering a reporter's query with a canned issue response actually facilitates the evil.

Bryan Williams and NBC gleefully facilitated the evil and Cho's plot by publishing his rants and showing his videos. Just as Islamic TV stations encourage and reward suicide bombings NBC glorified the demonically insane ideas of Cho by using his madness and badness to get ratings.

I refuse to watch the videos and I will not support NBC by watching what passes for "News" on the General Electric owned stations. I am aghast at their callous disregard for the sensibilities of people who fired Imus for making a very bad joke and then turn around and glorify the evil acts of an evil man even before his victims have been buried. (This seems to be a continuation of the NBC approach to put ranting maniacs like Keith Olberman on the air.)

I have prayed for the victims' families and for the University officials. I am also praying for the campus ministries. I will continue my prayers for only God can rescue us from evil men and evil groups of fanatics.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Campus Crisis Response

College campuses in the late Sixties and early Seventies were alive with pickets, marches, protests and a few riots. I received my Master's Degree in Higher Education, College Student Personnel Counseling from Southern Illinois University in 1967 with a paper on "Three Days of Riots on the Campus of SIU". It was quite an introduction to my career in Student Counseling.

Karen and I with a new baby girl Julia came to Cincinnati in July of 67 and found our new home in Sawyer Hall where I was to be the Resident Counselor for 600 upper class male students. The young men in our hall were mostly wonderful people but, like many budding adolescents and 20 somethings, they liked to party and carouse. I had to get a few out of jail and intervene in several conflicts between warring bundles of testosterone but I enjoyed my job a lot.

Then, in the Spring of 68, things got a lot more exciting and dangerous. We saw a dramatic increase in the number of students who were doing drugs and others who were high on protesting. I attended a University conference in Detroit in the middle of their riots. The conference met in a downtown hotel but we had to stay in a hotel across the river in Canada. The daily drive into Detroit was a harrowing experience.

At the same time our campus faced a series of intense marches and almost daily protests. I met often with the President and other high officials to discuss what we could do to protect ourselves but we were clueless. We did know and it was impossible to predict what the radicals would do.

We heard from the FBI that our residence hall was the focus of a planned dynamite and firebomb attack from radical students. We were scared silly. Here is how insane it was in those days. The FBI told us that the Black Panthers planned to put dynamite on each of the large posts holding up our building and throw gasoline into the ground floor offices. The pillars would collapse forcing the students to run out of the exits where they would be hit with Molotov Cocktails of burning gasoline.

We had to come up with a plan to evacuate all 600 men from the hall if we were attacked. However, if the Panthers were planning to throw burning gasoline on us as we left the building, an evacuation would not be safe. What could we do?

We developed a plan to train every person to grab a blanket and wrap it around them as they exited the stairwell. This would protect them from the gasoline attacks and they were told to run straight through the Panthers to safety into safety in French Hall. Desperate people have desperate plans.

Would that plan have worked if we were actually attacked? I do not know. But I do know this. The Monday Morning Quarterbacks would have had us drawn and quartered no matter what happened. These MMQ are not able to coach or play the games themselves but they are expert critics after the fact. MMQ's are severely criticising the leaders and cops at Virginia Tech. One of the most stupid charges being leveled is that they should have "Closed the campus down".
I am stunned by the lack of basic intelligence of those making this accusation.

#1. It cannot be done. The campus is too big and too complex.
#2. That could induce panic. The ACLU will not allow cops to stop a person who actually looks suspicious let alone lock down 30,000 people for no reason.
#3. It would not help the situation. There was no information on who the killer was nor what he looked like or how to recognize he was dangerous.
#4. The initial killings looked like a domestic quarrel gone wrong. There was not any reason to suspect a mass murder was loose. In the history of the United States of America, as far as I know, this case is unique and could not have been anticipated. Cops are rightly trained to look for an MO or a pattern. I am sure the cops came onto this scene and saw a "Domestic MO". The fact that they released any kind of alert took enormous courage in light of the lack of evidence. Had it been a false alarm the officials would have been excoriated by the press.
#5. Crises planning is always done in the dark and when the crisis arrives the plan will change.

For example, the next three or four years U.C. had many threats like the one mentioned above. We tried to develop plans and contingency plans but if the radicals did not cooperate our plans had to change in the heat of the moment. Finally, the Kent State killings occurred and everything not nailed down broke loose. We closed the University down and decided to reopen it in one week. (That itself is a long story.)

You MMQ's with 20/20 Vision need to give it a rest. I can tell from your statements and questions that you have never even had to stop your kids from acting out let alone stop a riot or a mass murderer. I have been faced with those decisions and it was awful.

I will close with one more anecdote about campus life. Every evening I walked from the basement to the top floor and back again to check things out. I often smelled Marijuana or intercepted women on the floor and had to deal with those minor issues that always surround men.

One night I was confronted with a situation that gave me chills then and today. Sawyer Hall was the Fire Alarm Nerve Center for three Halls, each with 400 to 600 residents. On the night in question I came down the stairs to see the fire door to the furnace room unlocked. That was illegal and I could not imagine how it happened since only a few maintenance people had a key.

I slowly opened the door, fearful that I might confront an intruder, to stare into a series of blank lights where there should have beena series of red lights. The lights were always to be on according to the fire codes. That indicated that the fire alarms in all three halls were set and ready to send a signal to the local fire house in case the sensors picked up smoke or heat. But they were all off. That meant we had no fire alarm system in any of the three residence halls.

It hit me hard! Someone had purposefully turned them off. Someone wanted us to be without a fire alarm. That was in the midst of the FBI's weekly reports that the Black Panthers wanted to burn our building down and kill all the students. My one year old daughter, my wife and I would be included in the carnage.

I did several things to get the attention of the fire and police officials and to force the University to provide us with better security. This event did get their attention and I got much more assertive about my family. However, if some fanatic or some psychotic or paranoid person wants to blow us up he can always find a way.

Some of the UC students from those days read my blog. If you have anything you want to post please feel free to do so.

To you MMQ's; go try it yourself some day. Go to Iraq or Israel and see how well you do in preventing suicide bombers. Until you do, stop criticizing people after the fact.

My sympathy and prayers go to the VT families, community and the officials who must live with the pain of losing so many students and colleagues.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thank God for America

I am not shocked by much but the hatred of America and American values by well educated and well known Americans is shocking. I can only conclude there is something either deeply wrong with the education of such persons or something deeply wrong with their souls. I read a recent post by Michael Barone that addressed this issue. He says, in part:

What (The self-haters) have been denied in their higher education is an accurate view of history and America's place in it. Many adults actively seek what they have been missing: witness the robust sales of books on the Founding Fathers. Witness, also, the robust sales of British historian Andrew Roberts's splendid "History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900."

Roberts points out almost all the advances of freedom in the 20th century have been made by the English-speaking peoples -- Americans especially, but British, as well, and also (here his account will be unfamiliar to most American readers) Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. And he recalls what held and holds them together by quoting a speech Winston Churchill gave in 1943 at Harvard: "Law, language, literature -- these are considerable factors. Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice and above all a love of personal freedom ... these are the common conceptions on both sides of the ocean among the English-speaking peoples."

Churchill recorded these things in his four-volume history of the English-speaking peoples up to 1900: the development of the common law, guarantees of freedom, representative government, independent courts.

More recently, Adam Hochschild, in his excellent "Breaking the Chains," tells the story of the extraordinary English men and women, motivated by deep religious belief, who successfully persuaded Britain to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself. Their example was followed in time, and after a bloody struggle, by likeminded Americans. The default assumption portrays American slavery as uniquely evil (which it wasn't) and ignores the fact the first campaign to abolish slavery was worded in English.

The default assumption gets this almost precisely upside down. Yes, there are faults in our past. But Americans and the English-speaking peoples have been far more often the lifters of oppression than the oppressors.

Michael Barone
Copyright 2007 Creators Syndicate

I saw this same kind of parental-hatred when I was at the University of Cincinnati from 1967-73 Those were hot times of protest on the campus and I was often caught in the middle by radical students and teachers, both whom despised America. They lived off the sacrifices and freedoms of America but hated the nation that nursed them.

Perhaps that hatred can be traced back to a feeling of inferiority and dependence to such heroic leaders in the past. Like an adolescent who despises his parents because he must take their food, clothing and shelter the millionaire rebels in America despise the very system that allows them the freedom to speak so angrily about their motherland.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

In Complete Remission

When I checked my e mail before church this morning I was in for a wonderful surprise. David Ong, a young friend from Singapore, had written the following letter to myself and a few others who have been praying for him. Here it is so you can give thanks to God.

Hi Gary and Marie; Danny & Rhonda; and "Uncle Gary Sweeten",

This is David. The man you prayed for in June when you were ministering at a prayer seminar organized by my dear friend, Kay Chong.

Thank you for your word from the Lord. I was very touched by the Lord, knowing that He is a God who does not delight in evil. Psalm 5:4

Thank you for the faith to believe for me too. As of October 2006, four months after the word was released, my doctor declared that I am now in complete remission. Praise the Lord. The last chemotherapy that was scheduled was cancelled. My last MRI showed there's greater healing in my spine that was done to the active disease although there were no clear indication in the blood.

The M-band, something better than cancer markers that detect cancer cells in the blood were also nil. Also, occasionally the flares due to the transplant rejection called GVHD(Graft verses host disease) becomes very active and endangering but God saw me through time and again. I am eternally thankful for every breadth of life given to live for Him.(Psalm 146.2)

The Lord is good. In our two and a half year journey through the valley of the shadow of death, my wife, Whee Ling and our little 'David' -Josh, have so much of God's goodness. Life is more than health, and even wealth. We now live to declare His goodness and I am seeking God earnestly for clear directions in regard to my calling as a pastor.

The Lord impressed upon me at the end of last year that 2007 is a year of preparing to enter the promised land for me as God has been leading me to read, claim and obey the instructions given in the book of Joshua. God wanted me to "get ready"I write this also to request for your prayers as well. Do feel free to share what the Lord may impress upon you.

Also, I am about to finish witting a book which is about my journey and God-given confidence with cancer. May I have the honor of both of you to be one of the book reviewers? Uncle Gary, thanks for agreeing to write the forward page.

Thank you all for being such a blessing to our lives!

Hope to hear from you again,

A new 'David'

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Judge Not Lest You Be Judged

Tomorrow I am speaking on the passage Judge not lest you be judged, Matt 7:1-12 at The Dwelling Place Church on Remington Road in Loveland, Ohio. Dwelling Place is a warm, loving community of forgivers led by Pastor Rich Femia.
Rich and I met in the Seventies after he returned from Viet Nam. He and a groups of reborn students began to meet at an old church building for prayer and Bible study. Before long the few members asked them to take the Church building and care for it and build a new community of believers.

About ten years ago Rich asked me to be his Pastor and we have developed a great relationship. Every few weeks he asks me to preach the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and His resurrection power. Dwelling Place was once known as Remington Fellowship and then as Harvest Fellowship but sensed about two years ago that the Lord was leading them to emphasize resting or dwelling in His sufficiency and love.

It is in some ways a difficult topic because we all tend to judge. As a speaker and writer I am able to take the Bible at its word and reveal, in most instances, what it says and means. However, I am not always able to practice what I preach.

The cartoon above shows how tough that can be and why we preachers are always challenged to preach the truth but know that what we say will very likely come back to judge us. In that case the preacher spoke on patience but had little for the kids in his service. I have been writing about the Imus' situation and now will speak about the tongue on Sunday morning. I can see how hard it is to even discuss Imus without being judgmental myself.
We must, of course, judge people and events. So, what did Jesus mean when He said, "Judge not or you will be judged?" We need to see the rest of that passage and place it into the context of Jesus' entire sermon to understand how we can follow His teachings. More on that later.

Friday, April 13, 2007

More Contemptuous Statements

Dr. John Gottman has researched the relational health of couples for the last quarter century. One of the things he discovered was a very strong correlation between the ways lovers or former lovers speak to one another and their stability as a couple. When Dr. Gottman sees a high level of Criticism and Contempt occurring in a relationship he predicts their divorce.

As I noted yesterday, Death or life are in the way we use our tongue. The remarks of Don Imus about the fine young student athletes on the Rutgers' Women's Basketball Team were both Contemptuous of these young people as well as disrespectful to their gender and race. The comments ended in the divorce of Imus from the radio and TV networks. He was fired.

The Imus scandal along with the scandal of the Duke University students being railroaded by the District Attorney in Raleigh, N.C. have provided the public with a great opportunity to see how disciplined and honest the talking heads of various news divisions can be in reporting these two different but related by race and scandal.

Many commentators are pulling out all the stops to assail various persons other than the ones who are guilty. For example, Keith Olberman of MS NBC railed against Rush Limbaugh but I cannot figure out how he was involved in either of these matters. Maybe Olberman is just mad at Rush and is looking for an excuse to slander him.

But Terry Moran Terry Moran of ABC News seems to have really lost control of his mouth. He actually attacked the Duke students again, adding insult to injury. He lectured his audience to pay attention to:

Let us also remember a few other things:
They were part of a team that collected $800 to purchase the time of two strippers.
Their team specifically requested at least one white stripper.
During the incident, racial epithets were hurled at the strippers.
Colin Finnerty was charged with assault in Washington, DC, in 2005.
The young men were able to retain a battery of top-flight attorneys, investigators and media strategists.

Moran went on the accuse the students of "Guilt by class:"

As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives. There is a very large cushion under them--the one that softens the blows of life for most of those who go to Duke or similar places, and have connections through family, friends and school to all kinds of prospects for success. They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

The disrespect Moran showed the Duke students is matched by the contempt he shows for the Rutgers women. He assumes that all women of African American descent must be poor, unconnected, ignorant and certain to fail in life. What an slur.

The women I saw and heard on TV were smart, well spoken, articulate and thoughtful. They were not obviously poor ghetto girls from a life of chronic poverty as Mr. Moran seems to assume. They did every bit as well as the Duke students but Moran thinks otherwise, perhaps because these Black women could not make it in college otherwise. And, Moran slurs Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Rutgers is a fine school with a wonderful representation.

Moran also seems to say that wealthy or well connected students who are wrongfully arrested, shamed and forced to spend many thousands of dollars on legal fees suffer less pain than a Black woman. By that reckoning, we ought not arrest pedophiles who accost children from Middle Class homes.

I am not at all sure why some reporters and public figures need to denigrate families that have done well and are trying to give their kids a chance for a good education. Why is class warfare rhetoric acceptable to the American public?

Being arrested, railroaded and called awful names is a terrible trauma for anyone, rich, poor or middle class. There was as much death in the way the President of Duke treated the students from his own school as there was to the students who were verbally accosted by Don Imus. The teachers at Duke who wrote, marched and went on TV to denounce the students as rapists, goons and spoiled rich kids need to be held accountable just as Imus was. The pain they caused will pass away but there needs to be some way to remind them not to do it again.

Death and Life are in the power of the tongue!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Death and Life are in the Tongue

My mentor in learning about the best ways to communicate God's love was Dr. Richard Walters who was then at the University of Georgia. Rich taught me about research that showed how our words and tone of voice could influence people for good or ill. Rich had done a doctoral dissertation at U of Georgia on that very topic. He wrote scenarios for actors that had some of them speaking harshly with criticism and contemptuous comments and others with caring tones and nurturing words.

The actors read those scripts into recorders and then asked volunteers to listen to them while having a pupilometer record the involuntary reaction of their eyes as they heard either death dealing or life giving parts being played. Can you guess what happened to the listeners' pupils?

When a volunteer heard scripts that were warm and caring their pupils relaxed and became smaller. However, when harsh and nasty scripts were heard the opposite occurred, indicating an automatic reaction of fear and a bodily response of fight or flight.

Remember, these were statements from anonymous actors not loved ones or people with power to harm the volunteer. Had such statements been made by a close friend or relative or a teacher, preacher or TV star the automatic response would likely be even more pronounced.

God knew this all along. That is why He had the Bible writers tell us to be careful how we speak to one another. On my doctoral dissertation I had the privilege of integrating the Bible and Psychological research and found that God's word accurately predicted that we can injure or bless others with our words. For example:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life] PR 18:21

As a result of my dissertation I have written several books on building positive Christian relationships. The last, Listening for Heaven's Sake, teaches believers how to develop health and life and peace in and with other people.

Don Imus has also discovered that the Bible is very true in this regard. He has insulted, delivered death and attacked the character of others for many years. Why would he do that? He made over 20 million dollars annually to deal in death. But, just as it says in Proverbs, those who love life will eat life but those who love death will reap and eat death.

Mr. Imus also learned that another Bible passage is true. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced. MT 12:37

Over the past week millions have heard the hateful, contemptuous words of the multi-millionaire Don Imus over, and over and over. Some used them to justify him and others used his words to condemn and carry out his sentence. In the end many of the companies like our own Procter and Gamble, who paid for him to spew forth garbage for many years withdrew their advertisements. That sank his boat.

The NBC and CBS Network officials said all the right and good things but it was a sham on their part. Until the ads were pulled the networks were supportive. They are rich hypocrites because they are still making millions by encouraging musician moguls to attack women with their vicious lyrics.

As an educator and Counselor I despise the words Imus used to describe the Rutgers' Basketball players. I am constantly helping men and women get over those kinds of terms that caused such deep wounds when they were young. However, Don Imus has much less ability to influence adults to mimic him that the rappers do with kids. If all of a sudden thousands of adult men started wearing cowboy hats, shooting up their homes and attacking minorities we could begin to worry.

Snoop Dog and 50 Cent on the other hand, have amazing influence on young people. Kids mimic the gangsta rappers in almost every way. In Cincinnati over 90% of all homicides are young Black men who are shot by other young Black men. About 75% of all Black babies are born outside of marriage, indicating that rappers ARE indeed having an effect on the youth of
America with their hostile, angry and sexually permissive words and lifestyles.

The least we Christians can do is remove all harsh, belittling and contemptuous language from our lives. Let us use Imus as a bad example and be sure not to emulate him.

Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God]. EPH 5:4

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Empty Tomb-What is the Difference?

It is a few days after Easter and the march of events hasn't changed. Death, destruction, wars and rumors of wars, life and birth and new births are moving us forward. So, what difference does the Resurrection make anyway?

Think on these short quotes.

"Jesus loved the world that God had made - and especially he loved its living creatures. He did not live like someone with one foot in the spirit world. He loved people of all kinds, and he went to all kinds of parties. People who believe in resurrection are like that - they love God's creation and relish life in the body." Tim Stafford, Surprised by Jesus (InterVarsity, 2006)

The next quote come from one of my favorite books from the past. As a doctoral student I was buffeted on all sides by scoffers sceptics and scoundrels who moonlighted as professors, anti-war radicals and intellectuals. As a country boy I felt insecure and frightened that my knowledge and grasp of the academic world was less than adequate. This book helped me feel more secure.

"Personally, I am convinced that no body of men or women could persistently and successfully have preached in Jerusalem a doctrine involving a vacancy of that tomb [of Christ], without the grave itself being physically vacant. The facts were too recent; the tomb too close to the seething center of oriental life. Not all the make-believe in the world could have purchased the utter silence of antiquity or given to the records their impressive unanimity. Only the truth itself, in all of its unavoidable simplicity, could have achieved that." Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone? (Zondervan, 1971)

One time a supposedly erudite and sophisticated anti-Christian attacked me and my belief in the virgin birth. He stated that the farmers, fishermen and shepherds of the First Century were simply confused about how babies were produced. My childhood was spent with farmers of every stripe. We knew little about obstetrics but we bred animals every year. We had flocks of chickens, hogs, cows, horses and sheep. Believe me, we were ignorant about many things but reproduction was not one of them. The attackers are often so arrogant that they never think about what they are saying.

The tomb was empty and no one could find the body. Do you think Peter, James and John could have preached about the Resurrection one single time without a horde of local hunters going out to prove them wrong? These were very practical Jewish people who would have been loathe to accept such a far fetched notion that a dead man came back to life. But they could not find the body and there was no robbers' shallow grave out in the desert. Jesus was gone!

He is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Social Benefits of Faith Based Groups

At the Coalition Meeting for Ohio Strengthening Families, sponsored by Beech Acres, we briefly discussed the financial costs/savings that Faith Based Organizations, including churches, provide for the community. Many years ago I ran a Faith Based Family Life Lay Counseling Center at College Hill Presbyterian Church. We had some 65 Lay Counselors/Helpers and saw hundreds of individuals and couples each month. One of my volunteers found a way to do the math on what those services would cost if done by government agencies or other paid services. I no longer have that data, of course, since it was done in the Eighties. However, I have come across some people whom are researching the same issues.

There is a book by Ram A. Cnaan, called, The Invisible Caring Hand that outlines recent research in different cities for the social replacement values of congregations. It is published by New York University Press.. Chapter 5 outlines the details of the study and might be helpful.

(For example, the cost per hour of clergy was computed at $20.00 per hour and for other staff at $10.00 per hour. These are very conservative numbers and are usually under reported by the church that is reporting. For example, the clergy might say, “Well, my secretary does some volunteering but we would say ‘There are no paid staff”. One cannot imagine any government or community agency reporting no paid staff hours. I suspect every minute would be logged.)

Cnaan also computes space, volunteer hours and costs, utilities, actual monies spent by the congregation on food, materials, etc. He also deducted the amounts collected by the church.
On page 100, Cnaan reports the following statistics.

The average size of the urban congregations was 387 but they ranged in once per month attendance from 80 to 7,000, including children.

The average value of congregational replacement costs per program per month was $15,306.72

The average church had four programs or some $184,000.00 donated costs per congregation per year.

Cnaan notes that these are just the fiscal implications and do not count the huge social and psychological benefits of the programs and ministries. The importance of developing both Human Capital and Social Capital in congregational life can hardly be overemphasized. (I wrote about this on the blog recently.)

Human Capital: The addition of knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors that one can use to improve his/her own life. Once taught, Human Capital can be transferred to other settings. Thus, teaching communication skills, conflict management, financial skills, leadership, planning, critical thinking, etc are used in marriage, parenting, workplace, community meetings, etc.

Social Capital: The developing of Networks of Volunteer Human Capital and good will to cooperate, plan, develop communities of support, and influence growth and change. This has been one of the most outstanding reasons why Democracy and Capitalism work in America. It can be traced back largely to the Free Church Movement in the Colonies and the Constitution that prohibits a State Church. State Church support in Europe fails to teach people how to develop Social Capital needed for Volunteer Communities necessary for a free society. It is the pooled relationships between and among individuals not just their specific traits and abilities.

So, Cnaan strongly supports the need for additional support for congregational social and personal growth programs. They are more cost effective and socially effective than government and community agencies. The spiritual values are not even computed so just imagine the additive influence of faith groups in America.

As you may know, I am often frustrated by the fact that so many churches and faith groups can do more and better jobs of developing Human and Social Capital. However, it is just a matter of degree for the job we are doing now is amazingly positive. Just visit Russia and the Eastern Bloc to see what happens to a society rejects faith based groups. My Friend Rich Femia is off to minister in Romania with one of his churches missionaries who works there with orphans, the destitute and the hopeless.

Galina and other Christians do more to improve the Human and Social Capital in Russia than all the Moscow leaders. Almost every airplane is loaded with short term and long term missionaries, all of whom do good works for the people.

Before the Communists were kicked out the programs for anyone who was sick, poor or abandoned were almost completely lacking. Now there are thousands of Christians who minister there all the year round. Communists and Socialists claim to care but in reality they spread destruction and despair wherever they go because of their godless and inhuman approach.

American is still the most compassionate and caring nation on earth and we do more for the world than all others put together. It can all be traced back to our faith traditions.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

He is Risen!!!

I know, I know. It is the Saturday before Easter so I am celebrating early. But tomorrow we are having the kids and grand kids as well as my 91 year old mother-in-law over for Easter Dinner so blogging is out on Sunday.

Easter is a big time holy day. Bigger than the Easter Bunny and bigger than the Easter Parade or fancy Spring Clothes with big ladies' hats. It is big because it is all about salvation, victory over death and the grave and the miracle of God's power in us and with us.

German Roman Catholic and Lutheran theology has blessed the world in many ways and I am thankful for the work past saints and theologians have done to inform the world about God's gift to us in Jesus Christ. However, it misses the boat in a couple of key areas.

First, Catholic and then Lutheran theology and most of the rest of us put all our emphasis upon Justification or the forgiveness of sin and guilt. For many people, the only thing that really matters about Easter is the crucifixion death of Jesus. The emphasis is only upon what we call, "The Substitutionary Atonement" that Jesus was the person who substituted himself for our guilt and the punishment we deserved.

That is true but it is only part of the story. Another part points not to the death but the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection indicates that not only were we guilty but we were also dead in our trespasses and sins. Dead men cannot be punished for their crimes if they stay in the grave. However, the resurrection of Jesus also indicates that God chose to give us new life and to free us from the Bondage of sin and the Devil.

Many Christians carry a crucifix as the sign of their piety. I carry an empty cross. Jesus did not stay on the cross but finished His work on the third day when He rose from the tomb. I believe in the resurrection and I believe in miracles today. The miracle of the new birth and the miracles of healing prayer and the miracle of eternal life. All of that comes from knowing that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead gave life to my mortal body.

Mel Gibson is a conservative Roman Catholic so his movie about Jesus emphasized the awful gruesome suffering of His death. The stripes on Jesus' back from the cat of nine tails, the pain and agony of the nails and the taunting of the Roman guards were all played out. That was to emphasize that He suffered to relieve our suffering and punishment. The Crucifixion, however, was not all that happened. Mel tragically downplays the resurrection in the movie.

When Jesus told the twelve that the Holy Spirit would be with them and in them it was an astounding promise to carry on the resurrection power of the Spirit. I want to be a resurrection Christian who overcomes the world. My guilt is forgiven but more than that my spiritual weakness and hopelessness are gone. I can live with the assurance that we Christians together can conquer the world, the flesh and the Devil.

He is Risen! PTL!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Is Divorce Necessary?

Over the last thirty years or so I have been involved in preparing couples for marriage, teaching couples how to strengthen their marriages, counseling couples who are unhappy in their marriage or doing my best to get couples reconciled. I know from experience and research on the topic that keeping couples, and therefore parents, together has many positive payoffs for all concerned. They are

1. Physically healthier
2. Produce healthier kids physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally
3. Economically healthier

But I have sometimes failed in my efforts. The couples I mentored, married, counseled and trained were unable or unwilling to do the hard work necessary to save their marriage. In the vast majority of cases people who seek help from Pastors, Counselors and Relationship Experts learn how to successfully hurdle the challenges of intimacy and have a long term caring relationship.

There are several scenarios that make a long term relationship difficult and Pre-marital preparation, counseling and retreats less effective. It is very possible to survive any of these problems but a couple needs to get help asap.

1. An inability to resolve differences without Criticism and Contempt. Personal emotional attacks may look like fun on TV shows like Jerry Springer but they are deadly in real life.

2. Physical abuse. Growing out of Criticism and Contempt anger that gets physical is often a deal breaker for couples. It is also illegal, immoral sinful and destructive to the children as well as the adults.

3. Adultery. Sex is easy, open and common now and to even use the A word may seem old fashioned. As one guy said to a student group in the Seventies at U.C., "Sex is as natural as breathing so why do we place such restrictions on sex?" Here we are thirty years later acting as though we are just breathing some fresh air with no consequences but it is still devastating to the people and the relationship.

4. Sexual Disorders and/or Mental and Personality Disorders that keep one partner unable to act responsibly. One man I know was not only had a severe same sex addiction, he was Narcissistic and had no ability to empathize with his wife, children or family. He was deeply hurt when his lover died of AIDS and his wife did not show enough "Understanding about his grief".

5. Addiction to drugs and alcohol are also deeply disturbing and may make a marriage so dysfunctional that it is impossible to maintain.

Church attendance is one of the best ways to prevent divorce and insure healthy relationships as well as promote healthy kids. It is often said that the Christian divorce rate is as high as the non-Christian. I disagree with that statistic. The real issue is Christians who attend church. The high attenders have a significantly lower divorce rate.

One way to lower the divorce rate is to actively train children youth and adults how to prevent these toxic threats to marriage and family life. Teach Communication skills, anger management, conflict management, how to keep love alive and ways to heal addictions.

Big houses do not make loving, healthy families nor do big church houses make healthy churches. the trend today is for young families to build huge houses and take on financial loads that increase stress and may cause family fights. Functional family life is not related to the size of the building but to the size of the soul.

The church is doing the same by building huge cathedrals that are devoid of a heart and soul. We need to have human healing centers not more inhuman buildings with no well planned ways to train people how to relate healthily. People carry dysfunction or dysfunction inside themselves regardless of their surroundings.

Let me say loudly and clearly that we do not need more bricks and mortar to put in more "Agencies" to help poor people, poorly performing marriages or poorly reared children. I have helped plan and build churches that needed to expand and I will continue to do so. However, we must always plan with the end in mind and the end is always to build better relationships with God, self and others. Give me an old warehouse filled with God's love rather than a beautiful church house with a mob of unskilled leaders and followers.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Frustration with Religion

I am frustrated. Last night I was able to watch a few minutes of the Florida and Ohio State basketball game and it was a display of amazing athleticism, dedication, stamina, skill and good coaching. Both teams showed tremendous tenacity and resolve as well as resiliency to take a licking and keep on ticking.

Florida won the game, of course, but the fact that a team from Ohio lost is not why I am frustrated. My emotional pain arises from having been a teacher/coach at one time I know a little bit about what it takes to teach and coach people to perform well. However, sometimes I wish I were ignorant about how to "Equip Christians to do the work of the ministry" as Ephesians 4 says. If I were my frustration level would be reduced.

I just read that several big named Christians are mounting a campaign to "save marriages". The problem is, this intense fund raising and mobilizing campaign will undoubtedly fail as all similar campaigns have failed. They are simply exercises in anger release because they are poorly planned and poorly executed.

When a Big Name Christian says they are going to "save marriages" what they really mean is they are going to shout and holler that marriage is important and is threatened by gays or TV or some other bogey man. But rarely does one see anything happen because they spend all their time talking instead of training.

The coaches at Ohio State and Florida did not spend most of their time talking to the teams. A coach calls the talking time, "Chalk Talks" and they are closely regulated. Instead, they drilled the men in passing, defense, shooting, and physical strength building. They closely supervised each players development and made sure each person worked to perfect any weaknesses.

I know of very few churches that have any type of skill training or even pre-marital preparation despite the fact that many people are married in the church. We know that a couples' inability to deal with differences causes most divorces, yet few Christians have anything practical to help couples communicate, manage conflicts or understand the issues involved.

Nor do most seminaries require such skills for Pastors in training. They require a lot of training about talking but few on Equipping with good relationships. One can only assume that marriage and family life are not as important as basketball.

If we can teach kids to dribble, shoot and play defense we can teach adults how to relate with healthy skills. Why not give it a try? Why do we not even try to help couples?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fun at Rosie's Expense

The best way to deflect comments by zealots and fanatics is with humor. The Media Research Center throws an annual Gala/"DisHonors Awards" for the dumbest comments in 2006. This year it was on Monday April 2, 2007 and had some doozeys as examples of how people can get carried away with partianship and rancor.

For example,

Pat Sajak’s accepted a “dishonor” award for Rosie O’Donnell for equating radical Christians with radical Muslim terrorists, by saying, “Last night I was at church – it was, you know, our Wednesday night be headings.”

The idea that Mother Teresa and Billy Graham are dangerous murders flies in the face of all that is good and right and merciful.

Christ is known as the Great Physician and the greatest advances of missionaries always come from medical missions. Almost every charitable hospitable in the world can be traced back to Christians. There will be no hospitals named for Ben Laden but thousands for Christian Saints.

Returning rancor for rancor, anger for anger and attack for attack just doesn't do any good. But to laugh and offer satire for an attack lightens the load for everyone.

It is important for us to to remind ourselves to stay calm in the face of anxious and angry folks. I think this is part of the message of Jesus when He said, "Turn the other cheek." Anyone who can turn the other cheek when slapped in the face by a wounding word has to be at peace with God and himself.

Go, in peace and serenity.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Baptists are Coming, The Baptists are Coming!

Many years ago I saw a funny movie at the height of the Communist Scare. It was called, "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" A Russian submarine got itself stranded on a shallow beach of New England. The fear, paranoia and misunderstanding of both the Russian sailors and the American Fishermen caused a near riot along with a comedy of errors.

There are similar misunderstandings and almost paranoid fears among the media toward Baptists, especially Southern Baptists. When Rosie O'Donnell said that American Christians were every bit as dangerous as Muslim Fundamentalists she probably had Southern Baptist Fundamentalists in mind. This group has become the Bogey men that the Left Wing thinks about when they want to raise money from other fear based Liberals.

Nothing could be farther from the truth about Southern Baptists. Sure, most Baptists are Fundamentalist in the original sense of that word. They believe in the Fundamentals of the Faith like Jesus' miraculous birth, His death and Resurrection and that He will come again. But that is like saying that a pilot believes in the basic principles of flying. Left Wing Christians say they want to fly without the power of an engine or wings or flaps.

The last year I have been training Southern Baptist Pastors and Leaders. We began last fall with a group of Pastors who wanted to learn more about facilitating change in the church without destroying it. Anyone can change an organization by throwing bombs but to bring changes that build everybody up is not so easy. After six weeks of great discussions we decided to take the next steps and invite their leaders to attend sessions on, "Building Healthy Churches Through Healthy Relationships".

Steve Griebling and I have done hundreds of these workshops both here in the USA and around the world. This group of church workers is among the kindest we have ever seen. They are warm, caring and interested. They eagerly take part in the exercises and show themselves to be very quick learners.

If these are the Rosie O'Donnell nominated Fundamentalists who are more dangerous than Iranian bomb throwers they have strange ways of showing it. If Rosie attended any of our meetings she would be greeted with love and acceptance as well as a good cup of coffee. But old stereotypes die hard and the Rosie's of the world will not be dissuaded from their false impressions easily.

We can't influence everyone in the big wide world but we can influence the people around us by the love of Jesus and that is what really counts. By that standard the Southern Baptists have a growing future ahead of them.

I am convinced that the churches of Jesus Christ need to change and grow but if we focus only on the clergy things will stay the same. As I mentioned in my last post, change will require new models, new wineskins and new people in leadership. Working with the Baptist Lay and Clergy convinces me that by empowering all the church we can foster many positive changes.

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit I grew up in the Southern Baptist fold but left it in 1969 to enter The Jesus Movement and lead a House Church. It is good to be once again in fellowship with my Baptist Brothers and Sisters.

Retire or Re Fire

Refire or Retire?

The future holds great promise for mature Christians. While far too many church leaders are obsessed with the younger generations I believe the key to changing the world lies primarily with Boomers (Born from 1946-64) and Bridger's (Born from 1933-46). As I noted in an earlier post, this group has enormous reservoir of talents, gifts, finances, experiences and energy.

In a response to a recent new article about the fact that scientists have discovered that charitable giving feels good and many people get a real kick from giving, I posted a reply:

Well, now. Scripture says the same. "Give and it shall be given unto you..." That which we receive shall not always be financial but perhaps most often is emotional and spiritual and energy to do more.

The greatest resource for doing good are those who have done well. But that resource is most dynamic when we recruit their minds, hearts and talents to enter the world as salt and light to design new and creative communities of change.

The next 40 years will be the real deal for Boomer Time as Retire becomes Re fire and the enormous talents of the Boomers are unleashed into serving like which the world has never seen.

How about developing a Think Tank or Institute at which we would generate fresh ideas from communities of mature leaders from business, industry, education, counseling and religion? I shared this idea with an old friend who said something like this:

"We have to involve people outside the Pastorate. We can never bring real change to the spiritual life of the nation until we change the system of training pastors and running the church. All of us, mainline, Evangelical, Pentecostal, etc are just continuing the Roman Catholic Church with different music and theology but the same structures."

I also had lunch with two men I admire and respect greatly and we discussed a similar idea. After that discussion I wrote the following ideas to them.

By the way, I looked at the Santa Fe Institute online. It reminded me of my school, Southern Illinois University. It was a very poor, third rate Teachers' College in the hardscrabble hills of my childhood when a new President took over in the 1950's.

Dr. Delyte Morris had a vision of importing outstanding scholars and thinkers into the school but had no money and no prestige. So, he was creative and offered a free house and a free reign to teach anything a person wanted if they would come to poor, hot, sticky Carbondale.

He invited many famous retired writers, poets, professors, dreamers. One was Bucky Fuller who I got to know quite well both personally and professionally. (He was the inventor of the geodesic dome) SIU built a geodesic dome for him and said, "Teach whomever you want and do whatever you want.

I served as Bucky's servant in one or two programs and it was fantastic. He and his wife could travel teach, write, lecture, etc and SIU got the benefit of his name, wisdom and heft.

Could we not do the same with strong thinking international Christians who have creative ideas about education, poverty, politics, climate, counseling, worship, etc? What an exciting climate for us and for them. I have some great friends all over the world who would shake the USA system indeed.

Just imagine men and women from Norway, Russia, Taiwan, China, The Czech Republic, Ireland and Singapore living here, thinking hers, writing here and hearing God here.

That could revolutionize the ways we think as Christians and develop ways to help millions of Boomers and Bridger's Re fire.