Sunday, June 25, 2006

Custer's Last Stand

Today is the 130th anniversary of Custer's Last Stand. I actually know very little about this signature moment in American history. But I do know that on this day, a Sunday actually—just like today—General George Armstrong Custer led 267 men to their deaths in the Battle of Little Bighorn in what is now the state of Montana.

One of my favorite writers, Rick Moran, has posted an account of this famous battle. For nearly one hundred years, Americans viewed Custer as a hero. But in the early '60's, Custer began to be vilified as an arrogant, glory-hungry leader who was outsmarted and defeated by a superior enemy. If you enjoy reading American history, check out Moran's blog.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Dark Underbelly

Had you asked me several years ago what I thought about Islam, I would have said that it is a false religion. Beyond that, I probably would not have had much to say.

Today, my response would be quite different.

With all respect to my Muslim friends here in our local community—I do have some and they truly are genuinely good folks—I would say that 9/11 exposed the world to the dark underbelly of Islam.

For generations here in the land of the free, we had been sheltered from much of what goes on in the rest of the world. But cable news and the Internet have now brought the rest of the world into our homes.

In generations past we read about the evils of Hitler and his Third Reich. Images came to us on newslreels and in newspapers and magazines, but they arrived days and sometimes weeks after the actual events being reported. We enjoyed the luxury of being bordered by two oceans. The war was fought elsewhere, not here.

Images of starving Jewish prisoners in camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka shocked us (and still do), but they were in a far away place, removed from the sanctuary of America's quiet cities, towns, and rural heartland. Now the images invade our lives almost daily. Today these images are moving, in color, with sound, and in some cases they are happening in real time.

For those paying attention to world events, we are seeing a culture once hidden from most of the world, now come into view. We have watched the women of Afghanistan as they move through their towns, their identities hidden beneath their burqas, their physical beauty unknown to all but their families. We have seen video of prisoners surrounded by their captors who threaten to behead them if their demands are not met (and for those with the stomach to watch—not me—the videos of the actual beheadings can be viewed over the Internet). We have seen the bombed out remains of cars and buildings where the innocent are being murdered in defense of a worldview that reeks of hatred and bitterness.

Beyond the startling imagery, we are slowly learning about the religion of Islam itself. We have seen, as with the Church, that there are numerous variations of this religion. Some appear relatively docile, while others seem to be filled with rage, and hatred, and murder.

Does the Koran really teach that the only way to be guaranteed a place in heaven is to become a martyr while murdering your enemies? I have heard this. I have read this. But I am still sincerely asking because I really don't know.

Shortly after the attacks on 9/11, our president referred to Islam as a "religion of peace." With images of Palestinians murdering Jews, terrorists bombing innocent Muslims, the regularly published messages of violence from members of Al Quaeda, and Imams providing sanctuary for terrorists, I just don't see how Islam can be called a "religion of peace."

The events of the last five years have opened our eyes to this corner of the world. And what we have seen is very unpleasant. Attempts by some to associate conservative Christianity with fundmentalist Islam are laughable. I will grant you, some deeply fundamentalist Christian groups can be quite legalistic, and can lead people into religious bondage, but I have yet to hear of a fundmentalist Christian advocating the murder (or worse the beheading) of their enemies.

Perhaps one fruit of the 9/11 attacks is that we have now been exposed to the worldview of Islam's dark underbelly. Seeing this culture and religion of cruelty should challenge all of us to look more deeply into our own Christian faith, and to strengthen our own Biblical Worldview.

Our Jesus is called "The Prince of Peace."

Friday, June 23, 2006

The War in Iraq

There have been several good things that have happened in the Iraq war and the War on Terror recently:

  • 6/4/06: 17 terror suspects arrested in Canada
  • 6/8/06: Zarquawi's demise and the cache of intellegence and the subsequent killing and capture of many, many terrorists
  • 6/9/06: the selection of Iraq's ministers of Defense and Interior
  • 6/14/06: our president's surprise visit to Baghdad.
  • 6/21/06: the U.S. Senate voted 86-13 to reject a plan for a timetable of withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq
  • 6/21/06: Senator Santorum of Pennsylvania announced that a previously classified document has become unclassified and it reports that 500 chemical warheads (WMDs) have been found in Iraq since 2003
  • 6/22/06: a raid in Miami netted seven terror suspects

But there have also been some setbacks which have somewhat dampened our joy:

  • 6/19/06: the brutal murder of two U.S. soldiers
  • 6/21/06: eight military men charged with the murder of an Iraqi civilian

It seems as though we may be turning a corner in this difficult war.

I have read several good commentaries that I think are worth recommending.

1) The first one is by Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House. His article is titled, The Immorality of the Democrats' Position on the War. Moran explains why the Democrats' position on a phased pulling out of the war without a plan for victory is immoral. He says that if we really are defeated, let's get everyone out immediately, otherwise soldiers will die needlessly.

2) Secondly, I recommend The Death of Liberalism by Robert Kraft. A substantial treatise on why we must stop terrorism now, and not put it off until later. It is quite convincing and well thought out.

3) Finally, Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House decries the substandard education our young people are getting in history in his article Why Johnny Can't Find Ramadi on a Map. He explains how our growing ignorance of history feeds our impatience with war. I particularly liked a comment by one of Moran's readers:

"Talk about substandard history education…reading my son’s American history text, one could assume the Revolutionary War was fought and won, almost exclusively, by women and minorities. It would be wrong (and incorrect)to diminish the contributions of women, black slaves and freemen, and some native indians, but I always thought that there were some white guys who did stuff, too."

Take some time to check out these significant articles.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dixie Chicks Bash Patriotism

I wish I didn't actually like their music. Read this:

Dixie Chicks Bash Patriotism

Two Language Culture

I emailed the following letter to Lowe's today:

This afternoon (Monday June 19th) I walked into your Manassas store to do some shopping. It was the first time I have been there in several weeks.

I was quite disturbed to see all of your signage now in both English and Spanish. I understand that many of your customers are Hispanic. And I also understand that some of them probably do not speak English.

I understand as well that by succumbing to the temptation to go bilingual, Lowe's is now aiding in the decline of American culture. It may make some sense from a business point of view to offer your Hispanic customers signage in their own language. But it makes no sense from an American point of view because it weakens rather than strengthens our nation.

Do you realize that by displaying store signage in Spanish, you are actually encouraging our Hispanic neighbors (both legal and illegal) to not become assimilated into our culture? This is the message you are sending out to them and to us as well (your many loyal, American-born, English speaking customers). It may not be intentional, but it is surely subliminal. Apparently, you must want America to become two nations.

I am not opposed at all to Hispanic people, nor to any other cultural group coming legally to America to improve their lives. But I am appalled at the lust for profit that I see in so many American corporations, willing to compromise our nation's future and our own great culture for short term profit.

Please reconsider your decision and change things back to the way they were. Every time I enter your store now I will think of Lowe's as a money-grubbing corporation, more interested in turning a quick profit, than upholding traditional American values.

I am very disappointed. I will do as much of my future shopping for home improvement products and tools at my locally-owned hardware store and building supply as I possibly can. It may cost me a little bit more, but it will be worth it to me to put my money into the hands of people who still care about America.

Do you hire illegals, too?


Mark W. Weaver

P.S. I am posting this letter on my blog and emailing it to a number of my friends so they will know of my position on this matter.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

When I'm Sixty Four

He turns 64 today. Sir Paul McCartney, that is.

Will you still need me,
Will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

Sir Paul wrote the music for this song when he was only 15 years old. He later put lyrics to the music in honor of his father's 64th birthday. The song was released on the Beatles 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. He probably never gave much thought to the idea that he, himself, would one day turn 64. Well today is that day.

McCartney is known around the world as the elder statesman of rock and roll. From his early days in Liverpool, England with the band known as the Quarrymen, to the short-lived Silver Beatles, to the culture-shaping Beatles, to Wings, all the way to the present with his 2005 release, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard, McCartney has been writing and performing music for nearly fifty years.

As a songwriter myself, McCartney has been one of the many "voices in my attic." He is not in the top ten, but his music writing skills have certainly been an inspiration to me throughout the years. Paste Magazine rated him as the number three songwriter of the 20th century, behind Bob Dylan (no.1) and Neil Young (no.2). I hope to write a little bit more about McCartney's influence on my own musical creavity in a future Voices in My Attic blog.

On March 11, 1997, McCartney was officially knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Thus the Sir preceding his name.

Happy birthday Sir Paul.

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Dad passed away almost eighteen years ago. Stricken with cancer, we watched our once vibrant, athletic father slowly fade from life. We miss him.

I still dream about my dad regularly. Most of the dreams I have that include Dad are very positive. Every now and then, I'll dream a dream about Dad and he's angry with me for some reason. But those dreams don't happen very often.

This morning, we visited Clear River Community Church. Pastor Jeff Ling delivered a wonderfully uplifting message on the four things fathers want to hear. They are:

  • "I miss you, Dad."
  • "Thank you, Dad."
  • "I forgive you, Dad."
  • "I love you, Dad."

Last night, we attended a retirement party for a long time friend of ours. Mark had worked for the Post Office for over thirty years, and his wife, Peggy, wanted to honor him for his hard work and now retirement.

All five of Mark's offspring were there, along with several grandchildren. After we filled our bellies with roast pig, pasta, and beans, several of his kids stood up and honored their father with words of gratitude.

"Thank you, Dad for working so hard all those years. Sometimes you worked two jobs just to keep us fed. You did whatever you had to do so Mom could stay at home with us."

Hearing those words made me proud. Not only am I proud of my good friend, Mark, but of all the hard-working dads in my circle of good friends who have faithfully provided for their families. These men have worked long years and often under difficult conditions—sometimes even working two jobs—to provide for the basic material needs of their family. But it did not stop there. Most fathers I know have also disepensed wisdom, counsel, guidance, and most of all, time and attention to their children. Even today, as "empty nesters," my friends Mark and Peggy make regular weekend trips to Richmond to support their kids' musical endeavors.

Happy Father's Day to all who, like my own father and my good friend Mark, have, as Pastor Jeff said this morning, "done what is right."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Crunchy Cons: Business, Commerce, and Trade

I am reading a book titled Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher, a conservative journalist who currently writes and edits for the Dallas Morning News. Mr. Dreher is a Catholic, Republican, pro-life, socially-conservative, home-schooling father who challenges us to consider the true meaning of the word conservative.

Dreher suggests that much of our American culture has been corrupted by consumerism and greed, fostered by big business and materialism, and that as conservatives, we need to return to a simpler, more environmentally conscious lifestyle. So far (I have finished two chapters), I am intrigued.

I first became exposed to Dreher's book a few weeks ago when, perusing the Internet, I ran across this blog posting titled True Evil, a scathing diatribe against Wal-Mart. I posted a comment on that blog and engaged in some lively debate with the author. We did not come to a meeting of the minds.

Further exploration of her theme however, eventually led me to Crunchy Cons.

This morning, while sitting in a highschool auditorium waiting to cast a vote at our local Republican Convention held to choose the Republican candidate for a special, upcoming election to replace the recently deceased Harry Parrish in Virginia's 50th District for the House of Delegates, I was reading Dreher's book. I began to think about a short article I had written in 2003 titled Business, Commerce, and Trade. It is my initial treatise on what I believe to be a Judeo-Christian perspective on business and work.

Here it is ...

What are business, commerce, and trade and what relationship do they have to culture?

What is Business? The state of being busy, or busy-ness, is the etymological root of the word we know today as business. From creation it has been God's intent and design for us to work and be productive (Genesis 1:28). We are meant to find satisfaction and fulfillment in our busy-ness (Ecclesiastes 5:18), to use our hands to produce what is good, and to tend to our own business, not depending on others to pick up the slack for our laziness (I Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Busy-ness is also the essence of business. While good business practice can produce wealth, wealth is not the goal, but the by-product of productive busy-ness. Our labor is meant to produce fruit (Psalm 128:2), and if we diligently perform our labor as unto the Lord, committing it into His hands, He promises to bring forth the fruits of success (Proverbs 16:3). In our labor, our busy-ness, we become co-creators with God, emulating His creative nature. God, too, is busy, and as we carry on our activities, we must be mindful of pleasing the Father, for it is Jesus who said, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49 NKJV).

What is Commerce? Again, turning to the word's root, we can learn much about the idea of commerce. The Latin prefix "com" means together. Think of community. "Merc" refers to merchandise. Thus, the word commerce means "together with merchandise."
Commerce then, is the taking of the fruits of our busy-ness, our merchandise, and bringing them into the community, to exchange, barter, trade, or sell.

What is Trade? We can look at trade in several ways. Trade can simply refer to the buying and selling of products and commodities—a transaction. Trade can also be used to define a group of people associated with a particular business or industry, as in those in a certain field of business who receive a trade magazine relating to their particular product or area of expertise. Trade can also define a specific occupation, skill, or craft, as in the building and construction trades—a plumber, electrician, or carpenter. A man with a well developed trade has capital in the bank.

God and Honest Work. Throughout the Scriptures, we can read of many types of workmen. In His plan of redemption, God has used shepherds such as Jacob (Genesis 30:31-43) and David (1 Samuel 17:15). He has utilized farmers like Amos (Amos 7:14) and Gideon (Judges 6:11). He has tapped for service, merchants like Abraham (Genesis 13:2) and Lydia (Acts 16:14). He has brought forth His Church through craftsmen like Aquila (Acts 18:2-3), and His wilderness tabernacle through craftsmen like Oholiab (Exodus 31:6). He has employed artists like Solomon (1 Kings 4:32) and Bezalel (Exodus 31:2-5). And He drew His disciples from simple laborers, men of lesser social esteem, men who were tax collectors and fishermen (Acts 4:13).

Hard work is not a result of the curse of sin. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed their Creator, God had already laid out for them His commission to work and take care of Eden's garden (Genesis 2:15). Adam and Eve were created and called to stewardship. Part of their reason for being—and ours—was to take care of God's creation. With creation under their care, functioning as God's under-lords, He would receive glory, joy and pleasure.

Economics. Our word economy is derived from the Greek word oikonomos which means "one who manages a household." The name of the fifth book of the Bible, Deuteronomy, is linked linguistically to our word, economy. Deuteronomy teaches us much about economics, and is in itself, the presentation of a covenantal system, defining how under God, we are to manage our lives, utilize our busy-ness, and relate in our communities.

As noted above, the godly goal of business is not wealth but God's glory. God takes pleasure in our fruitfulness and rewards our diligence. Our capital, whether money in the bank, or a skill or trade, is to be employed with stewardship in mind. Money is not an end itself, but a tool with which to do good. We are to be stewardship capitalists, managers as under-lords of God's house—His creation.

What relationship do business, commerce, and trade, have with culture? God created us all for busy-ness or business. Our commerce brings us into community and compels us to interact, improve our social skills, and discover ways we can serve. Our trade, or unique craft or skill, speaks to our individuality and distinctive worth to God.

Business, commerce, and trade, when walked out in a Biblical way, not only please God, but make our world a better place for all.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Viewing: The New World

I am a lover of history, especially American history. When a new, historically based movie hits the market, I get all excited. A few evenings ago, Sally and I viewed one that we both found to be quite exceptional—The New World.

In school, we learned about the Pilgrims and how they came to America in 1620. At Thanksgiving time, we made construction paper cut-outs of turkeys and pilgrim hats and Indian headresses and talked about the first Thanksgiving. But I do not recall learning much about the first, permanent, English settlement in America—Jamestown 1607.

Next year, Americans will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery along the banks of the James River. That spring, thirteen years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, one hundred and five men and boys disembarked those three ships and set up a new home they called Jamestown in honor of England's King James (the same one who commissioned the English translation of the Bible which was published in 1611). From Jamestown, they hoped to launch a quest for gold and the elusive Northwest Passage to the far east. They found neither.

But they did encounter the Powhatan Indians, a local Algonquian tribe living along the banks of the James River near the fall line (now Richmond, Virginia). The English and the Powhatan had a very tenuous relationship, at times friendly, and other times at war.

Much of what is known of those first days of American history is drawn from the diary of Captain John Smith, the adventurous English explorer who led the rowdy and undisciplined Jamestown settlers, traded with and fought the Powhatan, and explored much of the Chesapeake Bay region. Smith was known as boastful and arrogant, and so historians have questioned the degree to which his accounts are embellished. However, several independently-sourced documents have tended to verify many of his brash claims.

The New World tells the story of Jamestown, Captain John Smith, the Powhatan, their chief, their chief's young daughter Pocahontas who took an immediate liking to Captain Smith, and tobacco farmer John Rolfe. Many are familiar with this classic, American story. How much of it is true, and how much is legend, we will likely never know.

The film paints the encounter and clash of these two civilizations in a wonderfully artistic way, with minimal dialogue, and abundant imagery. The New World focuses much of its attention on the young Pocahontas, played by newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher, a gifted young star whose portrayal of the Indian princess is majestic.

The love between Pocahontas and John Smith is seen not in the typical Hollywood fashion—sex, but through shy glances, tender touchings of the hair and the face, and finally in the sparse, loving embrace. Rated PG-13 for minimal violence, the film portrays love the way the classic films once did—no sex, no nudity, no crass talk—simply with tenderness and sensitivity.

The New World spans nine years and ends in England, where Pocahontas (now with the Christian name Rebecca and married to tobacco planter John Rolfe) is invited to the court of King James. As Pocahontas and her Indian bodyguard (Wes Studi) explore the streets of London, we see just how gifted an actress the young Kilcher is, as her eyes explore sights she could never have imagined from her home in the forest along the James.

If you don't know how this story ends I won't tell you here. But it is an uplifting story of the power of love.

Rent this movie and watch it with your family.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Monday Reads: Links Worth a Look—No. 2

This is my second in a series of weekly listing of articles that I have found this past week which I think are worthy of our time, including one penned by me. Each one comes with a brief description.

Principles or People? by Yours Truly: As the debate over illegal immigration rages on, we Christians need to think clearly about how God would have us respond. What can we learn from the story of God's ultimate sacrifice that will help us discern the importance of both holding to principle, and practicing the law of love?

The Forgotten Founder: John Witherspoon by Roger Kimball at The New Criterion: In this lengthy but informative article, Kimball introduces us to an ancestor of actress Reese Witherspoon, a man who influenced several of the Founding Fathers including James Madison, fourth president of the United States and primary author of the U.S. Constitution.

Chivalry of American Manhood by Dr. George Grant at Kings Meadow: Dr. Grant writes about the memorial in D.C. dedicated to the memory of the men aboard the Titanic who put "women and children first" as the ship was going down. Nine women survived that tragedy for every one man who survived, a living example of the premise of an article I published a link to last week titled Over Our Dead Bodies.

Rage Disorder: Ronald Kessler, a health care policy professor at Harvard Medical School, claims that road rage is actually a chemically induced, psychological disorder involving a shortage of the substance serotonin, a mood-regulating and behavior-inhibiting brain chemical. Huh? I thought it was just sin.

Endless Summer? by Victor Davis Hanson: Hanson writes of the decline of Western Europe as the utopian ideology of socialism falters and creaks under the weight of its own inherent weaknesses.

An Ugly Phoenix Reborn by David Aikman for Christianity Today: Aikman reports on the disturbing return of Anti-Semitism in Western Europe, and the seeming connection to Anti-Americanism and anti-Bush feelings in that part of the world.

Defending the Strangers in Our Midst by Charles Colson of Breakpoint: Colson encourages us to avoid hyperbole and even fabrication in our dialogue about the illegal immigration problem in America.

Christian Carnival: A weekly publication of numerous articles by Christian writers and thinkers. There are a host of thought-provoking and inspirational articles linked at this site, including my own!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Voices in My Attic: No. 1

I have been a Dylan fan since 1963. Despite his gruff and raspy voice, I find many of his songs to be extraordinary. I marvel at his ability to string words together in lyrical, tuneful, epical strands. So naturally, I was delighted to discover that he was ranked the # 1 songwriter of the 20th century by Paste Magazine.

Next to the article about Dylan in the magazine, I found a five page memoir by a Tennessee novelist named William Gay titled The Man in the Attic. The man in Gay's "attic" is Bob Dylan, and his memoir relates Gay's relationship with Dylan, a man he has never met, but whose lyrics and melodies reside in his mind, triggering memories spanning forty years.

Gay's story got me to thinking about the voices in my "attic," and so I thought I would take a shot at writing about them. You are reading the first installment.

There are numerous voices residing in my attic. Some occupy tiny rooms and some live in well equipped suites.

I will start with Bob Dylan for two reasons: 1) Gay's article about him inspired me to think about my own attic's voices, and since Dylan surely has been a major one, I will start there. 2) Dylan is undoubtedly the first person to really get me thinking about ideas, philosophies, and worldviews.

Dylan occupies one of the larger rooms in my attic. He probably lives in one of the suites, although not the largest suite. I think that one is reserved for Moses.

Moses? Why wouldn't the largest suite in my attic belong to Jesus? Because Jesus dwells in my heart, not my mind. I have offered Him the position of King, and as much room as I am able to give Him from day to day, He occupies.

O.K. Back to Paste Magazine's # 1 songwriter of the 20th century, and my own relationship with him.

As I said above, Bob Dylan walked into my life in the early 1960's. I was just coming into my teen years, and like most teens, beginning to explore the world outside of my family, my neighborhood, and my close circle of friends.

NASA was putting astronauts into space, and my father, who at the time worked for the now defunct Atomic Energy Commission, was somehow rubbing shoulders with guys who worked there. He would often bring home posters for me which depicted artist's conceptions of space stations and futuristic space craft. Many of these concepts were wild, looking like something out of a science fiction movie. But they were actually drawn and painted by NASA artists and engineers, as they imagined possibilities of the future.

This was the decade space exploration began in earnest. We began by shooting Alan Shephard into space, and followed by placing John Glenn into orbit around our globe. By 1969, Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon.

Television now brought us news from around the planet, from far away places, and from all across America. We watched John Kennedy's heartbreaking funeral procession, his casket carried on a caisson, boots turned backwards in their stirrups, and his young son John-John saluting his father while standing next to his veiled, widowed mother.

Earlier that year we watched as Washington D.C.'s mall swelled with over 200,000 civil rights protestors, and Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his legendary "I have a dream" speech. The "British Invasion" took place just months later as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits, and countless other British rock bands crossed the Atlantic and filled coliseums and auditoriums with their wild, revolutionary music. Teenage girls swooned and screamed as these mop-haired musicians swept onto the music scene, dominating the airwaves in just a few, short months.

As a coming-of-age young man, my head spun with the lightning-fast changes sweeping the nation. The artwork from NASA along with their successful space program, and the television news and imagery carried me toward thinking about my world on a global scale.

We didn't understand it yet, but America was in the throes of a watershed decade carrying away our national innocence. Generations of black anger over past-done deeds and yet-to-be-righted wrongs broke through the surface of America's cultural landscape and spilled over into our national conscience. Young people, rejecting the materialism and traditions of their parents and grandparents, donned tie-dyed tee-shirts and sandals, set up communes, and began to practice "free love." Boys and men alike stopped going to the barber as their hair cascaded across their shoulders and beyond. Their faces ceased to feel the razor's touch.

These were revolutionary times.

Into that world, Bob Dylan's lyrical and tuneful songs became a plumb-line of sorts for a generation seeking meaning. He wrote and sang of Masters of War, of how The Times They are A-Changin', and how the answers we sought were Blowin' in the Wind.

Though raised a Lutheran and actively involved in church activities, I had yet to meet the living Christ, the One who transforms us with the new birth. Catechized, able to come to the Lord's Table, and even serving as one of the church's acolytes for Sunday services, I still groped in the dark to understand who I was and what I was meant to be and do.

In Catechism class, I met Helmut Thielicke through his classic work, I Believe. He, with the assistance of my pastor, Norman Minich, had introduced me to the Christian creeds. I knew the creeds and what they stated, but I did not yet know Him of Whom the creeds spoke. Both of these men still occupy tiny rooms in my attic, and on very rare occasions, I hear a footfall or two across the attic floor, or the creak of an old chair.

Dylan's footsteps however, are heard with a good degree of regularity.

Some might think it odd that a Christian would grant more room in his attic to someone like Bob Dylan, than a former pastor. I have had many pastors over the years, and some have bigger rooms than others. My intent here is not to demean or diminish any of them, but rather to speak honestly. Dylan's was the first voice I heard that helped me to see the larger world, to ponder and to question ideas and philosophies. I met Dylan before I met Jesus Christ. And although many of Christ's faithful followers have large rooms—even suites—in my attic, Dylan clearly took up residence there first, aside from my father and mother of course.

The lyrical imagery found in Dylan's music stirred the mind and passions of this young man. Consider these provocative words from Dylan's A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall found on his The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album (his second-1963):

"... Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one? ...
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin',"

or these words from the same song:

"... Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one? ...
I met a white man who walked a black dog ..."

Can there be any doubt as to Dylan's meaning? At the time of this album's release, the civil rights movement had kicked into high gear. Young, black Emmett Till had been murdered in Mississippi. A lonesome, 51 year-old black woman named Hattie Carroll, waiting tables in a Baltimore hotel, had been caned to death by a drunken patron early in 1963. And two blacks had been murdered in the town of Oxford, Mississippi when black student James Meredith attempted to attend college at the State University located there.

What did Dylan project would come of this pattern of violence toward blacks in America?

"... And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall..."

The "blue-eyed son" would do more than just see and hear and meet. Stirred by his observations, he would also act:

"... Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner's face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it ...
But I'll know my song well before I start singin'..."

The "blue-eyed son" had seen and heard. Now he would go out and speak, warning the hearers of the hard rain that's coming.

Two or three years before I entered into an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit, these words penned by Dylan resonated deep in my soul. It was as if God had begun to set the stage for what He knew was coming. I was to be a messenger one day, one who would speak the Word of God. Barely a teenager, I did not yet grasp the depth nor substance of the message, but through Dylan I was being prepared somehow to hear the call of God. I could not yet define it, but an ache had formed within me—an ache for truth.

Dylan has been rumbling around in my attic ever since. For his 1989 release, Oh Mercy, Dylan penned these words found in Ring Them Bells:

"Ring them bells, ye heathen
From the city that dreams,
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries
Cross the valleys and streams,
For they're deep and they're wide
And the world's on its side
And time is running backwards
And so is the bride ..."

Click here to listen to a clip from the stanza above.

I don't of course endorse everything that Dylan has written. Nor do I endorse his lifestyle and personal choices. I only know that his music touched and continues to touch something in me. I could write an entire book, maybe two, about the lyrics and imagery found in Dylan's music. He writes of wars and rumors of wars, of love, found and lost, of laying down our "weary tune" and resting, of our desire to be "forever young," and oh so much more. His music touches on nearly every aspect of life in our culture. His work is expansive, his message and impact profound.

Bob Dylan is unquestionably the poet of our generation. And poets are often prophets, speaking of things to come, or of the consequence of continuing down the path we are already on.

Many are put off by Dylan's gravely voice, and cannot get beyond that stumbling block to discover what's beyond. Sadly, I have no one in my close circle of friends who share my love of Dylan and his music.

Still, he remains a significant voice in my attic.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Principles or People?

The debate that is raging over illegal immigration is complicated for us Christians. We love our country and want to defend our borders and our culture, and yet, we know that we have a Biblical responsibility to demonstrate compassion for those less fortunate than we.

The flood of illegals over the last several years demonstrates the great success of the American way of life. Despite our many shortcomings as a nation, we remain, as Bill Bennett had said in the title of his new book, "the last best hope."

One aspect of this current trial that will need to be considered and addressed by the Church is the cause (notwithstanding America's amazing success as noted above) of this sudden influx. Could it be, as my commenting friend John Jenkins suggested, that we are at last reaping the whirlwind of seeds sown generations ago?

A third element playing into the mixture of causes and issues is the failure of our neighbors to the South to create a healthy economic and cultural environment for their citizens. Perhaps they do not have the foundational tools needed to create governmental systems that produce liberty and economic freedom.

Each of these factors play a role in understanding the causes of, and responses to, this pressing dilemma. The causes are manifold, and the responses are complex.

Recently, a good friend of mine encouraged me to be careful in my writing so as not to denigrate the Hispanic people. As flawed humans, we all tend to lump people together into groups. We see images on our television screens of brown-skinned people flooding the streets of our cities waving foreign flags, carrying banners and signs with messages in a foreign language, and demanding their rights. It is easy to lump all of that culture into one group, pass judgment, and feel angry.

Most of the illegal immigrants coming to America make their way here simply because they want to improve their lives. I would suggest that the vast majority are decent folks. A few, of course are not.

Unfortunately, these otherwise "decent" folks have broken the laws of our land. They have stolen across our borders, falsified their identities, and are living in the shadows for fear of being discovered and sent back.

This is no way to live.

Because of the economic benefit to our country, we have been brushing aside this problem for a while now, not wanting to face the hard choices involved. Many suggest a "path to citizenship" for those here illegally. In some ways it seems the humane thing to do. But in another way, it undermines the very foundation of our country.

What happens to a nation which fails to enforce its laws? What happens to a nation which makes special exceptions for some, and yet enforces the law with others?

One of the fundamental principles laid in for our nation at its founding was equal justice under the law. In the ideal world, every citizen is held to the same standard, and prosecuted under the same rules. Sadly, our past history has found us grossly wanting in this area. We once rousted black men out of their homes in the middle of the night and strung them up from trees without a trial, purely on accusation. These poor American citizens did not enjoy the benefit of presumption of "innocent until proven guilty." In some parts of our country, we once made it very difficult for some people to vote, because of the color of their skin. Earlier, we broke treaties with natives, and even murdered some in cold blood. And of course we allowed that horrible institution of slavery, forcing people to do work that we ourselves would not do.

Fortunately, America has come face to face with its failures in these areas, and great strides have been made to right the wrongs of the past. Our response has not been perfect by any means, but the effort is in play, and has been for a number of years, now.

Looking at all of these factors and components, how then should we respond? Do we put people first, or principle first?

The tendency here for most of us is to put people first of course. We have been inconsistent in the past in applying principle, and after all, God loves people, and we should too.

Perhaps a look at how God responded to our waywardness and sinful choices will help us to place things into balance. The Scriptures tell us that "God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son ..." (John 3:16)

I see two components here, not just one. First, God loved the world. And His love compelled Him to take action to rectify the mess created by our sin.

He may have just been able to simply declare that "all is forgiven." In other words, He could have granted us amnesty. In our minds that seems like the easiest and simplest thing to do.

But He didn't handle our mess that way. And the reason is because there was a principle to uphold as well as people to love. The law was broken and the penalty had to be paid.

Which leads us to the second part of this story. He sent His Son. Judgment under the law is the reason behind Christ's suffering and death. The demands of justice had to be met. The requirement of death for the breaking of God's law had to be enforced in order for the law (principle) to be satisfied.

So, when looking at our illegal immigration mess, the temptation is to say, "OK, all is forgiven. We will ignore our rules this one time ... uh second time (1986) ... and start fresh again."

Yes, we have a tainted history with certain people groups. We enslaved Africans, and then once free, we still discriminated against them for another one-hundred years. We broke treaties with the Indians, and then corralled them into reservations. We are still paying dearly for those horrible decisions.

However, the cost of ignoring the law, may in the long run, bring a far greater negative consequence upon us than the cost of enforcing it now. It would be one more example of our nation violating its own core principles.

I suggest that it is never too late to begin to do things the way they are supposed to be done. Just like the individual who sins, and then gets up and tries once more to live according to God's laws, we as a nation need to embrace our principles, and enforce them, despite the hardship that it will bring upon us and our illegal friends from the South.

It is not just the illegals who are to blame, of course. We have done this to ourselves for want of cheap labor, and for the fear of repeating the past.

But we still need to fix the problem.

God worked out a way to both satisfy the law, and to love us fallen and lost humans at the same time. Perhaps there is yet a way, undiscovered, that America can also do both. In our feeble minds it does not seem possible. I certainly don't have the answer. And I have yet to hear anyone else with ideas that satisfy both our laws, and the need for humane kindness.

Let us ask God for divine wisdom. Maybe He knows of a way this can be done.

Monday Reads: Links Worth a Look—No. 1

I have decided to publish a weekly listing of articles that I have found this past week which I think are worthy of our time. Each one will come with a brief description.

We Met to Pray by Yours Truly:This article reports on a recent gathering of two families to seek God about the state of our nation. If you never read anything else of mine this year, please read this report.

Mistaken Identity by Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds: Taylor writes of two college coeds involved in a tragic auto accident. One died, the other survived but is in a coma. The girls bore a remarkable resemblance to one another, and the doctors misidentified the survivor as the girl who died. Now they have realized their mistake. Taylor goes on to write of the unbelievably grace-filled parents, who thought their daughter had survived, but then discovered it was a case of mistaken identity.

Over Our Dead Bodies by Anthony Esolen of Touchstone Journal: Esolen writes that "men who are willing to lay down their lives are truly indispensible ... Such a man," he says, "knows that the breath in his lungs is of no consequence. In humility the man is called to recognize that he matters as a man only if he knows that he does not matter at all, and to allow himself to be severed, if need be, from those he loves most."

Unshackling the American Church: Fraternitas by Dan Edelen at Cerulean Sanctum: Edelen is developing a series titled Unshcackling the American Church. This article addresses the decline of true community both in our neighborhoods, and in the Church. Edelen points back to the Industrial Revolution and recently to the rise of technology which has radically altered our form of communication. He lists 10 ways that we can begin to reclaim genuine community.

Saddleback's "Because God Loves Me..." by Ken Fields at The World From Our Window: Fields reports on his findings of a lengthy list titled Because God Loves Me on the website of Rick Warren's Saddleback Church. He suggests that the list misfocuses its attention on our own own need for self-esteem instead of correctly focusing on the wretchedness of our sin.

Christian Carnival: A weekly publication of numerous articles by Christian writers and thinkers. There are a host of thought-provoking and inspirational articles linked at this site.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

We Met to Pray

In the weeks leading up to the 2004 election, a group of several friends including Sally and I met for prayer a few times. We recognized the gravity of the upcoming election and the consequences of losing the Whitehouse to a liberal candidate. We prayed fervently on several occasions, repenting of our sins and of our nation's sins, and the sins of the Church, and begged God to have mercy on our nation and allow us to have a man of God for president. These sessions enabled us to enjoy some deep and intimate times with the Lord, and every time, we came away greatly refreshed having been in His presence, and feeling as if we had made a genuine connection with God. We knew that all across our land, others were joining together for this same mission, and we sensed that God had heard and was going to respond.

Our guy won.

We rejoiced of course, grateful that God had once again drawn our nation back from the brink of destruction. We talked of getting together regularly to continue our prayer support of the president and the government in general, but as the weeks passed, we never quite did.

In the 20 months since those days of fervent intercession, we have witnessed the gradual decline of the administration. First we witnessed the Harriet Myers fiasco, then the Hurricane Katrina blunders and the Dubai Ports deal misjudgement, as well as a string of smaller miscalculations that took the wind out of the administration's sails. Of course the ongoing political tug-of-war over Iraq continues to cause great consternation, and now the picture of millions of illegals in the streets demanding their rights has raised the ire of most Americans, demanding that something be done.

Our president seems caught in a fog. Is it his "lame duck" status? Is it the vitriol and hatred continuously launched at him from his enemies on the left and the main-stream media? Is it his stubborness? Perhaps it is a little of each.

I have been a huge supporter of George W. Bush since his first election. But I must confess that over the last few months I have become somewhat disgruntled with him. Why has he authorized so many spending bills from the Congress, sending our nation deeper and deeper into debt? Why does he not seem to want to defend our Southern border with Mexico, and why does he say he doesn't want amnesty, yet still seeks to reward those who have come into our country illegally with a "path to citizenship?" As the last several weeks have worn on, I have grown increasingly upset with him.

But something came in my email this week that touched a deep chord inside of me. An email newsletter with a word from a man named Dutch Sheets opened my eyes to the real heart of the matter. As I read through the text, a cloud of sorts lifted from its rest on my muddled brain and I began to realize that much more than a political battle was taking place. It became clear to me that we are in a spiritual war for our nation.

Of course I always intellectually knew this. But sometimes I become spiritually dense, missing the real message that God is trying to send. Pastor Sheets' urgent call to prayer alerted me to the reality behind the daily, unsettling news and the president's decline in the polls and in my own eyes.

Here are a few of Pastor Sheets' thoughts on Babylon:

"Iraq is modern day Babylon. Babylon means "confusion," which is obviously one of the results of this spiritual war. America's armies had no problem taking out Saddam's physical army. But we are now dealing with an ancient principality, the spirit of Babylon, which cannot be defeated with natural weapons and strategies. This spirit is currently (though I believe it not to be permanently) prevailing against us. As previously stated, the symptoms of confusion and disarray can be seen in the church, on our president, and in the nation in general."

Read Dutch Sheets' entire letter.

The day after I first read this letter, the same friend who had hosted the 2004 prayer meetings 20 months earlier, emailed it to me. She had read it too, and sensed that we needed to get together again, and begin praying.

We did last night (Friday).

The purpose of this blog posting is to report the results of our evening of conversation and prayer.

Babylon: A Military Invasion of a Spiritual Seat of Power.
Having read Pastor Sheets' thoughts on Babylon, it was evident to all four of us gathered for prayer, that much more was going on than insurgents bombing U.S. troops and innocent Iraqis. Iraq is the cradle of human civilization, the place where the serpent beguiled the woman in Eden's garden, and where later, men gathered to construct a tower reaching to the heavens, plotting to disregard God's command to "fill the earth" and instead make a name for themselves by banding together. Iraq is the place where God came down and destroyed the tower called Babel, confused everyone's language, and scattered the people to the four corners of the earth.

Babylon is also the ancient kingdom that conquered a wayward Israel, holding them captive for seventy years. Babylon was God's instrument of judgment on His rebellious people.

In the spring of 2003, America plunged itself headlong into that spiritually dark part of the world. With our overwhelming military might, it took but three weeks to topple a tyrant's kingdom. But in the months (and now years) since, a murderous, suicidal, stealth, ungodly, and demonically driven, ragtag army fell upon us from out of the shadows, and continues to plague our militarily superior forces, and the citizens of that country caught in the crossfire, now, often the target themselves.

At home, the assault on our president and his administration intensified, with his enemies labeling him as dumb, calling for his impeachment, and saying he should be shot between the eyes. Hollywood celebrated Michael Moore's venom-filled, fact-distorting movie, and celebrities spoke out against him, even threatening to leave the country should he be re-elected. (They're still here)

Many in his own party turned on him when he chose Harriet Myers to be the next Supreme Court Justice, and when he allowed a company from Dubai to be approved as the managing entity in many of our ports. Both of those decisions went down in flames.

And members of Congress seem more antagonistic toward one another than I can ever recall in my lifetime, running a close second to those acrimonious days leading up to the Civil War. In May of 1856, things became so intense that South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks caned Massachussets Senator Charles Sumner at his desk on the Senate floor, laying back his scalp and nearly killing him. Let's pray that we don't reach those depths (although one Congresswoman did punch a Capitol Police officer recently).

General civility has rapidly declined in our nation, not only (though especially) in politics, but in just about every walk of life. Could it be that invading that dark hornet's nest of demonic power has unleashed a legion of demon forces upon our own land? I would say that the likelihood is quite good of that question being answered in the affirmative.

Paul teaches us that our war is ultimately not against flesh and blood humans, but rather, "... against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6: 12b NKJV)

I confess that I have been guilty of watching far too many newscasts, and have been sucked in to the venemous vat of America's political struggles. Pastor Sheets' letter has helped tremendously to awaken me from my clouded state of mind. He also wrote:

"It is vital for us to grasp the magnitude of this spiritual war against America and our president, and also to realize that the forces of evil are currently prevailing, though it need not remain so."

From our time of conversation and prayer, we also realized ...

Boundaries and Borders: The Alien Invasion.
In a recent post titled Blow the Trumpet in Zion, I wrote of our nation's influx of illegal, alien immigrants, and the parallel with the 150-year-old invasion of ideas alien to our once-Christian culture.

In this post, I wrote of how ideologues such as Darwin, Freud, Marx, Dewey, Sanger, and others, were given a place in our culture, and particularly in our schools. The ideas they infected us with caused many to question the boundaries set for us by God, boundaries we once respected, but no longer do.

We cast off words like adultery, fornication, homosexuality, envy, greed, and many more. We dismantled God's boundaries through education and art, especially music, film and television. We began to roam "free" of godly constraint and, do "what was right in [our] own eyes." (Judges 21:25) Today, most of our communities no longer reinforce the standards set for us by God. Like Israel in the day of the Judges, we have no King over us (ie: Jesus), but have become "small g" gods unto ourselves, satisfying our own pleasures, oblivious to the dangers.

Now our Southern boundary with Mexico is being overrun by those seeking a better life (which is certainly understandable), yet doing so by breaking the law and refusing to assimilate themselves into our culture as did our legal immigrants from past generations.

Thus we are a nation of lawbreakers (breaking God's laws as described above) invaded by a horde of lawbreakers from an alien culture. We dismantled our personal boundaries, and now our political and geographical boundaries are being dismantled as well.

Read this startling statement from a California organization known as LA COORDINADORA ESTUDIANTIL DE LA RAZA (THE STUDENT COORDINATOR OF THE RACE), "a coalition of over 25 middle schools, high schools, community colleges and universities." Here's a snippet of what's in this radical, in-your-face declaration:


Could there be a connection between Babel's ancient tower, God's confusing of the language, and our own confusion when trying to communicate with a worker at a fast food restaurant? Why are we now prompted to press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish when calling certain customer service numbers? Why does my wife have great difficulty as a teacher's aid in a public school communicating with many of her young students?

Babble on.

The Power of the Tongue: Blessing and Cursing.
Throughout our evening of conversation and prayer, the Holy Spirit opened things to us. Among them was a clear picture of the power of the tongue to bless and curse.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21 NKJV)

As our nation's leaders squabble and fight, call names, and investigate one another, we reap the harvest of our unbridled tongues. Our president, human and fallible as he is, is at heart I believe, an essentially good man. If I did not believe that, I would never have invested so much prayer time in the fall of 2004, to help get him re-elected.

And yet, there is no president in modern times who has been so vilified, so hated, so cursed, by so many, as President Bush. No wonder his administration appears to be unravelling.

This insight came to us last evening as an epiphany, as a bolt out of heaven.

Even I, a long-time supporter of this man, have found myself in recent weeks grumbling and complaining about his dullness and tin ear regarding the illegal immigration mess we have gotten ourselves into. I have publicly faulted him for not enforcing the law.

Thus, in my spiritual ignorance, I have added to the heap of curses already weighing him down.

Since last evening, I have resolved—we four praying people have resolved—to turn our tongues to blessing this man, and through prayer, to intreat God to break through that dark cloud, that Babylonian lather that now engulfs our nation's Capital.

To Conclude.
However you may have come to this page, please prayerfully consider its contents. Ask God if you, too, might engage in prayer for the soul and future of this nation. We are at a critical time. And if you are already engaged, pray fervently and with consistency.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Moderating Extremism

"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." Barry Goldwater
"... Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated ..." (Malachi 1:2-3 NKJV)

Another third-party movement is underway. This time the group is calling itself Unity08. Their goal is "the election of a Unity Ticket for President and Vice-President of the United States in 2008 – headed by a woman and/or man from each major party or by an independent who presents a Unity Team from both parties."

Unity08 spells out four reasons why they believe they will succeed. Among those reason are "The American people know that the current political system is broken and that the time is short to fix it."

The above statement is true. But the remedy is misguided.

Coming together can be a good idea. But marrying the moderate and conciliatory of both parties, and coming together for the sake of coming together, can only produce a milqtoast offspring.

Unity08 is banking its success on an "us vs. them" kind of thinking. In this case, the "us" are everyday Americans fed up with business as usual in Washington, D.C. The "them" are the political elites, the power brokers, the professional politicians.

Are we sick of them? You bet we are!

But when I look at their list of "crucial" issues, I see that two of their top three will likely require more government bureaucracy to implement. Education (No.1) and quality health care (No. 3) are, from the true conservative position, issues that are best dealt with at the community or personal/private level, not the Federal level. Looking at this list, all I see are basically warmed over issues of the left.

The solution to our nation's present critical state is not an alliance of moderates. The solution is a radical return to the ideal of personal self-government (the concept that every individual is accountable for responsibly managing their own lives). And the only way to return us to that kind of an America—the kind of America our predecessors built—is to return the populace to a worldview rooted in Judeo-Christian truth.

This is the route that made America a beacon of hope for the world—a place where many in the world long to live. The massive influx of illegals across our Southern border attests to the success of our once-held principles—principles we've since forsaken. And yet because they are so sound, those principles continue to work beneath the surface producing our great freedom and wealth. But if we continue to abandon these principles as we have been, America truly will follow the same sad path of Greece, Rome, and the other once-great nations of history.

The attempt to merge the disaffected of both parties into some movement in the middle forsakes the principles of both right and left. What this attempt at "third-party" politics is really saying is that the "extreme" views of both, polarized sides, are the real problem in America.

I for one, am not convinced. Extremism, while potentially dangerous, even lethal if mishandled, is the road our God and Savior tread. Looking down from heaven, God did not see a misguided race, a dysfunctional human family. He saw utter lostness, depravity, sin.

His radical, yet effective solution to the problem required an extreme remedy—the actual sacrifice of His own Son in a gruesome and bloody death. He did not attempt to mitigate the sin situation by moderate, mild, and unoffensive means. He did not bring the corrupt and the Holy to the table for a series of talks or negotiations. Instead, He yielded up His own life as payment for our sins.

This is an extreme measure.

In Scripture, we learn of the divisive nature of truth, we see the opposing, warring kingdoms. There is no middle ground. There is a way that leads to life, and a way that leads to death. Compromise is not an option are we to return our nation to its once-held, though tarnished glory among the nations of the earth.

Submitting ourselves to the ideas held in a Biblical or Judeo-Christian worldview is an extreme and radical step. But it is clearly the right path to take. Even as a commitment to Christ often alienates and separates those committing from their friends and family, so America's early roots in Biblical truth separated her from the other nations, making her the envy of the rest of the world.

Only a return to the values and principles which made our nation great, will make her great again. Ours is not a political problem. Ours is a relationship problem. We have lost our relationship with God, and we have lost our relationship with truth.

For further reading, check out the following:

An Urgent Call to Prayer

Although a subscriber to the Elijah List email newsletter, I rarely even open any from the flood of emails that fills my box. Occasionally though, one catches my attention, like this one from Dutch Sheets. Here's a small sampling of what's in the full article:

"It is vital for us to grasp the magnitude of this spiritual war against America and our president, and also to realize that the forces of evil are currently prevailing, though it need not remain so ...

"God has removed favor from our president and is wrestling with him, in order to remove from him all confidence that he can prevail through human strength and methods, including politics. He wants him to walk with a limp ...

"... God is saying to our president, that He alone holds the key to favor and blessing in this hour. President Bush cannot prevail through appeasement, politics or any other human effort alone. But if he will face God and rely solely on Him, God will visit him face to face, favor will return and the president can fulfill his destiny. We must pray this understanding/revelation to our president and we must birth this holy visitation. For him to live and operate in a political world without being caught up in it, will indeed require great revelation and humility ..."

Read the entire article.