Since the inception of this blog, I have asserted that independent thinking and action is one of the most important facets of our humanity, and one of the defining functions of personality. This is because I understand a very old (and yet very true) adage that states that “….the best ideas are common property.” Stated another way, the best principles/maxims/rules of living are understood by a great number of people, and not by a select few (those in today’s society who consider themselves the “elite,” or the so-called “intelligentsia”). Of course, in today’s America, the exact opposite is the prevailing vision, and teaching in modern schools and universities reflects this to a great extent.
It is thus refreshing to see a real-life experience–a direct antithesis to the prevailing vision–documented that proves (yet again) the truth of this ancient maxim.
The best ideas truly are common property–common property of strong-minded individuals who understand the power of independent thinking and action.
For several weeks, I’ve been hearing from followers on both WordPress and Facebook, wondering where in the world I’ve been, and why I haven’t been blogging more often. I would like to take a moment to update all my followers with a long-overdue status update and outlook for the blog.
Most of the folks who follow this blog have been with me long enough to know that I’ve been in school on and off since the end of 2008. This past semester proved to be the busiest yet, with a full class load and a full-time job for the last month and a half of the semester. Nothing new for a self-financed college student, but this semester has been different.
The truth is, Facebook followers of The Southern Voice have an advantage over those who stick to WordPress. They’re in on the secret. And it’s a good one. That’s why I’m grinning like the cat that ate the canary.
There are many things that are cause for rejoicing. In the last year, I’ve gone from being unemployed, limping on a strained ankle, and without transportation to unrestricted ambulation (a medical professional’s term for walking normally, lol), owning a dependable, fuel-efficient vehicle, and working, not one, but two jobs.
But that’s not all.
After breaking my hip last June, I had to drop out of two summer courses at the school where I was enrolled. During the six months that followed, I spent a large amount of time reading, thinking, and pondering the ins and outs of life. It was during this time that a great number of this site’s post were written, including the series entitled, A Refreshing Pause. Instead of going off to Kings Point, New York, as planned, I stayed home, found work, and went back to school during the spring semester of 2013.
There are times in life when time seems to stand still, and nothing seems to be happening. The most amazing part of it is that these times are almost always directly followed by a time when life accelerates to a fever pitch, and everything begins to happen at once.
At the beginning of the semester, I re-enrolled in the math course I had been forced to drop, determined to follow through and finish the job this time. After sitting through the now-familiar orientation class period, I lit into the coursework with a vengeance. This time, I vowed, I would track the math down and kill it.
Okay, I’m becoming overzealous with my metaphors. Moving on…
I couldn’t help but notice that one of the tutors was a young lady about my age, but at first, I really didn’t think too much about that. I was fairly sure that she had a person of interest in her life, and I was preoccupied with school anyway, determined not to get distracted from my goal of finishing the educational course.
However, after two or three weeks in class, I began to notice that the young lady in question was not attached to anyone, as it were. Still determined to stay focused, I merely noted that fact and went on about my business. I could never have expected what happened next.
About two weeks after school started, I went into the math lab early to make up time for an absence. As I was sitting at the desk, with my nose in a book, I couldn’t help but overhear this girl telling another tutor about a “stalker dude” that was giving her trouble.
This “stalker dude” (he shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty) was nearly twice her age, and making all sorts of stupid comments, such that Hannah was feeling quite uncomfortable–indeed, threatened–while at her workplace.
At this point, I knew that I should do what I could to help, even if we never became more than acquaintances.
Having determined to do something, I “happened” to encounter Hannah in the hall later that evening. After a few nondescript pleasantries, I observed, “It sounds like you’ve had a rough day in the math lab today.” Her face fell. “Every day’s a rough day,” she said despondently. “I feel like I’m doing something wrong to draw that much attention to myself.”
(I should mention here that Hannah never did anything indiscreet that would have drawn attention to herself, and was always professional and modest, both in demeanor and attire.)
“No, not at all,” I told her, “It’s guys like that that are the problem. They paint targets on whoever they want.” She brightened a bit as she looked at me and asked, “Do you really think so?” I nodded, adding without hesitation, “I’m a guy, so you can take it from me: you are not doing anything to attract undue attention to yourself. Ok?” She nodded, and a smile crept onto her face as she answered, “Okay.” Then, just as suddenly, her face fell again. “That still doesn’t solve my problem…”
I nodded. “I know.” I knew that now was my only chance to take the plunge, so I drew a deep breath and bailed off, “If you want, I can walk you out to your car after work tonight.”
Her eyes widened; clearly, she was surprised I would even offer. “Really? That would be great!” “All right,” I said, “It’s settled then.”
If you have stuck it out thus far, thanks for your patience. I’ll move more quickly now.
Since my math class was the last one on the schedule for the two nights I was there, it fell perfectly into both our routines for me to escort Miss Hannah to her car, and for a week or two, that was the extent of our contact with one another. As time went on, we began to spend a few minutes together before my class (it just so happened that was when her break fell in the schedule). One day, about three weeks after we had begun talking to one another, her father and brothers walked into the hall where we were talking. They said they had come to “talk to” the other fellow, the one who was bothering their daughter/sister, but Hannah later told me they had come to meet me, too.
I don’t remember much of what we said that night, but for some reason, her dad took a liking to me, and told Hannah that if it worked out that we became more than friends, that was fine with him.
That was nearly seven months ago. Not only is she my best friend, but she is the one person in the world I feel like I couldn’t live without.
Today, I am thankful for the way that the Lord worked in my life, orchestrating circumstances and locations so that I would meet Hannah just when I did, and be in the frame of mind that I was when I met her. Although I didn’t set out to find a “person of interest,” I firmly believe that the Lord moves people as He sees fit, and that He had more than just a wonderful friendship in mind for the two of us, long before last semester.
All that being said, where does that leave The Southern Voice? Well, there are other things afoot. My work situation is still in a bit of a flux, so I’m sometimes pressed to find time to post. At the moment, however, it looks like I’ll be able to post at least once a week. As time permits, I’ll continue to post on a more regular basis.
I would like to conclude this rather lengthy post by thanking my readers who have stuck with me throughout the course of the last year, through both showers and droughts of writing. It is your patronage that encourages the heart of this writer, and helps to motivate him to write posts for your reading enjoyment and mental provocation (After all, one of the things I strive to do is stimulate thoughtful contemplation of life.). Although I enjoy writing for writing’s sake, it is even more enjoyable to know that other people are reading what I write, and enjoying–and perhaps profiting–from what I have written.
Here’s to many more years of blogging together! Long may reading–and writing–continue in this forum!
His zeal for public health and safety is unabated, despite a resounding “No,” from the courts in response to his ridiculous legislation banning large cups and bottles of soda. Now, the “capeless crusader” has turned once again to the item which health crusaders attack most often and most viciously: cigarettes and other forms of smoking tobacco.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t endorse smoking, nor do I smoke. But neither do I endorse the government-funded war on smoking. My reason for this is simple: smoking is not healthy, it’s true. But neither is eating too much. And the zealots are already turning toward overeating as their next crusade, starting with a seemingly innocuous requirement that restaurants post calorie content of each menu item. Today, require caloric content to be posted. Tomorrow, completely ban the food items that are the unhealthiest.
All that aside, I think the Mayor’s actions speak for themselves. And they say . . .
In honor of Senator Rand Paul (and his recent filibuster), here is an incredibly relevant poem that is a prayer for men who aren’t afraid to lead. There are several lines that stood out to me as readily observable characteristics of this man among boys in Washington, but I will leave the entire poem in original form, invite you to read it (it’s quite brief), and then comment and tell me which lines you saw that reminded you of something about this statesman.
God give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands;
Men who the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.
— Josiah Gilbert Holland
Brief, but powerful–and laden with commentary on our day, even though it was written over a hundred years ago.
Do you see any characteristics of Senator Rand Paul in this poem? Do you disagree with my classification of him as a statesman?
The sequester has taken effect, and the President continues to pitch a fit. According to a recent article, the White House will cease all tours after this week, citing the sequester as the reason for the cutback.
You can’t find any better way to deal with the situation? As the author of the above-referenced article correctly states, this brings to mind petty and childish behavior (“I’m gonna take my ball and go home.”). Instead of causing “alarm to the children” by closing the White House right before spring break, why not do something meaningful to help save the money the sequester is supposed to take out of the budget? Something like–oh, I don’t know–cut out a few rounds of golf? Or drop one of those garishly expensive vacations from the Imperial schedule? (Ahem! excuse me, the Presidential schedule.)
And as for the closure causing alarm to the children: really now? Because a few kids will have their feelings hurt because their every whim isn’t granted this spring break, we’re supposed to cave on fiscal responsibility and do away with this drop in the bucket of a cut to the projected spending increase?
Mr. and Ms. Plutocrats of the Potomac, y’all remember something: you work for me. And your constituents. And we have a new order of operation for y’all:
Give us a break . . . We’re not as dumb as you think we are.
Here’s what the politicians have been screaming would happen if the sequester took effect: riots in the streets. Millions without proper food as meat spoiled for lack of USDA inspectors to verify its quality. Hundreds of thousands realizing that their children would not receive as much help at school as thousands of teachers would be laid off. Tens of thousands of first responders (police officers, paramedics, and firefighters) laid off, resulting in less effective crime control, accident response, and fire-fighting capabilities.
In short, the end of the world. Total chaos. Widespread panic.
Thousands rushed to the stores to stock up on bread, milk, eggs, meat, frozen goods, and tofu. The manufacturers of these commodities smiled and raked in the cash, silently thanking the Good Lord above for Obama’s imbecilic and childish portrayal of the sequester as the end of the world, laughing in their sleeves as they collected from the people foolish enough to buy into the hype.
You’ve heard of post-Christmas syndrome (when someone goes on a credit card binge and then gets the bill in January: “I spent HOW MUCH?!?!?”)? Well, there’s a new post- syndrome in town:
For those of you who may know someone suffering with this painful condition, remember: gentle compassion is the best antidote. Try to put yourself in the person’s shoes, see how the “extremely persuasive” rhetoric could have induced the panic, and sympathize with them as much as possible. I sure hope you’re not reading this post while you’re near them:
This interesting anecdote should make you stop and think before you proclaim that you are a victim of your circumstances. Circumstances are things that are beyond our control, there is no doubt….but our reaction to them is firmly planted in the realm of things we can contain and control.
Grandmother: “Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee — Which Are You?”
A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the third she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the girl replied.
Grandma brought the young lady closer and asked her to feel the carrots. The girl did and noted that they had become soft. Grandma then asked her granddaughter to take an egg and break it.After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, Grandma asked the girl to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich flavor, then asked, “What’s the point,grandmother?”
Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?
Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?
(NOTE: This article shows how an ordinary person can use ordinary objects to impart extraordinary wisdom and common sense that will serve us well in life.
While I don’t agree with every iota of philosophy expressed in this story [think, last two paragraphs], I really like the principle the three objects’ transformations illustrate. More on my interpretation in a future post.)
CNN is running sob stories about government agents who could “lose their jobs” if the sequester cuts take place as scheduled. The crisis-monger-in-chief is in full voice in his latest campaign against, of all people, himself. The media and the President would love for us to forget that the sequester cuts were the brainchild of the Obama White House, but we haven’t dis-remembered, have we?
This, as Boehner correctly claims (whatever you may think of Boehner overall, he is right here) is the only way to get this administration to even consider cuts to spending. This is because the President correctly believes that if more people are on the assistance rolls, more people will vote for the administration that allowed them to get on the government dole. That’s the ugly truth.
The other ugly truth is that the recipients of this “domestic aid” are more likely to process arguments on the basis of emotion, rather than logical merit. This means that these sob stories in the news, that cause some to snort in disgust, are causing widespread panic among the progressive voter base. It’s important to remember that this is a 2-3% reduction of projected spending (not current spending, what we said last year that we would spend this year) that is causing this much sound and fury. The current media frenzy and month-long love-fest with the White House proves that the President is not committed to any meaningful action to encourage bi-partisan-ism; rather, he is still committed to what has become his modus operandi: governing by using crises (many of them manufactured) to broaden government intermeddling with the everyday affairs of American citizens.
Yes, the sequester is–as Boehner put it–a messy, “meat-ax” of a way to cut spending. But it’s also necessary. It is not, as the media is hysterically screaming, the end of the world, or even of the nation. In a world gone crazy, it’s important to remember that denying the cost of something doesn’t do away with the cost…just your awareness of it. It’s also interesting to wonder: if a tiny reduction of future spending causes this much furor, might not any meaningful cuts be protested by full-scale riots in the streets?
America is heading–seemingly deaf, and half-blinded by lustful selfishness–in the wrong direction, and only an act of God will bring it back.
I know I’ve said a lot about the issue of gun control over the last few months. I’m also aware the news is full of stories about gun violence and the need to “do something” about it. Usually, the ones feeding us these reports are the ones lecturing us that the government really needs to do something about this important issue.
There are two things to remember. The first is that the Second Amendment was not drafted to give Americans the right to own guns for hunting or other sporting purposes. The Second wasn’t even drafted to give Americans the right to own weapons for self-defense. Freshly released from the bondage of tyranny, the men who founded this country wrote the Second Amendment to give the people the right to own weapons to defend themselves from any tyrants. This, of course, extended to the government, should those in charge forget their office as public servants of the people, and begin to attempt to run rough-shod over the personal property and rights of the people under them.
The second thing to remember is that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Bill of Rights encapsulates several of those “…certain, inalienable rights…” that each of us has been “…endowed [with] by [our] Creator…” The Constitution clearly spells out the process for amending its provisions. Until such a process has been followed on this matter, any “law” that is passed to ensure we take the “morally defensible” “high road” is neither law nor morally defensible nor the high road to anywhere. Except perhaps The Pit. Or possibly Europe.
Of course, there are many things that these statements skim right over, including the redefinition both of the Constitution’s meaning (think “original intent”) and the rights of the American people (think “universal health care,” “too big to fail,” and “welfare.”) . I don’t want to get bogged down with a technical discussion of these matters now…look for more in later posts.
What I do want to do is share an important bit of history with you, my readers. Some of you may not be aware of the event to which I refer. I know I wasn’t before I read about it on a friend’s Facebook wall. While I know that not everything on Facebook is true, I verified this and it is an actual historical event. A Google search renders several good entries, including this excellent article at History.com:
The following originally shared on Facebook by Jerry Howe
A LITTLE HISTORY TO THINK ABOUT:
December 29, 2012 marked the 122nd Anniversary of the murder of 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. These 297 people, in their winter camp, were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection”. The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms. The Calvary began shooting, and managed to wipe out the entire camp. 200 of the 297 victims were women and children. About 40 members of the 7th Cavalry were killed, but over half of them were victims of fratricide from the Hotchkiss guns of their overzealous comrades-in-arms. Twenty members of the 7th Cavalry’s death squad, were deemed “National Heroes” and were awarded the Medal of Honor for their acts of [cowardice] heroism.
We hear very little of Wounded Knee today. It is usually not mentioned in our history classes or books. What little that does exist about Wounded Knee is normally a sanitized “Official Government Explanation”. And there are several historically inaccurate depictions of the events leading up to the massacre, which appear in movie scripts and are not the least bit representative of the actual events that took place that day.
Wounded Knee was among the first federally backed gun confiscation attempts in United States history. It ended in the senseless murder of 297 people.
I don’t normally break up a block-quote, as you know, but let that sink in. Nearly THREE HUNDRED PEOPLE. Murdered. For obeying thelaw.
Before you jump on the emotionally charged bandwagon for gun-control, take a moment to reflect on the real purpose of the Second Amendment, the right of the people to take up arms in defense of themselves, their families, and property in the face of invading armies or an oppressive government. The argument that the Second Amendment only applies to hunting and target shooting is asinine. When the United States Constitution was drafted, “hunting” was an everyday chore carried out by men and women to put meat on the table each night, and “target shooting” was an unheard of concept. Musket balls were a precious commodity and were certainly not wasted on “target shooting”. The Second Amendment was written by people who fled oppressive and tyrannical regimes in Europe, and it refers to the right of American citizens to be armed for defensive purposes, should such tyranny arise in the United States.
As time goes forward, the average citizen in the United States continually loses little chunks of personal freedom or “liberty”. Far too many times, unjust gun control bills were passed and signed into law under the guise of “for your safety” or “for protection”. The Patriot Act signed into law by G.W. Bush, was expanded and continues under Barack Obama. It is just one of many examples of American citizens being stripped of their rights and privacy for “safety”. Now, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is on the table, and will, most likely be attacked to facilitate the path for the removal of our firearms, all in the name of “our safety”.
This is the crux of the matter. Once we elevate safety as king, above freedom, we will always, always, ALWAYS surrender our freedom and our rights so that we can be “safe.” In reality, however, this is like the appeaser in Churchill’s famous illustration. He “…feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” Safety, as it turns out, isn’t really all that safe. Back to the text:
Before any American citizen blindly accepts whatever new firearms legislation that is about to be doled out, they should stop and think about something for just one minute-
Evil does exist in our world. It always has and always will. Throughout history evil people have committed evil acts. In the Bible one of the first stories is that of Cain killing Abel. We cannot legislate “evil” into extinction. Good people will abide by the law, and the criminal element will always find a way around it.
Evil exists all around us, but looking back at the historical record of the past 200 years, across the globe, where is “evil” and “malevolence” most often found? In the hands of those with the power, the governments. That greatest human tragedies on record and the largest loss of innocent human life can be attributed to governments. Who do the governments always target? “Scapegoats” and “enemies” within their own borders…but only after they have been disarmed to the point where they are no longer a threat. Ask any Native American, and they will tell you it was inferior technology and lack of arms that contributed to their demise. Ask any Armenian why it was so easy for the Turks to exterminate millions of them, and they will answer “We were disarmed before it happened”. Ask any Jew what Hitler’s first step prior to the mass murders of the Holocaust was- confiscation of firearms from the people.
Wounded Knee is the prime example of why the Second Amendment exists, and why we should vehemently resist any attempts to infringe on our Rights to Bear Arms. Without the Second Amendment we will be totally stripped of any ability to defend ourselves and our families. [emphases mine]
Don’t tell me. I’m not crazy; I’m not demented; I’m not a bitter, clinging gun owner; I’m not a sociopath. I’m one of 280,000,000 gun owners who didn’t kill anybody yesterday.
So don’t tell me any of that.
I’m a peaceable, law-abiding citizen who believes that I’m commanded by God to follow the rules that the government lays down. However, I also believe that when the government lays down laws that contradict the supreme law of the land (the Constitution), and my life (the Bible), I must obey God rather than man.
The facts are in, and they are clear. The gun control presently in effect is neither controlling guns nor reducing crime. It is simply increasing the likelihood that a law-abiding citizen will become the next victim of a homicidal maniac with a gun. This is because criminals (hope you’re sitting down) don’t follow laws.That’s why we call them criminals. Okay?
One more thing: The criminals that commit gun crimes? Most of them use guns stolen or otherwise acquired illegally. This renders null and void the argument that registration will make it easier to locate the criminal in a firearms-related incident. It will simply enable law enforcement to trace the weapon back to the (often-unsuspecting) legal owner. This means more headache for the law official and the law-abiding citizen.
Gun control is pawned off on us as the moral high ground. A baser lie has never been told! I’ll put it to you simply: Advocacy for gun control is the belief that a woman being found in an alleyway, brutally raped, and strangled with her own pantyhose, is somehow morally superior to that same woman explaining why her would-be attacker is lying dead on the pavement with seven (or eight) bullets from a large-caliber handgun lodged in his chest. In other words, the murder of this lady is more justifiable (or more appealing?) than that lady shooting the sicko who would seek to debauch her.
Before you accuse me of being vile or using reprehensible imagery to promote my point, let me remind you that we are talking about criminals and violent crimes, two vile and reprehensible subjects if there ever were any.
Two parting thoughts:
One. If the leftists control the moral high ground, as they repeatedly claim, why do they use morally reprehensible language and tactics to defend it? (After all, the conservatives aren’t the ones stealing elections, overturning cars, throwing pies, and taking baseball bats to those who disagree with their views.)
Two. Gun control is not legislation to make it more difficult to own and use guns in self-defense against attackers (be they rapists, home invaders, common burglars, or government agents). Gun control is using two hands, taking time to practice and prepare, knowing your weapon and your capabilities with said weapon, and consistently hitting your target.
Two weeks ago, we began looking at Philippians 4:8. In one verse, the Apostle Paul gives us seven tests through which to put our thoughts. Last week we looked at four of them:
1. “Whatsoever things are true…”
2. “Whatsoever things are honest…”
3. “Whatsoever things are just…”
4. “Whatsoever things are pure…”
Even with only those four qualifications, we can significantly narrow down the field of acceptable subjects on which we should meditate. There are many things in the world about us that are true, but are they honest? Have all the facts been presented justly? More importantly, is this a topic which is pure and should be the focus of large amounts of our thoughts and our time?
In this culture in which we live, there is no way that we can possibly avoid everything that would perhaps give offense to us or violate the terms of this list. However, while we may not be able to keep ourselves from incidental, momentary exposure to such things, it is a huge leap from admitting this to stating that we cannot possibly control our thoughts. If you cannot control your thoughts, as a pastor I know used to say, then someone needs to lock you in a padded room and take your shoelaces and any sharp objects away from you! In fact, we can control our thoughts, and we can choose on what subjects we will think (or meditate, if you will). Here in this verse Paul gives us a blueprint…a one-verse blueprint for meditation.
We’ve examined the first four qualities in detail. Now we turn to the latter half of the verse, and see three more characteristics of the things on which we should think:
5. “Whatsoever things are lovely…”
The word “beautiful” is often used in today’s culture, and so is “appealing,” but “lovely” has been trivialized, it would seem. This is a pity, because this word denotes much more than an external beauty, although that is certainly included. “Lovely” also carries the idea of a “beauty that appeals to the heart or mind, as well as the eye; [something that is] charmingly or exquisitely beautiful; of a great spiritual or moral beauty…” The Old English root from which this word derives is luffic, which means “amiable.” Perhaps this is how the custom of describing an amiable person as possessed of a “lovely” temperament. How much meaning can be wrapped up in a single word! How instructive to the man seeking to order his thoughts according to the template for meditation! Whatsoever things are possessed of a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind, as well as the eye, of great spiritual and moral value, toward these subjects ought our thoughts to tend! How often do our thoughts (I include myself) tend in exactly the opposite direction? This is powerful; it is revolutionary for our thinking.
6. “Whatsoever things are of good report…”
Ah, this qualification changes the dynamic in a new and powerful way. Previous requirements state truth, honesty, and justice as tests through which our thoughts should pass; but, here is “of good report” standing behind them to halt still more traffic, as it were. An even better picture is of stringent standards in a quality assurance lab at a manufacturing plant. If a product doesn’t meet all of the requirements, it doesn’t make it out to the consumer. Is it true? Is it honest? Is it just? Is it pure and lovely? Yes? Good…but now, is it of good report? The word translated as good report is the Greek word euphemos, from which we derive our English word, euphemism. This word also carries the idea of something that is well-spoken of, and therefore reputable. To break it down still further, the prefix eu-, to speak or speaking, is attached to a derivative of pheme, (fay-may–from whence we get the English word “fame”), a saying, or a rumor. So this means to think on those things which are well-spoken of.
Why would it be necessary to include an instruction to think on things of good report in this list? Let’s pause for a moment to evaluate this. Does this just mean that we should only speak of those things that are “happy ,” or “positive?” To adopt such a position may seem logical at first, but in fact an examination of other verses from the Paul’s writings will show us that truth is the preeminent concern.
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (Ephesians 4:14)
Two quick thoughts here. One, I’m breaking into the middle of a paragraph, so I beg your indulgence there. Paul is speaking of the goal of unifying and perfecting the body of believers, and states that this is one of the end results of the maturing process through which that goal will be accomplished. Two, notice the ways in which men seek to use words to lead others astray. This passage is rich in parallels to be drawn, but we’ll continue to the next verse, which illustrates the importance of truth:
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (4:15)
There is power here. Paul tells the Ephesians, and by extension us, that our words should be truthful and loving. In other words, we should be willing to say those things that may be hard to hear because they are necessary, but we should always do so out of a heart that desires the best for the other person. With how much grief and strife and hateful speech would following this simple command do away? Furthermore, how much gossip, slander, and backbiting would vanish overnight if we simply followed this blueprint?
Just a few verses later, Paul clarifies,
“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor…” (Ephesians 4:25)
If I obey the command of Christ to love my neighbor as myself, this will follow as a natural result of that obedience, because I desire that people be truthful in their dealings with me. Even so, telling the truth can be painful at times, and Paul urges us to remember to speak the truth, but to do so lovingly.
There are many other verses in the writings of Paul that speak of the preeminence of truth, and this is a word-study to which we shall perhaps return in future. For now, let us return to our text, Philippians 4.
Paul wraps up this incredible list of qualifications for our thoughts with two more tests, stated almost as one:
“…if there be any virtue…” “…and if there be any praise…”
Virtue: Moral excellence; goodness; righteousness. Conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles. Uprightness. These are high standards to which to hold one’s thoughts! Indeed, as I have learned, it is impossible for a man to do this, and it is only by dependence on Christ in me that I can claim the victory and live in obedience to these principles.
Praise: extolling (by others) of the worth of one’s actions or character, the act of giving due credit to someone for a worthy action or virtue of character. These are things on which I should think, according to this verse.
Paul ends this verse with the simplest of commands:
“…think on these things.” <—— This is the emphasis I have often seen and heard put on this last phrase (and there is no doubt that such emphasis is proper), but stop for a moment and consider ——> “….think on these things.” Paul is not just recommending a five-minute session of thinking on such things–in the morning as you drink your coffee, perhaps. No, Paul is advocating a fundamental transformation of your thought life to include only those things that pass these tests. He’s talking about a consistent pattern of thoughtful, intensive contemplation on these subjects that will revolutionize your thinking, your speech, and your way of life. The truth here is powerful, for those who will believe and accept it.
[Owning] A smoking gun could be as bad for your social image as a smoking cigarette, if liberals have their way.
The Christian Science Monitor, the far-out publication of the Christian Scientists, has muddled the facts once again on an important cultural issue. The magazine, which recently classed Palestinian-funded terrorist attacks against Israel as “military action,” now insists that the way to curb gun violence is a public perception campaign designed to stigmatize gun ownership, much akin to the campaign that successfully stigmatized smoking.
Recent surveys, however, may indicate that such attempts are doomed to dismal failure. According to Dr. Rob Spurgeon, holder of the chair of Aristotelian Professor of Logic and Co-chair of the Department of Farming (yes, really) at Real Life University in Western North Carolina, gun owners belong to the group of people who still evaluate any line of reasoning according to the logical merits of its arguments, rather than its emotional impact. “Those who advocate this line of reasoning aren’t thinking clearly,” Dr. Spurgeon explains. “The gun owners the progressives seek to embarrass about their guns are much more emotionally robust than their liberal counterparts. What the stigmatizers fail to admit is that many of those same gun owners are employed in professions that bring them face to face with the harsh realities of real life and the real world.
“Not every animal that is born on the farm lives to see the next spring,” Spurgeon continues. “There are many factors that contribute to a high mortality rate among the animal population of the average agrarian establishment: storm, disease, fire, predators, and yes, some of them are slated to give up their lives to feed the humans that maintain the grange.” But what does this have to do with the argument he posits against a “public shaming” campaign targeting gun owners? He explains:
“Because of the high investment in the animals in terms of time, an unavoidable emotional attachment will form as a result. Furthermore, a farmer’s great compassion for animals–despite the stereotype to the contrary–gives him a desire to see all prosper under his care. He is not overly concerned with his animals’ comfort, but neither does he neglect them. Instead, he looks most solicitously after them, for their well-being is directly tied to his own success. Thus the death of a six-week-old lamb due to complications of pneumonia is not an event which takes place in a vacuum. Unlike city-dwellers, whose primary concern is that the animals from whom the meat they purchase derives did not suffer during the ‘manufacturing’ process, these folks have deep ties to their animals. When one dies, it’s a very real and significant event in the lives of its caretakers. However, the real world dictates that the farmer–after an appropriate interval–must dry his tears, bury the dead, and get back to work.”
Nor is farming the only profession which requires a realistic, grin-and-go-on mentality. Dr. David Crain, Sr., Vice Chancellor of Real-Life University, explains:
Our student body is unique. It’s diverse. There are many different backgrounds and origins represented. Many of our students are preparing for careers in business. Some spend their time volunteering in various non-profit organizations. Others feel the call to full-time vocational ministry. Whatever the course of study in which a student is enrolled, the core curriculum is the same…
We don’t discriminate, but we don’t worry about active recruiting (affirmative action) procedures either. We believe that the students who desire to study here will come of their own volition. If they don’t want to be here, telling them how great our campus is won’t change their mind, and neither will our curriculum. Does this mean that we don’t promote the University when people ask? Certainly not! That’s half of the mission of RLU…to engage with the culture and convince others of the truth of our beliefs and practices.
Basic Economics, Politics 101, Public Speaking, English Grammar, Critical Thinking, Logic, and The Fine Art of Growing Thick Skin are courses that are non-negotiable. Here at RLU, we believe that if our graduates are to succeed, then they must learn and apply to their everyday lives the principles imparted by the dedicated staff in these departments. Our purpose is not to educate people into uselessness, but to educate them in useful disciplines that will make them profitable citizens, informed voters, critical thinkers, rational parents, and stable adults…
Dr. Crain founded Real Life University in early 1997, at the time that his oldest son, David Crain, Jr. was in the 7th grade. “I knew,” he later reminisced, “that I didn’t want my boys going out into the world without understanding where the progressive professors in the state-run education system got their ideas, and how patently false the assumptions behind accepted modern thought really are.”
Operating on a shoe-string budget, and in spite of overwhelming disapproval from his peers, Dr. Crain hand-selected his own textbooks, supplemental reading, and spent countless hours writing and re-writing tests, quizzes, and course notes, many of which are still used today in the core classes at RLU. “Despite the many hours of sleep I lost,” he said in a recent interview, “the ultimate reward was in seeing my boys grow up to be clear-eyed, level-headed thinkers who, actively refusing to imbibe the pleasant (but mind-numbing) wine of progressive socialism, entered into debate with those who espoused the progressive worldview. Above all, it was a joy to see them do so–not arrogantly–but fearlessly, regardless of the academic or political stature of their opponent.”
On hunting down one of these boys, we found young Mr. Crain, a lanky six-footer with a ready grin and a shock of curly brown hair, to be as ready a commentator as his father. He took a full two hours in the middle of mowing a pasture to answer our questions and talk politics. Wearing faded Wranglers that were dark stonewashed when new, a Ford ball cap, and a plaid flannel shirt, he jumps off the tractor and grips the author’s hand like a steel trap gripping a coyote’s paw.
“I grew up on the farm, and it’s easy to forget that not everybody shakes hands with country folk everyday,” he offers apologetically as Scribens rubs his tingling digits. A clear speaker, his voice is nevertheless tinged with an authentic Southern burr that softens the pronunciation of some words. His years of public speaking experience are evidenced by the overemphasis of certain syllables when he’s making a point, however.
“I loved living out in the country…still do,” he continued in our January 24th interview. “There’s an atmosphere of peace and safety that’s refreshing and comforting, and I’ve yet to be in a city where that same sense of security prevails. Of course, there are things that happen out here from time to time in the way of crime, but nothing like the big cities where people are stacked up in cracker-box penthouses and apartments. Out here, there’s a little more space between houses, and people are more relaxed.”
Broach the subject of politics as it relates to logical thought, and you’ll get a glimpse of what makes this young man tick. He sits up a little straighter, his voice grows a little stronger, and his eyes gleam, not with the wild light of the lunatic but the passion of an to informed man eager to guide others on the road to truth.
“Eisenhower said it, and he said it well: ‘Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.’ Granted, he was talking specifically about the military-industrial complex, but America has ignored the deeper and broader implications to her own peril.
“We live in a nation today that is convinced that truth is something that can only be obtained by a renunciation of all that has gone before, and a disinterested search through the uncharted wilds of the relativistic ether for an equally elusive concept of relevant truth for this postmodern world,” he elucidates. “The classic interpretation of truth as objective and relevant to all ages is a concept that is no longer embraced by the culturally enlightened. Objective truth has gone the way of the dinosaur, and they hope it stays there. But only by a return to this paradigm, now a pariah in the very society that gave it its greatest expression, can we hope to turn this country back to its founding principles and documents.”
At this point I mentioned the Christian Science Monitor article, and asked him what he thought of the suggested “public perception” campaign to “stigmatize gun ownership.”
He laughed. “You’re kidding, right?” Then his grin disappeared and he looked thoughtful. “It’s going to take a lot more than that, quite honestly. I mean, they compare it to smoking, but that’s just foolish. Do I agree with the stigmatization of smoking and smokers? No. I believe there’s enough evidence to convince people of the harmful effects of smoking. I have personal reasons for abstaining that include (but are not limited to) the health concerns, but I don’t believe that the government should tell anyone: ‘Thou shalt not smoke,’ or, ‘Thou shalt smoke only here, and only under these circumstances.'”
“Before you stone me as being anti-health, stop and think about it for a moment. How consistent would it be for me to lobby for the government to restrict the choice of some folks to engage in activities that I don’t like, but don’t necessarily harm others, and then scream when those same people use that same government to take away certain of my rights with which they do not agree?”
“Now, I’m not equating smoking to bearing arms as a right; I’m just drawing a parallel. A much more equal comparison would be between free speech and bearing arms; or between right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure and bearing arms. These are all rights as granted by the Constitution and the Amendments thereof, and they are not, as the Second Amendment states, to be infringed.”
“So do I think the progressives will be successful in their campaign to stigmatize guns? No, I don’t. The people they seek to bully into cowering submission are largely well-educated, familiar with real life, accustomed to hardship, and are pretty set in their convictions on these matters. They’re not doing something that is harmful to their health, something that they took up years ago because everybody thought it was cool…that’s what smoking is for many people. But gun ownership is different, and ingrained in the DNA of every conservative father is the drive to pass on the safe use of, and love for, guns.”
“Despite any attempts to stigmatize the owners, guns are part of the American way of life. Their ownership is protected by our Constitution, their safe and responsible use is encouraged by countless thousands of conservative parents, and their presence–in the hands of well-trained civilians who know where and how to use them–is part of the reason my home town has a relatively low crime rate. Yes, evil men use them to commit evil deeds…but good men use them just as often to prevent evil deeds. In a gun-crime situation, the problem isn’t the gun…it’s the man behind the gun.”
“That’s the central message behind our stance on weapons and the Second Amendment.”
Text for this article is taken from interviews with the gentlemen listed and is the proprietary intellectual property of Excogitatoris Scribens™.