Finding the gold nugget of truth in a pile of manure.

the Cav

My career in doing the above: I graduated college with a degree in psychology, whoopee! I quickly found out how unhelpful my “education” was in helping ease people’s minds of whatever was ailing them. My first gig was a real trial by fire, in Quan Loi, Vietnam, where I was expected to counsel men who had just been medevaced out of combat due to mental emotional breakdown. Actually, the army simply wanted me to determine their fitness for combat, “getting back up on the horse”. That phrase was more than proverbial, in that we were First Air Cavalry division and the horse was both the symbol on our unit patch and a UH-1H “Huey” helicopter, which we rode into battle. This turned out to be the best possible training for a counseling career.

Best training in worst conditions! Isn’t that called “trial by fire?” Unlike when I was in private practice after Vietnam, my mission in the Cav was to determine emotional fitness for the most unpleasant duty in the world–combat. Not just Charge of the Light Brigade type combat, not duke it out with the enemy at a distance or even face to face. The real combat was against our own fears and uncertainty: booby traps, ambushes, hidden tunnels from which the VC could suddenly appear, get off some shots or throw a grenade, then disappear again. Combat against the frustration of being hit without the opportunity to hit back. The enemy could rarely afford to stand and fight a pitched battle. If they did, air strikes and artillery were often immediately called down upon them. Go on YouTube and watch what a single AC-130 or HueyCobra gunship can do.

I often had only one interview with which to determine whether the soldier in front of me was telling the truth, whether he was truly unable to function in the field, or malingering and lying. Most were the former. Why not pretend, why not lie to save your life? Because we (I did start out my tour of duty in the infantry) were fighting for the man next to us, not for some lofty ideal or to free the Vietnamese from communism or to prevent a domino from falling. No sane person wants to engage in combat, even less so in these conditions where you get only the rare opportunity to strike back, and where you don’t know what the war is about. But no sane person wants to abandon his buddies either. Most of us chose to fight for the lives of those around us, rather than lie our way out of danger and frustration. Remember that when you criticize Vietnam veterans.

So the title of my post is apt. I had to find the nugget of truth in a story that might be true, or not, from a man who had just been flown out of the battlefield after a breakdown. What incredibly great training for discernment! Now I am going to switch gears, but not really, because the principles of how you find the nuggets of truth apply as much to the written word as to interviews. The following is copied from a blog post. I don’t know the person who wrote it, but it’s a great example of how truth can be slightly twisted to attach a completely wrong meaning.

“The worst Jesus story for me is in Matthew 15, when he kind of acts like a jerk toward the Canaanite woman. Maybe he’s just tired and he’s short with her. Maybe the story lost something in translation and it was kinder than it appears. But Jesus calls her a dog. Kind of the way Pratt’s church and the UMC call LGBTQ people less-than. Someone loved, but lower. Someone who doesn’t deserve a seat at the table. Someone whose presence is taking food away from those who REALLY deserve it. It’s not a good look for Jesus, tbh. And it’s not a good look for a church either. But the woman wasn’t having it. She wanted what Jesus had to give. She wanted healing for suffering in her family. She wanted his attention. And she told him that at the very least, she deserved the crumbs. She sat at his feet and demanded crumbs. She said that those crumbs didn’t take away from the feeding of the more deserving. That even the lowly deserved some measure of sustenance. And Jesus changed. He didn’t give her crumbs, he gave her the full meal. He praised her faith. He gave her the healing she had asked for. She got it all. We don’t have to make our LGBTQ friend and family settle for crumbs. We can be like Jesus and give the full meal. We can say, “We love you. We accept you. We affirm you. Come, sit at the table and eat the meal prepared for all of us.”

The passage she is referring to is this one: And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. – Matthew 15:23-28.

Her explanation is wrong on so many levels that I can only deal with a few here. No one is deserving of God’s love, nor of salvation through Christ. She seems to think that the church believes some are deserving and others not, all on the basis of their behavior. God’s love is the result of His sovereign will alone, and not because of favor bestowed on either behavior or inherent worth; God calls whom He will.

Jesus is never “kind of a jerk” nor too “tired” to love. He told the Canaanite woman the truth, and was testing her faith. The writer sets herself up as a critic of Jesus’ behavior, but if she truly believed He is whom He declares Himself to be, and capable of healing diseases and casting out demons, she would do as the woman in the story did, kneel at his feet and call him Lord. I don’t have to know the blogger to know that she sets opinion above Jesus Christ.

The woman wanted healing for her daughter, and the text does not say how the demon oppressed her. What if her daughter was sexually confused, or promiscuous or lesbian? Would the writer have commended Jesus for healing her, or called Him a bigot for not respecting her daughter’s orientation? I would say the latter. This story of Jesus is about faith, not about lgbtq acceptance. They need healing and truth more than affirmation.

Jesus Christ accepts and heals all who come to Him in faith and repentance. She would probably say something like “but you have to accept and love people as they are before they can repent and believe.” Acceptance and love are important, if it is acceptance and love as creations of God, and as sinners in need of a savior, rather than using sexual orientation as their identity.

 From John Hendryx at Monergism: “Wouldn’t it actually be anti-LGBTQ to EXCLUDE those who identify as LGBTQ by withholding the gospel from them? More and more people like Page assume that declaring the gospel to LGBTQ people is somehow discriminatory, but the opposite it true – it is radically inclusive. It is actually the same gospel that we all need for our sins. Jesus did not die for good people but for sinners like me. So no one is being singled out as if some deserved God’s grace but others do not. Theologically conservative churches (like mine) do not exclude any people from any nation with any sin, who by grace, willing come to Christ to be saved from it. And that’s why we have sinners of all types in our pews. It seems what people (like Page) are offended by is that LGBTQ is even classified as sin to begin with.

What if there was a North American Union?

When we read or hear about Brexit, we vaguely know that it’s a contraction of Britain and exit, but for most of us, it means little else. Uncle Curmudgeon will undertake to explain what the big deal is. Why should you care? I can’t think of a single reason, but it does serve as a good example of why national sovereignty matters. If you don’t care about that, you may leave class and get back to your Netflix and chill, whatever the hell that is. Interesting that I just typed this on my iPad, and when I got to whatever the…..it filled in heck, and when I wrote hell, it kept changing it to he’ll. The iPad doesn’t like the word hell, but has no objection to trying to teach me the morality of the programmer.

Now imagine that the United States had the sort of inferiority complex that motivated the members of the European Union to join it–we’re not big enough, rich enough, strong enough, to compete individually with that big bully…..Which big bully, Russia, China? Oh, you mean the United States, the big bully who helped France and Britain to survive Germany’s attempt to subjugate them, who helped free Italy and Germany from the yoke of tyrants, who airlifted supplies to feed Berliners when Russia was trying to starve them….THAT big bully. Okay, let’s put aside our historical, cultural, economic and linguistic differences and form our own big bully.

To begin to understand what an undertaking that was, let’s imagine that Canada, the United States and Mexico agreed to form a Union, the North American common Union. Over time, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, CostaRica, Belize and Panama applied to join. That’s 11 nations. The EU was formed in 1957 with six nations–the original idea being to end the wars that plagued Europe–and over time, another 22 joined, more for economic benefits than anything else. Interestingly, two countries within the geographical boundaries of the EU, Switzerland and Norway (technically, Norway is within since they share a border with member Sweden), have not opted to join, and that might be due to their independent natures or relatively greater prosperity. Between the 28 current member states, there are 24 different languages spoken. Five more nations have applied for membership and are being considered, 22 other “European” nations are not members, and one, The United Kingdom i.e. Britain, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, has voted to withdraw–Brexit. Most of the EU nations are called Schengen countries, which operate with no border controls, like states within the United States.

Back to the theoretical NAU. I am going to concentrate solely on border issues, since the economic are already covered by existing agreements and war with either country is laughable. Raise your hands if you would like to see the United States abolish border controls with Canada. Hmm, a lot of hands. Keep ‘um up if you would like to extend that concept to Mexico. Where did almost everyone go, including most Hispanics? What about extending the concept further to all the Central American nations? Now that’s what I call a stampede for the exit. Perhaps we should examine this idea further. I mean, if six European nations with a long history of wars with each other can join together, why can’t we start with three? The United States did have a brief war with Mexico, but compared to European wars, it was short. More Americans died from diseases after invading Mexico (actually the highest mortality rate of any of our wars) than died from war itself. Mexico should have more of a grudge, having lost half their territory, but I am polling Americans here.

I am going to use myself as a proxy for the majority of Americans, even though I am probably very different in most ways, but that’s the peril of writing an individual blog rather than a group consensus blog. I personally love going to Canada, and I like most Canadians I have met, both there and visiting here. But I can say the same for Mexicans. The last time I traveled to Mexico was 1973, and enjoyed my visit immensely. It was the real Mexico of the rural parts of Chihuahua state, and both the ordinary people and the federal police were very hospitable. I have never been to Mexican resorts or touristy areas, so the rural and small town experience is all I have, and on the basis of that I would welcome Mexican and Canadian visitors equally. However, I would not want border controls eliminated with either Mexico or Canada. Why not Mexico? The flow of long term non-citizen residents would be one way, from Mexico to us. Except for a few retirees, who can already establish residence in Mexico, virtually no U.S. citizens would want to stay in Mexico. However, hordes of Mexicans would want to stay here, for reasons that are obvious to all but the most dense of Perfectionist Progressives (i.e. leftists, liberals, Democrats, the national press). As for Canadians, it might be a toss up. Their national leader is more photogenic and, on the surface, more personable than ours. So what? Tax rates are difficult to compare, but would be very similar for people in the middle income brackets. Canada has universal health care, sort of, which could be a draw for those not yet 65 and not covered by their employers. The biggest reason I would not want open borders with Canada is because of the laxity of their own immigration policies. Canada has less people than California even though 20 times more land, so they want more people.

More terrorist suspects have come into The United States from Canada than from Mexico. However, the total number of such crossing either border is small compared with the number who enter directly via ship or plane. I simply believe that open borders with Canada would change that for the worse. That’s the main reason I wouldn’t sign on to a Schengen type Union. I love both Canada and Mexico for the people and the scenery. I dislike Trudeau, the very definition of an “empty suit”, as well as the suppression of freedom of speech and religion in Canada. I don’t like Trump’s behavior and rhetoric, but I like what he’s accomplished. All in all, I will take the good old USA, the good with the bad. At least I don’t have to hear every other sentence end with “eh” and a question mark, nor care about the various poutines. As for Mexico, I think of how many Mexicans would settle here if given a choice, so no. I haven’t even discussed admitting the Central America basket cases (with the exception of Costa Rica, possibly Belize and Panama). Not happening.

This just in after writing this post: Gallup asked the whole population of Latin America. There are 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Roughly 450 million adults live in the region. Gallup asked them,  “Would you like to move to another country permanently if you could?”A whopping 27% said “yes.” So this means roughly 120 million would like to migrate somewhere. The next question Gallup asked was, “Where would you like to move?” Of those who want to leave their Latin American country permanently, 35% said they want to go to the United States. The Gallup analytics estimate is that 42 million want to come to the U.S.Forty-two million seekers of citizenship or asylum are watching to determine exactly when and how is the best time to make the move. This suggests that open borders could potentially attract 42 million Latin Americans. A full 5 million who are planning to move in the next 12 months say they are moving to the U.S.

Will I be found wanting?

prepared and unprepared

This morning I was reading Matthew 25:1-30, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you’. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Some questions came to mind, as they always do. What does the oil and the lamp signify? All fell asleep, but half awakened prepared to join the marriage feast, and half were unprepared. Why were not all prepared? How does this parable apply to me? I want to explain how I understand the difference between the faith that is the consequence of true grace, versus the appearance of faith that stems from human effort. When a person is convicted in their heart that they are in a sinful state, and such conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, it is not related to their present circumstances. They may be wallowing in self pity due to temporary suffering, or momentarily ecstatic about their wealth and health, they may have just been reading the Bible or watching an idiotic video, but when that conviction calls, it is irresistible. In an instant, they recognize they are helpless and hopeless, in need of a savior. At this point, I admit I am not totally sure if it follows that they call on Jesus Christ, or try to reform by their own efforts. I believe it’s the former.

There are others who also feel a conviction of sin, but rather than it coming from the Holy Spirit, it is a mere attack of conscience. This group, and any others who try to reform themselves via their own efforts–the foolish–are doomed to fail, even if experiencing some fleeting successes. Perhaps they, like remoras, attach themselves to the idea of being saved through Jesus Christ, but do not have the unlimited supply of grace that comes only from being grafted onto the tree that is Jesus. Those who were convicted by the Spirit, and cried out from the heart for Jesus Christ only, are like branches grafted on to a tree, receiving nourishment–grace–from the roots. I believe that the oil and the lamp represents grace and the light that it gives.

Both groups fell asleep, because no one knows when the bridegroom, Jesus Christ, will come, and vigilance is tiring. There is no defense against sleep. One moment you are awake, thinking of whatever, and the next you are waking up. But those grafted onto the tree have unlimited grace, which comes only from the root. That’s why those who took extra oil with them, the “wise”, said they did not have enough to give, because they were not the source of the oil of grace. The fate of the foolish, who try to reform by their own efforts, but run out of oil when it’s really needed, is to be told by Jesus “I do not know you.” Does that apply to you? I hope not.

What about those who think they have grace but are still stuck on self effort? This is like the sermon preached on grace, which ends with a flourish of “go and do this, this, …” No, the Spirit of grace will convict you of what it wants you doing. I still sin, I still fall asleep when I should be alert, but I don’t worry. Grace is this: When God sees my sin, He sees Jesus Christ pleading my case, and renders the verdict, Not Guilty. No matter how many times I am tried, my lamp will not go out. You can have that too!

Impartiality, the imprimatur of a real man. Women too!

Postmodern “things”: toxic masculinity, feminism, transgenderism, gayness. Okay, enough of that. I am writing this post on my iPad. How do I know when a word has really become a “thing”, as in trend, or cultural phenomenon, when your iPad or iPhone fills in the rest of a word you haven’t used before, like I type toxic and among the next three suggestions is masculinity. I have read all kinds of opinions on what a man or woman is, how they act or should, how to define real masculinity, in particular. Among the myriad opinions and assertions, I have not seen the one I consider most important, so here goes.

What is the imprimatur of a real man? I would include women, but since I am a man, rendering opinions on what a real woman is, is presumptuous in the extreme. That’s a good excuse to avoid the controversy. I grew up with the expression, “he’s a man’s man”, which did not imply homosexuality nor being kept or enslaved by another man. What it meant is you look at this guy, the way he walks, how he talks, how he dresses and is groomed, and both his gender and his sexuality is unambiguous. He is a man, and heterosexual! He’s also a leader, but in a quiet, self confident way, speaks few words, most of them weighty, and his counsel is sought and listened to, like Joshua. “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:14-15. No equivocation, a man’s man.

Does that ideal still exist today? I don’t know, there’s sure a lot of bluster out there, along with sexual confusion, metrosexual style, and so forth. My male friends have many similar physical traits, from the way they dress and wear their hair–those who still have any left–to how they walk–fast, eyes front, goin’ somewhere baby! That’s not to say I would avoid friendships with men who look or act more effeminate, a word I refuse to define, but what I care most about is character, and I assert that one of the best ways to judge character is the ability to render judgment impartially. Meaning what? Some examples will serve best. Years ago, I ran a business in which two of my partners had a dispute. One of them was a close friend and the best man at my wedding, the other I was always clashing with. They each presented their case, solicited my judgment and agreed to abide by my decision. I knew my friend was wrong, and that deciding against him would turn him and his wife against me, and also knew that the other person would continue to argue with my every decision, regardless of deciding in her favor. Impartiality required putting all personal considerations aside and rendering right judgment, no matter how unpopular my decision.

Can you, have you, put aside personal feelings and preferences, and demonstrated impartiality when asked to judge? Can you weigh the merits of the case alone, rather than merits of the people (which is to say, how they have treated you, or how you feel about them) or their personalities? The main reason our culture today, and western culture in general, is “under assault”, or appears to have “lost it’s way”, like a body with a severely compromised immune system, is that the institutions which should uphold our culture have long ago lost their nerve and “bowed the knee” to popularity. Immediately, questions come up. Which institutions? What do institutions and culture have to do with each other? What’s wrong with popularity? Glad you asked. Remember this principle: Culture is downstream from religion. In the United States, the widespread misconception about “separation of church and state” is one of the culprits. Those who won our independence from Britain, and wrote both the Declaration of Independence and our constitution, as well as all the original state constitutions, never wrote separation of church and state into any documents. They understood that the state should not fund nor favor any particular religion or denomination. That principle is the basis of the first amendment. Look it up! That true understanding has been corrupted into keeping any expression of religion out of the “public square”. The Christian Church itself has been complicit by the failure of the courage to preach the Bible instead of accommodating preaching and teaching to the desire for popularity with the culture. Popularity kills principles and truth, that’s what’s wrong with popularity. The church is the main institution for preserving the culture, but has failed. So has the press and the government. Instead of defining what is normal and desirable, the church, the press, and the government have buckled to the yelping, whining leftist pack to become complicit in their assault on normal and desirable. My post is about impartiality, so what was that two paragraph rant about? This: Being able to render truly impartial judgment, and thus showing how to “man up” (women can also, its just a phrase and you know what it means), means rejecting the lure of popularity and standing for principles and truth. My rant was a quick exposition of how popularity poisons.

In praise of the “unknown” guitarist and the bands.

How can someone this good be so little known? If you’re in your 60’s or 70’s, and are fans of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, BB King, and you want to hear an amalgam of all their styles made uniquely his own, you need to listen to Dave Clempson, known as Clem Clempson. The best known band he was part of was Colosseum, and he is on most of their albums. Go to YouTube and search on Clem Clempson, or Colosseum. There is an entire Colosseum concert in the Rockpalast, in Germany. The Germans really get the blues. In between numbers, drummer Jon Hiseman explains how the song came to be. It’s living blues history.

Or go to his official website, clemclempson.com https://www.clemclempson.com/other-works/and listen to some of the tracks, but especially So Many Roads! If you like blues, the licks will blow you away. On YouTube there are also lots of videos showing Clempson playing with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Billy Cobham, Chris Farlowe, Jeff Beck, et al. Go ahead and listen, you’ll thank me.

You may think this doesn’t apply to you…..

hope for our future

Nate Wilson, son of my favorite blogger and preacher Doug Wilson, has formulated a rule that more boards and committees should be aware of. He has said that “in any meeting that lasts over twenty minutes, someone will propose something which, if implemented, will ruin everything.” Don’t I know it.

I was on the board of a private Classical and Christian School, modeled after the principles expressed by Dorothy Sayers, in her book The Lost Tools of Learning, and of Doug Wilson’s update, Recovering The Lost Tools of Learning. My oldest daughter was part of their first class, and my other two daughters followed her a few years later. We started with the most marvelous of conditions, or so we thought. The entire board, faculty and student body were composed of members of two compatible conservative Christian churches. Our small town was located in central Washington, more conservative than the eastern and especially the western parts of the state. The superintendent of the public school system in town was a member of our church, as was the principal of the school that our church held services in. His daughters also attended our school, and the superintendent would have sent his children if allowed, and was supportive. All we lacked was sufficient money to pay our teachers what they were really worth, but they loved being there anyway, since in the beginning, those who had children enrolled them in the school.

It should have been perfect. For a few years, it was. But the progression of the school’s, if not downfall, at least dilution, followed that of virtually all organizations. That’s why this tale is relevant to anyone. The following is taken from Pastor Wilson’s blog post, because it is about general principles that apply to private schools, yet it describes our school exactly.

“A successful school will have hundreds of people involved in it. Lots of people going in all kinds of directions. It is an organization of people, and if it is organized well, it will function like a body. As a body, it will have lymph nodes, and when a cancer arrives, it will go for the lymph nodes. When you enroll your kids in a thriving Christian school, you may not know a third of the board members, and you may not know (yet) half of the teachers. And depend upon it, when you have a school that size, somebody is up to no good. The school may be great for five years, okay for two, and mediocre until your third kid graduates. It may be great the entire time. It might be steadily improving. But if it is steadily improving, it is because somebody is doing it on purpose, not because that kind of thing happens all by itself. What do you need to do to get a garden full of weeds? Absolutely nothing, that’s what.  

“So somebody gets elected to the board because they have money, and they also have a tenuous understanding of the importance of Latin. A couple parents clash with the Latin teacher, the one with an over-inflated view of Latin. Naturally. The clueless Latinist on the board takes up their cause. One of the board member’s kids is a premier pill, and no discipline ever seems to land anywhere near her. The state legislature passed a “let’s-bribe-all-the-Christian-schools” bill, and you have talked to a couple board members who don’t seem all that concerned. In short, something bad is always developing. So if you have your kids in a Christian school, it is no sin to ask questions. And it is usually some kind of sin not to.”

Take out the word Christian, and you still have a cautionary tale for all organizations: loss or lack of vision; mission drift; factions; money priorities; power; competing temptations. I will address each of these realities, what I call artifacts of the people store. If you have people, you will have these realities. Pastor Wilson says “when cancer arrives”, not if cancer arrives. Cancer is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division. Its development and progression are usually linked to a series of changes in the activity of cell cycle regulators. For example, inhibitors of the cell cycle keep cells from dividing when conditions aren’t right, so too little activity of these inhibitors can promote cancer. Cancer progresses from early organ-confined disease to metastatic disease. So, cancer starts within the body, rather than by an attack from outside organisms, and if not isolated and excised from the original site will spread, making treatment more dangerous, and might eventually kill the body.

Loss of Vision: A cooperative human venture–an organization–whether a school, corporation or team, comes into being via a vision of accomplishing something long term. The vision helps shape the missions of the organization. In my case, the vision was of an education grounded in the Bible as the standard of truth, with all subjects taught faithfully in relation to God’s purpose for our existence. If we lost that vision, subjects would be taught by rote.

Mission drift: The vision shapes the primary mission, which was to produce a community of students who applied God’s truth to all questions of life, and whose relationships reflected God’s love. But money was always lacking, and other missions, such as fundraising, started to expand.

Factions: In every group, the “people store” will produce factions, no matter how clear the vision and mission statements are. We had those, plus a statement of faith that all stakeholders agreed to, plus we had detailed written bylaws and procedures for everything we could think of. It wasn’t enough to prevent factions. I’m not sure anything is.

Money priorities: I believe the statement, “there’s never a money problem, there are only idea problems.” Sometimes the problem isn’t a lack of ideas, but too many, which dilutes efforts.

Power: Even in our environment, the power to control others could raise its head. We had a rule for board meetings, which was no idea can be implemented unless we come to unanimous consent. The power problem got manifested in the increasing length of the meetings, because most of the board members, brilliant and dedicated all, wanted their complete say. As Nate Wilson said, eventually things got implemented which began ruining the whole. We should have placed a strict limit on the time each board member could give their opinion.

Competing temptations: This affected succeeding classes more and more. When the school was tiny, and the kids were young, academic and behavioral goals were enough. As they got older, and the school grew to include more churches and even some students whose family had no church identification, and our kids would see their public school friends playing sports and enjoying many social activities, those temptations became greater priorities. That’s probably inevitable.

The greatest mistake: Despite all those challenges, I believe we could have maintained our vision and mission and our healthy culture, but one fateful board meeting produced a disastrous decision. That decision set us on the wrong path, which is another way of saying we weren’t seeing ourselves clearly, and got our priorities backwards. I will explain this decision in some detail, because it is what breaks most organizations eventually. For the first four years, we had two marvelous headmasters, who really embraced the vision and mission. The first headmaster was one of the three founders of the school. The second was a retired executive from Hewlett-Packard, who brought real leadership concepts and also embraced our vision and mission. But both these men embodied something even more important. It will sound like something uniquely Christian, but that’s just semantics. Each of these men embodied grace, rather than law.

Here’s the distinction that is relevant to every organization. “Law” is teaching obedience to the standard, “grace” is teaching love for the standard. In the Bible, the ultimate purpose of the law is to demonstrate your complete inability to follow it; it illuminates your sin. Grace is unmerited salvation from the burden of the law. How this concept applies to organizations is this: law-oriented leadership is adherence to rules, external pressure to obey, sending soldiers into battle while hanging out a safe distance away. Grace-oriented leadership is “servant leadership.” Jesus summed it up: But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28

When He said “slave”, he didn’t mean a literal slave, but someone who is driven to please the only real master, God. A servant leader is in front of the troops, not relaxing in their well appointed office. Our disastrous decision was hiring, for our third headmaster, the very model of law-oriented leadership. We were blind to the fact that we didn’t even understand the two forms of leadership, nor recognize what really made our previous leaders great. After this hire, board meetings became even longer, since headmasters attended the meetings to report to the board, though this new hire, rather than just reporting, thought to make policy, the prerogative of the board. The loving, patient culture rapidly changed to one of rules and emphasizing outward appearances, rather than a selfless internal spirit.

We replaced him after a year, but by then the damage was done. Competing temptations became stronger, our culture less attractive. I haven’t had any direct contact with the school since 2013, when my kids were out. Judging by their website, which contains links to their statement of faith, blog, board policy and other interesting things, nothing has changed for the worse. The headmaster we hired after the mistake is still there, so I hope that means the listing ship has righted. The current board members are people I know, who have the same vision. Maybe our school learned the right lessons. If so, thank God they are in a small town that the major media doesn’t care about.

 

Transgenderism, the Emperor’s New Clothes

the big lie

E = MC2. Energy equals mass times the speed of light, squared. This is one of the most famous formulas in the world, illustrating special relativity. It shows that energy (E) and mass (m) are interchangeable; they are different forms of the same thing. The theory of special relativity explains how space and time are linked for objects that are moving at a consistent speed in a straight line. One of its most famous aspects concerns objects moving at the speed of light. Simply put, as an object approaches the speed of light, its mass becomes infinite and it is unable to go any faster than light travels. This cosmic speed limit has been a subject of much discussion in physics, and even in science fiction, as people think about how to travel across vast distances. And now for something completely different…..

There’s another form of special relativity, actually more of a disease, which human beings manifest to varying degrees. I call it “you don’t understand, it’s different for me…” Most of the time, this phrase is the outward expression of rejection of objectivity, denial that what is real for most others applies to you, justifying a lack of effort, and fostering the expectation that, since you can’t change or accommodate reality, the world must change to accommodate you. As I have explained in previous posts, your biological sex is the very first thing that the world outside of you notices about you. It’s even apparent in an ultrasound taken before birth. It’s inescapable whenever you look in a mirror. “You don’t understand, I feel like the other sex.” How can you know what the other sex feels like? “I meant, I don’t like, or I don’t want to be, the sex that I appear to be.” That too shall pass, unless…..

If you are gender confused or conflicted, by the magic of this kind of special relativity, others around you demonstrate their obeisance to your feelings, or your statement of your feelings, and arrange drugs and surgery to to “transition” or “transform” you into the sex you think you want to be. But it can’t stop there, because the rest of the world isn’t in on the game, or whatever it is. Changing your appearance isn’t enough, because ignorant saps who knew the biological you will not be fooled by a mere change of appearance. Every time they call you by your original name, or refer to you using the pronoun of your biological sex, it reminds you of the pure subjectivity of your feelings. Even worse, the world is full of ignorant saps who stare at the “transitioned” you, not sure how to address you, or describe you, and even more ambivalent about sharing a bathroom with you.

Therefore, they all need to change. The problem with that formulation is that if they don’t want to accommodate your mental illness–for that is what hatred or disgust for your natural, biological sex is–either they must be forced into affirmation, or you must get help to understand and triumph over your pathology. Perfectionist Progressives, the chattering class, the Mediated Reality Establishment, Democrats…..have the resources to force or pressure affirmation. The rest of us will, hopefully, resist.

Resistance isn’t about harming you, it’s about loving you, which is getting you the help you need. Forcing affirmation of your pathology is about demonstrating the power to control the majority, shaping their opinions through creating a new vocabulary: deadnaming, transphobia, trans-exclusionary, transgender pronouns like Xe, Xer. Forcing affirmation of your pathology is about demonstrating the power to control the majority: threats, trolling, doxing, getting people fired from their jobs for using male and female pronouns….

This demonstration of naked power reminds me of the fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes, is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new “clothes”, no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid. Finally a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” 

We all need the innocence of that child, unafraid of what others think, especially when they clearly don’t.