Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Why do you believe?

Belief, or faith, or trust, (all closely related words and concepts, and all possible translations of the Greek word pistis piĆ°stiv) is actually just the natural result of recognizing truth – if gravity is true, we must trust, (believe, have faith) that if we step off a cliff we are going to fall. Any other belief is illogical. So, it is not so much a matter of why you believe, but of what you believe. It becomes a matter of seeking to divide truth from fiction.

Everyone believes something, and the question is whether their belief is in something true or something false.

This gets us nicely to the next point – truth. What is truth? Pilate asked the same thing.

The easy way out is to answer that the truth is that which is not false. Logically unassailable and yet totally useless. Another approach is to define truth as that standard against which other things are judged. It’s something like using a yardstick – other things are compared to the yardstick, with the yardstick assumed to be the standard.

Of course, the yardstick has some prior referent, and that itself has some prior referent, back to some beginning. I believe that God is the ultimate prior referent, and everything else is measured, or compared, to Him. That which does not compare favorably to God (or to His standard) is false.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rational and Reasonable...

That's what I think most people want government, at all levels, to be. But yesterday I was reminded of a lesson taught and learned long ago.

During my late teens through my 20's I had a dear friend and primary mentor, John. He was twice my age, and vastly more experienced. Some of the most important things I learned during that time were from him. We often spent long hours talking, sometimes just the two of us, often a small group of friends. During one of these conversations I was on a rant to the effect that government usually makes the right decisions (OK - I was not only young, but also foolish).

John leaned back, looked over his glasses and asked me what he had done during his Army service. "You were a radio/radar repair technician."

Then it hit me. Drafted right out of college during WWII, John had been a graduate in Modern Language, fluent in Spanish and German, and able to get along in Italian. (For the younger crowd, during that war, were were fighting Germans and Italians) He was also profoundly color-blind.

Not so much now, but at that time, electronic components had color codes. Being able to read the color codes was vital to doing the job well and correctly. The Army in its institutional wisdom took a man fluent in the language of a major enemy and put him in a job slot for which he was physically unqualified.

We always need to be praying in the direction of our government being rational and reasonable, but betting in that direction is probably unwise.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Harder Than It Appears...

I recently reconnected with someone I went to high school with, lo these many years ago. We were fairly close during that time, but I don't think we have spoken since the summer after graduation - 45 years and counting.

What was hard? In a few paragraphs in an email, fill in over four decades of dead air.

Try it. Think of someone you haven't seen in years, and write an email to quickly bring them up to speed. What gets included? What gets left out? What is important, and what is not?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Love him or hate him, Neal Boortz is an intelligent and provocative talk show host. This morning he said something that really resonated with me.

First, a little back story. Neal is profoundly anti-smoking. He believes smokers are fools, and periodically takes off on a rant to that effect.

This morning, a smoker called in to take Neal to task, pointing out that the American people have a constitutional to be fools, and that he should lighten up on smokers. During this exchange, the man admitted he would wishes he weren't a smoker, and Neal jumped on that statement, and there is where he said the thing that caught my imagination.

"Are you smoking right now?"

"No," the man answered.

"Then you are a former smoker – you have stopped smoking. Ten minutes, ten days, ten years... you are a former smoker. If you really want to stop, stop! The only question is – will you start smoking again?"

Wow. Just like all of us, just like all of our damaging habits and habitual sins. If we aren't doing it right this moment, we are a former (fill in the blank). The only question is, when decision time rolls around, maybe in ten minutes, ten hours, ten months, ten years... will we make a better choice than we did the last time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Good Intentions

I had them – good intentions. I was going to write every night (or so) about what we were doing on vacation, and all the wonderful things we are seeing, many for the first time. So much for good intentions.

There is just do much to see, we are packing in a lot of going and seeing. Frankly, when we finally get in, we are whipped and in the contest between blogging and sleeping, blogging comes in a distant second. Maybe soon I will catch up.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yellowstone - Again

We have been to Yellowstone National Park before, in 2000, and we had a great time. It is one of the places we said we always wanted to go back to. This year we did.

This time we had the advantage of our own personal tour guides. Elizabeth and Jessica are our nieces, Betty's sister, Peggy's, daughters. they live and work in Gardiner, Montana, a strange combination of cowboy town and international tourist destination that is in the northwestern corner of the park. For the those raised with National Geographic in the house, this is the place with the Rooseveldt Arch at the park entrance.

The girls have been all over the park, and can bring a personal knowledge and experience of a quick tour that really helps pack a lot into one day. Of course, one day is way too little. A month is not really enough time, if you are willing and want to do what the vast majority of tourists are not - get more than a hundred yards off the pavement. These are beautiful things to see from the pavement, but so much more if you can walk a little. This time, between the short time we had for this part of our trip, and Betty's knee sugery little more than three weeks ago, there wasn't a lot of chance to walk, but one day, I want to spend some time on some of the trails and see things that really take your breath away. They are out there.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lead Like Ike - a book review

Geoff Loftus has written a very readable book about Dwight Eisenhower, who organized and commanded the Allied forces in the European Theater during World War II. The goal of operations in Europe was the total defeat of the Axis (primarily Nazi Germany) forces and their unconditional surrender. This defeat hinged on the successful invasion of France, which we look back on as D-Day. This entire operation constitutes the largest and most complex human endeavor in history.

Loftus preserves the fundamentals of history, but approaches the situation as if Eisenhower were the CEO of a large, multinational corporation – D-Day, Inc. In this setting, Eisenhower had to deal with his board of directors (the political and military leaders of the Allied nations), his senior managers (senior subordinate military commanders and staff) and the shareholders (the military carrying out the mission and the civilian populations in all of the affected countries. By analyzing Eisenhower's decisions, his interactions both up and down the chain-of-command, and his basic character, Loftus identifies behaviors, attitudes and decisions that translate from Eisenhower's wartime experience to the business world of today.

I found this book a winner on at least two fronts. First, it carries out its aim of using a huge military operation as a metaphor for business. Second, it makes an important part of our history come alive in a way a standard history might not. In addition, people who may never pick up a book of pure history of either WWII or Eisenhower may well pick up a book about business strategies.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255