Monthly Archives: January 2018

No tear in the eagle’s eye

You may have seen on network news a video of an eagle floating past our town on a Mississippi River ice floe. Something inviting about the drift toward Memphis and New Orleans. Some days I just go that spot to read and pray. Other days I sense God saying, “Let’s go to the riverfront.”

On the day the network caught the eagle, I was invited to the river. I came away instructed, visited and enriched. I read thirty pages from Peggy Noonan’s book Patriotic Grace. (HarperCollins, 2008). The startling punch came from the date. 2008! Not much positive has changed in the ten years since; the issues have expanded. In 2008, she offered… “some rough thoughts on what I think we need.” Sound good for 2018.

“We need the best possible national defense, couple with an attitude of wisdom, forbearance, and peacefulness toward the world. A civil defense system worthy of the name. An America that is stronger at home—with a stronger physical and cultural infrastructure.”

The phrase was new to me and struck me like a blunt object: “Stronger cultural infrastructure.” What would that look like? Ms. Noonan says,

“…what we need right now in our national political life is a kind of patriotic grace, a grace that takes the long view, apprehends the moment we’re in, comes up with ways of dealing with it, and eschews the politically cheap and manipulative.” (page 147)

Last night part of the entertainment industry held their own State of the Union event. They called my wife, me, and some friends “the dark underbelly of America.” They pledged not to stop until they have swept America clear of about half of the population.

What would blossom into a “stronger cultural infrastructure?”

“…those things that ease the stresses we feel as a nation, the tears and divisions we feel, should be encouraged. We drive each other crazy. We fight as if we’ll never need each other. We fight like a drunken family hurling charges against each other in the living room while there’s a fire in the attic and it’s traveling down the stairs.” (p. 147-8)

Ten years ago, Ms. Noonan spoke of immigration:

“Why not be humane, be American, and recognize the moment we’re in. Take a pause, close the border to illegal passage now, for reasons of national security. Continue legal immigration, with an eye to one thing: admitting as new citizens those who bring particular skills our nation particularly needs.
“As for those who’ve come here over the past twenty years or so illegally…easy does it. There, that’s a platform for the moment: Easy does it. Those who break our laws, indulging in violent behavior? Send them back. Goodbye!”

“We must tend to the ties that hold us together as citizens of America.”

And what are those ties? Our history. A line repeatedly used in the third section of the book: “Let us recognize the moment we’re in.” Peggy Noonan quotes a 2002 speech by Bruce Cole who was then head of the National Endowment for the Humanities who observed the “American amnesia” or ignorance of the history that should hold us together. He said in that speech:

“Citizens kept ignorant of their history are robbed of the richness of their heritage…. A nation that does not know why it exists, or what it stands for, cannot be expected to long endure…. We cannot expect that a nation which has lost its memory will keep its vision.”

One of the “ties” that binds a civilized society is a modicum of respect. I feel protective of Melania Trump. I am angered by the attempt to trash her. I may hire the Andrew Jackson militia to drop by the potty-mouthed people’s platform to tap them on the shoulder and demand an apology to our First Lady. Among others!

The thirty plus pages I read stimulated me. It really is a fine piece of thinking and writing expressed with appreciation for both legitimate sides of the aisle. I invite you to read at least pages 133-160 of Patriotic Grace.

Thanks for reading this Benton Blog.

D. Dean Benton–writer, wonderer

Why? When? How?

I have a friend from junior high whose name is Marvel. I talk to her occasionally. At one of our early high school reunions, she saw me and exclaimed, “Dean Benton. I thought you were dead!” I am delighted she is one of my classmates with whom I’ve reconnected. Since that greeting, I’ve felt obligated to keep her informed of my state of health. She is interesting. However, I don’t know her well enough as an adult to know if she has lived up to her name. She did Facebook me one morning to tell me she was about to board a ship on the sea near Rome. But she didn’t tell me if she marveled at the sights, felt awe of being in Rome and if she liked the food and/or wine.

Marvel and marveling came to mind as I began to read the bio of Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. My appreciation for painting is thin. Most of the paintings I’ve seen have been screwed to motel walls.

By page three of the bio, I was marveling at Leonardo who was the original Renaissance man. He saw himself as an engineer, a designer of bridges, waterways, cannons, armored vehicles and public buildings. His preliminary drafts of the human body are astonishing. He autopsied bodies to learn about muscles that made movement possible. Before he drew the Mona Lisa, he studied muscles that enabled a smile. Then he painted The Smile.

Isaacson says, “…(Leonardo’s) driving passion which was nothing less than knowing everything there was to know about the world, including how we fit in into it.”

The artist’s notebooks are as important as his paintings. They contain drawings, journaling, ideas and to do lists. One of the things he reminded himself to do: “Describe the tongue of the woodpecker.” Art historian Kenneth Clark called him, “The most relentlessly curious man in history.”

If we could filter him to one behavior, it would be curiosity. “His curiosity was pure, personal, and delightfully obsessive.”
Why would he care what a woodpecker’s tongue was like? “…because he was Leonardo: curious, passionate, and always filled with wonder.”

All of that is interesting to me because I’ve noticed the absence of or minimum amount of curiosity, passion, wonder and marveling. Raw worship is captured by those four words.

John Eldredge and his adult sons were talking about masculinity and how men are wired and what keeps them involved in a spiritual journey. Two things that a man’s heart hungers for: adventure and battle. Most of the things we do at church are kinda the opposite. We sit in church and sing (some are clearly feminine songs), then we go to Sunday school to talk and sit around a table to share, most of which I enjoy. But, where are men challenged to adventure? To what battle?

Some of my friends would ditch church to go hunting for Elk. And in the hunting they engage the presence of God. Increasingly, I think the most important thing we teach youth is how to adventure—stir into a raging fire the asset of curiosity. What is beyond the hill crest and how do we battle appropriately.

What if the sexual harassment and sexual pursuit now rocking our world is the normal and empowering adventure and the hunt “gene” captured by evil to distort and destroy a man?

The step to healing for otherwise healthy men is not to drain him of testosterone and castrate him, but direct his curiosity and instinct to hunt. For example, where is the drive to battle against neighborhoods of poverty and drugs and hopeless? Who are the Leonardo men?

Curiosity, passion, wonder, obsession.

That calls for pastoral messages that evoke questions: “How do we do that? Where do we start? What specialist do we hire to instruct us? Where is the curiosity to stimulate the questions?

Marvel, I’m praying your day will be adventurous and marvelous.

©2018 D. Dean Benton continue the conversation:

Eleven Nations or One World

There are eleven nations in North America each with its own culture, language, foods, economy and preferences–Pepsi or Coke. We studied the nine nations of North America during college. Colin Woodard’s thinking was on my Internet home page this morning. (

We became very aware of this when we were on the road. Material that was viewed as powerful in Madison, Wisconsin was critiqued as boring in Colorado and Montana. Country act Alabama sing, “If you play in Texas, you’d better bring a fiddle and a bow.” That is a large statement. If you hope to influence or sell in one of the eleven, you better understand the culture.

Also this morning I listened to Art of Manliness Podcast ( which is one of my favorites. The guest was Franklin Foer author of the book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. He posits that the most insidious threat to our nation is homogeneity and the primary actors are Facebook, Google and Amazon. Those three companies are becoming monopolies that could raise trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt from the grave. We assume that Facebook, Google and Amazon are businesses intending to make money. They also desire to “stitch” countries and cultures together into one thought, and one source of provisions. They have a political and cultural agenda which contradicts American individualism.

Since I was a boy in Bible Prophecy conferences, I’ve heard phrases like “One World Government.” I am wondering if this is the means by which that can happen—Mark of the Beast kind of stuff—ability to buy and sell, one mind.

I am not attributing motivation to the 3 High Tech companies. They may desire great things. I am concerned about the cost. It seems to me that we are in a battle of individualism against collectivism. I don’t want to suggest conspiracy. I am thinking about power concentrated in three entities and the consequences.

My purpose here is to call your attention to these two resources. I also want to suggest we duct tape to our mind Teddy Roosevelt’s concept of being first and foremost American. Developing the uniqueness of each “nation” and celebrating what they bring to the “United States” rather than tearing down their statues and diminishing the values they bring to us. We are, after all, The United States of America, not The One State of America.

There is no value in going to a pre-Internet, pre-iPhone world, even if we could. I invite you to listen to the Art of Manliness show and check the main points of the Eleven Nation thinking. Thanks.
©2018 D. Dean Benton

Access to Highly Favored?

I don’t know if I’m into heavy-duty OCD or if God is pushing me, but I feel driven. This started it:

“Greatly blessed, highly favored, imperfect, but forgiven child of God.”
(Larry Gatlin

What does that mean and how do you and I activate it? Ephesians 1:3 says “God…who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every blessing in Christ.” God Genesis 12:1-3 reveals the Abrahamic blessing which reaches to all the children of Abraham: “You are blessed…you will be a blessing”. Deuteronomy 28 expands that shorthand to include the physical, financial, business, breadbaskets, and every part of life. One key word opens the door: obedience. Are we hearing the right instructions to obey?

An article about Tanya Harding published today tells how she got into the mess. I’m not sure if getting saved would have been the total answer to that mess. Her salvation would have aligned her spirit with God, but her soul—mind, emotions, decision-making needed (needs) to be healed. When people hear me talking about wounds, I fear they are hearing “boo boos.” No, the wounds are Lizzy Borden kind of inflicted wounds. Ms. Harding’s interviewer says forgiveness is not expected by Tanya, but the ex-skater wants the world to understand how the survival mode afflicts people and how it affects her.

I drive through a section of our town which is not the slums, but untouched by the Kingdom. Drugs, working poor, and those of all ages who have settled for life below their dreams. A study from six or eight years ago revealed that those people tune into TV evangelists and religious programs at a remarkable rate higher than the state average. If they are followers of Jesus, they are blessed by virtue of that relationship. The ache in my soul is how do they make the “favored” part operational?

“Highly favored” is not just words in a song, it is a sterling biblical word. It describes how “blessing” moves into our social, business and street life. Bill Johnson (Bethel Church-Redding, California) teaches that favor is for those the blessed interact with. It has to trickle down or it is not God’s favor.

I keep asking how a church, para-church or non-profit can reach into that neighborhood and deliver a message and skill-set of greatly blessed, highly favored.

Yesterday, Eric Geiger posted “Who are the iGeneration and What Does Research Tell us?” They are the generation following Millennials. Sometimes called Gex x. Born in 1995 through 14-17 years post 1995. Today they are 6-23 years old. Jen Twenge’s book, iGen is the current definitive study. She lists these differences in iGen-ers:

1. Less reading
2. Less happiness
3. Less social skills
4. Less community
5. Less mental health
6. Less sleep
7. Less risks
8. Less altruism
9. Less hopeful
10. Less religious and less spiritual
11. Less emotionally connected
12. Less politically aligned. (For full article:

Ages Six to twenty-three years are critical life-determining years. There is a measurable population of that age group living in the neighborhood I drive through. I wonder how to communicate and influence. Salvation means “Whole!” Not just rescue from hell, but living in the greatly blessed and highly favored tribe.

Of the twelve characteristics, I don’t see any reason the iGen-er would be interested or motivated except for those who are already unique and motivated. (I know outliers whose walk with Jesus and life-dreams contrast.) The twelve characteristics lead to more isolation, disconnection and fearful of and less trusting of outsiders. More depression, anxiety, non-curious and despair.

My soul is churning. That means my conclusions are shifting, but at this moment:
1. Discern what the controlling spirit of that neighborhood is.
2. Pray specifically that curiosity is awakened and heightened. Awakening is the operative word.
3. The “evangelists” learn not only the raw 12, but what lies behind those feelings and characteristics and speak to those felt needs in a safe place—probably not a church. Maybe a church functioning as a coffee house or community center. Beyond the “less” there will be desires, wants and longings.

Highly favored means, endorsed by God, access to resources, support, advantages, assistants to accomplish vision, productive efforts.

Heavenly Father, you desire your lost children to be found. Call laborers into this field. Implant a vision of transformed and anointed iGens. I ask you will grant favor to those evangelists with an natural entrée of influence into the iGens. Teach us strategies. Thank you.

©2018 D. Dean Benton to continue this discussion: