Monthly Archives: August 2018

Where Is This Going?

“At least five times…the Faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases, it was the dog that died.” G. K. Chesterton, 20th Century.

“The task of redeeming Western society rests in a peculiar sense upon Christianity.” Reinhold Niebuhr, 20th Century.

With gift card in hand, I went to Starbucks to drink something refreshing and to read, then pray. The quotes above pleased me and then rattled me. This morning the unease remains. What if Niebuhr is right? What is my task in the challenge? And yours?

The Pope has warned the world about “Prosperity Preachers.” I don’t know who chose the photos accompanying the article.

In recent days, events, testimonies and scripture have pushed me to think through “prosperity,” and prosperity versus poverty. If we do not limit “prosperity” to money and connected benefits, I’m thinking (at least at the moment) that the basic prosperity message is an important piece of the “…redeeming of Western society.” Miracles, signs, wonders are agents.

Os Guinness is one of my favorite thinkers and writers. His parentage is the third branch of the Guinness empire. There were/are beer brewers, politicians/bankers and third, there were evangelists/missionaries. I cannot think of one institution that has affected me that does not track back to the Guinness vision and teaching. Os is a theologian, author and culture observer.

I’ve been wondering, as I read and watch the news and feel deep disgust at the incivility and anarchy in America, what is really going on? Where did this come from? Where is this taking us? Guinness’ 2014 book, Renaissance speaks to my question with the basic commission:

The task of redeeming Western society rests in a peculiar sense upon Christianity.

A five-story building burned recently. It is one of the downtown anchor buildings. It was 60-days from being finished repairing and updating. Firemen dumped 4 million gallons of water on it. It appears to me that only one corner of the building still stands. The rest is rubble. The sight has upset me—not just sadness over such a loss. Twelve million dollars had been invested in the remodeling and rehab. The rubble heap became, for me, an image of Western Culture making Niebuhr’s challenge feel totally impossible.

Guinness explains what is going on behind the nastiness on the streets, hatred between the “classes”, those in power and those who are building barricades to bring down the “ruling class.”

“…all civilizations, whatever their momentary grandeur, have an ultimate flimsiness that is paper thin and cannot hold back the barbarism.” (Guinness—page 17)

“The West has beaten back the totalitarian pretensions of both Hitler’s would-be master race in Germany and Stalin’s would-be master class in the Soviet Union. But it now stands weak and unsure of itself before its three current menaces: first, the equally totalitarian would-be master faith of Islamism from the Middle East; second, the increasingly totalitarian philosophy and zero-sum strategies of illiberal liberalism; and third, the self-destructive cultural chaos of the West’s own chosen ideas and lifestyles that are destroying its identity and sapping its former strength.” Page 19—Guinness)

I like Guinness’ take on all this. He wrote in 2013; it was published in 2014 so the Trump era has no possibility of cause and effect. It may shed light on why Trump was elected. The impending rubble motivated citizens to look for someone—a builder?

“What does our moment of transition to a post-Christian West mean for us? …only God knows. In terms of the past, we can see that the world that our parents and grandparents knew has gone forever—in terms of both the dominance of the West and the unrivaled status of the Christian faith in the West.”—page 24 Guinness.

Gone forever? How much of what makes it “The West”? We’re never going to use hymnbooks? It’s way beyond that. What if our institutions—as we know them—are going away? And the church is going to have a different task—forced to do evangelism differently and what we have trusted and treasured will have the opposite effect on others?

Paul writes to the Corinthians that the gospel is not just words, but power
A new book on Harry Truman. He never dreamed as a boy or young man of being a politician or a leader. There were several life defining events. One was when he realized he didn’t know what his purpose was, nor his philosophy including his grasp of a political purpose. He checked into a hotel in Kansas City to sort out, think through and establish core values and what he was to do.

That has increasingly spoken heavy to me. If the Church is a key player in “redeeming Western Society,” where do we fit in the mix? How important is it that we carve out time to do what Truman did?

Heavy on my heart.
©2018 D. Dean Benton

My New book: Meandering


From the Barna Group researchers.

Over the past 50 years, the use of religious, moral, ethical language has dropped 50%. In a population where 70% say they are Christian, about 7% have at least one spiritual conversation a week. Of those who regularly attend church, 13% speak with someone using biblical or spiritual language at least once per week.

Words that are not used, are abandoned and behavior is changed. Words matter! The new language—formerly not used in public, or “in a mixed crowd” has main stream appeal. How many times did you hear the F-word in public discourse last week? From a public platform?

It is not just “religious” words, but words of compassion, ethical words, moral words, words of respect. I don’t know that there is conspiracy to rid our world of those words, but I can make a case for that. As the use of these words have declined, the culture has become coarser.

We have come a long way from George Carlin’s “7 words you can’t use on TV.” He fixed that!

Malachi—Old Testament prophet described his culture:

“Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16).

Words influence behavior. Words can pollute the atmosphere or purify it.

For ministry centers, words are creative. In healing settings, testimonies are conveyors of God’s power—“This worked for me,” or “This is my journey through the darkness.”

“Sing them over again—wonderful words of life.”

©2018 D. Dean Benton

Wonderer, Writer with expertise in Pondering & Meandering

Then There Is A Gap

My world feels a bit empty. A man I’ve known for 51 years went home to the Lord last week. Died in his sleep. Con and his family were parishioners who became partners in our ministry. He was part of the Iowa Hawkeyes marching band that went to the Rose Bowl, twice. He changed careers a couple times, went back to school and was a life-long learner.

We never watched a Hawkeye game together. That would have been an experience with Con. We seldom sang together. We did not see them frequently, but, I miss him. To me, Con was a cautious, but not resistant, thinker and Jesus follower. He was a questioner of all things spiritual, but he loved Jesus and followed Him. I enjoyed being with him he asked some of those questions and we talked about preachers and books. We never went fishing or tossed a ball. I was not invited to join in any of his outrageous adventures—like moving a piano through a second floor window with pulley and railroad tie. I don’t remember him ever telling me he thought I was a good singer or preacher, but he invested in our family in several ways.

It settled on me like a dark cloud—we no longer have Conrad praying for us. He and Martha and family prayed and undergirded us and in the process a transfer occurred. Some of that family’s Spiritual gifts and talents were transferred to our family members.

After writing on Abraham learning how to be a blessing and what it means to “bless”, I take more seriously that there really is a spiritual transfer from God’s “warehouse.” How that happens?

Just before I stepped to the pulpit to preach Con’s funeral message, I realized I was missing a hearing aid. Never happened before. I thought it hardly subtle—a satanic device to distract my focus. Hearing God is paramount to blessing in which transfer occurs. That is what the new book is about.

Dean’s new book: Meandering.

I encourage you to pray for your tribe and spiritual leaders. Our worlds become emptier when you are absent.

©2018 D. Dean Benton


An adventure you haven’t heard

There are 526,492 (plus/minus) podcasts currently available—at least that was the count when Kim Komando last reported. I listen to several of them regularly. Malcom Gladwell’s podcast is one of my favorites as is The Art of Manliness.

The author of a new book on Apollo Eight tells the story on It is fine radio—compared in my mind to the “days of yesterday when out of the west came….” Except it is real. Neil Armstrong said it is the biggest story of the space program. It is certainly high adventure!

Listening to this story of astronauts, I remembered several men and women we encountered when we worked in a small town just north of Cape Canaveral. We worked there 4-5 times and got to know several in the space program. One of the men told us stories of extreme stress. He said each day a space engineer would keel over. From others we learned about the wild-west living of the early astronauts. Lots of sports cars, fast driving, wild living. Apollo Eight was manned by extremely brilliant and normal men.

Frank Borman was captain of Apollo Eight. One of the unique characteristics of that mission is that it is the only one where all the marriages lasted. The rest of the NASA program was riddled with wide-spread divorce.

One of the NASA families we met included the man in charge of retrieving the space capsule from its landing spot and returning it to the Cape. The first time we talked, I asked him about a normal day. He said he would tell me about that particular day. “I went clamming.” He said he knew if he wanted to stay healthy and be available for the next mission, he had to take days off when his body hinted at overload. He talked about his physician son in South Carolina and his family. He chose personal trajectories carefully.

The podcast and the book are well-worth checking out. Call to adventure!
©2018 D. Dean Benton