Monthly Archives: January 2019

The Road to Together

Tom Brokaw apologized for saying that it would be helpful if the incoming immigrants would assimilate. Mr. Brokaw was almost in tears and in apologizing he betrayed the people he called The Greatest Generation. He also revealed one of the critical elements that is ripping at Europe and keeps the USA from coming together and will always keep us divided.

Assimilation has become one more battlefield word. Asking anyone to learn English if they intend to live in our country seems the least to demand. Without speaking and reading English, how will the immigrants or refugees shop, buy gasoline, interact at work? We are a melting pot nation and pride ourselves at growing by knowing the culture, languages, heritages of our new neighbors. That is impossible if our new neighbors can’t tell us or write about their journeys. It looks to me that some of the new neighbors are insisting that we abandon or change our culture and adopt theirs. How does that make us a richer people?

Senator Ben Sasse says,

“When I was president of Midland College, it was obvious that the college’s decision two decades earlier to abandon a rich core curriculum had made the student experience hollower, shallower. Even if someone had big and legitimate objections to parts of the old core curriculum—either what it included or what it omitted—there was still great value in students, faculty, alumni at least having some books in common, even if only as a point of departure from which to argue.”

Feel how this impacts today’s news?

“When previous generations of students had been in the dining hall, or after they had lost a big game, or when they were wrestling with ethical question in the dorm late at night, or they were thinking through a broken relationship or when a student was killed in an accident or diagnosed with cancer, there had been common language for approaching problems. No more.”

The next time you hear someone say, “Please… bring us together” know this:

“Having shared intellectual traditions glues us together, helps newcomers assimilate, and allows us to take active roles in our shared community.” (Page 224 The Vanishing American Adult, Senator Ben Sasse, St. Martin’s Press © 2017)

With no shared language, traditions, core values, “bringing us together” has nothing around which we can be brought together. There is no “together” to bring us to.

“In 1987 at Stanford, Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson led five hundred students in a Palo Alto march attacking the “Western Culture” requirement for Stanford freshmen. Newspapers and the evening news across the country seized on the protestors’ chants of ‘Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western cultures’ got to go!’ When the university decided to abandon the older curriculum, it signaled to many a definitive end of an era.” (P. 223)

Or a civilization!

As I listen, I wonder where some people in Washington went to school to learn what it means to be an American system. Why our form of government has been a fairly successful experiment and why our economic system has stimulated wealth and survival.

Mr. Brokaw, I appreciate your desire to be kind and inclusive, but your first statements were not unkind. They were the practical, and pragmatic truth. It works best.

© 2019 D. Dean Benton

Writer, Wonderer

Repelling the Spreading Global Gloom

You still have time.

The Ford pickup was not in my stocking or driveway, so I still have room. I have a visiting dog that would look really nice in a pickup. Kona—not named after the coffee—loves to adventure including jumping in an open vehicle door to go joust with squirrels or ride to Staples. She rides straight up looking out the windshield and pawing at my hand to pet her.

Noting the bright sun, I decided we would run to Staples and since Starbucks is close, we would get a cup and sit in solar heat warming the car to read and pray. I was very comfortable enjoying the beautiful day, reading a stimulating book and drinking coffee. Kona wasn’t into coffee, reading or praying. Restless, indicating the seat wasn’t large enough to fit her; serious boredom settled in. So we packed it up and went home. Kona was really glad to see Carole.

I was looking forward to the prayer time—I really needed it. I heard someone say yesterday, “We live in a toxic social and cultural atmosphere.” My rule has been you can live in your toxic world if you want to. Just stay away from me! Toxic people just don’t worry about it. Every male leader I know is talking about the state of manhood from declining sperm count to testosterone, and how current destructive chatter is that a male presence on the earth was Mother God’s biggest mistake.

The women running for the Presidency in 2020 are running on the platform of diminishing or exiling men. They sound like they interned for a veterinarian. But these women—not all of them ladies, as described by an earlier age—sneak onto news broadcasts to say, “Oh! Just sit down and shut up. And while you’re doing that stand up and do something right for a change.” Think what they intend to do with executive orders.

So I really needed to pray. To be delivered from the permeating fog, to renew my mind, to gain wisdom as James 1:5 promises and to rediscover true north. And clarity would be good.

Brain specialist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, says that thoughts become energy. That energy can fill the atmosphere and infect bystanders. We need positive, creative atmospheres to overcome the negative energy that can become demonic and lethal.

Stephen Mansfield, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Senator Ben Sasse, Brett McCay (Art of Manliness), John Eldridge & Sons are talking about destruction in the wake of generations of males who did not learn how to be men. Growing in a culture of women, boys have few or no models of manhood and few close adult male friends who conferred status. (Only other males can confer manhood. “You are the man!”) Representative Trey Gowdy tells stories of a friend of his father who was instrumental in Gowdy’s learning what a man does and what describes him. Like a tribe or an uncle.

“…spreading global gloom.”

That headline described the results of  holiday spending and the downward expectation of major retailers’ projected earnings. It also describes the mental-emotional and spiritual effect upon families, cities and nations when confident, competent men are photo shopped out of the picture.

We live in chaos. Rudderless and few anchors. That is why we are also living in addiction. Those who monitor our rivers say there are measurable amounts of anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs in the water. It is how we manage the craziness and the negative energy blown into our faces and souls like second-hand smoke, but many times more toxic. The men and women who are not talking about manhood are writing and talking about depression and anxiety. The opioid crisis and the things above are a connected network—the dots connect.

“Socrates taught, it is almost impossible to educate someone with an answer until he or she is invested in asking a question.” (Senator Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult, St Martin’s Press, 2017)

The lack of curiosity or belief that there are answers to the chaos leading to demise of civilization and downward thrust of all things civil keeps people from searching, seeking , asking. I was going to pray for a Great American Awakening that fits the current culture. I have a small clue what it might look like. It probably won’t look anything like those of the past.  

My wife was folding blankets the other morning and said to me,

“Time to put the night away”

That sounded like a clarion call to me.

A woman approached Dwight L. Moody to say, “I don’t like the way you do evangelism.” He responded, “I like my way of doing it more than the way you’re not doing it.”

I don’t know if a wall (regardless of building materials) is the best way to deal with the southern border. I listen to the pro-barrier people and to opponents. I’m not hearing any other solutions. None! I want to hear a better plan with every rejection of the one proposed. Give me your alternative plan!

In a morning article, a mother talked about how the current attacks on boys and men are affecting her grade school son. As attacks on boys and men grow more outrageous, an entire generation has a stereotypical reputation that is dubbed as projected adolescence.

There are solutions. I like Senator Ben Sasse’s thinking as outlined in his book “The Vanishing American Adult.”  

It is indeed time to put the night away. To this point, I like what Ben Sasse sees as the plan to build adults, to build character and rebuild a nation. I will repeat his plan in my next communiqué. He calls them “Five Character-Building Habits.”

© D. Dean Benton — Writer, Wonderer, Witness

The Caleb Year

One sermon after another was about the same thing: Goal-setting. Predictable for the first Sunday of the year. Some of the preachers framed goal-setting in the “what is the right thing to do?” Which path? Choice? Each preacher used the words, “consistency” and “consequences.”

Andy said it is not a right or wrong question. It is a “which is the wise choice?” Right or wrong is a different question than a wise choice. A right decision may not be wise for you. The better question is…

“In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?” (Andy Stanley)

I am in the Caleb Generation. (Joshua 14:6-15) I desire my brand to include the word, “Wholehearted.” Caleb’s selfie is amazing as he uses words like “strong” “capable” and ready for battle.

I listened to those preachers talking about goal-setting and I felt cynically resistant. I went to my soul to ask why. Some of the responses:

            “Whatever I decide won’t matter.”

In a weekend retreat, I talked about goal-setting. A relative young man angrily said, “It won’t matter!” It was not a faith issue, it was a pragmatic statement based on “Been there and it never worked. Not going there again!” That is an entrance to nihilism, cynicism and never trying again. Not deciding is to specifically decide. To neglect is to determine.

            “I don’t know how.”

If we grow up in certain types of homes, goal-setting is natural. Planners and calendars are as common as alarm clocks. But, what if your care-givers don’t set goals—getting by day to day uses all available energy? Many of us don’t think about family goals, career goals, marriage mission statements because we think they are a futile activity and life is a crap shoot or we are glued to “God is in control—therefore….” I reflected that planning was not easy when I was fifteen and it was not in my thought process that I needed to learn.

            “God (fate, universe, karma) is in charge!”

Proverbs 16:9:

A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps. Contemporary English Version We make our own plans, but the LORD decides where we will go. Good News Translation You may make your plans, but God directs your actions. Holman Christian Standard Bible A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.

The word “but” is misleading. It suggests—”You can foolishly make your plans, but God is going to override them and guide your steps.”  I think the word “and” is more accurate, at least more comfortable to me. “You make the plans and God will guide your steps to fulfill them.”

I have come to believe that God plants in us “desires” and depends upon us to pursue them as He guides our steps in that process.

            “I don’t know where to begin.”

Goals tend to grow out of your vision of the future. Finances, health, relationships, spiritual, family/marriage, career-calling-occupation.

1. What do I need to do to get there?

2. What do I need to learn in each area?

3. Who would know the answers and would tell me experiences?

4. Who do I need on the journey?

Since entering the Caleb Generation, my sleep has been affected by the dumb and ignorant things I have done. I have perfect recollection from age six. I question myself how I could have “known better.” That would have required curiosity and mentors. At the same time, I’ve wondered about the craziness that has become dominant in our culture—it has become our culture driven by a lack of character that once was a strong weight-bearing beam.

I am thoroughly disgusted with the Congresswoman who publically called our President a mf..er. One female reporter/writer attempted to ease the use of the word with, “It was a private meeting—it wasn’t meant to be….” During my lifetime, character was measured by those things we do or say when we think no one is watching or listening.

I’ve been reading heavy studies and opinions about “young people”, the future of Democracy and Western Civilization. I’ve come away from those pages with a sense that character is the missing component. So, I come to the goal-setting issue by determining what needs to be improved or changed in my character. It is being clarified that the goal or end result is not as important as the habits we establish to get us to our desired future.

I want to talk later about the habits.

Thanks for wondering with me.

©2019 D. Dean Benton