The Female Wins Again

Our west tree—provider of nice shade—suffered winter problems. Three or four major south limbs which make up about ¼ of the tree didn’t survive. It is owned by the city. The foresters came by. The whole tree has to come down. A capital judgement was not expected or desired. The foresters offered several replacement options. I had never hear of any. I’m familiar with birch, oak, maple. None were offered. I think we were offered discounted trees from Guatemala.

“Do you want a male tree or female?”

He seemed like a nice young man, but he sounded like he was luring me into a political fight. Humans, with graduate degrees, don’t think it is possible or respectable to distinguish sexes among humanoids. So I told him we would want one of the other options. Especially on the front parking.

“These trees grow fruit—you know, like walnut trees and acorns. Oranges.” So, I asked why I would want a female tree or a male tree.”

“The lady tree is beautiful. The male tree drops fruit that smells like strong dog poop.” Of course!

It’s difficult to keep a well-manicure lawn in this PC age; Me Too age; alphabet age. Anti-male era. I’m guessing these trees are hybrids bred in a secret basement room of the U.S. House of Representatives.

I don’t mind when my favorite females win, but illegal alien trees or men hating….” Hang onto your maples.

©2019 D. Dean Benton – Writer, Wonderer, tree-questioner.

The Next Generation

The Bible is concerned about the next generation.  The Founding Fathers were concerned about the next generation. The current youth upheaval about socialism, work, stress, depression is partly from the last two generations mishandling, neglecting or not knowing what to do about next generation.

Reminding you: I’ve been looking for specifics that refer to Ben Franklin’s statement—“If you can keep it.” What characteristics, behaviors, principles, laws, expectations defined the generation we call The Founders? The generation that wrote The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other foundational documents.

If we are to maintain the USA as a Republic, (keep it) these are the defined pillars that must be in and guiding our culture. Transferring and teaching what an American is and how to grow into a whole adult is one of those absolute pillars—if we want to “keep it.” Keep it is about…

Building resilience in the next generation .

Dr. Tim Elmore is a youth specialist followed by several of my teacher friends and pastors. He did  Ted talk on Saturday. I read his blog and appreciate his books.

Not every resource helps every situation, but the more we have, the more apt something will ring a bell or match a need and produce a strategy. Carole said at the end of this event yesterday she wished we had heard this 50 years ago. I wished I heard the principles when I was a teen and had the ability and skills to understand and use them.

The link is to North Point Community Church-Atlanta where campus pastor, Clay Scroggins interviews Dr. Time Elmore.

http://northpoint.org/messages/fight-for-it/building-resilience-in-the-next-generation/

Thanks for giving this a view. I’m hoping you’ll pass it along.

Dean

Song to sing at Midnight

My wife wants our lawn to be home to yellow finches, hummingbirds and Orioles. This year we got Orioles. “Put the grape jelly out and they will come.” After years of disappointment, 6-10 arrived and stayed. The flashes of color are eye-grabbing. We have orchard orioles and Baltimore orioles.

When they first arrived, they were patient with each other at the food dishes—“no, you go first.” But now, they are playing a serious version of King of the Hill. We’ve learned they stay part of the summer and then mysteriously leave. That’s not so hard to figure out. The local neighborhood becomes violent and they want to change friends.

They chow down! I filled their jelly bowls 3 times yesterday—traipsed out in the rain. Manipulated by my wife and 4 birds tapping their wings on the window. They had licked all the grape juice off the bottom of the bowl. If they stay, we are going to buy jelly at the commercial restaurant supply store in gallon cans. But they will leave. One morning they will be gone. The grape jelly will no longer satisfy their food needs, nor their baby’s demand. They will find feeding fields where protein is available.

We will miss them. We are bringing the hummingbirds along who will be with us through the summer.

An expert says:

“Unlike the Northern Mockingbirds, Orioles do not sing at night.”

Is that sad? Occasionally, don’t you need to sing a song at night? Or have someone sing you a song in the dark?

Another bird person who is supposed to know says some birds begin to sing just before dawn to announce to their friends that they made it through the night.

One of my Nashville friends asked me, “Dean, are you still singing?” I’ve learned naked crows are preferred to an old guy singing. I wonder sometimes if we’re supposed to “get over” singing by a certain age.

Paul and Silas were not the only ones to need “A Song To Sing At Midnight”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuPOPdT5ZUY

©2019  D. Dean Benton    Writer, Wonderer, Warbler

Land of Magnolias, Memories and Miracles

Highway 61 goes north-south through our town. If you get on 61 and head south it will take you all the way to New Orleans. Just north of New Orleans is St. Francisville “land of magnolias, Spanish moss, and architectural grandeur. Middle of plantation country…” according to writer Ron Dreher. St. Francisville, La. is where Ron Dreher grew up until he “escaped” to Dallas and many other cities including Philadelphia from which he moved to return to St. Francisville.

I listened to Eric Metaxes’ podcast—a recording of his New York based, “Socrates in the City” in which he interviewed his friend, Mr. Dreher. The subject Dreher’s book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. The story is about Dreher’s sister.

William Paul Young, author of The Shack, calls Dreher’s book, “Deeply touching.” That describes my reaction, if anything can. The book starts—“Here’s the thing I want you to know about my sister.”

“A long time ago—I must have been about seven years old, which would have made Ruthie five—I did something rotten to her. I teased her all the time, and she spend much of her childhood whaling the tar out of me for it. Whatever happened that time, though, must have been awful, because our father told me to lie down on my bed and wait for him. That could mean one thing: that he was going to deliver one of his rare, but highly effective spankings, with his belt.

“I cannot recall what my offense was, but I well remember walking down the hallway and climbing onto the bed, knowing full well that I deserved it. I always did. Nothing to be done but to stretch out, facedown, and take what I had coming.

“And then it happened. Ruthie ran into the bedroom just ahead of Paw and, sobbing, threw herself across me.

“Whip me!” she cried. “Daddy, whip me.”

“Paw gave no spankings that day. He turned and walked away. Ruthie left too. There I sat, on the bed, wondering what had just happened.

“Forty years later, I still do.”

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Rod Dreher, (2013 Grand Central Publishing.) Page 1

That story leaves me undone! It reminds me of our friend Gordon Jensen’s song in which there is a line: “…let him go, take me instead.”

2019 D. Dean Benton         Writer & Wonderer

 

The Then That Needs to be Today’d

The American and French revolutions occurred in the approximate same era. The French revolution was a bloodbath that kept the guillotine working overtime. The American Revolution led to freedom and an idea that birthed a nation. Why the difference? What was the fork in the road?

Gouverneur Morris was the United States’ Ambassador to France following Jefferson. He said the French wanted a nation and constitution like America, but did not have a citizenry like Americans. What kind of people were the Americans? What made an American?

Words that shaped the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights are pertinent today. Exceptionalism is one. Equality is another. There are several others like, “Self-governing” No word or concept is more important than “self-governing.” I want to talk about those words in the days ahead. Ben Franklin is the source of the words, “If You Can Keep It.”

Not just words and ideas, but people. I thought I knew about George Whitefield, but I do not ever remember reading this: He came to America in 1730’s. He was 25. He became America and England’s first celebrity, a rock star. I wondered a few weeks ago why the negative interest in Whitefield with articles and books. It is now clear. Since the 1960s there has been an on-going destruction of heroes and venerated leaders. A person doesn’t have to be a raving paranoid to see this happening. Stephen Mansfield calls Whitefield—a friend and colleague of the Wesleys—The Forgotten Founding Father.”

“His preaching signaled the first rays of the dawning of a new order in the world.”

He preached 18,000 sermons in 33 years in addition to 12,000 talks and exhortations. He preached in all of the 13 Colonies. Eighty-percent of all residents of the colonies had heard him preach in person at least once. Without amplification, he preached to crowds of 20,000 to 30,000. Ben Franklin was a friend, and a newspaper man who printed the sermons on his newspaper’s front pages The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Whitefield and Franklin. They built an orphanage in Georgia and an academy in Pennsylvania for the education of Negroes.

“…George Whitefield, without whom the United States simply could not have come into being.”

He preached that “all are created equal.” His message was about the Kingdom of God and the necessity of being born again to enter. He preached to the miners as they walked home from the mines. The men were so moved by message of God’s love for them that tears cut white gutters through the black coal dust on their faces.

“It was the man preaching at the top of the courthouse steps who more than anyone would change that. It would take three decades of his tireless preaching….”

“To truly understand the story of how the United States came into existence, we must acquaint ourselves with the human weather pattern known as the Reverend George Whitefield.” (He was called a sanctified tornado.)

Upon the preaching of the Gospel and born again citizens whose behavior was modified and restructure, The Founding Fathers Declared Independence and wrote the Constitution which the Americans ratified.

I usually bristle a bit when someone says the answer to the craziness in present USA is revival or “Jesus”. After reading the history predating 1776 I’m changing my mind. There were no unifying persons, ideas, beliefs until Whitefield. All the ideas that built the American character came from the Gospel of Jesus through Whitefield. Faith in Jesus Christ was crucial as was religion as many sects and denominations agreed on certain critical principles that were bedrock for the experiment. Whitefield dug fallow ground in which the Great Awakening sprung forth.

Questions that have grown out of my study:

  1. What were Whitefield’s audiences looking for? Expecting from him?
  2. What made an American an American?
  3. What in his sermons were foundational to the new nation?
  4. Why is this important today?
  5. What response does God want from me?

I’m reading the history of Whitefield in American from:

   If You Can Keep It, Eric Metaxis, 2018 Viking

   The Forgotten Founding Father, 2001, Stephan Mansfield,

   The Printer and the Preacher, Jerry Peterson, 2015 Thomas Nelson

   A Free People’s Suicide, Os Guinness, 2012, InterVarsity Press

Guinness says freedom and liberty depends upon the “Golden Triangle of Freedom.” Religion depends on virtue to be valid and grow freedom. Freedom builds individual and community virtue which is inseparable from religion “of some sort” as Guinness says.

  1. Virtue (Character)
  2. Religion (Faith of some sort.) Not specific doctrines or beliefs. But the revealed principles built in Hebrew-Christian faith. Freedom
  3. Freedom

America is built upon people and communities functioning with those three expressions of infrastructure. That was true in the late 1700s and absolutely in 2019. Where will this be taught?

Church growth principles begin with—“This is who we are, what we believe, what we are working to accomplish. If you agree with our vision, please join us. If you do not, we’ll help you find a place where you will feel comfortable. The leaders must continue to declare the vision continually and protect the vision.

Immigration that benefits the immigrant and the USA is exactly the same. “This is who we are and our vision. You are welcome if can fit it and live toward our vision.”

My concern is that illegal immigrants know few, if any, of our vision or purpose. They come because it is a great route to “the dream.” And why not? I’m also concerned that some politicians, immigrants, news people and citizens not only do not agree with the Founding Documents and what it means to be an American, but seek to change our country “fundamentally” to quote a president and current members of Congress.

Where will our core values be taught?  Who will teach? How to handle the dissidents?

I plan to answer some of those questions and cast a vision.

©2019 D. Dean Benton

56 million

A well-known singer was approached by a cult member and asked to contribute money to Jesus. The singer said, “I’ll probably see him before you do. I’ll just give it to him myself.”

There is a push, once again for reparations to be paid to those held in slavery in the United States of the 19th Century? I think of that singer every time I hear the pitch for reparations. How do we get the money and/or other reparations to those who directly suffered the bonds of slavery? I also got a phone call telling me the warranty on my car has expired–I am approaching the capacity to care.

There is no way to talk about this without the probability of being misunderstood or charged with racism or hard-hearted. The logistical impossibility makes me question reparations reaching the right people.

If we are “taking an offering” or writing a check from the U.S. Treasury, I think Native Americans should have the dibs. No matter what we decide to do American Indians need a more righteous covenant with the white man.

Slavery is not just a Civil War issue. According to the State Department between 48 million and 56 million people are in slavery at this moment. Eighty percent are female and half of that number are children. Shouldn’t they have our current attention?

Half of the women rescued from sex traffickers voluntarily return to that life because there is no place for them. No agency to help them get established, no one to care for them.

The sex-traffickers make $150 Billion per year from their slaves. That is more than the top five U. S. corporations make in a year.

There is a market or there would be no sex-worker/slaves. Any ideas how to break that syndicate? How does Jesus want to deal with 21st Century slavery?

©D. Dean Benton     Writer, Wonderer, Weeper

A Birthday Remembered

Today is our youngest granddaughter’s birthday. Second year of college. I vividly remember the birth day.

Picked up the new book, Where The Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens (2019 Putnam). Speaking of birthdays:

“Kya said to herself, ‘I reckon I’m seven.’ Pa never mentioned it; certainly there was no cake.

“Surely Ma would come back for her birthday so…she put on the calico dress and stared down the lane. Kya willed Ma to be walking toward the shack, still in her alligator shoes and long skirt. When no one came, she got the pot of grits and walked through the woods to the seashore. Hands to her mouth, she held her head back and called, ‘Kee-ow, lee-ow, kee ow.” Specks of silver appeared in the sky from up and down the beach, from over the surf.

“‘Here they come. I can’t count as high as that many gulls are,’ she said.

“Crying and screeching, the birds swirled and dived, hovered near her face, and landed as she tossed grits to them. Finally they quieted and stood about preening, and she sat on the sand, her legs folded to the side. One large gull settled onto the sand near Kya.

“‘It’s my birthday,’ she told the bird.’” (Page 21)

I’m known at Starbucks as “The guy who stares off into space.” Dear God! That last line! I sat there staring into the past and into today and thanked God for all the people that our grandes have to celebrate them and tell Rachel, Davis, Hannah, how glad they are that she, he, she were born.

©2019 D. Dean Benton      Writer, Wonderer, Gleeful grandfather.

Life-Shaping/JourneyBend Experience

The Benton Trio’s first road trip was to Dallas. Debi was about 4 months old. Doug wouldn’t join the group for another year. We enrolled at Stamps School of Music. Three weeks in a small apartment and interaction with great people—some of our heroes, others who would become national singers.

We stopped in Wichita to check out an Assembly church that was getting lots of press for their creative youth ministries. Talk about being ahead of the times. The senior pastor talked vision, core values. He spent an hour or more showing us facilities and sharing dreams. I now understand that he was casting a vision into a young couple—with dignity and reserved nature, he was imparting the Kingdom into us.

I also wanted to visit First Baptist Church downtown Dallas. First Baptist Church was a mega-church before the name was invented. Dr. W.A. Criswell was the senior pastor. The Sunday morning we visited was life-shaping as we envisioned the local church. It was a shocking experience.

We were welcomed by a tall thin man who escorted us to our seats. We had been in large churches to worship and minister, but that meant 200-400. That morning we were seeing thousands. Huge choir. The service was seamless. The first two rows seated men dressed alike with a white boutonniere in each lapel. I don’t know if they were Deacons or Elders. During the pastoral prayer, they turned and knelt. Precision! It may sound stuffy, but in fact I saw it as orderly in a room filled with high energy.

After the benediction, our welcomer came to talk to us. “Have you met our pastor?” he asked. He took us to meet Dr. Criswell as if we were somebodies. Criswell was a world leader in his part of the Church. And they treated us well! We had never been in a setting like that. I took notes!

We have been reminded of First Baptist during the past few days. We listened to a radio message by the present pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffers, as we traveled. We reviewed that Sunday morning when we had discovered, “Dorothy, shine your ruby slippers, this is not Kansas anymore.” Then, a friend posted this:

https://www.facebook.com/drjeffress/videos/2326541957592907/UzpfSTEzMzc5ODI1NjY6MTAyMTM5ODM2OTAyNDk4NDI/

Precision, orderly, exciting, anointing. Love it!

©2019  D. Dean Benton

Honoring grows into Respect

The last couple of mornings, I’ve been listening (as I exercise) to Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/andy-stanley-leadership-podcast/id290055666

Andy’s wife Sandra is his guest and they talk about parenting & leadership. There are two podcast sessions and they are rich and take-notes-instructive. I have learned many things about a child’s age-grouping, discipline and stuff. Andy and Sandra had only two basic rules: Respect your mother and don’t lie.

The link above will take you to a list of podcasts. Because they are listed top to bottom according most recent broadcast, you will begin with #2. As of today, the top two podcasts are about parenting & leadership. They are about 20 minutes. You can click on each one individually without subscribing.

Thanks. I think you’ll like and benefit.

©2019 D. Dean Benton

Survival and Thrival Tools

It is not my blog mission to share my wisdom—(as if I had some to share.) It is my intent to pass along what I’m learning or coming to understand. I am not the focus—what I’m learning is of value only if it becomes value to you. It is not my intent to convince you to think or believe like me. A maven is a person who has discovered something of value that must be shared—if I know the short cut to the bathroom at Staples or Kohls, I want to let you in on the secret. Not everyone who reads any given blog needs a bathroom, so if my discovery is helpful, I’m glad, someone else may find resources in something else I write or read.

Whether you consciously know this or not, your brain constantly searches for what will help you to survive and/or thrive. With a pastor-teacher heart, I’m alert to survival/thrive tools.

At our website (https://www.deanbenton.org/ricochet) is a picture of the books I’m currently reading that are providing value that I think may be of value to you. I’m sharing the writer’s wisdom/knowledge/journey/insight because they have impressed me as a survival/thrival tool.

“We are living in an America of perpetual adolescence. Our kids simply don’t know what an adult is anymore—or how to become one. Many don’t see a reason even to try. Perhaps more problematic, the older generations have forgotten that we need to plan to teach them.” (Senator Ben Sasse in his 2017 book, The Vanishing American Adult.)

It is really the work of parents, but that is not happening. Absence of fathers in the home makes this difficult. It cannot only happen in classrooms. Over the past 20 years, I have sensed this to be true, so we have talked about conference grounds, retreat centers, ranches, farms, academies where character can be built and maturity reached. Sasse lists habits, tools, experiences that build and maintain character.

The ultimate goal is a life well lived. Our personal investments into that possibility is character and maturity. Senator Ben Sasse has given me tools I had not examined to build character. He says,

“Melissa and I have a working theory of how to raise our own kids—in a way that gives them a fighting chance to become productive adults—and to inculcate the values and beliefs that were a the heart of the American experience since our founding and make life worth living.” (page 8)

  1. Overcome peer culture and wrestle with other life stages.

Discover the body—its potential and its frailty, and the many diverse stages of life that lie ahead—by breaking free of the tyranny of one generation.

    2.  Work hard.

Develop a work ethic. Hard work, manual labor, working outdoors—on a farm, say, or a ranch—is an education in itself. The goal is to learn the habits that lead to the discovery of meaning in work. Your aim is to become free to work with delight, rather than seeking to be free from work.

     3.  Resist Consumption

Consumption is not the key to happiness; production is.

Embrace limited consumption. “Luxury is the bane of republics.” …limit your desires and how to find satisfaction and gratitude in the meaning of a limited set of true needs.

    4.  Travel to experience the difference between “need” and “want.”

Learn how to travel and to travel light. To understand the difference between a need and want, you need to know what it’s like to subsist. …essential to experience other cultures so you can look back at yours. Literature is a key way to gain that perspective, but the best way to shock open young eyes is to travel.

    5.  Become truly literate

Learn how to read and decide what to read.

Senator Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult, ©2017 (St Martin’s Press) pages 86-87.  (A NYT best seller. Used books available from Amazon & others.)

The intentional building of character is also a dimension of what the New Testament calls “making disciples.” To be discipled does not only mean to prepare people to live in heaven, but to thrive as pilgrims and Kingdom representatives in the earthly realm. I dig through this information and try to calculate how my life would be different had I been able to follow these habit-suggestions all the way to embedding them. I am asking which one is where I need to work on in this season to develop my character.

Someone—mentors, churches, schools, academies and parents—must catch the vision of the values for which our ancestors fought and teach the next generation to treasure our history: for what it provides and what its sins, mistakes, errors and horrors teach us. And! how to merge the best from other cultures and heritages which will expand our own.

©2019 D. Dean Benton    Writer, wonderer

Questions and comments welcomed.

https://www.deanbenton.org/