Calm Before the Storm

On Monday, August 21 several million Americans will witness a total eclipse of the sun. From ancient times solar eclipses, like comets, have been considered portents of singular events, either great or chilling, something like a celestial early warning system. I am not normally prone to make wild predictions based upon astronomical signs, but this year already seems to be filled with foreboding on many fronts, as though something great and terrible looms on the horizon. Being the 100th year of the Fatima apparitions in Portugal, many others have also expressed a sense of imminence, as though a significant spiritual storm is brewing the likes of which our generation has never seen. Like any premonition there is no real way to accurately predict what form that storm might take. But, as always, the best clues about the future often come from the past. Continue reading

Finding Your True Identity

(In a Very Confused World)

Our world today, particularly in the West, is suffering through a frightful identity crisis. If you doubt this assertion just look closely at the ridiculous identity politics that has overrun college campuses. Universities have always been the bell-weathers of society so the current gender dystopia verging on hysteria that we now commonly see among students is an ill wind that blows. It would appear that many young people today are undergoing what was called in the ’60s a major “identity crisis.” The pendulum has finally swung full circle. Continue reading

What Does it Mean to be Saved?

All are Redeemed, but not all are Saved

    “Never was there a worse sinner, and never was God kinder to one,” remarks the fictional character J. Blue in Myles Connolly’s classic novelette Mr. Blue.  Although intended as an epithet for his gravestone, the childlike Blue innocently encapsulates the entire mystery of salvation into a single, plain-spoken truism. There is not one of us who could not make that motto his or her own, for it is only the kindness of God which allows any person to be saved. Nothing we can ever do merits such extraordinary kindness. All salvation is God’s pure gift.

Of course many in our secular culture do not see it that way. Today’s world is profoundly skeptical of a benevolent God. The belief that mankind can and will save itself, solve its own problems, and create its own sanguine future has become the new gospel. Continue reading

Momentous Signs

Glorious Vacation! We just spent a thrilling week touring about Northern California, a delightful experience augmented  by the extraordinary beauty and fascinating history of this corner of the world. Pristine Sierra lakes, sprawling vineyards, and majestic giant redwoods all conspire to leave the tourist breathless. My only complaint during an otherwise perfect holiday was the haphazard posting of road signs, a situation which too often left one in a state of mystified spatial confusion.

We little realize or appreciate just how much we exist at the mercy of sign makers until we find ourselves unexpectedly on the wrong side of a six lane torrent of madly rushing traffic, Continue reading

Tolerance, a Force for Good or Evil?

My father was a great dad in almost every respect. Notwithstanding his cheery, loving disposition he was affected by a bit of residual puritanism which sometimes surfaced in amusing ways. I remember one such instance when I was about 12 years old. Our family received some free tickets to a newly released film, Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man. While the movie itself was quite entertaining I was more bemused by dad’s reaction to the story line which he earnestly viewed as immoral because Professor Harold Hill, the charming confidence man who wins the heart of the local librarian (Marian), is actually rescued from his well deserved fate of being exposed, horsewhipped, and thrown in a jail cell. Anything less than severe punishment represented a serious breech of justice in dad’s somewhat legalistic mind. I saw the thing a little differently. The real moral of this zany story revolves around the redemptive love of a good woman, Marian, and how that love has the power to transform a jaded, fast talking slicker into a genuine human being who learns to care more about others than himself.

Continue reading

Gratitude

Nothing rounds out one’s personality like the spirit of gratitude. Gratitude, like optimism, changes our whole outlook on life for the better. Fittingly, the very word “gratitude” rhymes with “attitude” because gratitude is an attitude which becomes essential to human happiness and well being. But gratitude is not an easy habit to cultivate, especially in a free society such as ours. Not that freedom itself is antithetical to gratitude. In fact, freedom is the strongest inducement to be grateful to the God who first gave us freedom. Not all peoples possess the precious liberties that we Americans enjoy and that fact alone should inspire one to a sense of profound gratitude.

Today, however, our country seems to be losing that once vibrant sense of gratitude to God which long served as a hallmark of our national identity and character. Continue reading

Truth: the Foundation of Progress & Freedom

From its inception as a nation America has possessed a uniquely progressive spirit. But what has progress come to mean today? Jumbo-sized houses and smart-phones? Hardly! Our American Republic was constructed on the bedrock of the Judaeo-Christian ethic. Today, those religious roots are increasingly neglected or dismissed as irrelevant in our largely secular society. While exciting new technology, massive communications networks, and consumerism are all a certain measure of progress there is a darker side to the story as well. Continue reading