Commentary

Bill Press criticism of Tim Tebow . . . Is it a case of friendly fire in God’s army?

Posted on December 17, 2011. Filed under: Christianity in the News, Commentary | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Steeped in Catholicism from an early age . . . he was an altar boy and took vows of obedience, poverty and chastity.  He describes his young self as a “soldier in God’s army” . . . he attended (the Catholic) Niagara University and earned a theology degree from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland . . . Who Am I?

In the spirit of the great American game show To Tell The Truth, in which the contestants included Bill Press and Tim Tebow, the members of the panel charged with guessing the person to whom the above statement belonged might be excused for attributing it to Tebow as opposed to Press, especially given the latter’s comments on his radio show this morning.

For those who don’t follow Press, whose program airs daily between 6 and 9 AM EST, I am of course talking about the controversial host’s admonishment that Tebow should “S-T-F-U” about Jesus.

So how is it that a self-proclaimed “soldier in God’s army” can, with inexplicable hostility, come to criticize a fellow Christian’s open testimony of personal faith?  Surprisingly, the answer is easy because it is in this same spirit that a teacher can send two boys home from school for wearing Santa hats and wishing fellow students Merry Christmas or, where a school district can propose legislation to disqualify both Christmas and Easter as official school holidays.  How about an elected government bantering about the idea of removing any reference to God in the country’s national anthem.

Sadly, and while we seem to show such magnanimous tolerance for other’s rights and freedoms, when it comes to our own values and beliefs we are very quick to dismiss them in a form of self-directed intolerance.  The question is why . . . why are we so readily willing to compromise ourselves while laying down our proverbial coat over the mud puddle for others?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we do an about face and seek to either assimilate or eradicate those whose beliefs differ from ours.  However, and referencing the Abraham Lincoln speech in which he said that a house divided against itself cannot stand (which by the way has its origins in the bible – see Matthew 12:25), it is becoming abundantly clear that America is perhaps morally speaking, more divided today than at any other time in its history with the exception of perhaps the Civil War.

While the clear answers as to the reasons why there is this great divide are varied and complex as highlighted in my March 30th, 2011 post Has America Lost A Sense of it’s Own Greatness or, Why Do Americans Hate Each Other? one thing is certain, we can likely expect to see an ever increasing level of antagonism as the country struggles to find its footing in the 21st Century.

Going back to Press’ comments regarding Tebow giving thanks to Jesus, I cannot help but wonder why the host is so upset.  In my opinion Tebow is genuinely thankful for the opportunity to be where he is and to be given the chance to be part of what is fast becoming the inspirational story of the year.  A story I might add that unlike the global economic crisis and mean spirited campaigning of a pending election is both uplifting and unifying.

Or to put it another way, while Tebow and his Bronco teammates are building bridges, the Press’ of the world are intent upon stoking the flames of discontent and division.  I do not know about you, but I have had my fill of the latter and am ready for a lot more of the former.

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James 1:13 helped me to see beyond current day trials to the promise of greater things to come

Posted on November 26, 2011. Filed under: Commentary, Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , |

Yet God does sometimes place His people in adverse circumstances for the purpose of building godly character.

Commentary regarding James 1:13

In explaining the differences between being tempted – which does not come from God as God does not tempt, and being placed in an adverse situation which God does use to build and shape a godly character within each of us, an epiphany of sorts hit me regarding my own situation.

Without going into great detail, 2011 has been a trying year that for the most part has not been of my own doing as circumstances seemed to spiral out of control while placing me in a position to make decisions that I would have never thought I would be making.

Do not get me wrong, this is not a poor nobody likes me, everybody hates me lament that has me wallowing is self pity.  It is just the rapid nature in which life can change and in the process catching you off guard and leaving you wondering what happened, and of course why it happened to which I am referring.

But you know amidst the turmoil God is always reaching out and talking to us, and if we continually and faithfully seek Him through daily prayer and the reading of His word, there are answers and insights that clears the at times obfuscating haze of discontent and upset that leads to a clarity of understanding.

For me the book of James was this gateway to needed insight and peace in that it served to remind me that all things on earth including money, possessions, fame etc. will eventually pass away and as such whatever earthly circumstances one finds themselves in is in reality temporary.

As such, the only real security and certainty in life is indeed with and through God, and as such when you view difficult times through this powerful lens of eternal values you open yourself up to the possibility that difficult times happen for a purpose with only your greater good being the sole objective.

It is amazing what happens when you consider life’s problems within this context as you then begin to yield to trying situations versus fighting against them.  I am of course not suggesting that yielding and giving up are one in the same as giving up means a hopeless surrender without a belief as to the good reasons for and an expected positive outcome of a particular trial, while yielding means that you open yourself up to learning the greater lessons and like the potter’s clay, allow God to shape your Christian character through the adversity you are experiencing.

Let’s put it to you this way, if you are familiar with the story of Joseph you will see that throughout his ascension to becoming one of if not the most powerful persons in Egypt, his journey was fraught with life altering trials.  From his being thrown into a pit by his brothers, then rescued from certain death only to be sold into bondage and then ultimately thrown into jail for a crime he did not commit, considering the chain of events through present day eyes one might easily see only discouragement and a “why me” hopelessness.

But Joseph persevered and whatever character shaping lessons and insights he gained through the uneven events of his life experiences, God ultimately equipped Joseph with the tools he would need to excel at his appointed station.

This is of course the point relative to my journey as well as yours . . . that God does indeed work all things to good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The only question that remains is simply this . . . towards what ascending realization of your potential is God working towards?  With certainty it is even greater and more rewarding than the difficult times you might be experiencing today.  So yield to God’s will and do not surrender to temporary circumstances.

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Is Islamic Fundamentalism the 21st century version of communism?

Posted on July 28, 2011. Filed under: Commentary | Tags: , , , , , , |

Islamic Fundamentalism is more insidious that communism or, as one guest panelist during last evening’s broadcast contended, Fascism and the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, in that it is not confined to a specific geographic region which serves as a central launching pad for intended global expansion. In essence, the enemy already walks amongst us as our neighbor, business associate and yes even school district supervisor.

This was just one of the more controversial and thought-provoking revelatory warnings delivered in much the same way that Scotty in the 1951 SciFi classic The Thing, encouraged the world to be vigilant to alien invasion by admonishing all those listening to his broadcast to keep watching the skies.

Now I am not trying to trivialize the potential threat, as there are elements of undeniable and disconcerting truths that an invasion of sorts is taking place, especially when the discussion ventures into the realms of the growing power and influence of the Islamic Sahri’ah Finance Platform. For those wanting to gain a better understanding of what exactly the financial angle entails, here are the links to two PI Window blog posts from earlier this year titled If you believe that money is power, then history tells us that the Islamic threat is real . . . but are we to blame? and,Why is Bloomberg the fall guy for Ground Zero Mosque protestors . . . isn’t GE facilitating its construction?.

What I am saying however is that the validity and mainstream acceptance of any concerns regarding Islamic Fundamentalist expansion and assimilation on a global basis, will be influenced by the manner in which the warnings are delivered by those who envision themselves as being the bellwether messengers of a pending threat.

Make no mistake, this is indeed a fine line of delivery in that there are inherent risks that such claims will be perceived as unwarranted fear mongering, reminiscent of the McCarthy era Red Scare which inadvertently detracted from the very real threat that communism posed to our North American way of life.

Similar to this Second Red Scare that dominated the American psyche between 1947 and 1957 (the first occurred in the U.S. from 1919 to 1920), which was focused on fears that national and foreign communists were influencing society or infiltrating the federal government, or both, Islamic Fundamentalism according to our guest panel is even more insidious in its penetration into key areas of our society.

Putting aside the politeness for which we Canadians are known, there was an undeniably harsher edge to the responses delivered by representatives from both the Canadian Hindu Advocacy and the Christian Heritage Party pertaining to the school prayer controvers­y in Toronto, than those expressed by 911 Hard Hat Pledge Founder Andy Sullivan, during my interview with him regarding his organization’s issues with the proposed building of the Ground Zero Mosque in New York City.

This vociferous expression of conviction included the following observations:

  • that this is not a question of religious freedom as Islam is a political ideology cloaked in a religion of purported peace
  • that the extent of the Muslim infiltrati­on in the Canadian school system is already extensive and therefore it may be too let to stem the tide
  • that immigratio­n from Shariah law countries must be curtailed and confined to only those who are being persecuted by Islamic Fundamenta­lists
  • that the followers of other faiths, especially the indigenous Christian populace has been too concerned with their own lives and have in effect been sleeping at the wheel
  • that it took 3 years for this to come to the coalitions attention because as was the case in Delaware with the Indian Lake School District, there was a fear of raising reprisals

Remember, you can listen to the on-demand version of the live 60 minute broadcast at your convenience through the following link; Is Valley Park Middle School Canada’s Ground Zero Mosque?.

These as well as the many other points that were raised in a respectful but lively where there is smoke there is fire discussion, including the assertion that two-thirds of the Qurʾan is focused on political ideology and only one-third actually deals with issues of religious faith, ultimately created more questions and with it awareness of an impending threat from within to our way of life.

While we may be somewhat reluctant to contemplate both the nature and degree of said threat as we, as one panelist put it, are more focused on managing the personal demands of everyday life, the truth of the matter is that there are very real dangers on the near horizon that warrant our keeping our eyes on the skies.

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Multi-denominational panel convenes to discuss the Muslim prayer controversy at Valley Park Middle School

Posted on July 21, 2011. Filed under: Commentary, Prayer | Tags: , , , , |

As indicated in yesterday’s post , I have expended a great deal of electronic ink covering the continuing controversy surrounding the Muslim movement as some have called it, regarding flashpoint crisises ranging from the building of the Ground Zero Mosque to fearful warnings of a global assimilation.

Yet despite these newer developments the long standing debate over prayer in school has again resurfaced in of all places a secondary school in Toronto, Canada.

In Tuesday’s segment of the PI Window, which will air live across the Blog Talk Radio Network at 9:00 PM EST, I will be welcoming to the show a guest panel that includes representatives from the Jewish Defence League of Canada and the Canadian Hindu Advocacy, to talk about both their individual and collective response to the district’s decision to allow 300 Muslim students to worship in the Valley Park Middle School’s cafeteria during school hours.

One of the questions I will be asking is if the fear of Muslim encroachment is at heart of the Valley Park controversy, or more of a reflection of the collective apathy of the followers of other faiths who have in the past perhaps failed to rigorously challenge the abolishment of praying in our schools?

Certainly, and as discussed in previous PI Window segments and posts, individuals such as 911 Hard Hat Pledge Founder Andy Sullivan, who is now running for Congress, have expressed concerns that activities such as the proposed building of the Ground Zero Mosque is a clear indication of an overall Islamic plan to overtake America.

While there is little doubt that this is a growing concern – after all the fact that Sullivan is seeking political office in the first place speaks to the breadth or influential reach of sentiments such as his, I have only heard the expression of concern as it relates to Muslim activities. Interestingly enough, and prior to the Valley Park Middle School controversy, there has been little if any direct involvement on the part of representatives from other denominations in terms of carving out a place within our schools to freely worship.

Unlike the Mosque in New York, perhaps the motivation behind the collective intervention in Valley Park by the Jewish Defence League, Canadian Hindu Advocacy and Christian Heritage Foundation is that school prayer is an issue that while seemingly out of the public eye, remains a point of contention that has simmered uncontested beneath the surface for several decades.

Now that prayer regardless of denomination, has been re-introduced into the school system, how does one get Pandora back into the proverbial box re do you shut down the Muslim Friday worship service or alternatively establish multi-denominational venues throughout the school? What is the ideal outcome for all parties concerned?

Once again, join me on Tuesday, July 26th at 9:00 PM EST on the PI Window on Blog Talk Radio.

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Is Valley Park Middle School Canada’s Ground Zero Mosque?

Posted on July 20, 2011. Filed under: Commentary | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Jewish Defence League of Canada, along with the Canadian Hindu Advocacy and the Christian Heritage Group, told a news conference they will protest the controversial prayer sessions next Monday.

from the July 18th, 2011 Canadian Press article Groups plan protest over Muslim prayers being allowed in Toronto school

As you know, I have expended a great deal of electronic ink covering the continuing controversy surrounding the Muslim movement as some have called it, regarding flashpoint crisises ranging from the building of the Ground Zero Mosque to fearful warnings of a global assimilation.

Conversely, I have lamented the seeming intolerance we have had towards our own religious convictions from the standpoint of Christianity in posts such as the aptly titled First prayer, then standing up to a bully and now . . . a kindergartner suspended for crying?! What is wrong with our schools!, and the 49th Parallel Forum broadcast 49th Parallel- Bah Humbug! What’s up with Happy Holidays?.

Regardless of which side of the freedom of religion debate that seems to be raging in society – especially here in North America, I have been critical of the intolerance demonstrated by those who seek to limit an individual’s right to worship according to their personal faith convictions. In essence I have tried to provide a lens of informed understanding regarding the diversity within our increasingly globalized community, in the hope that somehow the silos of prejudice and ignorance would somehow dissolve into a mutual if not amiable co-existence.

The problem with taking this balanced approach to such a complex issue is that the equalizing tensions that seems to provide a moderating influence can itself quickly dissipate into an inflammatory wave of acrimony in which it appears that one side has somehow gained the upper hand in an emotionally charged situation. The reference to The Canadian Press story is such an example.

According to reports, the Valley Park Middle School in Toronto, Canada have for the past three years provided a venue by way of the school’s cafeteria to accommodate a Muslim prayer service each Friday for approximately 300 students. The school district’s logic is that the Muslim students were missing classes in order to attend prayers at a nearby Mosque, and that by providing this access during school hours, they are now able to attend said classes.

Talk about poking the proverbial alligators!

While there are many different avenues of discourse one can pursue with this revelation, including why it took three years for someone to finally take issue with the weekly prayer services in the first place, whether intended or not, the school district’s well intentioned overture is prejudicial.

Think about it for a moment, school prayer was abolished in the U.S. over a period of years starting in the 1960s (a move that was supported by the ACLU), based on the assertion that allowing prayer within the hallowed halls of our educational system violates the principle of separating church and state. In Canada, it should be noted that the first crucial case in the debate surrounding school prayer took place in Ontario in 1988 with the Zylberberg v. Sudbury Board of Education (Director) decision.

What is interesting to note is that as imperceptibly has the Muslim prayer services over the past three years took hold in the Valley Park Middle School, the abolishment of Christian-centric prayer in our schools also occurred over an equally ponderous period of time.

Looking at the U.S. once again, there are what is often referred to as three defining court cases that ultimately led to the the present day separation of church and state . . . at least in terms of our indigenous Christian faith. These seminal cases which include; The Regent School Prayer (Engel v. Vitale, 1962), School Prayer (Murray v. Curlett, 1963), and School Prayer and Bible Reading (Abington Township School District v. Schempp, 1963), became the slippery slope that is reflective of our religious indifference. Indifference in that not a single Christian organization filed a brief in support of school prayer when the Supreme Court in an 8 to 1 ruling in 1971, established what became known as the Lemon Test.

U.S. Supreme Court

Based on the Lemon v. Kurtzman case the Lemon Test specifies that any practice sponsored within state run schools (or other public, state sponsored activities) must:

  1. Have a secular purpose;
  2. Must neither advance nor inhibit religion; and
  3. Must not result in an excessive entanglement between government and religion.

The questions that these decisions along with the apparent apathy of Christian organizations to defend our right to having our own religious freedom raise, is whether what is happening in Toronto today is part of an overt movement by Muslim interests to assimilate our nations into their faith or, a reflection of our own declining Christian values in our day-to-day lives. Or to put it another way, if we has Christians were not interested in carving out our place in society including our schools to freely worship according to our individual beliefs, why should we take exception if another faith chooses to do so?

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Sometimes it’s water and sometimes it’s ice . . .

Posted on April 7, 2011. Filed under: Commentary, Personal Witness | Tags: , , |

You take water, for example. Sometimes it’s water, sometimes it’s ice. Sometimes it’s steam, vapor. It always the same old H2O. It only changes its properties. Your mother’s like that. She’s like water.


The above line is from the 1994 picture Blue Sky in which Tommy Lee Jones’ character tries to explain to his children why he loves their mother despite the fact that her instability and irrational behavior wreaks havoc for him both personally and professionally.

Since Jennifer’s admittance to hospital last week in what may turn out to be a long stay, she has sounded happier than I have ever known her to be. In fact, she said that she feels like she is back in high school and that she is making friends, talking with the other patients about different nurses (the ones they like and the ones they don’t like), talking about their Bipolar experiences as well as going outside for a group smoke.

I guess that her acceptance of her illness meant that she could stop struggling with trying to live in the real world and finally be herself. In this regard I feel a peace that she has found her comfort zone.

After all, the world can be a cruel and particularly harsh place for those who have through a collision of circumstances – most of which is beyond their control as the seeds of disconnected realities are often planted during the innocence of early childhood, find themselves ill prepared and ill equipped to deal with the demands of everyday life.

Like the water analogy in the movie even though Jennifer’s condition (re properties) have changed, and with it the course of our relationship as I have now become as much of a caregiver as a partner, she is now and will always be my . . . Pooh Bear. Water and ice, in the end it is still the same H2O.

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The Bad Side of The Moon: The Darkness and the Hurt of the Bipolar Illness

Posted on March 27, 2011. Filed under: Commentary, Redemption | Tags: , |

There ain’t no need for watchdogs here, to justify our ways

We lived our lives in manacles, the main cause of our stay

And exiled here from other worlds, my sentence comes too soon

Why should I be made to pay on the bad side of the moon.

Lyrics from the April Wine song Bad Side of The Moon

An acute and searing white pain reverberated throughout my being as I contemplated what had been only a few minutes earlier that which I never thought I would ever have to consider. Right off the bat, and because there are so many convergent points of consideration, I will not go into the specifics of the source of this gut wrenching revelation. Besides, anyone who has lived and loved someone who suffers from Bipolar likely understands all too well, the crystallizing realities that shake the very foundations of what you thought you knew, and the fact that everything you thought you knew about the other person no longer applies. In other words all bets are off and, as any expert will tell you, let nothing from this point on surprise you. Anything and everything is now a possibility.

The primary purpose of this post is to share the experiences and feelings that can cascade either sequentially or in a simultaneous roar of thundering progression when the unthinkable happens, and what you need to do in terms of taking a eternal versus an acute view of the events that are rapidly unfolding so as to avoid making the situation worse. Or as another expert so wisely put it . . . you are now the only adult in the family capable of sound decision-making. Take this responsibility seriously and be prudent in all that you do.

Make no mistake there is a bad side of the Bipolar Moon, where the illness takes a myopically and irresistibly compelling control of the sufferer that drives their actions into the realms of shocking and destructive behavior. This of course provides an influencing explanation for said behavior but, it does not limit or excuse them from it. Unfortunately, and as you will discover in even greater depth, the manipulative characteristics of the illness will go into high gear as the Bipolar sufferer will do and say almost anything to avoid facing up to the consequences of their actions. After all, for them the battle has raged inside the limiting confines of their heads for such a long period of time that few have ever ventured out to gauge their behavior in the context of the every day world. This in and of itself can be aggravating, in that they will try and create an illusion of normalcy or conversely pursue a ego satiating high road facade in which outsiders who are unaware of the true gravity of the situation will rush to support their courageousness in admitting there is a problem without actually disclosing the extent to which said problem has impacted those around them.

Besides pausing to accept and then properly deal with the initial rush of cacophonous emotions upon the initial discovery of what has been going on behind one’s back and out of the range of one’s contemplation, this is perhaps the most critical juncture in an evolving and fluid situation.

To start, be prepared to experience the Bipolar sufferer’s wrath when you do make responsible decisions and inform your support network of what has happened. To the sufferer of this illness anything that cracks the illusion of their deception is perceived as a threat, and there is no greater threat than facing reality beyond their own distorted sensibilities and the feeling that they have been found out. This is why it is imperative that you recognize that you will have feelings of anger and resentment (along with shock and hurt) and that in your sharing with others, you make certain that you are dealing from a position of practical necessity with a longer-term view versus simply reacting to an albeit understandable upset. In short, it is still important to remember that the illness does play a role in what has happened and that when the wall between the Bipolar sufferer’s perception and reality comes down there is significant exposure and a corresponding risk associated with the self-condemnation they will inevitably feel.

For me, I have no illusions that I will for the next few days and perhaps even weeks, experience the emotional aftershocks of a devastating situation in which I find myself an unexpected but necessary participant charged with navigating the challenging waters of a life and family turned upside down as a result of mental illness. This being said I do truly believe that through prayer, patience and constructive reflection, as well as the recognition that there will be periods of anger and dismay, there is another side to this dark tunnel. In fact I think I can see the first rays of hope shining through.

It is for this reason it is important to understand that the acknowledgement, understanding and proper venting of one’s emotions – and yes you will need to vent, is essential to maintaining an important foundation of equilibrium that will provide the initial building blocks of recovery and ultimately victory.

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Graceful Salt: Achieving Balance as a Talk Show Host in the Face of Controversy

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Commentary, Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , |

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Commentary: Second, the wise community, eager to proclaim the gospel, engages the lost in conversation [that is] full of grace, seasoned with salt. This last phrase, so graphic and memorable, captures the wisdom of ancient rhetoric: ideological substance without personal style fails to convince people. If a believer, who has a wonderful story of conversion to tell, cannot tell it in a “salty,” interesting way, the story will not be heard. Of course, lively stories, like “fine-sounding arguments,” are sometimes used in the service of lifeless substance.

Colossians 4:6 (New International Version)

As a talk radio host it is often times an interesting journey of learning and insight, emotion and factual accounting with a dash of reckoning, where your focus is upon engaging, sometimes enraging, but always entertaining an audience within the framework of thorough research versus baseless pontification.  In fact a key tenet of being a good host, at least for me, is to show both the guest and the listening audience the respect they are due for their taking the time to share the virtual airwaves during a broadcast.  The only way you can do this is to have a passion for the subject matter that is being discussed and, taking the time to thoroughly understand the key elements of the topic.  In essence, doing your homework and asking questions from a unique standpoint that opens up previously uncharted avenues of perspective.

I recently thought about this value system for hosting following a contentious show in which the questions that were posed stirred up a great deal of controversy surrounding the building of the Ground Zero Mosque.  What was most interesting as well as challenging, was the recognition that people relate on so many different levels both emotionally and intellectually.  In other words, one can feel completely justified in their beliefs even if a factual foundation is absent from the equation.

As someone who is interested in everything and will therefore spend significant amounts of time in research mode to gain a collective understanding of the seemingly disparate and at times contradictory elements of a particular story, it is challenging to simply turn off the intellectual aspects of a debate and cede to the emotional irrationalizing that sometimes fuels certain viewpoints.  Now do not get me wrong here, I am not suggesting that emotions have no place in a discussion, nor am I suggesting a detached intellectualism that is tantamount to academic condescension.  What I am talking about is having the ability to support a position that blends a strength of conviction with a factual foundation while still maintaining a generous civility – even in disagreement.

It is within this context of a generous civility that Colossians 4:6 spoke to me.

In this light of revelation, I realized that a generous civility does not preclude one from asking the tough questions – nor for that matter answering them.  Nor does it mean that you have to surrender a position of belief when faced with heavy opposition to a particular viewpoint.  In and of itself, controversy and spirited discussion are indeed the salt of a conversation that makes it worthwhile for one to be a part whether as a host, guest or listener.  What is important is the aforementioned civility that manifests itself in a respectful dialogue in which there is an absence of malice or ill intent.  In short, maintaining both a graciousness and gracefulness of spirit when debating a subject will lead, if not to an accord, at least to a better understanding of another person’s position.

I think this is what I had found so troubling with two recent broadcasts including the aforementioned segment on the Ground Zero Mosque, as well as an earlier discussion regarding The Tender Years Doctrine.  In both instances, when confronted by questions that were logically researched and civilly presented, advocates for a particular point of view became increasingly hostile and threatening, hurling insults that in some instances were beyond comprehension simply because they were being challenged to clarify the basis for for their said beliefs.  In essence bullying versus substantiating, threatening and insulting versus engaging in a meaningful and productive manner.

In fact, in one instance a member of our guest panel expressed concern that they were reluctant to openly state their opinion for fear that they would be hounded or stalked by either the individual or the group to which the person belonged, for no other reason than verbalizing their disagreement with the listener’s position.  Apparently, the panelist had encountered this group before.

More recently, a host from another show indicated that they were uncomfortable with discussing contentious issues on air as they were caught somewhat off-guard by the flurry of negative epithets that were hurled at them by a small but vociferous group who used terms such as waiting in the bushes and setting your house on fire as intimidating analogies for supporting their beliefs.

Suffice to say, and in either instance I understand both the uneasiness and apprehension of continuing down a path that might ignite a rhetorical storm of threats and insults in which there is a fear that one’s brand might be harmed if not directly then indirectly by the distracting harassment of extremist elements.  This is perhaps what is so disconcerting about the Westboro bunch, whose conduct is anything but civil.

But here’s the thing, and bearing in mind that this is a personal decision in which there is no shame in walking away should one be moved to do so, I truly believe in the John Philpot Curran saying (although some have attributed it to Edmund Burke), that All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

As a host, this does not mean that you have to be randomly combative.  Nor does it mean that when confronted with a contentious soul you have to resort to strong arm tactics centered on derision or a pursuing ridicule.  What it means is that after you do your homework, giving guest, audience and subject matter their due respect, you can passionately yet graciously take a stand whether it be in the form of a tough line of questioning or choosing what may not necessarily be the most popular course of discussion for some.

This to me is the epitome of Colossians 4:6 . . . a gracious salt if you will in which you find that balance between controversy and respectful conduct, passion and civility, knowledge and understanding.

This of course is the ideal guideline for creating and maintaining the needed checks and balance in any discussion, debate or disagreement for all involved parties, myself included.

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Groping through darkness, but surrounded by light Love is more than a feeling

Posted on February 22, 2011. Filed under: Commentary | Tags: , , , , |

Note: The following post was originally posted in the Bipolar His Blog.

It has been said that interests make a relationship interesting, but values make a relationship valuable.

from page 67 of the book “what I’ve learned since I knew it all: 12 Secrets To Living A Satisfied Life” by Paul Meier, M.D. and Todd Clements, M.D.

When you encounter the inevitable challenges in any relationship it forces you for lack of a better description, to really examine the basis as to why you are with the individual with whom you have chosen to share your life.

It is an at times heart wrenching, procrastination minefield exercise that based on the authors of the above referenced book many would prefer to avoid as some people spend more time studying for a test than they do deciding which person to marry.  So it is not surprising that the foundations for the majority of relationships whether through matrimonial ceremony or common law arrangements, begin to crumble when faced with life’s storms.

The day before I read the quote from the Drs. Meier and Clements book, I had been contemplating the reasons as to why her diagnosis of being Bipolar brought Jennifer and I closer together.  After all, and as statistics report, 90% of all marriages in which one or both spouses are Bipolar fail.  Yet here we are, talking more than ever before.

This doesn’t mean that we have stopped hitting the rough patches associated with what has been called a “couples illness.”  Far from it.  However through the lens of both awareness and understanding about the disease, there is a connection . . . a connection that is based on shared values.  A symmetry of belief if you will, within critical areas such as the importance of family and our mutual faith that serves as a unbreakable lifeline when we descend into the darkness that comes with being Bipolar.

During these difficult periods it is as if we are groping through the darkness to embrace and then reemerge into the light that surrounds us.  It is without a doubt a trying, troubling and even unnerving jump into an abyss of sadness and at times despair, but a jump I would and will take over and over again not as a rescuer, but as Jennifer’s friend and lover.

The fact that we have this life line of shared values means that we will never get forever lost in the darkness, because we have the same reference points of happiness and hope that serves as a beacon to bring us back and place us on firm ground once again.

Now your life difficulties as a couple do not have to be an illness, as there are no shortages of possible points of upset and contention ranging from money to in-laws to you name it.  Regardless of what you are facing, the common denominator for success rests in having shared values.

In this regard, and in line with the observations from the book, the only real question is whether or not you have done your homework to determine if your values correspond with the values of your partner.

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Leadership is not equated in numbers but in the measure of influence

Posted on February 9, 2011. Filed under: Bible Study, Commentary | Tags: , |

Although not every Christian is called by God to minister like Paul or the twelve apostles, every Christian is sent by God to represent Him before the people with whom he or she comes in contact.

Commentary related to Colossians 1:1

This past Sunday’s message from the pulpit was incredibly powerful in the context of its meaning especially when the Minister talked about the hierarchical leadership within his own family . . . even mentioning that the dog was at the lower rung of the leadership ladder.  Hmmm . . . it is clear that no one told my dog about his rightful place on said ladder as he sleeps with us in our bed and will turn his nose up at a piece of pizza if it does not have the toppings he prefers.  But I digress.

Alain’s message on Sunday regarding everyone’s desire to be a leader resonated on so many levels, and in doing so, it reminded me of a story I had once read regarding a preacher who after an evening revival service had expressed disappointment at the fact that there were so few people in the pews to hear him speak.  What he did not know until years later was that the one young man in the audience that night was Billy Graham.  Nor at the time did he realize how the message that was delivered in the near empty tent had a profound impact on the man whose ministry would eventually bring millions of people the world over to Christ.

Billy Graham

It truly does only take a spark to get a fire going, and because of this amazing and immutable truth Alain’s message that we are all leaders emphasizes the importance of Christian leadership in terms of ultimate influence versus physical head count.  Each one of us on an individual basis can, through even a fleeting connection with another human being, set into motion the incredible power of the Holy Spirit to change lives, and like the revival minister, do so without our even knowing it or for that matter how.

In my own walk I have had the privilege of speaking to more than 400 people in a big ballroom, as well as 10 people in a small conference room and, have later discovered that the ultimate reach beyond the lecture itself was often greater with the 10 than it was with the 400.

 

Speaking in London, UK Sept. 2010

However, if I had equated influence with audience size and saw the 10 as being too small to have any meaningful impact, I might have let an opportunity of immense potential slip through my fingers because of my distorted view of the situation.  You have to ask yourself from where does your expectation and disappointment originate?  Is it based on pride or perhaps well intended but misguided standards that are not aligned with God’s view of the every day life circumstances within which you find yourself.

If, as I believe in my heart of hearts that the bible is the indisputable, spirit inspired word of God, then Luke 12:7 tells us that there is no number that is too small or circumstance that is too insignificant . . . but even the hairs of your head have been all numbered.

Wherever you are, and whatever your means or circumstances, we are all leaders in that we all carry the glorious news of love and redemption.  Being the bearer of such an eternally powerful message I will with all alacrity share this joyful message with 1 or 1 million, confident in leaving the details of numbers to my Heavenly Father.

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