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It’s happened to me many times, two out of three times this week. A woman sitting near me in the Delta Sky Club Lounge at MSP says, “Are you going to be here for awhile?”

“Yes,” I say. “Could you watch my phone,” she says. Her phone is getting its charge in a nearby receptacle. “Sure,” says me.

She goes away for maybe ten minutes, returns, never looks at me, never says “Thanks,” never says a word. I’m thinking, “What am I? Chopped liver?”

At the doctor’s office recently I notice an older woman coming in a few yards behind me, I wait, hold a door, she says, “Oh, I’m slow,” then after passing through, “Thanks.” At another nearby medical office I’m leaving, I see a young woman, obviously pregnant, walking out behind me. I stutter step to slow down, hold two doors, she glances at me, never says a word and walks on.

I tell these two doctor’s office stories because the 60-something said, “Thanks,” and the 20-something did not. I’m not one to dump on the younger generation, but I see and hear this pattern regularly. In my estimation the younger generation has for the most part lost the art of saying, “Thank you.”

I’ll never forget holding a door in 1981 for a coed entering the University of Cincinnati Student Union behind me. She cussed me for doing so in no uncertain and rather loud terms. She didn’t bother to develop her point of view, but I surmise that in her mind I had somehow violated her feminine liberation by my blatant act of chauvinism. Apparently she felt I had not yet learned that women were more than capable of making it on their own.

But this isn’t just a young person’s thing. I’ve experienced this many times over in professional settings. Sometimes the omission is so glaring it’s astounding. People simply assume you should meet their needs, don’t give it, which is to say you, a second thought, or have never been taught good manners in the first place.

I realize that if I extend kindnesses to others in order to garner “Thank yous,” than there is something wrong with my attitude and actions. But I really don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

I think my Boomer Generation and those who come after us have shed some of our mannerly sensibilities, if we were ever taught them in the first place. While you can find a thousand individual exceptions to this statement, I still think we live in a coarser age. The zeitgeist of the early 21st Century, at least in American culture, is more about Me, the individual, than Others. Add to this a sense of entitlement and you get what we have, a culture that’s lost the art of saying “Thanks.”

I’m certainly not perfect, much less a model. But I’m trying to remember to say “Thanks” more often and certainly when it is deserved, even more when someone has done something for me or mine that, clearly, they did not have to do.

My son-in-law, Joe Drouillard, supports my website, gratis, on his server, at “Thanks, Joe.”


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

In the wake of disasters or tragedies I hear people, including anchors on national news programs, enjoin us to “Say a little prayer for them.”

Sometimes it’s more personal: “Before I do XYZ I’m going a say a little prayer and just go for it.” Or maybe it’s a plea for assistance: “Say a little prayer for us tonight.” I’ve even heard celebrities on late night talk shows say something like “Say a little prayer” in response to the host observing the guest’s just experienced some good career developments.

So what does “Say a little prayer” mean and where did the phrase originate? Maybe it got started in pop culture in the late 1960s with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s song lyrics:

“I say a little prayer for you.

I say a little prayer for you.

Forever, forever, you'll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever, forever we never will part
Oh, how I'll love you…”

Bacharach and David wrote these lyrics as part of the song, “I Say A Little Prayer,” developed for Dionne Warwick in 1967, later recorded by Aretha Franklin in 1968, and later still by several others. The song was and perhaps remains an international hit.

The backstory on the lyrics suggest at least David was trying to invoke metaphoric sympathy for American soldiers in Viet Nam. If so the public never really caught on because people responded to the love story conveyed by Warwick and Franklin and the song is cataloged under "romantic" rather than "social protest." In any event, Bacharach and David probably didn’t invent the phrase. More likely they borrowed it from expressions they’d heard growing up. Assuming this logic, the song served less to initiate a phrase than to borrow and bold print it in the cultural lexicon.

People use the phrase, I think, on several levels:

--Sincerely—asking for or promising prayer, maybe not a lot of prayer but prayer nonetheless.

--Superstitiously—like saying “Wish me luck” or “I hope I’m lucky” or “Knock on wood,” all intended to offer supplication to the fates while hoping for favor.

--Colloquially—using the phrase as filler without really considering much less embracing its possible meaning, like “Have a good one.”

In the last two instances, saying “a little prayer” becomes an easy religious-but-not too-religious way of covering your bets, so to speak. It’s like people crossing themselves who are not and never have been Catholic, sort of a just in case.

Another thing that interests me is the nature of the prayer. What, exactly, is “a little prayer” as opposed to “prayer” or maybe “a big prayer”? To the best of my knowledge there’s no weights and measures in Scripture determining the size of a prayer.

So is asking “Say a little prayer for me” a bad thing? I guess I wouldn’t go there. In the end, I’d rather encourage people to acknowledge rather than ignore God’s will in the world and life, even if it’s simply a “little” bit.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

We tend to be addicted to distractions in this country. Even the earthquake in Japan, though still a present reality in that country, is a distant memory to most of us. God help us.

Given the serious, important, or painful things going on in the world, it seems to me that we spend a lot of time, money, media, and cyberspace on things that don’t matter. Perhaps it’s irony, but I’m going to do it too, but just for this list. Here’re my nominees for unimportant things that get way too much attention:

--Charlie Sheen – Whether for real or a charade or self-parody Sheen isn’t a star, he’s sad. Inside Sheen is a person that is important, but what he’s doing to himself and offering the world is toxic.

--More New Kinds of Pet Food.

--“Blessing of the Animals” - Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, part of Palm Sunday service, which happened to be the closest Sunday to Earth Day. People brought dogs, guinea pigs, cats, an alpaca, snakes, etc, to church “to be blessed.” Meanwhile there are hundreds of children within five miles of the church who need its help and blessings.

--“Reality” TelevisionKeeping Up With the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, ad nauseum.

--Political Correctness – Really just another way to force-feed a liberal view of “correct politics.”

--Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, KS.

--Another Megachurch Building Campaign – Do we really need another multi-million dollar complex duplicating similar facilities across town?

--More Enormous New Professional Sports Stadiums, tearing down still useable older facilities – ala megachurches.


--Wrestlemania and Professional Wrestling.

I’m not suggesting all these things are “bad” or that there’s no redeeming social value in any of them. It’s just that by comparison to other issues the world faces—human trafficking, wars, budget crises, unemployment, hunger, poverty—these things seem superfluous and a waste of time and money.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

On 9/11, terrorist hijackers sent more than the American economy into a tailspin. America’s cultural mindset took a hit to its very core and hasn’t gotten over it.

In addition to the ongoing threat of another major terrorist attack, Americans have endured a series of upheavals that, together, have birthed a sense of vulnerability among us like no other time in our history. We live with barely veiled anxiety or fear, which is affecting every level of society.

Wars we’ve fought before, but the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seem intractable, yielding nothing but trillion dollar costs and thousands of American lives lost. These wars seem, dare we say, Viet Nam-like, with no end, no hope, and no win in sight.

The global and Wall Street economic meltdown in 2008-2009 further depleted not just our portfolios and pension plans but our reservoir of optimism. And we’re not sure yet if we’re through the Great Recession—still, there are national debts and deficits, debt juggling, inflation, entitlements. Greece, England, and France, nearly the whole of Europe, are in serious financial straits and the United States isn’t far behind. In “the world is flat” era in which we live, what happens elsewhere in the world sooner or later comes home to roost in America. Their problems are our problems.

Our political leaders on both sides of the aisle talk big, but no one has yet stepped forward with a bona fide plan to put America on a financial, big government, entitlement diet. We, therefore, continue to risk our children’s and possibly our country’s future without any real hope of doing otherwise, the Tea Party Movement notwithstanding. The newly elected 112th Congress offers promise, but this and a $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee. Promises unfulfilled are simply rhetoric.

We long for a return to normal, but a phrase increasingly used in journalism, “the new normal,” is becoming the new normal. In other words we aren’t going back to a satisfactory much less an idyllic past. The new normal is uncertainty.

Add natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis, and the Haiti earthquake to a list of unsettling developments that stretch our ability emotionally and financially to respond.

While political rancor, name-calling, and divisiveness have always characterized American politics, the level of vitriol, mean-spiritedness, and polarization we’ve experienced this decade have increased, uglier in some ways than the rhetoric of days gone by. Political leaders lack class, don’t seem to have been reared with a sense of limits or social restraint, and clearly don’t think much about their reputations, let alone the reputations of others. Anything can be said because in today’s political equation the end justifies the means.

All this has engendered a cultural pessimism that’s socially and politically debilitating and dangerous. We don’t really believe in progress, in a better tomorrow, or anything much but fate or luck. Our destiny is no longer ours to create. It’s handed to us by forces beyond our control.

We’re particularly susceptible to cultural pessimism because in the past three or four decades we’ve set aside genuine faith in a real and Sovereign God who stands outside of history. If he doesn’t exist, and if he doesn’t modulate evil in this world, than we’re left with whatever the fates and our own depravity brings to us. Not a pretty picture.

But the Sovereign God does exist and he is still in charge. Within the context of his permissive will he allows human beings to make choices including bad, wrong, or negative ones. He gives us liberty and responsibility, both of which we often use unwisely. But he’s still there. He’s still working his purposes in history and his son, Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd, still cares for his sheep.

We should place our faith and security in the Lord rather than governments, financial markets and pension plans, bank accounts, heroes in their 15 minutes of fame, or our own mind and moxie. All will fail us. Only the Lord never leaves nor forsakes us. Rediscovering who he is and how he works in history will restore our social and personal optimism, tempered by realism yes, but optimism nonetheless.

We may have concerns, and we should work for positive, productive changes that benefit one and all. But we need not live with anxiety, angst, or fear. No matter what confronts us we’re still to live as instructed in Micah 6:8:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

So now you can get ordained online. No fuss, no muss. No theological education necessary. No experience needed. No Ordination Council to survive, and none later to backstop you when you’re thrown your first curveball. No criteria whatsoever really, except maybe a handling fee.

Google “Online Ordination” and you get links like “Become a Minister Today” or “Fast Minister Ordination.” Or the all-purpose “How To Become An Ordained Minister Online For Free.”

I’d laugh, but I don’t know if I can laugh and shake my head at the same time. In my book online ordination is right up, or maybe down, there with online, non-accredited, no-coursework-necessary college diplomas. We’ve endured diploma mills. Now come ordination mills.

A trend is developing nationwide wherein more engaged couples are turning to friends and quicky ordination for friend-led weddings. The idea is that it’s cheaper, more intimate—couples at the altar “feel better” with someone they know as opposed to a clergyman they don’t know. And friend-ordination reduces pressure to be married in a church.

The Universal Life Church claims to have ordained some 18 million people, about 3,000 per month. This is all in the name of religious liberty.

It gets worse. Some of ordination websites assure the would-be applicant he or she will be able to start a church or conduct religious ceremonies. One site suggested ordination is a good way to get a business going, earn extra money, and travel to interesting locations to administer ceremonies.

Why become ordained, for free or fee? Websites proclaim advantages:

--Perform weddings

--Earn respect typically accorded to members of the clergy

--Gain a title, like Reverend, Bishop, Rabbi, or even Prophet

--Earn money

--Garner preferred treatment often given to clergy—like parking spaces.

One online ordination site offers “Clergy Packages,” which is to say if you pay more money, about $40 to $60 more per package, you’ll get more helpful items: new ministers handbook, ceremony templates for weddings, funerals, baptisms, an Honorary Doctor of Divinity, and my favorite, a CLERGY dashboard sign.

Online ordination is important more for what it represents than what it is. What it is, of course, is ludicrous. But what it represents is further secularization of American culture. One more important life event is removed from the experience of the church.

Why doesn’t the betrothed couple know the pastor or want a church wedding? Because they don’t go to church.

But ordination isn’t a game denominations play. Sure, one can always find examples of excess. But this isn’t the norm. Religious orders, Catholic, Protestant, Judaic, and more, which take their beliefs seriously, look upon ordination as an important, exciting, and affirming experience in a young ordinand’s life.

Generally, an ordination involves the ordinand’s statement of a call to service. The ordination is an examination for which the ordinand has prepared, probably for years, gaining theological degrees and experience. It involves the questions, review, and affirmation of a body of denominational leaders who know what it means to be clergy. Ultimately, an ordination means the leaders have examined and attested to the young person’s character, call, preparation, and readiness for religious leadership. And finally, the ordination is a dedication, a high point near the end of the ceremony when some honored person prays for the applicant to ministry, for the future ministry, and for the Church.

To undercut this kind of solemnity with online ordination is to undermine the integrity of the Church and to make a mockery of religious dedication.

So I think online ordinations are shoddy, shallow, and sad.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at