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In the shrinking…No, strike that. In the shrunk world in which we live, surrounded by pervasive communications technology and every-minute-of-every-day media, nearly nothing can or does happen, well, just privately. Virtually everything is or will be known. Nothing “stays” anywhere. Ask celebrities.

Tiger Woods understands what I just said. So do a long list of male politicians. How many can you name who’s “private” affairs didn’t remain private, even when they so wished they would? John Edwards, David Petraeus, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the beat goes on. No, nothing that happens just stays undercover, or in these cases, under covers.

In scriptural terms the opposite of “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is “Be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Or as the legal community puts it, “the truth will out.” Mothers know this; somehow they always know, remember?

What happens in Washington, DC doesn’t stay there. What happens in the Middle East certainly isn’t limited to the Middle East.

What happens in our own hearts doesn’t stay in our hearts either:  “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19). So it’s too bad, actually, that what’s in our hearts doesn’t stay there. We’d all be better off.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

*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 order to "do" this thing called "living" everyone alive must "act." We must do something, and when we do something we do it based upon choices. These choices are based upon our values and, in a larger sense, our philosophy of life, otherwise known as a worldview. So when we exercise our values by making choices, which allows us to do something by taking action, we reveal more about ourselves than perhaps we know. We "are" our values.

When we act we reveal, day by day, something about our character. As time passes, these acts of character or the lack thereof become patterns, i.e., our reputation, which in the end becomes our legacy. If we don't see it, surely "the pattern of our life," after a time, becomes evident to people around us.

Question is this: What is the pattern of your life? Or mine?

Another question logically follows: What does the pattern of your life say to others about what and who you really are?

Here's more on the topic:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

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

I lifted weights, fairly seriously I might add, throughout my high school experience and for a while into college. I enjoyed the activity and the sport. I read weightlifting and bodybuilding magazines, learned about fitness, and followed the careers of the sport's heroes. There was none bigger, in more ways than one, than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold was not a weightlifter per se but a bodybuilder. He lifted to develop his fitness and physique, and he won every bodybuilding title worth winning, including Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe—several times. His over-sized but perfectly proportioned body was a wonder, as were the circumference of his biceps.

It was fun to read about his bodybuilding efforts, and it was even more fun when he relocated to America from his native Austria and produced one of the first notable bodybuilding-weightlifting-fitness films, “Pumping Iron.” Then came the movie career, the amusing if forgettable “Conan” films, assorted others including the silly comedy “Twins” with Danny DeVito and the enjoyable dramedy “Kindergarten Cop.” About the time a lot of people wrote Arnold off as a terminal B-movie actor he introduced a different kind of terminal: the global blockbuster known as the “Terminator” films. Arnold had proved them all wrong.

Clearly Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t just another muscle-bound dumb guy. He made it in a challenging industry, becoming box office gold in the process. He became one of those people immediately recognizable simply by their first name. He was just “Arnold,” known as widely in Japan as in the States.

Marrying Maria Shriver was a surprise. Now Arnold really seemed to have made it. He became an adopted son, so to speak, in the Kennedy family. The American political dynasty, Democrat no less, somehow made room for this huge Republican. Needless to say this only added to Arnold’s mystique, his brand.

Fast-forward twenty-five years: an apparently good marriage, the successful movie career, four children with Maria, and a term as California Governor. Good stuff to say the least. Then last week the Schwarzeneggers announce their separation. Say what? Why? It wasn’t long in coming. A few days later Arnold admits to having had an affair more than a decade ago with a household staff member, fathering a child. Making matters worse, he apparently conducted the affair at about the same time Maria was pregnant with their fourth child. Making it worse still, unless Maria knows more than she’s let on, Arnold somehow kept the affair and the child secret until last week. But, truth finally trumped the Terminator. Maria walked out. Now rumors are surfacing the marriage has been in trouble for years.

No one, me included, ever thought of Arnold as a saint. He was known early on as a womanizer. Just before he entered the Governor’s mansion he was accused of “groping” women and Maria had to defend him. No, we knew Arnold, as he put it in 2003, was capable of “behaving badly sometimes.” But we never suspected he was capable of lying to his spouse for more than a decade. Or that he was living a lie before the American public.

To my knowledge, Arnold has never made any pretense to religion. He is who he is. But herein is the disappointment. He is who he is, which means he is not who he claimed that he is. We thought he’d grown up. We thought he’d put his womanizing past in the past. We thought he was a smart fellow, which he is, but he wasn’t smart enough to make right choices or simply to do right by the spouse and the children with which he has been so richly blessed.

So Arnold isn’t much of a hero after all. He’s just another one of those guys who selfishly puts his own desires ahead of all others. He’s another one of those political leaders who, in the end, lacks character, not only marital fidelity but honesty. He is, ironically, a lot like several of the Kennedy men.

Arnold’s life isn’t over. He can make amends and rebound. But will he? I don’t know, and given that he’s one of the sports and entertainment figures I considered interesting, I find it all quite sad.

Arnold is just a man, not a machine, but because he is, there is hope. I trust that somehow in all this, through some friend perhaps, Arnold will discover the God of second chances, who expects sincere repentance, and who then forgives, heals, and reconciles. It would be a powerful story if the Terminator discovered his potential and his legacy don’t have to terminate here.


© 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

Alexander Graham Bell aimed high. In 1876 his first message over his new telephone was, “Mr. Watson. Come here. I want to see you.”

When Mr. Watson heard him, the 29 year-old Bell rushed to the correct government office with his phone patent, beating a competitor by only a few hours, and launching an invention that would change communication into the Twenty-First Century. The next year, Bell married Mabel and formed the Bell Telephone Company, thereby providing his family with a substantial income for the rest of their lives.

Blessed with an abiding intellectual curiosity, Alexander Graham Bell developed and tested ideas for kites, sheep-breeding, desalinization techniques, water distillation, and a metal breathing device, forerunner of the iron lung.

Bell invented a “photophone,” a device transmitting sound over a beam of light. He considered the photophone his most important invention, perhaps for good reason, for it became a precursor to modern laser and fiber optics technology. Bell spent the latter years of his life working on flight machines, and his hydrofoil set a water speed record in 1919 that remained unsurpassed until 1963.

Fame and fortune were not Alexander Graham Bell’s goals, yet he received and achieved them. Discovery and invention were his goals. He became a great American scientist and success story because he used all of his considerable talents. He took risks and he worked diligently. He developed and applied his vision for a different tomorrow. Through it all he remained a man of notable character.

Bell defined a particularly attractive kind of “success”—talent plus work ethic plus character. We have some “Alexander Graham Bell’s” among us today but not enough. When you add the character element the pool of worthies shrinks quickly.

It seems as if not a month goes by without hearing of some highly talented and “successful” individual whose character, or lack of it, has brought them low, tainting their reputation and legacy, e.g., Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, authors of bestsellers later charged with plagiarism or lies, Lindsay Lohan, multiple affairs of numerous political leaders like former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Bernie Madoff. This list goes on.

Talent matters. Everyone’s been blessed with multi-talent potential. This we can choose to develop.

Character matters too. This we develop, intentionally or not, one decision at a time. Bell did both throughout his life. So can we.


© 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

Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards’s admitted affair reintroduces a recurring pattern—political leaders trying to recoup their public reputations in the wake of poor personal choices.

Edwards, like several who’ve gone before him, lied repeatedly before owning his indiscretions.  Now he’s making the familiar round of talk shows and news outlets purportedly “coming clean” with a series of mea culpas.

New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevy and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer both lost their public office because of sexual scandals.  The Reverend Jesse Jackson lost some of his moral credibility as a social activist because he fathered a child in an extra-marital affair.  President John F. Kennedy didn’t live to see his extra-marital White House affairs exposed to the public, but his legacy suffers because of them.

When it comes to questionable character in a leader President Bill Clinton is Exhibit A.  During his second term he endured the nation’s second presidential impeachment trial, racked up millions in legal fees, and was disbarred because he lied under oath—which all started in the scandal of his “inappropriate relationship” with a White House intern.

President Clinton’s hubris in conducting an affair in or near the Oval Office, ambiguous definitions of words like “sexual relations” and “is,” glib lies to the American people, and squandered political leadership opportunities presented us once again with a leadership question.

Do a leader’s private choices inevitably affect his or her public actions?  Politicians, pundits, and professors debated whether it’s possible for a leader to act with such mind-bogglingly questionable judgment privately while acting with astute judgment publicly.

In the United States historically, private character and public action were considered inextricably linked.  Yet at the time of President Clinton’s impeachment, some 70% of the American people did not want Congress to pursue the matter.  So the Senate’s vote during the trial fell short of conviction and President Clinton was spared the ignominy of being bounced from office.

Whatever your thoughts on the outcome of this trial, we can say that the American people’s inclination to separate private from public character is a choice with consequences not yet fully understood.  The lasting ripple effects of the Clinton affair only history will tell.  But it’s neither a partisan comment nor a cheap shot to say that the impact of one leader’s poor character choices can greatly and negatively affect a nation—or an organization.

But what kind of poor character choices should cause us to disqualify a person from leadership?  Where do you draw the line?  According to the present American mindset private sexual immorality is apparently O.K., but what private character choices are not O.K. for a leader or potential leader, particularly in public office?

President Clinton, for example, was not a traitorous man.  He was not an autocrat or a murderer.  He did good things in office, even as a sexually immoral man.  He is charismatic and many people like him.  Some people seem to like him because he’s a rogue.  So his “not-so-bad-just-like-the-rest-of-us” immorality tends to be written off with softer words like antics or peccadilloes.  But still, the problem remains.  Which character fault lines in a leader’s heart should give us pause?  What about a candidate for office who’s known or shown to be a congenital liar?

What about a leadership candidate who admits to illegal behavior but explains it away as one of his or her “youthful indiscretions”?  Allow me to say it again, where do you draw the line?  Should private morality be ignored?  How does a political leader (or you or me) separate his or her moral being into private and public personas?

From a Christian perspective, the short answer is “You can’t.”  Yet that’s what our culture now seems to believe.  You see?  It’s tough.  We’re all sinners.  Any of us who are leaders or leader-aspirants have already established a record of wrong choices in our lives.  We’re human.  We were born in sin and we’ve committed varying levels of wrong-doing ever since.

We know it’s impossible to select perfect leaders because there are no perfect people, so we work with a sliding scale.  We place character choices (often subconsciously) on a continuum running from Acceptable-to-Unacceptable.  Where a character choice sits on that continuum varies based upon our cultural values at a given point in time.  Before President Ronald Reagan, for example, candidates for the highest office in the land were not taken seriously if they’d ever been divorced.  Now it doesn’t seem to matter.

We know that good and bad behavior exists and, consequently, we know that good and bad leaders exist.  But as a culture we sometimes struggle with where one fades into the other.

How do you recognize bad leaders?  They lack integrity.  They allow fundamental flaws to fester in their character.  These flaws are not the vague “He’s struggling with his demons” you read about in the press, as if something or someone else is responsible.  No, these flaws are sinful attitudes and behaviors sprung from the leader’s own hearts.

There’s generally a pattern of wrong moral choices in a bad leader’s character.  Bad leaders don’t tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Bad leaders live for their own self-aggrandizement.  They take from rather than grow with the people.  Bad leaders’ lives and leadership are a running story of ethical lapses and duplicity.

Bad leaders always exact a price from their nation or their organization.  They can destroy in a matter of months what took years to build.

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, God reminds us that, “when the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan” (29:2).  Good leaders and good leadership are a blessing.  Bad leaders and bad leadership are a curse.

Long after President Gerald R. Ford’s administration, former Senator Alan Simpson summarized well the importance of a leader’s character when he introduced Mr. Ford at Harvard University.  Simpson said, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters.  If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

The continuum of Acceptable to Unacceptable character choices we tolerate in our leaders is a picture of how Americans think about values, character, and leadership.  It’s not necessarily a trustworthy guide for how God thinks about these matters.  Nor should it be our standard because in Christian terms good enough is not good enough.

God’s moral standard for leadership is high.  He said, “from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).


© Dr. Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2008

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Politics and character make uncomfortable suite mates these days. It seems like the days of gentlemen (or women) politicians—people who could debate like political warriors during the day and then enjoy a dinner together in the evening—are long gone. Many politicians today have failed to understand the difference between disagreement and dislike, or worse, loathing. Now it’s not enough to critique someone’s point of view on the merits. One must attack the other person’s character, motives, and person. Political adversaries are now enemies. Partnership has given way to partisanship; principle has given way to power.

The passing of President Gerald R. Ford this past week gives us occasion to think about politics and character, for he represented the best of both. Or rather, he was a man who lived out his well grounded character in his politics. He didn’t become something or someone else to curry political favor, and he didn’t check opinion polls or focus groups to figure out what his point of view should be. He was, in a word, a man of integrity. Now he’s being fondly—and accurately and fairly—remembered not just for what he did but even more for the way he did it.

President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill were in some measure men of the old school too. They represented different sides of “the aisle” and opposite ends of the political spectrum, but at the end of the day, they were American leaders who liked one-upping each other telling Irish American jokes. Can you imagine President George W. Bush and Speaker Nancy Pelosi enjoying each others’ company at day’s end? Even more, can you imagine Republicans and Democrats on the Hill doing anything together other than perhaps paying respects to President Ford lying in state in the Capitol?

I’m not suggesting no political leaders in Washington, D.C. demonstrate appropriate character. Far from it. There are men and women on both sides of the aisle who are American patriots doing their best with the talent and understanding given to them. But the overall tone, tenor, or culture of Washington, D.C. politics today is something else again. Principled cooperation isn’t much in evidence.

I’ve said before, “God give us more Jerry Fords.” We need men and women, both Republican and Democrat, who are willing to move to the center, give some in order to get some, go along to get along, build a team, and above all, work together in the best interests of the American people. That’s easier said than done, but I think the American people are listening and looking for the next Gerald R. Ford, someone with political courage grounded in character who stands tall without skeletons in the closet.

Politicians without character are a menace to society. Politics without character demeans society. Politics and character are well worth pondering. Our children’s future depends upon it.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2007

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