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April 5-15, 2019, I visited the Middle East and North Africa, specifically Jordan for the first time, then Cairo, Egypt. The purpose of this trip was to make short videos for SAT-7 USA that we could use online during the next few months.

My colleague traveled with me to produce the videos: Ray Heinen, who is Egyptian in heritage, grew up a few years in Iraq, and as of last year is a newly minted American citizen.

This video blog or vlog series records nightly impressions, conversational and personal.

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019

*This vlog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.

What people born after the 1960s don’t know: How much culture has changed, or I could say, indeed how much it has changed in just my lifetime.

For example, during the week before Christmas, my wife and I watched a Perry Como Christmas music program first aired in 1975. In the latter part of the program Como introduced the Christmas story narrative and read it in entirety from the biblical book of Luke, saying it was his favorite story of all time because its message blessed all mankind with peace and hope and “because it is true.” 

Think about whether an artist today would read the Christmas story at all on national television, much less claim it is true, or whether any entertainer would even use the word “truth” in reference to anything religious. This change in itself is an amazing and far-reaching shift in the moral/spiritual presuppositions of cultural philosophy just in a generation.

Another small example comes from ESPN’s “Good Morning Football.”  The panel participants were talking about players wearing down late in the football season and a commentator used a Scripture paraphrase, i.e., “Spirit has to be willing when the body is weak.” Three others on the panel reacted immediately, “Wow, what a great quote” with raised hands and Woo-Woo hoots. The commentator who made the reference actually chair-danced. None of the four panelists seem to have a clue the paraphrase originated in the Bible. It’s like history books crediting the great Abraham Lincoln with originating the observation “A house divided against itself cannot stand," a notion from the Gospels familiar to Lincoln's audience but lost on 21st Century scholars.

Still another example from the Christmas season: It amazes me how many Christmas cards feature nothing or next to it about Christmas, i.e., lots of snow and red and green but not much else. OK, it’s a free country. But the really amazing part to me is how many ostensibly or avowedly Christian or church-related nonprofit organizations mail what amount to secular cards. Their cards feature no references to Scripture, the Christmas story in the Gospels, no pictures of the babe in the manger—which some people still use even if they don’t make reference to other religious words or symbolism.  When I see these cards it always strikes me that these “Christian” organizations are missing a messaging opportunity.

Now these are just a few examples from the past Christmas season. We could list much more, including dramatic shifts, as alluded to above, in understanding what is objective truth yielding moral relativism, since 1973 the legalization and now expansion of abortion, the normalization and public promotion of LGBTQ followed by paradigm shifts in acceptance, then legalization, of same-sex marriage, since 1988 a steady legalization of commercial gambling including sports gambling in 2018, increasing complacency about debt along with a growing sense of entitlement, fatherless children, along with a decline in the importance of church in daily life with a parallel increase in secularization. More fundamental changes could be listed. 

Of course, some positive changes can be listed too: greater awareness of women’s rights and potential, sensitivity to the needs and prospects of the poor, increased attention to opportunities for all races and ethnicities.

Ideas have consequences.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

As a Christmas gift, our Son #2 gave me A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story by William C. Martin, the 2018 commemorative update of the original biography published in 1991. It is, as they say, a “Good read.” 

William C. Martin is an able writer, scholarly, fair, thorough, telling the story chinks-in-the-armor-and-all. The Rev. Billy Graham passed Feb 21, 2018, at 99, some 12 years after his wife, Ruth.

Given Rev. Billy Graham’s impact and religious significance worldwide in the 20th Century, I’ll always be glad I heard him in person at least once. It was July 1972, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, in the middle of my undergrad years when I was 19. We rode two hours from southeast Ohio up and back on Ohio’s I-77 in a no-AC “church bus”—meaning a repurposed ancient yellow school bus—with other Guernsey/Noble County, Ohio travelers. 

I remember the packed stadium. Believe it or not, Rev. Graham preached from John 3:16, and I remember him using his trademark phrase, “The Bible says.” I also recall his later invitation to people to come forward and decide to accept Christ.  He did this, then abruptly stopped talking while he stood with bowed head, an elbow in his opposite hand with fist under his chin, and several hundred walked the aisles responding to the “invitation.” Pretty interesting, amazing experience, one I am glad to remember.

I first read this book when it came out in 1991, so some of the read this time was familiar, but of course there’s more of Rev. Graham’s special life added in this edition and it was more than enjoyable to read again. Clearly God had his hand on this man’s life, even and especially through some human missteps along the way like getting “too close” to President Richard M. Nixon, only to be embarrassed by what emerged later.  Dr. Graham in his humility owned it all, said publicly he’d made a mistake, and refocused his efforts on sharing the Gospel.

It’s more than a little interesting today to see his son Franklin Graham position himself so publicly and vigorously in association with President Donald Trump.

Whatever Rev. Graham’s missteps, he and his team avoided the “really big ones” through 50-60 years of public ministry. There was never a moral or financial scandal named among them. For Christian leaders this should not be remarkable, but in today’s terms, it is.

I highly recommend this book.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

It’s become commonplace for people who don't like a speaker or a public discussion in some other public forum to demonstrate their displeasure by disrupting the meeting or hearings or proceedings or event with the apparent goal of preventing, silencing, i.e., not allowing the other side to be heard.  

Some are now arguing this is their “right,” and that it is good and proper to silence opposing points of view.  We hear this argument on both the Left and the Right.

This is a dangerous trend.  It suppresses the First Amendment, and it is not what a free country is about - again, whether one likes or supports the speaker, or the points being shared.

Let’s take a moment for a much-needed Civics 101 lesson.

1—Is protest legal in the US? Yes, in this free country it is, as long as the protest is peaceful and nonviolent, i.e. not harming people, others’ property, impeding people’s progress on public thoroughfares, or otherwise creating a threat to public safety.

2—Do I have to agree with protesters to agree with their freedom to protest? No.

3—Should protestors (or speakers) with whom I disagree be silenced? No, this idea and now increasingly common tactic is at fundamental odds with the constitutional principle of freedom of speech or expression.

4—If the point of protest is to draw attention to something considered troublesome, isn’t it logical that the more outrageous the protest the more likely it will elicit response? Yes and No. Yes, outrageous is OK, as long as it fits within #1. No, outrageous may backfire on protesters, eliciting not a response to their views but to their methods.

5—Is protest “bad”? No, not really. It is part of what it means to live in a free, open, pluralistic, and democratic society.

6—Do American citizens have the “right” to protest anywhere, anytime, for any reason? Yes and No. Yes, as long as it fits in #1. No, if it violates #1, and No, in that protest is not ipso facto a right in private or even public places because along with a "right" comes "responsibility."

There seems to be an entire generation or more of the American public who evidence little knowledge of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or case law about fundamentals of a free society.  They’ve grown up or are growing up with no instruction, or if they were taught about civics they were taught with a bias.  What’s scary about this is that older political leaders, many of whom know better and who do understand the fundamentals of our free society, are going along with or encouraging this new view because they think it translates to political power for their Party or viewpoints.  Some of them, particularly on the Left, are arguing the US Constitution and/or the Bill of Rights be revised or even thrown out and rewritten.

This is also threatening, trading principle and proven, reasoned and reasonable process for power.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Let’s talk 2020 presidential election realpolitik in a nonpartisan, non-ideological way, meaning no endorsements stated or implied. 

1—President Trump is very good at being who he is, whether you or I like that fact, like him, or not. 

2—If President Trump is breathing, he’s going to run again in 2020.

3—If Democrats want to win the White House, they must choose wisely, meaning Democrat candidates, or most certainly the Democrat nominee, 

     --Must be as good at being who he/she is as President Trump, 

     --Must have uber-thick skin, 

     --Must have off-the-charts communication skills, and 

     --Must have an actual set of new, worthy, better-future ideas that can be shared in 3-4 sound bites. 

4—Candidates Must not try to out-Trump Trump, emulating his style, nor should they simply run as the Anti-Trump.

5—Same goes for any Republican considering challenging President Trump for the Republican nomination.

If you doubt this, ask what happened to the other 16 good, decent, prepared Republican candidates who ran in 2016. 

Again, this is not an homage to President Trump. It’s realpolitik. Sentimentality, hubris, unwarranted optimism, “experience” no matter how impressive, are not enough.

If another Republican or Democrat is going to win election in 2020 he/she Must be someone authentically different from and more compelling than President Trump.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attributionstatement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events atwww.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

When NY enacted its full-term abortion law I was shocked but not surprised. 

When VA Governor Ralph Northam made his chilling comments about how a baby could be born, then “kept comfortable” while the mother and doctor decides its fate, I was appalled at the blithe infanticide but not surprised. 

When media and most political leaders reacted critically to the same man’s racist picture (and so did I) and ongoing dissembling while ignoring his views about violence toward children I was chagrined but not surprised.  It is noteworthy that Governor Northam apologized for the black face picture, but he defended his sickening comments about taking the life of an unwanted born-alive child, what he called a “non-viable fetus,” following a late-term (remember, the baby has been born) abortion.

When adult political leaders applaud, promote, and defend the “right” of mothers to take the lives of their born-alive child it’s not a stretch to conclude our culture is now rushing pell-mell toward immoral irrationality. If we can legally kill babies, unborn or even born, we can kill anyone “unwanted,” elderly, minorities, the religious, or just people with “wrong ideas.” 

Life and Liberty are increasingly at risk in this historically free society that valued these principles above all others. Democrats and Republicans must step up to reverse this or become a generation that future generations will condemn.  If we do not, we’re going to need to apologize to the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and other historic genocidal mass murderers.  

Nothing about which I have ever written gives me more grief and despair for our culture and our grandchildren’s future than lawful infanticide in America.

The Scripture reminds us who a child is and from whence he or she comes: 

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:13-14).

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.