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No country can live long and prosper without a sense of itself. Without a defined national identity and, better yet, national character. No country grows or moves forward in a positive way without aspiration, ambition, goals. America once possessed all these things. Now, I’m not so sure.

I’ve written earlier blogs and articles on “American Ambition Asked And Answered.” I’m concerned about what my grandchildren will not find.

I don’t cast this concern or any arguments I make in simply political terms, Right or Left, but in terms of patriotism. I care about and appreciate my country, so I must speak.

We are now in the midst of a presidential election campaign. It’s mostly noise. Look at me. I’m more-Conservative-than-thou. I’m hip and cool so what more do you need? Not much depth here. Not much moral courage, bold ideas, or statesmen or women with backbone to match their character…or is that the other way around?

I’m looking for, listening for, leaders—whatever race or ethnicity, whatever gender, whatever religion—who speak of a future toward which we can and must work together to make it a bright future. I’m listening for truly selfless, humble, nonpartisan expressions of optimism and creativity. I’m wondering if such leaders any longer exist, because I’m wondering if our culture is strong enough to any longer produce them.

America needs to define itself once again. Who are we? What really is an American?

France is in the midst of a presidential election campaign as well. The combination of high immigration and low French birthrates have resulted, for the first time in the modern nation-state, in less than 50% of the population being born in France. What does it mean, they now want to know, to be French? We don’t know what it means to be American.

Being American is more than being born here, though that could be involved. Being American is more than speaking English, though that is involved. Being American is understanding and embracing a set of ideals and an outlook on life and the future.

I’m hoping we’ve simply misplaced our understanding of what it means to be an American, rather than lost it forever. Once we find it we’ll be able to recast an American aspiration for a bright and hopeful future.


© 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’m about at my saturation point with the phrase “Oh my God.” It’s not just that the phrase uses God’s name in vain, which it does. It’s that you hear the phrase repeated endlessly everyday. It’s like people don’t know other ways to talk.

When did our culture’s vocabulary skills slip so precipitously that the only—the only—way people on the street, at work, or on film and TV know how to express emotion is to say “Oh my God”?

Certainly scriptwriters have lost all sense of proportion or creativity. They seemingly don’t know how to write words their characters can say to demonstrate surprise, anger, fear, frustration, or a host of other strong emotions without saying “Oh my God” not once but four and five times. Really, are there no other words and phrases in the English language capable of communicating strong emotions? Would Shakespeare be Shakespeare if he’d gotten into a similar rut of repetitive base vocabulary?

Years ago one of my favorite television programs was “Magnum P.I.” I liked the program, and I liked the star Tom Selleck then and now. What I didn’t like and found egregious and grating was how the show crafted the Jonathan Higgins character played by John Hillerman. Higgins was the estate “major domo.” Ostensibly, he ran things. He was OK, even funny, but as the show aged the Higgins character was given a principal epithet. Remember? At first Higgins would just spit out a resounding “Oh my God” and that was the end of it. But in later episodes, the camera zoomed in for a facial close-up and Higgins would intone “Oh…my…GOD” slowly and with great exclamation. I guess the producers thought this was a grand addition to the character and show. For me it was just an example of the producers’ lacking common sense and their writers lacking verbal ingenuity.

Now I hear “Oh my God” from store clerks and flight attendants. I hear it from people interviewed by news media. Political leaders, certainly entertainers and sports figures (Tiger Woods with variations of the phrase on air at The Masters), comedians of course, characters in sit-coms including children, overheard mothers at Walmart, and used-to-be-buttoned-up news anchors all weigh in with “Oh my God,” morning show or primetime. I hear this phrase from old and young, professionals of all types, and, inexplicably, at times even clergy (Pastors and some Southerners have their own adaptation; they say “Oh Lord” or “Oh Lordy.”)

Now we’re not just hearing it; we’re seeing or reading it. OMG is online chat-speak for “Oh my God.” It’s an acronym, but it’s used the same way as the phrase. I see it on Facebook and Twitter nearly everyday. I read it in wall posts or tweets written by people who I know claim religious faith. What does this mean? Are they oblivious? Do they not care?

I see it in comic strips. “Luann,” for example, uses this version: “Oh my Gaww.”

Meanwhile, the English language remains rich and varied. The number of words in the English language is estimated at 750,000 to over 900,000 distinct terms. Don’t you suppose we could find words, other than “Oh my God,” for expressing our emotions?

The answer to the question is, of course, Yes. But culturally and individually we’ve become not simply profane but lazy. People don’t know other words because they’ve never been expected to or tried to learn. It’s sad, because if the trend isn’t arrested we’ll keep slipping into a swamp built from the lowest common denominator of pop speech.

I can’t change the world, but at least I can assure I don’t contribute to the problem. So can you.


© 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

The State of Michigan is home to 3 casinos in Detroit owned by corporate interests and 22 tribal-owned casinos. You’d think this would be enough.

But no. Now two competing groups are working to put casino-approval measures on the fall ballot that, if passed, would permit one gambling proponent to add 8 new casinos and the other to add 7 new casinos.

You heard that right. In a state with 25 casinos these groups think we need 7-8 more.

The groups are euphemistically named Citizens for More Michigan Jobs and Michigan Is Yours. Makes you want to sprint to the polling booth doesn’t it? Pro-gambling groups never name themselves More Casinos For More Debt or Gamble Till Your Money’s Gone. No, they’re about “more jobs.” Sure they are.

And the same old tired arguments are being trotted out in support of more casinos, e.g., that these establishments will be taxed at high levels and the money will go for—public schools, police and fire services, townships, road repair, and my favorite, gambling-addiction prevention programs. (The best gambling-addiction prevention program is not to gamble.)

In other words, casino proponents argue that new casinos will provide more money for a host of social services people like, want, or need. Makes political sense: who’s against schools?

But the problem is, this is a bait and switch. Sure, this tax revenue may be earmarked for education and such, but it doesn’t mean education and such gets more money, which is what the public thinks. It means that these funds will go for education and such and then the Legislature will redirect elsewhere tax revenues that would have gone to education and such. In the end, education and such doesn’t necessarily, in fact usually does not at all, end up with more funds. They just end up with other funds, and the public is duped into a new “painless” (for politicians) tax.

Casinos don’t produce anything. They don’t add to the local economy in any way. In fact, casinos drain money from legitimate businesses in the local economy. And, while you cannot make a good case that gambling causes negative social and economic pathologies, you certainly can make a credible case that gambling is correlated with negative social and economic pathologies. These developments—e.g., debt and bankruptcy, job absenteeism, suicide, divorce, theft, health issues—cost local economies. The pubic ends up paying more in increases in health care premiums and increases in criminal justice costs.

It’s said, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Casinos offer fools gold to attract fools. Michigan doesn’t need more of either one. Gambling is a bad bet; don't bet on it.


© 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've always loved animals. Always will.

Here are some thoughts about what role animals play in our lives and what role we should play in theirs:

© 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 just read a Christian ministry fundraising letter that boldly stated a pro-Israel view alongside a subtle anti-Arab view. The letter hoped to raise funds for a preaching program by suggesting to readers this ministry “stood with Israel” against all its enemies.

Clearly this letter is also pro-Jew, basing some of its outlook on the scriptural command to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” But it goes beyond this. The letter seamlessly blends biblical teachings about Jewish people generally and Jerusalem specifically with current Middle East political tensions, the state of Israel’s actions, and end-time prophecies.

One problem with this approach is that it offers a confusing and debatable eschatology (end-times doctrine) and a questionable, at best, mix of religion and politics.

Another problem with this approach is that it spiritualizes Israel the nation-state, thus sanctifying everything the current government does.

Now let me pause here. I've written on the subject before in a piece called "Jews Versus Arabs Or Jews And Arabs." The point is, why can't I be pro-Jew and pro-Arab?

I am certainly not anti-Jew, nor am I in any way suggesting Christians should not care about, pray for, or otherwise support Jewish people. I am not suggesting Jews or Israel have no enemies; of course they do. I am not “siding with” anti-Israel commentary, much less some political and religious leaders who regularly make threatening hate-statements about Israel.

I am saying that some Christian, and some conservative and some Republican, leaders are so eager to proclaim a perceived stature within the ranks that they make over-the-top rah-rah statements of “defense of Israel” at the cost of sounding, if not being, anti-Arab. These statements are designed to establish their credentials in terms of fidelity to the cause. “I’m for the defense of Israel, so I must be real," as a truly spiritual Christian, a truly staunch conservative, or a truly pure Republican.

As I noted above, I’m not anti-Israel. But to be supportive of and care about the Jewish people must I also believe that every move the nation of Israel makes is indeed, by definition, a correct one? Must I support the current government uncritically, blindly?

I love my own country. I am glad and grateful to be an American. But I do not believe every act of the USA or a given government is always the correct, good, or moral one. And I say so or vote so. I offer critique because I love my country, not because I do not.

I do not believe in “My country right or wrong but right or wrong my country.” This is an irrational and potentially dangerous hyper-patriotism, not responsible patriotism.

And why must I, if I love the Jewish people and pray for the peace of Jerusalem, suddenly become anti-Arab? Do all Arabs hate Jews? Of course they do not. Are all Arabs “bad” by virtue of their ethnicity? Of course they are not—if you believe so, you have succumbed to racism. Are all Jews “good” by virtue of their ethnicity or religion? Of course they are not, nor are Americans.

And for that matter, not just Arabs but Persians: are all Persians (Iranians) “bad,” enemies of America and Israel, because they are Persians? Of course not. Do all Iranian citizens agree with their leaders? No they do not. Then why lump them together? Why demonize an entire people group because of a given regime?

Much more concerning: why should Christians necessarily adopt anti-Arab or anti-Persian views simply because they care about Jews? Where in Scripture does it say we should despise or work against the Gentile?

So I think the Christian ministry that mailed the fundraising letter I read is not only wrong but irresponsible. I think that in its zeal to be biblical it misinterprets the Bible.

To be pro-Jew does not require one to be—unthinkingly—pro-Israel, even if you wish to support or defend Israel’s right to exist. To be pro-Jew in no way requires one to be anti-Arab, anti-Persian, anti-Turk, or anti-anyone. In fact, adopting a position that is categorically against any people group is a form of racial prejudice and is, therefore, non-Christian or, if you prefer, un-Christian.

The summary of the matter is that Jesus’s redemption and the life-giving Christian faith are for everyone, for Jew, Arab, Persian, Turk, for Gentile, for red and yellow, black and white, for male and female, for great and small, for one and all.


© 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

"Faux" or fake Christians abound. Likely I've fallen into that category at times in my life. But it's not a good place to be or to stay.

Here are a few thoughts on a certain kind of fake Christian:

© 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