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Dick Devos, Rediscovering American Values: The Foundations of Our Freedom for the 21st Century (1997). Mr Dick DeVos is the former President of Alticor, the parent company of Amway and other related businesses located in Ada, Michigan. He is also the presumptive Republican nominee for Governor of the State of Michigan. DeVos’ book is a good read, articulating conservative values about life, work ethic, free enterprise, business, philanthropy, and more.

Dave Fleming, Leadership Wisdom from Unlikely Voices (2004). This is an odd book, one that I did not enjoy. Fleming’s “unlikely voices” are indeed that, coming from obscure places and people throughout history and offering what I thought was some pretty off the wall, unhelpful advice.

Charles Martin, Healing America, A Biography: The Life of Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D. (2004). Dr. Bill Frist is a possible future Republican Party Presidential candidate in 2008 or beyond. He is a believer, a brilliant and accomplished heart surgeon, a son of Nashville, and a very high energy person. At times, Charles Martin’s book comes across more as fawning and cheerleading than as serious biography. Senator Bill Frist is a notable American worthy of admiration, but this book makes him sound like he’s never done anything untoward, foolish, or simply wrong in his life. The book is interesting, but it’s a bit of a puff piece.

William C. Ringenberg, The Christian College: A History of Protestant Higher Education in America, 2nd ed. (1984, 2006). In my estimation this book is the best, relatively short overview of Christian higher education in America ever written. It’s easy to read and is an excellent primer for anyone who has not read about the topic before. One of Ringenberg’s best contributions is his list of developments that contributed to the secularization of colleges and universities in America from Harvard on down. This list makes you think, and it is a practical caveat for those of us involved in Christian higher education today. I’d recommend this book to anyone, and I am glad it has been reprinted with a couple of new chapters.

Dick Winters with Cole C. Kingseed, Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters (2006). Major Dick Winters is a singular American. He commanded Easy Company for a time and parachuted with them into France on D-Day, 1944. E Company fought all the way to Hitler’s Berchtesgaden and then participated in occupation duties after the surrender of the German army. E Company became the subject of historian Stephen Ambrose’s book, Band of Brothers, and the subsequent Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg mini-series of the same name. Winters is in his late 80s, the last surviving officer of his company. He was beloved by his men, won the Distinguished Service Cross, became a successful businessman after the war, and is an American hero. I recommend you read Ambrose’s book and then read this one. Both books will bring out the patriot in anyone who reads them, and both books will teach you a lot about leadership.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

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Three cheers for the New York Catholic high school principals who cancelled their proms on principle. Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland, principal of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, cancelled his school’s prom because he was weary of the financial excess, ostentatiousness, and debauchery accompanying many senior proms. Nearby Chaminade High School soon followed suit.

Hoagland cited the “bacchanalian aspects” of school proms. In a letter to parents he said, “It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity’s sake — in a word, financial decadence.”

Hoagland later accepted student a recommendation to substitute a modestly priced, dress code governed dinner cruise. In the end, there will be a celebration, but it will be more affordable and safer. The Rev. James Williams, president of Chaminade, said the revised celebration “is much more consistent with the values we adhere to.”

More high schools throughout the country should take a page from the courage these Catholic institutions have displayed. For too long, proms have been taken over by drunken driving and loss of virginity resulting more in a teenage nightmare than a senior class celebration. People know this, but they wink at it like it’s some kind of essential right of passage. Meanwhile, kids die on the highway or wake up with hangovers, embarrassment, pregnancy, or emotional baggage some carry for years thereafter.

Hopefully these high schools will start a corrective swing of the pendulum back toward common sense. Our teenagers will be the better for it.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*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 him at

Immigrants are as American as apple pie. Yet we seemed to have entered a brave new world wherein we’re not as brave as we thought we were.

With some 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country and more finding ways to come across the borders every day, what is the U.S. to do? Is it really possible to send back to their home country a population roughly the size of the state of Ohio?

Some 40% of illegal immigrants came to this country with work, student, or visitor visas. Many of them now have children who are American citizens by virtue of the fact they were born in this country.

Building a wall the entire length of the 2,000 mile U.S./Mexico border is not the answer and smacks of Berlin and the Great Wall, images I don’t want to associate with the United States. Summarily deporting illegals is not the answer. Levering felony charges on people who provide illegal immigrants with humanitarian aid is not what America is about. Posturing by politicians wanting to be re-elected is also not helpful.

America’s “immigration problem” does not lend itself to a quick fix. It will require not a few sound thinkers and some statesmen who can rise above sectional politics and self-interest.

America is a “nation of immigrants.” We’re about freedom, and we don’t want to deny this opportunity to others. But we can and should establish systems of admission and citizenship, expect immigrants to learn English and work for the benefits this country affords, and evidence a loyalty to the ideals America represents. If immigrants take these minimal but important steps they will be both welcome and productive, sharing the American dream.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

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Our problem in American culture does not occur when we say “I believe in Jesus.” It occurs when we say “Jesus is the only way.” The exclusive claims of biblical Christianity are not welcome to many in our religiously pluralistic and morally relativistic culture.

This was the topic of a seminar I attended in Dallas this week at the 2006 International Forum on Christian Higher Education. The seminar was entitled “Proclaiming Jesus in a Pluralistic Culture.” In it we discussed how Christian truth can be presented winsomely and effectively, yet respectfully, in a culture buffeted by many competing belief systems.

I believe a public moral consensus—what scholars have called “the sacred canopy”—is necessary to a sustainable culture and society, particularly a free society. In the past, perhaps as late as the early 1960s, much of the American public moral consensus was based upon the tenets of biblical religion. Adultery, murder, theft, work, play, right and wrong, all these and more were rooted in a broad definition of Christendom—or what in the 1950s began to be called Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Today this is no longer the case. Today we work with multiple sacred canopies, some of which proffer conflicting views of fundamental issues like the definition of marriage, the beginning and meaning of life, a “right to privacy,” so-called alternative sexualities, and much more, including differing attitudes toward environmental conservation, stem cell research, poverty and the poor, health care, etc.

So, if a public moral consensus is the glue that holds a society together, and that consensus breaks down, how do the centripetal forces this creates keep the society from tearing itself apart? And if Christians are mandated by God to evangelize the lost and transform the culture for the glory of God, how can they do this in a pluralistic society without being accused of forcing our morality upon others?

This is not an easy question to answer because it involves issues of church and state and associated questions of religion and politics. One thing we can do, though, is recognize the difference between sin and crime, immoral and illegal.

For example, I believe people who use vulgar language and people who commit adultery are involved in sin. But I do not want my government to legislate these sins by calling them crime. On the flip side, I believe that while abortion may be legal, it is not moral, so while abortion is not a crime, in my theology it is a sin.

The extent to which we work to “contextualize” our biblical worldview in a free and pluralistic culture is one of the most challenging questions of our day. I don’t want to live in a theocracy like Iran or a near-theocracy like Afghanistan. I also don’t want to live in an irreligious but politically dictatorial nation like China. I don’t want the United States to be a Christian theocracy, nor do I want my country to lack the influences of biblical truth.

How I live my faith amidst increasing religious and moral diversity will tell the tale not only of my own testimony but also of the spiritual and political vitality of my country. What would Jesus do?


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

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Christians face two dilemmas each day: one, I call the “In the World/Not of the World” dilemma. This comes from John chapter 17 in the midst of Jesus’ prayer. He talks to his heavenly Father about the fact that human beings exist in the world, because he has created us for this purpose. We exist in a culture, and we live out our lives in a physical and social space. But Jesus also mentions that he has commanded us to be not of the world, meaning that we are to think and act differently from those around us. We are to live out our lives based upon a biblical philosophy of life. So every day, living in the world, we make innumerable choices based upon Christian values or non-Christian values—not of the world or conformed to the world.

Christians in the United States also live every day with another dilemma: how to live out God’s mandate to influence our culture with Christian values, while at the same time acknowledging that we live in a free and pluralistic democracy wherein many people do not agree with our Christian values. This is the “Faith and Culture” dilemma.

As culture has become increasingly morally relativistic in the past three or four decades this dilemma has become especially evident and increasingly volatile. Many Christians feel pressured, “put upon,” overwhelmed, pushed to the limit, or “persecuted.” We hear discussions about the “Culture War,” a phrase I have frequently used to describe the ongoing “battle” between those who affirm some form of biblical morality for our culture and those who affirm what might be called a libertarian morality, which is to say they want to leave moral choices up to each individual. Christians want to recognize a divine moral code. Libertarians want their own code or maybe no code at all.

Clearly, in terms of publicly affirmed Christian morality, this is not your grandfather’s culture anymore. Where at one time in the 1950s the biggest problems in public schools were chewing gum and tardiness, now many public schools, especially in urban areas, have become their own version of war zones—drugs, violence, guns and other weapons, sexual harassment or even rape, alcohol abuse, and little or no academic progress.

What happened, and are Christians supposed to stand around and watch all this, doing nothing in the name of “freedom”? There may not be a “war on Christians” as USA Today recently called it, but there is certainly a disjunction between what the Bible says morality should be and what American culture says it should be.

I do not advocate a “Christian Right” takeover of government. I do not advocate Christian theocracy. I do not advocate government establishing my religion to the exclusion or oppression of all others. I do advocate a public moral consensus capable of sustaining a thriving culture and society into future generations. With this in mind, I call for more religious content in public discourse even while I call for institutional separation of church and state.

I live in the world, and I try to live in a manner not of the world. I am privileged to do this in a free society. I affirm that freedom for others who may disagree with my faith and values, and I affirm their civil liberties and rights as I ask them to affirm mine.

Our nation can not avoid disagreement, debate, and sometimes dissension. That’s the special privilege and special burden, a sort of divine dilemma, of a free society. American can no more side-step this dilemma than I can side-step the two dilemmas I face every day. They are part of life in this thing we call a democracy.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

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At the Michigan funeral of a slain Army Corporal, members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas came to the military funeral to conduct a protest. They claim that American soldiers are being killed as a direct result of God’s judgment upon the United States for tolerating homosexuality.

The protesters stood outside the Grand Ledge Baptist Church holding signs denouncing homosexuality, including one that read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” Apparently the group has protested at three other military funerals in Michigan in the past week.

Several veterans responded to the soldier’s family’s request to protect them from the protesters. Many of the veterans carried American flags and turned their backs to the protesters, creating a parallel line through which family and friends could enter the church.

While I do not condone homosexuality, I cannot endorse this kind of in-your-face action to protest American culture’s acceptance of this lifestyle. I imagine these protesters claim to be Christians, which makes their behavior even more embarrassing. What purpose does their affront to this soldier’s family really serve? Do they expect people to listen to their point of view when they take such offensive actions? And how do they know that God is judging America by allowing its soldiers to die, much less this particular soldier?

I don’t like terms like “gay bashing” or “homophobic,” but if any bigoted behavior qualifies, this seems to be it. These people are not “speaking the truth in love.” They are simply acting hatefully.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*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 at