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We live in a social media age. Unless you’ve chosen to live off the e-grid you’re probably participating in some kind of social media experience, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Incredibly, more people are now active monthly on Facebook, about 2.07 billion, than the population of the United States and China combined. It’s a global village.

With this kind of connectivity, and with immediacy made possible by mobile devices, anyone who wants to “talk to the world” can do so in seconds by posting online. This is interesting, good in some measure, not so good in others--reason being, it’s not the content of the post but the people posting that matter. They’re the ones who are good in some measure, not so good in others.

Since the 2016 US Presidential election campaign, it seems more people (around the globe not just in the States) are posting regularly about politics, and in particular, often posting about President Donald Trump. This is occurring for many reasons—

  • the ease of access of social media,
  • increasingly divided politics, ideologically, ethnically, demographically, and otherwise,
  • Pres. Trump’s ongoing use of Twitter, and
  • the president’s persona—bigger than life, at the center of every issue whether you like him or his views, or not.

All this means more politics in social media.

One of the staples of this growing politicization of social media (Maybe we should just throw in the towel and call it political media?) are shoot-from-the-lip reaction-posts. You don’t like what’s said or happening, so you reach for your device, go online, and let it rip, posting your rant and venting your emotions without filter.

OK, if you want to rant or vent on social media, go ahead, it’s a free country, at least it’s constitutionally supposed to be (The US is experiencing an increase in individual’s or groups’ attempts to limit the First Amendment free speech of others, particularly people or groups with whom they disagree). But the problem with venting or ranting regularly is that after a while few people pay attention, other than those who already share your view. So, you’re mostly preaching to the choir. And though you may not care, you gain the reputation of a malcontent, a curmudgeon, one who “Cries wolf,” or simply an unpleasant associate.

Let me say outright: There are better ways to comment, critique, or criticize than ranting or venting. I’m not saying you shouldn’t speak. I’m saying there is a better way than politically ranting or venting. By “better” I mean more effective, more likely to reach and influence others. Isn’t that the purpose of your rant, to reach others?

With venting, maybe not. Maybe it’s just to blow off your own steam. Either way, social media is inundated with these kinds of posts and even the social media industry is beginning to consider ways to “re-socialize” social media, i.e. reduce one-n-done negative political rants.

As an aside, I’ll add that the other problem with social media posts, specifically those involving “friends,” “fans,” or “followers,” is that your post primarily reaches a subset of these people. Theoretically you can speak to the world via social media but due to complex algorithms that’s not generally how it works. Even the President’s well-known tweets reach only his followers, unless and until media quote his comments. If you want to speak into culture, win friends, and influence others, maybe you should consider launching a blog that’s available to the “world wide” web.

Now, how can we comment, critique, or criticize in an influential manner?

  • Check your facts. Nothing undercuts credibility more quickly than false statements—something presidential candidate Hilary Rodham Clinton and Pres. Trump have had to learn in their use of social media. Just take the time to do a little research online. If something bothering or encouraging you is indeed false, why waste time on it? If something with which you agree or disagree is indeed true and happening, then speaking up with a firm foundation of factual data reinforces your point of view.
  • Popping off is just popping off. We’re back to ranting and venting. Maybe it helps you feel better, so go ahead, but I recommend tossing your text after it’s written. Don't post popping off. In the pre-social media days, I used to write letters in which I dumped my arguments and feelings about organizational developments that concerned me, but then I destroyed the letters, never sending any of them, ever. Made me feel better but I didn’t spread around hastily-conceived negative thoughts. If I really had something substantive to say, I took the time to develop my argument and shared it with the right people in the right place at a later time.
  • Gotcha posts aren’t worth much. Other than giving you a reputation of a self-appointed watchdog with nothing of your own to contribute, gotcha posts are just jabs, more of the same, just one more chance for you to say, "Look what the bad pol has done now." For example, whatever you think of Republican or Democrat posturing or comments, constantly posting the latest perceived faux pas of the other side doesn’t change the narrative. What do you think? If you were a political leader, or in the Oval Office, what would you do? How would you suggest we encourage Middle East peace, or what policies do you support re immigration reform? So it goes. Say something meaningful. Add to the conversation. Add an alternative idea. Gotcha is old news.
  • Talk about issues rather than people. Focus your posts and arguments on the issue of the moment instead of adding another round of gossipy criticism of a politician you don’t like. OK, you don’t like him or her, we get that, but what do you think about the issue?
  • Respect others and their right to hold their views. Attacking the person(s) holding views different from your own does not advance your argument. It just lets us know you don’t like that man or woman. I’m weary of posts using terms like “moron,” “idiot,” “crazy person” to describe political leaders whose views one does not appreciate. Even if a political leader somehow deserves these appellations, what good does it do to keep labeling him/her this on social media? And do you really want to use this kind of low-level vocabulary in your political discussions?
  • Comment and Critique rather than Criticize. Comment is any statement, positive or negative, good or bad. Critique is analysis, which could be critical but may not be and is best based upon studied reflection and review of data. Criticizing or criticism generally implies a negative assessment, which is why the term “constructive criticism” is used to describe an evaluation that attempts to be helpful, no matter the nature of the review. Learning to offer critique that respects others and their right to hold their views, respects the democratic process, and ultimately attempts to resolve a problem is better than criticism per se that offers nothing but cutting disapproval.
  • Seriously consider others’ views. Before you post, comment or critique and especially criticism, give a careful look-see at others’ views. Many seemingly either/or issues are not either/or. They’re more complex than this, and frequently there are points of agreement that could further the discussion if acknowledged.
  • One side of the partisan aisle is not always right. You may not agree with this, but over time it is easy to document that both Republicans and Democrats, men and women, Liberals and Conservatives, Whites and Blacks, etc. etc. are at times in the wrong. So go slow when you tout loudly the sins of the other. Your turn is coming.

Keep sharing your views, including your comments, critiques, and criticisms, but do so in a way that advances our public conversations about the issues confronting us.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018    

*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.    

 

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 “10/40 Window” has been part of the Christian lexicon for more than twenty-five years. It’s a handy designation for that part of the earth’s land mass lying between 10 and 40 degrees latitude north of the equator. The 10/40 Window encompasses North and Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and most of Asia.  

     10/40 Window rolls nicely off the tongue, is intriguing, and is, once the geography’s envisioned, easy to understand. The phrase was coined in 1990 by mission strategist Luis Bush, who first called it a “box” but at his wife’s suggestion changed the name to “window” to emphasize spiritual opportunities in the region.

     The 10/40 Window spans over 60 countries and two-thirds of the world’s population—over 4 billion people. These countries, though widely variant in history and culture, share several negative “social indicators,” for example:

  • highest number of socioeconomic problems,
  • high levels of illiteracy, higher still among women,
  • 90% of the poorest people,
  • most countries closed or resistant to outside influence,
  • highest levels of Christian suppression, oppression, persecution,
  • 8,671 people groups, a majority “unreached,” meaning limited to no access to the Christian message.

     You can Google more statistics, but you get the picture. The idea of the 10/40 Window was to encourage a Christian outreach strategy to the most spiritually needy regions of the world. To some extent this has happened. Mostly it hasn’t.

     Some Good News: SAT-7’s satellite footprint covers the entire Western Half of the 10/40 Window. While Asia and Africa are linguistically fragmented, one advantage for broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa is that residents typically understand one of three languages: approximately 300 million Arabic, 165 million Turkish, and 70 million Persian (Farsi). SAT-7 broadcasts biblical truth and a Christian worldview in all three languages. 

     Some 95% of Middle Easterners have access to a television and 60%+ (about 85% in Iraq) can access a satellite dish. So despite the spiritual challenges on the ground, or maybe because of them, spiritual opportunities are still beaming uncensored from the air.

     The Western Half of the 10/40 Window is blanketed everyday with the Christian message. And God said, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

     What do you think the Apostle Paul, missionary to the Gentiles, would say if he could reach millions via satellite television? No long boat rides or shipwrecks, no snakes, no Roman soldiers to dodge, no interminable hikes, no waiting weeks for your epistle to get there.

     I think Paul would pray, “Dear Lord, give me the 10/40 Window.” And then to his taxi-driver, “Get me to the SAT-7 studio. Now.” 

  

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018

*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.    

 

 

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Steve and Jackie Green, part of the Hobby Lobby family and the founding family of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, write about the Bible—it’s claims to truth as the inspired Word of God, its content, and its impact. Released by Zondervan, 2017, with National Christian Foundation Heartland CEO Bill High, “This Dangerous Book: How the Bible Has Shaped Our World And Why It Still Matters Today” makes the statement early in the book, “Like it or not, the Bible simply cannot be ignored.”

“The Bible,” the authors note, “is more than an ancient artifact; its voice possesses the power to shape the world for good.”

The book is part anecdotes and memories of God’s work in Steve’s and Jackie’s life, part narrative describing how and why the family began collecting biblical artifacts, their amazement at how many such artifacts exist, and details about how the idea for a world class Museum of the Bible (MOTB) came about. MOTB opened in Washington, DC, November 17, 2017.

With well over 5 billion printed and sold, the Bible is by far the best-selling book in world history. It’s been translated into more languages than any book, ever. With the YouVersion app, a Bible reading and onlinw download and mobile platform available on smart phones, the Bible is accessible worldwide to even more millions via 1492 Bible versions in 1074 languages. Other Bible apps like Bible.Is are also now available.

The authors note that the Bible is honest with its heroes, sharing both their accomplishments in the Lord’s service and their failures and sin as human beings. No one, they note, is fully good, or ever has been except Jesus Christ.

While the writers don’t make this observation, it’s worth noting that this sort of “warts and all” honesty is decidedly different from what we experience today re many celebrities, political and business leaders, et al. Too often we’re given a sanitized, unreal version of these peoples’ lives, all with the purpose of advancing them or whoever is supporting them.

The Greens and High are Bible-believers. They say the Bible presents the grand narrative of God’s rescue mission to the world. They believe the principles of the Bible can be applied by anyone, not just Christians, and that the Bible offers what might be called universal values, applicable by anyone anywhere. But they make very clear the MOTB—one floor historical overview, one floor impact, one floor stories of the Bible—is not about proselytizing or evangelizing. It’s not about presenting only an Evangelical interpretation but includes Catholicism, Judaism, and more. Rather, MOTB is about inviting people to consider the Book, to interact with its content and decide for themselves its merit.

For example, regarding Creation, which Christians and others debate in terms of time, God’s work, and more, is presented as the Bible presents it, “In the beginning God created." But MOTB does not take a position on when God created.

The MOTB’s founding family, the Greens, as explained in this book, want to present the facts about the Bible’s history, content, and impact. They want others to explore and to learn.

“When we follow the principles found in the Bible, our lives will look different. Maybe even counter-cultural.”  Following the Bible’s principles changes a person’s life, so there’s an element of risk, what the authors call “dangerous.” Some have pursued their commitment to the point of martyrdom.

In God’s providence, the Bible has made an impact in the world and upon Western civilization in particular, like no other book or philosophy. It is significant and important, whether or not people believe its words.

“This Dangerous Book” is an interesting and informative read.

  

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

*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.    

Grandpa “Bones” Davis was a world class people watcher. I remember “going to town” when I was a kid and being left in the car with Grandpa because he didn’t like to shop. Parked along the main street, I’d want to go here or there and he’d say, “Just watch the people. They’re interesting.”

Granpda never made catty or cutting remarks, nothing negative, just insightful things like, “Look, that boy is walking exactly like his Dad, same motions, same gait.” Or, “Those people look like they’re having a good time.” Or, “Hey, they’re eating chocolate candy. How about us getting some?” Sitting with Grandpa in that car along a well-populated street is one of my good childhood memories.

So, I learned young to watch people. Now one of my favorite activities when I’m in a mall or airport is to watch people, especially older or elderly couples. I like the feeling in South Florida when I seem to be the youngest person in the mall. I’ve often seen 80-something couples strolling or sitting, demonstrating in a variety of ways they still value their spouse. It’s fun and offers a load of life lessons.

Grandpa would have loved malls and airports, neither one of which were part of his experience.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

*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.    

I love my country. Wherever you are from, you probably love your country too. It’s called patriotism, “love of the fatherland.” Rightly understood and lived, there’s nothing wrong with patriotism.

Loving my country, though, does not mean that I believe “My country, right or wrong, but right or wrong my country.” It does not mean that I believe everything my country has ever done is perfect or right or correct or even in some cases moral. The USA, like all countries comprised of human beings, has some darkness in its record. Loving my country does not mean that I think every American leader is always correct or, in some cases, even admirable at all. Point is, I can love my country in spite of its flaws.

Christians believe they should “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” as they should because this statement is in the Scripture. Many Christians believe that Jews are “God’s chosen people.” This is also referenced in Scripture. But respecting or loving Jews is not the same as believing the modern nation-state of Israel is always right, it’s actions must be defended blindly, or worse, that loving Jews and appreciating Israel must mean Christians should dislike, reject, or worse, hate Arabs, Persians, or Turks, no matter what some of them may say or do regarding Jews or Israel. Just like my country, the USA, has flaws, so does Israel.

But a lot of conservative Christians confuse this issue. If some American television preachers aren’t anti-Arab, they certainly sound anti-Arab. They think this makes them biblical. In a similar vein, too many Christians use social media to demonstrate their Christian bona fides by making categorical, one-sided statements in support of anything Israel the nation state does, or making implicit and often explicit anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian statements. They think this makes them biblical.

But we should remember several things:

Love is possible despite flaws, otherwise none of us would be loved. We can love our countries, love Jews, and also love Arabs, Persians, and Turks. We can honor Israel as a nation-state without suspending our ability to critique its actions and without aligning against others in the Middle East and North Africa. The same is true in reverse.

Whatever your opinion of the “two-state solution” for Israelis and Palestinians, whatever your view of the Trump Administration’s December 2017 official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, remember that God loves Palestinians as much as he loves you. Remember that your patriotism for your country is a blessing, while Palestinians long for an official country of their own that they may love. Remember to apply your Christian critical thinking and knowledge of theology across the board, for your country’s leaders and actions, for Israel’s, for those representing Palestinians, for all.

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

*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.    

 

The famous are being fired, e.g. Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, apparently justifiably and long overdue. But I’m wondering about the suits in these corporations who are doing the firing. I guess Roger Ailes fits the latter as Fox News Chairman and CEO.

Point is, if an organizational culture overlooked such egregious behavior for years, likely more than just the famous were or are involved. When will they be held accountable?

And point is, we’ve found ourselves in a sea of allegations, which I do not doubt, drowning in what we mean. We all know what sexual harassment or sexual abuse is when we see it or hear about it, or do we? What are the moral and legal definitions and dividing lines, all of which seem to get lost in each news program panel discussing the latest guy to fall. I’m not by a long shot, for example, excusing "dirty" jokes or caddish behavior, but I do think these are different from abuse, assault, exposure, sex-for-promotion-propositions, pedophilia, etc. Meanwhile, we’re mixing them all together in our conversations.

The recent deluge of sexual harassment allegations got started with an October 5, 2017, New York Times piece detailing a list of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, then Kevin Spacey, followed by several other Hollywood figures. It seems this broke the dam and women finally feel enough comfort zone to tell their stories, including rape accusations against some of the rich and famous.

The United States Congress is now facing its own sexual harassment Waterloo. Yet to be determined is who was involved and how much public money was used to settle sexual harassment complaints. This follows sexual harassment allegations against Senator Al Franken and Congressman John Conyers.

Professional sports is not unscathed, most recently with high profile Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games due to domestic violence allegations. Many others in all sports, including gymnastics, are now under investigation.

Religion is not without its sexual harassment or abuse problems, from the Catholic Church, 1990 to 2010, to more recent problems among “conservative Evangelicals.” I know from my own experience as a longtime Christian organization administrator that our H.R. offices had to deal with male/female relationship boundaries and inappropriate behavior issues, so this is not just a Hollywood problem.

Not least among concerns is the sexual abuse allegations leveled over time by at least 15 women against then businessman, then candidate, now President Donald Trump. These have gone unresolved. President Trump has denied these allegations, saying they are the products of fake news, media bias or conspiracies, political smear campaigns, or are all just “locker room talk.”

One sidebar here: sexually inappropriate behaviors are not a partisan issue. Neither Republicans or Democrats have a clean record and neither party is much of an example about how to properly deal with moral or ethical breaches of its members. 

Let’s pause for some delineations:

Sexual abuse can occur in several different ways: pedophilia or incest, sexual harassment, sexual assault involving force, e.g. rape or sodomy, domestic violence, exhibitionism or exposure, unwanted sexual touching, obscene phone calls or texts, and more.  Sexual abuse is also known as molestation. When force is involved, it's called sexual assault. Sexual harassment can occur in many different forms in the workplace, much of it about power as much as sex.

In sports, some 90% of sexual abuse involves an older male and a younger female. All other possible age and gender combinations are represented in the last 10%. Likely this distribution applies throughout society.

The fact that sexual harassment allegations are pouring forth may be disheartening but they also might be looked upon as purifying. Finally, women are in a position to state their case and push for social change in how they're treated in the workplace and anywhere else they choose to go. 

On a moral basis the way forward is clear (and should have been clear long before). Men and women should treat each other with respect. Men and women should not cross moral boundaries, i.e. not engage in sexually related references and conversations, and certainly not engage in sexually related touching outside the bounds of preferably lifelong, monogamous marriage. If men and women observed moral boundaries, most sexually related incidents, "mistakes," grievances, or crimes would be eliminated.

So the need is not for more anti-sexual harassment training, not for more sensitivity orientation, not for more legal definitions, not for more H.R. policies, not even, I think, on an individual level for “therapy,” but for a renewal of common sense, religiously-based private and public morality. We all need a moral code to live by, and to "fix" this national problem, we must start with the heart, not the mind or even the body.

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

*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.