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I am 65 and experiencing things I never thought possible when I was 25, and I’m not talking about technological wonders.

When I was 25,

-No one searched my bag when I went into a church service. Now, in many churches this is a routine security check.

-Culture knew the difference between male and female, sort of a no-brainer. But not anymore. Facebook offers something like 56 gender options and some are arguing there’s more than 70. I’m sometimes confused, but not about this.

-No one policed the infants and children’s areas for fear someone would come to harm or take a child.  I know this is now necessary and am glad for the people who protect children, but I’m saddened by this obvious change in our culture.

-Churches didn’t have special windows in children’s areas not only so people could walk by and enjoy them but to increase the number of “eyes-on” as an accountability to all adults working with or entering among children, thus to protect the children from various kinds of abuse.

-Criminal and financial background checks were not performed for every personnel hire, even within religious nonprofits, because today, there’s too much risk, too much legal exposure for hiring a person who has serious issues.

-No one thought much about it to see a young man walk down a country road with a rifle.

-Most people thought patriotism was a good thing, even hippies leftover from the 60s.

-On trips short and long our children romped freely on a quilt we placed in the back end, back seat down, of our hatchback Chevy Vega (I loved that car), not in car seats made for astronauts.  Now I am not against progress in keeping children safe, of course, but I am forever amazed at how involved and how expensive our kids’ kids’ stuff has now become.

-Politically correct meant we could answer questions about politics and government accurately.

-Gay meant happy. 

Strange changes, not all of which are progress.

 

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.    

Flying over the Rockies on a clear day is an experience I'd wish for anyone. I did it yesterday. 

Reddish pink cliffs, towering to sheer, sharp edges. Flat-topped mesas big enough for airports.

White, deep red, and salmon colored rocky crags surrounded by brown lowlands.

Vast dry lands, then lakes trapped at high elevation.

Massive, jagged peaks chained along miles of high lonesome ranges.

Flatlands suddenly interrupted by rock ridged singular peaks rising hundreds of feet above sandy floored deserts.

Broken country, serrated ridges, canyon upon canyon to infinity. Giant snow-covered summits above the timberline.

Snowy landscape far as the eye can see, lined with thousands of valleys, precipices, oddly shaped pinnacles, and infinite rock formations. 

What looks like desolation is actually unlimited resources, terra firma interspersed with flora of fathomless variety, home to fauna fit for a wilderness. Incredible landscape stretching the length of a continent.

 

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.    

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.