Monthly Archives: December 2013

Totalitarian Mindset

A&E’s recent furor over a personal comment by one of Duck Dynasty’s cast members is offensive and arrogant, to say the least.

But not for the reasons most people assume.

The ability of any one entity (or person) to create a cascade effect ostracizing a person or group of people for something they said smacks of totalitarianism.

One of the basic principles of this nation is the ability of individuals to speak freely, to express themselves without fear of reprisal. It is a right our country risked life and limb to obtain and became the capstone and foundation of our constitution.

Unfortunately, the majority of Americans have no sense of history, no concept of the freedoms they spurn so lightly.

At the time of the American Revolution, British colonists were subject to jail and death at the whim of the British monarch for any word he deemed “inappropriate” or “offensive.” America’s forefathers lived in constant fear of saying the wrong thing.

The right to freely express ideas contrary to public opinion or the nation’s political correctness is the most valuable commodity any people possess.

It seems we have thrown away the one thing people bled and died to win in an effort to obtain popularity and peer approval.

When did we become so thin-skinned that a mere word or difference of opinion turned us into whimpering, crying children demanding that someone “punish” the offender? When are we going to grow up and realize that we might not agree with what someone else believes or says, but we have an obligation and responsibility to defend their right to say it?

“Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it; Those who fail to learn history correctly — why, they are simply doomed.” Achem Dro’hm “The Illusion of Historical Fact” CW 4971

I am deeply afraid that as a nation, we are doomed.

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The Last Page

There is nothing worse than arriving at the final page of a novel and getting sucker punched. You know the feeling–the dust and ashes flavor of having a writer destroy and demoralize a perfectly good novel with a horrible ending. I refer not to writing in itself that is bad, but creating an ending which yanks hope from the reader by killing everyone off, or having the hero fail, and the kingdom fall.

 

Superman dies, Gollum doesn’t save Frodo, the whole world is flooded, and even the ark sinks.

 

 

Not a pleasant prospect, even if it does reflect some aspects of reality. However, I don’t read books for the realism. I read books to escape. If I discover a “gloom-and-doom” author who specializes in dark, depressing, and hopeless, I never read them again. Most of the time I can tell within the first few pages and I put the book down or delete it from my Kindle. What galls me is the author who captivates a reader with great writing, then destroys everything at the end.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love action/adventure and tense thrillers. What I despise are the types of books that portray life as completely cruel and hopeless. Yes, there is cruelty in life and hopelessness, but I do not believe that life is completely hopeless. The good guys do win ultimately and acts of bravery and kindness supersede horrible circumstances.

 

 

Books influence culture; therefore, it is imperative that writers be responsible for the types of worlds they create. If we want people to be heroes, we need to portray heroes as overcomers. If we want people to succeed, we need to offer role models who refuse to quit when obstacles are thrown in their path.

 

 

Maybe the reason our current culture despises heroes is because heroism is the last remnant of a secular culture with ties to Christianity.  If we no longer believe in heroes, then we no longer have to believe in any kind of faith. The light gives way to darkness and baser instincts become law.

 

 

Yet even in the blackest night the stars still shine.  The smallest spark of light obliterates darkness. Ultimately, heroes still exist. Faith still wins. Good prevails.  My Redeemer lives and on the earth will stand again. 

 

In the end, I find myself feeling sorry for those writers who’ve lost their faith and turned their back on the light, who live in darkness of any kind and don’t know the joy and strength of a hero who can overcome all odds.

 

 

Like Naruto, no matter the circumstances, no matter how bleak or terrible or painful life becomes, I will continue to believe in heroes, I will hold fast to that which is good.

 

Being a Risk Taker

If the Cinderella story is about making one’s dreams come true, then Susan Boyle is the quintessential Cinderella of our century. Unless you were asleep a few years ago, or stranded on a desert island, you heard about her as a contestant on one of those reality TV series which purportedly seek the brightest and best, but in reality focus on entertainment by ridiculing, belittling and otherwise tearing down aspiring writers, singers, musicians, inventors, etc.

The series producers thought they had a real winner in Susan. “I want to be a singer,” she said. When they paraded this quiet woman, who looked more like a bag lady, on stage they were set for whoops and hollers. The whoops and hollers followed stunned silence and tears as Sarah opened her mouth and sang. A rich voice, inundated with passion and harmony, swelled and filled the auditorium.

Did her ability happen overnight on that crowded stage? No, it happened over time as Sarah gave voice to her music, maybe in the shower, maybe as she dusted and cleaned, maybe as she worked in the garden. She sang her heart out in private, then sang her heart out in public. She was always a singer–the rest of the world just didn’t know it.

The moment of risk launched her into the limelight. No, she hasn’t made millions and her singing style and music isn’t at the top of the popularity charts. What she lacks in popularity she makes up with character, tone, richness and depth not found in the cacophony and stridency of today’s music scene. She even landed a coveted role in Max Lucado’s current theater production, The Christmas Candle.

The difference between Susan Boyle and the rest of us is that she took a risk.

It takes a certain amount of courage to take a risk, but more than that, it takes the willingness to fail. Our culture rejects failure. We avoid failure, run screaming from it, diminish success by ensuring that “everyone gets a ribbon.” We desire the prize without the sacrifice to produce it.

No bestseller remains locked in a desk drawer. Paintings must splatter pigment on canvas. Music doesn’t exist unless the notes burst forth from lungs and vocal chords.

Risk entails displaying our hopes and dreams before an uncaring world. Risk requires belief in our talents and skills. Risk focuses on the one who likes our work more than the thousands who don’t. Risk demands we step off the zip line platform.

Like Susan, we must risk the boos of the crowd if we want the stunned silence of success.

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