Highbanks Road – The Introduction

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody who stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” ~Abraham Lincoln

 

We called him the most trusted man in America. It seems so very long ago.

But each evening for two decades an expectant public kept a collective appointment with Walter Cronkite as he delivered the nightly news to a nation desperately searching its own identity in an era that shaped us, arguably as no other.
The experts said Cronkite’s stellar reputation evolved from a strong work ethic, impeccable timing, and unique brand of heartland cadence. Beyond tone and timing he also wisely knew when the moment called for silence. His wife once told Parade magazine she thought he simply came across like the family dentist.

Shortly after the new year in 1962 Cronkite gave a legendary account as astronaut John Glenn made three orbits around earth pioneering a decade of space exploration. A year later he struggled holding back tears delivering the news of President John Kennedy’s assassination. On April 4, 1968, you could sense the broadcast veteran’s suppressed anxiety reporting Martin Luther King’s murder in Memphis. He would wring his hands and rejoice as Neil Armstrong made his way slowly down the lunar module ladder planting man’s first footsteps on the moon. His words: “By golly, I’m speechless.”

After thousands of young lives were lost for an unknown cause Cronkite told us the Vietnam War would not be won. He reported that our president betrayed the sacred oath of office.

Even today a quick search for “most trusted man” will produce Walter Cronkite’s photo at the top of the list.

Fast forward almost fifty years. The polar realities are staggering.

Public officials elected to the government’s highest levels use strategies once unimagined to drive conflict, division, and misunderstanding. Incredulous conspiracy theories now originate at the top. We speak of alternative facts, the non-existence of facts, and are told we’re not seeing what our eyes just witnessed, or perceiving what our ears just heard. It didn’t happen. It was fake, phony, and a fraud. And by the way, your microwave may be watching you.

There’s a harsh reality about fake news that we don’t much discuss. Falsity is not promoted and cannot be widely disbursed in a vacuum. The high-octane fuel for today’s fake news is a population willing to accept any and all information supporting its current viewpoint regardless of the narrow a source from which that viewpoint developed. Fake news originators just light the match. It’s the virtually brainwashed cheerleaders who breathe contagious life into the fire.

In the present day we so vehemently wish for truth in certain circumstances that we instinctively ignore the contrary facts and declare them true. This is especially true with our labeled identities that for some reason have become all important. In the process we’ve lost touch with the fundamental reality that such hope doesn’t make something true. We’re unwilling to consider as the faintest possibility that our opinion may be wrong.

Stable institutions, long a part of the nation’s history, are now weaponized against us in a manner that divides families, friends, and once like-minded groups with common purpose. It wounds relationships as a jagged knife, creating toxic animosity, and destroying community.

As we find ourselves in a national environment where there is no longer a fundamental factual baseline for truth on which we agree, many are soulfully searching their relationships once sustained by love where it now seems there may never have any shared common values to start. And so we mourn the unforeseen loss of friends with grievous pain and wonder how it happened so fast. The wounds from our blindside are often the most difficult we bear.

All is lost in the former world of compromise, common good, diplomacy, and respect. Our mouths are fouler, our minds and spirits more self-centered, and it’s a new era when so many now believe that by shutting the other side down or shutting them up, we’ve somehow revealed the truth. Social media’s passive nature is helping civility all but vanish and we are downright hateful toward anyone expressing a contrary opinion. The cost of our self-righteousness is coming at an irredeemable price.

This calculated manipulation to divide community is compounded by modern realities and a proven history showing that all good things eventually get hijacked and used for the self-serving alternative purposes of those in power. Trust and unity simply aren’t good for the new world economy.

It’s caused a painful anxiety for me because it’s especially true in the two areas most representing the core of my own identity—mass media and Christianity.

Denying the parasitical relationship between egocentric public servants and the broadcast news networks is a fool’s game. We’ve all watched it develop at an especially alarming rate during the last two years. The broadcast media’s former sense of responsibility has evolved to an anything-goes reporting style and a complete willingness, even an eagerness, permitting the manipulation of their resources at a moment’s notice. The self promotion of both parties, public servant, and media, is disguised as breaking news. There is no drama that is too much drama. Across the spectrum of time an irresponsible viewership becomes desensitized, sees it all as the new norm, and accepts, even models, the new and crazed behavior that both the media and the leadership promote to keep a sheeplike public off balance. We’ve completely taken the bait.

The Christian label is a word I no longer know how to use, because I honestly no longer know what it means. Everything I see, read, or hear indicates something different. I do know, however, what my friends in the non-Christian community tell me they see.


They see wealthy mega-churches locking their doors in towns where people just down the street have no food, water, or shelter in the wake of devastating floods. They see charismatic, bible-toting men of God recounting their divine revelations about the need for jet planes. They see prominent evangelical leaders cozying up to publicly endorse political candidates and posing for photos as those photos also capture the candidate’s image on a framed copy of Playboy magazine in the background. Non-believers see the evangelical community embrace public figures who mock the disabled, strategically and methodically steal from the poor and pay them off for pennies on the dollar, and who use the foulest language in the book referencing the homelands of the most brokenhearted people groups. You’ll find the gospel proclaimers espousing so many of these ideas along the shelves of your local bookstore in the sections labeled “Christian Living.”

These things are difficult to reconcile and any Christian who scoffs at the notions should try having the conversation with an atheist or agnostic. If we can’t have these conversations it’s time for some serious self-examination of the heart.

But this book isn’t about politics or the media. It’s not even really about religion. In a new era apparently forever absent public figures like Walter Cronkite, it’s about the ongoing quest pursuing answers to the most important question I’ve ever asked myself, and I believe the most important question of our time.

“Whom shall we trust?”

In 2010 I began a slow, on-again, off-again recovery from the deepest and most agonizing of my bouts with depression. When the fog from that episode eventually cleared nothing else came close to the new thing that became most important. I wanted to know what I believed and why. And this meant trusting someone or some thing—completely.

I’ve pursued the answer to this question ever since, and never looked back.

I was already a Christian, but a black and white Christian who now believed there was so much more to see. I was hungry for the color of it all.

In his book, Falling Upward, Father Richard Rohr says, “There is a God-size hole in all of us, waiting to be filled. God creates the very dissatisfaction that only grace and finally divine love can satisfy.”

As writers, we’re told to avoid clichés like the plague. In all the metaphors and all the parables, you’ll never hear me talk about going on a journey. I’m so sick of journeys. Everyone and their brother is on one these days. Talk to people about your journey and they’ll probably yawn.

But talk to them about your quest and everything suddenly changes.

My quest for the truth began thirty-four years ago on a dead-end country thoroughfare in the middle of nowhere.

The quest I’m still on today began on Highbanks Road.

The WHY Behind the WHAT

A couple of things happened over the weekend reinforcing my belief that Pilgrim Strong has a relevant message for the times.
Chasing the Great American Eclipse, Dana and I enjoyed some quality time with fellow pilgrims, in, and around, Kansas City, MO. During this time a few people asked about my book’s message.
Explaining it’s not the typical “camino” book, I shared with them my personal desire to understand not only WHAT I believed as core truth, but WHY I believed it.
Some people asked immediately, “Why is the WHAT not enough? Why can’t we just know WHAT we believe?”
After an exhausting trip home through horrendous traffic and two days of flooding storms, Dana and I just wanted to relax Tuesday night, and we turned to a Netflix documentary I’d saved several weeks ago about self-help guru Tony Robbins. Interestingly, the documentary is titled, “I’m Not Your Guru.”
It’s a fascinating film featuring a behind-the-scenes look at Robbins’ week-long annual event called Date With Destiny.  In it, Robbins gets up close and very personal with participants who pay $5,000 a head in hope of life-changing revelation.
Watching, I was reminded of these lines in the Pilgrim Strong afterword:
“It’s in the best interest of some of the world’s most prominent public figures that you buy into their truth.
What in the world are we to do? As the apostle Peter begged … Lord, to whom shall we go?
Without anchor points and a truth that has a fixed North Star quality, we’ll be as subject to alter our idea of the truth as often as the next convincing guru comes along. This much is true: whether you’re running for public office, or selling books, or preaching a sermon, or organizing and leading groups you may do it either of two ways—appeal to the worst in people, or speak to the best in them. Both methods work, but count the cost.
For all the years leading up to my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, I knew what I believed. But the what was no longer enough. I needed the why in the equation.”
Let me just reinforce a quick line from that text: “Without anchor points and a truth that has a fixed North Star quality, we’ll be a subject to alter our idea of the truth as often as the next convincing guru comes along.”
Never has it been more important to understand deep, down inside ourselves WHY we believe WHAT we believe.

Pilgrim Strong (Prologue Excerpt)

Strength is so misunderstood. At times it seems the most elusive of our heart’s desires. But because there’s no other choice, we must go looking.

The search for strength is a daily ordeal unconfined by time, place, or cause, but at some point today, you’ll search your reserves for strength. It’s our ongoing, solo quest, the loneliest walk we’ll ever take. No one will find your strength for you.

The good news is every time the sun rises in the east a second chance gets born. Failure is more than just an option in the process of growing strong, it’s a necessary part of the equation. As the darkness gives way to the light, so graciously renewed is our second chance at finding strength. It happened today, will again tomorrow, and the next. Embrace the failure. It means you tried.

***

The pursuit for strength has many trails, and yet they all lead to the same place. If only we understood that better. No matter how we get there, our strength is founded in the things we most fundamentally believe, and moreover, the things in which we place our greatest faith.

Everyone has faith. Want to find your strength? The crusade begins in searching two answers in a simple question. Where is my faith, and why? The where is easy. The why so complex that many fumble and stumble for the words articulating an answer. As we avoid the hard work of asking ourselves the difficult questions, we may spend a lifetime never knowing the “why,” and that’s a real shame. We owe this knowledge to ourselves.

Maybe knowing the answer for sure is too much a commitment. Maybe there’s too much dogma involved in finding a fixed, finite reasoning. Some people are comfortable not knowing. If only we realized that faith isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Faith will never be void of all doubt, but rather a never-ending adventure and a desire for knowledge based on an inkling of some belief. I reached a personal breaking point that so penetrated my soul, the desire to chase the why surpassed everything.

I ached for the knowledge of the why.

Absent the knowledge of the why, our strength is built on a house of cards and teeters mercifully unsure through life’s blowing winds. All we can really do is hope everything holds together and wonder if we’ll be strong enough to make it through the next ordeal. But the next chance to find our strength is coming soon, this much we know. The next valley is just beyond the present plateau.

Knowing the why is the most important part of our strength. It’s out there, and our destiny is finding it.

But we must stand at the mirror and ask some tough questions.

And then, we must go looking.

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2016: My Year-End Review (Part 2 of 4)

(Blogger’s Note: This is the second in a series of year-end blog posts focusing on milestones and challenges in both the old year, and the new.)

“Never get into a fight with a pig in the mud. You get dirty, and the pig loves it.” ~ unknown

It’s not easy to say something that’s practically contrary your very nature, so at the beginning I should first say this:

I have peace. Never have I felt less conflicted about priorities, truth, and the pursuit for growth. And I wish the same peace for you.

Because it happened to me for three long years, and because I’ve lived up close and personal with chronic depression, no one hates a gloom-and-doom outlook more than me. At the slightest hint of gloom and doom, I run. So, there is no great pleasure in the paragraph that follows:

The New Year forebodes the makings of a perfect storm. It reveals a potential like never before to rob us of the things we’ve always claimed as important – things like civility, truth, kindness, charity and an overall goodwill toward humanity.  screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-5-46-09-amIt has the potential for a complete societal reset, destroying decency and bringing new vigor to a shallow, watered-down life of meaningless, labeled identities. And if the New Year takes us there, further than we’ve already gone down that path in 2016, it’s a long road back home. The Prodigal Son had to walk that road when he found himself wallowing with pigs.

Cults have thrived on less well-developed story lines than the one already coming together for 2017. And lest I remind you of a place called Jonestown in 1978. It didn’t turn out well for those who got caught up in the story. There was a devastating metaphor that evolved from that tragedy. It’s now known as “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

Whether you realize it or not, whether you want to believe it or not, even if you immediately deny it as true, as many will – it is true. We’re ripe for a breakdown. I hate writing those words from which I’d normally run.

All this comes not from some lingering frustration over an election, not from loyalty to any polarizing labels that dictate false ideas like “binary choices,” not from any agenda at all, but rather from my own experience in public service and a lifetime of working in, and studying mass media communication. And if you know me, I’ve been writing with melancholy about a deteriorating media for years.

Everything I’ve seen and experienced in the world of public service and mass media points to six foundational components that warn of a seismic societal shift. There are many others and I’ll write about those tomorrow, but the six that follow are critical:

  1. New leadership in the United States is gifted at mass media manipulation like no leadership we’ve seen. Void of substance, it’s based on a keen understanding of bait and switch techniques and preys on demographic vulnerabilities and emotions that couldn’t be further removed from our best interests. It’s the ultimate exhibition in distractive technique. The product, just as intended, is polarizing conflict and division.
  2. By and large, mainstream media lost its objectivity 20 years ago when the economics of survival dictated the need for demographic-directed programming. Pure, pristine news coverage that allows consumers to evaluate world affairs for themselves is long a thing of the past. What mass media now requires is the perpetuation of an ongoing, drama-infused, conflict-driven story. And it needs you to keep watching.
  3. The two circumstances above create a parasitical relationship as never seen before.  screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-2-28-59-amWhile the leadership and the media want you to believe there’s a dramatic, enemy-like tension between them, nothing could be further from the truth. Each feeds off, and perpetuates the other. They are bed partners. Don’t play into the false narrative of their check and balance system. This dysfunctional relationship is the most dangerous thing, foreign or domestic, the US has ever faced. Truth is, it’s the new enemy.
  4. Self-centered, self-interest is now modeled for us at the highest levels. Do you know what creates big changes over time? Exposure. The more we’re exposed to certain behaviors, the more acceptable and adoptive they become. Modeled behavior shapes both the good and the bad, and can do so in big numbers.
  5. If you love words as I do, you might notice two rapidly growing trends: (1) the shifting perceived definition of words that have generally been foundational to an American society (e.g. evangelical, Christian, marriage, truth, man, woman, gender, sex, etc.); and (2) a new kind of empty language aimed at diffusing certain historically narrowly defined truths  (e.g. May the Universe send you light, love, positivity and special vibes today.) These new definitions and the new evolving language speak nothing of substance outside a desire to be gods and goddesses of self. It’s thus consistent with the modeling cited above.
  6. We’re having great difficulty distinguishing patriotism from religious fervor.

I’ve written a lot lately about our need for information filters and anchor points. They may be the two most important foundations for a meaningful and happy life in 2017. Never has the simple idea of “responsibility for self” been more important. A new world demands that we rededicate to some basic, yet important decisions to help us guard our hearts and our heads.

In the next two days, I’ll expand on the challenges I see in 2017, and some practical ways I believe we can anchor ourselves in the blowing winds of a post-truth world.

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7 Things That Changed My Life

It’ll change your life …

In a world that notices only the extreme as noteworthy, and where everything in  between is lost for attention, it’s something we hear more often than we really should.

Certain things give us new, yet often fleeting perspectives. We may alter habits for a time. Still, few things really, truly change our lives. These are seven things to which I can point that really have changed my life:

Unconditional Love. The moment captured in this photo changed life at my core. With Dana, I learned the lesson of unconditional love – that is love that exists above every cakeother worldly thing. She is always there, always my partner, never wavering, committed, in spite of every screw up or crazy idea or thoughtless inaction I may impose on our relationship. She stands solidly with me, and I never wonder about it. There’s incredible freedom in that love. It opens up a world that allows me to be me. And knowing that kind of love on earth teaches us a lot about God’s love for us all. As close as can be, it replicates His love, and it’s exactly why the marriage covenant is so important. He chose that relationship above all others to represent His love for the church. Knowing Dana brought me closer to God. I’ve written before that when I see Dana, I see Jesus.

My Father’s Death. If you read the “About” page on this site, toward the bottom you’ll see a time I note as a personal defining moment. It happened in the last 10 days of a hospital stay when my dad ultimately passed away. Without many details, toward those final days, Daddy asked for a baptism. The church pastor who showed up refused the ceremony (and that’s all baptism is, by the way) because the environment and circumstances didn’t permit him to conduct a “full immersion” baptism. His doctrinal belief about water trumped the circumstance of a dying man’s request. For years, I let this radically (and wrongly) affect my view of the organized church. The anger persisted more than two years and I mostly stayed away. I’ve come to realize, however, it was a man’s misjudgment, and I choose to believe it wasn’t in the character of the gospel church – not by way of the bible I read, anyway. Because of it all I see church now for what it really is – a gathering of imperfect people doing their best. I’m at peace with church now, and it has newfound importance for me.

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 7.22.45 AMLatin America. In 2012, Dana and I  committed  a part of our lives to Ecuador. More than any other thing, our time there shapes my understanding of a world beyond Arkansas. Wherever I am today, I’m better because of the time we spend there. Ecuador is my healing ground, and everyone needs a place like that.

The Recession. In 2009, I was still young and inexperienced enough not to see it coming. Mostly because I’d never seen anything like it before. It was beyond my comprehension that you could make lots of money one day, and the stream could completely dry up the next. Just vanish. That time reshaped my understanding about the purpose we have for our own life, versus God’s purpose for us.

Depression. That’s exactly what followed the recession. About four years of it. Chronic,  deep, dark, and void. I never really thought I’d see the other side of it. After a slow, one-day-at-a-time recovery from depression, there was a moment that changed my life, and I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but my personal mission completely changed. All I wanted was a knowledge of the truth. It’s core to my purpose now and I reject time spent in any other realm. Truth is nothing to be self-righteous about, but worthy of every pursuit.

Pilgrimage. I went to the Camino de Santiago last year for multiple reasons, and even with certain expectations and assumptions, almost none of which were true. In the Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 7.20.29 AMmonths prior to departure I read volumes of material and engaged in conversations with pilgrims who’d gone before. So much of the thematic message was that pilgrimage would “change my life.” It did, and yet it didn’t. I found the pilgrimage experience, rather than change, made me much more of who I already was. It confirmed for me that I’m headed down the right path. Ultimately, pilgrimage helped me reclaim my life’s calling. It’s another place where I’ve found so much freedom.

Understanding Labels. It’s probably the most recent life-changing revelation I’ve had, relative to my faith, and corresponds with my philosophy about truth. Just a short time ago, it was polite to avoid labels because of the stereotypes it projected. That’s less a concern now since we’ve entered into a new time where word definition perceptions evolve and change with a new acceleration. It’s a complicated explanation for how it all happens, but words are shifting “genres.” By and large, “evangelical” is no longer a religious word. Rather, it’s a political word, and in the process, it’s become misconstrued. Same with “church,” and “christian” and so on. It’s about commercialism as well. Just because a book rests on the “christian” shelf at your local bookstore – well, that doesn’t make it necessarily so. It’s a tough predicament for a word guy. As words and labels evolve I find almost no descriptors for who I am.

Because of it all I think it’s never been more important to know what we believe, and why.

Maybe my best descriptor is “ragamuffin.”

It’s the title of a favorite biographical movie, and finds definition when a mentor shares its meaning with songwriter Rich Mullins, who died in 1997.

Ragamuffin – a ragamuffin knows he’s nothing more than a beggar at the door of God’s mercy.

I’m okay with that.

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Clean Slate: A Vision

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Prologue

One of the favorite things about my life in recent years is a growing diversity of friendships. I have friends of every color and creed across six continents, representing many religions, as well as atheists and agnostics. I’m not just talking about acquaintances. These are actual friends. People I care about.

In a world where I can share a message in daily writings at the push of a button, it creates an interesting balancing act to share a mainstream message in a group that’s so different.

Upsetting someone with a dogmatic point of view wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but it’s not what my voice is about. I’m not a big believer in walls. I like people who are different from me. There’s comfort in a big tent.

The challenge is that I do, in fact, have a pretty dogmatic “religious” perspective that’s the very foundation of who I am, and also how I see the world. Still yet, I’d never beat anyone over the head with it. Plenty others have gone that route. It doesn’t work. We all know it.

There’s a juxtaposition for an objective journalist who also likes to write from the heart. How I “say” what I write is a constant source of inner conflict. It keeps me up at night.

Finally, know this: If you’re gracious enough to visit this site and read, I care enough about you that I’d never lead you astray. I’d never share anything with you that isn’t true. This really happened.

Now, on with the story …

***

In Spring 2009, my depression reached critical mass. I hadn’t worked at a real job for six months, carried some heavy relational baggage, and the truth is, I thought I was going to hell for eternity. I believed God erased my name from the book. I’d been taught better. In fact, I knew better. But that’s how depression, and the enemy work. They strike at the very heart of your greatest vulnerability. Completely without purpose now, I can’t convey for you in words how much my heart hurt. I was broken.

I’d taken mostly to the safety of our home where I could keep the doors and windows closed. Walking to the mailbox was a big deal when I could force it. The yard went unmowed. I rarely took out the trash. Sleep was the best escape when I could manage it.

Dana walked me through the greatest part of it all and did the things that needed to be done. She joined me in a nap one weekday afternoon as the rest of the world did normal stuff. Unusually peaceful, no tossing or turning, I faded off.

What happened next wasn’t a dream. I’ve had dreams. This wasn’t one. It took me years to actually put words to it. This was an all-encompassing, seamless experience with no boundaries or definition. It was an otherly realm.

I found myself in a man’s arms, holding me as if a child. He was seated on a big rock, just holding me. There was no verbal exchange. It wasn’t necessary. We were completely at peace together. He rocked me gently and stroked my arm. I was so content. Finally. Some rest.

It was Jesus.

Moments later my focus shifted as he reached to the ground and picked up a large, flat object. I recognized it as a piece of natural slate. You could have written on it with a piece of chalk.

With his palm and forearm, Jesus reached to one side of the rock, and made a slow, smooth, purposeful motion across it, as if to wipe the slate clean. We still didn’t speak, but I understood. And that was it.

There was no time, space or dimension to any of it. I’m giving you the best words I have, though they seem completely inadequate.

I woke up, still very much at peace wondering if I’d really just experienced what I thought. Was that a vision?  Now, seven years later, I’m convinced that’s exactly what it was.

***

God works in mysterious ways. I’m not sure why He shared that experience with me, in that way, and at that time. I think it maybe it was because He knew in my own free will I might’ve done something really stupid. And He wasn’t finished with me yet. Not here. Not yet.

It took me five years to share that story with anyone, and until now it’s only been shared with two people. It was an experience so genuine and pure I felt it might somehow be diminished if I talked out loud about it. Or maybe people would just think I’m crazy. Of course, Dana was the first. She didn’t think I was crazy. She understood. The second was my Camino de Santiago pilgrim friend, Naomi.

A typical slate roof in Galicia, Spain. I saw lots of this on the Camino de Santiago.

A typical slate roof in Galicia, Spain. I saw lots of this on the Camino de Santiago.

Galicia is the last of the three distinct geographic regions on the Camino. It’s spectacular country. As we transitioned gradually from the Meseta into Galicia, I noticed little bits along the roadway in the beginning. Then they became much larger. Then there were fences and rooftops and buildings constructed from it.

There was slate everywhere.

It looked just like the slate in my vision. I couldn’t help but think how significant it was to see clean slate everywhere as I walked the final steps to Santiago. Yes, God works in mysterious ways, indeed.

A clean slate.

For me, that story represents the power of this day.

Happy Easter.

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The Absolute Worst Trends of 2015

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… in no particular order…

1. The increasingly casual remark of putting others in our “thoughts and prayers” as an expression to pretend we care.

2. Sending “good vibes” to one another. What’s a vibe? How do you send it? And how do I receive it? Does it show up on my utility bill? Those words literally make me cringe.

3. An evolving, growing shift from a primary focus to love and have genuine concern for other people, to a love for, fascination with, and almost worship of,  animals. There’s some deep, disturbing, profound sociology/psychology there.

4. Mainstream media’s (particularly cable broadcast news’) evolution from at least pretending that it still seeks to inform you, to its complete disregard for that idea, and blatantly acknowledging it cares only to entertain, divide and create conflict between you and your fellow man so that it may perpetuate its own interests at any cost.

“SuperPacs may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS.” ~ CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves.

5. The growing notion that somehow “the universe” will provide all our needs if we’ll just be open to that idea, and listen to it.

6. The crystal clear evidence that so very many young adults in their 20s and 30s have absolutely no idea who they are, or where they’re going because they were raised by a generation of parents in their 40s and 50s who had no idea what they were doing.

7. The idea that “religious liberty” somehow also means all things can be true.

8. “Relevant Truth,” the very idea of which, conflicts itself.

9. The United States’ growing isolationist philosophy based in fear, and propitiated by those most likely to lead the country after the next election cycle.

10. For that matter, fear-based everything.

11. The manner in which we’ve falsely come to believe we’re actively making a difference by expressing our convictions on social media. It’s so serious, most of us no longer even know who we really are.

12. The unnecessary devaluation, and outright ridicule of Christianity as vehicle to legitimate religious liberty for other beliefs.

13. The degree to which we’ve allowed symbolism to heighten our convictions, most of which don’t matter anyway if all you’re going to do is run your mouth about it. See #4 above.

14. Failure to do something (anything) and have civil conversations that can produce real results to keep innocent people from being murdered by the masses in the United States.

15. Bruce Jenner, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, The Duggars, Barack Obama, CNN, FOX News, Starbucks cups, Good Morning America, Disney and more. But moreover, our fascination with each of them.

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