Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

Bill-Cosby-Sweater_t580

Over my life I have seen a strong shift in the media’s portrayal of dads and men.

On TV, for example, I can remember watching Diff’rent Strokes, The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss?, and Full House. The dads, adopted dads or live-in dads weren’t always saints in these shows but they were the leaders of their families despite success and/or being widowed.

albundyAs I grew, Al Bundy of Married with Children and Ray Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond became the standard depiction of men on TV…lazy, irresponsible and disconnected.

Ray was a momma’s boy who couldn’t untether. While funny, his lack of leadership is nauseating. Al was abusive to his kids and wife, lazy on the job and at home and an all-around dirtbag. The Art of Manliness saysIf you want a lesson on how not to be a man, watch Married with Children.

Regardless your thoughts about Aristotelian mimesis, the media’s portrayal of men and dads has not been a positive contribution to society.

Research clearly shows us a couple of things. 1) Bad dads are bad for kids and society. 2) Good dads are good for kids and society. See here, here and here.

Aside from cultural norms, ancient philosophies and scientific research, I believe this portrayal of dads is a spiritual battle. Hollywood’s assault on fathers undermines Scripture’s clear call for men, more specifically husbands and dads, to be the leaders in their homes.

Scripture teaches that, for a wife, disrespecting her husband is sinful (likewise for the husband who doesn’t love his wife).

In Ephesians, Paul writes

Each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
Much has been written about these complementary phrases. The proven principle is this…when a husband loves his wife, she respects him more. When a wife respects her husband, he loves her more.
How many shows or movies do you see couples living this out?
And earlier in the passage…

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.

Here, the Bible shows how marriage is a picture of the Gospel, what God the Son in Christ the Messiah did for us on the cross by taking our sin and then joining us with him through our belief in his finished work. Divine love, divine sacrifice and divine unity. That’s why when one-man/one-woman marriage is attacked, it is this picture of the Gospel that is attacked. (More on that later).

Again, I ask…how many shows or movies do you see couples living this out?

Media can be used in many good ways for the proclamation of the Gospel, but when it comes to highlighting strong, biblical manhood and marriage, it is being used to deceive and destroy the family’s foundation…fathers.

1607096_10202342387435511_1803202478_nNote: This is not a fitness post. 

Recently, the local YMCA posted a picture on their Facebook page advertising all their updated work out equipment…new dumbbells, cable machines, benches and all the assorted accessories and weights. So, I decided to go back and check it out.

Being nearly a year since my last visit to this gym, I was impressed with the new layout of the floor and the equipment. Something caught my eye; nearly the same regular 5 a.m., crowd (about 25 people) was there.

When you are a regular at a gym, church, or wherever, you’ll notice how people use the same locker, sit in the same pew/aisle, etc. After a while, you register their patterns and their behavior becomes somewhat predictable. For example, there was the same older gentleman doing the same exercises on new equipment, the beefy dude doing the same beefy dude movements, the same endurance runner running on the new treadmill, and the same middle-aged mom on the new elliptical. 

What really got me thinking was that they all looked the same to me as they did a year ago. None of the bodybuilders looked bigger and some of my flabbier acquaintances were still, uh, flabby.

Some people go to the gym to “maintain” their fitness or physique, but if you ask around, most people would say they have fitness goals.

What had these people not done differently in the last year? Why did it appear to me that they were in the same routine getting the same level of progress?

Mark Twain is credited as saying, “You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”

This applies to us in the gym, our marriages, our spiritual journey, our professions, our family, our parenting, ad nauseum.

Jay Platt before his final climb on the Appalachian Trail in 1999.

Many years ago, I met a highly motivated individual named Jay Platt. I was on an assignment from a local newspaper to cover this man’s thru-hike of the Appalachian Trial.

Jay had recently been medically retired from the Marine Corps due to a rare form of cancer, and he was on a mission to raise awareness and money for cancer research. Jay was missing an eye and had tumors on his brain and spinal cord. He was an inspiration to many in many definitions of the word.

Jay raised about $100,000 on his thru-hike and left a life-long impression on me about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

In his recent Huffington Post article, entitled “Do You Do It in the Rain?,” he had this to say about progress…

It was a cold January morning, and I was just finishing up a three-mile run. I was soaked to the bone. It had been raining when I started and was raining even heavier now. As I turned the corner to head home, a blue minivan pulled up beside me. The driver side window eased down a bit, and I could see it was my neighbor from up the street.

In a rather sarcastic voice, she said to me, “Don’t you know it’s raining out here? And they’re calling for more.” I just smiled and replied, “I know. I know.” I then continued on my way.

Her comments got me to thinking though, and so now I want to ask you. Do you do it in the rain? Well, do you?

Now, don’t misunderstand my question. I know I have been talking about running here, but “doing it in the rain” could be a lot of things. Anything that you really want.

I don’t know your answer, but I can tell you that most people simply do NOT do it in the rain. On a nice sunny day, sure. They are committed then. Big time. But not on the days when it’s nasty. When anyone with “good sense” would remain inside.

The truth is, if you want to accomplish the truly big goals in life you’re going to have to have the kind of mindset that will get you out there doing what you have to do. In good weather and bad. When you feel like it and when you don’t. Day in and day out.

Are you setting goals? Are you in a rut in your life? What needs to change in your life today?

As Jay points out, “Doing it in the rain” can make the difference between success and failure.

I know it’s hard to find a new fitness routine, change your diet, speak kind words to a spouse who has hurt you deeply, forgive a family member or friend. But it’s time.

For what’s it worth…I gained 20 pounds since last year and not the good kind of weight.

Fill in the blank, it’s OK to kill a baby in the womb when…

Right now, an entire generation of people are gone. 53 million people in fact. They could’ve been your neighbors, your friends, your coworkers, your family. Today on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, here’s a compelling video about asking honest, intelligent questions about abortion.

 

Behind the Wheel of Death

Posted: January 7, 2014 in opinion
Tags: , , , ,

Cars are like slow, powerful bullets.

Who would get on a trampoline with someone who had loaded weapon in their hand with the safety clicked off? That’s idiocy.

But everyday we get on the road with people driving dangerously, taking risks and neglecting to care for themselves and others. And I absolutely hate that my daily drive in to work is the most dangerous thing I’ll ever do.

It’s striking the power other people can have over your life. Their Facebook post, their text or tweet, their love of liquor or just their desire to drive faster than you could keep you from going home to your spouse and kids today.

Here in Tennessee alone, there have been eight people killed in car crashes by the time of this posting on Jan. 7th. That’s eight people in seven days. Last year, nearly 1,000 died on Tennessee’s roads. How many of these “accidental” deaths were preventable?

We all mistakes, myself included. Sometimes we make mistakes while driving. And here’s an ad from New Zealand that is just WOW…

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The tragedy in Newtown is so incredibly heart breaking. I can scarcely take it in.

As the nation grieves with Newtown, people around us are searching for answers to some of life’s deepest and most basic questions, such as, “Where was God?” and, “How could God allow evil?”

When evil is expressed at this magnitude it knocks us off our routines of relative comfort. Our base survival instincts heighten and fear can often set in.

Those on the political left are blaming semi-automatic weapons. Some blame Hollywood. Those on the political right are mostly silent, and as in most arguments, the side not talking often loses.

A dialogue needs to take place on many fronts, such as gun control, mental health issues, school security, freedom versus government overreach, influence of video games, Hollywood’s glamorization of violence and the early detection of possible psychopaths.

I’d also like to add a subject – fatherhood.

All of the mass school killings in recent history had two things in common, semi-automatic weapons and young males.

What is so broken in our culture that empowers young males to kill innocent, lovely children? Where were all the shooters’ dads?

There has been minimal news coverage on the Sandy Hook shooter’s father. We know he is wealthy and was divorced from the shooter’s mother. But, there is plenty of coverage on the dead mother. In just a few minutes you can know the name of her favorite bar, how many guns she owned, what kind of medication she gave her son, ad nauseam.

Our culture has marginalized men and fathers and for good reason. Now, 40 percent of all children are raised in homes without their biological fathers.

These statistics are indicative of a culture where fathers are weak, unnecessary and absent. The result of a broken house is a broken family. Broken families lead to a broken society. Broken societies don’t value life.

The bottom line is that our culture must change and these senseless shootings must stop.

I don’t believe we’ll see a decrease in psychopathic acts of violence until our society 1) acknowledges the collapse of the American family and 2) engages a serious reconsideration about the role of fathers.

Read my earlier post titled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Father.”

This fictional post is a reaction piece to Liza Long’s “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” Long’s brutal and honest article is a powerful read about the tragic loss in Newtown addressing the mental health element in the midst of this national catastrophe and conversation.

Let me also preface this post by adding that this is not a personal attack on the Newtown shooter’s father rather a commentary on the state of fatherhood in America.

Newton Political Cartoon

Three days before 20 first-graders were gunned down in Connecticut, I wasn’t anywhere near my family. In fact, I haven’t spent much time with my two sons at all over the last four years.

You see, I gave up on my marriage several years before my divorce. I literally walked out on my kids and left my wife to raise them alone.

Like many other men, I loved my wife when we first married, but her nagging wore me out.

Then, similar to other couples in trouble, we thought having kids would “fix” us.

At first, I enjoyed being a dad. But as they grew older, I grew less interesting and they less fun.

Leading my home and raising my children was exhausting and never-ending. Our special needs child was particularly challenging. Sure, he was intelligent and strong-willed, but sometimes I wished my autistic son had been born, well, less special.

I didn’t live with my mentally ill son, so I didn’t see when he started slipping. My ex-wife had to bear that responsibility alone. She had to cope with his frequent meltdowns. At first, she was physically stronger than him, but as he matured, she grew to fear his violent outbursts and irrational, uncontrollable and temporary insanity.

Overall, my home life was just too hard. I was overwhelmed by the constant need to make good decisions. Every little mistake I made impacted others. I didn’t “sign up” for all of that.

When asked about my failed marriage, I blame “irreconcilable differences,” but inside I know I really abandoned my family to pursue my selfish, adolescent desires.

I don’t see what all the fuss is about; fathers don’t do much anyway. We can’t grow a baby inside of us. We can’t experience the pains of childbirth or the intimacy of breastfeeding. How important are we really?

Women do a great job of raising children on their own. Women are right; they don’t need men and are often better off without one. Dads really only get in the way.

I really love my sons, but I left them to be raised by their mother.

“They’ll be alright,” I told myself. “I didn’t grow up with a dad around and I turned out ok.”

Seeing my kids on court-appointed days was weird at first. Then it became normal.

Missing important events was expected. Working long hours paid the alimony and child-support and kept the judges and lawyers off my back.

The distance made it hard for me to discipline them on a regular basis. The distance hindered us from developing deep relationships, so my sons learned about the “real world” on their own.

I wasn’t there to guide my sons into manhood. I didn’t teach them to love and respect their mother. I especially failed at teaching my children to value and protect the gift of life.

Looking back I see that I was unprepared for family life. I was still a boy who hadn’t put away the things of my youth. I was ruled by narcissism.

I was weak, unnecessary, absent. It made me sad to see what my son had become.

What was I supposed to do? I was powerless to stop what happened inside my son and inside that school.

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What 7-year-old boy would want this?

The Swedish have lost their minds.

They are so scared of “boys being boys” that they forced the Swedish “Toys R Us” to create a gender-neutral toy catalogue.

This government-forced marketing device shows boys playing with dolls and girls playing with dumptrucks. Check it out for yourself here.

The Atlantic has a disturbing piece about the Swede’s overboard gender-equality crusade, called “You Can Give a Boy a Doll, But You Can’t Make Him Play With It.”

Below are a few product shots. Captions are mine.

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This guy looks like he’s about to shove the whole Barbie house over.

That hair dryer is likely to become a pistol and that beauty belt holds all his crime-fighting tools.

That hair dryer is likely to become a pistol and that beauty belt holds all his crime-fighting tools.