politically (in)correct?

Out on the airwaves there has again arisen a clatter, when the rest of us ask: what’s actually the matter? In the days before Christmas, the annual conversation begins: are these songs offensive?

With a desire to always be respectful of all, let’s honestly unpack some of the songs, each of which is being called on by more than some to retire…

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”…

The catchy tune was written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and won the Academy Award for “Best Original Song” in 1949 when featured in the film, Neptune’s Daughter. It has been re-recorded at least 58 times by 106 celebrities, ranging from Ray Charles and Betty Carter to Martina McBride and Dean Martin to Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé.

Why might the song be offensive? In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it encourages a rape culture in that it pressures the woman to do something she doesn’t want to do, as she repeatedly expresses her desire to go home.

Why might it not? It’s a non-serious song about flirtation. Besides the fact that flirtation is considered an accepted social interaction, this song was written for a husband and wife.

According to Loesser’s daughter, the controversy surrounding this song has increased most substantially since Saturday Night Live utilized it in a 2015 skit, mocking Bill Cosby.

Or… “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”…

This song was written by Johnny Marks based on a 1939 story his brother wrote for the Montgomery Ward Company. Gene Autry later recorded the song, which hit #1 on the U.S. charts during Christmas of 1949. The song was popularized further when it accompanied the similarly named TV special created in 1964.

Why might the song be offensive? It encourages bullying, as due to his red nose, Rudolph is laughed at, called names, and not allowed to “join in any reindeer games.”

Why might it not? The song (and story) are clearly fictional, and in the end, Rudolph becomes the leader and hero, solving the issue at hand precisely because of his uniqueness.

And… “White Christmas”

This winter classic was written by Irving Berlin in 1942, and the version sung by Bing Crosby is the world’s best-selling single with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies.

Why might the song be offensive? It ignores the celebration of Christmas by persons of other skin colors.

Why might it not? The color description refers to snow.

Recognizing the above list is incomplete, let’s reiterate our desire to always be respectful of all, as we summarize the realities in play:

  1. Times change.
  2. Classics may not be appropriate forever.
  3. Offensive to some does not equate to wrong for all.
  4. People feel differently.
  5. Wisdom is gleaned by learning from those who feel differently.

I had one wise friend suppose that the solution is not simply to demand these songs be dismissed. Maybe that’s part of it; maybe it’s not. But the greater growth seems to come in the societal conversation regarding possible, prevalent unhealthy attitudes made manifest in the classic’s content. Such may or may not prompt need for dismissal.

Granted, if such prompts need for dismissal, to be consistent, we may need to examine multiple, non-Christmas songs in regard to their potentially offensive content — some of those rap or pop hits encouraging violence, vulgarity and/or infidelity, for example.

It’s tough, friends. It’s a slippery slope… since what’s offensive to some does not equate to wrong for all. Maybe that’s the question: when does what’s offensive to some equate to wrong for all?

Sounds like once again we need to be respectful, listen, and learn from those who feel differently than we.

Respectfully…

AR

last week’s amazing moments

There are times to be silent and still… to be intentional in observance… taking it all in. Last week was one of those times.

Honoring the life, character, and service of former President George H.W. Bush, persons of influence — varying in politics and profession — gathered to pay their respects to Bush 41…

… Collin Powell and Condoleezza Rice… Peyton Manning, Nolan Ryan, Yao Ming, and J.J. Watt… Prince Charles, Reba McIntire, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger (… have you seen the picture of 41 and Gov. Schwarzenegger actually sledding together at Camp David in 1991??)…

In the second row of the funeral in Washington, D.C. sat all living current or former vice presidents and their spouses. In the first row, sat all living current or former presidents and their spouses.

It was time to be still, to take it all in… time for the raucous responses to stop.

While the day was full of an impressive plethora of pomp and circumstance, two moments stood out in my observance…

One, when former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson spoke…

Known for the rapidity of his wit, Simpson did not disappoint. How wonderful it was to see actual moments when the entire front-row-eight were seemingly belly-laughing in response to Sen. Simpson. 

But Simpson’s wit should not overshadow his wisdom, which was nothing short of both poignant and profound. While he spoke of Bush’s loyalty and friendship and his willingness to take a political hit if another path was perceived wiser, Simpson’s most perspicacious statement was in his succinct description of 41’s character:

“… He was a man of such great humility; those who travel the high road of humility in Washington, D.C., are not bothered by heavy traffic.”

Oh, how wise… how we all need to hear… the recognition that humility is the high road.

Yet there was another moment that stood out more to me — in that time to be silent and still…

When the entire front-row-eight, bowed their heads together…

… were they praying? … were they meditating? … were they talking or listening to God?…

None of us know. We aren’t in the heads and hearts of another and thus need to resist the imprudent lure to judge the exact motivation of another.

But regardless of what we know, there was something in the collective, quiet bow that was incredibly beautiful, rare as such may be. It was the intentional act of deference — the humble submission to someone or something greater than self… an act we don’t often see. What a powerful moment, witnessing those men and women lead us not in any partisan effort or in the fueling of division, arrogance and thus some form of hatred… but rather, pausing… being intentionally silent and still… recognizing there is something bigger and more.

Calling George H.W. Bush “the most decent and honorable person I ever met,” Simpson seemed acutely aware of the gravitas of both his audience and moment. He said of Bush, “He never hated anyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.”

In a day where too many struggle to see that hate only hurts the holder, humility is the high road, and too many refuse to bow to anyone other than self, last week was an excellent time to be silent and still.

Beautifully refreshing, too…

Respectfully…

AR

can everything be changed?

Seriously. If we want it to, can everything be changed? 

Are our feelings enough?

Meet Emile Ratelband. Ratelband is a 69 year old, seemingly charismatic, Dutch television personality. Self-described as an “entrepreneur in personal development,” Ratelband is an author and motivational speaker. 

Last month Ratelband told a Netherlandish court that he identifies with being 20 years younger.  His age made him “uncomfortable.” He argued that being locked into his 69 year old age — consistent with his actual date of birth — was causing him to struggle to find both work and love. He claimed to suffer from “age discrimination.” He therefore asked the court to legally change his age.

Said Ratelband, “We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can’t I decide my own age?”

So help me here… always, with all due respect, let’s ask some questions… 

Can reality be changed?

Can truth be changed?

Can a fact — which by definition, means “a thing that is indisputably the case” — actually be disputed?

Note that even though Ratelband came into this world and out of a woman’s womb on March 11th, 1949, he argued that his birthdate was a mistake. He feels younger than he is; he thus wants to change the facts.

So how do we wrestle with that? The bottom line is the profound question: are feelings enough to change the facts? 

And if the answer is affirmative, what precedent are we setting by declaring that the feelings of an individual are enough to change what’s true? 

Perhaps some would argue that the change affects no one else. But just as the Dutch court questioned, how do we simply erase 20 years of existence on this planet? What about his family? What about his relationships and interactions during that time? Does that mean how his parents cared for him did not matter or somehow did not even happen?

A preposterous supposition, it would seem.

What if another individual declared that they identify as 20 years older? And what if at the time they felt such discomfort with their age, they were only 15?

Do their feelings then give them the right to drive? … to vote? … and all other legalities where age has proven to be a wise boundary?

Are these persons actually being discriminated against?

After the ruling earlier this week against Emile Ratelband, the court said in a press statement, “Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly. But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.”

In other words, we are at liberty to feel however we wish. We are free to feel younger or feel older and even to act in accordance with the way we feel.

But we are not at liberty of changing the facts. 

We’re not capable either.

Respectfully…

AR

a kinder, gentler us

“… I wonder sometimes if we have forgotten who we are. But we’re the people who sundered the nation rather than allow a sin called ‘slavery’ — and we’re the people who rose from the ghettos and deserts.

And we weren’t saints — but we lived by standards. We celebrated the individual — but we weren’t self-centered. We were practical — but we didn’t live only for material things. We believed in getting ahead — but blind ambition wasn’t our way…

… I want a kinder, gentler nation…”

In his acceptance speech of his party’s nomination for President in August of 1988, George H. W. Bush called for that “kinder, gentler nation.”

If only we had those days back again… if only the younger generation knew those days… days when calls to kindness were first and foremost.

George H.W. Bush passed away yesterday at the age of 94, some seven months after his ever articulate wife, Barbara, also passed. And even though many mocked Bush’s call to kindness years ago, in the wake of his perceived lack of eloquence and charisma, there was always a sense of authenticity to said call over the course of his life.

After losing his re-election bid to Bill Clinton, for example, Bush left the following handwritten note to his successor:

“Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too. 

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck—

George”

Friends, that is evidence of a kinder, gentler nation.

The current cultural challenge seems not that we don’t witness that evidence so often; the current cultural challenge is that we no longer accept such as good. I thus sometimes wonder if, as Bush said, we have forgotten who we are.

Said Bill Clinton yesterday, acknowledging Bush’s note:

“No words of mine or others can better reveal the heart of who he was than those he wrote himself. He was an honorable, gracious and decent man…”

Two other specific aspects seem especially notable to me about this honorable, gracious, and decent man… first, his boldness; starting with the jump he made after the Japanese shot down his fighter plane over the Pacific during World War II in 1944, Bush made seven more parachute jumps — including on his 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays.

And second, his faithful heart… while political pundits and onlookers may focus on his professional career, no doubt Bush’s prompting for calls of kindness was the fruit of his heart. George and Barbara lost their eldest daughter to leukemia just shy of her fourth birthday. It seemed to always affect them deeply, as they admitted in recent years they thought of young Robin every single day, no matter the decades later.

But remembering Robin wasn’t solely sorrowful. Said Barbara in an interview with “Today,” “Robin to me is a joy. She’s like an angel to me, and she’s not a sadness or a sorrow.”

May we remember George H.W. Bush with that same sense of joy… remembering him not as a saint, but as one who lived by standards…

… standards that never sacrificed kindness nor respect.

Respectfully…

AR

craving peace… left and right…

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, we head further into the holiday season, a time in which the desire for “peace on Earth and goodwill to men” is more oft and intentionally uttered.

I love that. I love the unifying craving for peace. In terms of the current socio-political climate, however, such status can be challenging indeed. In fact, one of the reasons it seems so challenging is because each of us are tempted to make our peace conditional; in other words, “I can only have peace if ____________.”  

But what if our peace was not conditional? What if our peace was dependent on no one else? What if we learned to love one another so well, that their faults, wrongdoing, and imperfections no longer got in our way? (Never mind our faults, wrongdoing, and imperfections…)

Marc A. Thiessen — from the Washington Post Writers Group — wrote a fantastic op-ed last week, sharing insight, no doubt, that if realized, significantly increases our peace. Note the following excerpt (with all emphasis mine):

“I’m a rock-ribbed conservative who wants Republicans to keep control of Congress. But I’m not unhappy that Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone appears to have lost the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.

Why? Because he insulted my mother.

Trailing his Democratic opponent in a district President Donald Trump won by 20 points, but which still has more registered Democrats than Republicans, Saccone hit on a genius idea to turn out the vote: At a campaign rally just before voters went to the polls, he declared that liberals hate America and hate God. ‘I’ve talked to so many of these on the left,’ he said. ‘And I tell you, many of them have a hatred for our country… My wife and I saw it again today: They have a hatred for God.’

My mother is a liberal Democrat, and I can tell you: She does not hate America or God. Quite the opposite — she is one of the most patriotic people I know. She grew up in Nazi-occupied Poland, fought with the Polish underground, was taken to Germany as a prisoner of war, was liberated by Patton’s Army and moved to London. Eventually, she became a doctor and made her way to the United States, where she became a U.S. citizen. There is no one prouder to be an American…

She’s also a proud Democrat. We disagree about politics, but we both love America and want to make this country great. We just have different ideas about the best ways to do it.

So when Saccone says liberals hate America, he’s talking about my mother…

Whether you are liberal, conservative or in between, I’ll bet that you have a loved one who disagrees with you about politics. It might be a sibling or a parent or a beloved cousin, aunt or uncle — or even your kids. We should not stand for politicians from either party who insult them or question their motives or their patriotism. Too often, politicians on both the left and right do just that…

We see it in the gun control debate that followed the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said that if you’re not in favor of immediate action on guns, ‘you’re an accomplice’ to the Parkland killer. Seriously? Do you have a loved one who disagrees with you about gun control? Are they accomplices to mass murder? No, they just disagree that gun control is the solution.

The problem exists on both sides of the aisle, and it’s not just politicians. American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks recalls how a few years ago he was giving a speech at a large conservative event. ‘I said that while my own views are center-right, I have no reason to believe progressives are stupid or evil,’ he recalls. ‘An audience member countered, ‘You’re wrong: They are stupid and evil.’ ’

Progressives are not stupid and evil. Conservatives are not racists and misogynists. Our fellow Americans who disagree with us are not our enemies. They are our fellow Americans who differ with us. And we should not put up with politicians, on the left or right, who can’t seem to understand this.”

Those who disagree with us are not our enemies; they are not ignorant and evil or full of hate and hypocrisy. They simply differ on ideas and approach. If we cannot comprehend that reality, my strong sense is any individual craving of peace will not be realized, regardless of season.

Respectfully…

AR

to fight or give thanks?

Here we sit, situated between two manufactured holidays, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Perhaps “holiday” is misleading and inaccurate, but the two are days in which much of the nation is engaged in a similar activity.

It was hard to ignore the foolishness on the floor of one Walmart, no less. Hours after gathering for an intentional giving of thanks, two men graveled to the ground, fighting for who gets what, somewhere between the paper towels and on-sale toys. 

In Hoover, Alabama — not far from Birmingham — the foolishness was far worse. According to local police, a fight broke out between two young men inside the Riverchase Galleria mall near the FootAction store. It resulted in an exchange of gun fire, with two wounded and one killed. (The specifics of this incident continue to be investigated.)

There are multiple, valid aspects from which we could approach the above, manifest foolishness. They are not the same — as one seems silly — the other heartbreaking. Yet a single, primary question lingers:

Why do we fight?

Prompting a second, also necessary question: are we teaching the younger generation that is acceptable and good to fight?

While it may be a somewhat unpopular premise, it’s hard not to wonder when we fuel the “mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-any-more” mentality — in societal, sport, or political disagreement — no longer even allowing for disagreement — if we are teaching the younger generation that fighting is actually acceptable and good.

Let’s be clear: there is a time for everything… a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to dance, a time to be silent, and a time to speak up. But not every offense is a need to be offended. Not every time we feel impugned is cause for protest. And not every ounce of friction is reason to fight.

Fascinatingly, here comes the fight — right after the nation’s pause for Thanksgiving. Such made me ponder further.

Thanksgiving is peaceful. Fighting is not.

Is there then, a link between gratitude and peace?

Is there a correlation between the intentional expression of thanksgiving and how much actual peace we feel inside?

And… when we fail to express our thanks, when we intentionally omit gratitude — judging it to be unnecessary or even undeserved — worry, anxiousness, and stress prevail?

Maybe, just maybe, our worry, anxiousness, and stress (along with their accompanying resentment, anger, and acrimony) would be lessened exponentially if we learned how to be intentional in the consistent offering of thanksgiving… in the practicing of gratitude… and in recognizing all that we have been graciously given. It’s wonderful what happens when that realization displaces worry at the center of your life.

If we fill our minds on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — filling our minds on the best, not the worst — the beautiful, not the ugly — things to praise, not to curse — it’s amazing what that does to our perspective…

How it changes the way we see the world…

How it changes the way we treat one another…

And how we realize some of this fighting is the fruition of foolishness.

Let us focus most on what is good and right and true.

And let our intentional expression of thanks last for more than a single day each year.

Respectfully…

AR

30 things

I’m one of those persons who believes gratitude can be endless; there is always something to be thankful for… on good days, bad days, all days in between. In fact, even in sadness and sorrow, we can still be thankful to the great big God of the universe. It’s profoundly amazing — even  in those times of sadness and sorrow  how the intentional expression of thanks positively impacts our entire health and well-being.

What are you thankful for? (… a small compilation of your gratitude — edited for the purposes of conciseness…)

  • I’m thankful for my family and friends.
  • I’m thankful that there is breath in my body for another day.
  • I’m thankful for my my job.
  • I’m thankful for a few days off work.
  • I’m thankful for the Hallmark channel and all the sappy movies.
  • I’m thankful the election is over and there are no more political ads! (At least for a while.)
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve others in disaster recovery!  
  • I’m thankful for our veterans.
  • I’m thankful to be cool. (Thanks, Josh.)
  • I’m thankful for trees that are green in the summer, with red, orange, and yellow in the fall, and snow covered or icy in the winter and beautiful flowers in the spring. I love how God uses his creativity to make the world we live in so beautiful!
  • I’m thankful for my church.
  • I’m thankful for my ‘hood.
  • I’m thankful for coffee and wine. Sometimes more wine.
  • I’m thankful for a good book.
  • I’m thankful my cancer is gone!
  • I’m thankful for snow.
  • I’m thankful for no snow.
  • I’m thankful that God knew we would need a plan of redemption that Jesus was willing to fulfill.   
  • I’m thankful for Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs!
  • I’m thankful to be getting married in less than 2 weeks!
  • I’m thankful the Halloween candy is gone!
  • I’m thankful my kids are home.
  • I’m thankful for the Ronald McDonald House.
  • I’m thankful for my animals.
  • I’m thankful for planes, trains, and automobiles that help us get where we need to go.
  • I’m thankful for a renewed understanding of community.
  • I’m thankful for Game Day!
  • I’m thankful that even through the hard stuff, God showed me things. I’m ok.
  • I’m thankful for “The Office,” “Friends,” and Netflix.
  • I’m thankful I only have to cook once this week, even if it is a really big once.

So again I ask: what are you thankful for?

Shall we practice gratitude?

As our nation pauses this week, may we practice gratitude —  being always aware of the blessing and benefit from the intentional expression of thanks. 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends… always…

AR

ungrace

Last week a young, African-American, single mother randomly knocked on my door…

“Do you believe in second chances?”

Never wanting to miss an opportunity for meaningful dialogue and encouragement, I said:

“Of course. I believe in second, third, even sixty-fifth chances.”

She shared the toughness of her life thus far. She now wanted to work hard and change the trajectory of her and her daughter’s future. How could we help?

It made me think about how generous or stingy we are with those chances… how for whatever reason, we justify drawing the line somewhere, believing we’ve offered enough chances already… 

“You’ve gone too far,” we think… concluding that grace is no longer necessary nor even wise…

And just like that, in all of our infinite, perceived wisdom, we put limits on grace.

While there certainly is a time for healthy, relational boundaries, I’m not sure I can wrap my brain around the need for stern limitations on grace.

Grace is unmerited favor… meaning there is nothing we have done to deserve it. 

But often — especially in our increasingly fractious culture, we seems more generous with our “ungrace.”

Ungrace equates to grace’s absence; it is the declaration that because grace is undeserved — as inherent in its definition — we should withhold it.

My fear, friends, is that we are quickly becoming more of a culture of ungrace. Because we can sense the undeserving-ness — often deeply — we justify the withholding of kindness. We justify a lack of forgiveness and respect. We justify a lack of forbearance with one another.

That’s part of the beauty of Representative-elect Dan Crenshaw’s interaction with Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson last week. 

Davidson publicly, cruelly insulted Crenshaw as a candidate. He mocked a man, maimed during his military service in Afghanistan. But instead of ranting and raving and ensuring Davidson “got what he deserved,” Crenshaw offered Davidson what he did not. 

After appearing on SNL alongside Davidson, joking together — after also then, Davidson’s apology and Crenshaw’s forgiveness — Crenshaw said the following about their exchange: 

“We were hesitant at first… We weren’t sure what the skit was going to look like… but in the end we decided to do it. And we decided to do it because what better platform than to sort of give a united message for the country, talk about forgiveness and talk about veterans…

It felt good. It felt like the right thing to do. I would appreciate it if everybody would stop looking for reasons to be offended, and that’s what this was all about.”

Fascinating.

Friends, I understand that on different days, we each have cause to be offended. Dan Crenshaw certainly did. But our offense is impeding our offering of grace. Our offense is causing us to limit the number of extended chances. Our offense is breeding ungrace.

I had a fantastic conversation with the young woman at my door last week. After authentic connecting, an encouraging sale, and some mutual thanks to the good Lord above, we both walked away in gratitude and humble joy.

May we always believe in those second, third, and even sixty-fifth chances.

Respectfully…

AR

a market for grace in today’s politics

Rarely do I post a piece straight from any clearly left or right leaning publication; they aren’t always helpful in encouraging respectful dialogue with those who think differently, as we learn to listen well and sharpen one another.

Today is different. The following is an excellent piece… thanks to an apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation. There are few things more beautiful than an apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation. 

Written by senior writer David French in National Review, with all emphasis mine…

“There’s a market for grace in American politics.

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a gift from the partisan gods.

A liberal comic had gone too far. He had mocked a man who was maimed in a horrific IED attack, an attack that had taken the life of his interpreter and nearly blinded him for life. He mocked a courageous man’s pain. And thus Crenshaw had attained the rarest position for a Republican politician: aggrieved-victim status. He was free to swing away.

Instead, he refused to be offended. He noted that the joke was bad, but his handling of the whole affair was — as the Washington Post described him — ‘cool as a cucumber.’ Then ‘Saturday Night Live’ called. The show wanted to apologize, and they wanted Crenshaw on-air. He said yes, and this happened…

[Davidson apologized. Crenshaw appeared and accepted his apology.]

It was the act of grace heard ’round the nation. Davidson came on the ‘Weekend Update’ set and offered his apology, and then Crenshaw joined. He took some good-natured shots at Davidson — Crenshaw’s phone had an Ariana Grande ringtone (Grande recently broke her engagement with Davidson), and he mocked Davidson’s appearance — but then things took a more serious turn.

Crenshaw briefly spoke of the meaning of the words ‘never forget’ to a veteran, saying that ‘when you say ‘never forget’ to a veteran, you are implying that, as an American, you are in it with them.’ Then he addressed his next words to Davidson: ‘And never forget those we lost on 9/11 — heroes like Pete’s father. So I’ll just say, Pete, never forget.’

Davidson’s father was a firefighter. He died trying to save others when Davidson was a young boy. In one moment, Crenshaw not only honored a true hero, but also softened American hearts towards Davidson, casting him in a new light. He’s a man who carries his own pain.

It turns out that there’s a market for grace in American politics. Within minutes, clips of the apology and Crenshaw’s tribute to Davidson’s dad rocketed across Twitter. As of this morning, the YouTube clip of the moment — not even 48 hours old — already had more than 5 million views. And it seems as if this is no act. This act of grace was an expression of who Crenshaw is…

There are those who argued before the election that, to punish the GOP for Trump, even conservatives should vote against Crenshaw. Vote against a good man for the sake of beating a bad man not on the ballot. That would ‘send a message,’ they said.

But it turns out that one of the messages we needed to hear came from Crenshaw himself… that grace isn’t weakness and that reconciliation can sometimes be more compelling than division…

[Crenshaw’s] future is not yet known. But when faced with a clear political temptation — to indulge in a period of partisan pugilism — he chose a different path. He (and Davidson) gave Americans a moment they needed. It turns out it was also a moment they wanted.”

Thanks to Dan Crenshaw, Pete Davidson, and SNL. There is a market for grace.

Did I mention there are few things more beautiful than an apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation?

Respectfully…

AR

what kind of person am I?

A young brother and sister were squabbling somewhat. Their father notices, asking what’s going on.

With adrenaline fully flowing, the kids share, “We don’t agree! We don’t get it, Dad. Who should we look up to? Who should be our friend?”

Their father, with a softened grin, recognizing the opportunity, then directs his kids to sit with him for a moment… and graciously, candidly, responds…

“Kids, there are three kinds of people in this world. Allow me to teach you — first, the one who is easiest, the one you should seek out, get to know, and spend tons of time with.

First is the person who is wise.

The wise person desires truth. They may not always be happy-happy, but within them is this sense of inner joy that is never distrait or derailed. They have peace — even when life around them is crumbling or chaotic. They are not moved; they are not shaken. 

What should we do with a wise person?

Lean in, kids. Spend more time with them. Even in disagreement, you can know and trust a wise person; you can trust their character. They are not perfect — but they know that; hence, when/if they discern they’ve made a mistake or been wrong, they will clarify, apologize, even ask for forgiveness, if necessary. You can trust in who they are.

The second example is a little harder. The second person is the one who is foolish.

The foolish person denies truth. They want to live in the bubble that their experience actually serves as the truth — and nothing but the truth… as if it also serves as everyone else’s reality. While we may love these persons dearly, you know who they are when you think about how they would react if you would share constructive feedback with them. The foolish person struggles with feedback — often even despising it. The foolish one typically speaks first and listens last. They may lash out at you.

So what should we do with a foolish person?

Learn to set healthy boundaries. Consider limiting your advice, limiting your vulnerability with them, and limiting your exposure.

But as your father, I’d also encourage you to pray for them; don’t get puffed up — as kids, you and I know well, that we have often been foolish, too.

The third kind of person is the hardest to wrestle with. Sadly, the third person is one who is wicked. 

The wicked person destroys truth. They don’t care what’s true and what’s not; in fact, they tend to weaponize whatever they can to work against what’s true. The end may justify the means for them; they may intentionally dishonor another, if that person competes with their purpose.

Kids, hear me. This one’s really hard. Yes, we are each called to love one another, and that means loving another well. But be careful with the wicked; they are really out there. Figuring out how to love them well is tricky.”

Kids, listening intently, in unison and immediate response: “But Dad, what do we do with them?”

Back to their father, with a sobering, extended pause…

“Walk away.

But don’t walk away and never think of them again. Don’t walk away and think ‘we are done forever.’ But be ok putting some distance between you and them. Pray for them. Be humble. And beg God to change their heart.

God is capable of changing hearts… just as he has done for you and me.”

The kids begin to stroll away, with no more dispute, but wondering…

With whom do I need to spend more time? 

With whom do I need to set healthy boundaries?

And… maybe the hardest question…

What kind of person am I? 

Respectfully…

AR