hope deferred

Can I be real with you for just a minute?

I love words. I love the flow of the pen across an empty page. However, there are those moments when the thoughts are swimming inside my head longing to be free, but it is as if they are stuck somewhere between my mind and my hand. And those are the times when I am reminded that I need to just stop and do some soul listening. That, my friends, is what happened to me this weekend, and I am so grateful.

In mid-June, our friends, Scott and Mindy, their six children, two neighbors’ kids, Mindy’s brother, and Gracie (the family pet from Thailand) came to visit. This was a special visit for our family because it was the first time we got to meet the sweet Asian treasure that we had been praying for and supporting for over a year and a half. Levi came home to his forever family on April 22, 2017. Never before have you seen love given so freely, without reservation, or a heart so grateful for EVERYTHING!!! And when I say everything, I mean everything. His smile, it lights up the room. You would never believe that you are looking at the same child if you saw a picture of him from nearly four months ago and a picture of him now.

Long after their return to Florida, my friend Mindy posted one of the last pictures of Levi in China and talked about his sad eyes… his sad, empty eyes. Those pictures brought to life, for me, more than ever the Proverb that says:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

My eyes were quickly drawn to two words: “hope” and “deferred.”

Hope… that trust or reliance on, desire accompanied by expectation of fulfillment…


Deferred… to put off, postpone…

Therefore, hope deferred would be to put off or postpone trust or desire. When hope — something we are trusting in or believing to come about — is deferred or put off/postponed, it truly does make the heart sick. The sick heart, the sad, empty eyes — you’ve seen them. I have seen them. We have all seen them whether we like to admit it or not… the pictures of the starving children, with the bloated bellies, in Africa… the rough and tumble group of siblings facing yet another move and another family because they are caught in the foster care system with what seems like no end in sight… or the Chinese treasure who has been sitting in an orphanage for 1,683 days waiting for someone to love him and to love on.

The coolest part of this Proverb is not the sick hearts nor the deferred hope; the coolest part of is that: a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. The longing of a heart fulfilled brings forth hope anew. That which was once on the verge of death is brought to life! This is a love so freely given. This is a heart that is finally set free… this is Hope Deferred…

Sad, empty eyes looking out of you and piercing me
What brings you so much pain?
What could it be?

Sad, empty eyes looking out of you begging to be free
What brings you so much heartache?
What could it be?

Sad, empty eyes looking out of you longing to see
Hope spring alive
Could it really be?

Hope no longer delayed
Empty eyes cease to be
Life springs forth and the heart is set free.

Dedicated to Levi Simeon Wise… thanks for letting me be a part of your circle of love.


does evolution make sense?

I recently read an article (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/14/us/darrow-bryan-dayton-tennessee-scopes-statues.html) about a statue of Clarence Darrow being erected in front of the courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee, where the famous Scopes trial was held in 1925. I was interested in one of the comments about the public having an aversion to scientific findings regarding the evolution/creation debate.

I should state at the beginning that I am a believer in Biblical creation. I don’t believe that the Bible contradicts science. I believe that without an orderly, designed creation, there couldn’t be any science. True science, I believe, is based on observable, repeatable events that can be depended on to occur, not presuppositions of things that cannot be observed from the past.

Just as a house or a car need someone who knows what they are doing to conceive of it, design it and make a blueprint, this cosmos needed a wise, knowledgeable being to design and create it. I was in a class where the teacher read a quote from an atheist scientist that if he didn’t know better, it looked like the animal he was studying had been designed. I’ve also read articles that state that parts of animals, like the eyes or wings, etc., could not have evolved little by little. To function, they had to have been created in one step.

I believe that it takes more faith to believe that the universe evolved from nothing to simplicity to complexity than it takes to believe in an intelligent being who thought of it all and created it from nothing. If you go back millions of years to the very beginning, the question remains:

“What was there before the beginning of things, and how did it begin?”

I believe that the intelligent being was God and that He has always existed and is outside of time. I believe He created everything out of nothing. He is described as being “self-existent” and the “uncaused cause.”

It’s not as important to me how long people think it took for God to create the universe, or how long ago it was. But I do believe that the creation narrative is true, in that it says that God created the plants and animals after their own kind, to reproduce their own kind. If you plant an apple seed, you get an apple tree. I will admit that there are mutations and variations within kinds (species), such as the different species of the cat family – house cats to lions and tigers. And lions and tigers can even mate and produce offspring. But I do not believe that one kind can change into another kind, as the theory of evolution suggests.

I believe that as humans, we enjoy and appreciate beauty, nature, music, etc. because a mind that can create those things in the first place placed the enjoyment of them in our minds. When I see a dead animal in the road, I am repulsed. I wonder why humans are repulsed by death and decay, and it occurs to me that it is because death is not natural to us. If we evolved by survival of the fittest, it seems to me that we wouldn’t care if things die and decay.

Ultimately, Biblical creation makes more sense to me than evolution.


[Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash]

why we should all care about abortion

photo-1428699190791-2c4f8b144d06This is a post I’ve wanted to write for some time, one that brings abortion numbers into clear focus. One casting abortion into its rightful place among the various forms of violent death prevalent in the United States.

Unfortunately, there’s been a problem, one that has stopped me dead in my tracks on several occasions.

You see, I’m a man.

Conventional thinking among abortion advocates holds that a man has no business expressing an opinion on this subject. Abortion, the advocates say, should be between a woman and her doctor. In this view, it appears that a man’s sole role is merely to “support his woman” — emotionally, should she choose abortion, physically and financially, should she not. Otherwise, men are apparently expected to hold our collective tongues and keep our hands off of women’s bodies.

Of course this point of view implicitly concludes that a fetus is not a human being, and does not merit the protection that normally accrue to anyone qualifying as a person. Many pro-abortionists offer an alternate explanation of a fetus’s nebulous status – that “life” begins at birth as opposed to at conception (or at another, subjectively determined time in between) and that prior to birth it is simply a “clump of cells.” The pro-abortionist appears to base this argument on the belief that a child must be capable of survival outside of the mother’s body (as per Roe v. Wade) or even later before it actually achieves the rank of “unique, protected human life.”

I appear to be missing the scientific and moral arguments that underpin this position. It seems to me that identifying the “beginning of a unique human life” at any point in time other than when a sperm fertilizes an egg is arbitrary. Fertilization is when, after all, the stuff of creating a new, distinctive set of DNA actually occurs. Everything beyond that seems to me to be a stage of subsequent growth and development. Many on the pro-abortion side of this controversy appear to sidestep the question of when life begins. I saw one argument that asserted the “personhood” of the fetus was immaterial as long as it existed in a woman’s body, and until it was no longer dependent on her to survive it was her right to kill it. At will. The logic behind her argument – something theoretical about society’s right to dictate how a person’s body is used – was quite unconvincing to me.

If one disagrees with the abortion advocate’s viewpoint (and honestly, I have a difficult time comprehending how abortion advocates can characterize a fetus as “a clump of cells” or a “parasitic organism”), there is another, ugly, alternate name for abortion that unavoidably comes to mind — murder.

If one sees a fetus as a human life, then one must also see abortion as murder. And murder is a subject that no one — male or female — has any business ignoring. Religious beliefs aside, I struggle to see how any civilized society can advocate murder in any form (abortion, capital punishment or euthanasia). If someone does have a persuasive argument in favor of murder, particularly one as seemingly weak as the pro-abortionists “freedom to manage my body the way I want,” then why not extend that argument to include advocating the murder of young children? Any parent can tell you that children represent a substantially larger burden (mentally, physically, and financially) after birth than they did when in the womb. Why don’t pro-abortionists advocate for “child convenience killing?” After all, if human life’s beginning is arbitrarily determined to as a point between conception and birth, it seems an argument could be made to withhold the designation of “personhood” until a child can smile, right? Or crawl? Or speak? Or perhaps until they have a high school diploma?

We don’t make such arguments because we know they are wrong.

Of course, there are many wrongs in today’s world, all screaming for a tiny sliver of our attention. We know murder is wrong. And so is assault. Racism is wrong. As is cruelty to animals. So what makes abortion such a big deal?

It’s the numbers.

To illustrate my point, I collected data on various forms of violent and non-violent death in the United States from 2010 (the latest year with complete data). Here they are:

  • Criminal executions — 46
  • Murders – 16,539
  • Suicides – 38,364
  • Influenza & Pneumonia — 56,979
  • Strokes — 128,978
  • Cancer — 584,881
  • Heart Disease — 611,105
  • Abortions – 765,651

Based on the numbers, abortion stands out. It is the leading cause of death in the United States. Greater than the “great killers” of heart disease and cancer. Almost 50 times more common than murder. Four orders of magnitude greater than the government’s executions of criminals.

It is an astonishing total.

And although the abortion body count has declined in recent years – a desirable outcome, to be sure – it makes my heart ache to live in a country where the routine murder of the unborn is common. Abortion as the great moral crisis of our time. And I cannot remain silent, even if present day thinking claims that men’s opinions on this subject are invalid and irrelevant.

Men, don’t allow your voices to be silenced on this issue. A favorite tactic in today’s debates over anything controversial is to question your right to hold a belief, or to label your opinion itself as “bigoted” or (in this case) “misogynistic.” Toughen up. It isn’t okay to sit on the sidelines and dispassionately ignore our modern American holocaust, offering the lame excuse that “abortion is between a woman and her doctor.” You have a mouth and a keyboard, and the right to express your opinion over this moral outrage.

As noted Irish statesman Edmund Burke wisely said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”



degrees of freedom

photo-1418225043143-90858d2301b4My husband, son, and I celebrated the 4th of July for the first time in three years last month. We lived in Switzerland as ex-pats while my husband completed a work contract. Returning to the United States just before Independence Day was significant in our eyes and prompted (even more) comparisons between our adopted and birth countries.

The differences between the two countries are significant in some cases, but more subtle in others. Of course, there are obvious differences in language, food, and lifestyle. July 4th and its celebration of independence brought a more subtle topic to mind: differences in personal freedom in Switzerland and the U.S. This topic has been nagging at me for a while. In Switzerland, the people tend to make decisions from a societal perspective (which sometimes limits personal choice) versus our very individualistic focus here in the U.S. I have been curious as to whether these subtle differences stem from governmental or cultural roots. It helps me sort things out when I write. So here goes…

Switzerland’s government is officially a Confederation or a Federal Republic. This is the same basic type of governmental system as the United States. Simply put, the countries are alliances of self-sufficient states (or “cantons” in Switzerland). Swiss citizens can call for a vote on any given topic if they garner a enough support from others. Or, in the case of the U.S., the citizens can lobby their representatives to vote one way or another or to introduce a new bill or law.

So, if the governments of these two countries operate in essentially the same manner, maybe the differences in personal freedom are cultural. Are the Swiss people raised to consider the effects of their actions on society before evaluating the effects on themselves, as individuals? I’m not sure, but I know now that personal freedom to make a decision for the individual absolutely exists in Switzerland, but it may come with a price.

On the surface, this societal way of thinking seems to have effective and even beautiful results. Environmentalism is promoted and encouraged by the Swiss government through monetary rewards. Cars are incredibly expensive to own and even more expensive to park. Even our apartment came with a 200 chf/month surcharge if we wanted an assigned parking place. There is a pecking order on the road: Walkers come first, then bicycles, buses, motorcycles, scooters, and finally individual cars bring up the rear. Fabulous rail and bus systems, protected mountains and land, clean lakes, and even cleaner food are the result. Swiss citizens certainly have a choice about what mode of transportation they use; they have a degree of free choice. They are encouraged, financially, to make certain decisions.

Swiss citizens recycle as much as possible. I believe this is done for environmental concerns, but also because of frugality. As the tale goes, the government urged its citizens to recycle for the good of the environment. The citizens didn’t respond to this request with a substantially higher rate of recycling. So, a group of concerned citizens called for a vote and implemented a new system that removed all trash bags from grocery shelves and replaced them with a government-made product, at a substantially higher cost. Oh, they’re great trash bags. In three years, I never had one break. One trash bag costs 1.70 chf or about $1.80 each. Compare that to the U.S. trash bag cost of 15 cents/bag, and it is clear that there is more incentive to recycle. Again, there is the choice to eschew recycling completely, but a person will pay a price (literally) for that decision.

Americans, on the other hand, have been educated about the benefits of recycling and other environmentally friendly actions. They are left then to make their own choice on the topic without immediate consequences. Many Americans make a socially conscious decision, but they do so of their own free will, without fear of financial penalty. No coercion is involved. No laws are in place. No pricey trash bags await them.

Many other examples of this idea exist. The Swiss believe in personal responsibility where the effects of their choices are concerned. Would you rather not wear a bike helmet while riding? Go ahead, but if you sustain a head injury and you weren’t wearing a helmet, the National Healthcare System may not be on the hook to pay your medical bills. You might have to assume full responsibility for them. Hate the idea of putting snow tires on your car in October? No problem if you don’t, but if you’re involved in an accident and don’t have them on your car from November 1st through April 15th, you may be liable for all the associated costs.

The Swiss also believe that children are best raised when their mothers stay at home. If a woman wants to continue work before her child(ren) are in school, she certainly has the right to do just that, but childcare is exorbitantly expensive; thus, many women stay home after their first child is born. The school day is also structured so that children go home for lunch. Most women find it difficult to hold a job that will allow them to go home for 1.5 – 2 hours during the day… another example of freedom of choice, but at a price.

America has a few population mandates itself, usually to promote population safety. Immunizations are highly encouraged and sometimes mandatory for school attendance. Car liability insurance is mandatory. Health insurance is becoming mandatory. Many Americans rail at these mandates because of the personal freedom that is subtracted from their lives. Yes, these mandates might promote a healthier and better functioning society, but Americans want the choice.

What are your thoughts? What is best in a society: personal freedom to choose no matter the consequences or personal freedom to choose with possible financial penalty if you choose the socially-selfish option? Perhaps a mix of the two is best.

Make no mistake. Our family had a ball living overseas. We traveled; we hiked; we skied. Of course, “work” was done in the usual sense. Steve did his engineer thing. I did my teacher thing. Our son, Sam, did his student thing. But other work was done, too… the kind of work that is really work-in-progress… an evolutionary process that no one really expected. Living in a different society opens you up to new ideas and perspectives… and sometimes makes you appreciate old ones.



the right thing

long_term_exposure_to_air_pollution_may_increase_risk_of_hospitalization_for_lung_heart_disease_ymr44As a current events observer, one of the aspects I find increasingly frustrating is how politics has polluted governance. To pollute: “to contaminate with harmful or poisonous substances.” To contaminate: “to make impure.” Call me a purist, but I believe government is less effective and ethical when pollution reeks.

Of course, each who contributes to the reeking seems to savvily steer the focus onto someone or something else… i.e. the smokers blame the advertisers who blame greedy corporations or maybe even a tobacco farmer in the Carolinas… the environmentalists blame the gas guzzlers who blame the car manufacturers who also blame greedy corporations, even blaming Al Gore’s unsuccessful campaign manager (…sorry, couldn’t resist).

My point is that we no longer govern purely and those involved refuse to admit it (… see any current Press Secretary).  Politics influences even the intelligent, and the end result is less effective, less ethical governance. While certainly not indigenous to the current administration, look at their weekend announcement — in this instance in regard to immigration reform.

The President and multiple others on all sides of the partisan aisle believe illegal immigration should be reformed, especially after the chaotic immigration influx along the nation’s southern border this summer. The parties disagree, however, in the specifics. Pres. Obama is believed to be less restrictive in this area, potentially granting some form of relevant amnesty.  Yet because Obama has been unable to pass what he desires, he boldly announced earlier this summer that he would bypass Congress via executive order.

Unfortunately, though, for those loyal to the administration, bypassing Congress in this area is considered an inappropriate approach by a majority of Americans (see Rasmussen Reports, 35%). Americans don’t feel it’s the right thing to do.  But with mounting pressure from Democrats running for re-election — who may need the votes of that other 65% — Pres. Obama has decided not to act… now. The White House announced over the weekend that they will plan on taking executive action after the November elections.

Here comes my Intramuralist, purist note: if it’s not the right thing to do now, then it’s not the right thing to do. Politics is influencing governance.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy … you make them because they’re right.” — Theodore Hesburgh

“The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.” — Margaret Chase Smith

If something is the right thing to do, then it should be done.

Otherwise it’s polluted.


And impure.



slippery slope

p_18_p_2021Many of us heard the clamoring calls in response to the court’s decisions last week:

From the Daily Kos:  “Here’s that Hobby Lobby slippery slope in action…”

From The Week:  “Hobby Lobby will not lead us down a slippery slope of religious exemptions.”

And from Hillary Clinton:  “This is a really bad slippery slope.”

Allow the Intramuralist an instant reaction.  I agree; we’re on a “slippery slope” — a downward, digressing slide.  Allow my second thought…

When any of us are on a slope or a slide, all we can discern is one thing for certain:  we are sliding.  That’s it.  We can’t immediately comprehend when the slide begins nor how fast we are going; we’re also not always sure of the end until we actually fall into the mucky pit.  On any slide, all we know for certain is that we’re sliding.

Far too often, however, we are misled by our own knowledge, experience, and resulting emotion.  That combination then leads us to declarations which may or may not be true.  For example…

Consistent with many American households brimming with ample testosterone, video games are plentiful in my semi-humble abode.  Initially, I was comfortable with all of the games in our home.  There’s just something about Mario, Luigi, and that cute, little, green Yoshi character that make even the adult smile (… and sometimes quietly partake, when no one else is looking, of course…).  

As the years passed, no less, my boys moved from the Mario Bros. to Madden’s NFL, enjoying increased adult, athletic competition.  After a few years more, they then entered a new genre, playing popular games such as “Call of Duty” and “Assassin’s Creed”… those beat ‘em up, shoot ‘em up, oh-so-ethical games.  (Ugh.)

I’ll be very honest.  I don’t like them.  I don’t like those games.  I also don’t like that my boys like them.  And while the older boys entered this genre via the seemingly more innocent Star Wars “Battlefront” series, when they began playing a game that actually had the word, “assassin,” in it, I loudly declared that my family is now on a “slippery slope.”  Loudly.  Boldly.  And dare I also add… arrogantly.

Yes, we were — are — on a slippery slope via virtual video scenarios.  But when did the slope begin?  … with only the entrance to the violent genre?  … before that? … with the adult athletic competitions?  … or with the initial introduction of video games in our household — albeit disguised nicely due to the cuteness of that Yoshi?

My point, friends, is that we declare the slippery slope when we’re already sliding; we are not good at recognizing its commencement.  We claim the onset in so many areas — from birth control to “Call of Duty”… from the sanctity of marriage to the sanctity of life… Yet where were the clamorous critics when the callousness evolved in the decades prior?  I do not mean to be insensitive in any way to those among us who have unfortunately experienced such a painful scenario; my point is simply that we conveniently decide the onset of the slide, often negating or ignoring previous events that obviously contributed to the digression.

Note that in our household this month, soccer continues to dominate our time and television.  Hence, my older boys have been immersed in their video game, EA Sports FIFA World Cup for their XBOX 360, reverting to athletics instead of assassins.

To this parent, that reverting is refreshing.




4. San Antonio Spurs (14-3)An amazing thing happened last week… and it happened on the NBA hardwood.  Truth be told, the Intramuralist isn’t really a big fan of the National Basketball Association.  With all references to Donald Sterling aside — and save for my beloved, once hometown Pacers — I am by all accounts and purposes, pretty much a fair-weather fan.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate good basketball.  It’s more that when I compare the professional league to the college game, there seems something lacking… a tenacity… a zeal… a focus on the fundamentals.  Whether it’s the fact that there’s far less effort on defense or the rarity of a traveling call, it seems the purity of the game has been sacrificed for the profession.

Except for last week.

I’ll quote one of the announcer’s comments in the climactic moment:  “We’ll never see this again.”

Last week the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat, 4 games to 1, to win the NBA Finals.  As previously prefaced here, the Spurs are the epitome of the word “team.”  The Heat, on the other hand, are most commonly identified as the “Big Three,” as three players command most of the playing time, attention, and yes, money.  That’s what makes the Spurs victory so amazing, as once again the learning extends far beyond any sporting arena.  (Hence, non-sports fans, please keep reading…)

The Spurs had 15 players on their 2013-14 roster.  Let me briefly share with you the annual salaries of their four highest paid players:

Tony Parker:  $12.5 million

Tim Duncan:  $10 million

Tiago Splitter:  $9.25 million

Manu Ginobili:  $7 million

While each seems like a significant salary (and it is!), those numbers are revealing.  Each player could have chosen to play elsewhere.  Had they signed with another franchise — becoming a “big something” — they would have commanded a far greater salary.  For example, future Hall of Famer Duncan could earn well over $20 million per year.  20 million.  More than twice what he was actually paid last year.

What’s so amazing?  Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and their athletic cohorts chose to accept  less money.  A lot less.

Each team has a loose salary cap; there’s only so much money a team can distribute before incurring ample penalty.  Hence, the Spurs signing for less individual money allowed the whole to be far greater than the sum of their parts.  Compared to a team like the Heat, which was bound by the money they committed to a grand total of three.

What’s so amazing?  The characteristics that have to exist within a Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili to accept less than they so-called “earned.”  They were not coerced into accepting less money.  With no disrespect to those who choose to accept more, the Intramuralist admires the selflessness, humility, and valuing of “team” that is apparent in the San Antonio Spurs.  That’s what’s so amazing.  That’s what’s amazing outside any sporting arena.

“Will it ever happen again?”

Maybe.  But only if those admirable virtues of selflessness, humility and team trump the pursuit of the individual…  inside or out of the sporting arena.



coming soon

rating-cardEvery era has their issues, matters that brew and boil to a point of either acceptance or denial, as passionate advocates lobby for favorable, societal reception.  A student of history would share with us issue timelines that marked entire eras, as the supporters’ perseverance was equally as important as any promotion.  However, an issue often is accepted because it has proved wise or worthy over time; people have had time to weigh the impact on society and self.

A fascinating aspect of the 21st century, no less, is that we no longer utilize that time; the process is sped up.  In the age of the internet, technology, and information flow, the time that once forded the wise measure of acceptance or denial has evaporated.  Hence, we are lured into demanding that a perspective is right, shutting down debate, or not allowing another to feel a certain way — all because we no longer accept that time (next to suffering) is perhaps life’s greatest teacher.

We witness this now, I believe, in certainly some valid issues challenging society:  climate change, gay marriage, and income inequality, for example.  Instead of hammering out the wisdom and foolishness behind a perspective, persons on all sides are spending seemingly greater effort simply attempting to shut down an opposing perspective.  Wisdom of the actual issue set aside, often our approach is foolish.

There is an additional issue the Intramuralist sees coming our way soon — an issue that has long been stirring in passionate circles that advocates desire to push to the forefront, utilizing that swift, advantageous information flow.  As I consistently read through multiple media sources, I sense an increase in intentional promotion.

Now let me first offer a semi-stern caveat on this observation.  Friends, none of us can consider ourselves objective in analysis of these issues if we adhere solely to a single news source.  If you are a viewer of only MSNBC or only FOX News, your perspective is most likely not objective.  If you only read the Drudge Report or Huffington Post, your opinion is most likely biased; you do not have great objectivity in your perspective.  As has long been the Intramuralst’s practice (and encouragement), we consistently watch and read varied news from varied slants, with our most respected source of news being Real Clear Politics, a website that provides daily balanced perspective.  A balanced perspective is wise.

That said, there is a new issue I’ve seen increasingly stirring through those sources.  Be ready; with no offering of editorial wisdom or foolishness, here’s what the Intramuralist sees coming soon…

Reparations.  Reparations is the idea that some compensatory payment from the federal government should be given to the descendants of slaves.  Note that In 1999, the African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission called for “the West” to pay $777 trillion to Africa within five years.  In 2007, Guyana called for European nations to pay.  Antigua & Barbuda have called for reparations.  Jamaica and Barbados are both actively studying the issue.  And with each new inaugural session of Congress, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduces legislation to study reparation proposals for African-Americans.

In a well-written piece in The Atlantic last month, senior editor Ta-Nehisi Coates laid out the case for reparations, saying “America will never be whole” until we make amends for our “moral debts.”  His call has gained at least some sense of vernacular steam, with one Huffington Post contributor calling the essay both “brilliant and haunting” — and another, while moved by its message, questioning the wisdom in converting our “tradition of justice into a system of racial apportionment.”  The issue is making its way into increased conversation.

As a presidential candidate, then Sen. Obama said, “I have said in the past — and I’ll repeat again — that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.”  There have been multiple reports, however, that his inner circle, very loyal senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, is supportive of reparations.  Will Obama evolve on the issue?  Will Executive Orders be considered?  And the better question:  if proposed, will we have the necessary time to weigh the impact on society and self?



president? king?

IMGP0380I was thinking about the most important quality necessary to be President.  Let’s face it; it’s a huge job.  Some do it well; some don’t.  Some seem to thrive; others, well, never quite seem to get the hang of it.  Hear me out… I’m not saying the Intramuralist has what it takes.  I don’t, but I was thinking about the most important quality in those who seek the seat.

I decided that most necessary — putting all partisan agreement/disagreement aside (hard as that is for some) — is executive experience.  If a person is going to lead this country efficiently and well, they need executive experience.  That means a person who’s previously had the power to put plans and actions into effect — as opposed to just talk about them… a person who has managed people, timetables, and tasks…  a person who has had to work within the framework of a budget — within both the limits and surplusses… a person who knows they are accountable — and that accountability is obvious; it drives them… a person who embraces being judged more by results than by rhetoric… a person who never allows an ideology to trump the bottom line.  An executive never loses sight of the big picture.

I speak not of whether or not we agree or disagree politically.  I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again:  I’ve yet to find anyone running for office with whom I agree on all points.  Regardless of political bent on an issue, as we continue to witness the current White House navigate via awkward, controversial, and sometimes arguably scandalous decision-making, my sense is the person who is the President would serve the country better if they come to the table with ample executive experience.

That could be a former CEO or governor…  the leader of a company or charity.  That could be a Governor Christie, Richardson, or Martinez.  That could be a Bill Gates or Meg Whitman.  Let me tell you, though, what it’s not.  Executive experience is not a lawyer or legislator.  With all due respect to current and past occupiers, lawyers and legislators utilize a different set of skills.  They don’t typically execute plans and actions; they spend far more time simply talking about them.

With respect to Dem’s and Rep’s alike… to Hillary, Joe, Rand, and Rubio… I realize many of you 2016 hopefuls have your eyes on the so-called prize; you each, also, would bring something unique to the Oval Office.  None of you, however, has the executive experience the Intramuralist believes is necessary to be courageously consistent making decisions in the West Wing.

As we witness continued controversy in multiple administrations — some criticism deserved, some not, and some impossible to discern whether or not actually deserving — my desire for executive experience only magnifies.  I want someone who’s dealt with similar circumstances before.

In thinking of executive experience, there may be one trait that trumps even that…

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart.”

I was reading the annals of ancient leaders and kings, and I was struck by the reign of David.  The youngest of 8 had not the known resume nor repertoire of his older, more accomplished brothers.  He was a simple shepherd.  But he shepherded them — he led them — with “integrity of heart.”

What is that?  It seems better and more than any political persuasion… better than rhetoric or results… better still than executive experience.  Here was David, by all accounts and purposes, an inexperienced boy.  And yet, the historic scriptures speak of him as a leader like no other.  Even with ample mistakes in office, so-to-speak, the effectiveness of his leadership was unprecedented.

Ok, so I was thinking about the most important quality necessary to be President.  I now have two…



mideast violence

Violence has erupted in the Arab states.  The violence has come from Muslims and is motivated by their angst against America and Americans.  Friends, let’s be honest; this is tough to talk about.  Muslims — both here in America and abroad — are highly suspicious of America’s intentions in the world, and some Americans see every Muslim as a potential terrorist. There are obviously reasons behind both of these perceptions, but this only means that we must work harder at communicating clearly and not allowing perspective to be blinded by passion.  As is Intramuralist principle, we will distinguish between fact vs. fiction and what we know for sure.  Why are the Islamists protesting?


Initially some made mention of the Muslims being motivated by a YouTube video.  Noting that the violent behavior began on 911 in multiple places — and that the 13 minute trailer was first posted on July 1st — the notion that the mayhem is solely about the movie minimizes the reality.  A summer of 2012 Pew Research poll found that fewer than 1-in-5 Egyptians, Jordanians, Pakistanis, and Turks possess a favorable view of the United States.  Many Muslims dislike America.  Some call it hate.  Why?


Since each of the above governments have significant Islamic leaders — and noting that Muslims have little familiarity with the concept of separation between church and state — we must evaluate the core of Islamic beliefs.  Note that this analysis is similar to the Intramuralist’s previous analysis of Scientology, and it will also be evident in our future dissection of Mormonism (as requested by popular demand).


Often argued is that radical Muslims are no different than radical believers of any religion.  With embassy attacks now in multiple Islamic countries, many confidently proclaim that the problem is not Islam, but the religious belief of any type when taken too seriously.  That claim leads us to the question:  is there something inherent in Islam that makes it more likely to resort to violence than other world religions like Christianity or Buddhism?


While it’s important to admit that all religions have adherents that are willing to use violence to achieve what they believe are justified ends, it doesn’t follow that all religions teach equally the legitimacy of violent means.  People have committed horrible atrocities in the name of Jesus Christ, from the inquisitions to the slaying of abortionists. However, these actions can’t be justified from the actual teachings of Christ.  Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus teach that one should kill for the sake of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, or to defend the honor of Jesus himself.


What about Islam and the actual teachings of Muhammad?  According to The Oxford History of Islam, from the beginning, Muslims “saw their mission as jihad, or militant effort to combat evil and to spread Muhammad’s message of monotheism and righteousness far and wide.”  Although many argue that jihad primarily refers to a struggle or striving for personal righteousness, a significant number of others proclaim that jihad is an armed struggle against “infidels” — the term utilized for unbelievers.


Numerous passages in the Qur’an refer to this violence.  A surah titled “The Spoils of War” states, “O Prophet! Rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you… they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.”  Another says, “O ye who believe!  When ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them…”  It adds that those who do will find themselves in hell, a significant incentive to fight on.


So do all Muslims see jihad in the light of conquest and warfare?  My sense is a strong ‘no,’ although many have been seemingly slow to denounce the current violence.  Similar to others professing faith in varied religions, we at times alter our interpretation of the proclaimed holy words for various motives — perhaps because we deeply disagree or it’s incomprehensible or simply because it’s inconvenient.  Truthfully, sometimes my heart hurts for those who do view Islam as a call for peace — especially for American-born Muslims.  I wonder how they must feel with the deep tension between 2 people groups with which they identify.  I wonder how they feel when they are stared at, scorned upon, or treated poorly in this country.  That is also tough to comprehend.


Friends, this analysis is by no means complete.  There are aspects and tangents that many will pounce upon to passionately prove their perspective.  Many will still shout that “Islam is a religion of peace!”  I would only respectfully add that such an argument is also incomplete.


Hence, I leave you with this…  Nearly every major religion in the world teaches a variation of the Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Islam does not include this.  Instead, it makes very definite distinctions in the way Muslims are to treat believers and unbelievers.  That fact should not cause us to stare at, scorn upon, nor treat poorly any who are different.  It should instead humble us, teaching us to communicate truth more clearly — and not be blinded by passions that are easier to embrace.


Respectfully… always,